In a year where everything looks a little different, being flexible with your approach to winter recreation is key. While the ski resorts will be spinning their lifts, most of the lodges are either closed or operating at an extremely limited capacity. Suddenly, parking lot lunch (and everything else) is taking on a whole new meaning. For some people though, “Lot Life” has always been where it’s at. Arriving at the mountain with a plan, and the right gear, can make any day at the hill feel epic, not to mention a little easier to manage.
Eric Roesinger is part of the Yakima crew, and he’s spent years dialing in his family’s approach to getting after it outside. Now that his kids are a little older, he shared some of his favorite tips and tricks for turning the parking lot into your own tailgate program.
What does your go-to winter set up look like for the family?
For us there are two approaches: go up for the day or spend the night either before or after and do multiple days. We use our van for both, but overnighting requires a little more planning.
In terms of this year, we’ve got two kids (8th and 10th grade) and dogs. Our day starts with trying to get the best position we can in the lot, just to make it easier. We’ll prep breakfast the night before, so we can roll easily. Normally we’d heat up breakfast burritos in the lodge and get coffee, but not this year. After we eat, we run the dogs until they’re tuckered out. This is all before 9am, then we transition into gearing up and getting ready to go.
How do you do lunch?
We usually hit a natural breaking off point, and this year we’ll definitely be doing that at the van. Depending on the weather we’ll break out our pop-up table and heat up some soup or make sandwiches. We don’t have a kitchen in the van, so we cook outside. If the weather is crap we’ll eat in the van, and if it’s nice we sit outside.
One of the biggest benefits to the van is just to have a place to change and get warm and have some space to work with. If we’re spending the night we’ll play cards, and string up some lights and make it cozy.
Tips? Tricks? Things people should know?
One of the biggest hacks that’s been huge for us is: get a basic sled. When you have little kids, there’s always a pile of stuff you have to haul up to the lodge, even if you’re not able to go inside the same way this season. With a sled, you can load up the kids’ gear, then haul that up to the ski check area. The kids walk, and the gear gets pulled. At the end of the day, put it in your cargo box!
Also, this might be obvious but planning your food is key. We always brown bag it for lunch and have a bit of menu planned. Now, no one will be eating in the lodge so that’s sort of taken care of, but some good salami and cheese will always beat out bars or gels. Breakfast burritos are good any time. Morning, lunch, post ski…heat them up in the lodge microwave or camp stove. Whatever it takes.
Gear talk: What do you rely on to make your day work?
We use the SkyBox Lo Pro cargo box, especially in winter. With wet gear, having it inside the van makes it way too foggy. We have little boot dryers that hook into our 12v system to get them dry overnight. We rock an ancient Coleman camp stove for cooking, but any stove will do. We’ve got two folding tables we can bust out, one that’s small and backpacking-oriented and one that’s bigger for a full-on meal program. We use Helinox camp chairs, which pack down nicely.
We have a matt we roll out by the door to help it feel homier, and some Rumpl blankets for keeping cozy and hanging out. Our big investment was a Dometic fridge, with freezing capabilities. So we’ve got the ability to keep plenty of food and beer cold, and we can make ice!
We installed a drawer set up in the back of the van from a company called Decked, which is pretty rad and really helps organize things. This year I added a RoadShower to the van, but it’s more for summer activity, like surfing and riding mountain bikes.
You were there for opening day. How was the first day at the mountain this year?
It was super fun! Good conditions, good snow, with lots of oversight from the staff. Most people were really tuned in and aware. The parking lot was lively. People were grilling up hot dogs for the kids, and I think that’s going to be what we see more of this year.