Best of the Backyard: Games, Grills, and Gear for Your Great Outdoors
The backyard is the new living room. It's time for a renovation.
The backyard used to be a place (remember places?) to hang out from time to time. Now, thanks to the pandemic, it is the place to go. Why not make it an awesome place to be?
Fortunately, there are loads of products — everything from water toys to playhouses to outdoor speakers to grills — that can help enhance the backyard experience for the whole family. Only the most outstanding of those offerings made this list, which contains the absolute best gear for making your backyard into a summer camp, restaurant, bar, beach, and park all rolled into one.
This is the very best of the backyard….
The Best Backyard Games
Bocce Ball Game Set by Fredericks and Mae
Bocce has been played since the Roman Empire for a simple reason: it’s fun as hell and, let’s be honest, easy to play. This handsome set comes with everything you need to start a family tradition that’s way classier than your average backyard game. There are eight three-inch balls adorned with colorful, almost mod designs; a shiny silver jack that’s easy to spot (even in grass that could use a mow) and a bag to keep the whole kit together between rounds.
Rosewood Premier Cornhole Set by Victory
This muted rosewood set is so good-looking, you won’t even realize it’s a great backyard cornhole game. The fraternity letters, sports logos, and beer insignia typically found on cornhole boards have been replaced here by handsome stripes and thoughtful details, while the half-inch-thick birch top is far superior to the crappy plywood sets found at a typical tailgate. Rustproof hardware, folding legs, and triple-stitched bean bags make this cornhole set the one that adds to your backyard aesthetic instead of cheapening it.
The Best Outdoor Trampoline
Sport Trampoline by Little Tikes
The pandemic is pushing lots of parents from no to yes on the trampoline question. This one from Little Tikes is made to be safe for younger kids and, at just 10 feet in diameter, won’t take over your backyard. It’s s ringed in padding and comes with a built-in net that makes it harder for kids to fly off the side. Another nice feature is the basketball hoop that, thanks to its proximity to the bouncy surface, lets kids cosplay as contestants in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Just be sure to spot them when they’re in it.
The Best Backyard Baseball
Backyard Baseball Set by Xtra Fielder
With the neighborhood kids confined to their houses, it’s pretty much impossible to get a full sandlot squad together. The Xtra Fielder Backyard Baseball Game solves that problem with four nets placed at each base. At home, a pitch that makes it into the net is called a strike, no ump necessary. And if the fielding team gets the ball into one of the three nets at the bases before the runner tags, the runner is out, no basemen necessary.
Remember those winged footballs that flew way further than their traditional counterparts? The Blitzball is like that, but for baseball. The hexagonal paneled design of the ball makes it easy for young pitchers to throw sliders, curveballs, change-ups, and even knuckleballs, R.A. Dickey-style. The power bat evens the score, giving hitters the chance to whack Blitzballs up to 200 feet. That might be a shallow fly in the majors, but it’s pretty epic for backyard ball.
The Best Kids Fort Kit
Mighty Fantasy Fort Kit by Magic Cabin
No childhood is complete without building a fort or two, whether the materials are sticks and leaves, pillows and blankets, or the 32 panels that make up this modular building set from Magic Cabin. They’re made of a corrugated plastic that’s lighter than cardboard and are easy for kids to handle and plenty safe if they come tumbling down. Carton clips and Velcro tape are included, making it easy to construct and demolish the backyard forts of their dreams. Cleverly, you can even build a box out of the panels to store the set when it’s not in use.
The Best Zip Line
Backyard Zipline Kit by HearthStone
If the backyard swing set is no longer thrilling enough for your kids, a backyard zip line will up the ante. As long as you have two sturdy trees up to a hundred feet apart, this thing is a cinch to set up. And once it is, kids can just grab the handles, jump onto the adjustable seat, and get the kind of adrenaline rush that’s sorely needed after months stuck in the house.
The Best Backyard Putting Green
Working on your short game can get kind of dull, but the PuttSkee is a great way to make things interesting. Each made-to-order game unfolds to reveal a nylon turf putting lane with a Skeeball-style panel at the end. You can practice aiming for targets on your own or engage in some friendly competition using the scoring values for each one. No matter which one you hit, the ball will roll back to you via the ball return channel next to the green, so you can save the fetching for the family dog.
The Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers
Mud Kitchen by Muddy Maker
Mud is that magic (and magically free) ingredient that lets outdoor chefs cook up pies, pizzas, stews, cakes, and endless other creations — and this mud kitchen gives them everything they need to get the job done. It includes a plastic container, stencils, hanging rail, a chalkboard so they can list the daily menu, a stainless steel baking pot with lid, a saucepan, a frying pan, and a whisk. It’s perfectly sized for little gourmands, who, with a little dirt and water, can realize their culinary dreams. And because the play is so sensory, they’ll entertain themselves for hours doing it.
Magnifying Bug Viewer by Haba
Haba’s new Terra Kids line is everything you want in a toy: thoughtfully designed and well-made, they’re tools for exploring more than toys for their own sake. Playing with them makes kids more curious about the world. This humble bug viewer takes two things that kids are already fascinated by — magnifying glasses and bugs — and combines them into what might be the most engrossing nature toy ever made. A magnifying glass on top and on the side allows for multiple views of the little prisoner, and because bugs are diverse and plentiful, the magnifying bug viewer never gets old.
3-in-1 Triple Splash T-Ball Set by Little Tikes
Little sluggers (2 and up) will love hammering homers with this clever T-ball set, which has three different set-ups based on ability. The first is a standard tee that lets kids swing away at a stationary ball. The second is a spring-loaded pad that, with the stomp of a pedal, lobs the ball upwards to mimic self-pitch. On the third, the ball hovers on a pedal-activated water stream (yes, a hose must be connected) that lifts the ball, challenging kids to whack at it. So even when the kids tire of practicing, they can spend hours splashing themselves and their siblings in the face. Includes a bat and three plastic balls. Extra points to Little Tikes for making this gender-neutral.
Mini Golf Set for Kids by PlanToys
Miniature golfers can practice their swing and aim for a hole-in-one with this durable, beautifully designed set, which turns any ordinary lawn into a golf course. The set includes everything a kid needs: three clubs, two balls, three tracks, and one hole. Not only is this fun for two or more kids to play together, but it also lets them practice their gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
The Best Backyard Swing
Baby and Toddler Swing by Solvej
This handsome baby swing, named after the New Zealand-based brand’s founders’ daughter, is a perfect blend of fun and functionality. Suitable for babies 6 months and older (once they can sit up), the swing is made from weather-proof canvas and finished wood, so the more it gets used, the better it looks. You can hang it both indoors and out, it easily converts to a toddler swing, and given its 88 pound weight limit, will serve your child well into elementary school. It’s better-looking than our other favorite swing, so opt for this one if you like your swings to look like they organically grew out of their surroundings.
The Best Kids Water Table
Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table by Step2
Sand and water are to summer what fresh snow is to winter — they make the season. And this is pretty much the most perfect two-sided sand and water table ever made. It does triple duty as a car track, too: kids can race vehicles along the roadways before crashing them into mud pits. The best part, though, might be the removable umbrella, so kids can play in the shade. And when they’re done making a colossal, glorious mess, parents flip the lid and the set becomes an entirely different play surface. It holds up to 10 pounds of sand and three gallons of water, and has drain plugs for when you need to empty it out.
The Best Kids Gardening Tools
Gardening Kit for Kids by Green Toys
Gardening combines two things kids love: getting dirty and taking care of stuff, and this three-piece starter set empowers them to do both. Made of recycled plastic, it includes a watering can, a rake, and a shovel, and, unlike many kids gardening sets, is fully functional. It’s everything your kid needs to get started on their gardening journey (save for maybe a wheelbarrow or a spade), as they begin to learn that seeds yield plants that yield stuff they can eat for dinner.
The Best Kids Playhouse
Playhouse 256 by CedarWorks
Imagine a playhouse that flawlessly blends form and function, is as well made as an actual house, and surpasses your own home in architectural innovation. That’s what you get when you order this breathtaking modern one-story cottage. The playhouse is made from splinter-free northern white cedar wood by artisans based in Maine and has a rock wall, plenty of windows, and a functional, arched door. Is it overkill? Um, yeah. But it’s what open-ended outdoor play dreams are made of.
The Best Outdoor Toys for Kids
Zorb Ball by Ludosport
Summer 2020 is going to be the summer of social distancing, and the Ludosport Zorb Ball is the perfect outdoor toy for it. The clear, almost spherical suit is made of one-millimeter-thick PVC that forms a bouncy barrier between the wearer and the outside world when it’s inflated. Kids get to run into each other, roll down hills, and engage in satisfying backyard horseplay while the ball acts as a natural buffer between them and their playmates.
Light-Up Field Markers by ToyZone
The sun might set later in the summer, but that doesn’t mean your kids are ready to go in when it does. These markers can serve as end zone lines for flag football, bases for kickball, goalposts for soccer, or whatever your kid needs for their game of choice during the day, and then at night they light up so the game can go just a bit longer. If you pick up a set for your kids, you’re really getting them more precious minutes outside during the summer, and who can put a price on that?
Metal Detector by Learning Resources
This kids metal detector takes scavenger hunts to the next level. It lights up and beeps when metal objects are detected, whether it’s treasures buried in the ground, toys hidden in a sand table, or coins lying beneath a sheet. The grippy handle makes it easy for kids to maneuver, so kids as young as 3 can use it to investigate the world around them.
Play Tractor by John Deere
Little farmers can drive this authentic looking play tractor over grass, dirt or pavement as they collect treasures in its spacious trailer bed. Steering the tractor around obstacles and putting it into reverse will help kids explore the world around them and develop motor skills. It’s great for kids ages 3 to 6, as it only goes up to 2.5 mph, and can hold up to 85 pounds. It comes with a rechargeable battery for easy set-up. Luckily, farm smell is not included.
Adjustable Headlamp by BioLite
This all-in-one headlamp can be adjusted to fit everyone from kids to adults with helmets on. Its adjustable light can be swiveled to any angle, and includes dimming and night vision functions. Don’t worry about packing batteries: this headlight is rechargeable via any USB (aka you can use your phone charger). It weighs less than 2 ounces, is made of sweat-wicking fabric, and runs for 40 hours. A special lock feature ensures you won’t use up the charge by accidentally turning it on while not in use.
The Best Outdoor Water Toys
Whale Spray Inflatable Pool by Intex
The only thing better than a kiddie pool is a kiddie pool that looks like a smiling whale and rains water from its tail. Made of durable, 11-gauge vinyl, the 79” x 77” x 36” pool inflates quickly, is large enough for two children to splash around in, and easily connects to a garden hose. It holds 53 gallons of water and comes with a repair patch in case the whale accidentally gets harpooned.
Rocket Ship Sprinkler by Fun Boy
The first thing you’ll notice about this backyard water toy is also the best thing about it: It’s huge. Standing more than 7 feet tall and with four nozzles spaced around the side, it’s the kind of sensory overload that can make the backyard feel more like a waterpark than it has any right to. The retro rocket design is appealing to kids without being a huge eyesore to adults, who will also appreciate its rapid inflation and deflation valves, integrated drain plug, and included ground stakes to keep everyone safe.
40-Foot Rainbow Super Slide by BigMouth
The only summer toy better than a slip ‘n slide is a super slip ‘n slide, and this rainbow slide from BigMouth is truly super. It’s 8 feet wide, which makes it less likely your kid will slide into the grass before reaching the promised land, and 40 feet long, each extra foot an extra moment of jubilation. On each side of the sliding surface are sprinklers that keep everything slippery, and at the end there’s a star-shaped splash pool that will bring kids to a splashy stop.
Water Gun by ZURU
This water gun minimizes one of the only bad things about a wet summer battle: waiting for your tank to load. Simply flip open the cap on the back of the blaster, dunk it in the nearest water source, and flip it closed again, going from empty to full in just one second. Kids can use the extra time they get to douse their opponents, firing water from its 30-ounce tank at targets up to 34 feet away.
The Best Inflatable Water Slide
Slam ‘N Curve Slide by Little Tikes
An inflatable slide transforms your tired backyard into a rousing water park, minus the sweaty crowds and long (germy) lines. And this monster of a slide will be the best aquatic investment you’ll make, because it’s durable and does double duty. There’s a climbing wall, a curved slide, and a sizable wading pool for splashing around aplenty. Best of all, two kids can use this thing at the same time: one on the slide, one on the climbing wall. The maximum weight limit is 350 pounds. That’s a whole lot of kid.
The Best Backyard Pool
Family Lounge Pool by Intex
If you’re in the market for an above-ground pool, but would rather not blow a mortgage payment on one, you need this spacious lounger instead. It inflates in minutes, and features a bench where adults can cozy up (drinks optional) and watch the kids splash around. It’s remarkably well made, with UV-resistant seven-gauge PVC vinyl, and remarkably roomy, at 8 feet in diameter. The depth is 30 inches, so grown-ups don’t feel like giants sitting in a baby pool.
The Best Backyard Gear for Lounging
Outdoor Cushion by Forgetme
This beautiful 26-inch-square outdoor cushion makes picnics, campfires, and stargazing extra comfortable: Dewy grass and knobby tree roots can’t stop you now. The durable polyester-covered cushion is water-resistant — no need to bring them in every time it looks like rain — and UV-protected so the sun won’t fade them. Handles make them extra portable, and they can double as outdoor furniture cushions. In these days of not being about to go out to eat, they also make picnics feel a little bit more special.
Citronella Hanging Coils by Fredericks & Mae
Nothing ruins a cookout quicker than mosquitoes crashing your barbecue. You can douse yourself with foul bug spray, or attempt to deter them by burning a standard citronella candle. But a much more refined option are these hanging coils, which are infused with citronella oil and emit a citrus scent that makes humans less delectable to skeeters. Hang them all around your sitting area, so the smoke disperses evenly (and not in children’s faces) to keep the bugs away all night. They’re non-toxic, and actually look like something an interior decorator dreamed up. Each coil burns for roughly 150 hours.
Bird Feeder by Eva Solo
Hoping to give your kids an appreciation of nature? Need something to retain their attention for more than 30 seconds? Luring some birds into your backyard is one very satisfying way to do it, while also providing some relaxing bird-watching for yourself. Gravity slowly refills this sleek bird feeder, which holds up to 2 liters of bird seed. The stainless steel base won’t rust, and — should any birds start shitting where they eat — the whole thing is dishwasher-safe. Assembly is required, but simple.
The Best Outdoor Lounge Chairs
Indoor Outdoor Daybed by Anthropologie
There’s a lot of backyard furniture out there, but much of it is unattractive, flimsy, uncomfortable, or some combination thereof. But why shouldn’t you have a proper daybed — emphasis on “bed” — in your yard, and one that’s good-looking, in teak? The pared-down, midcentury design of this outdoor daybed will elevate the patio, but it’s also practical: its rounded corners make it child-friendly, and the Sunbrella upholstery is weatherproof. Most importantly, it’s a bed, and this summer will require naps.
Kids Sling Chair by Emmanuel Signorino
This kids chair is not only free of cheesy characters, it actually looks like modern art. (No offense, Peppa) Its hammock-like sling seat features three different reclining positions, from upright for eating to reclined for sunbathing (and at 24.5″ wide by 32″ high by 45″ deep, the recline is a true lounge for kids pooped out from summer fun). The chair has a sturdy wooden frame and water-resistant, UV-coated seat fabric, so it won’t get damaged when it’s inevitably left on the front lawn or drenched in an unexpected summer storm, and best of all, it’s easily collapsible, so kids can even (be convinced to) carry it themselves.
Camphead Chair by Yeti
Fresh off their triumphs in the world of insulated drinkware and near-indestructible coolers, the folks at Yeti turned their attention to another tailgating essential: the camping chair. Their take is, not surprisingly, strong. Its folding frame and extra-wide feet can hold up to 500 pounds, and the durable fabric resists UV damage and molds to the sitter for a comfortable experience. And there’s a cup holder, because you have to have somewhere to put that Yeti tumbler.
The Best Bug Hotel
Bee and Insect Hotel by Vifah
This little bug hotel (it comes in a set of two) attracts beneficial insects to the yard: pollinators like bees and butterflies, along with lacewings and ladybugs, which feed off plant pests. Each are each drawn to a different section of the hotel, where they shelter and nest and, in so doing, help keep your backyard ecosystem healthy. But what makes the bug hotel fun is the bug-watching: kids will get a kick out of the insect comings and goings, and will naturally start learning more about nature, using the backyard as a way in.
The Best Hammocks
Mexican String Hammock by Well Hung Hammocks
A hammock, at its core, is an adult sling, where you can nap, read a book, or simply hide out from the kids. But there are hammocks, and there are hammocks. This one, made of woven cotton, makes you feel like you’re floating, no matter your size (it can support up to 440 pounds), and if you fall asleep — as you probably will — and roll over, it won’t flip over and spit you out.
Free-Standing Hammock with Stand by Lujo Living
The Bugatti of hammocks, this two-person model is a work of art. With a weight limit of 550 pounds, it comfortably fits two adults, and because it’s made of hardwood and powder-coated aluminum, it ages with grace. There’s a foam head pillow for those midday disco naps. And there are ample thoughtful details, like a waterproof liner and drainage holes so things never get odiferous or damp when the weather turns.
The Best Outdoor Speaker
Move Outdoor Speaker by Sonos
The Sonos Move would be a great portable speaker even if you took away half of its features. It’s waterproof and drop-resistant, and it comes with a charging base that makes finding the right cord and maneuvering it into place a thing of the past. The Move has wi-fi and Bluetooth built-in, which means you can control it with the Sonos app or your Apple AirPlay setup at home. It’s also one of the few speakers that packs Google Assistant and Alexa into one product, so you can choose the digital assistant you enjoy bossing around the most (sorry, Siri). And because it’s a Sonos speaker, you know this thing sounds damn good.
The Best Outdoor Projector
360 Projector by Cinemood
This tiny little 3-inch projector is as powerful as it is versatile. With wi-fi, a built-in speaker, and five hours of battery life, it can be set up just about anywhere and project just about anything. Connect it to your Netflix or Amazon Prime account, screen-mirror your phone, or watch the preloaded content, which includes dozens of Disney books and videos, games (many of which encourage kids to move around to play), and 360 educational videos, like tours of outer space or national parks. Summer vacation might be canceled, but the Cinemood can help you make the back of the house into a new place each night.
The Best Backyard Fire Pits
Ranger Fire Pit by Solo Stove
The stainless steel Solo Stove Ranger is a compact 15-inch marvel that transforms any backyard into a campsite or family lounge. The fire pit is surprisingly lightweight (at only 15 pounds), sleek, streamlined, and easy to use anywhere. You don’t need propane or gas to fuel it — just small chunks of wood or logs — and it has a fairly genius double-walled design and vent holes that allow it to emit plenty of hot air, minus any clouds of foul gray smoke. As a result, there’s no stench that sticks to your hair or clothing, and when you’re done, you just empty out the little bit of fine ash at the bottom — making it possibly the most accessible and low-hassle fire pit out there.
Personal Fireplace by FLIKR Fire
This sleek mini fireplace provides all the ambiance of a campfire, minus the manual labor. Just pour a bit of rubbing alcohol in the center, light a match, and watch her burn. Five ounces of rubbing alcohol will translate to just under an hour of food-safe flames, making it the perfect portable s’mores station. It’s 5 inches wide and 4 inches high, and has adjustable feet to keep heat off of delicate surfaces.
The Best Outdoor Lantern
LED Table Lamp by Terrain
This refined yet simple outdoor lantern helps set the mood, whether you’re having an intimate patio happy hour or a picnic with the kids. Place it on tables or porches, or use it to light up walkways — its battery-powered minimalist design makes it more versatile and more handsome than most backyard lights in its price range, and its warm LED glow is just bright enough to be intimate without verging on overwhelming. It runs on three AAA batteries, works for 120 hours, and has a six-hour timer.
The Best Backyard Lighter
USB Rechargeable Lighter by The USB Lighter Company
Matches get wet, lighters get lost, and those butane clicker lighters always seem to be dead. This lighter solves all of these problems by being USB-rechargeable: Completely butane-free, the lighter can go 300 uses on a single charge. Plus, it’s super-good-looking and fun to use, and comes in 11 cool colors (including bright yellow or orange, for easy finding). It locks, so it’s not easy for young kids to figure out, but you should, of course, still keep it out of their reach.
The Best Backyard Tents
Acadia 6-Person Tent by L.L. Bean
Whether used in the backyard or at a campground, the Acadia is the ideal family tent. Accommodating six people, the 10 x 10 shelter is made from a waterproofing-coated polyester, has mesh windows to prevent bugs from pestering everyone, and has a special port that lets you run a cord through to power lights or an in-tent movie night. It stands 81-inches high (fiberglass poles keep it upright), so there’s plenty of head room. There are a few lofted shelves, too, that help to store necessities. While space for six and such features come with heft — the tent weighs 23 pounds, 8 ounces — the Acadia is an affordable family shelter that will survive years of roughing it.
Pop-Up Baby Tent by Sunkito
This portable pop-up tent lets babies enjoy the great outdoors with protection from the sun, wind, sand, and bugs. Its fabric is treated with SPF 50 coating that protects from all UVA and UVB rays, and the retractable mosquito net folds into a nearby pocket when not in use. Three poles secure the tent against wind, and its bendable wires easily flatten into a convenient carrying case. The foldability factor will save you tons of frustration — this is the rare baby accessory that doesn’t require a PhD in engineering to set up and collapse. It weighs less than 3 pounds, so anybody can carry it.
The Best Backyard Grills
Propane Grill by Napoleon
Serious about searing? Then the Rogue SE 625 belongs in your backyard. Pushing out 82,500 BTUs of burger-cooking power and large enough to fire up 38 burgers at a time, it certainly has the oomph to satisfy any griller worthy of their spatula. But where it really succeeds is in the details. The stainless-steel cooking grates are not only rust-resistant but also wave-shaped to provide even heat and, if you’re vain about your steaks, those classic sear marks. There’s an infrared rotisserie burner that provides both high heat for that restaurant-quality ribeye caramelization and the ideal space for low-and-slow spit roasting. Nice touches like integrated tool hooks, near-instant ignition, and a side bottle opener make it a great buy for anyone looking for a gas grill meant for the long haul.
Precision Charcoal Grill by Spark
Love the taste of charcoal-grilled food but hate the time it takes to get the kettle going? This charcoal grill might be just what you need. Fueled by natural charcoal “briqs”, the grill has a ceramic lighter and two fans that work in tandem to mimic a convection oven. They not only heat up the coals quickly but also ensure an even temperature. And, because why not, there’s a companion app that lets you monitor and tweak the process from start to finish. Is it overkill? Sure. But damn, does it look nice.
Cast-Iron Grill by Barebones
This brilliant grill does it all, and looks damn fine doing it. You can use it to grill, of course, but also to sautée, smoke, braise, roast, and steam whatever meats and vegetables you’re craving. How? It comes folded up with all its components nesting inside, Russian doll-style, and once unpacked, has a steel plate that also works as a baking sheet, griddle, and skillet. It only weighs 26 pounds, and comes with a 13-inch wok base, a domed lid, a grill grate, a griddle, a tray lifter, tripod stand, and an adjustable coal tray. Oh, and if you run out of coal, you can use it for open fire cooking.
The Best Outdoor Pizza Oven
Ooni Karu Pizza Oven
The secret to a great Neapolitan pizza is simple: a damn hot oven that lets you cook a pizza in a matter of seconds, not minutes. The Ooni Karu heats up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit and can cook a pie in a minute flat — it definitely fits the bill. It can use fuel and charcoal out of the box, and propane with an extra attachment. It’s also not a massive brick or metal thing, but a svelte stainless steel package that conceals ceramic fiber insulation, extra thick baking stone, and patented flame keeper for optimal heat retention.
The Best Backyard Coolers
Party Bar LiddUp Cooler by Igloo
No, it’s not bear-proof or able to keep ice frozen for weeks at a time. But, really, how many people need that from a cooler? The LiddUp is a big-ass ice box that does the basics extremely well. The 125-quart cooler is fully insulated, locks tightly, and has four wheels that get it where it needs to go but can be easily removed for stability. It can hold 2-liter bottles upright, there’s an attached bottle opener because, duh, and there are plenty of utility hooks to hang towels and tools. Best of all, the cooler has internal dividers to organize the contents and lid-activated integrated interior lights that help you see everything inside after the sun goes down.
Keepr Cooler by Rovr
A clever blend of soft cooler, wine bucket, and picnic basket, Rovr’s new Keepr cooler is the outdoor cocktail caddy you never knew you needed. It has four separate compartments, including a central one for ice, and rests flat on a molded base, so it won’t tip over. You can use it to store and tote everything from flasks and wine bottles to beer cans to juice boxes. There’s room for cheese and salami. For garnishes. For anything you need to set up a perfect alfresco cocktail hour, without having to run in the house every five minutes. Inserts keep wet and dry items separate, and a stainless steel padded handle lets you tote everything around, should you actually, you know, go anywhere.
Wine Bottle Chiller by Vinglacé
A warm rosé in the summer is a minor tragedy, but messy wine buckets (or downing your wine before it has the chance to warm up) aren’t perfect solutions. This simple but ingenious bottle chiller is a double-walled, vacuum-insulated canister that fits snugly around a standard bottle of wine and can keep it cold for about four hours. You won’t have to worry about condensation on the outside of the chiller, ice cubes, or warm wine on a hot day.
Stemless Outdoor Wine Glass by Porter
This elevated outdoor wine glass checks all the oenophile’s boxes: It’s unbreakable, because it’s got a thick silicone outer coating. It won’t tip over, thanks to its flat, stemless base. And best of all, the interior is made of actual glass, so no matter what you’re sipping, it will taste precisely as intended, without any strange flavor leaching. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe.
Yeti Rambler 24-Ounce Mug with Standard Lid
A good drinking vessel, one that is durable enough to be dropped and insulated enough to keep beverages cold in the glaring sun, is as important to summer as a pair of sandals or sunblock. Yeti’s 24-ouncer is an excellent choice. Whether you use it to drink an IPA or Italian roast coffee, the stainless-steel mug is double-wall vacuum-sealed to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. Its removable lid stays in place securely, the fat handle is sizable enough for even the biggest hands to grip, and all parts are dishwasher-safe.
The Best Backyard Growler
uKeg Go Pressurized Growler by Growler Werks
Every time you open a growler, you’re letting out precious carbon dioxide and letting in destructive heat, which means that by the time you get to the dregs, you likely have a flat, warm tragedy on your hands. The uKeg Go growler is the solution to this problem. It has a built-in CO2 delivery system that keeps things fizzy and a tap handle that means you never have to expose good beer to the elements. It’s rounded out by some nice touches — a carry handle, rubber base, and double-walled vacuum-insulated walls — but it’s the carbonation- and temperature-preserving system up top that makes this thing great.
The Best Outdoor Bar Cart
Halden Outdoor Bar Cart by West Elm
Whether used to serve cocktails or as extra space to set tongs, sauces, and anything else while grilling, a bar cart is a back patio’s best friend. The Halden, with its two mahogany wood tables, large wheels, and powder-coated aluminum frame, is an ideal companion. Are the kids likely to push it around the yard when not in use? Absolutely. But, hey, that’s just another bonus.
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