Seven Picnic Essentials

The blue skies and green grass mean one thing: it's prime picnic season. From blanket to cheese, here's what you need to do it right.

Words by Kevin Gray

As we leave behind the rainy beginnings of spring and find ourselves with long sunny days and time to waste, one thing is certain: we’re smack dab in the middle of picnic season, which means it’s time to gather our favorite people into the car and pack up some summery provisions for the noble pursuit of eating outdoors.

As regular practitioners in the art of al fresco feasting ourselves, we’re here to help with seven items—from food to drink to games—that’ll take your picnic to the next level.

Tote Bag

For starters, you’ll need a vessel to hold everything. Baskets are a classic. So if you have one, go nuts. Barring that, your next best bet is a sturdy bag, like a tote. It’s easy to carry and you can throw it over your shoulder, freeing up a hand to carry other things. Like a second tote. Filled with rosé. Available here.

Colorblock Throw

One of the primary tenets of picnicking is eating on the ground, but not on the actual ground. You want a barrier between you and Mother Earth, so enter this blanket. The muted natural colors mean it can handle a few grass and dirt stains, and it’s so soft you’ll feel like you’re floating on a cloud instead of doing essentially the exact opposite. Available here.

image courtesy of Belcampo Meat Co.

Belcampo by Mario Batali ‘Nduja

‘Nduja is an Italian spreadable pork sausage spiced with chilies and pickled red anise. This one is a collaboration between one of California’s finest meat purveyors and Mr. Mario Batali himself. We’re positive whatever bread you spread this on has never had it so good. Available here.

image courtesy of Uplands Cheese

Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese

When selecting cheese for your picnic, why not look to the place best known for it: Wisconsin; specifically the dairy farm that’s home to Uplands Cheese. The folks there make Pleasant Ridge Reserve, the most awarded cheese in America – and it’s made from grass-fed milk. Which is something you could tell your fellow picnic-goers while they eat it. You could also just let them enjoy it. Available here.

image courtesy of Dean & DeLuca

Oregon Strawberry Preserves

For a little something sweet, try this delicious jam from Oregon’s Clearbrook Farms. It’s made from real, grade A fruit and skips all the high fructose corn syrup and artificial additives. That lets those natural flavors shine through—which is great, because Oregon grows some of the best strawberries in the country. Just ask anyone from Oregon! Available from Dean & DeLuca here.

image courtesy of Stanley

Stanley Classic Vacuum Growler

As for the beer drinkers among us, here’s a portable Stanley growler that holds a whopping 64 ounces. Thanks to its vacuum insulated body and foam insulated lid, this vessel will keep draft beer cold for 24 hours. It works to keep coffee warm, too, should your morning ever require 8 cups of coffee. Available here.

image courtesy of Homage

Homage Frisbee

As good as snacking while lounging is, you can’t do it all day. (Okay, some of us can.) For the rest of you we suggest tossing around this Homage Frisbee. If you take it seriously, it’s the official weight for USA Ultimate tournaments—175 grams. If you don’t, take solace in the fact that it looks good. Available here.