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Be Prepared for Parking Lot Parties with These Tailgating Essentials

tailgating essentials
The Best Tailgating Essentials of 2023Car and Driver


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Not all of us were born with superior racing skills, nimble footwork, or the ability to tackle opponents in a stadium. For the rest of us, we've got a different kind of calling—making fast friends, decadent food before 11 a.m., and fan camaraderie. Tailgating brings together friends, family, and fans to celebrate their favorite team or driver in style.

Tailgating may not involve racing around a track at 180 mph or sprinting a 70-yard dash, but it's no endeavor for the faint of heart. Much like preparing for a camping trip, meticulous planning and a well-stocked arsenal of gear can turn an ordinary afternoon into an extraordinary memory for everyone. So, it's time to tap into your inner enthusiast and start preparing for your next tailgate.

CF45 Portable 12V Car Fridge Freezer

If you need to keep things seriously cold or frozen, it doesn't get much cooler than this. While its capacity isn't as large as something like the great big Snow Peak cooler (below), it's the perfect unit for keeping meats and other perishables. This particular model was actually tested by the Gear Team, and they found it to be the Best Budget option of the bunch.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L3FLBQ4?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>CF45 Portable 12V Car Fridge Freezer</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$289.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Gas Tailgater Griddle Grill Combo

Tailgating without food is unthinkable. This gas griddle and grill combo is ideal for the tailgater who intends to serve a large crowd. With its cast iron griddle, you can keep pots of food warm on one side while you grill on the other. Dual controls allow you to customize the temperature for both areas. The best part is that it folds down into a manageable size. Just remember to bring the propane!

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.campingworld.com%2Fblackstone-gas-tailgater-griddle-grill-combo-275948.html&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.caranddriver.com%2Fcar-accessories%2Fg45037858%2Ftailgating-essentials%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Gas Tailgater Griddle Grill Combo</p><p>campingworld.com</p><p>$255.97</p><span class="copyright">Camping World</span>

Air Canopy

The Soli Air Canopy is a remarkable twist on the conventional easy-up canopy. Instead of relying on metal frames, it harnesses the power of air to support its structure. It takes two minutes to pop up and only one person.

Seriously, this thing is nothing short of amazing. I can vouch for it personally— I spent a weekend lounging under one of these at a festival, and this was the envy of the crowd.

<p><a href="https://solioutdoors.com/products/soli-air-canopy" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Air Canopy</p><p>solioutdoors.com</p><p>$349.00</p><span class="copyright">Soli Outdoors</span>

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Air Canopy

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$349.00

Soli Outdoors

Team Banner

Disclaimer: They might be America's team, but that doesn't mean the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Car and Driver staff are a bunch of Cowboys fans. We just wanted to make that clear. Go Lions!

Anywho, are you really tailgating if you aren't repping your favorite squad? We'd say not. Fanatics has an awesome selection of some of the best fan gear, including these customizable banners. Even if you're not an NFL fan, they've got banners for your favorite collegiate, NBA, and MLB teams.

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fanatics.com%2Fnfl%2Fdallas-cowboys%2Fdallas-cowboys-wincraft-personalized-27-x-37-1-sided-vertical-banner%2Fo-2405%2Bt-58263506%2Bp-69189927961%2Bz-9-386633388%3F_ref%3Dp-SRP%253Am-GRID%253Ai-r1c2%253Apo-5&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.caranddriver.com%2Fcar-accessories%2Fg45037858%2Ftailgating-essentials%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Team Banner</p><p>fanatics.com</p><p>$18.97</p><span class="copyright">Fanatics </span>

Xtreme 3

Certainly, music is a key ingredient to any social gathering. JBL has dominated the speaker market in recent years, and it's easy to see why. The quality of these speakers is exceptional. I own one, and speaking as a self-proclaimed sound snob, I can't imagine a better way to enjoy music from a ten-inch speaker. It delivers powerful sound that competes with the best in the business, so feel free to crank up your favorite tunes at the tailgate, even if it is your team's fight song on repeat.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NLCW9WY?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Xtreme 3</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$279.95</p>

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Xtreme 3

amazon.com

$279.95

All-in-One Tailgating Table

I mean, look at it, this thing is screaming party, at least as much as a foldable table can. It's got cupholders, a spot for a bowl of whatever you like, and an insulated cooler. At under 5 pounds, it's also lightweight and foldable. Throw it in your truck, have a party anywhere, done.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DCIKFNI?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>All-in-One Tailgating Table</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$39.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Hard Rock Cooler 40QT

Coolers are a must-have on tailgating days because nobody wants to sip lukewarm drinks throughout the afternoon. The Snow Peak Hard Rock Cooler, made and designed in the USA, provides extended cooling performance. Like many roto-molded coolers, it features a bear claw latch for security and pressure-injected insulation. Snow Peak rotomolded coolers come with a lifetime guarantee. If you're considering long-term use, it's a worthwhile investment!

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.snowpeak.com%2Fcollections%2Fcoolers%2Fproducts%2Fhard-rock-coller-40qt&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.caranddriver.com%2Fcar-accessories%2Fg45037858%2Ftailgating-essentials%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Hard Rock Cooler 40QT</p><p>snowpeak.com</p><p>$647.95</p><span class="copyright">Snow Peak</span>

200W Power Station

Keep the party cranking with this portable power station from Cobra. With multiple outlet types including two AC plugs and a 12V cig lighter port, an LED flashlight and LED area light, fast-charging ports of both USB-A and USB-C, and built-in safety protection, it's perfect for tailgating, camping, and more. Power your stereos, fridges, tools, and whatever other 110V devices you've got at the tailgate party.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B6QD98MP?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>200W Power Station</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$195.10</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Sports Pong Party Pack

Contrary to popular belief, tailgating isn't only about drinking and eating. Why not try to have a yard activity or two? This game is basically jumbo beer pong. Perfect for some friendly competition, and maybe even a way to make friends with your tailgating neighbors.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079PZLS1K?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Sports Pong Party Pack </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$43.77</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Cooking Set

Once you've nailed down a nice grill, you'll need a nice set of utensils. There is no need to break the bank here, this kit includes pretty much all you could need, down to a cutting board, seasoning shakers, and gloves.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BW18Z9B9?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Cooking Set</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$36.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

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Cooking Set

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$36.99

Amazon

Aero Inflatable Chair

Transform your tailgating setup into a luxurious lounge using the Inflatable Aero Chairs. These chairs are a significant upgrade from the standard folding ones, offering a fun and stylish seating option for relaxing after indulging in your 10 a.m. chili, cornbread, and beer. Bote offers various types of inflatable furniture, including tables, Adirondack chairs, and couches, to create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere on the blacktop. There's even an inflatable cornhole set.

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Fire TV 32" HD smart TV

The 32-inch Fire TV is an awesome set for the purpose of tailgating. It's under 10 pounds so it's easy to set up and take down, plus it's got all of the apps you could need built right in. You can also opt for the 40-inch version, with a small weight penalty.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N6F9NV3?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Fire TV 32" HD smart TV </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$129.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

30-60" Tailgate TV Mount

You've got your grill, your cooler, and your throne, and with this, you will truly be the oligarch of the tailgate. It mounts up to your vehicle hitch and can support between a 30 and 60-inch television. Of course, you'll need and television and a way to power it, but we've got all of that covered.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H6JKXXW?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>30-60" Tailgate TV Mount </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$59.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Barrel Sling Retro

Some people like to stay put at their tailgating spot, others like to wander. If you're the type of roam and explore, why not try the Igloo Retro Double Barrel Sling? This cooler is designed to be carried on your shoulder and rest against your back, like a quiver of arrows, but with a retro vibe, filled with your favorite snacks and drinks. It holds up to eight cans and comes with its own neoprene coozie. This is an ideal solution for tailgaters who enjoy hopping from one tailgate party to another.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B5VQNR1Q?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Barrel Sling Retro </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$33.95</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Recliner Stadium Seat

If you're the tailgater who goes into the stadium, you'll surely appreciate a more comfortable seating option than bleachers. The Stadium Boss Seat REcliner offers a cushioned place to sit, with armrests and a drink holder. Remember, tailgating and the game can take a toll on your body, so it's important to find relief wherever possible.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07553D53N?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Recliner Stadium Seat </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$59.19</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

10'x10' Pop Up Canopy

Having shade during your tailgate can be a game-changer, especially on a scorching sunny day. The Crown Shades is part of the popular trend of easy-up sun canopies. However, what sets Crown Shades apart is its user-friendly design that can be set up by a single person with a single button locking it securely into place at the center. Of course, as with anything, having a helping hand makes life easier.

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Triton 2-Burner Propane Camping Stove

A grill is great and all, but you can really elevate your tailgate experience with a portable stove. It's much easier to prepare certain foods over a burner rather than on the grill, in fact, you could cook an entire meal over this thing. It's affordable, portable, and convenient. The one downside is that the propane cylinder is sold separately.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HN1C1YJ?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Triton 2-Burner Propane Camping Stove</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$69.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Cookware Mess Kit

This kit is all you need to whip up some quick grub. The whole kit fits together and comes with a carrying bag so you can bring it along wherever your tailgating adventures may take you. You can get the pots in a few different sizes, so the only limit to your culinary antics will be your own imaginativeness.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01743BX1A?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Cookware Mess Kit</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$16.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

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Cookware Mess Kit

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$16.99

Amazon

Wireless Power Bank

Tailgating can be an all-day adventure, often in bustling crowds where losing your crew is easy. Keep in touch with your group with the Otterbox Wireless Power Bank which keeps your iPhone juiced up all day.

Sleek and clever in design, this power bank connets to the back of your MagSafe iPhone, ensuring full battery health. With a charged phone, you'll always know the time, keep tabs on friends, and have that Uber ready to roll when it's time to go home.

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.otterbox.com%2Fen-us%2Fwireless-power-bank-for-magsafe-and-3k-mah-black%2F78-81174.html&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.caranddriver.com%2Fcar-accessories%2Fg45037858%2Ftailgating-essentials%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Wireless Power Bank</p><p>otterbox.com</p><p>$59.95</p><span class="copyright">Otterbox</span>

Hooded Rain Poncho

While the hooded poncho may not be the most glamorous of tailgating accessories, they are arguably the most essential, especially when sudden heavy rain hits. Sometimes, the most valuable gear is all about being well-prepared. Additionally sporting this model will give you a distinct Severus Snap look, which is sure to earn you major tailgating points.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q3PB9D9?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.45037858%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Hooded Rain Poncho </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$18.95</p>

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Hooded Rain Poncho

amazon.com

$18.95

Drinks

This one is straightforward. Keep your tailgating party stocked in a pinch with Drizly. Drizly collaborates with local liquor stores to offer fast alcohol delivery service, promising delivery in under 60 minutes. Will they deliver to the parking lot of your favorite stadium or track? Might as well find out!

Just remember to always consume alcohol responsibly and never drive under the influence.

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fdrizly.com%2F&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.caranddriver.com%2Fcar-accessories%2Fg45037858%2Ftailgating-essentials%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Drinks</p><p>drizly.com</p><p>$15.99</p><span class="copyright">Drizly</span>

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