Tailgating isn’t rocket science. At least on the surface. Its just takes the core components of what most of us do on the weekend — cooking, drinking, hanging with friends — to a remote location. Still, to assume one can just wing their way to the best gameday experience is folly committed only by the inexperienced. Like any promising team faced with their first road game, veteran tailgaters know that a change of venue can cause plenty of trouble without thoughtful preparation. These five tips go beyond the obvious checklist items to help you make the most of your game day festivities. Remember them well and be sure to pass the wisdom on to the next lost soul wandering the parking lot with a humble bucket of fried chicken and a flask of liquid courage in search of a tented home.
Cool Beverages Faster
Looking for a cold beverage in a hurry? Then forget about just leaving the cans under a pile of ice. Placing drinks in a salt-water ice bath is the solution. That’s because chilling any item effectively is all about maximizing how much of the item’s surface can be exposed to the cooling element. Cold water’s ability to cover the enter surface area of a drink is one of the reasons it’s faster than just ice alone. Adding salt to the mixture also lowers the freezing point of water, allowing the cold water temperature to drop below 0°C, creating even faster cooling.
Plan Your Power Needs
Powering TVs, satellite dishes, lights and other tailgating luxuries requires some planning. If you intend on leveraging your car’s battery for power, you’ll need to buy an inverter to convert your vehicle’s 12-volt DC power into the conventional AC power used by most household devices. Determining the properly sized inverter you’ll need requires a bit of research. First, figure out how much power your devices require to run. If you need help, a quick Google search for “power inverter calculator” can make things easier. It’s a good idea to then buy an inverter model capable of providing at least 20 percent more than your maximum load as a precaution. 700- to 800-watt inverters should offer enough power to handle traditional setups that include a TV, Satellite dish and basic audio equipment. Setups that involve heating equipment like slow cookers, coffee pots and microwaves will require significantly more power.
While inverters are handy and cost efficient, running down or ruining your car’s battery is always a risk when using one without regularly starting your car. That’s why we recommend picking up a portable gas-powered inverter generator if you can afford one. Most can provide between 800 and 12,000 watts depending on the model and are far quieter than you think.
Stay Dry with Gillette Clear Gel
Don’t let sweat — or worse, B.O. — take the confidence out of your game plan. Gillette Clear Gel‘s triple-protection formula combines active odor fighters, efficient wetness blockers and a transparent fast-drying shield capable of providing up to 48 hours of protection against the hot grills, intense games of pickup football and other tailgating pitfalls known to make you sweat.
It also starts working from the moment you put it on and won’t leave white marks on your clothes, since it lacks the high levels of white wax found in typical deodorant sticks. Pick up one of the five available scents at your local drug store and experience the #NOSWEAT life for yourself.
Use a Chimney Charcoal Starter
The pyro in you may love the idea of spraying lighter fluid over your briquettes and watching the flames rise, but the technique can quickly ruin your meat with a terrible chemical taste. Charcoal chimney starters are designed to take advantage of thermodynamic principles to light bricks using just a match and some newspaper. Using one is dead simple. Just wad some newspaper or other paper product and place it underneath the included wire grate. Next place the briquettes inside the metal cylinder on top of the great and make sure the integrated handle is positioned on the outside of the chimney. Before lighting the paper below, also make sure the chimney is placed on a stable, fireproof surface — like the top of your grill. Once there’s a light coating of white ash on top of the coals inside, they’re ready to dump into your grill.
Fast-Flip Your Steaks
It may fly in the face of years of grilling folklore, but flipping your steak as often as possible on the grill will make sure you meat is cooked evenly and faster than leaving it alone. In short, according to food scientist Harold McGee, “The more you flip, the more evenly the heat is transferred into the meat, and it’s transferred much faster — so the cooking time is much shorter.” Check out our full story on the technique here.
Freeze Bottles of Water the Night Before and Use Them as Ice
Water might be the last thing on your mind for most tailgates. That’s why freezing bottles the night before works well. Throw the frozen bottles in your cooler to act as ice packs during the morning and enjoy the ice-cold water once they melt in the afternoon.