Celebrate warmer temps by throwing an epic picnic. Our favorite outdoor dining and reclining gear is portable, easy to use and high-performing, so you don’t need to sacrifice a good meal or comfort when you head out the door. Set up a picnic in your yard, at a local park or at a campground—the options are plenty.
We’ve selected our favorite gadgets for the occasion, like a sand-free picnic mat and an electric cooler that will keep your food chilled on hot afternoons, plus some comfort items. All you need to do is prepare the menu and set the playlist.
Picnic blankets are great, but a chair can up the comfort for long afternoons outside. The Skyward chair from REI Co-op weighs only a little more than 7 pounds and packs into a 7 x 33 in. sleeve with an attached strap, so it’s easy to throw over your shoulder and take just about anywhere. Crossed webbing keeps the seat and back tensioned and comfortable, reinforced mesh is durable yet breathable enough for lounging on a summer day, and a steel-tube frame keeps it sturdy. And did we mention there’s a built-in cupholder and horizontal cell phone holder? $59.95
Take your nice dining set, make it rugged and lightweight, and get it dirty. Barebones’ suite of enamelware includes sets of plates, bowls and cups made to travel. The steel-core dishes will help keep hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold, but they’re coated in ceramic enamel, which instantly levels up the look of your gear. Pinkies up! $22 for two plates, $20 for two bowls, $19 for two mugs
You could spread your picnic on the dirt or across a blanket, but when full-size tables are this packable, you may not want to. The REI Co-op Camp Roll Table pops up into a 27.5 x 27.5 in. square that’s more than 2 feet off the ground. That’s big enough for a heated game of cards or a three-course meal. Not bad for a piece of furniture that packs down small enough to lose in your trunk. $79.95
If you’ll be picnicking within a short walk to the car, consider switching from a traditional ice-filled cooler to an electric fridge like the Dometic CFX3 35. This compact cooler plugs in to the 12-volt adaptor in your car or an external battery and can maintain the fridge temperature using only as much power as a couple of charging phones. (And you can download the CFX3 app to fine-tune the cooler’s temperature.) The best part: No ice required for cooling, so you never need to worry about it melting into a pool of water on a hot day. Just make sure your picnic spot is close to your vehicle—at 37 pounds, the cooler isn’t going to be easy to lug too far. $880
Venturing a little farther to the picnic table? Fill the YETI Flip 12 with your favorite beverage (this size can fit up to 24 cans) and some ice, toss it over your shoulder and start walking. The Flip features a wide opening for easy access to the good stuff inside; a plush shoulder strap for carrying; and a puncture- and mildew-resistant shell. The closed-cell rubber-foam insulation should keep bevvies chilled all day. $250
Don’t leave your music when you head out the door. Clip the beats to your backpack and bring them to lunch. The JBL Clip 4 pairs to your phone with Bluetooth and plays for up to 10 hours between charges. An IP67 waterproof rating means you won’t need to worry about rain (or even dropping the speaker in your lemonade); it can withstand submersion in water up to 3 feet deep for up to 30 minutes. Just remember: Be a polite picnicker and keep volume respectably low if you’re not alone. $79.95
We all know the scene: Arms full of food, drinks, games, lawn furniture and more, tripping and stumbling from the car to the picnic spot. No more. Toss it all into the spacious Pack-Away tote from REI Co-op and carry it easily to your destination. The Pack-Away, which is designed to fit snugly on the floor behind your car’s seats, has a drawstring closure and compression strap over the top to keep your cargo from escaping, and a ballistic nylon bottom will protect your precious cargo if you drop it. At 43.2 liters, its cavernous main compartment can easily fit a day’s worth of snacks. $79.95
Pick out the ideal picnic spot, whether a patch of grass in the park or a sunny space on the beach, and don’t worry about getting sand in your potato salad, thanks to the Sand-Free Picnic Mat by CGear Multimats. A special weave allows dirt, sand or dust to slip through the mat and out of the way of your food and family. This design also makes the mat easy to clean and dry, and soft enough to spend long afternoons lounging atop it. It also folds up to reveal a carry handle that makes it easy to tote around. $69.95
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.