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The Best Gear to Take to a Drive-In Movie Theater

Instead of enjoying a blockbuster at a multiplex this summer, moviegoers are turning to a retro outdoor classic: the drive-in theater. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, drive-ins offer fresh air, ample room for social distancing, and a fun, family-friendly activity. (Be sure to check your theater’s protocols before you go.)

I recently drove 75 miles from my home in the suburbs of Washington, DC, to Stephens City, Virginia, to take in a double feature (Jurassic Park and Jaws) at the Family Drive-In Theatre—the only permanent drive-in theater open in the northern part of the state. It was a picturesque evening with clear skies, warm (not humid) weather, and families enjoying a rare outing. For a moment, life felt normal again.

My night at the drive-in was one of the nicest I’ve spent during quarantine. The key to a similar experience? Preparation. Here are a few essentials (and some fun extras) to help you make the most of your movie night under the stars.

From comfy seating to Sawyer Picaridin, check out Justin Redman's Drive-In essentials here.

LAST UPDATED

May 7, 2022

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Wirecutter

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We strive to be the most trusted product recommendation service around, and we work with total editorial independence. We won’t post a recommendation unless our writers and editors have deemed something the best through rigorous reporting and testing.

MEDIA MENTIONS

My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!

Anna Hamrick

MEDIA MENTIONS

Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.

Pete Ortiz
Writer

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere