You’ve got the menu planned for your next picnic, and you’re wondering what else you should pack to make your outing a success. While food is undoubtedly the star of any picnic, the meal in and of itself isn’t enough to make a picnic a fun and comfortable time. Here are 13 pieces of picnic gear besides food that you should pack for your next outdoor meal:
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A custom beach blanket with a waterproof backing is absolutely essential for protecting you from water, mud, sand, and more. Even if you plan on eating at a picnic table, having a blanket to sit on will make the whole experience way more comfortable. A blanket can also double as a tablecloth in a pinch to protect your food from the table surface if necessary.
If you’re going somewhere without picnic tables, or it’s a crowded time and you’re not sure if you can get a table, then definitely bring along some folding camp chairs. These chairs will help keep you off the ground and provide neck and back support if you plan to hang out at the park for a long time.
Everyone needs a portable cooler to keep items cold en route to the picnic. Keep in mind that while hard coolers will keep food colder for longer, they are also harder to transport and take up more room in the car than soft coolers. For maximum portability, we recommend a soft backpack cooler that leaves your hands free to carry other things.
Picnic basket or tote
If not all your picnic food can fit in the cooler, then you will also want to get an additional tote or basket to carry the non-refrigerated items. Make sure that the lid latches securely or that the bag zips closed so that you don’t have to worry about items falling out while in transit.
Insulated bottles and cups
To keep your beverages at an optimal temperature for longer, we recommend packing insulated bottles and/or cups rather than relying on disposable ones. Double walled stainless steel or aluminum water bottles are a great option for cold beverages, while custom coffee mugs with a logo are perfect for coffee or tea.
Corkscrew or bottle opener
It’s a serious bummer to pack an entire picnic and schlep all your gear to the park … only to discover that you forgot the bottle opener or corkscrew at home and have no way to open your adult beverages. Prevent this issue from arising by packing a bottle opener and/or corkscrew every single time you picnic so you don’t find yourself with a beverage emergency.
Cutting board and knife
Bringing a cutting board and knife to a picnic is always a good idea, even if you don’t think that you’ll need to use it. For safety purposes, always place a knife guard on the knife blade before transporting it to prevent accidental injury. Make sure the cutting board has a non-slip bottom to keep it steady while you chop.
Plates and utensils
Unless you plan on eating everything right out of the container using your hands, you’ll want to bring along some plates and utensils to make the eating experience a little more civilized. For ease of use, most people like to bring disposable plates and utensils, but if you’re feeling eco-friendly you can bring reusable plastic ones from home, then bag them and take them back for washing up.
Napkins and paper towels
Picnics can be messy affairs (which is part of the fun!), so it’s a wise idea to bring along napkins and paper towels so that you can clean up any spills that occur. Keep in mind that paper items like this blow away in the wind easily, so they should be secured in a bag before and after use.
Not all picnic areas have trash cans and, even if they do, the trash is often filled to overflowing on weekends, holidays, and other busy times. Even if you’re picnicking somewhere that has trash cans, we still recommend bringing along a backup trash bag so that you can bag up your trash and pack it out if necessary.
Hand sanitizer and wipes
Cleaning your hands before and after eating is key for reducing potential contamination. To that end, definitely bring along a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer so that you can clean your hands even if a sink and soap aren’t available. Also bring along some wipes to clean up after eating and get rid of any stickiness or crumbs before getting in the car.
If you plan to picnic during the day, be sure to bring along some sunscreen to protect yourself from UV ray damage. For best results, choose a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF protection rating of at least 30 and reapply it every two hours. You should also seek shade and use umbrellas and canopies to protect yourself when the sun rays are at their peak from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Getting attacked by mosquitoes can ruin an otherwise perfect picnic, so get ahead of the bugs by bringing some bug spray and applying it as soon as you arrive at your picnicking destination. Items to pack for extra protection, you might also want to consider bringing a bug-repelling citronella candle and lighting it at your table.
What are your other must-have items for picnics that didn’t make it on the list? Are there nice-to-have items that aren’t absolutely essential, but that you won’t picnic without nonetheless? Let us know in the comments below!