With football season well underway and the start of ski season just around the corner, guzzling PBRs in the bed of a truck is an acceptable way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Tailgating, when done right, is an art form, right up there with composing a sonnet or carving singletrack. Just ask Colton Benford, a former Ole Miss grad who founded The Tailgate Group, a professional service that travels around the South facilitating the ultimate pre-game experience for his clients.
“In the South, there are two major events in a person’s life: weddings and football games,” Benford says. “When you’re tailgating, you get sucked into the atmosphere. You’re surrounded by good people, good food, good drinks, and you get to take a little break from your adult life.”
We asked Benford to detail the key pieces of gear that will take your tailgate to the next level. Here are his picks, along with our own personal favorites.
Winegard Playmaker Portable Satellite Antenna ($300)
“It can be difficult to set up a satellite dish and find the best signal. This antenna is automatic, so it finds the channel for you. It’s really convenient when you’re traveling to different locations.”
Powerhouse 1000w Generator ($420)
“Powerhouse makes good generators that aren’t loud at all, work great, and cost half as much as the top-of-the-line Honda generators. Just make sure you run non-ethanol gas because ethanol will break the engine apart over time.”
Yeti Rambler ($25)
“I love this thing, and it does a good job of keeping your beer cold even in the southern heat. The only problem is they tend to walk off from our tailgate sites, so we can’t really use them for our clients.”
Ultimate Tailgater ($14,000)
“Towable Tailgates makes incredible trailers that have everything—built-in TVs, grill, coolers, generator, even a bathroom. It’s expensive, but it takes it to the next level, and can you put a price on having your own bathroom and sink?”
ENO Roadie Car Stand ($200)
Sitting in a chair and drinking a beer is fine, but lounging in a hammock with that beer is sublime. The Roadie allows you to use your car’s wheels for support, so you can set up your hammock without needing trees, which are admittedly scarce on asphalt parking lots.
Weber Smokey Joe ($40)
Burgers, dogs, shrimp…you want all of these things when you’re tailgating, which means you’ll need a grill. Keep it simple with this small charcoal grill that’s designed to travel, with a lock-tight lid and carrying handle.
Coolest Cooler ($400)
Yes, that’s a lot of money for a cooler, but hear us out; This cooler has a blender, built-in Bluetooth speakers, a USB charger, and LED lights inside the lid. The Coolest is truly the Swiss Army Knife of coolers.