CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

The Best Tailgating Items of 2023

Make your tailgate standout with these essential tailgating items.

Charlotte Maracina Associate Writer
Charlotte Maracina is an associate writer for CNET based in Long Island, New York. When not writing about top products on the market, she's traveling, binging Love Island or following Harry Styles on tour.
Expertise Charlotte has two years of experience tracking different travel, fashion and lifestyle trends among 18-24 year olds. She studied Communications and Sociology at Belmont University.
Charlotte Maracina
7 min read

The start of football season this week means that it's time to get the grills going and the beer flowing. As any football fan knows, behind every great game is an even better tailgate. Whether you're a big college football fan like my family (go Irish!) or you're an NFL die-hard, hosting the perfect tailgate makes a win feel even sweeter or numbs the pain of a tragic defeat. 

With hundreds of tailgates going on in every stadium parking lot, how can you make yours the one to be at? My sister's friend's parents hired Irish step dancers to come perform at their Notre Dame tailgate, but if you don't want to go to that extreme there's other options. I've compiled a list of the best items for every tailgate based on personal experience and reviews of other users to help make your tailgate the place to be.

The necessities

Before we can get into the extras, let's make sure we cover the basics. 

black bose speaker

This Bose S1 Pro speaker is by far the best speaker I've ever owned. The speaker is relatively lightweight and easily portable which is perfect for tailgating. The built-in tone match and auto eq features allows the sound to perfectly echo to all areas of the party. I first used this speaker for a soccer tailgate and the sound radiated throughout the parking lot. 

Not only does the compact size and explosive sound make the speaker a perfect tailgate buy, but this cordless speaker allows you to easily connect with Bluetooth while giving you the option to plug in an auxiliary cord or instruments. When you download the Bose Connect app, users can control the volume and songs all from their phone. My favorite feature is the party mode that can be accessed on the app which allows you to sync all Bose devices at the tailgate. This feature comes in handy at parties when you have a speaker outside and one inside, now both speakers can play the same song in tandem! 

Overall, the Bose S1 speaker is well worth the money. I have the one with the lithium battery which allows you to quickly charge, resulting in about 11 hours of battery life. I recommend investing in the speaker with the lithium battery so that your speaker can survive even the longest tailgate.


 Pulling up to a tailgate with the Yeti Roadie 60 Cooler will make you the envy of the party. This sleek monstrous cooler can hold up to 50 beer cans and has the ability to hold ice for days. I put this cooler to the test when I went camping in the Adirondack Mountains for two days and was able to keep my food and drinks cold the whole time. If the Roadie 60 works that well in the middle of a forest in 90 degree weather, it will definitely make for a stellar cooler in a stadium parking lot. 

One of my favorite aspects of Yeti's updated Roadie cooler is the wheels and added drain plug. The cooler itself with ice and beverages can be pretty heavy, so being able to wheel it around without any heavy lifting takes away additional physical tolls a packed cooler can add. Additionally, the drain plug at the bottom of the cooler makes cleaning up ten times easier. The dry basket that also comes included with the cooler makes for a convenient way of storing your favorite tailgate snacks. 

Overall, the Yeti Roadie 60 is by far the best cooler for tailgating. The $500 price tag of the cooler may make customers wary at first, but keep in mind that this is a cooler that you will have forever. The durability, insulation and unique features of the Yeti Roadie 60 makes it worth the investment. 

If you're in need of a smaller soft top cooler, I also loved the Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler.

Black grill

The only thing better than a good drink at a tailgate is a good burger. Finding the best grill that's compact enough to fit in your car but big enough to cook multiple burgers at once is hard, but the Coleman may have almost perfected the tailgate grill with RoadTrip 225 Portable Propane Grill

Coleman's Roadtrip 225 features two adjustable burners, matchless lighting, sturdy legs and wheels for easy transportation. The grill takes up a minuscule amount of space allowing for more room to party at your tailgate. Although you may not be able to cook for your whole tailgate at once, you can for sure fit several burgers and sausages on the grill at once. My favorite aspect of the grill is the quick set-up and easy clean-up, allowing you to waste no time getting the party started! 


There's nothing better than a cold drink on a hot game day. The Stanley Classic Stay Chill Beer Pitcher Set keeps your drinks cold all tailgate long. Thanks to this pitcher, the last tailgate I went to I was able to make a pitcher of margaritas and have it stay cold all game. If there's one thing I love more than a cold beer, it's a cold marg.

 If you don't need a whole set, check out the Stanley Classic Stay Chill Beer Pitcher, available for only $45.

For drinking

Now let's get down to business. These are the best items to get your whole tailgate ready to party. 


Yeti's Rambler Colster is the perfect holder for any beer can, tall boy or seltzer. It's simple: place your can inside the holder and drink on. Coming in three different sizes, the Colster keeps your can cold until the very last sip. 


What's better than one shot? Four. A shotski allows you and three others to all take a shot at once. It's as simple as it sounds: four holes cut into one long ski, hence the name shotski. You can buy simple ones like the Generic Wood Board Shot Ski on Amazon, or you can get a customizable one like the Shotskis sold by Etsy seller Thehennhousebyjenn. 

When I first bought my shotski I also bought shot glasses sold at my college bookstore which definitely added a more personal touch and school spirit to it. A shotski is the best way to draw attention to your tailgate and always guarantees a fun time!


This one is a given. Beer pong isn't just for frat houses or high school parties but is actually played best in stadium parking lots. While anyone with access to a folding table and a couple Solo Cups can play beer pong, I recommend the Go Pong Potable table for your tailgate. 

This beer pong table not only has a fun football design, but is easily collapsable and made of durable material compared to other collapsable tables. Additionally, the table is regulation size for any extreme beer pong players out there looking to host a beer pong tournament at their event. 

friends playing beer pong

Don't have enough space for a full beer pong table? No worries, the Wicked Big Sports Versapong game is here to help. Versapong features to triangular stands that can hold 10 cups needed for beer pong and also comes with pieces that allow you to stack extra cups if needed. I definitely recommend this game for anyone looking for a new, fun way to play the classic game of beer pong. 

Other tailgating items

So what else is left to make your tailgate memorable? Here are some additional items you can buy to make your tailgate better than before.


The Polaroid At-Home Photo Booth brings your tailgate up another level. My sister's friend had one of these at her tailgate and it was a hit. Everyone waited in line to take fun pictures to bring back home with them after the game. 

The small, portable photo booth can be propped up on any table and features a touchscreen monitor that allows you to add any border or stickers you want to your picture. Photos from the photo booth can be shared via the Quick Share feature that allows for instant download on your phone or can be printed out. I highly recommend this, especially for college tailgates.

Tasty tailgating extras 

Now that you have your everything needed for the perfect tailgate, there's one last very important aspect to completing your tailgate party--food and drinks! 

Omaha Steaks

To me the best part of every tailgate is the food. What's better than a nice burger after a couple drinks? Porter Road's Grilling Heroes Box includes burgers, steaks and bratwurst. While the steak may be a little more complicated to serve up at a busy tailgate, the burgers and bratwurst were delicious and easy handheld meals to eat. 

Dos Equis Margs
Dos Equis

Of course I had to include a drink option on the list for all the thirsty tailgaters out there. If you're looking to switch up from your typical tailgate drink or just want to try something new, check out the Dos Equis Margarita Classic. Looking for something more classic? Then try the standard Dos Equis Lager.


Searching for a way to stay awake for both the tailgate and the game? Celsius energy drinks are my go-to when it comes to staying charged for the day ahead. Aside from coffee, I am not an energy drink lover but Celsius doesn't taste like any other artificially flavored drink. Celsius' Sparkling Cosmic Vibe is my favorite because it tastes natural and helps replenish any electrolytes lost throughout the day.