Everything you need to rock the tailgate this winter

Picture a classic VW camper with a couple of powder heads relaxing on lawn chairs while something delicious sizzles on the grill.

Or a trio of geared up snow seekers sitting side-by-side on the back of a truck with homemade sandwiches as they laugh about that one run with all the moguls.

2021 is the year of the tailgate! Our usual ski lodge lunch breaks and après lounging has been replaced by a new home base - vans, trucks, and cars.

But the parking lot party is a little different this year. Here's what you need to know.

Ski Snowboard Tailgate etiquette graphic from SnowSeekers by Stevie Froese
Photo: Stevie Froese

Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

The etiquette of tailgating this winter

There is etiquette to a good tailgate lunch break or après ski and this season it's more important than ever to be good #SnowSeekers with your parking lot party. 

  • Keep inside your parking space, especially at a busy hill. You can't sprawl like a free-for-all campground. Give your neighbours plenty of room to enjoy their ski day too.
  • If you're done early and new arrivals are looking for spots to park, consider moving down the road to free up the space, or keep your après short.
  • Follow the resort or clubs parking lot protocols. That may include wearing a mask, restrictions on open flame BBQs and more.
  • Music is for grooving but make sure your volume isn't disturbing your neighbour's good vibes. 
  • No visitors. Your vehicle is home base for the people you came with. While in other years, a friendly chat with another crew would be awesome, right now we all need to do our part to keep ski season going strong.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a moment of alpine bliss.

You're all in for the tailgate ski life, now what do you bring?

  • You know those folding chairs that still smell like a summer campfire? Bring em! A comfy spot to park the caboose is going to feel a lot more luxe than sitting on your tailgate or trunk. Pick a chair that has a bit of a recline for maximum chill.
  • A small BBQ or portable stove. When the sweat from your last run starts cooling you down, you're going to love a hot tea or tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (my favourite). I make them with a pan on a JetBoil and then use the same same pan for the soup.
  • A blanket. Especially on a cold day. Keep those muscles warm. Plus, if you want to take off your boots and give your feet a rest, you can wrap up in your cozy blanket.
  • Dishes! I seem to always forget a spoon so I keep a set of cutlery with my gear now.
  • A cooler. Sure it's cold outside but your food doesn't need to be frozen by lunchtime. You're also going to love having using the cooler lid as a tabletop.
  • An extra water bottle. Save yourself a trip to the chalet. Throw the water bottle in the cooler to keep it from freezing through the day. 
  • A portable charge bank. Winter is brutal to your phone's battery life. Charge up at lunchtime to keep connected with your ski buddy in the afternoon.
  • Music. This isn't a must, but it sure is nice to kick back to a few bops. Just remember your parking lot etiquette.
  • A change of shoes. Taking your feet out of those boots at the end of the day and slip into something more comfortable - ahhhh yeah, that's luxury.


Photo: Jeremy Derksen

A hot BBQ lunch (or breakfast) will do wonders for your stoke.

What do you do when it's too cold or busy to lounge outside?

  • Anyone else feel a little claustrophobic with all your snow gear on inside the car? Take those boots off and the extra bulky layers. They might be cold when you put them back on but it's worth it to wiggle your toes and move your arms while you eat.
  • If you can, leave your skis or snowboard outside. You don't want to warm them up only to have ice form on the bottom when you're ready to ride again.
  • Good thing those bucket seats come with a recline, eh? Blast the heat for a few minutes and enjoy the recline while you pump the tunes.
  • Unless you have a good van life setup, I don't recommend trying to cook in your car. Instead, pack an easy lunch like peanut butter and banana sandwiches, or support a local restaurant and pick up a to-go order on your way out.


Remember BodyBreak with Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod? This blast from the past at Marmot Basin in Jasper, Alberta has some great tips for on-hill snacks. And hey, fanny packs will always be cool!

Watch 30 sec Program #2   Downhill Skiing   What We Eat on YouTube.

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