18 Essential Tailgating Accessories for Your Vehicle

Setting up your trunk is the only somewhat-stressful part about tailgating. You want to make sure your tailgate spot is comfortable, fun, and ready for everything. So, what tailgating accessories do you need to get your ride ready to park-and-party?


We’re giving you everything you need to host the best tailgate in the lot-- from team-themed truck tailgating accessories to barbequing gadgets and more. 


  1. Pop-up tent or awning
  2. Foldable chairs
  3. Cooler 
  4. Team flag
  5. Bluetooth speaker
  6. Portable grill
  7. BBQ tools
  8. Windshield cover
  9. Trunk cover
  10. Protective TV carrying case
  11. Satellite dish
  12. Blankets
  13. Games
  14. Portable table
  15. Inverter (generator)
  16. Bottle opener
  17. Pet necessities
  18. Lanyard for keys

1. Pop-up tent or awning 


There’s nothing worse than frying in the sun or getting pelted with rain when you’re trying to tailgate. A pop-up tent or an attachable awning will help protect your tailgaters from the elements, while also making it easier to find your spot in an endless sea of cars. 


A quick Google search of your team and pop-up tent (or canopy) will yield some cool results; or, check out this Amazon page for sports fan canopies. Your local sporting-goods store may also be the best place to search for cool team-themed tents and chairs. If you’re looking for tailgating accessories that attach directly to your truck, you can also search for umbrella canopies that connect to your trailer hitch.

 

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2. Foldable chairs 


True tailgating champs know the beauty of the foldable chair. You can’t go the distance all day, from sunrise to final throw, if you don’t have somewhere comfy to take a load off every once in a while. You’ll probably want to bring a few chairs with you; once one person sits down, everyone else in the area will want to, too. Give the people a spot to rest and they’ll be hanging out at your parking spot all day! 


We love collapsible chairs in your team’s colors, or with their logo or mascot. Search for these on Google, or at your school or team store. Dick’s Sporting Goods offers an incredible array of folding chairs, including some with your own logo. You can also invest in infinity zero gravity chairs, which are great for lifting your feet up and kicking back while still being super light and portable. 


3. Cooler 


The cooler is a tailgating must, especially for hot days. How else are you supposed to keep your drinks and food fresh? This is where we usually recommend you focus your efforts (and your cash) if you’re looking to really up your tailgating game. A quality cooler can be a total game-changer (enjoying all our “game” day puns?). 


Qualities you want in a cooler: 

  • Wheels and/or backstraps (for easy transport) 
  • Zipper compartments 
  • Waterproof 
  • Leak-proof
  • Thermal insulation

YETI coolers have become really popular, and we’re a big fan of them as well. They offer superior insulation to keep your drinks cool from sun-up to sun-down, without even adding more ice. Not all of their coolers offer wheels or straps, though, so make sure you find a cooler that fits your needs. 


4. Team flag 


You’ve got to show your pride for your team—it’s a must! There’s no better way to share your spirit than with a flag proudly displayed from your car. Everyone in the tailgating area will know who you’re rooting for, and it’ll be a great way for your friends to find your parking spot. 


Campus Colors has a flag for every team at an ultra-reasonable price. Check out our flags here


5. Bluetooth speaker 


Not being able to play music is a total party foul. Trying to blast music through your car radio? Even bigger foul. Bring a Bluetooth speaker to crank the tunes or to play the big game loud enough for everyone to hear. Make sure it’s waterproof in case of spilled drinks or a few rain droplets, and check reviews on the sound quality to ensure you won’t get a lot of feedback when it’s on full blast. 


Recommended read: How to prepare for your tailgate


6. Portable grill 


Chips and salsa will get you by, but the really good stuff needs to be grilled. If you’re a grilling fan, you’ll definitely want to invest in a portable grill. Check out Wired’s list of the best portable grills of 2020. This is for the true tailgating fanatics (like us). 


7. BBQ tools 


You can’t grill without the tools. Why not make your BBQ gear spirited, too? Flip your burgers using a spatula with your team logo on it! Check out this creative and affordable classic 3-piece BBQ set by Sportula, made for college, military, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL teams. You can also buy a grill travel set for portability and convenience. 


You may also want to bring along a portable meat thermometer to make sure your meat is cooked all the way through. Oh, and don’t forget the utensils and plates! Either bring reusable utensils to wash at home or biodegradable disposable ones, so your tailgating isn’t doing any harm to the environment. 


8. Windshield cover 


A windshield cover will help keep your car safe, no matter the weather. It can protect your windshield from ice and snow, so you won’t have to worry about scraping off ice after a big win (or big loss). It can also protect the inside of your car from overheating or sun damage on the seats. The bonus is that you can rep your team with some of the windshield covers we’ve seen! We like the FrostGuard premium windshield cover for NFL teams, but do a Google search to see if there are any guards designed with your college team logo.


9. Trunk cover 


You also want to protect the back of your car or trunk from your rowdy buddies (who may be prone to spilling). If you tailgate a lot, investing in a premium seat liner that’s waterproof, washable, and no-slip can be a lifesaver when it comes to transporting tailgate accessories. It’ll give you peace of mind to open your trunk without worrying about messes in your car. 


You can buy a trunk cover that’s made for pets (which is especially useful if you’re tailgating with your furry friend), and they have a dual function as a tailgate protector! 


10. Protective TV carrying case


About a third of tailgaters never make it to the game. The tailgate is the event itself! But you can have your cake and eat it too… by watching the game on a TV from your car. Don’t take the risk of something happening to your TV in transport or during the festivities, though. A protective case makes it totally risk-free to watch the game, the prelims, or anything else while you’re chowing down on tailgate snacks and playing games. This TV case is specifically made with tailgating and BBQing in mind, but you can find cheaper options on the market as well. 


11. Satellite dish


If you want to stay in tune with the game from the parking lot, you may also need a portable satellite dish, depending on your current TV provider. You can work with your provider to get a deal on a portable satellite dish that won’t be too expensive, and you’ll get great connection wherever you are. DISH also makes a playmaker specifically “for tailgating.”


If you don’t want to invest in a satellite dish, bring your laptop and a Wifi hotspot along. That should do the trick, too! 

 


12. Blankets 


Tailgating in the fall can get cold. Don’t let the frigid temperatures get you down. Wrap up in a couple of fleece blankets with your team logo on it, and you’re ready to keep the party going. You can throw these in the back of your trunk to create a cozy place to hangout during the tailgate, too. 


Check out some of our school team blankets here. We offer both sweatshirt and fleece material blankets to keep you toasty and comfortable. 


Want to warm up? Check out the best food and drinks to have during your cold tailgate


13. Games 


Games are vital to the tailgating experience. They keep people busy and socializing while adding to the excitement of the event. Games are part of the game-day rituals


Our favorite tailgating games:


We try to avoid any games that use balls, frisbees, or throwing, since they could disrupt other people’s tailgates or cause some party fouls. 


Want more awesome tailgating accessories for your vehicle? Check out these cool tailgating gadgets


14. Portable table 


You’ll need a place to play games and/or to set up your snacks for the day. A portable table that you can throw in the back of your vehicle is a must for game-day activities. You can buy a simple folding table and cover it with a team-themed tablecloth or flag, or you can find a table that has your team logo right on it. When it comes to the table, lightweight and easy to set up is king. 


15. Inverter/generator 


You’re going to need power for your TV, grill, laptops, and phones. If you think you’ll be using electronics that need power, you’re probably not going to find any outlets in the lot. So, you’ll want to bring your own portable inverter or generator to make sure you can get power. An inverter can plug into your vehicle, so you can use the power from your car battery; just make sure not to drain your vehicle’s battery! These inverters can be expensive, so take a trip to your local electronics and/or sporting goods store to find a reasonable option for your needs. 


16. Bottle opener 


This is one of the most essential tailgating accessories for your vehicle, and you probably don’t even realize it. The bottle opener is the easiest thing to forget at home when you’re packing up for the tailgate, and you’ll end up having to search high and low on game day to find one that works. Even if you’re not drinking at the event, chances are someone is, or there might be a non-alcoholic bottle that needs opening. Get a team-themed bottle opener and keep it in your trunk, so you always have it on hand. 


Remember, NEVER drink and drive! 


17. Pet necessities 


Bringing your pup to the tailgate? Don’t forget to pack the essentials! Check out our guide on everything you need to know about tailgating with your pet here. 


18. Lanyard for your keys


Where’d I put those dang keys? The most important tailgating accessories for your vehicle are the ones that keep the essentials on hand—like your ID, money, and car keys. The best way to make sure you don’t lose your keys or have to deal with a bag all day is by putting them on a lanyard! Get a lanyard with your campus colors to show off some school pride while staying responsible!


Must-have tailgating accessories 


You can get nearly any and all tailgating accessories in your team colors, so why not go big? Be the best fan there is by showing off the ultimate school pride at your tailgate. Choose your school to start shopping for your team spirit essential tailgating accessories.