How to Tailgate With an Electric Pickup Truck

Electrify your game day! With power galore, the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV pickup, and Rivian R1T offer versatile storage and pre-game party utility.

F-150 Lightning powering tailgating festivitiesFord

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The great American tradition of tailgating takes a step into the future with the advent of the first wave of all-electric pickup trucks — and your game-day gathering will never be the same.

Football fans across the country can learn from the electrified versatility, unique storage, and adaptable setup provided by the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning, the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup, and the 2022 Rivian R1T pickup.

Each electric pickup truck provides a combination of onboard power outlets and innovative bed and storage configurations. Plus, you’ll look cool lighting up the stadium parking lot with no internal-combustion exhaust to foul the festive mood.

Here are some unique features of the three electric pickups for sale today, plus some electrified tailgating tools and toys that will make your outdoor gathering the best.

2022 Ford F-150 LightningFord

Ride the Lightning with Ford’s F-150

Ford’s $59,000 entry to the pigskin party scene is revolutionary not only for how the brand reimagined the already tailgate-party-practical F-150 but also for the remarkable ways you can use the vehicle’s up-to-131-kWh battery system while the truck is parked.

Though it may have a funny name, the Lightning’s Mega Power Frunk — a front trunk in the space that previously held the engine in a standard gasoline model — is a real winner in tailgating versatility.

2022 Ford F-150 LightningFord

Pop the hood, and you have a 14-cu.-ft. storage space that can tote as much game-day gear as a small sedan. The space also has a drain plug, so it can be loaded with ice and used as a gigantic beverage cooler.

The frunk features four 120-volt plugs and USB-A and -C charging outlets, allowing you to charge your mobile devices and run a huge range of corded accessories.

Upgrade to the Pro Power Onboard system and the Lightning also gets a 240-volt power outlet, and the ability to offload enough of the battery’s stored charge to power a home if there’s a power outage. The system is so versatile that power utilities such as Duke Energy offer buyers incentives to help feed power back into the grid when not running blenders and outdoor pizza ovens in pre-game parking lots.

Not satisfied with Lightning’s available 15.5-inch in-cab infotainment screen? You could use all that power to add a DishTV Playmaker miniaturized satellite TV receiver to the bed rail and a widescreen TV to turn your 5.5-foot truck bed into a portable sports bar on game day.

2022 GMC Hummer EVGMC

Bigger is better with the GMC Hummer EV

No matter where you park, you’re likely to draw a crowd with the massive GMC Hummer EV truck, the first in a line of new General Motors electrified full-size vehicles, priced at nearly $111,000 for its sold-out 2022 Edition 1 model. With its mix of reconfigurable bed options and plentiful outlets, you might even overcome the reality that the Hummer’s equally massive 212.7-kWh battery costs as much as $100 to charge at some EV stations and weighs almost 3,000 pounds on its own.

Like the Lightning, Hummer offers an 11.3-sq.-ft. front trunk for additional storage, with a slightly shorter 5-foot bed for all of your tailgating gear. You’ll still find the 216.8-inch overall length almost as long as that cornhole game you’ll be playing, burger in hand.

2022 GMC Hummer EVGMC

The Hummer truck comes standard with the MultiPro Tailgate, which flips, flops, and folds into various configurations. You can also equip the MultiPro with an optional weatherproof Kicker tailgate audio system.

On future Hummer models, GMC has promised the Power Station system that will also provide 240-volt power or even a 6-kW mode, enough to charge other EVs after the game. In the meantime, use the 12-volt outlets in the cab or the bed to power everything from an electric grill to a coffee maker.

If you’re really in the mood to show off to your fellow football fans, you can put on a demonstration of the Hummer’s diagonal crabwalk functionality or even go semi-topless by removing the Infinity Roof sky panels. Alternately, use the “extract mode” to automatically lift the Hummer’s chassis and all of your cheering friends’ party cups another six inches off the ground.

2022 Rivian R1TRivian

Rivian’s R1T is designed for social gatherings

With more of Rivian’s $73,000 R1T Adventure trim trucks hitting the streets, you could start finding the ultra-versatile electric pickup at a tailgate party near you.

The truck will eventually have three possible power configurations, with its current Standard pack featuring a 135-kWh battery, giving the truck more than 260 miles of range. Rivian’s pickup is outfitted with four 120-volt outlets, two 12-volt plugs, and six USB outlets, more than enough to power nearly every game-day gadget you can carry. In the bed, two of those 120-volt plugs are located next to a built-in air compressor you could also use for blowing up beach balls or inflatable furniture.

2022 Rivian R1TRivian

While the R1T’s bed is the shortest of the bunch, at 54.1 inches, the electric truck’s designers have created a one-of-a-kind, 11-cu.-ft. “gear tunnel” located behind the cab and in front of the bed, with power outlets inside. Fold-down doors on both sides of the tunnel can hold 250 pounds of seated partygoers.

Underneath a flip-up panel in the bed, you’ll also find a covered storage bin with a drain plug, another place to stash a load of iced game-time beverages, no cooler required. The R1T also has an 11-cu.-ft. front trunk stowage, part of a total 62 cu.-ft. of covered storage in the truck.

Rivian has teased an optional, fully pre-configured camp kitchen module with a gas stove, a built-in sink, a water tank, and plenty of drawers for utensils, built to slide easily in and out of the gear tunnel.

Nervous about leaving your BBQ and gear when you go into the stadium? Rivian’s Rear Guard electronic tie-down system can alert you via an app if someone tries to steal your carefully secured stuff. You can also remotely keep an eye on your gear (or leftover partygoers) with the in-bed camera.

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Andy Stonehouse
Andy Stonehouse literally fell into the world of auto writing while working as a ski-town journalist, and has not looked back since. A childhood spent dealing with the eccentricities of a 1976 MG Midget has made any subsequent auto experience a more safe and reliable drive. He has been blessed with nearby mountain trails and snowy roads in Colorado to do TV-adventure-styled test drives on a weekly basis.