By Allen Foster

Football season is here. And while you can certainly tailgate at other types of events, such as concerts and festivals, a pregame football party in the stadium parking lot is essential for fans who want to make the most of the event. If you’ve never hosted one before, it helps to know what the best equipment is to buy for a tailgating party.

In this video

BestReviews’ Meredith Gallo talks with Gary Gelfand and shares insights we received from our readers on how to have a winning tailgating party.

Essential items you need to throw the best tailgating party ever

Portable grill

Without food, a tailgating event isn’t much of a party. “In the Northeast, it’s all about having a great community while you’re tailgating,” says Gallo. “And what better way to get to that community than through your stomach.” You want to consider a portable grill that doesn’t take up a great deal of packing space but still offers a sufficient amount of grilling surface so guests won’t have to wait too long for their food to be cooked. It also helps to have a sturdy base, a large carrying handle and grilling controls that let you set a precise grilling temperature. We like Q1200 from Weber. It is affordable and meets all the above criteria.

Cooler

If you are planning on an event that will last for a few hours, you need to keep the beverages cold. Warm soda or beer can quickly put a damper on your party. The Yeti Hopper soft-sided backpack cooler, an easy-to-carry option, holds up to 18 cans. The closed-cell foam construction delivers impressive cold-holding performance, keeping beverages chilled for several hours.

Music

One thing that nearly everyone we spoke with agreed on — no matter what part of the country they were from — was the importance of music. Music sets the vibe and jumpstarts the celebration into high gear. Not only does the Sonos Move offer incredible sound quality, it has a rugged build, is weather resistant, and delivers up to 11 hours of playtime per charge. Gallo says that it’s easy to connect to your smartphone and other devices because it’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled.

Games

One important tip suggested by our readers is always to have some form of entertainment available to promote social bonding. A universally popular tailgating game is cornhole. It is simple to learn but hard to master. The GoSports cornhole set is a popular option that comes with everything you need to play, including eight all-weather, regulation-size bean bags and game rules.

Trash receptacles

According to tailgaters across the south, celebrating is only the first part of the party. The second part — and arguably the most important — is being considerate and cleaning up. Tailgaters in the southern part of the country love using collapsible trash cans. Not only are they affordable and portable, but they work much better than a trash bag tied to the bumper of a pickup truck.

Appropriate dress

If you live in the Midwest, the key thing to remember is appropriate clothing. After talking to football fans from that region of the country, we found out that you need to layer up to stay comfortable. Even if you feel warm when you leave for a tailgating event, it is important to prepare for the entire event. That includes having fun after the sun goes down when temperatures drop by double digits.

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Weber Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill

When you’re participating in a tailgating party, you need a place to cook the food. This portable propane grill arrives fully assembled (LP cylinder sold separately). It has 189 square inches of cooking space, an easy-start ignition, and infinite control burner settings.

Sold by Amazon and Wayfair

Yeti Hopper Soft-Sided Backpack Cooler

The M20 Yeti backpack cooler is capable of carrying up to 18 cans. It features closed-cell foam for superior insulation and a leak-resistant magnetic shield that seals with little effort. The high-density fabric is puncture- and UV-resistant for maximum durability.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Sonos Move Battery-powered Smart Speaker

You have a grill, cold beverages, and a place to dispose of your trash. The next thing you’ll need is music. The Sonos Move is a portable, battery-powered smart speaker. It lasts up to 11 hours and is built to be weather resistant to rain, snow, dust, and extreme temperatures.

Sold by Sonos and Amazon

GoSports Cornhole Bean Bag Toss Game With Aluminum Frame

This tailgate-size cornhole set is lightweight and folds down, so one person can carry the entire set. The durable design features a composite MDF surface on an aluminum frame. The game sets up for play in seconds, making it ideal for tailgating. 

Sold by Amazon

Coghlan’s Pop-Up Recycle Bin

No matter where you have your tailgating party, you need to keep your area clean. This spring-loaded, pop-up camp trash can is lightweight and easy to carry. It fits a 30-gallon trash bag, is made from durable polyethylene, and has a fully zippered top.

Sold by Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Home Depot