Why is the word “picnic” synonymous with easy? Lugging stuff around, keeping it cold (or hot), trying not to forget anything (“No one brought forks?!”). We’ll just say it: A picnic is no picnic! Unless you have this lifesaving gear and our elevated-but-easy recipes that make the experience more “alfresco” and less “al frustrating.”

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Chicken Shawarma Drumsticks
Photography by Dan Saelinger
| Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger

Picnic Game Changer #1: A charcoal grill that you can throw over your shoulder

You could get up at dawn to stake your claim on the communal park grill. Or you could bow out of the turf war and bring the sleek Groovebox Portable Barbecue instead. With its collapsible design and waterproof bag, this small- yet-mighty grill—great for skewers, burgers and more—certainly travels well. $72, grooveboxliving.com

Bambu Utensil Travel Set
Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger

Picnic Game Changer #2: A set of utensils that can actually cut your food 

Plastic flatware rarely gets the job done, so ditch the flimsy stuff in favor of Bambu Utensil Travel Sets with Eco-Conscious Pouches. The reusable bamboo fork and knife will power through anything short of a skirt steak and fancy up those paper plates a bit. $13 each, bambuhome.com

Romaine Wedge Salad with Hearts of Palm Dressing
Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger
Bees Wrap Sandwich Wraps
These wrappers come in various sizes, including one built to hold a whole baguette!
| Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger

Picnic Game Changer #3: Reusable wrappers that make soggy sandwiches a thing of the past 

The last thing you want to bring to a picnic is a lot of bulky containers. Or sweaty food. Or an excuse for your eco-minded pal to scold you (again). Enter Bee's Wrap Sandwich Wraps, compostable beeswax-infused organic-cotton cloths that keep sandwiches fresh, fold flat for the trip home, are washable and will last for about a year. Take that, green police! $10 each, beeswrap.com

Prosciutto & Smoked Mozzarella Muffuletta
Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger
Hydro Flask
Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger

Picnic Game Changer #4: A hot/cold insulated bottle that holds enough soup for a group 

It may look like a typical water bottle, but the Hydro Flask 64 Oz. Wide Mouth is a big old tank that's built to last. Keep chilled soup, lemonade, tea or something stronger ice cold until the sun goes down. $60, hydroflask.com

Chilled Red Pepper & Carrot Soup with Yogurt
Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger
Picnic Time Ottoman Cooler with Trolley
Slide food and other dry goods out of the cooler using its drop-down front panel.
| Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger

Picnic Game Changer #5: A collapsible cooler That’s strong enough to sit on but still super mobile

Roomy enough to stash 24 cans, the collapsible Picnic Time Ottoman Cooler with Trolley isn't a drag to drag thanks to an easy-wheeling suitcase-style trolley. But while it weighs just over six pounds (before you fill it with rosé), it's no lightweight. Sit down on the cushioned top and impress everyone by grabbing your dessert through the front-panel door without even getting up. $85, picnictime.com

Chocolate Cream Slab Pie
Credit: Photography by Dan Saelinger