25 Must-Have Items to Hit the Beach Like a Pro This Summer
From portable coolers to waterproof speakers, here’s everything you need for the ultimate beach hang.
In the blistering summer heat, nothing beats a beach day with your friends—especially if you have plenty of cold drinks, solid snacks, and good music. Picture it: sun, sand, and you, perfectly relaxed.
To get there, you’ll need a few supplies to do it right. After all, is there anything worse than a sandy towel, warm beer, and an umbrella that keeps blowing away? So, we’ve pulled together a selection of must-haves and should-haves to keep you comfortable, cool, thirst-quenched, and entertained all day long.
The Hauling Must-Haves
Although some minimalists may be content taking a simple towel and a book to the beach, we’re partial to a slightly more bountiful spread of stuff to stay hydrated, well-fed, comfortable, and entertained all day long. That, of course, requires quite a bit more stuff. Consider investing in something sturdy and durable to haul your load of gear from the car to your patch of sand without looking like a sweaty human Christmas tree decorated with towels, umbrellas, and coolers.
Yes, we know this says it’s for kids—and it can be. But it also makes an amazing way to haul all your stuff to the beach. Because we’ve all been there—struggling to carry a million things to the sand from the car, and dropping things along the way like a trail of breadcrumbs. You’ll struggle no longer with this durable, spacious wagon that will holds up to 110 pounds, has puncture-proof wheels that work on any terrain, a removable center console with two cup holders and storage pocket, and plenty of outside pockets for even more storage. This wagon can hold everything from your towels to your cooler to your chairs—and yes, even a kid or two if you want.
You spot these iconic L.L. Bean totes everywhere for a good reason: They’re sturdy, long-lasting, and can carry a crap-ton of stuff. They’re made from heavy duty canvas, have a 3,400 cubic inch capacity, and come in five different colorways. (You can even get them monogrammed if you want!)
A proper (and properly stocked) cooler is a must-have if you’re going to be sitting in the sun all day, and we’re huge fans of the Snow Peak soft cooler. Not only is it roomy (you get 3.5 gallons of space to stuff your booze and cold nibbles), but it also has a nylon strap, which makes it a whole lot easier to haul across hot sand and parking lots compared to standard rigid coolers. Plus, it’s totally leak-proof and will keep your food and drinks ice cold.
This two-in-one bag unfolds into a large terrycloth towel and it has an inflatable pillow—instant relaxation. Best of all, when it’s in bag form, it’s still roomy enough to fit other must-haves, like magazines, sunscreen, and even a few snacks. It comes in eye-catching fluorescent green and neutral beige, which are both super stylish.
After a long day at the beach, you’re bound to have some wet items you need to get back home. But if you just toss them into any old bag, they’ll soak whatever else is in there, too. Unless you have one of these babies, which will hold anything wet and keep it from leaking onto the rest of your stuff. It also does double duty as the perfect place to stash sunscreen, aloe, and other liquids, so if they spill they don’t get on anything else.
The Core Comforts
Second only to staking out a great spot in the sand, any good beach hang requires a solid— and quite literal—foundation of living space, from the mats and umbrellas you set up, to the type of towels you bring. Here are a few essentials to ensure hours of comfort.
We may not know everything, but we do know that a picnic blanket littered with damp sand can really kill your vibe. To avoid such inconveniences, toss this 6.5’x6.5’ sand-free mat under your layabout area. It’s made from lightweight polyester, dries quickly, and is woven in such a way that any sand that lands on it will simply fall through.
Taking a raggedy bath towel to the beach? In a pinch, sure that will work. However, if you’re going to be lounging properly, you need something sturdy, large, and super-soft that’s specifically designed to sit out in the sun and under your saltwater-soaked skin. Enter: the Pendleton Oversized Jacquard Towel. It’s large, made from super soft cotton velour, and comes in 11 different standout pattern designs that’ll make it easy to spot your stuff after taking a dip.
If you want to stay somewhat cool when the sun is at its hottest, a high-quality beach umbrella that won’t blow away is crucial. This 7-foot-tall blue one with a telescoping pole from Tommy Bahama is a classic with an extra large canopy.
If you’re beaching with a group, you’ll need multiple umbrellas to ensure sun protection for everyone. Or, you could bring along this sweet cabana (which comes in 43- and 64-square-foot sizes) that will give you ample shaded space for your whole crew. All you need to do is pop up the single center pole and then fill the four side pockets at the bases with sand, and it won’t be able to blow away. Plus, it easily folds up to fit in a sleek carrying bag with handles, so it’s as easy to tote around as an umbrella.
Sun protection is serious business—but so is protecting ocean life, and many sunscreens can damage coral reefs. So a hard-working sunscreen that’s safe for your skin and underwater reefs is a must, and thankfully Zealios’s zinc oxide sunscreen fits the bill. It also dries clear so you won’t have weird white streaks on your face. And, it helps you reapply less often—it holds the highest FDA water resistance rating of 80 minutes. So go ahead and swim (and sweat) a little!
The Laidback Lounging Options
A good towel/mat/tent set-up is critical. But if you’re going to be splayed out on the sand during the hottest hours of the day, you ought to double down on comfort.
These are padded and extra comfy, with a movable neck pillow and a built-in cup-holder. Plan on doing a little reading and sleeping? The chair adjusts to five different positions, from upright to full recline.
Ever stare out at the ocean and wish you had a sofa to lounge on while sipping your margarita? Good news: You can bring one with you next time, and easily. The Lamzac is an inflatable chair/sofa (large enough for two people) made from parachute material that literally fills with air in seconds and doesn’t require a pump.
This brightly colored folding chair is light and easy to tote around, thanks to backpack straps and an attached bag in the back for a few more essentials. It also collapses into a small profile, making it easy to store in cramped places when not in use. Best of all, it’s one of the cheapest backpack chairs we’ve seen—but it is low to the ground, so take note if you’ve got bad knees.
You know what you need with your chair set-up? That’s right, a table. While it may seem a little extra, once you pop this baby open and set your beer or wine on it, you’ll never go back to a table-free beach day again.
The Refreshing Requisites
There’s nothing worse than going for a sip only to suck down some lukewarm sandy water or rosé. There are better ways, and they involve these top-notch insulated vessels. They’re well worth the investment, and will serve you well for years of hot, hot beach days ahead.
Beyond its impressive coolers, YETI has an expansive line-up of incredibly well insulated tumblers and mugs that will keep your beverages cold for hours. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, and will ensure the next sip you take from your water/cocktail will be as refreshing as the one before it, even on days when the outside temp is outrageous.
If you’re planning to bring a 12-pack of cans or bottles with you and want to ensure they’re crispy cold in the heat as you’re sipping, Hydro Flask’s Cooler Cup is the move. Simply slip in any standard 12-ounce can or bottle into its snug insulated silicone sleeve, and it’ll stay cold in your hand for at least as long as it takes you to finish it.
Keeping a full bottle of wine at the perfect temp in the heat is a challenge, but Hydro Flask has a solution to precisely that problem. This 25-ounce bottle is big enough to hold an entire bottle of wine, and features insulated double-walls to ensure it remains at whatever temperature you initially put it in at, all day long.
Getting sand in your drink sucks. This nifty gadget helps prevent that by giving you a protected place to stow your bottle or cup, or even your phone, sunglasses, and other small items. The bottom is a cylinder-shaped cone that makes it simple to stick into the sand without it falling over. No more sandy drinks!
The Sound and Power Essentials
A good beach hang always has a soundtrack, so you’re going to need a great speaker to pump up the jams all day long. And since you’ll likely be on your phone DJing/texting coordinates/obsessively posting Instagram stories, you’ll also need a backup power source to keep you properly juiced.
For our money, there are no better ultra-portable and durable Bluetooth speakers out there. The UE Boom 2 is incredibly easy to transport (it’s the size of a large coffee cup), has great battery life, handles water splashes and sand like a champ, and can get really, really loud with nearly no audio distortion.
If you are really serious about your sound, this durable and fully waterproof hi-fi speaker is your friend. It’s Bluetooth compatible and the sound quality is pretty much unmatched for something so portable. It has a 20-hour rechargeable battery, two full range drivers, and a bass radiator. And did we mention it floats? Yes. It floats.
It’s tough to spot your friends at the beach in general, and it’s a whole lot tougher if your phone is dead and you can’t send coordinates. Protect yourself from that headache (and ensure you’ll be able to keep your music pumping all day) with a nifty mini backup battery like this slim one from Anker. It’s deceptively powerful, and can recharge an iPhone up to seven times.
Let the Games Begin
Some friendly competition on the sand is always welcome, especially if you’re getting a bit bored or just need an excuse to move around after laying sedentary on your towel for hours. There are countless games and “sports” perfect for the beach, but we’re here to highlight some of our favorites.
If you’ve ever watched people playing Spikeball and wondered if smacking a ball on a mini trampoline is really as fun as they make it look, rest assured it is. It’s addicting and great for groups.
If cornhole and bocce ball were to have a child, and that child lived on the sand, it would be TidalBall. The game combines the throwing and placing objectives of the two classic games into a perfect blend that allows you to carve out your “court” in the sand.
Corn hole is wonderful, but the boards can be a bit cumbersome and tough to transport all the way to the beach. Not so with this version, since the boards are fully collapsible and fold up into a small disc-shaped pouch that—along with the bags—weighs under five pounds.
If playing catch sounds a little basic, this classic Israeli beach paddle game adds a little oomph. The two wooden paddles and small ball will keep you and your buddy entertained as you try to keep the ball aloft (and prevent it from getting swept away by the waves), kind of like table tennis, minus the table.