The Ultimate List of Tailgating Essentials to Win the Day

Game Day Gear

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Whether you’re a college freshman heading out to the first game of the year, or a time-tested veteran of NFL tailgating, with season tickets and a well-honed kit full of essentials, there’s plenty of tips and tricks out there to improve your tailgating game. Being prepared in advance can make hosting the big party seem effortless, and even when unexpected issues like bad weather or extra guests threaten the plans, you’ll be set for smooth sailing.

Even a cloudy day can spell sunburns if you’ll be outdoors for hours. Protect yourself from sun damage (and your food from an unexpected rainy spell) with a sturdy shelter that pops up quickly when needed and can be packed away just as easily when it’s time to go. If you’re at a game during a bug-friendly season, mesh netting can offer you some extra protection from bites.

Comfortable seating for the whole crowd is easy and inexpensive with these fold up chairs from AmazonBasics. A mini beverage cooler lets you keep your favorite drinks sequestered away from the free-for-all, which is key for the designated driver, or anyone with dietary restrictions. Holds adults up to 225lbs.

An inexpensive cooler is fine for keeping bottled water or other beverages from getting warm, but if you’re responsible for keeping raw food safe before it’s grilling time, a quality cooler that stays out of the temperature “danger zone” is an investment piece that will pay dividends year after year.

If there’s already a pitmaster in place and you’re not responsible for cooking for a crowd, this mini smoker is a great way to contribute a small dish (or fix a favorite just for yourself) if you don’t need massive output. Just right for a batch of wings or dogs, it’s perfectly sized for a couple or small family, and takes up a minimal amount of space.

Be prepared for any grilling necessity with this 25-piece kit. From corn to kebabs, even seasoning isn’t left behind, and with the convenient carrying case you can keep it in a vehicle, ready for any barbecue emergency. The only extra you’ll need is some foil pans for disposing of those charcoals after the party is done.

Set your party apart as the most fun and the most prepared with crowd-entertaining games like cornhole. A set of custom boards make sure everyone knows which team you rep, and these DIY boards let you customize every element of the design, and show off some artistic talent.

Brew up a hot beverage during those icy winter days to keep spirits high. Grill safe, this percolator can warm up a batch of hot cider for an all-age party, or percolate up to 54 ounces of coffee, so everyone drives home energized and awake after a late night game.

Pick up comfortable footwear for grilling — that’s closed toed shoes, preferably boots — and appropriate clothing so you’re prepared to spend hours outdoors in extreme temperatures, whether that’s triple digits on the asphalt parking lot at a Gator game, or in the wind chill and icy overcast clouds of Green Bay.

If you’re heading to a stadium with old-school seating, bring along some cozier, more comfortable seats. Especially useful for high school or the cheap seats at college games, there’s no reason to suffer cold metal benches any longer.

Most frequent tailgaters already have the equipment for the usual games, like cornhole and beer pong, but you can inject some new choices into the rotation with this log stacking game that’s over 2 feet tall. Customize it with a can of paint in your team colors and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind crowd pleaser you’ll use over and over again.

Pump the jams or listen to the game with a bluetooth speaker. With all-day batteries, an IPX7 waterproof rating, it will outlast any crowd, and is the perfect outdoor party companion for home use or while traveling.

For less than $10, you can pick up a stadium-approved bag that makes getting through the security lines a breeze. No more making wasted trips back to the car to stow dis-allowed bags, this one makes it easy to bring in essentials like a wallet, umbrella, sunscreen, kids essentials, and even ear plugs.

You can do fewer dishes and avoid the use of Styrofoam cups too!. These 12-ounce hot cups hold a double serving of coffee or tea, and can even be used to serve cooked chili or kids snacks; the steep walls prevent more spills than disposable bowls.

Weighted and weather-proof, this outdoor disc golf set is fun rain or shine, and folds up for easy travel. Fun for any age group, it includes a score tracker, and is sure to see tons of use, from game day through the holidays to long outdoor summer get-togethers.

Keep phones alive for the entire day by bringing along battery backups. By default most of them are solid black, but by getting one in a bright color, or liberally applying stickers or decals, you may prevent leaving it on a truck bed and losing it to theft, the weather, or the haze of dehydration and inebriation.

If you’re taking your little superstar to their first game, make sure they’re dressed the part with clothes that are easy to layer and offer tons of room to move. Don’t forget a set of ear protection to prevent headaches and ringing ears — you want them excited to come back next time, after all. If you’re worried they’ll get overwhelmed by the crowds on their first trip, try a minor league or high-school game for an inexpensive outing that will get them accustomed to the setting, without blowing major bucks if they aren’t a fan.

Rep your team colors in style, fun for kids and adults. Swipe on Gator blue, LSU purples, and more with this 12-color face painting kit that includes brushes and stencils for applying. Note that this is a professional grade paint, waterproof and difficult to remove, so be prepared beforehand or you’ll still be wearing the evidence to the office on Monday.

Instructive for experts and beginners alike, this makes a fantastic gift for the tailgate host. Master the grill and you’ll be invited to all future outings, and Weber’s convenient backyard grills ensure that at home or on the road, you can have delightful smoky meals at your leisure.

If you’re lacking in the artistic flair department but still wanna show up with that team spirit, stickers and temporary tattoos are here to make repping your faves easy. This 8-pack is big enough for the squad to share, and can be easily applied and removed with no fuss.

Keep hands clean before and after food prep and service, or after visiting the Porta-potty. A pack of wet wipes can do the job, but having fresh water also makes it easy to brew a pot of coffee or hot chocolates to overcome the post-meal crash, or to clean up spills on the pavement.

Keep emergency equipment in your vehicle full-time and it will always be around for tailgating incidents. A first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and a roadside breakdown kit should all be at arm’s reach. Supplement the kit’s basics with a few acid reducers, ibuprofen, and disposable earplugs to fight the headaches, sore muscles, and heartburn that weekend warriors will inevitably contract.

Avoid being banned or blacklisted from future events by being responsible for your trash. Most stadiums will have designated drop offs for hot coals and ashes, trash, and even recycling, so do your part and leave it better than you found it.

Get off your feet with this three piece set of folding benches and a table. Perfect for parties of tailgaters when only one or two people own a truck, and a lot of folks are working out of minivans or SUV’s. They fold down for easy traveling and can have coolers or grills stacked on top of them in a pinch.

So after a long day outdoors, when the family is covered in grass stains, muddy clothes, and bug spray, or you’re playing DD to some inebriated buddies, it’s time to think about how to protect your vehicle from your loved ones. For tailgate and truck bed spills and messes, a trip through the carwash will do the trick, but when they’re threatening the upholstery, it’s time to take preventative measures. A cover protects the back seat, and floor mats keep your carpets covered, so they can haul in all the nastiness of the day, and you won’t have anything to sweat over.

With solid and multicolor choices, these pom pom sets have tons to choose from for both college and pro game fans. Cheer on your team with a dazzling color display, and without blocking your seatmate’s views of the action.

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