Skiing during a pandemic, well it’s interesting to say the least. There has been countless studies and open letters saying that skiing can be safe as long as you keep your distance, wear a mask in the line and on the chair lift, and if the hills limit capacity to their slopes. That said, there is a lot adapting and changes to be made to the ski experience as a result. Access will be very limited to the chalet and lodge, and so being prepared to get ready, eat, and even hang out at your car will make things a lot easier this season. That’s where winter tailgating comes in. Using your car as a base lodge this ski season will be a big shift from last season, that’s why I’ve been working on winter tailgating tips for you!

Winter Tailgating Will Be the New Normal

Photo Credit: Will Lambert found on the SkiBig3 Website

I’m Canadian, and tailgate parties aren’t very common here. They are much more common with our neighbours to the south, and from what I understand, they can be pretty epic! That said, our neighbours to the south are on to something. Tailgate parties have people hanging out, eating food, enjoying a great time all right outside of their car. We can certainly translate that to our new reality here in Canada as most of us will have limited or no access to the chalet or lodge. Staying at your car ensures your keeping a safe distance from others, and that you are exposing yourself or other to the risk of the virus.

So how to you prepare yourselves to turn your care into your ski lodge? I’m here to help. Before we dive in, I’m first going to share a few basic essentials that you’ll need even if it’s for a small break. You won’t need every item on the list depending on your vehicle and situation, so choose these essentials as you see fit.

You will need some sort of seating depending on your vehicle. We have a Subaru Legacy (a sedan) and it’s a bit tricky to get the boots on in the car in our case, so we have a few packable camping chairs to help us and the kids get their gear on.
We also have a small carpet that we bring to go under the chair to help facilitate a dry “getting the boots on” experience.
You could also bring folding chair and the chairs aren’t just for getting ready, they can be used for the aprè ski as well!

Now most hills have adapted to include some take out food or outdoor food truck style offering. However, that can get expensive. We have always been fans of bringing our own food to the hill. Having a cooler packed with snacks and lunches that are easy to manage will go a long way. We like cold lunches, but you could certainly include a thermos for warm meals as well.

Having lots of water, sports drinks, coffee any anything else that you need to keep going is essential. Pack a few extra bottles if you need to. Make sure that everyone has their own water bottle (cups might be problematic with little kids, so stick to bottles).

Hand Warmers and Blankets
So it hasn’t gotten that cool in Canada yet, but January is known for some -20C temperatures. So having extra hand warmers and blankets handy will keep everyone warm and excited to get back to the hill after a break. And let’s be honest, you can never have too much warmth! You can also utilize your car as a warm up station as well if needed.

Garbage Bags
It’s super important to leave the hill the same way you found it. I’ve already see trash piles in the parking lot of my local hill and it’s really disheartening. Make sure you have a bag to put all your trash in, and bring it home to throw out.

Extra Gear
It’s going to be harder to warm up damp gloves when you’re hanging outside, so why not pack an extra set? This goes for face coverings as well. It can’t hurt, and you’ll be happy you brought them!

Now that we have covered the essentials, it’s time to UPGRADE your tailgating experience.

I’m part of a facebook group called “Mordus de Ski” it’s a group with a lot of ski and snowboard enthusiast from the province of Quebec. (these are my people!). Recently, one of the group members, Brigitte of posted her tailgate set up, and I was VERY impressed. They had set up a tent with a fire pit and were enjoying drinks in their family bubble. They truly had a VIP experience, and it’s safe to say, we are all very jealous of them!
With permission, she let me share her photos:

Not too shabby if I do say so myself! Photo credit: Brigitte of

So this leads me to tips to upgrade your tailgate experience.

Camping Stove
If you’re in it for the long haul, why not cook up some burgers, stew or anything else you can make on a stove. It makes your experience more “ski lodge” like, and a warm meal certainly gets me excited to get back on the hills. We’d also include some kitchen supplies in this category as well. It’s a pure luxury, but if you’re skiing for the day, why not!?

Heater / Fire Pit
Take it from my fellow Mordus de Ski group members, and warm yourself up with a mini heather or charcoal stove turned fire pit. Get yourself nice and toasty before going back to the slopes on those cooler days.

Canopy or Tent
Anything is possible, and this upgraded piece doesn’t only protect you from the elements and keep you warm, it also ensures you’re staying within your family bubble! I love this idea so much and I really love that I have seen it put to use right here in Quebec.

I’ll start off with saying, don’t drink and drive, but those who are not driving, can certainly have a beer or glass of wine at the end of the day. Just because you can’t go into the chalet for your après ski doesn’t mean you should miss out completely. The après experience is always a highlight for me!

Another après ski element is some great tunes. Have a drink, enjoy some music and hopefully some sunshine and good weather.
(as long as you’re not annoying everyone around you, don’t be that guy in the parking lot playing music with inappropriate language at full blast with a family beside you).

So that’s it, my winter tailgating tips. I hope I have inspired you to make the most of the ski hill this season and that converting your car into a ski lodge is totally manageable (and a lot of fun)! I’ll be posting some of our winter tailgating images to my instagram soon, so be sure to follow along.
Quick note before I sign off: It’s important to note that you should check with your local ski hills before lugging some of those more luxury items to the hill.

Thanks for reading, and have a great ski season!

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