With the melting of the last patches of snow and the lengthening of the daylight hours, grilling season begins. It’s the best time of the year for outdoor cooking — that age-old tradition of using real fire to roast meat and veggies and infuse them with the flavors of wood and smoke. The fully-cooked result tantalizes the senses and caters to our most primal desire for nourishment; a millennia-old connection with fire that’s embedded in our genetic code.
To fully harness grilling season, it’s best to plan ahead to make certain that your backyard cookout setup is dialed before the Memorial Day Weekend rolls around (it’s closer than you think). The grill is the foundation of any outdoor gathering, but the requisite equipment for a proper cookout goes beyond the centerpiece cooking appliance.
There are plenty of kitchen and home goods companies that supply all the additional accessories needed for a well-rounded event, but if crossover versatility is something that you to take into consideration when making purchases, look to outdoor brands instead. Products made for camping employ high-quality materials developed specifically for rigorous outdoor use — they’re durable, weather-resistant and lightweight by design. But they’re not just built for exploring the mountain ranges, forests and deserts — there’s a place for outdoor products in the backyard and local park too. All of the characteristics that make these items great for backpacking and car camping make them well-suited to outdoor feasting as well. Here are 11 of the best to consider adding to your system before the summer is in full swing.
Chairs: Stargaze Recliner by Nemo Equipment $180
Not all camp chairs fold small and sit on the ground; this one is big, free-swinging and as comfortable as a La-Z-Boy.
Table: Table One Hard Top by Helinox $140
Part of the fun of outdoor eating is that furniture isn’t required, but for those who like a firm surface to eat on this packable table does the trick.
Rugged Bluetooth Speaker: Megablast by Ultimate Ears $201
Bring the music outdoors without worrying about the speaker taking a tumble off the table, or getting soaked in the rain should it go forgotten outside.
Cooler: Tundra 45 by Yeti $300
On hot days, beverages must be cold, and this cooler keeps ice frozen for longer than that red Igloo ever will.
Pocket Knife: No. 10 Corkscrew by Opinel $20
A pocket knife is always handy to have in a pinch — this one’s equipped with a corkscrew for hydration emergencies.
Beer Growler: 64oz Growler by Hydro Flask $65
If your favorite microbrewery hasn’t begun to can its latest pilsner, you can always drop it into a vacuum-insulating jug for the same level of portability.
Tableware: Deluxe 10-Inch Plates by GSI Outdoor $7 each
Plastic and paper plates may be affordable, but they’re also flimsy and create a lot of unneeded garbage. These enamel plates are dishwasher safe and look good enough for the kitchen table too.
Drinkware: Party Cups by Mizu $16 (set of two)
As with tableware, drinking vessels that last will cut down on waste and save you money in the long run.
Lighting: BaseLantern XL by BioLite $130
This lantern provides plenty of light when the sun gets low and can emit it in a full spectrum of color to create a more celebratory ambiance.
Headlamp: Spot Headlamp by Black Diamond $40
Grilling after dark? The best way to keep an eye on your food’s readiness is with a headlamp.
Fire Pit: Pack and Carry Fireplace by Snow Peak $110
When it gets dark, the grillmaster can often be left on his own to monitor the meat. Bring your guests back outside with a good old-fashioned campfire.
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