Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
Tailgating and football go together like peanut butter and jelly. For many people, tailgating is as important as the game itself. But, hosting a proper tailgate requires a lot of stuff. And, whether you do it once a season or every week, it’s easy to forget to pack something. Depending on what you forget, you may end up with a less than ideal tailgate experience or it may require you to make a quick trip home or to the store. To help you remember everything you will need for the perfect tailgate, here is our ultimate tailgate packing list. And to make packing for your next tailgate even easier, be sure to grab our FREE printable tailgate packing checklist. (See the box at the bottom of the page for details on how to get it.)
The first step in hosting a great tailgate is to set up your tailgating space. While every space looks a little different, there are some basics that all of them need. First, you will need a tent or two to protect you and your fellow fans from the elements. You also want to pack one or two tarps. These are helpful to block the wind or eliminate the glare on the television. They also can be used to keep your electronics and other valuables dry in the event of a downpour. Bring some rope and zip ties to tie down your tarp. You will also need chairs to sit in and a folding table to put your food and television on. If you will be tailgating with little ones, see my tips on tailgating with toddlers for ideas on creating a child-friendly tailgating space.
Game Day Essentials
Once you have your tailgating space necessities packed, you want to think about your game day essentials. These are the things that you can’t live without during a tailgate. To avoid returning home before you even get started, be sure you pack these things. First and foremost, make sure you pack your game tickets and parking pass. Next, throw in some bug spray and sunscreen. And, of course, you don’t want to sit around at the tailgate doing nothing, so you need to include some entertainment. Pack a television, TV remote, your satellite dish or streaming box, a generator, and any cords needed to connect them all. Also, be sure to bring extension cords to get power to those things that need it. Consider including a football, cornhole, and other tailgating games your family enjoys. If you have kids, bring other toys your kids can play with at a tailgate.
Food & Food Prep
Of course, it’s not much of a tailgate without food. So, you can’t forget to pack the food and any items you will need to prepare, cook, and serve it. You need to pack your grill, a lighter and charcoal (or gas), a cooler, and ice. To make tailgating a little easier, use one of my favorite tailgate packing tips and do your food prep at home. If, on the other hand, you are going to prepare everything at the tailgate, be sure to pack a knife and cutting board, along with aluminum foil, spatulas, tongs, spoons, and other cooking utensils. You also need to pack your food, any necessary spices and seasonings, drinks, plates, plastic silverware, cups, and napkins. You also want to pack a bottle opener.
Comforts of Home
If you will be tailgating each and every week or if you will be tailgating with your kids, you may want to include some comforts of home so your tailgate will be more comfortable. Comfort items that are great to pack for a tailgate include: blankets, a fan or heater (depending on the weather), lights, and a wireless speaker. You will probably want to include some drink koozies too.
Every tailgate needs some basic miscellaneous items that can be useful in a variety of ways. These items include trash bags, paper towels, and ziplock bags in a variety of sizes. These things will keep your tailgate tidy, but are also useful in the event of a mess or an unexpected downpour.
Tailgating is such a fun addition to the football experience. I hope this ultimate tailgate packing list helps improve your next tailgate. What are your must pack items for tailgates? Leave me a comment and let me know! For even more fun, be sure to read my tips for maximizing your college football experience. And don’t forget to get your free printable tailgate packing checklist from our Travel Resource Library, so you can have it at your fingertips when you are packing up the car. See the box below for details on how to get the password for the library. Happy travels!