A football weekend isn’t really complete without a tailgate worthy of the game itself. A football game lasts around three hours, but a true football experience––tailgating and all––encompasses an entire day. To maximize your fall tailgating, it’s essential that you show up on game day with some essential tools at your disposal: a grill, portable shade, a cooler, and, of course, cornhole (to name just a few must-haves).
Below, we’ve rounded up 12 gear items that’ll make your next tailgate the best it can be.
The Best Tailgate Products
1. Coleman Camping Chair With Built-In Four-Can Cooler
Coleman is a gold standard tailgating brand, and this chair will be a versatile player for your tailgating offense. It’s a no-frills, quality seat that provides all the necessary support and comes with an attached cooler bag on the left arm. If you want to minimize reasons for getting up, this chair will be your path to solitude.
[$44; walmart.com]Get it
2. Yeti Tundra Haul Hard Cooler
This cooler is built like a tank, and it moves like one, too—thanks to its built-in wheels. It provides optimal insulation to keep its contents cold all day, and its rubber latch straps make it easy to open and close. It’s even sturdy enough to function as a chair if you run out of seating space.
[$400; yeti.com]Get it
3. TOURIT Premium 16-Can Soft Cooler Backpack
A stationary cooler is critical for every tailgate, but a cooler bag can be an ideal complement, especially for tailgaters who like to move around. Whether you plan on milling around the parking lots before kickoff or just want to cut down on trips to your group’s central cooler, this insulated backpack will keep your beverages close at hand. It’s also highly leak-resistant and comfortable to wear even when loaded.
[$90; tourit.com]Get it
4. RTIC 30-Ounce Tumbler
Unless you’re sticking with canned beer all day, it’s a good idea to get an insulated tumbler to hold your drink. RTIC’s tumblers offer top of the line insulation in a durable stainless steel package, and their narrow base is designed to fit most cup holders—so you can use it for your morning coffee on the way to the game before transitioning to the harder stuff.
[$35; rtic.com]Get it
5. Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill
Weber makes high-quality grills, and the Smokey Joe is one of the brand’s most packable models. The grill’s 14-inch grate offers plenty of space to fit several burgers and hot dogs at a time, and it can be converted into a smoker for ribs and other tasty meals. The carry handle makes it easy to move around.
[$48; weber.com]Get it
6. Crockpot 6-Quart Programmable Stainless Steel Slow Cooker
Several tailgate staples—buffalo chicken dip and pulled pork being great examples—need to cook for a while and then stay warm for several hours leading up to kickoff. This slow cooker will make it easy to whip up those meals at home, and the innovative locking lid ensures a spill-free journey from your kitchen to the parking lot.
[$50; homedepot.com]Get it
7. REI Co-op Camp Roll Table
Every tailgate needs at least one table, and REI’s camp tables are sturdy, reliable, and aesthetically pleasing (much better than that rickety card table you’ve used in years past). With a 100-pound weight capacity, this one works as either a serving table or a place for your entire group to gather around for a meal. It also packs down neatly.
[$75; rei.com]Get it
8. Thule OverCast
The sun might beat down pretty hard on your group, especially during early-season tailgates. Thule’s awning makes great portable shade: It quickly attaches to the top of your vehicle and also comes in two sizes to match any tailgate space. Don’t walk into the stadium sunburned—you’ll pay for it the rest of the week.
[$300–$350; thule.com]Get it
9. Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Set the mood for your tailgate with a little music. The Wonderboom 2 is ideal for portability: It’s small enough that you can attach it to a belt (or hang it from your awning) with a carabiner. Despite its small size, its bass really thumps and it packs plenty of volume, which will help your group get into the game day spirit.
[$99; ultimateears.com]Get it
10. Rec League 2′ x 4′ Traditional Cornhole Board Set
You’ll definitely want a game to play during a long tailgating day. You can always bring a football and play catch, but if you’re looking for something more interactive, cornhole is a perfect choice: It’s simple, fun, and easy to set up.
[$150; dickssportinggoods.com]Get it
11. EvenFlo Play-Away Portable PlayYard
Tailgating with small children? This portable playpen will help keep them from roaming the parking lots while you grab that second (or third) plate of nachos. The included awning provides plenty of shade, the floor is designed for easy cleaning, and the see-through mesh sides make it easy to keep an eye on them from the buffet line.
[$100; evenflo.com]Get it
12. Tail Table
Hauling around a table for tailgating—even one that packs up fairly small—can eat into precious space needed for coolers and grub. So when space is limited, try out the Tail Table, a neat way to truly tailgate with your wagon, crossover, or SUV, essentially any car with a hatch and a U- or I-shaped latch. The sturdy floating table offers around 10 square feet of surface area but packs down to a 24″x15″ rectangle, and features a food safe cutting board surface and six slots for securely holding goblets.
[From $200; spaceinnovationlabs.com]
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