What’s that? Can you hear it? That’s the sound of thousands of fans across the nation gearing up for football season, which is just around the corner, with action from both college and the NFL on tap. Dust off your grilling gear, pull out that cornhole set, and brush up on your football stats in preparation for the best tailgating season yet.
Instead of staying home and watching games on your TV or streaming the game, it’s time to pack up your car for some tailgating fun. This is the year you’ll outpace your pregame rivals thanks to our list of the best tailgating gear.
Grilling: The ultimate tailgate challenge and the most prestigious of skills. If you can out grill your fellow tailgaters, you’ll have the most popular tailgate around. The Coleman RoadTrip 285 is a fantastic option for the task. Capable of 20,000 BTUs over a 285-square-inch range, it’ll evenly cook your food with reliable consistency. We especially like its three separate burners, each with its own temperature control and thermostat to handle multiple types of food at once. Moving your party is an easy task thanks to a foldout stand that doubles as a rolling travel bed when fully collapsed. It’s a bit bulkier than a traditional portable grill, but having a full propane setup in one convenient, easy-to-use package is worth it.
Pelican Elite Cooler ($380)
Football and beer: There’s not a better combination in sports. As such, a quality cooler is an important piece of any tailgating toolkit. Pelican’s Elite Coolers don’t come with many fancy tricks like lights or self-cooling properties, but they offer plenty of room (45 quarts to start) with freezer-grade gaskets and sealing to keep your drinks chilled in ice all day long. In fact, ice could last up to 10 days in this thing, so it could double as a nice camping and fishing companion outside of football season. The wheels are a must for taking your stockpile of refreshments from car to car, and there’s even an integrated bottle opener if your beer is too fancy for the caps to twist off.
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 ($200)
What can take your tailgate party from good to unforgettable? Music! Every great party needs to have a great playlist blasting. Other tailgaters might set up fancy systems with big, bulky speakers, but all you need is the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3. It can’t beat a thunderous set of drivers in the trunk, but it’s extremely portable and sounds great. You can place it anywhere and not have to worry because it has 20 hours of battery life and it’s waterproof. You can even pair it with another Megaboom for even more oomph. Check out our review for more details, or look at our list of the best Bluetooth speakers for plenty more excellent options.
Mr. Heater Buddy Heater ($70)
There is nothing that will ruin a tailgate faster than cold weather. No one wants to sit out in a parking lot drinking cold beer on a cold, windy day. So, while your neighbor is packing up his tailgating gear to huddle in the cab of his truck, you can turn on your Mr. Heater Buddy Heater to keep the party going. Who knows, maybe your neighbor will join you.
The Buddy Heater can heat up to 225 square feet of space but is still compact enough to store in a cabinet. You can place this heater anywhere around your tailgate since it runs on propane for 3 to 6 hours. It even has a tip-over safety shutoff in case it accidentally gets knocked over due to overzealous celebrating. At a little under 11 pounds, this heater is very portable. In the offseason, you can also use the Buddy Heater at your child’s early morning soccer games.
You’ve been practicing all year long, preparing for the moment when you show your superiority by winning the annual Tailgating Cornhole Tournament. In all the frivolity and exuberance, you forgot the score of the game. Don’t worry, your trusty Electronic Scoring Cornhole Boards are displaying the score for all to see. This cornhole board set comes with light-up numbers on the face, a large rechargeable battery with 12 hours of life, and up and down buttons on the back of each to keep score. It’s also customizable – pick the design you want on the front, including your favorite team’s logo.
If the scoreboard alone isn’t cutting it, how about HD broadcasts of the day’s football games right to your RV? That’s now a possibility with the Dish Playmaker + Wally bundle, a portable satellite and set-top box combo. You don’t even need to commit to being a Dish subscriber as you can cancel the pay-as-you-go plan at any time. The subscription is pricey at $38 per month minimum, plus an extra $12 each for local affiliate channels, the National Action pack that features ESPN, and the Regional Action pack for localized sports coverage. But it’s also pretty awesome to have satellite TV on the go. Current Dish subscribers can add mobile access for just another $7 on top of their usual bill. You’ll need a display of some sort if your RV doesn’t already have one, of course, and while the best TVs are probably too big for tailgating, you can always consider a portable monitor.
If you are a serious tailgater, you probably arrive three to four hours before the game starts. Staying on your feet that long can be tiring. That’s where the Caravan Sports Infinity Zero Gravity Chair comes in, letting you relax while talking to friends and eating. The chair reclines until it is almost flat and has an adjustable headrest for the times you need to take a quick 20-minute nap to re-energize for the game. It also folds down and is easy to carry.
Beer is a big part of the tailgating experience, so why not bring a game that has beer in the name – beer pong. For many of us, this game is a throwback to our college days, so you’ll need to dust off your skills and show everyone what you really studied during your undergraduate years. The GoPong Portable Beer Pong table is perfect for both casual and intense games. There are lines outlining where to put the cups in case you forget — for whatever reason. It is also extremely portable, folding up into a 2-foot by 2-foot square with a handle. This table even comes with six ping pong balls and a customizable surface. As a bonus, it can hold all that delicious food you’re grilling.
Rainier R2200i Generator ($415)
The electronics featured above — and anything extra you’re employing to crank up your party — require some reliable portable power. That’s where the Rainier R2200i comes in. Rated for up to 2,200 peak watts, this gas-powered generator delivers power to two 120v AC outlets to go along with a lone 12V DC output. It offers plenty of flexibility to keep all your devices, appliances, and gadgets going. The Rainier R2200i can run for 13 hours before the 1.3-gallon fuel tank needs refueling. Perhaps most importantly, its compact form factor comes complete with a handle to lessen the burden of moving this 44-pound unit around.
Never wonder if your grilled food is ready again. This instant thermometer will give you internal temperature readings for patties, chicken, and anything else you are cooking, letting you know exactly when it has reached prime cooking temperature — and making sure no one gets sick. Don’t be that guy whose food everyone would rather pass on for overpriced stadium concessions. It’s one of the most affordable meat thermometers on the market.
Remember that at the end of the day, while all the gadgets are great, what makes a tailgate special are the friends and family you spend your day with. Enjoy the game!
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