Being in the mountains is an incredible release, emotionally and physically, and one thing we've learned in the past few years is that you don't necessarily need a fancy lodge to make the downtime between runs comfortable. If you plan ahead and bring the right gear, winter tailgating can be just as fun!
Create Your Core Winter Tailgating Kit
Having the right gear makes the experience so much better — especially with kids. Comfortable, packable chairs; stable surfaces for drinks and snacks; and a little ground protection can go a long way in turning the parking lot into an impromptu hang spot.
1. Functional Ground Cover
Nothing sucks the life out of you and your little ones faster than standing on the cold ground for long periods of time. The foundation for any good kit is a sturdy, waterproof barrier — and our Victory™ Patio blanket is just the ticket for establishing your cozy zone. Rugged enough to walk on, yet soft enough to sit on, the waterproof base is lined with a membrane that creates a barrier for the cold. It's also equipped with stake points to keep it in place if the wind picks up.
2. Comfortable Yet Packable Chairs
A good chair really makes all the difference in this scenario. You want something that's sturdy on uneven ground and a supportive seat you can really relax in — your legs need a break after all those runs!
Any chair offers the warmth benefit of raising you off the ground, and will make changing in and out of boots easier. But not every chair is equal when it comes to packability — that's where our Stargaze™ and Moonlite™ reclining camp chairs shoot to the top of the list. Both chairs pack up small so you'll still have room for them amongst all your other gear, and they assemble swiftly and easily (even with gloves on!).
The best reason to bring them, though, is the comfort factor. Once you lean back in a Stargaze or Moonlite, you'll never want to go back to a standard camp chair. (Not to mention the rhythmic swinging motion of Stargaze — you might not make it back up the mountain.)
3. Hassle-Free Hot Lunches
Nothing feels better than warming your body from the inside out with filling, delicious food. At NEMO, we’re big fans of our good friends and neighbors in Maine, Good To-Go. We all use them on our backpacking and camping adventures and have quickly added them to our ski mountain tailgating kits too.
Sure, a sandwich works, or bringing leftovers from home... But that may require bigger heating devices and create dirty dishes you don't want to deal with (you’re trying to get as many runs in as you can!).
With just a small camp or backpacking stove from your summer kit, you'll have all you need to heat up the necessary amount of water for a few Good To-Go meals. Even better is that they hydrate right in the package, so all you need is a spoon to start eating. And their meals consist of fun recipes from all over the world, so you can add some spice to your lunch and create a fun food adventure for your children — all in a tidy kit with easy clean-up.
4. Warm Feet, Happy Feet
Is there anything better than the feeling of taking off your boots after hours of activity? If you're relaxing outside, you'll want to trade them for a toasty pair of slippers with rubber soles.
Many of us at NEMO love the Merino wool ones our good friends at Glerups make. They're the perfect shoe to slip into while you enjoy a break from the slopes, keeping your feet warm and letting the muscles relax so you can get recharged for the afternoon. The thick wool felt and rubber sole, working in tandem with your ground barrier, really makes for a comfortable, rejuvenating experience.
5. Thank Goodness for Down
A good down jacket can serve you in two ways — when it’s extra cold on the mountain, it always helps to rock a layer of down to keep the cold, dry air away from your body. But when you’re tailgating at the mountain, it’s also great to have down on hand so your body can rest for a bit and not have to work to stay warm.
Even if it’s just a shell and/or fleece type of day, taking them off to let the moisture evaporate will make your afternoon session that much more comfortable. While those layers air out, throw a nice down puffy on and start heating up your lunch. We love Flylow’s Betty Down (women's) and General’s Down (men's) for their 800-fill power goose down warmth and versatility for these situations.
6. Warm Drinks for All, Especially Coffee
Since you’ve already packed your backpacking stove and hopefully plenty of water, we definitely recommend bringing some hot cocoa for the kids (some of our favorite hot cocoa recipes are here) and freshly roasted coffee for the adults. These quick warm-ups offer a good shot of energy to keep you going the rest of the day.
We recently discovered that our friends at Ski The Whites, an outfitter in Jackson, NH, just started roasting their own single-origin beans in small batches. Ski The Whites Coffee Roasters maintains a roast-to-order policy so you are getting beans that are as fresh and flavorful as possible. We couldn’t think of a better way to start our day while getting after it in the Whites — or boost our afternoons for that matter — than with a fresh cup of Ski The Whites coffee.
8. And, Of Course, Après
Don't forget to celebrate that post-ski glow with tea or a cocktail!
For those who like to mix it up, we’re loving Skiklubben Aquavit from our dear friends and New Hampshire neighbors, Tamworth Distilling. Not only is this traditional Scandanavian spirit a delightfully warming dram after a long day on the hill, but it’s also inspired by a cool piece of New Hampshire ski heritage — the Nansen Ski Club was founded in 1872 in New Hampshire and it is the oldest operating ski club in the country. This winter, we’ve been enjoying this delicious recipe from Tamworth at the end of some of our snow-filled days.
The Swedish Mule
- 2oz. Skiklubben Aquavit
- 3oz ginger beer (preferably Maine Root)
- ¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
Pour Skiklubben Aquavit and lime juice into a mug. Add ice cubes and ginger beer — stir to combine. Add a wedge of lime and enjoy while reminiscing about the big powder slashes you made earlier in the day.
9. Don’t Forget These Other Useful Items
A small cooler can be really handy. Instead of keeping things cold, the insulation keeps items from freezing, and it's an awesome place to stow away everything you need for lunch, including your camp stove and utensils. If you have a hard-sided cool, it can double as another table or place to put your feet up, too.
A small dust broom is nice to keep a tidy camp and brush snow off your ground covering. Finally, music brings joy to any picnic — we’re definitely remembering our favorite Bluetooth speaker.