Team KCM’s Guide to Football Game Essentials

what to wear to a football game

From what to wear to what to bring to ensure you win.

With the first NFL preseason games fast approaching — and NCAA games close behind — the U.S. is gearing up to reenter football stadiums after a year with few or no fans in attendance. Experienced football fans might be ready to jump right back in the saddle, but for those of you looking forward to your first-ever game, we’ve come up with a few ideas to help you make the most of it. Get ready for a marathon day: Football games are generally about four hours long, and that’s not including travel time, traffic, parking, and, most important, tailgating. As long as you come prepared, you’ll love the entire exhausting experience. Read on for our top tips and products on what to wear and bring to a football game for a guaranteed win (well, when it comes to your comfort, at least).

What to Wear and Bring to a Football Game

Check the stadium’s bag policy

In the past several years, the NFL has adopted a clear bag policy restricting fans to bringing in only completely transparent bags no larger than 12 inches by 12 inches, or non-transparent clutches no larger than 6.5 inches by 4.5 inches. Many college stadiums have followed suit, though it’s best to do a quick search to confirm their exact rules. 

While such policies certainly speed up the security screening process, they also introduce new challenges for fans. The NFL sells team-branded bags, but not all of them are secured with a zipper. For a slightly more fashionable bag that can also work when traveling or going to events like concerts or festivals, try this event-compliant crossbody from Baggallini. It comes equipped with a quick access pocket for your phone and other small items, and it has an adjustable strap for easy carrying. 

As a final option for the light traveler, we’ve picked this phone sling from Dagne Dover, which has enough card pockets to keep you organized and can fit most of the essentials. It’s perfect for a night out, running errands, and game days alike!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Most stadiums won’t allow you to bring in outside food and drink, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to drink water throughout the day. Policies vary between stadiums, but most allow you to bring in an empty water bottle to be refilled or a factory-sealed disposable water bottle. Even if not, now is not the time to skimp on buying water. 

We’re big fans of the Larq self-cleaning and self-purifying water bottle, which is perfect for refilling with stadium tap water. For something a little more on-brand with your plans, go for S’well’s football bottle.

Layer up

The weather can change quite a bit from start to finish of your average game day, even if you’re arriving just before the game starts. If it starts raining or the temperature drops a few degrees when the sun goes down, you don’t want to be caught unprepared and cold. We’re loving Girlfriend Collective’s unisex Summit Track Jacket as the perfect go-to. It’s lightweight, water-resistant, wind-blocking, and made from 50 recycled plastic water bottles. We also recommend dressing in more layers than you think you’ll need as the season goes on and bringing blankets into the stadium. Blankets are always allowed, no matter the bag policy.

Vests are great for layering, and we’re big fans of this Lululemon vest that’s squish-friendly and can fit into your stadium-approved bag.

Give your feet some TLC

Between walking from distant parking garages and lots to waiting in lines for the entrance and restroom, football games involve a lot of time on your feet. Make sure you’re as comfortable as possible with supportive sneakers you can truly wear all day. Cariuma’s IBI Sneakers come in men’s and women’s sizes and fit the bill perfectly: The ultra-light shoes are made from bamboo and recycled plastics, and they’re machine-washable to make post-game clean up easier. Plus, they come in a bunch of fun colors that make it easy to show some team spirit. Pair them with Feetures high-performance cushion socks for a footwear experience that will keep you feeling 100 percent all day.

Protect your face

A three-hour game plus tailgating means a full day of UV exposure, even if it’s cloudy or cold. We should all be wearing sunscreen every day, and it’s particularly important at long sporting events. For a super portable option that can fit in even the smallest clutch or pocket, go with the Supergoop Cloud 9 Sun Balm. The all-mineral, SPF 40 sunblock glides on to moisturize and protect sensitive, dry skin without any harmful chemicals. Don’t forget your lips either, since they’re extremely sensitive to the sun and should always have a layer of SPF lip balm.

Rep your team

Football games are no time for subtlety. Don’t be afraid to go all out with team hair ties, jewelry, hats, and jerseys — in this situation, more is more. Head over to the NFL Shop to find official gear, and check out sites like Etsy and Redbubble for vintage or quirky finds. For your favorite college teams, check out their bookstore websites for a range of apparel and accessories you’ll want to wear all year.

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