You can tell that football season is just around the corner with the abundance of newspaper articles about “tailgating gear for beginners.” We think if you’ve made it this far, you’ve already got your favorite cooler. Probably even a chair or two (if not, highly recommend these Costco chairs). And maybe even a grill.
There are really only a few basics that you need to establish a tailgate: a spot, entertainment, food, and friends. Even a few rivals will keep it interesting.
So, the question now is “what other gear do we need to tailgate in style?”
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for various products below. You get the same low prices and we earn a small commission to help us buy more RV tailgating gadgets. Or game tickets if you go on a shopping spree.
1. The Recreational Vehicle (RV)
It’s a lot easier to tailgate all weekend when you can sleep at the tailgate. And restrooms. And power. You also don’t have to worry about drinking and driving since you can just sleep it off. With an RV, you’ll have lots more room to carry tailgating gear! If you have not done so already, get yourself an RV for tailgating. Then you too can be an RV tailgater.
See Also: Must Have RV Safety Gear
Want to make it a family affair? Your spouse is a lot less likely to complain about you being gone all weekend if they are there with you, enjoying the festivities. They don’t even have to be football fans, although that helps a lot. Your tailgate is full of friends that love to chat, hang out and cook. With an RV, it’s like throwing a party at your house where everyone is welcome. Worse comes to worse, the RV also can be a means of escape if your spouse or children have had too much fun.
Don’t forget the Genturi exhaust system to protect everyone from harmful exhaust gases.
2. Entertainment System
Tailgating in these parts starts early on a Saturday morning (assuming it ever stopped from Friday night). You’ll have a whole day of football ahead of you and you don’t want to miss any of it. Wake up to Game Day and roll right into the noon (ET) kickoffs. With a full slate of games, you’ll probably need multiple televisions. It helps if you have a bunch of RVs together so you can watch multiple games. And if you are tired of football (gasp!), turn on some tunes and turn the parking lot into a dance party. Or karaoke.
To get started, you’ll need a digital TV and antenna for over-the-air stations. Some TVs have antennas built-in, but their range may be limited. You may find that an external antenna, particularly if attached to the RV, gives you better reception. If you want ESPN, SEC Network, Fox Sports, or other specialized networks, you’ll probably want to get DISH Network or Direct TV satellite service.
If you want to be social, you’ll want to setup your TV outside under the awning. Newer RVs have special compartments built in, with TVs and power outlets. If you have an older RV, like Starter RV, you’ll need a sturdy table and a power cord to run from inside.
You should also consider some non-electronic entertainment. Large Jenga sets seem to be appearing at every tailgate. Jenga does require a stable table on a flat surface to be effective though (and trust me, many tailgating fields and lots are not that flat. For home games, you’ll be able to work around this, even if you have to use RV leveling pads to make it stable. Cornhole has become a popular tailgating game that is easy to setup on the outside of your tailgating space. Cornhole is more forgiving on uneven playing surfaces, so advantage cornhole.
We aren’t talking your normal hotdog and hamburger grill; when you want lots of meat, there’s no better way than with a smoker. Our tailgate has at least one, if not two, trailer hitch towed smokers. These things can actually feed the offensive line and those are some big, hungry boys after a game. You can fire up the smokers on Friday and do a low-and-slow BBQ all night long. Or you can do quick brats and chickens a few hours after the game. If you don’t want the giant smoker, you can still go with a smaller one to take your tailgate from blah to awesome. One of our tailgating neighbors has a table top smoker similar to this one.
If your adventurous, you can even build a Big Green Egg transport unit and bring the Egg to the tailgate. Or just have Amazon ship you a table.
4. Tents, Tables and Chairs
If you are going to cook enough to feed a football team, you need to make your tailgate welcoming. You know what makes a tailgate inviting? Having places to sit down and talk with friends. We aren’t talking just one or two chairs either. Get a bunch. The more, the merrier. At a minimum, you should have four chairs. Get more if you have space in the RV. Or get one of those trailer hitch cargo carriers to bring some more chairs with you. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time that we had too many chairs on game day. (Yes, we get the irony of telling you to get chairs since every single list of tailgating tips tells you to get chairs. But we are recommending an RV full of chairs, not just one or two. Seriously, if you think you have enough, get some more chairs.)
You’ll also want tables to put your food on. And tents to keep everything shaded and dry, depending on the weather. If you want to take it up a notch, add some team inspired table cloths to the tables. And table top decoration, either football or mascot inspired. Perhaps a chalkboard menu with today’s food and drink offerings (you did create a theme for the weekend, right?)
Go ahead and add an outdoor carpet or rug under all the tables and chairs. Those parking lots can be tough on dog paws and human feet – whether because they are hot under the scorching sun or rough because it is asphalt. The outdoor carpets are typically water resistant or at least won’t disintegrate if they get wet. It can happen because it rains or simply because drinks get spilled. In any case, get one specifically made for outside.
5. Flags Flying High
If you are in a giant field or parking lot full of cars and RVs, you need to let everyone know what team you are rooting for. And tell people how to find you. So add an RV flagpole and flags to your setup. Bonus points for each additional flagpole and flag you add. Flagpoles can now be attached to the RV ladder, the trailer hitch, and under each tire. Definitely opportunities to fly every variation of your team’s flag.
Even when we have to limit our tailgating gear and go without the RV, we still manage to take the flagpole with us. The under-tire flagpoles are great for car-gating.
See Also: Add Flags to Your RV Tailgate
Remember, you are here to have fun. Make your tailgate your own; no need to copy what everyone else is doing.
Seriously, we know you have a cooler, no need for the newspaper guys to tell you to get one. But what else do you need for essential tailgating gear?
For more ideas, see