We've spent the last two months testing grills, audio products -- in other words, all the stuff you might need to put on a generally enjoyable outdoor social function., and also keeping tabs on various and
You can (and should!) go down the rabbit hole on other outdoor tech like, , and . For this list, I tried to stick to a core scenario: you want to cook or entertain outside more days this year, you have the space to do it and the disposable income to throw at a few things to hopefully make the experience more pleasant for everyone. As follows:
We reviewed six popular gas grills this year, and the Dyna-Glo 4-Burner offered the best combination of price and performance. Whether at high temperature grilling, low-and-slow cooking, or somewhere in between, this one scored highest on our taste tests. It has an MSRP of $450, but you can find it for under $400 if you shop around. Extra points for the convenient slide-out tray for the big propane tank, which makes swapping fuel easy.
For the last two years we've rounded up coolers across the price spectrum, from $10 disposable models to $300 coolers made of rotomolded plastic. The Igloo MaxCold isn't the most amazing performer, but it's in the top five, above coolers that cost more than $200. If you want to splurge, Cabela's, Orca, and Yeti all have rotomolded designs that will keep their contents colder longer, but the small gap between those models and this $60-ish Igloo MaxCold make it hard to justify spending more.
This bass-heavy wireless Bluetooth speaker can survive for up to 30 minutes in three feet of water. Knock it into the pool, and the device -- and the sound -- will live on to keep your patio party going, with up to 20 hours of battery.
If you want to spend a bit more and you're looking for a wireless speaker with a built-in voice assistant, Ultimate Ears Megablast Portable Wi-Fi/Bluetooth speaker will bring Alexa to the party for $180.
I'm not saying a middle-aged white dude should be embarrassed for liking Lizzo. I am that guy, and she's great. What I am saying is, it's nice to be able to hear whatever music you like without earphones and without anyone -- family, friends, neighbors -- judging you or asking you to change it, especially when you've taken on the semi-isolating responsibility of working the grill at an outdoor social event. That's what these Bose Frames, essentially sunglasses with a decent microspeaker built into the arms, will let you do, and without totally cutting you off from human interaction like headphones or ear buds will. Battery life isn't great, but they charge fully in less than 2 hours.
Keep an eye on a line of outdoor lights expected from Ring later this year, but right now Philips has the most comprehensive assortment of smart outdoor-rated LED lighting products.
The Hue White Outdoor Floodlight LEDs ($50 for two, $30 for one) offer all the great programmability, remote control, and support for all the major voice assistants as Philips' other Hue products, in a weatherproof design that's suitable to install on your back deck. Supplement it with Philips' new Outdoor Sensor for about as comprehensive a set of automation options as you can find in outdoor lighting. It's a great way to make sure no one falls to their doom down your otherwise poorly lit back steps.