Winter Tailgating Tips: From Basic Necessities to Parking Lot Royalty

By Instructor Zahm Dec 17, 2020
Turning your vehicle into a winter parking lot basecamp can help add to the fun and the long days on the slopes.
Winter Tailgating Tips: From Basic Necessities to Parking Lot Royalty

Having a good parking lot set up at the resort can help take your ski days to the next level, especially with a family! Avoid burnout by taking that midday break and feeling like tailgating royalty. Here are items that range from the necessities to over the top tailgating goals of the season.

Essential Homebase Items

Whether you're traveling solo or only have one or two people in your group, you might not need all the extras. For those who go from the first chair to the last chair without stopping, this first list is all the basics you need, in case you do take a break for just a few minutes.

A Packed Lunch 

A quick sandwich or cold leftovers from the night before can be a quick refill on energy when you get to the car. Powerbars and snacks are also excellent quick eats. Also try a hot soup in a thermous. Super awesome for a mid-day warm up.

Water and Other Drinks

Drink Water. It's easy to forget to properly hydrate while riding on the mountain. It would be best if you always have plenty of water for your drive up and down the canyon and for any time you take a break at the car. 

Insulated Mugs are essential for keeping soups warm and coffee hot in between laps. That feeling of a heated soup during a lunch break on a powder day is pretty great. For coffee lovers, nothing beats coffee and mountain air. Pack a thermous of cocao if you have kids in tow! You'll instantly become closer to parent of the year.

Sodas and parking lot beers. Having choices other than water is also necessary. Anything from a quick sparkling water to your favorite local double rye IPA can be a perfect beverage during a ride break. These extra beverages can hit the spot. Make sure you have a designated driver should you decide to really get down on the parking lot beverages.



Seating is no problem if you have a truck, open the tailgate, and BAM! Instant bench. Lots of SUVs also have ample natural seating by opening the back. Grab a folding chair, camping chair, or any pop-up chair for extra oudoor seating.

Extra Gear

Having that extra pair of gloves or socks to change into on a cold day is a lifesaver. It's a quick way to warm up by switching layers. Goggles and extra lenses can always help when you're all fogged up or if the sun decides to hide for the day. Treat your facemasks like any other layer, always have extras, and change often if needed.

Hand Warmers and Blankets

Getting warmed up quickly is essential when you want to go back on the slopes. Hand warmers and blankets help with that. You can never have too many blankets especially with young ones.

Battery Pack or Power Bank

Keeping your phone and electronics charged is essential. And since the cold air tends to make the battery die quicker, having that rapid charge will keep your music playing in the parking lot and on the mountain. 

Leave it better than you found it

Trash bags, paper towels and other cleaning products help keep the car clean and the riders too! 

Make sure to keep your parking lot space clean. 



If your group size and family size are more in the 4-6 size range and you plan to enjoy a good lunch break, the "Nice To Haves" make the little extra effort SO much more worth it. 

Back-Up Board or Skis

Some days conditions change, and so does our riding style. So having that extra board or skis to swap at your convenience between riding all day is up to you. And for some of us, it can be the switch from soft boots to hard boots and poles.

Crock Pot / Hot Lunch

Have a warm lunch ready whenever you need it. Having a crockpot cook dinner the night before, or if your vehicle has the capabilities, it could cook in the car. A good chili, pot roast, or pulled pork sandwich all fill the belly and bring a smile. 

Compact Grill / Camp Stove

Cooking up a burger or a hotdog on the grill gives off the perfect feel of making your parking space feel like home. Parking lot tacos are one of my favorites. Take it up a notch and try breakfast in the parking lot. Nothing tastes as good as bacon cooked slopeside.

Table / Kitchen Supplies

If you're going to be upgrading your meals and cooking techniques, it is time to upgrade your mountain kitchen. A folding table and kitchen supplies make eating and serving food easier. Another excellent use for the tailgate of the truck is that the bench can also be a table.


Keeping drinks drinkable is essential. Even when tailgating and feeling warm, it can be so cold in the car that the beers can freeze. Just because we like our drinks to be cold doesn't mean your fingers need to suffer. Koozie's are also a great way to jazz up your drink.  

Boot Dryer / Heater  

Dry and warm boots quickly change the game for using the car as a home base and starting and ending the day comfortably. Pro Tip: Using your boot dryer in the morning warms your boots up perfectly for putting them on. 


 We love to listen to music while relaxing. Bluetooth speakers are convenient and portable, and it doesn't have to be super big or loud. It just has to fill your place with music. 



2nd Outfit / Party Gear

You're not only looking to change your boots, but you also have a unique hat, a favorite sports jersey, or a Hawaiian shirt you got as a joke and haven't thrown away yet. No matter what it is, getting goofy and having a good time is what tailgating is all about. 

Massive Cooler

What drinks did you bring? ALL OF THEM. With a large enough cooler, you can pack every one of your favorite beers and soda to keep the whole family happy.

Canopy / Awning

 If you want that extra shade, you must bring your canopy. Sometimes a break from the sun or a shield from the snow can make break time more delightful. 

Portable / Space Heater / Propane Stove

Stopping for lunch can help restore energy. The lack of movement can also mean colder temps can set in. Having the proper heater can warm your zone up. I've seen everything from small compact heaters to restaurant-quality patio heaters. 


Give your homebase the ultimate identifying item! The Flag! Is it a sports team? A state flag? or LOCALs Only banner? Whatever it is, let the whole parking lot know where you are.

Shot Ski

It's not a parking lot party without it. But this year, take a shot 6 feet apart and don't share your glass :) 

Parking Lot Games 

Playing games while taking a break is good for laughs. What's your go-to tailgating game? The one where you know you'll beat everyone else? Is it cornhole? Horseshoes? Or are you a ladderball kind of crew?

Learning to use our vehicle as a mountain home base might be new to many of us this year. This list is just here to give you ideas and suggestions on enjoying your unique base camp. Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments and wave hello to your fellow tailgaters in the parking lot next time.