Everything You Need for the Ultimate Post-Mountain Tailgate

Expert-approved essentials for the après ski parking lot party of your dreams.

Thrillist | Grace Han
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Hitting the mountain this season obviously looks different. With the global impact of COVID-19, resorts have implemented crucial changes to create the safest riding experience for everyone on the hill. Gone—at least for now—are the days of sharing picnic tables with strangers, warming up your toes by a fire, or ripping Jägerbombs with the local ski bums who spend more time by the bar than on the slopes. You know the ones, they're the personification of après ski.

So while the lodges may be closed (don’t worry, you can still use bathrooms), the parking lot has become the impromptu spot to hang after a day of riding. Not only does it provide a great 6-foot radius, but it allows your car to become your temporary chalet. After spending the last two months doing serious snowboarding research at various mountains in Vermont, I’ve put together the ultimate list of essentials to help you become a bonafide lot lizard (but not the truck stop kind, c'mon).

Here's what you need kick back, have fun, and stay toasty after a long day on the hill.

Thrillist | Grace Han

YETI Tundra Cooler

Price: $299
Why it's worth it: Why take the risk of a frozen beer? Not only will this help you keep your food and drinks perfectly chilled, but once you head home, you can use it as a cooler when you stop at the grocery store and stock up on essentials. Double-duty means less trips all around.

Thrillist | Grace Han

Helinox Camp Chair

Price: $109
Why it's worth it: If you're going to get a solid chair, get one that provides excellent back support, leg room, and comes with an add-on seat warmer (for $49.95). Keep your buns toasty, sit comfortably, and reap the benefits of this lightweight portable chair that not only looks cool, but will 100% be useful all year long.

Thrillist | Grace Han

Stansport Folding Utility Camping Table

Price: $40
Why it's worth it: An essential for any tailgate—regardless of the season. This foldable beauty slides right into your car, is super affordable, and allows you so much flexibility when cooking food, keeping said food dry, or even playing a social-distant game of Codenames.

Thrillist | Grace Han

YETI Rambler Wine Cup

Price: $24.99 
Why it's worth it: A cup is crucial to have because you never know who’s going to break out the wine, sangria, or hell, even margaritas. These YETI cups are awesome and will keep your hands from freezing on a cold beverage and cozy if you decide to opt for hot. To make it easier to know whose cup is whose, buy different colors so everyone can keep track of their own to avoid any second-hand sips.

Thrillist | Grace Han

Burton 73L Duffel Bag

Price: $99
Why it's worth it: Trust me when I say you will inevitably forget something when you get to the mountain. Instead of stressing (did I pack socks? Goggles? Change of shoes?) keep yourself organized with one place for everything to live. Your future self will not only thank you, but you won’t end up sitting in the car while everyone else has fun because you forgot your coat.

Thrillist | Grace Han

MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove

Price: $49
Why it's worth it: Small yet mighty, this portable stove can boil water in three minutes and 30 seconds for all your hot toddy (or hot chocolate) needs. It's incredibly simple to use, easy to pack, and will keep your hands warm as you play bartender—or chef, as this cooks up a mean cup of ramen.

Thrillist | Grace Han

Lowe’s Puzzle Mat

Price: $39
Why it's worth it: When you’re ready to kick off your boots, give yourself a solid surface to swap your shoes without having to do the one-foot boot dance (you know the one). Having this mat is also a plus if your feet run cold so you’re not standing on the snow/ice. AND these puzzle pieces interlock so you can create a custom size for a portable standing station (or foot resting station right in front of your chair).

Thrillist | Grace Han

Holden Puffy Shoe

Price: $80 
Why it's worth it: For optimizing your parking lot hang, you'll want to slip your feet into something more comfortable ASAP. Not only do Holden’s slippers look like sneakers, but they’ll keep your feet warm, are easy to throw on, and make the transition home a smooth and comfy one.

Thrillist | Grace Han

DarnTough Ski Socks

Price: $24
Why it's worth it: There’s nothing better than stripping off cold, wet socks and putting on a fresh pair. You’ll stay warmer standing outside, feel refreshed post-boots, and your friends or family will thank you as soon as you get into the car to drive back home. The latter might be the best reason to buy these, especially if you want to be invited back.

Thrillist | Grace Han

L.L. Bean Waterproof Blanket

Price: $79
Why it's worth it: It should go without saying that having a blanket in your car during the winter is always a good idea, but it's worth repeating. If you have kids, this is the perfect way to get them to hangout in their own picnic zone. If you don’t have kids, this is the perfect way to get yourself your own picnic zone. Win/win. This specific blanket is waterproof, warm, compact, and durable. 

Thrillist | Grace Han

Helly Hansen LIFA Face Mask

Price: $15
Why it's worth it: This mask is outdoor sport-approved with Helly Hansen’s proprietary 3-layer fabric that will keep your skin sweat-free. Even better? For every mask sold, the profits are donated to The Conservation Alliance.

Thrillist | Grace Han

Baggu Reusable Extra Large Bag

Price: $16
Why it's worth it: Pack out what you pack in. Baggu bags are excellent ways to bring trash home in a more eco-friendly way. Not only are you able to throw these in the wash if they get gross, but you’ll save the pain of cleaning up cans, food, or anything else from the people who work on the hill.

Thrillist | Grace Han

Feathered Friends Down Booties

Price: $109
Why it's great: Aside from the fact that these resemble cartoon space boots, they’ll do an incredibly diligent job of keep your feet very warm while you’re sipping your cold one (or warm one if you used the Rocket Stove to make a hot toddy). Designed for campers, these booties provide the versatility of an extremely warm insulated sock with a weather resistant shell. Basically, this means your feet stay warm and dry inside even if it's raining or snowing on the boots.

Molly McGlew is a writer and social media strategist based in Burlington, Vermont. Follow her on Instagram as she explores with her pup, Louise, @mollymcglew.
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