Sure, we technically have a few more days before summer officially ends, but for all intents and purposes, the best season of the year has finally arrived: football season. For fans across the country, tailgating is an essential part of football tradition, and it’s not hard to understand why. Hours spent eating and drinking, partying alongside your best buds? Count us in. So without further adieu, here’s our guide to the must-have gear that’ll elevate your tailgate to legendary status (and keep your friends coming back for more). Photo: Getty Images
1. Onja Stove: This little guy may be compact, but it’s powerful. The new Onja Stove ($150) is made by Primus, a pioneer in outdoor cooking since 1892, so you know you’re in good hands. The gas-powered, two-burner stove houses a ton of thoughtful design details, like a carrying strap and an oak lid that doubles as a cutting board or serving platter. Weighing in at just seven pounds, you can quickly fold it up and bring it just about anywhere.
2. Coleman Road Trip Portable Grill: If a stove simply isn’t going to cut it, then consider this small but mighty portable grill from Coleman (available for $125 on Amazon). Made from cast iron and porcelain-coated surfaces, it’s the best bang for your buck. Featuring InstaStart™ Technology and powered by 20,000 BTUs, you’ll be up and running in no time so you can prove you’re the guru of the grill. Plus, the quick-folding design and sliding side tables make it easy to stow away after the burgers and dogs have been devoured.
3. Bernzomatic High Heat Torch: Sometimes, you’ll have to go old school and break out the charcoal. With this versatile high heat torch from Bernzomatic ($38 on Amazon), you’ll be able to heat up the grilling scene (literally) in no time. If you run out of space on the grill, you can also use it to add a nice finishing char to steak, kabobs, veggies, and whatever else is on the menu. The convenient run-lock feature will keep your flame ablaze for continued use or–just as important–disable ignition, in case your pyromaniac friend gets any funny ideas.
4. Cooper Cooler Tailgater: What’s a guaranteed way to ruin an epic tailgate? Warm beer. Luckily for you, this nifty gadget is here to solve the age-old conundrum. Introducing the Cooper Cooler Tailgater ($130 on Amazon). It’s the quickest way to bring your lukewarm beer (or wine) to a perfectly chilled temperature. Canned beer takes just one minute while bottled beer is ready in three (making it 40 times faster than a traditional freezer!). This particular model is what tailgate dreams are made of because it comes equipped with a 12V car adapter, so you’ll never run out of power.
5. YETI Colster: So, once your drink is cold, ensure it stays that way with the YETI Colster collection. These stainless steel beauties have double-wall vacuum insulation to keep your beverage nice and frothy while solving the issue of constant condensation. There are plenty of different sized models, ranging from 10 ounces to one gallon, and you can snag one starting at $25. There’s also a solid variety of color options, such as steel, black, Tahoe blue, olive green and more.
6. COBY Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker: Nothing sets the scene for a perfect afternoon of tailgating like an expertly curated playlist. This Bluetooth-enabled speaker from COBY ($20 on Amazon) is small enough to bring virtually anywhere, but it’s powerful enough to clearly blast tunes for hours on end, thanks to its long battery life. The suction cup base secures a strong hold on numerous surfaces, or you can clip it out of reach with the attached carabineer. It’s also waterproof, so unexpected showers or spilled libations won’t threaten to ruin the fun.
7. NFL Royal Plush Raschel Throws: Depending on where in the country you live, temperatures can drop pretty quickly, especially as we get further into football season. Don’t let a little cold front spoil a prime pregame. Instead, pick up a few of these officially licensed NFL blankets to keep on hand, available for $25. Super soft and showing off your team pride? Talk about a win-win scenario.
8. Electronic Scoring Cornhole Set: Let’s be honest—if you host a tailgate and didn’t play a few rounds of cornhole, did you even do it right? This futuristic collection from Lightening Cornhole (starting at $279) is a bit of a splurge, but totally worth it. Made of premium wood and laser cut plexiglass, these boards display your score throughout the game so you never lose track (no matter how many brews you’ve guzzled). Better yet, it prevents sore-loser opponents from cheating. Trust us, you’ll go down in the tailgate hall of fame.