This piece is a love letter to the poor, lost souls who have to get up at 5 A.M. (or earlier!) to book it to the mountain. The parking lot desperados, the traffic hackers, the ski bums: you are seen.
Despite yawning your way through the drive, and sending a follow up text to your pal that if they’re late to the carpool, they will get left behind, once you arrive at the slopes, it’s pretty smooth sailing…if you get a parking spot. Many find themselves with some chill time at the car to gear up, get caffeinated, and just hang with friends and family. And if you’re not a resort grubber slash refuse to pay twenty dollars for chicken tendies, the car can make an excellent lunch spot too. The folding chair and table are a given, but we can guarantee you’re forgetting the goods.
In our time at mountain escapes across the country, we’ve seen our share of sweet car setups that make tailgating almost as fun as that first run. Read on for some of our faves.
Everything You’re Forgetting to Tailgate from Your Car on a Ski Day
First up, you’ll want a heavy-duty charger to keep your devices full of juice. After all, the cold mountain air often depletes your phone more quickly than you’d like, and even if you don’t listen to music or anything while you ski, you’ll want safety and GPS coverage. For a splurge, opt for this chunky 600wh base for literal household power at the lot, and never worry about anyone’s device dying ever again. It holds up to 48 smartphone charges, has *real* plugs for anyone still chipping away at the ol’ 9 to 5, and even powers any cooking appliances if you lunch lunch.
I swear by this magic little Bluetooth speaker. It holds a lot of (crispy) sound, but has a super small footprint that doesn’t feel aggressive. Plus, you can connect multiple Wonderbooms together to create a “house party” and intensify the volume, so you can make it as big as you’d like. But for a lot party, one speaker is both respectful and enjoyable.
BrüTank 55 Quart Cooler—$399.99.
I personally think it’s worth spending on a lifelong cooler that can accommodate lots of food—and most importantly, preserve it. While the use we have in mind is for the ski tailgate, I recommend buying a big cooler you can use for traveling, backcountry, car camping, and more—opting for volume and efficacy rather than portability. While you might just think to keep your food outside (it’s cold, isn’t it?), those warm spring skiing days can sacrifice food safety when the temps toggle between okay and not okay warmth zones. Play it safe! I love that this cooler will keep all my perishables frigid for hours — and summer’s practically here, tbh. It even has a drink dispenser we can use for electrolyte mix or après cocktails.
While I’ve gotta admit I have my tried and true favorites when it comes to to-go cups — and am resisting the siren call of thee Stanley cup courtesy of TikTok fame — I’ve recently been intrigued by this little gadget, the first ever flask combining drinkware with an integrated Bluetooth speaker. Swanky? Yes. Appealing, doubly so.
As much as ya girl thrives in the snow, there’s a small part of me already longing for sun and sand—and lounging for hours with greasy sunscreen and a paperback. Needless to say, give me a blanket that can do both? This warm but sturdy throw can keep 2 to 4 bodies cozy and has an adorable design plus it rolls up effortlessly for easy carry. I’m obsessed with the lunar motifs and cheery colors from this San Diego-based brand.
Bump up the vibes with a shotski. For those unfamiliar, it’s exactly what it sounds like—a singular ski with individual notches for shots. Best served with tequila, lime, and salt right after the last chair. (But be sure you’re only participating post-slopes, or with enough sobriety to be safe on the mountain.) Keep it simple with this elegant wooden version from an oh-so-cute accessories brand, and you can even personalize it for an extra $12.50.
Hold On Compostable Tall Kitchen Trash Bags—$25.70 for 40.
Pack it in, pack it out—and leave no trace. These compostable trash bags are also an eco-friendly option that won’t contribute to your plastic waste footprint. These TVU- and BPI-certified bags are nontoxic and can break down at home, meaning you don’t have to rely on a fancy device or facility to allow you to compost. The brand also has compostable zip-seal sandwich bags and more.
Porter Lunch Box—$25.
If you don’t want to take out a literal grill, we get it. It’s a ton of effort, at least until you get it all on autopilot. Still, you can bring snacks and lunch with you and just tuck them away in the trunk. For a high-quality lunch box, I personally recommend these sleek W&P Porter lunch boxes, with plenty of interior organization and wipe-clean silicone design.
Initial Rec: Orvis Lodge Shearling Clogs, $111.75 (was $149)
Okay, so we did write a whole ol’ edit on après boots, from the sleek to the stompers. But all in all, for the tailgate, you just need a comfy pair of slippers or kicks to give your ankles a breather from your (well-fitted, tight) ski boots with double black-diamond-level stiffness. I’ve recently been vibing with this slip-on footbed sandal (lined with cozy shearling) from Orvis, now on sale. They’re a tad stiff immediately, but will mold over time to your foot and provide some much-needed support. Also, I’d recommend going a size up as I got my usual and they were a bit tight.