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The smell of hot dogs and chip dip consumes you. There's a certain excitement in the air, faint chanting in your ears. You're surrounded by good times, great food and even better friends. What day is it?
It's game day.
Football season is officially here, and we all know what that means. Even if you're not a football fan, the general excitement and thought of delicious grilled foods is enough to get anyone to a pre-kickoff tailgate.
In order to prepare for the good times ahead, we asked various professional and collegiate football fans about their tailgating must-haves. From party essentials to games and beyond, Shop TODAY surveyed their responses and scoured stellar product reviews to find 13 of the best tailgate must-haves.
Best tailgating products, according to football fans
Morgan Greenwald, USC alumna and fan, says she always keeps this can insulator by her side on game day. "These [YETI ramblers] are a MUST for keeping drinks cold," she said.
This rambler has a solid 4.7-star overall rating from over 2,000 passionate YETI shoppers.
"I also love my YETI backpack to carry my drinks around and keep them cold," added Greenwald.
This high-quality and durable soft cooler is worth the splurge if you're a big tailgater. Just ask over 600 YETI shoppers who rated it a perfect five stars!
Houston Texan fan Jen Birkhofer mentioned that she saw a ton of attachable canopies like this one at the last game she attended. This insanely clever and easy-to-use tailgating tent is designed to fit the dimensions of a standard parking spot. It's also water-resistant and comes with all of the poles and sandbags you need to keep it in place.
Add extra comfort to the typical stadium seat with a portable cushioned stadium seat. "My grandma always brings a stadium seat with her," laughed Birkhofer.
With over 2,200 five-star ratings on Amazon, this affordable seat from Coleman is one of your best options.
Most stadiums, if not all, now require clear bags in order to enter the arena. With so many cute options, it was hard to pick just one, but this clear chain link purse has tons of great reviews and made the bestseller list. There are great clear stadium-approved backpack options, too.
As a University of Missouri alum and fan, Kara Quill harped on the importance of getting a portable grill for tailgating. "It's so nice to have more food than just a bag of chips to keep your energy up!" says Quill.
This charcoal grill has over 1,700 five-star reviews and is said to be extremely easy to clean.
An easy makeup look is amongst Gator fan Kendall Brandt's biggest game day hacks. "I'd rather wear minimal makeup, like no mascara or waterproof mascara, because that's always the first to smudge," says Brandt.
If you want to skip the mascara altogether, try this makeup set from NUDESTIX that includes a matte blush, shimmery eye color and a glossy gel. It's the best way to get a glam look without the smudge for game day!
Chris Birkhofer, a New York Giants fan, broke down the differences between cold and warm weather tailgating. "In the Northeast, tents and fire pits that are approved by the stadiums are most important," he says. Keep warm with this portable campfire that has a 4.6-star overall rating.
On the other hand, you'll want to prioritize keeping cool if you're tailgating in a warmer area. "In the south where you have more space, games, larger grills and portable AC or water spritzers, something to keep you cool, are more important," said Birkhofer.
Beat the heat with this AC that boasts an impressive 4.8-star reviewer rating.
Circling back to tailgating in areas where the winters aren't so warm, a lot of northern fans say they always keep hand and foot warmers on them.
"Save some for the game — your hands and feet are going to get very cold," says Patriots fan Erin Conely, who frequents chilly games in Massachusetts.
Get your game on before the game's on with this highly rated, Amazon Choice portable corn hole set. Florida State and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan Daniel McAuliffe said cornhole is the perfect game for any tailgate, explaining, "It provides a little bit of sportsmanship among friends just before the game."
Mikhail Herrera, Penn State alum and Las Vegas Raiders fan, says a ladder toss game always got him and his friends ready for a big game. This game also comes with a canvas bag to easily transport it from your house to the parking lot.
"My family used to tailgate a lot. We were all about getting themed tents and chairs," said Amanda Smith, whose family are huge University of South Carolina fans. Bundle and save on these team-themed sets of canopies, chairs and tables.
For more stories like this, check out:
- Stay cool with these portable and protective canopies and tents
- Get ready for some backyard fun with these 6 must-have lawn games
- Dreaming of barbecue? Here's how to pick the right grill for your home