Autumn is almost upon us, and with the change of the season comes one of America's most beloved activities: tailgating. Setting up a mobile party near the stadium where your hometeam rules is a great way to turn a 3-hour football event into a day-long party.
Throwing a really great tailgate starts with finding the right spot, one that is large enough for a full setup. (Think at least two parking spots wide, or more for an RV). The spot should also be convenient to the stadium, and in the midst of other tailgaters, because fun shared is fun heightened.
As far as supplies go, the tailgating pros offer a checklist of necessary tailgate items, most of which are easily found around the house or available at the local grocery store. There are, however, some bigger ticket items that many people find essential for the full tailgate experience.
For cooking, a portable grill is a great way to fire up hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, and other choice meats. Some people swear by charcoal, but it begs the problem of having to dispose of the coals. Other BBQ masters make do with a portable propane grill like the pictured Coleman 9949-750 Road Trip Grill LXE ($159.99 with free shipping, a low by $5), which has 285 square inches of cooking space, offers two 10,000-BTU straight burners, and collapses to 36" x 22" x 13". It comes in at a solid 60 lbs., propane tank not included.
Of course, you want to make make sure the food transported to the tailgate gets there safely ... because food poisoning in the fourth quarter is no joke. Most people put the potato salad, meat, and the like on ice, but why not consider a White Fox 4L Red Cooler Warmer Mini Refrigerator ($46.99 with free shipping, a low by $2)? This portable fridge runs off of 12V cigarette lighter plug and has a 4-liter capacity.
Even with the grill going and the beers flowing, not every tailgate is cool and dry. Some parties are made wet and cold, and some are too hot and sunny. To make the most of a tailgate party in inclement weather invest in a a pop-up canopy. It's the perfect way to provide shade and a dry place to sit. The pictured E-Z Up Pyramid II 10' Steel Frame Outdoor Canopy in Red ($155 with free shipping, a low by $10) offers 100 square feet of shade in a package that folds down to a mere 47" long. It can be both erected and taken down in seconds.
Sometimes tailgate parties are too good to disban. That's why many diehard sports fans find it essential to show the game as they grill out. All that's required is a big screen TV and a set of rabbit ears that can pick up signal from a local station. Most of the time, however, the best games are on satellite cable. For this, a dish and a receiver are required.
For current Dish Network subscribers, it's easy to get all the games on the go. The Dish Network Tailgater Portable Satellite Antenna ($379 with free shipping, a low by $21) will automatically find the best satellite signal for viewing. Or, a receiver like the Dish Network VIP211k HD Receiver ($134.99 with $9 s&h, a low by $8) can then turn the antenna feed into a TV signal. And don't forget a new HDTV!
Now it's time to power up! For many tailgaters, rechargeable deep-cycle batteries like the Odyssey PC680-P Battery ($93.10 with about $11 s&h, a low by $10) are a best bet. This battery puts out 16 amps, which equates to a couple of hundreds watts of power; a few of these will be required to run both the TV and antenna.
But instead of batteries, a portable generator like the pictured Equipsource Storm Series 1000-Watt Inverter/Generator ($432.49 with free shipping, a low by $38) can power the entire tailgate viewing party. It has a 4-stroke motor, runs at a quiet 58dB, and uses gasoline. The keywords here are quiet and low pollution. Too much generator noise and those tailgating neighbors won't be in the partying mood anymore!
It's fun to pretend that the fortunes of the home team is a matter of life and death, but successful tailgaters come to realize that the sun doesn't rise and set on their team's wins. Instead, for good tailgaters, the sun rises and sets while they are comfortably hanging with friends watching the game, surrounded by a banquet of picnic foods, with cold brews in hand.