We don’t know how it is where you work, but around here, there are days at the office where you’d think we were employed by a sports network. With Labor Day behind us, and football cranking up for another season, the local sports action (both professional and collegiate) becomes the topic of most conversations.
Okay, we do some work also, but that’s just so we can earn the money to purchase the latest and greatest equipment for our weekend tailgating parties.
Gone are the days when “tailgating” consisted of nothing more than a small hibachi grill and a cooler full of cold ones on ice.
These days, a true sports aficionado takes tailgating as seriously as the action on the field.
Let’s Start With Cooking
You not only have the choice of gas, propane, or traditional charcoal in a portable unit; today’s ultimate set-up uses the receiver hitch on the back of your truck or SUV as a way to carry the grill without lifting it into and out of the car.
If you install it on a swing-away hitch arm, you also gain the ability to easily access your tailgate.
Coolers are still popular because they work. However, consider that much of their available space is taken up by ice and eventually, the ice melts. Portable refrigerators and even ice makers (some available in team colors!) give you greater storage space and flexibility in keeping the drinks cold and the uncooked food safe.
Grill & Chill
Of course, you want to be able to sit and relax while munching on those burgers and dogs. Folding chairs are taken for granted, but make sure yours have drink holders and head rests. Throw down a portable carpet (preferably embroidered with your team’s logo) and give your feet something soft and cushy to rest on.
Sun too hot where you live? Keep those beers in the shade with awnings that extend out from the back of your rig. If the clouds are threatening and you refuse to be deterred, fully enclosed “tent-like” units will keep you and your munchies high and dry.
Get The Party Started
Let’s say that you’re such a die-hard tailgater that the food and drink are not the main attraction, but just the nourishment to keep you going during the pre-game entertainment. Your ride has a sound system, but have you considered upgrading it specifically for the party?
Many newer trucks have 12V outlets in the rear just for this purpose. With today’s music streaming choices, look into an internet-capable, portable sound system that’s plug-n-play.
Viola! Tailgate Tunes.
You’re not limited to only audio, either. Flat-screen TVs have become so portable and affordable that you can easily fit one in the back of the truck. Worried about draining your battery while you provide power for the sights and sounds? Consider a 2nd “deep cycle” battery specifically designed to provide power over an extended period without recharging.
You can have a battery like this permanently wired into your vehicle’s electrical system if you’re a regular partier.
Sooner or later, the tailgate party must end so that you can go into the stadium to watch the game.
That IS why you’re there, isn’t it?
Make cleanup easy by considering washable seat covers and tray-type cargo liners, which of course you’ll buy with team logos on them. Once you’re home, a quick wash and dry means you’ll be ready for next weekend’s tailgating.
Don’t forget to go to work in between!
At the end of the day, your tailgating entertainment options are limited only by your budget and your imagination. We’ve seen swimming pools, kitchen ranges bigger than our home unit, and movie projectors. With creativity and this awesome gear, your tailgate will see more action than the game itself!
Richard Reina is a Product Trainer at CARiD.com and lifelong automotive enthusiast.