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Gear Guide: Ultimate football tailgate packing list

We’re well into the fall season now and when it comes to sports, that means one important thing: It’s football season. While having game-watching parties at your house with friends is all good and fun, what’s better is actually making it to the game and tailgating instead. Beer, hot dogs and burgers, and camping chairs are no-brainers for even the novice tailgater, but if you really want to be prepared, we’ve got all the gear you’ll need to throw a great tailgate, complete with beer cooler and portable grill. 

Clockwise from top left. 

Warm clothes

Considering that football season starts in the fall and ends in the dead of winter, you’ll want to make sure first and foremost that you’re dressed to keep comfortable on crisp fall days or cold winter days. You’ll probably want to suit up in your team’s branded gear, but if your school colors match any of the available options, grab a Columbia Landslide Hoodie ($75), which comes complete with beer koozie pockets and an attached bottle opener. 

Portable grill

When you think of tailgating, probably the second thing you think of (after beer) is grilling some burgers and dogs. Unless you want soggy brought-from-home meat, you’ll need a decent portable grill to cook up some deliciousness. The Solaire Portable Infrared Grill ($399) will help you cook a great meal with a powerful 14,000 BTU infrared burner and 155 square inches of cooking space. The grill comes with a vinyl carrying bag and works with one pound propane tanks for fuel. 

School-spirit beer cooler

You’ll need a cooler for food, but why not have a separate, spirited cooler just for keeping your beer nice and frosty? This collapsible, insulated 12-pack Cooler ($20) is the perfect size for two six packs and is leak-proof with carrying handles. Target carries the cooler with just about every team’s logo and colors, but of course we couldn’t resist representing our office favorite team (for college, that is), the Oregon Ducks. 

Portable iPhone dock

Usually when we recommend portable iPhone/iPod docks, we focus mostly on the features that play your favorite tunes from your device. This is still important as you might want to jam out while you’re having a beer before the game, but if you’re heading to a tailgate you’ll also want to make sure that your docks has a radio function. The iHome iP49 dock ($160) is portable, rechargeable, and has powerful Bongiovi acoustics for great sound. The dock will play music from your device, but also has the aforementioned important radio function so you can listen to pre-game analysis while you eat and drink. 

Nerf football

Not everyone who loves to watch football also loves to play football, but the two go hand-in-hand often enough that it’s a good idea to bring something to throw around. Real footballs are great, but bring along a nerf version and you can show off your skills without upsetting any neighboring tailgaters should your throw accidentally end up hitting a parked car. Pick up the Nerf Mini Ultra Grip Football ($10) and you’ll be good to go. 


Warm clothes go without saying, but it’s always nice to have some spare blankets around for those cold-blooded folks or if it’s just a little bit colder outside than you realized. We like Patagonia’s extra-soft and warm Synchilla Blankets ($35), which are large, cozy, and come in a variety of bright colors. If you have no shame, you can also probably get yourself a Snuggie branded with your team’s colors and logo…not that we’re recommending it. 

Portable space heater

If you live in a seriously cold climate or are heading to a game in the middle of winter, bringing along a portable space heater is not a bad idea. This prop-up Portable Catalytic Space Heater ($43) works using a 16.4 ounce propane cylinder and can run at 3,000 BTUs of heat for up to 10 hours. 

Heavy-duty cooler

You’ve got your beer cooler covered, but if you’re cooking or bringing food (it is a tailgate after all), you’ll probably need a rather large cooler. This Rubbermaid 50-quart Wheeled Cooler ($55) will hold all your goods and can even function as a seat or foot rest during the party. We also like the cup-holders built into the lid. 

Crock Pot

Burgers and hot dogs are great, but on a cold day sometimes something hot and steaming hits the spot. Cook up some baked beans, steak stew, or clam chowder in this 6 Qt. Slow Cooker ( $30) and take it on the go with you. Your food will stay nice and warm and your friend’s bellies will be full and happy. 

Portable beer pong table

You can’t get much better than this when it comes to awesome tailgating gear. This GoPong Football Field Beer Pong Table ($95) unfolds to be 8 feet long and comes with 6 beer pong balls. The table folds up for portability and weighs in at 21 pounds. The table features a football field design and has a waterproof melamine surface so things stay nice and clean. Sounds like a pretty good tailgating game to us.