Tailgating before a football is just as enjoyable as watching the game itself, and for many people tailgating holds the real appeal of football season. While you can keep things simple with some camp chairs and pre-made food, a tailgate will be more fun for everyone if you invest in some quality gear. Here are some of our must-have tailgating gadgets for this year:
Portable Gas Grill
No tailgate is complete without a gas grill to fry up some burgers. These grills typically run on either propane or butane fuel and can be bought at hardware and outdoor stores. They are available in many different sizes, from portable gas grills that work for two to four people to larger full-size models that are perfect for cooking for a crowd. If you don’t already own one, then you should absolutely invest in a portable gas grill before your next tailgate.
Forget the disposable red solo cup: If you tailgate a lot, you should definitely get some durable stainless steel drinkware that will keep your adult beverages cold for hours. We also recommend bringing along some source of caffeine so you can keep your energy up during long days, whether that’s a simple thermos of hot tea or a full-on cold brew coffee maker. If you do a lot of cold weather tailgating, it might also be worth investing in a thermal cup to keep hot beverages warm all day long.
Hard or Soft Cooler
You’ll need a way to keep all the food and drink cold, which is why every tailgate needs at least one cooler (and often multiple). Hard coolers keep food cold for much longer, but they’re heavy, hard to maneuver, and take up more space. Soft coolers are lighter and more portable but don’t hold ice for as much time, so they’re not the best solution for long or hot days. If you have a portable generator and the budget for it, you can also invest in a fridge that will keep food cold all day and night.
Get the party started with some music pumped through a high-quality Bluetooth speaker. We recommend choosing a larger tabletop model if you tend to throw large tailgating parties, while a scaled-down one will do for smaller groups. Be sure to download your tailgating playlist beforehand so that you will still have music even if you don’t have reliable cell service. You can also link the speaker to a tablet or phone if you plan to stream pre-game commentary during the tailgate (more on that in a minute).
Tablet with Hotspot
Streaming other games or listening to pregame commentary is a fantastic background soundtrack for your tailgate, but it can be annoying to have multiple people hovering over a single smartphone. If you’re worried about draining your phone’s data, get a separate hotspot plan that allows you to stream on a tablet or another separate screen. Then you can set up a viewing area by putting the tablet on a media stand and arranging some chairs around it.
Power Banks and Charging Accessories
Having your phone die in the middle of a tailgate — or worse, the game itself — is no fun. Head off this emergency before it happens by always carrying a portable power bank and the requisite charging cords. These power banks come in many different shapes and sizes, from tiny ones that only contain one phone charge to larger ones that can even power a laptop, so figure out your power needs and choose accordingly. Be sure to check the stadium’s policy on electronics before packing them into the stadium.
Portable Battery or Generator
If you’re the type of tailgater who likes to run a lot of gadgets all day long, then you probably need to look into some kind of external power source. While you can run devices off your car’s battery using a power inverter, this seriously increases the risk of draining your battery and accidentally stranding yourself. To avoid this, you’ll need to invest in either a portable generator or a larger portable battery that can handle all your power needs. It’s definitely an investment, but for dedicated tailgaters who get outside every weekend it can be a real game changer.
Fans or Heaters
If you’re a dedicated tailgater, then neither rain nor snow nor sunshine will stop you from your pre-game celebrations. Alas, the weather won’t always be perfect for every single game, which means that it can be worthwhile to invest in outdoor fans or heaters (depending on the climate where you live). Look for rugged models that are compatible with your primary source of power, whether those are propane tanks, generators, or large batteries. Set up a “temperature control” area so your tailgaters can quickly heat up or cool down if the need arises.
Speaking of staying warm, you absolutely must have some quality outdoor blankets for your next tailgate. Outdoor blankets come in many different styles, from puffer blankets with a water-resistant coating to fleece picnic blankets with a PVC backing. We recommend choosing a mix of different blanket styles so that you will be prepared for various tailgate scenarios. If you’re tailgating in cold weather, bring one blanket per person so that everyone can stay warm. You can also repurpose these as stadium seat cushions if necessary, making it a two-in-one product.
What are your other must-have tailgating gadgets and accessories? Are there any pieces of tech that you have really enjoyed having at your tailgate this year? What about more traditional pieces of tailgating equipment? Let us know in the comments below!