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Great Gear for Picnics and Grilling

Updated Dec 10, 2022
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Charred burgers with all the fixings, ice-cold beer under a beach umbrella, toast with eggs scrambled over a campfire—food just tastes better in the summer. Whether you want a dialed-in picnic setup for the park, better tableware for camping, or great grill tools for cookouts, investing in a few carefully selected items will make the difference between roughing it and dining in style.

 Polar Bear 24-Pack Original Nylon Soft Cooler, soft but durable

Polar Bear 24-Pack Original Nylon Soft Cooler

Soft but durable
This cooler is lightweight, sturdy, and easy to pack. With enough ice, it kept contents cold for more than 24 hours without leaking or sweating. Details such as its stitching and superior insulating foam set it apart from its competitors.
We recommend
Coleman 70-Quart Xtreme 5 Marine Hard Ice Chest Cooler, seven-day wonder

Coleman 70-Quart Xtreme 5 Marine Hard Ice Chest Cooler

Seven-day wonder
Better insulated and less expensive than the competition, it keeps ice for a week, and its well-designed drain port makes the cooler easy for you to clean.
We recommend
Rubbermaid Blue Ice Block, our pick

Rubbermaid Blue Ice Block

Our pick
The Rubbermaid Blue Ice Block stays frozen seemingly forever and is cheap enough to stock your whole cooler.
We recommend
Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers, a smaller option

Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers

A smaller option
The Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers are light and slim enough to squeeze into a lunchbox. Not so long-lasting for large coolers, though.
Another good choice
Standard Baggu, our pick

Standard Baggu

Our pick
The Baggu can fold into a compact pouch for easy storage and holds the most groceries without being difficult to carry.
We recommend
Picnic at Ascot Collapsible Insulated Picnic Basket with Cutlery Set, our pick

Picnic at Ascot Collapsible Insulated Picnic Basket with Cutlery Set

Our pick
The Picnic at Ascot Collapsible Insulated Picnic Basket is roomier and better-insulated than other picnic baskets and backpacks we tried. Its place settings are also a bit sturdier.
We recommend
Vanity Fair Impressions, our pick

Vanity Fair Impressions

Our pick
Vanity Fair Impressions is our favorite paper plate. It’s much tougher than its competitors and resists sogginess, making it great for wet side dishes.
We recommend
Kirkland Signature Crystal Clear Cutlery, our pick

Kirkland Signature Crystal Clear Cutlery

Our pick
Costco’s Kirkland Crystal Clear Cutlery is the best disposable set we’ve found—our tests showed that they don’t break easily, and they come in real-world proportions.
We recommend
Bounty Quilted Napkins, our pick

Bounty Quilted Napkins

Our pick
The Bounty Quilted Napkins are tough and can absorb more than 13 times their own weight in water—they're almost twice as effective as the second-place napkin we tested.
We recommend
4 N 1 Utensil Set, our pick

4 N 1 Utensil Set

Our pick
The 4 N 1 is a full cutlery set that stows away easily and takes up minimal space. It will open bottles, too. At around $5 for each set, it’s particularly affordable if you want a few for your picnic or camp setup.
We recommend
GSI Outdoors Table Set, our pick

GSI Outdoors Table Set

Our pick
GSI Outdoors makes nice-looking and affordable enamelware that lets you be more environmentally friendly by ditching the paper or plastic bowls, plates, and cups at your picnic.
We recommend
Victorinox 3¼-Inch Paring Knife, our pick

Victorinox 3¼-Inch Paring Knife

Our pick
Our favorite paring knife is from Victorinox. In our testing it performed as well as those five times more expensive. It’s cheap enough that you won’t cry if you lose it.
We recommend
Buddeez Unbreakable Beverage Dispenser, our pick

Buddeez Unbreakable Beverage Dispenser

Our pick
The 3½-gallon Buddeez Unbreakable Beverage Dispenser keeps your drinks chilled but not diluted, plus it’s virtually unbreakable and dishwasher-safe.
We recommend
Kaufmann Mercantile Pewter Flask,

Kaufmann Mercantile Pewter Flask

The 6-ounce Kaufmann Mercantile flask won’t impart a flavor to your liquor like a stainless steel one might, plus it’s sturdier than steel due to its thicker walls.
We recommend
Wine Enthusiast Two-Bottle Neoprene Wine Tote, our pick

Wine Enthusiast Two-Bottle Neoprene Wine Tote

Our pick
It won’t win you any fashion contests, but the Wine Enthusiast Two-Bottle Neoprene Wine Tote was the most effective in keeping wine cool during our tests.
We recommend
True Fabrications Truetap, our pick

True Fabrications Truetap

Our pick
The Truetap is our top corkscrew pick because it’s straightforward and “just works.” Our picnic testers enjoyed using it.
We recommend
Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer, our pick

Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer

Our pick
For making fresh lemonade or summery citrus-based cocktails, we recommend our favorite citrus juicer, the Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer. It performed on a par with units we tested that were 10 times the price.
We recommend
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22″, our pick

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22″

Our pick
Building on a decades-old design that has earned the love of chefs and backyard-grilling aficionados alike, Weber’s 22” Original Kettle Premium has everything we loved in our previous recommendation, the One-Touch Gold.
We recommend
Weber Spirit II E-310, a gas option

Weber Spirit II E-310

A gas option
Offering an unrivaled combination of performance, usability, versatility, durability, and value, this is the best grill for most people.
Another good choice
Weber Q 1200, our pick

Weber Q 1200

Our pick
The Weber Q 1200 is an affordable gas grill made for portability. It has a big cooking surface and plenty of heat at 8,500 Btu.
We recommend
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18″, a charcoal option

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18″

A charcoal option
The 18″ Weber Jumbo Joe is a great little charcoal-based portable grill. It’s straightforward and works well, just like its full-size counterpart.
Another good choice
Royal Oak Classic Briquets, our pick

Royal Oak Classic Briquets

Our pick
Royal Oak briquets burn hot and evenly, don't add any negative flavors to your food, and don't generate much ash. Buying this charcoal online can be pricey, so we suggest looking for it at local grocery stores or other retailers.
We recommend
Winco UT-16HT Extra Heavyweight Utility Tongs, the best tongs

Winco UT-16HT Extra Heavyweight Utility Tongs

The best tongs
More affordable and precise than competitors, these 16-inch stainless steel tongs offer the best balance of comfort and dexterity for cooking over open flames.
We recommend
Mercer Culinary Hell’s Handle Large Fish Turner, the best spatula

Mercer Culinary Hell’s Handle Large Fish Turner

The best spatula
With a fine edge, stable blade, and tapered shape, this spatula represents the perfect marriage of strength and flexibility.
We recommend
ThermoWorks ThermoPop, the best thermometer

ThermoWorks ThermoPop

The best thermometer
Our favorite digital kitchen thermometer has an easy-to-read backlit display that’s great for day or night cookouts. It will survive a dunk in sauce or marinades, and you can easily clip it to an apron or pocket when not in use.
We recommend
ThermoWorks Dot, a thermometer for smoked meats

ThermoWorks Dot

A thermometer for smoked meats
The Dot probe thermometer quickly responds to temperature changes with unparalleled accuracy. It’s affordably priced, easy to use, and equipped with a strong magnet that keeps it securely attached to the side of a grill.
We recommend
OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Basting Brush, the best marinade brush

OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Basting Brush

The best marinade brush
More sanitary than a traditional hair or mop-style basting brush, the 14-inch OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Basting Brush has thick silicone bristles that'll hold on to sauce better than other brushes, and an angled handle that makes reaching the back of your grill easier.
We recommend
US Forge 400 Welding Gloves, the best grilling gloves

US Forge 400 Welding Gloves

The best grilling gloves
If you must get your hands close to the flame while grilling, US Forge welding gloves are a cheap way to protect yourself when you need to add charcoal or play hot potato (literally).
We recommend
The Great Scrape Woody Shovel, a wire-free grill brush

The Great Scrape Woody Shovel

A wire-free grill brush
The beveled edge of this wooden grill paddle takes on the pattern of your grill, becoming a custom scraper that hugs the grates.
We recommend
Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter, the best chimney starter

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter

The best chimney starter
If you’re going the charcoal route, Weber’s Rapidfire Chimney Starter can bring your coals up to temperature more quickly than just waiting for them to heat up in the grill.
We recommend
Weber Lighter Cubes, a more portable starter

Weber Lighter Cubes

A more portable starter
For a quick charcoal-lighting cheat, we like Weber Firestarters. They’re easier to carry to a park or beach than a chimney starter, can’t spill or leak like lighter fluid, and will still have you up and grilling in no time.
Another good choice
Landmann City Lights Memphis, our pick

Landmann City Lights Memphis

Our pick
Easy to assemble, the Landmann City Lights Memphis has that fire-pit ambiance and can hold a lot of wood (great for long marshmallow-roasting sessions in the backyard).
We recommend
Rolla Roaster Camping Fork, our pick

Rolla Roaster Camping Fork

Our pick
Roasting forks are great for hot dogs and marshmallows, and the Rolla Roaster is long enough to keep you safe while being retractable for portability.
We recommend
Discraft UltraStar, our pick

Discraft UltraStar

Our pick
For less than $10 you can get a flying disc that fits perfectly in most people's hands and is easy to grip and balance. Plus, it's the preferred disc of MLU Frisbee player Nathan Hurst.
We recommend
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2, the best all-around portable bluetooth speaker

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

The best all-around portable Bluetooth speaker
The Wonderboom 2 has a natural sound and a cool design, and it’s built to survive almost any adventure.
We recommend
Athlon Optics Midas ED, the best binoculars

Athlon Optics Midas ED

The best binoculars
Amazingly affordable with great optics, these binoculars have performance comparable to that of many models that cost thousands more.
We recommend
UST 60-Day Duro Lantern, a rugged, powerful lantern

UST 60-Day Duro Lantern

A rugged, powerful lantern
The lantern you picture when you hear the word “lantern,” this model is more ruggedly built, powerful, and bright than any other model we’ve tested.
We recommend
Nemo Victory Blanket, our pick

Nemo Victory Blanket

Our pick
With a soft flannel top, padding, and a waterproof underlining, our favorite picnic blanket will keep you dry and comfortable even on damp grass. It also rolls easily and compactly, thanks to an attached flap and elastic bands.
We recommend
MIU Color Outdoor Picnic Blanket, easier to clean

MIU Color Outdoor Picnic Blanket

Easier to clean
This tough, spill-proof blanket isn’t the cushiest for lounging, but it is the easiest we’ve found to keep clean.
We recommend
Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer, our pick

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer

Our pick
Although not our absolute favorite, Purell is a decent hand sanitizer that’s easy to find. It leaves some residue, but it’s effective and better than alcohol-free formulas.
We recommend
Shout Wipe & Go Instant Stain Remover Wipes, our pick

Shout Wipe & Go Instant Stain Remover Wipes

Our pick
These single-use wipes are handy and work well even if you can’t take your shirt off. In our tests, they were the only stain remover to really get rid of red lipstick.
We recommend
Husky 42-Gallon Contractor Clean-Up Bags (50-Count), our pick

Husky 42-Gallon Contractor Clean-Up Bags (50-Count)

Our pick
The best heavy-duty trash bags are Husky’s 24-gallon Contractor Clean-Up Bags—they’re thicker than regular kitchen bags, so they’re more durable for outdoor use.
We recommend

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