A Skier’s Guide to the Best (and Worst) Chairlift Snacks

All snacks are great snacks, but not all great snacks are created equal, especially when eating them with mittens.

Photo: Getty Images

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In addition to the actual act of schlooshing on snow, we skiers love to snack. In order to maximize our LPHs (that’s laps per hour), diehard skiers grub on the chairlift while our quads catch a break. This also helps to avoid what experts call Lunch Legs: when your limbs turn to absolute Jell-O on the first run after stopping for a mid-day meal. Food, friends, food; it’s what powers us from the first chair to the closing bell. But the ultimate crowd-sourced vittles and munching ranking system does not exist. That is, until now. Criteria for this list is based on a precise scientific formula that combines taste and texture, cost, pocket-ability, share-ability, odor, and over-informed personal opinion. Eat up, pals! 

0/5 Star Snacks

raw egg
High on protein, low on taste. Photo: Getty Images


“Forgetting a snack, having nothing in your pockets except disappointment, is about as bad as forgetting your skis.” —Bob Yahootie, 81, Alpine Meadows (Wisconsin)



“Ewwww, ciggies on a chairlift are a no-go. Unless you’re in France. Then it’s just part of the cultural experience.” —Caite Zeliff, 27, Jackson Hole


Anything with onions

“They make me cry. Also, they don’t taste good.” —Tep Cahall, 9, Crystal Mountain


Cell Phones

“Put those goddamn things away!” —Ignatz Montague, 83, Wilmot Mountain


Tuna sandwich

“Especially on a gondola/tram ride. Whether it’s yours or someone else’s; not only does it stink up the enclosed chairlift, it also stinks up your breath, your fingers, and gets stuck in your teeth.” –Elyse Saugstad, forever young, Palisades Tahoe


A raw egg

“This one time, my best friend Timmy Dutton and I played this game. He handed me an egg in the morning and slipped an egg into his own pocket. The game was whoever cracked their egg first lost. Not only would you lose the game, but you would also lose your mind trying to clean raw eggs out of your pocket. The day progressed and somehow I broke my egg first. Timmy pulled his intact egg out of his pocket, smiling, and peeled it back to show a hard-boiled egg! He got me good on that one. Either way, an egg on the go is a risky maneuver, quite possibly even riskier than that banana you forgot in your backcountry pack last week.” —Michelle Parker, 34 years old, Palisades Tahoe


Nature Valley crumbs

“Those crumbly-ass Nature Valley bars they give out for free, which taste like cardboard and get EVERYWHERE, are the worst.” —Heather Hansman, 37, Stevens Pass



“Is that a banana in your pocket? Because if it is, it’s gonna inevitably get smooshed in your pocket and the banana puree will forever destroy said pocket. Don’t ski with a banana.” –Cody Townsend, ageless, Palisades Tahoe


1/5 Star Snacks

Frozen popsicles on a frigid day = not very satisfying. Photo: Getty Images

Smashed sandwich

“One time when I was 9, my mom made me a peanut butter honey bagel, which in theory sounds amazing, but then I fell on top of it in my jacket pocket. Not only did I smash it into an unrecognizable brownish blob, but the baggie broke and I had a very horribly sticky pocket and no snack.” —Micheli Oliver, 23, Winter Park


Frozen Clif Bar

Easily my least favorite—the one you accidentally left in an exterior backpack pocket and is now a chocolate chip hockey puck. It takes a 17-minute ride up the shittiest fixed-grip chair at the resort in order to finish it and you end up with a jaw cramp.” —Connor Ryan, 28, Eldora



“They make you too cold when it’s cold outside.” Wiley Cahall, 5 years old, Alpine Meadows


Chips and salsa

“The more loose items one has on a lift, the higher the probability that something is dropped.” —Aaron Mike, 35, Arizona Snowbowl


2/5 Star Snacks

Swedish fish
The best chewy sugar rush ever. Photo: Getty Images

Bag of spaghetti

“I saw a guy once eat spaghetti out of a plastic bag with his hands. It was disgusting. But he offered me a handful. The meatballs were pretty good.” —Bob Yahootie, 81, Alpine Meadows (Wisconsin)



“Let’s just say, if you are going to put Swedish fish in your pocket and then ski a wet or rainy day, make sure they are in a bag. Swedish fish plus moisture equals a very, very bad (and sticky) day.” —Amie Engerbretson, 33 years old, Palisades Tahoe


3/5 Star Snacks

(Editor’s Note: No 3/5 star snacks exist. Who the hell wants a middle-of-the-road snack. It’s either a great snack or a crap snack. There is no medium tasty snack. These are the rules.)


4/5 Star Snacks

Salty meat for the win. Photo: Getty Images

Beef jerky

“What in the hell is better than salty, dried meat. Not much. Got easier to chew once I got the dentures.” —Ignatz Montague, 83, Wilmot


Haribo Goldbears Gummi Bears

“Gummy bears are equal parts simple sugar for the short-term boost and delightful yum for the psyche.” —Aaron Mike, 35, Arizona Snowbowl


Body-warmed Snickers

“A good old-fashioned Snickers has everything you need; basically the same amount of calories, sugar, and protein as your average energy bar but it tastes WAY better! I store mine in my long johns for a run or two to make sure it is nice and warm for an optimal eating experience. No one likes a cold Snickers. Yes, that is a Snickers in my pants regardless of how happy I am to see you.” —Amie Engerbretson, 33 years old, Palisades Tahoe


5/5 Star Snacks

More salty meat for the win. Photo: Getty Images

Chocolate chip pancakes

“I love to make pancakes and throw them in my pocket. You just have to remember to zip it up because if you tomahawk and snow gets in your pocket, things get messy and soggy.” Caite Zeliff, 27, Jackson Hole


Quaker Oats chocolate chip Chewy bar

“I like chocolate chips. And it has nuts. It’s good. It’s really good.” —Wiley Cahall, 5, Alpine Meadows



“They don’t melt in your hands. And they give you energy for skiing down the slope. And sugar!” —Tep Cahall, 9, Crystal Mountain


Bacon smuggled from the Continental Breakfast at the hotel

“I wandered into the lobby, trying to find a restroom clean enough to take a long warm seat on the porcelain throne after a night in my van. Come about 12:30 on a powder day you need a little protein and fat, carbohydrates alone will not suffice in an all-day effort. Pocket bacon you swipe from a hotel keeps you from having to go in for a $19 dollar junior cheeseburger.” —Connor Ryan, 28, Eldora


Welch’s fruit snacks

“Hands down, fruit snacks are the best, preferably kind of smushed and kind of frozen. I’ll pack at least 5 bags of Welches fruit snacks before a ski resort day. And no I don’t share with the kids.” Micheli Oliver, 23, Winter Park



“If that load of sugar and caffeine doesn’t get you hyped up, you may not have a pulse.” —Cody Townsend, ageless, Palisades Tahoe


Chicken Tenders

“Chicken tenders and fries with Buffalo sauce from the Sundeck is my favorite on-mountain snack. The Sundeck has take-out containers or you can just pocket those tendies. They’re a little crumbly but totally worth it.” —Xanthe Demas, age unknown, Aspen



“The dirtbag quesadilla—a tortilla wrapped around a string cheese—is a delicacy. Yes, you are right. I am a gourmet.” —Heather Hansman, 37, Stevens Pass


Wildflour Baking Co. peanut butter cookies

“I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors about the world-famous cookies being served up under the tram. My personal and all-time favorite is the peanut butter cookie. Peanut butter cookies on the go for the win! Unless you’re stoned and the peanut butter gets stuck to the roof of your mouth, but that’s your problem. Wash it down with some fresh powder in the face to make your day better!” —Michelle Parker, 34, Palisades Tahoe

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