The sun is out, the weather is warm, and your fridge is full of hot dogs. That can only mean one thing: It’s grill season, bitches.
If you’re a purist, you’re probably happy with a half dome full of charcoal, some lighter fluid, and a can of cold beer. But you’d be surprised how much the right gear and some handy gadgets can turn a basic barbecue into a gourmet fun fest. We’ve put our heads together to come up with some of the best tools for grilling, as well as some absolutely wacky additions to any outdoor party. No matter what you end up doing, please don’t roast your smartphone, though.
First things first. Any successful BBQ requires a seemingly endless supply of refreshments. However, you also need to take into account the weather and the probable lack of table space. This is where clever cup gear comes into play.
Nice wine glasses and wild BBQ parties don’t mix. Save yourself from smashing your stemware and keep your wine cold with these insulated, spill-proof adult sippy cups. They’re also great at keeping bugs from stealing your wine! [$6 per glass]
Another challenge of the great American grill hour is trying to do too many things at once. If you’re holding the potato salad with one hand, you’re going to have a hell of a time opening that beer. The Gropener—terrible name, by the way—enables easy one-handed opening. [$20]
If you’re more a canned beer drinker, you know the value of a good koozie. But haven’t you always wished that your drink holder also kept track of how many beers you’ve downed before it’s time to drive home? The Bevometer’s got your back. [$15]
Everybody’s got that one friend who shows up on a sweltering summer day with a six-pack of warm beer. But with the help of some simple physics, the Spinchiller can cool down a glass bottle of beer in just one minute—without making it explode. [$16]
If you’re into draft beer or cold wine, the Hydroflask is your best BBQ friend. This insulated stainless steel water bottle comes in several sizes, including the 40 oz. pictured to the left. It’ll keep drinks cold for a full 24 hours, and it comes with a straw. [$55]
Every grillmaster has his or her own favorite tools. Depending on the scenario, though, you might be cooking with charcoal; you might be cooking with gas. Heck, you might even want a wood-fired grill that can charge your phone. But you deserve the best, regardless.
This is it. Whether you’re on a budget or you’re just a patriot, the Weber charcoal grill is a classic at any grill party. It comes in several different sizes, each of which is both durable and affordable. The 22-inch strikes the perfect balance. [$100]
If you want a little more versatility and temperature control, propane is the way to go. But again, Weber offers a terrific, dependable solution with this stainless steel tower of grilling perfection. There are smaller options available for lower prices and larger ones for more money. The E310 offers three burners and expandable tables for the perfect outdoor meal. [$500]
BBQ parties don’t need to be confined to a backyard. If you like to stay mobile or plan to tailgate in the fall, you should consider this all-in-one outdoor oven and campstove. There are two eyes on top and a hot box below for your cinnamon rolls. [$185]
So you want to get really adventurous? Try the Biolite Basecamp. This wood-burning grill packs up into a carrying case and comes with a special attachment that lets you charge your devices with energy from your grill fire. It even has a light! [$300]
Another great tool for the grillmaster-on-the-go, the Wonderbag is essentially exactly what the name suggests. It’s a bag that you can wrap around a pot to keep your pork cooking for hours after you take it off the heat. Simple solutions are sometimes the best solutions. [$65]
Nobody likes pink chicken, so you might want a gadget that can tell you just how cooked your grilled meats are getting. The Lavatools Javelin food thermometer is great for quick readings and folds up like a pocketknife for easy storage in your apron. [$25]
Oh wait, you don’t have an apron? Get this tactical apron by ThinkGeek. You can go down to your local military surplus store and buy extra pockets for extra tactical goodness. It might get a little warm under high heat, but you’ll look like a truly badass BBQ soldier. [$30]
Only an idiot would try to flip burgers with their hands! But if you’re going to invest in a good spatula and tongs—the two most essential grill tools—you might as well get a set that’s comfortable for your hands. OXO is famous for its ergonomic fits. These grill tools are no exception. [$20]
The burgers are crisp and the veggies are steaming—let’s eat! That’s easier said than done based on you backyard situation. Whether you’re expanding seating beyond your basic outdoor furniture or working with nothing, these solutions will be useful when you’re entertaining.
Picnic table are awesome, but they’re not often versatile. That’s where this interchangeable picnic table and garden bench makes great sense. If you’ve got guests, it’s a full fledged picnic table. If you just need a bench, it does that, too. [$100]
City dwellers will love this picnic table that folds down like a card table. When flat, it can be stashed behind your couch. When unfolded, it seats four hot dog-hungry friends. This portable solution obviously makes for a great kids’ table, too. [$60]
This is exactly what it says it is: a table in a bag. [$40]
No matter where you’re grilling, ultra compact folding chairs come in handy. If they’re comfortable, they’re invaluable. The Alite Bison is both of these things. It’s impossibly small when folded up and damn nice to sit in when it’s assembled. [$200]
You don’t need too much tech at a backyard BBQ: that’s part of the point. What you will need is music, lights, power, and a really great cooler. Here are the best of each category
Our favorite Bluetooth speaker is durable, waterproof, and jam-packed with great sound. What’s extra cool about the UE Boom family is that all of the speakers can be networked together for an amazing, wireless outdoor sound system. Check out the UE Megaboom and the UE Roll for some size options, but the UE Boom 2 is the best in class. [$200]
There are an infinite number of outdoor lighting options. Ikea’s new Solviden LED solar powered lights are uniquely eco-friendly and terrifically weird. The floor lamps are especially cool because they look like rocks. [$7-$20]
If your party is awesome, your friends’ phones are going to run out of juice. This huge battery pack can charge three devices at once. [$100 ]
Oh yeah, you’ll need a cooler, huh? Igloo’s over-the-top Party Cooler comes with multiple compartments and handy LED lighting for late-night parties. It’s expensive. But then again, you can’t put a price on fun. [$180]