5 must-have items to make sure your tailgate is the champion of the parking lot

Courtesy photo. (Academy Sports + Outdoors)

With it being the heart of football season, that means it’s also the center of another important time: Tailgating season.

Having a great tailgating experience requires preparation and planning to make it the best pregame experience possible.

Academy Sports + Outdoors offered up five must-have items that are hot this season to ensure you have a championship-level tailgate. Here’s what the company had to say ...

1. Canopy tent/chairs

Many parking lots have very few shaded areas to cool off or avoid a drizzle, so having a canopy tent is important to protect yourself from the elements, while also laying claim to your tailgate area.

It’s also important to have canopy leg weight plates on hand as well, as tailgating pros know to keep your canopy secure against gusty winds.

It’s always a good idea to have at least one chair for each guest at a tailgate. Simple folding chairs will always work, but for ultimate comfort, other options to consider include GCI rocker chairs or anti-gravity chairs.

2. Coolers/cooking supplies

Enjoying great food with family and friends is one of the best elements of tailgating. For cooking purposes, there are a variety of portable grilling options to choose from, including charcoal and propane-powered varieties.

All grill masters should have a nice BBQ tool and utensil set in a convenient carrying case, along with a folding table to help with preparations and serving.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to pick up a nice cooler to pack beverages, so your guests can stay hydrated and cold food can be kept at the right temperature. Having a cooler with wheels, along with a wagon/utility cart, will make it easier to transport your tailgate items if you’re traveling from your car to the final set-up destination.

3. Games/entertainment

To pass the time before kickoff, having a wide assortment of games so friendly competitions can be staged is always fun.

Some popular options include bag toss games, ladderball, spikeball, washer or ring toss, kan jam and party pong. Tossing a Frisbee or football, or playing card games are other fun activities. For background music purposes, having a portable speaker is helpful to play some of your favorite tunes, while also saving your car’s battery life.

4. Fan gear

Another essential for games is being able to represent your favorite team’s logo and colors with T-shirts, jerseys, polos and hats. Some fans go all in to show off their team spirit by having team canopy tents and chairs, Koozies and more.

5. Miscellaneous essentials

Some other items to consider having in your tailgate kit are containers for any leftovers, along with garbage bags, paper towels/plates and sunscreen.

Be sure to check your team’s bag stadium policy ahead of time, as most require clear bags for entry.

For more information about Academy Sports, click or tap here.