Tailgating has become as much of an American pastime as the football games it is known to accompany. In fact, it is even rooted in something more deeply American than that. Did you know that the first tailgate party actually took place during the Civil War? That’s right, according to the American Tailgate Association, the first tailgate party took place in Manassas, Virginia, before Confederate forces and Union soldiers met in the First Battle of Bull Run. People, curious of the battle to come, loaded up their wagons with food, wine, whiskey and more and headed out close enough to the battlefield, but not too close, to check it out.

Since that time, the art of packing up your trucks with food and bevvies and gathering in a parking lot with friends in order to celebrate the day’s occurrences has pervaded many, if not all, or our sporting events. It has even filtered down into ski resorts where skiers and riders are always looking to extend their day with a little après.

With the warmer weather and longer days that accompany spring skiing rapidly approaching, you are bound to see many skiers and riders taking their après-ski to the parking lots at resorts around the country. Whether it’s a simple sandwich and a beer at your car or an elaborate set up complete with a table full of food, tailgating (especially after a day of shredding) is a blast. However, this should not be a fly by night operation. A solid tailgate party takes a bit of planning and a few essential items. So whether this is your first tailgate or you’re a veteran as seasoned as the meat you plan on serving, these tried and true tips and gear are bound make your next après-ski tailgate party as elevated and the high country you are in.

Arapahoe Basin April 15, 2017 – CSCUSA Beach Day – PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Camara

Be Prepared

The old adage of those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail is so true when it comes to tailgating. Remember, it is not as if you can just run back into your house and grab something. Since you are parked in a lot, you need to make sure that you cover all of your bases and pack them in the right way. For essentials such as utensils, paper towels, bbq tools, wipes, garbage bags, plates and more, I recommend the Camino Carryall 35 by Yeti. This durable do everything gear bag was designed with exactly this situation in mind and therefore the perfect carryall bag. However, it is not a cooler, so to guarantee that your marinated meats and beers stay as cold as they were when you packed them, go with the Rovr 45. It is big enough to fit all the brewskis that you need plus ice but not too big that it takes up all the space in your car. And, with special internal compartments your food can be stored separately and kept dry. This bad boy even has wheels and a bike attachment so if you want, you can roll right up on your e-mountain bike and meet your friends for the tailgate sesh.  

Get Canned

It’s time to hop on board with the new, old way of drinking your craft beer…in cans. Cans are far superior to bottled beer in the world of après-ski tailgating. They are lighter, far easier to pack and there is never the threat of broken glass. They even stand quite well on your ski poles, making them perfect for playing Polish Horseshoes. Currently, there are some great canned beers out there, particularly ones from breweries who support outdoor adventures like this. For you easterners, Lord Hobo Brewing is all about adventure and their Hobo Life, a super sessionable thirst quenching beer is perfect after a day on the slopes. Tailgating out west? 10 Barrel Brewing’s motto is drink beer outside and you should, especially their Pray For Snow or Trail Beer. Both will certainly deliver the goods. Either way, I suggest keeping your brews cold in the Cooler Cup from Hydroflask, a two in one vessel that will keep your can secure or act as a cup if you prefer to drink it that way. If Hot Toddies or Bourbon Hot Chocolates are more your thing, then grab yourself a 32 ounce Founder bottle from Purist. With 12 hours of heat retention, you can make it in the morning and it will still be hot by the time you get to your party.

It’s All About the Food

No matter what type of party I am at, it is all about the food and just because you are in a parking lot somewhere there is no reason for this oh-so-important-facet to suffer. So make sure it doesn’t. You can certainly keep it simple as pack some sandwiches and store them in the dry compartment of your Rovr 45. However, a true tailgating pro will want to BBQ, and I suggest you pack up the new Versa Top Grill from Camp Chef. This will fit any of Camp Chef’s 14” accessories including the grill, griddle and even the pizza oven. It will be like having your very own food truck with a menu that is equally versatile and limitless.

Get Comfortable

It may be called a tailgate party, but that doesn’t mean that the back of your truck has to be the be all end all of where you can sit and/or place your food. With so many companies making high quality, fully packable gear these days, you can experience the comforts of home no matter where you are. You definitely will want to bring along a table, so that your food has a flat surface to sit on and guests are easily served. The Big Agnes Woodchuck Table is sturdy, yet light (2 lb, 1 oz) and ideal for displaying that delicious spread you just cooked up. What is a table without chairs? Nothing, so be sure to surround yours with some. The Big Six Camp Chair from Big Agnes is also under three pounds and a super comfortable way to relax those feet after you loosen your boots.


Music is a must at après-ski. The notion of booking your own live band for the parking lot is highly unlikely, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t listen to some good tunes. Create your own spotify playlist or listen to ours and play all the après-ski classics over Kicker’s Bullfrog. Small enough to carry yet durable enough for a ski resort parking lot. You can even pair it with another Bullfrog Kicker for total surround sound and jam all party long.

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