Arts & Culture

Game-Changing Beach Gear

Master a day on the sand without breaking a sweat

A day spent by the water can feel like a marathon—if you have children, especially, the “necessary” items tend to multiply. To add insult to injury, most of the beach gear I’m used to lugging across the hot sand here in Charleston is aggressively ugly. These five must-haves, however, don’t sacrifice beauty for their outstanding utility. Here are a few pro tips from my own experience: Use the insulated pocket on the beach chairs below for anything you want to keep totally dry (towels, sunscreen, phones, diapers) and save your food and drinks for the cooler. The cart is the best hack of all. Just throw it all in, and go.

Backpack Folding Beach Chair

A wooden backpack chair? Yeah, that sounds heavy. Not so with this design made by the Blue Ridge Chair Works artisans in Western North Carolina. The frame ticks in at thirteen pounds total, reclines at four different levels, and is far more durable and long-lasting than the aluminum varieties found in big box stores. But the smartest addition is the large insulated pocket—perfect for keeping everything you need for a day on the beach cold and/or watertight. $267;

Business and Pleasure Umbrella

This six-foot-wide, Slim Aarons–esque number offers a snazzy anecdote to flimsy, homely models ubiquitous on beaches everywhere. The shape (and the fringe!) nod to nostalgia and the sturdy design won’t blow away in a breeze. $299;

Hydro-Flask 24-L Soft Cooler Tote

I don’t usually get all fired up about coolers (I mean, they’re coolers). But I am obsessed with this one. It’s available in fun colors and so light—forty-eight ounces to be exact—and keeps every single item in it as cold as the fridge for up to two days. Plus, it’s super easy to rinse and clean. $275;

Sunnydaze Cart

This is my favorite beach cart of all time, which is why I can’t stop recommending it: It collapses flat, snaps back into place in less than a minute, and rolls easily over grass, sand, and gravel. I keep it in the trunk of my car all summer long for beach days, picnics, outdoor concerts, and any other event that might involve schlepping. $105;

Reyn Spooner Wave Print Performance Shirt

Hawaiian shirts, cheesy? Think again, thanks to this collaboration between the folks at the legendary Reyn Spooner—makers of the patterned shirts since 1956—and the Greenville, South Carolina–based Southern Tide. You can proudly wear this stylish wave print to the beach—it doesn’t scream at you. Perhaps that’s the reason my husband loves his so much. $110;

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