20 Tailgating Essentials For Every Football Fan

Must-haves even Auburn and Alabama fans can agree on.

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Warm Spinach-Sweet Onion Dip with Country Ham

Southern Living

There are few better activities in the fall than tailgating with friends. Your favorite team might be making a move up the rankings in the SEC or playing professionally in a state of the art football facility with a retractable roof and better views on the big screens. Whatever you’re cheering for this year, tailgating is serious business, especially in the South. It may be due to our pleasant weather or be blamed on our passion for all things sport, but Southerners bring the whole concept of tailgating to another level. 

Our editors have been on the hunt for the products that add to our parking lot picnics. These 20 additions to your tailgating game are easily found online from major retailers, including Amazon and Target. This season, you can be the envy of all the spreads, one essential item at a time.

Color-Changing Solar-Powered String Lights

solar powered lights

Pottery Barn

There’s a lot of string lights on the market, but Pottery Barn’s version stands out. Simply stick the spike of the solar panel into a sunny spot and let it charge. A remote can even change the colors to 14 different combinations, so you’re sure to find teams colors and light up the area! If it’s evening, a USB-A port or adapter can run the string. Weather-resistant and made for the outdoors, these lights will bring that special touch to your decoration.

Price at time of publish: $89

SUV Tailgating Canopy

tailgating tent


Ever struggle to get that pop-up tent to work? Try this canopy instead that attaches directly to your SUV, minivan, or truck. Not only can one person easily set this up, the canopy is made to fit in a parking space. Instead of breaking out a mallet to set poles, the sandbags and your car keep this shade firmly anchored, even in a good wind. Super convenient and easy to use, this product will let you spend less time setting up. 

Price at time of publish: $75

Collapsible Garbage Can Holder

collapsible trash can


Go ahead and name this product the tailgate MVP! When eating and drinking with friends and fellow fans, trash is guaranteed to pile up. Make clean-up easy for all with this collapsible garbage can—simply pack several trash bags and bag, tie, and replace as each bag fills up.

Price at time of publish: $18

Amazon Basics Folding Mesh Chair

amazon basics folding mesh chair


Sometimes, cheap and functional is all you need, and such is the case with this $25 folding chair from Amazon Basics. On game day, it will do its job during the big game, and as soon as the clock runs out (or the party is over), you can fold it up easily to pack away for next weekend. The blue color is especially fitting for fans of Duke, Ole Miss, and Kentucky.

Price at time of publish: $25

Portable Plastic Folding Table

portable folding table


Lay out your game day spread on this 4-foot-wide portable picnic table. It has an adjustable height and folds in half so it's easy to throw in the back of an SUV or pickup as you drive to-and-from the tailgate (responsibly). For a festive touch, consider throwing a tablecloth over the top in your school's colors.

Price at time of publish: $72

Filson Roll-Top Dry Bag

filson dry bag


If the forecast calls for rain, there’s still a way to stow dry goods outside without fear of the weather. Filson’s website says that water can’t enter this bag when it’s closed, and we believe them. The secret is the simple fold and buckle method that makes a tight seal. Made with the highest standards, this bag has comfortable, well-constructed straps to carry it around if you’ve parked far away from your group. 

Price at time of publish: $215

WEN 1250-Watt Inverter Generator



Quiet and portable, this generator has power output that’s safe enough to run even the most sensitive of electronics. Plug in your phone or computer with no fear of a damaging power surge and watch the pre-show for the big game. The unit is gas-powered and able to run for a full five hours using fuel-saving technology that adjusts for its power usage. 

Price at time of publish: $300

Extra Large Picnic & Outdoor Blanket

waterproof picnic blanket


Whether you're looking for a place to sit or something that'll act like as an outdoor rug, this oversized waterproof picnic blanket fits the bill. It's big enough for several family members (4-6 adults) to get comfortable and durable enough for football enthusiasts to stand on without sliding around on the quad's grass. Decide between a wide and thin stripe—both are neutral enough to pair with any team's colors.

Price at time of publish: $23

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Skillet Fry Pan

le creuset pan


This isn’t the least expensive skillet in the world but, for many, it's firmly worth the investment. Not only can you put it right on the grill to heat up incredible dips like this recipe for Spinach-Sweet Onion Dip with Country Ham, it can function as the best surface for your main meats to cook with less mess. The interior is enamel coated, so it cooks with little oil and no cast iron seasoning necessary. This skillet also comes in 23 colors and sizes to match your favorite team. 

Price at time of publish: $175

Three Wine Basket

wine holderA


We love being organized at a tailgate and appreciate any tool that helps a job go a little easier. A sweet rosé, a crisp chardonnay or a smooth pinot noir will all neatly tuck away in this basket, plus there’s a convenient handle to easily carry it to the table. It doesn’t hurt that the hand-woven abaca fibers are able to be cleaned and make everything look better. 

Price at time of publish: $72

Bean Bag Toss

bean bag toss

Mark & Graham

Easily transportable and foldable, these personalized corn hole boards come in a convenient travel bag to go easily to a tailgate. If football is your game, the board can be created with a yard line theme and monogrammed to make sure no one is tempted to take it home for themselves. 

Price at time of publish: $155

Ooni Fyra 12 Portable Wood Pellet Outdoor Pizza Oven

pizza oven


You’ll be the hit of the tailgate, serving smoky, restaurant level pizza from this portable pellet grill. The legs and the chimney are detachable, making it easier for transport and it comes with its own pizza stone for your most epic pies. 

Price at time of publish: $349

Tailgate Cutting Board

portable folding table

Bed Bath & Beyond

If you’ve ever tried to prep food at a tailgate, you know the choices are usually limited to the food table or the back of a truck. That’s not the case when you bring this fold-out board. The design even incorporates a knife slot and cup holder for the ultimate in convenience. Sharp knives are no match for the hardy, easy to clean surface, making this the best for getting meats or vegetables ready for the grill. 

Price at time of publish: $40

Butter Board Seasoning Kit

butter board

Uncommon Goods

If you’re on social media, you couldn’t have missed butter boards, the latest food trend. Basically a selection of compound butter ready to smear on warm crusty bread, these boards are fast replacing charcuterie as the go-to party appetizer. Are you planning to make a butter board for the next tailgating get-together? These flavor packets get you started quickly. Make savory or sweet spreads like apple-cinnamon, sun-dried tomato, lemon garlic and even umami flavor, ready to use for delicious game day appetizers. 

Price at time of publish: $36

Insulated Cooler Tote Bag

insulated tote bag

Food 52

Sometimes, you just don’t need to carry a heavy cooler. This bag has plenty of space, with room for 24 cans. The outside is made from a strong polyester to stop rips and the inside is coated with PVC to avoid leaks making this bag a durable choice to hold snacks and drinks. As an added bonus, there’s a pocket on the front for any smaller needs. 

Price at time of publish: $35

Yeti Tundra Haul Wheeled Cooler

yeti cooler


The Yeti cooler just really has no equal. Not only is it ‘bear-proof’ from that extra-exuberant fan, Yeti coolers will keep your ice intact and drinks cold for days. The go-to cooler choice for experienced tailgating crews, this particular version is wheeled to make getting to your spot even easier. 

Price at time of publish: $450

Glass Dome With Wooden Tray

glass dome with wooden tray


Let’s face it, bugs at a tailgate ruin everything. This dome allows you to nestle food underneath the glass, protecting your snacks from any insects. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Portable Fire Pit

solo stove

Solo Stove

Solo Stove makes portable, smokeless fire pits just right for bringing to a cool, nighttime tailgate party. Not only are they lightweight and able to be used for cooking and warmth, these stoves can be personalized with your collegiate logo. Go team!

Price at time of publish: $550

Weber Portable Grill Bundle

Weber Portable Grill


Every tailgate starts with a portable grill, the smell of cooking food a siren’s call for friends and other fans. Weber makes one of the best rated versions and this bundle takes that up a notch. The grill, grill brush, drip pans, grill tools and prep board are wrapped up in a protective case, making sure nothing gets lost. You’ll have everything you need on game day!

Price at time of publish: $565

BioLite Charge 80 PD Power Bank

power bank


It doesn’t matter how well-prepared we are, someone always has a low charge on their phone. If you need a quick phone power source at a tailgate, we suggest this fast power bank by BioLite. You don’t even have to wait turns, the device is able to charge multiple phones at once. 

Price at time of publish: $80

Tailgates are the ultimate in fall fun, friends and family gathering in good-natured competition to cheer on their favorite team. With any (or all) of these essentials, your tailgate will be a gathering spot for fans every time you go to the game. 

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