Earlier this winter, we spent a weekend chasing pro skier Essex Prescott through the backcountry zones around his hometown of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Prescott’s been exploring these zones heavily the last few years, coming full circle as he re-discovers the mountains that first sparked his love of skiing.
As a kid growing up in Coeur d’Alene, Prescott cut his teeth on the nearby slopes of Schweitzer Mountain ski resort. But as his passion for skiing turned into more of a career, he spent his winters chasing storms to far-off locales like British Columbia and Japan, often with his ski sponsor Nordica. That is, until COVID came in like a wrecking ball.
Like it did for so many of us, the pandemic squashed Prescott’s plans. With travel off the table, he returned home and hunkered down. But not skiing? That wasn’t on the table. Instead of heading abroad, he simply shifted his focus to the beautiful albeit difficult-to-access peaks in his backyard. A Subaru ambassador, Prescott hopped in his trusty Outback and began road-tripping, camping, and exploring the nooks and crannies of Idaho, seeking epic vistas, good times, and rippable snow.
The result of Prescott’s backyard adventures? Famous Potatoes, a critically acclaimed shred film released in 2021 that’ll make you want to wax up your skis and head to the hill. The film features Prescott and a few friends, who collectively call themselves the “Potato Boys,” sending steep lines, hucking cliffs, and indulging in feel-good face shots and pond skimming.
Last year, Prescott and the Potato Boys filmed Famous Potatoes: The Lost Season, which released earlier this month, and they’re currently filming Famous Potatoes 2. In between film days, we got the chance to tag along with Prescott and a couple of friends to experience a classic weekend in the Idaho backcountry. We camped at trailheads, sniffed out good snow, skied powder fueled by parking lot burritos, and cracked après beers. Truth be told, it was a blast–and no wonder why Prescott and his crew live the way they do.
As you’ll see in our short film we shot with Prescott that weekend, he isn’t just a ripping skier, after all, but a ripping human, too. And whether you’re a skier or not, his perspectives on chasing snow and the beauty of exploring your backyard are ones we can all learn from. Check out the film below, and then scroll further for a quick Q and A as Prescott shares his thoughts on life on the road as well as a few of his favorite car camping hacks.
Luno: Hey Essex! Thanks for showing us around your backyard. It’s been a blast. So tell us, what’s the story behind Famous Potatoes?
Essex Prescott: So I was living in Canada for a while, and then during COVID, I came back home and realized how epic the backcountry was around Coeur d’Alene. Basically, the first Famous Potatoes movie was just rediscovering and exploring those backcountry zones with a good crew of Idaho friends.
We've done a couple of other projects since then: we did a road trip to Baja, and we did another one called The Lost Season that just dropped, and we're working on Famous Potatoes 2 at the moment. We actually already shot a lot of Famous Potatoes 2 at home, but we're also doing a whole British Columbia segment as well.
L: And for the BC segment, you drove out to Whistler? What’s the rig that you’re driving these days?
EP: Honestly, I was a truck guy before, which is pretty standard-issue for backcountry skiers with sleds. But it's been cool because I've basically been a straight Subaru Outback guy for four years now.
L: Interesting. What are the advantages of a Subaru compared to a truck?
EP: It’s nuts, I have so much extra space compared to running an extended cab truck. And it's just so much more practical of a car on a day-to-day basis. It’s honestly wild what those Outbacks are capable of. We took it from Idaho all the way to the tip of Baja, through every type of road conditions imaginable, and it just kept truckin’. I towed two snowmobiles on it all the way to Whistler. It's pretty nice.
L: Wait, you towed two sleds from Idaho to BC with a Subaru?
EP: Oh yeah. I’m towing two sleds all winter long.
L: That is wild. So when you do go winter camping at a backcountry trailhead with Luno gear, what’s it like to be able to wake up right on the hill?
EP: The Luno Air Mattress is so comfy, which is awesome. But then there’s the ski-in, ski-out convenience, too, which I love. You don’t have to deal with traffic or winter driving at all. Instead, you can wake up a little bit later and be right at the trailhead–it just doesn't get better than that. All things considered, camping at a backcountry trailhead lets you focus on your day of skiing instead of your commute.
L: Awesome. Given your experience on the road, in winter and summer alike, we bet our Luno community members would be really stoked to hear a few of your favorite car camping hacks. Could you please share three car camping tips or tricks with us?
EP: Of course! Let’s see…
- Don’t Lose Your Keys: First up, always keep your keys on you. It’s too easy to lose them. And it can be such a pain to call AAA to unlock your car when you’re so deep in the wilderness.
- Always Run a Roof Box: Especially in winter, I’m always running a Thule Cargo Carrier. It's so nice to be able to store wet gear out of your sleeping area. Also, wet skis are a recipe for condensation, which can be a huge pain while winter car camping, so even more reason to keep snowy gear out of your sleeping area and in the cargo carrier.
- Keep Certain Gear On Hand At All Times: There are certain things that I always keep in my car, even if I’m not planning on camping. That way, just in case I do need to camp, I can do so comfortably. That might be survival gear, like a fire starter, or something to pass the time, like a deck of cards. Same goes for a sleeping bag and the Luno Air Mattress–it’s so small, you can just leave it in your car, and if you need it, boom, you’re ready to camp.
- Explore Your Backyard: Here’s a bonus tip–you don’t need to go far to go on an adventure. Some of the best skiing of my career has gone down in backyard zones that I overlooked for much of my life. Nothing beats going on an adventure in your backyard, and I highly recommend it!
L: Awesome! It was cool following you around Idaho for a few days. What's your ideal day of backcountry skiing look like when you're exploring around home?
EP: One of my favorite parts of living here is the ideal day changes throughout the season, it keeps things interesting. Early/mid season I love ski touring through the woods looking for new spots, there's nothing like coming around the corner to a cool new zone and then proceeding to put tracks in it. Later in the season we're getting in the alpine, on those days I love being able to put the time and homework into a mission and then eventually score a big line in great conditions.
L: We got to see a little bit of this during the filming of our project together, but how much do weather and avalanche conditions dictate your travels, even in your backyard ranges?
EP: It's definitely the number 1 factor always dictating what we do. Was hard to manage at the beginning but as soon as I learned to try and work with the conditions and adapting vs against them things started lining up a lot better.
L: In general, it's easy to overlook the backyard, especially as we romanticize far-off, foreign places. Any advice for folks looking to explore their backyard?
EP: In my opinion, there's nothing better than your own backyard. Having the knowledge, data, and familiarity of an area is big part of a good experience, and unless you're on the road all the time or frequenting the same spots regularly, you'll always know your own backyard the best.
L: Right on! Thanks again for showing us around your backyard and sharing those tips with the Luno community. And good luck on the rest of your filming this season! We’re pumped to see Famous Potatoes 2!
EP: Thank you!
Following Prescott’s Journey and More Winter Car Camping Tips
Before we sign-off, we’ve got to give a huge shoutout to Prescott for taking the time to chat with us in the midst of busy film season–and taking us to a few of his powder stashes, too. Based on the clips he’s been leaking on his Instagram, we’re stoked to see Famous Potatoes 2–stay tuned to Prescott’s social or subscribe to the Potato Boys on Youtube to catch the movie when it drops.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to camp at a backcountry trailhead this spring, check out our recent Driver’s Shred post on the Luno Journal. Driver’s Shred is a new series where we help Luno community members turn everyday cars, vans, and trucks into bad-ass adventure mobiles. Our first installment dropped earlier this month, and it focuses on nine tips–and a trunk-load of gear recommendations–that’ll help you camp comfortably at a backcountry trailhead while skiing or splitboarding.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you on the road–and on the skintrack,
The Luno Crew