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With the NFL season properly underway, tailgating season has officially begun. If you’re still a little leery about heading out to a stadium, you can recreate the vibe by gathering with a few friends and family members in your backyard.
If you’re considering turning your property into a tailgate-ready space this season, you’ll need some gear to reproduce the sights, sounds, food, and drinks you’re missing out on this year. We’ve collected everything you’ll need to get the project done, and made sure our picks will make your backyard a fun place to hold any event this autumn.
1. Solo Stove Bonfire
A fire pit serves three purposes: It provides heat, creates light, and becomes a central gathering point during commercials, halftime, and before or after the game.
None of the fire pits we’ve tried hold a candle to Solo Stove’s Bonfire, which features an innovative design that prevents excess smoke from interrupting your event. The circular-shaped pit is made out of brushed stainless steel, which holds up to high heat without getting damaged. It uses wood as fuel, and drops ash down into a shallow tray below the fire, which makes it easy to clean up after the fire is extinguished.
In our tests, the Solo Stove Bonfire succeeded at delivering on all three of the prerequisites we listed earlier, and became a mainstay of our backyard gatherings during the autumn, spring, and summer. Solo Stove’s Bonfire is an absolute must-have for anyone throwing a backyard tailgate, or wants to host any outdoor event.
2. BenQ TH585 1080p Home Entertainment Projector
If you want to recreate the experience of going to a football game as closely as possible, you’ll need a projector. BenQ’s TH585 can create a 1080P (Full HD) image up to 150-inches wide. It supports a video technology called high contrast radtio, which makes images look a lot more accurate, so you can see more details.
The TH585 has two HDMI ports, so you can connect a media streamer to watch the game, and an audio output, so you can connect it to a more powerful speaker. The projector will work well if you point it toward any flat surface, but we recommend setting up a projector screen for the best possible results.
3. Furrion Aurora
If you prefer to watch your games on a big screen TV instead, Furrion’s Aurora is the one we recommend. This set is designed for outdoor use, and features an anti-glare display that can prevent the sun from interrupting your viewing. Its IP54 water-resistant housing allows Furrion Aurora to handle rain, snow, UV rays, dirt, salt, and humidity. One of our editors put this to the test by leaving the TV outdoors on a rainy day, and it survived with no issues.
We’re recommending Furrion’s Aurora TV for your next tailgate because of its outdoor-friendly features, but it also checks all the right boxes on the tech side. This is a 4K TV, which means you’ll be able to see every detail on the field. It has an array of inputs, so you won’t have any trouble hooking up your cable box or a streaming stick to watch the match. Once it’s over, you can use the TV to turn a tailgate into a movie night to extend your time outdoors.
4. Fire TV Stick 4K
If you’re going to stream your NFL games online through a service like Fubo TV, you’ll need a media streamer to access it. We recommend Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K because it’s very capable despite its very small size. It can output video at resolutions up to 4K, and supports both Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range) and Dolby Atmos, the latest high-end video and audio technologies.
The Fire TV Stick 4K has an HDMI jack on one end, so you can connect it directly to your television or projector without a cable. You will need to connect it to a power source (you can even use the USB port on your TV) with the included MicroUSB cable. Although it has 4K in its name, this media streamer will work perfectly on 1080P (full HD) televisions and projectors.
5. JBL PartyBox 300
JBL’s PartyBox 300 is a massive party speaker that will work as your sound system before, during, and after the game. The speaker supports Bluetooth for wireless music streaming, and is equipped with an AUX input and RCA inputs if you want to plug a phone, tablet, or computer into it directly. It even has a 1/4-inch input, which lets you use the PartyBox 300 as an amp for your instrument.
Both of the PartyBox 300’s drivers have an illuminated ring around them, with four additional LEDs dotting the top, bottom, and sides of the speaker. This will add some fun ambiance to your tailgate once the sun goes down. A tailgate deserves a powerful sound system that’ll make you feel like you’re at the stadium, and JBL’s PartyBox 300 delivers.
6. 1byone TV Antenna
You can watch some NFL without subscribing to cable or a streaming service by hooking your TV up to an HDTV antenna. This antenna from Forlovv can get television signals from up to 220 miles away, and will give you free, unlimited access to broadcast TV channels like CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX. Your reception will vary based on your location, but you can get a clear 1080P (full HD) picture if you’re in the right area. Forlovv’s antenna requires power to work, so you’ll need to plug its USB cable into a power adapter, or the USB port built into your TV.
7. YETI Tundra 65 Cooler
YETI’s Tundra 65 is a highly insulated cooler that will make sure your drinks stay cold during the entire game. It has extra thick walls and pressure-injected polyurethane insulation, which will prevent outside heat from seeping inside.
You’ll still need to use ice to keep your beverages cold, and YETI recommends using a 2:1 ratio of ice to drinks (by volume) to ensure everything stays cool. This cooler is 30/5-inches long, 17.5-inches wide, and 16-inches tall, and weighs 29 pounds when it’s empty, so you may want to pick a good spot before you start to fill it, and empty it at the end of the game.
8. Xmcosy Outdoor String Lights
Xmcosy’s smart outdoor string lights can add some ambiance to your tailgate when it starts to get dark. There are 30 lights per string, and you can control them using a switch on the string itself, an app on your phone (iOS or Android), or totally hands-free through a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo. You can’t change their color, but you can dim these string lights to create the right atmosphere as your tailgate goes on.
Xmcosy says its string lights have an IP65 durability rating, which means they can be exposed to water (think rain and snow) without getting damaged. the company also says they’re “shatterproof,” but doesn’t give any additional details about the materials it uses. If you want to add cool looking smart lighting to your backyard for when people come over, this is the set of string lights we recommend.
9. Hamilton Beach 45 Cup Coffee Urn
Hamilton Beach’s Coffee Urn can keep your beverages (and guests) warm if you’re watching a game on a chilly day. This is an electric coffee urn, which means you must keep it plugged into an outlet in order for it to work. It can hold 45 cups worth of coffee, and brew one cup per minute.
There are markings on the inside of the urn to let you know how much liquid you’re pouring in, and an indicator light on the front to let you know when it’s done brewing. The outside of the urn is made out of stainless steel, which will get hot to the touch, but its handles are made out of plastic, so you can easily add more water.
10. Pit Barrel Cooker Co Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
Nothing complements live sports like tender, perfectly cooked meat, and Pit Barrel Cooker Co.’s Classic Pit Barrel Cooker can deliver enough food to feed over a dozen people while taking up far less space than a traditional grill.
The Pit Barrel Cooker is a charcoal grill and smoker shaped like a drum. Instead of cooking your meat on a flat surface, you hang it on hooks. By thinking vertically, the Pit Barrel Cooker Co. came up with a smart way to cook with a crowd. Assembling the Pit Barrel Cooker takes only a few minutes, and the results speak for themselves.
You can also use the included grill grate to cook burgers and hot dogs while using a poultry hanger to roast whole racks of ribs or chickens.Once you get the hang of using the Pit Barrel Cooker, you may never want to use another grill again.
11. GoSports Classic Cornhole Set
Playing an outdoor game is a great way to spend halftime, and we recommend GoSport’s Classic Cornhole set if you have enough space.
The game can be played with up to four people (in teams of two), with the objective being to throw a beanbag onto your opponent’s board. If your beanbag lands on top of the board, you get one point; if it goes through the hole located toward the top of the board, you get three points. The first team to reach 21 points is the winner.
GoSports’ set comes with eight beanbags, two boards, and a carrying case to keep all of the pieces protected when you’re not playing.