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All The Gear An Aspiring Grillmaster Needs For The Holidays This Year

It’s time to turn the heat up on your outdoor cooking abilities.

If there's one thing other than golf that I worked on a lot over the last two years, it was cooking. Specifically, using the recipes that our favorite resorts from around the Caribbean offered us when we couldn't travel and could instead only dream about being out there. The problem, however, is that nothing ever compares to the actual thing, so all I ended up with was some decent cocktails and disappointing attempts at seafood dishes that left my son saying things like, "Hey, you tried."

Even as I resumed travel, I vowed to enhance my cooking talents, especially when it comes to making dishes in the Great Outdoors. Fortunately, this is easier than ever thanks to the bevvy of creative contraptions being introduced all the time. So, if the grillmaster in your life is struggling, here's the gear we recommend for getting back on track.

On food alone, this thing will be a talking point of all cookouts—but it looks cool, too. | PK Grills

Upon first glance, the PK Grills PK360 Grill and Smoker looks like something out of The Jetsons. The way the cast aluminum shell is framed by two curvy detachable shelves, it has, as my neighbor declared, "A flying saucer vibe." Well, if this thing was built for space travel, I am confident that it would be traveling the galaxy and delivering spectacular ribs and brisket to all sorts of extraterrestrial species.

Jokes aside, I love the way this grill and smoker combo looked after a quick and very convenient setup. As I moved it into the spot once occupied by a name brand propane grill—with wheels so brittle, two of them snapped right off when I tried to move it inside prior to Hurricane Ian—it was as if the whole outdoor cooking space had been reenergized. Instantly, I imagined myself flipping burgers and tossing kebabs around to the other parents for my son's birthday party, as the dads gather around to figuratively kick the tires and see what's under the hood.

Opening that lid with pride, I'd reveal a dual-level, hinged, marine-grade stainless steel cooking surface that was developed with input from professional grillers. As for cooking, it's as easy as organizing the charcoal and twisting the Air Intake Cylinders. And like with any new grill and smoker, I won't confidently say the first use delivered perfection, but boy is this thing fun. Between the style and functionality, I have no doubt the PK360 will help me dominate the neighborhood cookout for years to come.

PK Grills PKGO Portable Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker
The college football pregaming just got so much better. | PK Grills

Some of my best cooking has been done on portable grills, but I don't think the bar is very high when the crowd has been tailgating for four hours or you're in the middle of nowhere and something as simple as a burger will hit the spot. And while it's not as elaborate as its big brother, the PK Grills PKGO is still arguably the best way to enhance your cookout portfolio so that you're known for more than just "okay" burgers and nuked hot dogs. 

It's the smoker aspect, though, that makes this so much better than most portable grills. Friends, family, and fellow tailgaters will love the variety of food that can be made on this magnificent contraption. Best of all, if backyard space is at a premium, the size of the PKGO can also make it convenient for daily use.

Y Series Smokeless Fire Pit
A dependable company takes its signature gear to a new level. | PK Grills

I've been banging the Breeo drum for some time because the X Series 24 smokeless fire pit is one of my all-time favorite additions to my backyard. However, even after I switched to the 19 to save a little space and bring it to friends' homes or on road trips, it became clear that these pits had a portability problem. That's not Breeo's fault—the X Series wasn't technically designed for that—but once you've enjoyed a fire and cooking snacks at home, you're going to want to bring it everywhere.

Enter: The Breeo Y Series Smokeless Fire Pit. As if they could read everyone's minds, the wizards at Breeo made some simple changes to the design—added a handle and made the legs collapsible—and thus added portability as a feature. And even as it offers a lightweight and slightly smaller alternative to the X Series models, it can still use the handy Outpost cooking attachment and turn a simple evening of warmth into snack time. 

Solo Stove Mesa Tabletop Fire Pit
A romantic evening on the patio or balcony is always better with a fire. | PK Grills

Not everyone has the space for a larger fire pit, but that doesn't mean the evenings have to be cold. When I first took the Solo Stove Mesa Tabletop Fire Pit out of the box, my son looked at it and shouted, "Cool! My own fire pit!" Not quite, I replied, but he had a great point. 

This device is ideal for those cold evenings when the kids want dessert and s'mores are on the menu, or the stars are twinkling and a pair of cocktails could use some ambience. 

O-Yaki Portable Grilling Tools
Don't bring the big guns from home when a smaller kit will do just fine. | PK Grills

Every grillmaster needs a great set of tools, but it never hurts to have two: one for home, one for away. A portable grill is already a big addition to the tailgating and camping repertoire, so when choosing the right grilling tools, you'll want an emphasis on portability and convenience, in addition to the standard expectation of durability.
The O-Yaki Portable Grilling Tools not only look good—for the style-minded masters—but they come in a slim black carrying case so transporting them is as easy as asking, "Who wants another Frito chili dog?" Just as important, these accessories are also very easy to clean, which can always be a pain when they sit in the back of someone's truck for hours. Can't have the master's tools looking like it's amateur hour.

Fire and Smoke Society Rib Ninja
Sure, you can go with some salt and pepper, or you can go big. | PK Grills

If you have a personal favorite rub or seasoning, chances are the Fire and Smoke Society has one that'll make you forget everything you've ever tasted. Burger Royale, Honey Garlic BBQ Rub, Holy Garlic All-Purpose Blend, Taco Secret—it's all so dang good. My personal pick to date is the exceptional Rib Ninja Asian Rib Rub, which has become a staple of my St. Louis stylin', but the very close second is the Fish Monger Fisherman's Blend and the Crispy Coatings, which have taken my typically boring seafood meals to a wonderful new place. 

Also, don't sleep on the Fire and Smoke Society Breakfast Taco seasoning—it is phenomenal. The only problem with enhancing your morning routine is that you're going to want it every day, and then you'll have to check back here for another fitness gear guide.

iLive Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers 2-Pack
It's not a party without a soundtrack, even if you're only cooking for one. | PK Grills

I was very skeptical about planting two Bluetooth speakers in my yard and leaving them out there to use whenever the moment strikes, because, I thought, "Surely, these things will stop working after a week or so, right?" Wrong. So wrong. Save for the two times I had to bring them in for hurricanes, the iLive Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers have performed better than I'd ever imagined.

And not only are they great for when the neighborhood kids decide our house is the pool party du jour, but they paired so easily with our outdoor TV, so the Sunday Night Football game gets the surround sound treatment so I can hear Patrick Mahomes throw a TD to Travis Kelce all the way over at my grill.

And You’ll Need to Look the Part

When I opened the box, my wife looked at me sharply and asked, "Are you insane?" Absolutely not, I replied. Then, I raised my blue camo Grillkilt from the packaging and held it in the air, as if I was Rafiki introducing my family's pride and joy to the world. Just as every grillmaster needs the right tools, rubs, seasonings, and even a soundtrack, attire plays a crucial role as well. 


The Grillkilt is not only great as a conversation starter—wear it as you grill at a party and I guarantee at least five people buy one as soon as they get home—but it offers so much convenience with 10 pockets and five D-rings to hold of your gear, from tongs to a bottle opener. And with 12 styles available, it can also convey your sense of personality so that your guests know darn well that you are the one and only grillmaster.