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Beach gear we love: everything you need for a perfect day in the sand

There are plenty of summer days left on the horizon, and whether you’re traipsing to South Beach or lounging in Ibiza, our beach gear picks will help you make the most of them. From an ingenious blanket to a self-sifting bag to a cooler you can strap on your back, these nine items will have you beach-bound in no time.

A woman erects a tent on a beach while a shirtless man stares at the ground with a cooler; beach gear
Coleman's Shoreline Instant Shade shelter goes up quick for maximum beach comfort © Image courtesy of the Coleman Company

A pop-up shelter that offers a shady retreat

There’s such a thing as too much of a good time. When you need a break, a little shade goes a long way, and this Coleman shelter protects you from the elements. The poles are pre-attached so it’ll go up in a jiffy, and the tough polyguard fabric ensures 50+ UPF protection, so you can relax without fear of a sunburn. The floor zips up to create a changing room, and the window rolls up or down for privacy or ventilation, whichever need is most pressing. It comes with stakes and sandbags to anchor it down, and a handled bag to get it from the parking lot to the beach with ease.

A man and a woman lay on a beach blanket; beach gear
The Parasheet beach blanket uses sand to stay in place © Image courtesy of Grand Trunk

A packable blanket that stays in place

A blanket is an obvious essential, and this brightly colored number from Grand Trunk earned rave reviews from our tester. Made of quick-drying parachute nylon, it has corner pockets that fill with sand to weigh it down, so it stays put on a windy day, and the material is element proof, so sand and water shake right off when you’re done. Plus, it unfurls to a generous 7 by 7 feet – plenty of room for a family of four – but packs down to practically nothing, fitting nicely into the 7.5 by 4.5-inch stuff sack that’s attached to the edge.

A woman holding a red tote bag on a beach; beach gear
The protective materials of the Tote III bag keep water and sand away from your belongings © Image courtesy of CGear Sand-Free

A bag that keeps the sand where it belongs

A sturdy canvas tote is a summer standard, but it can also be heavy and awkward to carry for long distances. This zip-top tote from CGear Sand-Free is made from water- and mold-resistant nylon, with a dual-layer mesh-like weave at the bottom that sifts sand out when you leave the beach. Between the spacious interior and the outer pockets, it holds just as much as a traditional tote while weighing just under a pound and a half – so even if you cram in a full load of towels, books, and snacks, you shouldn’t walk away with sore shoulders.

A green camp chair; beach gear
Cascade Mountain Tech's ultralight camp chair is easy to bring along to the beach © Image courtesy of Cascade Mountain Tech

Lightweight seating that travels well

Juggling everything you need for a full day of fun can be an exercise in frustration, especially when unwieldy beach chairs are in the mix. Though this version from Cascade Mountain Tech was designed for camping, it works equally well in the sand. The high-backed seat holds up to 250 pounds, with a breathable mesh back that keeps you cool and an adjustable headrest that’s ideal for post-swim naps. Its aluminum shock-cord frame collapses to fit into a small carrying case you can sling over your arm, and at less than four pounds, it won’t be a pain to do so.

Two women in a sunny park with a backpack cooler on a beach towels, with palm trees in the distance; beach gear
The LifeProof cooler can hold 24 cans © Image courtesy of LifeProof

An easy-carry cooler that leaves your hands free

Hard-sided coolers are great if you don’t have far to go, but when you’re trekking through ever-shifting sand, they can be tough to manage. LifeProof’s backpack cooler holds 24 cans and keeps them cold for up to two days, and its well-padded shoulder straps make it a cinch to haul around. The chest strap provides extra support, and the built-in bottle opener means you’ll never have to remember where you left it. Two exterior pockets offer easy access to essentials, and a water bottle holder keeps you hydrated without conceding space in the main compartment.

LifeProof backpack cooler, $56 (regularly $70, on sale through August 5, 2019)

A product shot of an insulated mug; beach gear
This tough cup will keep beverages frosty on a hot beach day © Image courtesy of Proof

A stout cup that maintains cold temps

For those who prefer to consume their frosty beverages from something other than a can, Proof’s vacuum utility cups feature double-walled insulation with a medical-grade stainless steel liner, plus a sliding lid that prevents against spillage. Those high-quality, BPA-free materials resist corrosion and chloride more effectively than your average drinkware for a longer-lasting, tougher take on an old standby.

Product shot of sunglasses with blue lenses; beach gear
Rheos Gear's floating sunglasses come in dozens of styles and colors © Image courtesy of Rheos Gear

Unsinkable eyewear that rolls with the tide

Spending a day at the beach without a pair of shades is technically doable, but we certainly wouldn’t advise it. These floating sunglasses from Rheos Gear are some of our favorites, with eight styles and 35 colors for adults and kid sizes in a trio of primary colors, plus a basic black option for the young  fashionista in training. One note of caution: They may float, but they can still get carried away in the currents, so hang on tight if you brave the waves.

Product shot of goggles with funky designs; beach gear
For an eye-catching underwater look © Image courtesy of DaphDaph

An underwater essential that makes it fun

Why opt for a boring pair of elastic googles when you could go with a star-studded neoprene set instead? These eye-catching numbers from DaphDaph are a super-cute way to break the mold, with fog-free lenses, a textured rubber lining, and more than 30 designs to choose from. Each has a slot in the back for a ponytail and a bungee band on the side that eliminates the need for adjustments. If our guinea pigs are any indication, they play best with the under-five crowd, but they do come in two sizes that can accommodate ages six months to 10 years.

Product shot of Boho Beach Mineral Shimmer Sunscreen; beach gear
Boho Beach Mineral Shimmer Sunscreen adds a sparkle to a beach outing © Image courtesy of Sunshine & Glitter

Sun protection that truly shines

If you’ve ever wanted to sparkle in the sun like a Twilight vampire, now’s your chance. Sunshine & Glitter’s American-made sunscreen gets its shine from biodegradable wood-cellulose glitter—and it’s a formula that’ll give you a serious glow. The PABA and paraben-free formula provides broad-spectrum protection, with SPF 30+ guarding against UVA/UVB rays and an ingredient list that includes aloe, green tea extract, and argan oil, among others. It’s water-resistant for 80 minutes, which allows plenty of time for frolicking before you’ll need to reapply.