Our nation’s collective jonesing for the return of football is coming to an end. The college season kicked off last weekend and the NFL starts on Thursday. So finally we can get back to moaning about how such-and-such receiver racks up plenty of yards but never scores TDs on your fantasy team, and how that top-ranked college team lost to a school you’ve never heard of, and how Marshawn Lynch sold Skittles on a home shopping network.
It also means the return of tailgate parties. Big, fat, juicy, epic tailgates. With the rise of high-quality HDTVs and NFL Sunday Ticket, it’s getting harder and harder to actually cart your ass to the stadium on gameday. But one of the biggest reasons for making the trip is the chance to tailgate beforehand. Any time you can eat massive amounts of food (all sans utensils) and drink numerous beers while making fun of your friends, you need to seize the opportunity.
But no one wants to go to a tailgate where people are sitting Indian-style on the pavement passing around a sad bag of Ruffles. To throw an awesome tailgate, you’re going to need awesome stuff. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Be forewarned, if you do get all of this gear prepare for lots of hangers-on and party crashers at your next tailgate.
DODGE BLACK RAM 1500 EXPRESS
From $28,535, ramtrucks.com
Tailgating is always better when you have an actual tailgate. Plus, since a lot of the gear you’ll be carting around might get messy, it’s nice to be able to just leave it in the truck’s bed. The murdered-out look on this special edition Dodge Ram, with its 5.7-liter Hemi V8, should be intimidating enough to secure your choice of spots in the parking lot.
YETI TUNDRA 50 COOLER
Yeah, that’s a lot of money to spend on a cooler. But unless you lose it (and coolers are kinda hard to lose) this is going to be the last cooler you ever buy. It’s made from the same rugged material as whitewater kayaks and has built-in tie-down slots so you don’t have to worry about it moving anywhere on the way to the stadium. Plus, the attaboys you’ll receive from your buddies who keep talking about how cold their beers are makes it all worth it.
FOUNDER’S ALL-DAY IPA
Prices vary, foundersbrewing.com
The session IPA is one of the best new craft beer categories, allowing you to drink flavorful beer in large quantities. (It doesn’t count as binge drinking once you’ve graduated college.) The reason we chose Founder’s is because the Michigan brewery’s All-Day IPA is available in every state east of Texas, and it comes in cans, which is particularly handy at a tailgate.
RED SOLO CUPS
$7.54 (for 50), walmart.com
Yes, Toby Keith did write a song about them, but try not to hold it against the cups. The red Solo Cup is the official cup of parties, and no tailgate is complete without a few dozen of them. They do come in blue, but it just isn’t the same.
PICNIC TIME FUSION FOLDING CHAIR
Once you sit down in the Fusion, you may never want to get up—even after the game is over. This thing is nicer than some people’s office cubicles. It has a soft-sided cooler that attaches to one side and a fold-out table with a cupholder and a shelving unit underneath. If you do get up, make sure that you call “fives.” so no one snags it.
KING KOOKER TURKEY FRYER
Every Thanksgiving you hear about some schmo who burns his house down while trying to fry a turkey. Well, don’t let that deter you from deep frying at your tailgate. For starters, it’s not that hard. Second, you’re not at your own house. Finally, whether it’s a deep fried turkey, chicken, or Oreo that you’re cooking, everyone will be psyched that you risked life and limb to serve it up.
COLEMAN ROADTRIP CHARCOAL GRILL
As tasty as deep-fried birds can be, it’s likely that some of your fellow tailgaters will look for more traditional fare, particularly of the encased meat variety. This charcoal grill has 225 sq. in of cooking space, which can hold plenty of brats. It also has legs that fold up for easy transportation and a removable ash pan that makes cleaning up so easy you’ll actually do it.
MITCHELL & NESS PUMP FAKE LONGSLEEVE SHIRT
Leave the jerseys to the players. It’s not the most flattering cut unless you’re completely ripped and becomes even less so once you layer a couple sweatshirts underneath. Instead, opt for this cool long sleeve shirt from Mitchell & Ness. It’s made from heavyweight cotton and has a vintage wash so you won’t mind wearing it to places other than a tailgate.
WILSON K2 FOOTBALL
There’s other tailgate pastimes like cornhole and that ladder ball game, but we’re fans of at least preserving the illusion of exercise by throwing an actual football. But don’t overdo it by thinking that you can throw around an actual game ball. Instead, opt for a youth ball like the K2 you remember from childhood. It gives you a better shot at throwing a spiral and your shoulder won’t be dying the next day.