If there’s one thing that makes us feel better about summer ending, it’s the arrival of football season. Thursday marks the start of the NFL regular season schedule, which means it’s time for our favorite fall activity: tailgating.
The key to a successful tailgate is finding the right mix of food, entertainment and actually rooting for your team. Here are some of our favorite products for balancing all three and achieving the perfect Sunday afternoon parking lot party.
First, the food. To feed the fans, you’ll probably need a mix of cold foods, hot foods, and chilled drinks. Lug all of it to the stadium in a YETI Tundra 35 Cooler. A disposable styrofoam case from the convenience store will keep some drinks cool in a pinch, but YETI coolers are built for extreme conditions. They’re tough enough to survive a bear attack (no, literally. They’re bear-proof) and can keep ice solid for over a week. The YETI 35 is small enough for a single person to carry, yet still has enough room for 20 cans when packed with a 2:1 ice-to-drinks ratio. Cut down on the ice and you’ll have plenty of room for a case of, um, beverages, plus the necessary assortment of meats.
Now, of course, those meats are going to need to meet some heat, which brings us to the foundation of any successful tailgate session: the grilling. Any true grill-master is going to want to have a full-size cooker available, but that’s not always practical when tailgating. If you hit the stadium in a pickup truck, you might be able to take along your backyard BBQ, but for those of us who are space-limited in our vehicles, here’s another option: Cuisinart’s 14-inch charcoal grill. This compact cooker is as simple as it gets, just your typical charcoal kettle grill. But with more than 150 square inches of grilling space, you’ll have room to cook up about half a football team’s worth of burgers at once. An ash catcher keeps things tidy, and at just about twenty bucks, you won’t lose any sleep if it gets dinged up in the trunk.
When manning the grill, it’s important to stay protected. We grabbed some mini Tovolo tongs, which are perfect for the small grill. Silicon handles and tong ends give them extra grip in both your hand and on the food, plus they make the tongs look extra cool—a variety of colors let you rep your team spirit. Same goes for the All-Clad oven mitts, made of bright cotton material and finished with silicon ribbing for an extra secure grip.
When it’s time to dispense the adult beverages, your tailgate party will have a secret weapon: the Fizzics Waytap. In three simple steps, this portable gadget infuses your favorite beer with a draught-style micro-foam. So the beer that comes out of a can or bottle will be more flavorful and have the mouth-feel of a brew poured freshly at your favorite bar. The Fizzics Waytap runs on AA batteries, requires no external air canisters, and works with cans and bottles from 12 to 25 ounces.
Dispense that foamy goodness right into a YETI Rambler insulated glass to ensure it stays cold from the first drop to the last, even on a sweltering Sunday. Meanwhile, your other beverages can go into a Takeya 40oz Thermoflask, which will also keep your drinks cold for hours. The Thermoflask also works great to keep coffee or soup hot when the weather starts to dip.
Now, presumably, you’re going to want to try to follow along with the game whilst enjoying all the food and drinks. True sports fans know that the best way to keep up with a game when you’re away from home is with the local radio broadcast. The Sangean Toughbox is a portable radio built to withstand the roughest conditions of a jobsite—so it’s more than capable of enduring the rowdiest tailgate party, even in unpredictable football weather. It’s battery-powered so no worries about finding a plug, and the digital PLL tuner make pulling in your favorite sports radio channel a breeze.
For the half-time dance party, break out the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM portable speakers, connect your phone via Bluetooth, and crank up the tunes. These small speakers pack a real punch, and you can pair two together for double the boom. Plus, they come in a variety of cool color combos, giving you yet another option for showing spirit.
With this collection of product, you’re all but guaranteed maximum tailgate fun. Did we miss your favorite gadget? Let us know what you can’t tailgate without, in the comments below.