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We may be celebrating summer a little differently (nay, distantly) this year, but just because we can’t get to the beach or turn up at a tailgate right now, doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of the sunshine and warmer temps at home.
Whether you’re an aspiring grill-master or looking to upgrade your outdoor tech, we’ve found some of the best new products for your backyard, pool and patio. Pick these items up online now to inject a healthy dose of fun into your summer — and into the (potentially) long months ahead.
BEST SMOKER: Traeger Ironwood Series 885 Pellet Grill
There’s nothing this (gentle) beast of a machine can’t take on, from ribs to roasts and everything in between. Boasting a massive 885 square-inches of cooking space (enough for ten whole chickens or seven full racks of ribs), the Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill turns up the heat with direct, even smoking and easy monitoring from a WiFi-connected app. In other words: this may be a professional-style smoker, but even beginner chefs can stake their claim for grillmaster.
The grill starts up instantly and its Ironwood D2 Controller is as easy to use as an oven (no confusing dials here). Just turn the dial to your temperature, hit ignite, and you’re good to go. We’ve used our Traeger to smoke everything from 15-pound briskets, to pulled pork, to homemade sausage. It’s great for smoked wings too, and you’ll love it for steaks and chops. Everything develops that coveted “smoke ring,” with juicy, flavorful cuts that don’t dry out. We’ve even used it to smoke salmon, and — for vegetarians — to make some hearty potatoes, peppers and spaghetti squash.
The grill gets you temperatures up to 500°F, with the ability to toggle between temps, say, if you want to cool the unit down to let your meat rest, or if you want to fire it up for a quick sear.
Check timing, adjust temperature settings and set alerts from your phone using the Traeger app. The Traeger “GrillGuide” gets you step-by-step instructions to make more than 1,500 recipes. Whether you’re using this as a smoker or as a grill, the possibilities are nearly endless.
BEST PORTABLE GRILL: BioLite FirePit
If you don’t have room for a Traeger, or want to take your grilling on the go, you’ll want to pick up this hybrid fire pit and grill from BioLite. The above-ground fire pit is completely smokeless, and burns both wood and charcoal, making it great for both cooking and chilling. The grill heats up in seconds, and the included grate lets you cook up everything from sausages to skewers with ease.
Once dinner is done, remove the grate and light up the logs for a warm, crackling glow into the night. BioLite says the fire pit’s “X-Ray Mesh” casts light and warmth in all directions (not just up top).
Download the BioLite app to your phone and change temperature settings and the intensity of the flames. A nice bonus: a built-in 10,400 mAh rechargeable battery pack and USB outputs let you use the fire pit for charging your devices.
BEST PIZZA OVEN: Ooni Fyra Portable Wood-Fired Outdoor Pizza Oven
There’s nothing that brings people together quite like a good homemade pizza night, and this season, we’re making all our pizzas in the Ooni Fyra, a super fast, efficient and easy-to-use outdoor pizza oven that delivers authentic wood-fired pizza taste.
Weighing just 22 pounds, with folding legs for easy storage, the Fyra is an ultra-portable pizza oven that’s as great for backyard parties as it is for the campsite. The oven uses wood pellets rather than gas, so it doesn’t need to be plugged in or connected to a tank. Once you fire it up, the quick-heating design gets the temperature inside the oven up to 932°F, with the slim and domed design helping to retain — and maintain — heat while cooking.
Ooni says pizzas are ready to go in as little as 60 seconds, though we found 2-3 minutes to be the sweet spot for authentic, stone-baked Neapolitan-style pies. The 12-inch cooking surface gets you enough room to bake up a medium-sized pizza, while the 0.4-inch stone baking board ensures even heat distribution (note: you’ll want to keep turning the pizza while it’s cooking to make sure the flames don’t lick one side of the pie too aggressively).
Because of the high temperatures, be aware that the crust will rise — and rise quickly. It’s best to really roll out your dough and start with a thinner crust to see how much it will rise in the oven.
We like the slightly smokey flavor that the wood pellets create, which makes the oven great for baking flatbreads, vegetables and desserts too (skillet banana bread anyone?) The sleek design of the Fyra isn’t just for looks — it also makes the oven super energy-efficient, doubling the temperature of household ovens in 20 minutes or less. Everything is housed in a durable, insulated, powder-coated carbon steel shell that holds up to repeated use with ease.
BEST OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Philips Hue Lightstrip Outdoor
Elevate your backyard or patio this summer by installing a set of lightstrips to highlight your landscaping, fencing or the architecture of your house. This flexible, dimmable lightstrip gets you more than six million colors to rotate through — all controlled via a handy app on your phone. Choose from a warm glow for romantic dinners al fresco, or switch to a bright neon color for dancing into the night.
These lights are designed for the outdoors, with an IP67 rating for being dust-proof and waterproof. It won’t warp or lose its vibrance even after a heavy downpour. You’ll always have uniform, consistent, perfectly diffused lighting.
Philips Hue is one of the leading manufacturers of smart home lighting, and you can pair this lightstrip with the Philips Home Hub (a.k.a. the “bridge”) to unlock even more smart features, like the ability to control your lights using just your voice.
BEST POOL ACCESSORY: FUNBOY Golf Cart Pool Float
Anybody can toss a foam noodle or inflatable tube into their pool, but to really take your party to the next level, you’re going to want to pick up a couple pool floats from FUNBOY, one of the original purveyors of oversized, irreverent, pop culture-inspired water toys and accessories.
This limited-edition Golf Cart Pool Float has consistently been selling out, thanks to its large, shaded design (that comfortably seats two adults) and its Palm Springs-inspired design. FUNBOY says the “vehicle” has actually been designed with an integrated backrest, that supports your spine as you lounge, while giving you enough room to fully stretch out your legs. Two cup holders let you take your drinks into the pool with you.
Want another option for your pool? We like this Private Jet Float, which measures 95 inches long and gets you the PJ experience without having to fly the (currently unfriendly) skies.
BEST PORTABLE SPEAKER: JBL Boombox 2
Keep the tunes going (and going) with JBL’s loudest, most powerful portable speaker to date. The Boombox 2 delivers up to 24 hours of playtime with crystal clear audio and big, booming bass. Two 40-watt speakers are housed in a rugged, shock-proof casing that’s fully waterproof, with a large handle for easy carrying. The unique design of the speakers pushes sound out in all directions, for music you’ll be able to hear — and feel.
The Boombox 2 is our go-to speaker for pool parties and beach days, thanks to its extra-long battery life and durability. It’s held up to splashes and spills without damage, and the sound is unsurprisingly loud thanks to its big speakers and oversized unit. This is a boombox that’ll last you through this summer and for seasons to come.
WHAT TO PLAY: Rollors Backyard Game
You can’t go wrong with classic outdoor games like corn hole or ring toss, but right now, we’re tossing our pucks into the ring with Rollors, an original lawn game that combines the elements of horseshoes, bowling and bocce in a game of skill and luck.
Rollors was created by US Air Force veteran Matt Butler, who says he developed the idea while between deployments. Butler developed a prototype for the game in his garage upon his return from combat, and tested it out with fellow servicemen and servicewomen at parties and barbecues. It’s quickly become one of the most popular new games for outdoor play.
Rollors can be played on any level surface from grass to sand, and is suitable for the whole family. This set includes two goals, six disks (three red and three blue), a measuring device and storage bag.
WHAT TO DRINK: Hampton Water Rosé
If you can’t summer in the Hamptons, you might as well bring the Hamptons to you. That’s the thinking behind Hampton Water Wines, an award-winning wine company started by Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse Bongiovi, along with famed french wine maker, Gerard Bertrand. The light, easy-drinking rose is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes, and earned 90 points from both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast’s annual rankings.
You don’t have to be in the Hamptons to get your hands on a bottle of Hampton Water either. Order it through Drizly and get it delivered to your door in about an hour.
ALSO CONSIDER: Elysian Rolling Stone Beer
Prefer a cold one? Get your hands on Rolling Stone’s new craft beer collaboration with Elysian Brewing. The crisp, refreshing lager features hints of caramel and orange marmalade, with a moderate hop profile from Cascade, Crystal and Mandarina Bavaria hops. It’s clean and smooth, and pairs well with everything from chips to chops, making it the perfect drink for backyard hangs and barbecues.