The Best Apres Ski Tailgate Gear of 2023
These snow-ready indulgences will revive you after a long day on the mountain
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Frigid fingers, numb toes, and empty bellies are the enemies of hard-charging winter adventurers. Thankfully, there’s a vibrant world of winter tailgating equipment tailored for the snowy season. From packable bonfires to foldable rocking chairs, this is the soul-warming gear to keep in your trunk.
How We Tested
Testers from California to Alaska weeded out lights that fizzled in cold weather, chairs that put our butts in the snow, and hard-to-assemble grills that delayed us in getting out to the mountains. One camp blanket left our testers shivering cold on a clear night in New Mexico. At Alaska’s Alyeska Resort, a tester-ski patroller ended up with soaked layers because of a thermos with a poor seal. Only the most carefully-crafted, well-designed, and notably luxurious equipment made it into our final apres kit.
Reviews: The Best Apres Ski Tailgate Gear of 2023
Solo Stove Ranger 2.0 ($229)
The Ranger is a no-mess, fuss-free fire pit that doubles as a wood-fired stove. Slightly bigger than an Instapot and weighing just 15 pounds (Solo Stove sells two larger versions), the sleek, stainless steel vessel stashes easily in even the most compact vehicles. During testing, the Ranger lit quickly, even in wet snow, thanks to a super-heated wood burning system that sucks air through a set of vent holes on the bottom. Thanks to the high heat, the consistent, smokeless flame cooks food evenly with a variety of optional cooktop accessories, woks to griddle tops; a cast iron grill produced even char marks on steaks and veggies. Best of all? Thanks to the double-walled construction, the stove bottom remained cool, staying aloft on its snow perch and cutting down waiting time before we were able to stash it back in the car.
Bottom Line: This portable bonfire leaves no trace.
NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair ($250)
“Rocking chair” might conjure up images of immovable wooden antiques, but NEMO’s Stargazer is the portable exception, and one of the nicest packable recliners on the market. The stout, aircraft-grade aluminum frame cradles a nylon and monofilament mesh seat—essentially a bassinet for adults—strong enough to support 300 pounds. The Stargaze automatically reclines with moderate pressure, while the low-to-the-ground, rubber tipped chair legs conform to unstable surfaces—like the typical mix of ice, road salt, and pavement that you find in most ski area parking lots. A cup-holder large enough to hold a 32-ounce Hydro Flask and a cell phone pouch nestle securely on the interior of the armrests. The Stargaze weighs 7.2-pounds and packs down to the size of a rolled up beach towel—even with a padded velcro-adjustable headrest—so it’s easier to transport than a typical car camping chair. But you can safely leave it out after one too many hot toddy’s thanks to its waterproof, quick-drying mesh.
Bottom Line: A rocking chair and recliner for the most rugged tailgating.
Appalachian Gear Company All-Paca Blanket ($165)
If a 23-ounce, 100 percent alpaca blanket doesn’t sound technical enough for your apres needs, fear not: This lightweight layer kept our testers warm down to the low 20s when worn over a down vest or jacket after a long day of skiing. The All-Paca packs down smaller than a rolled-up sweater for easy stowing. “It was a comfort to know it was always with me in my bag when I traveled,” said one tester who snuggled under it while backpacking in New Mexico, night fishing on the California coast, and skiing in Alaska. The 25-square-foot blanket is sewn in Appalachian Gear Company’s North Carolina factory with a run-resistant weft knit.
Bottom Line: An alpaca throw can do everything your fleece blanket can and more.
Klymit Horizon Overland Blanket ($99)
This blanket has a ripstop, polyurethane-coated shell that repels light precip, dirt, and sand, while a cozy soft fleece lines the other side. Those two layers sandwich synthetic Primaloft insulation, which kept testers warm even when the face fabric wetted out during a snowstorm while huddling around a campfire at 8000 feet near New Mexico’s Valles Caldera. (The five- by seven-foot Horizon Overland is big enough for two adults and a dog to cuddle under). Later that night, they used it as an extra layer over their 20-degree sleeping bags and never felt cold, even as temperatures dropped down near zero. The whole blanket stuffs into a sack roughly the size of a medium camping pillow.
Bottom Line: This dirt-shedding snuggler should live in everyone’s trunk.
UCO Candlelier Candle Lantern ($40)
Delightfully low-tech but highly functional, this compact candle lantern forsakes batteries, electricity, and white gas in favor of the three included nine-hour candles. Just one UCO gear candle offers a comforting glow, while all three give off a total of 5000 BTU’s—plenty of warmth to thaw frosty fingers. The flat aluminum top acts like a chafing dish, radiating enough heat to keep a bowl of soup warm or melt a pot of snow. UCO’s nalgene-sized illuminator comes with a glass shroud that protects it from icy precipitation and mountain wind while aluminum holders keep the candles in place. A stainless steel handle means no burnt hands and doubles as a hanger.
Bottom Line: A hand-warmer, chafing dish, and intimate lighting in one.
Miir Tomo ($60)
A sleek, convivial take on the classic thermos, the stainless steel Tomo incorporates an eight-ounce insulated twist-off cup on both the top and bottom of the vessel. That means more hot beverages and fewer germs. The one liter, double-wall insulated vessel won’t leak all over your car or spill in your backpack thanks to a 360-degree sealed rim: a simple push mechanism on top opens and closes the valve. A sleek handle running the entire length of the thermos body makes the Tomo exceptionally easy to pour and carry.
Bottom Line: Japanese design and engineering meet the age-old Thermos.