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With the NFL season properly underway, tailgating season has officially begun. While covid-19 has made it impossible to gather with thousands of fans at 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.
A fire table serves three purposes: It provides heat, creates light, and becomes a central gathering point during commercials, halftime, and before or after the game. This one from U-MAX is 44-inches long, and runs on propane. You can keep the tank in a hidden compartment inside the table, so it won’t be an eyesore.
You can start the fire by pressing an electric ignition button on the front of the table, and control the intensity of the flame by rotating a single knob. The main reason we’re recommending U-MAX’s fire table over all the rest is that it comes with a waterproof cover to keep it protected in the off season, and a wind guard to keep the flames from getting out of control. These are generally considered optional extras, but U-MAX bundles them with its table.
The only factor to consider before getting this table is that it’s pretty big, so you’ll need enough space to store it properly. If that isn’t a problem, this fire table will provide ample warmth as the season stretches deeper into the autumn.
If you want to recreate the experience of going to a football game as closesly 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 radtion, 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.
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.
Sony’s XB72 is a massive party speaker that will work as your sound system before, during, and after the game. It supports Bluetooth, so you can stream music to it wirelessly from your phone, and has an AUX input, so you can plug it directly into your projector. It even has a microphone jack, so you can use it as karaoke machine.
The 20 pound speaker has six drivers (the part of a speaker or headphone that produces sound), so you’ll get a loud, clean sound regardless of what you’re listening to. It supports Sony’s Live Sound EQ (equalization), which the company says will make your music sound more immersive, and DJ effects like scratching that you can overlay on your tunes.
The XB72 also has lights beneath its giant woofers and around the parameter of the speaker. You can set them to pulsate with the beat of your music, or activate the strobe light to turn your tailgate into a rave.
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.
YETI’s Tundra 35 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 21-inches long, 16-inches wide, and 15-inches tall, and weighs 20 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.
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.
XCOMBY 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.
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.
One of the best parts of tailgating is the food, and you’re actually a lot less limited when you’re cooking at home. Royal Gourmet’s charcoal grill has a 800 sq. in. (square inch) cooking area, which is more than enough for a dozen hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, and vegetables. It has two layers: The main grilling surface, and a warming rack that you can use for more delicate food, like burger buns.
You can raise or lower the fire pan to adjust the intensity of the heat, which is necessary since you can’t increase or decrease its temperature like you can on a propane grill. There’s a small smoker to the left side of the grill, which you can use to make more food food, or add a smoky flavor to whatever you’re cooking.
No tailgate is complete without hot, fresh food, and Royal Gourmet’s Charcoal Grill will help you feed a lot of guests very quickly.
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.
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