With the NFL playing pre-season games and college athletes about to hit the gridiron, it's tailgating season again. Whether you'll be on the grassy field of your alma mater or the paved parking lot of the local pro team, a few key accessories culled from Consumer Reports' latest tests will help the pre-game festivities go off without a fumble.
A worthy portable grill
As part of our continuous testing of gas grills, we've reviewed several portable models on today's market. While none made our winner's list, usually because they lack side-burners, wheels, and other conveniences found on larger models, the $200 Weber Q 200 delivered very good high and low heat, plus its 300-square-inch cooking area can handle a fair share of burgers, brats, and the like. What's more, the Weber Q's coated-cast-iron grates resist corrosion and its foldout tables provide a handy spot for buns, toppings, and grilling tools.
Juice from a power inverter
This shoebox-sized device takes in direct-current (DC) power from your car's 12-volt system and converts it to the alternating-current (AC) power required by appliances and electronics. Translation? You can use it to power a blender for your favorite frozen drinks. We tested two models from PowerBright: the PW900-12, $80, provides 900 watts and 7.5 amps; the PW1500-12, $180, is rated for 1,500 watts and 12.5 amps. As long as you're just using it to power a blender, and maybe play some tunes on your portable sound system, you won't have to worry about draining your car's battery. Though you can always turn the engine on to provide additional juicer. Read our full report for more advice on safe, effective use of a power inverter.
An on-the-go blender
So which blender is best? Our Ratings of a few dozen blenders include 10 recommended models ranging in price from $60 to $450. One to consider for tailgating purposes is the Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300, $70, whose 350-watt motor is within the limits of most power inverters. The affordable blender made very good icy drinks in our tests and it scored an excellent for durability, so it should hold up well during the ride to the game. Best of all, it comes with four 16-ounce travel cups with lids, in case you want to take your drinks into the game or on a stroll of the parking lot. Who knows, you might get some other smart ideas from your tailgating comrades.