The dark days of the competition barbeque off-season are almost behind us. Soon all the various BBQ internet forums will be abuzz with preparations for our version of the NFL season. Oh, how I love spring!
Given this, I am going to start a series of posts to address the first-time competitor. This year will only be my fourth competition season, so I vividly remember what it's like to be a newbie. I strongly feel that we veteran competitors should 'pay forward' what we've learned to help the next generation, so to speak.
I'll start this "Competition BBQ 101" series with my competition gear checklist. This is a comprehensive list of the stuff you will need, but there are some optional items. You will need to develop your own list as you gain experience. It's very much a process of trial and error, but this list includes everything you will need. Weather is often a huge factor at competitions, so pay particular attention to what additional stuff you might need to stay warm/cool/dry and comfortable.
I developed the checklist using the Smokin' Guns version as a starting point. My version covers both the "I have it" (H) and the "I've loaded it" (L) aspects. I use it as both a shopping/locating list and as a packing checklist. It also helps to take the checklist with you so that you can cross out items that you don't need or use. Your first time packing up after a competition will underscore this point.
The main point is not what checklist you use, but that you use one. Competition cooking is stressful enough as it is. You don't need the added stress of forgetting some gear in your rush to hit the road. I religiously use this checklist, even after three years of competing.
I hope you find this helpful.
How It Goes Down
Tips For Success
Q & A With a First-Time Competitor