CHARLOTTE, NC — It’s finally football season and that means it’s also tailgate party season. Tailgating has become popular for fans of all football games, whether for pee-wee leagues, high school, college, or pro games. If you haven’t walked through a stadium parking lot in recent years I should tell you that tailgate parties are more elaborate than twenty years ago.
Whether you’re attending a tailgate party at the game or in your backyard there are tech gadgets to up your pre-game game.
Televisions have become popular at tailgate parties because they’re lighter, thinner, and less expensive than they were just 5 seasons ago. Getting electricity to those TVs is the only challenge. Fortunately, there are gas-free generator options.
The EcoFlow Delta portable generator or power station is an excellent choice to provide electricity to any and all gadgets you take to the game. These power stations have multiple AC plugs, and USB and USB-C ports to power TVs, mini-fridges, smartphones, tablets, and computers. They’re practically silent which is a huge upgrade from the old noisy and smelly gas-powered generators. You simply charge the power station using a standard AC outlet in your home before taking it on the road. The EcoFlow holds the charge for months so it also makes a good choice for emergency power if the lights go out in your home.
It’s small enough and light enough to carry it from the car to the tailgate spot as well. How well does it work? To test it out I plugged in an old refrigerator and it kept running for 13 hours. I also connected a big screen television, phones, and computer and it easily kept them all running for more than 3 games. It may be the most important piece in your tailgate party puzzle.
Speaking of televisions, if you’re picking one up just for game days, keep the box! Thinner and lighter TVs make them very fragile.
Today TVs also have tiny speakers that won’t provide enough sound to be heard over even a small crowd. Taking a soundbar with you will add volume so fans can hear the announcers.
You can also use a portable Bluetooth speaker that needs no electricity. One of the best (and loudest) speakers I’ve tried is the Soundcore Rave Mini. Though there’s nothing “mini” about the size or the sound. This speaker has impressive bass for a Bluetooth speaker and it’s plenty loud enough to be heard over a crowd of fans. It’s a fairly big speaker so you may have trouble carrying it and anything else in the same hand. There’s a handle of course and options to add even more bass to what you get out of the box. It’ll connect to phones, and computers wirelessly but also have an auxiliary input. Plus, it’ll charge smartphones through a USB port.
If you don’t need something that big, the best small Bluetooth speaker I’ve tested is the Bose SoundLink Flex. The light speaker has incredible sound (it is from Bose of course) and the battery lasts up to 12 hours. If it starts raining, you don’t need to worry about it ruining this speaker as it is dust and water-resistant. I even tossed it into a swimming pool. It submerged and then floated to the top while still playing the music. Incidentally, one of my buddies had to find out if he could hear the music under the water (he could). It’s small and light enough to toss into a bag you’re carrying to the stadium parking lot.
Most tailgate and backyard parties have someone standing around a grill flipping burgers and chicken. For tailgate chefs, a digital Bluetooth meat thermometer may be the difference between someone getting an overcooked or undercooked plate of food. The Meater+ is a digital thermometer probe you insert into whatever you’re cooking. Using the companion smartphone app, you choose what you’re cooking and how you want it cooked. The Meater+ will then monitor the internal temperature of the meat and the ambient temperature under the grill hood. When it approaches the proper and safe temperature, the Meater+ sends a notification to the smartphone so you can walk away from the grill and be notified when it needs to be removed from the heat.
The https://www.weber.com/US/en/accessories/accessories-by-category/smart-gadgets/ thermometers are similar except you get two probes that are connected to a display hub with wires. They also have a companion app that will send a notification when the food is ready.
As much as I like the Meater+ and iGrill devices I still recommend using a meat thermometer such as the Thermapen Pro. These digital thermometers will help you ensure every piece of meat on the grill is ready to eat.