Gear Guy

Some people like to celebrate the Fourth of July quietly. Others go all out. Hey, it's a free country.     Photo: Courtesy of Chubbies Shorts

What Tailgating Gear Do I Need for the Fourth of July?

Track down some made-here-at-home gear to celebrate the USA in style.

After adopting the Declaration of Independence that fateful July day, our Founding Fathers opened their saddle bags and started kicking back ice-cold pints of ale. While Ben Franklin shredded summer tunes on his glass armonica, Thomas Jefferson challenged Alexander Hamilton to a game of corn hole.

Hey, it could have happened, right?

And even if it didn’t, there’s no reason you shouldn’t tailgate, car camp, or throw a backyard barbecue this Fourth of July. Here are seven pieces of made-in-America gear guaranteed to help get you in the summer spirit.

Iron and Resin INR July 4 Kool Kan

  Photo: Courtesy of Iron and Resin

Ventura, California-based Iron and Resin made these sturdy vinyl-coated foam coozies in a glossy red, white, and blue specifically for the Fourth. An interior plastic liner snugly holds a 12-ounce can. Plus, the Kool Kan floats, a major bonus if you plan to celebrate Independence Day near a large body of water.


Yeti Tundra 50

Not only are Yeti cooler’s damn near indestructible, they also keep food cold for days thanks to a double-walled, rotomolded exterior and about twice as much insulation as most of their competitors. For tailgating, I suggest the Tundra 50, which can accommodate 32 beers.

Yeti manufactures coolers in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and the Philippines. Want one of the coolers made in the U.S.? The company has a number you can call (512-394-9384) to make it happen. 


Chubbies 'Mericas Shorts

  Photo: Courtesy of Chubbies Shorts

The 'Mericas are manufactured in San Francisco and are cut from such soft pre-washed cotton that they’re comfortable enough to wear all day—without underwear.

That said, at only five-inches-long, I’d suggest going commando only with extreme caution. On top of the amazing flag styling, I also loved the elastic waistband with belt loops.


Liberty Bottle Works W.O.W Flag Bottle

  Photo: Courtesy of Liberty Bottle Works

The key to safely drinking a lot of beer this Fourth? Drink a lot of water, too. Yakima, Washington-based Liberty Bottle Works produces made-in-America metal water bottles, made from 100 percent recycled materials.

Grooves in the cap coupled with knobs on top of the bottle make an easy-to-use lid that won’t leak. This aluminum stars-and-stripes water bottle was light enough to use in a hiking kit, but study enough to handle getting dropped on the ground.


Upslope Brewing Beer

  Photo: Courtesy of Upslope Brewing

Yes, Budweiser has American Flag specialty cans, but who wants to drink the beer inside of them?

Boulder, Colorado-based Upslope Brewing rounded out its patriotic can colors—the red-canned Pale Ale is crisp and flavorful, while the blue-canned IPA is tongue-meltingly hoppy—with a 7.5 percent ABV limited release Belgian-style pale in a white can.


Therm-a-rest Trail Trekker Chair Kit

  Photo: Courtesy of Therm-a-rest

Yes, most tailgating chairs come from Walmart. But I challenge you to think outside of the truck bed, and consider the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair Kit made in Seattle, Washington.

Although you might sit lower than other members of your party, no one else will have a chair that weighs just about two pounds, can turn into a bed, and can be used on a hiking trip.


Leatherman Juice CS4

  Photo: Joe Jackson

The Juice CS4 has 15 tools to help fix any tailgating emergency, including: opening a beer; cutting a lime; or fixing your stereo.

At 5.6 ounces, it's heavy to take into the backcountry, but it's easy to slip into a shorts pocket for a day on the beach. We found the ridged aluminum exterior increased our grip dramatically when we used the 2.27-inch stainless steel knife, and like all Leatherman products, the multi-tool is made in Portland, Oregon. 

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