With international and even domestic travel currently at an all-time low (at least in our lifetimes), summer staycations are more popular than ever.
For us, the best staycations are all about water.
Whether you live near a lake (as we do) or a beach, spending a day on the water, surrounded by nature, has a way of washing away the stress and/or boredom of our normal daily routines.
But making the most of a staycation near you still requires planning and packing everything you need for a fun day in the sun.
From cabanas and hammocks to coolers, sunglasses, and fishing gear, our guide to the best beach gear and lake essentials offers plenty of excellent ideas for a staycation you’ll remember.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List
BEST BEACH GEAR & LAKE ESSENTIALS GUIDE
- Sandals/Water Shoes
- Fishing Gear
- Miscellaneous Beach Gear
- Other Summer Staycation Gear
Crua Hybrid Tent/Hammock
Their ultrathin DuraBreathe fabric resists the conductive flow of heat, insulating approximately 19 times better than most conventional tents and 150% better than a deluxe camping mattress.
Crua’s tent/hammock hybrid gives you options for using it on the ground or suspended in the air. It’s got an integrated bugproof mesh that allows fresh air while keeping pests out, and a waterproof flysheet to protect the inside from rain (or overexuberant splashing).
Weighing 5 pounds and offering 20 sq ft of floorspace, this cocoon-like combo is great beach camping gear. We especially love the reflective aluminum lining on the flysheet, which helps to keep it warmer in winter and cooler when summer temps start to soar.
READ MORE: The Best Backcountry Camping Gear
Tentsile T-Mini 2-Person Double Hammock
Another cool hybrid concept from Crua Outdoors, the HoverChair combines the laidback relaxation of a hammock with the cozy comfort of your favorite camp chair.
Available in two colors (blue or green) and easy to set up in a matter of minutes, the HoverChair is great for a day at the lake or beach, offering unobstructed 360º views.
The air-cushioned seat and breathable back support make it comfortable to sit in even on the hottest summer days.
And we love the thoughtful attention to details, such as the attached bottle sleeve and pockets large enough to hold your phone, wallet, keys, book, and other small items.
READ MORE: The 20 Largest Lakes in the World
Igloo 70 qt Trailmate Journey Cooler
Our travels have taken us to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, including the Greek Islands, Tahiti and Coron, Palawan. But when we’re not exploring distant lands, you can usually find us savoring staycations at the lake 3 to 4 days a week.
Lugging armloads of food, drink, towels, and all the other things we take to the lake has always been a literal pain. But the 70-quart Trailmate Journey Cooler from Igloo makes schlepping stuff from the car to our dock simple, even on rugged, uneven terrain.
The oversized wheels and stainless steel/aluminum construction ensure the cooler can handle anything from sand and water to mud and gravel with ease. The interior can hold up to 112 12-oz cans, with Igloo’s Ultratherm Technology keeping it cold for up to 4 days.
It’s got a ton of unique features, but our favorites include the built-in bottle openers, butler tray, cup holders, food basket, and mobile device stand. The dry storage area and webbed outside pocket are also great for storing phone, keys, sunscreen, and other small beach or lake essentials.
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Hobie Large Fish Bag / Soft Cooler
Orca 40 Quart Cooler
If your list of things to take to the beach includes a more traditional cooler, this 40-quart behemoth from Orca is an impressively durable option.
The rugged roto-molded construction is designed to withstand any punishment your staycation adventures can dish out.
The lid gasket seal and integrated insulation promises to keep your food and drinks icy cold for up to 10 days, with an easy-flow spout for draining water once the ice melts. In addition to the interior (around 19″ x 12″ x 11.5″), there’s a cargo net attachment for extra storage.
The cooler boasts extendable flex-grip handles for carrying. But if there’s a downside, it’s the fact that the cooler weighs a whopping 30 pounds before you even fill it with ice and beverages.
Some wheels and a handle would make it much more manageable.
READ MORE: The 40 Best Backpacks for Travelers
Body Glove Flourish Eco-Conscious Bikini
Kenny Flowers Sahara Reversible Swimsuit
If you’re looking for a comfortable, versatile, ethically made women’s bathing suit, the Sahara from Kenny Flowers is the perfect addition to your next beach trip.
The anti-chlorine and salt-resistant technology allow this cute one-piece to keep its color and shape, unlike most bathing suits off of the rack at your local store.
The suit is also reversible, with a cute leopard print on one side and a basic black on the other. Both designs work well with its high-legged, low-back cut to give you a very retro vibe while you’re soaking up the sun.
Speaking of soaking up the sun, this bathing suit is also built with SPF 30+ sun-protective fabric to keep you looking your best and keep you safe from burn.
Vilebrequin Fames Swimwear
Bondi Joe Swim Trunks
BodyGlove Men’s Boardwalk Short
Towels & Beach Blankets
Sand Cloud Towels
Sand Cloud’s 100% Turkish Cotton beach towels are some of the softest we’ve ever used for drying off after swimming or surfing.
Due to the fine material used, they’re much stronger and more absorbent than typical beach towels made out of terrycloth. Plus, Sand Cloud’s towels are sand resistant and dry very quickly.
These gorgeous towels come in Sea Turtle, Whale Shark, and other cool prints, and 10% of the profits go towards marine conservation. So you can have a functional, stylish towel while also helping to protect marine life.
You can also use this towel at home: Measuring approximately 38″ x 64″, it’s large enough to use as a towel or small throw cover!
READ MORE: 70 Weird Animals Around the World
Teema towels also offer a large range of styles, all of which dry quickly, are lightweight and portable, and repel sand.
Measuring 38″ x 70″, they’re much larger than standard towels, yet they weigh just 12 oz and take up less space.
They’re handmade by seamstresses in Southwestern Turkey, so each towel is unique. There are currently 6 different design styles, including diamante, simple, waffle, labyrinth, layers, and tribal.
Regardless of which design you choose, all of the Teema towels are comfortable, versatile, and made to last for years to come.
Original Monster Towel
Though the manufacturers may refer to it as a towel, the Monster Towel measures an astounding 100 square feet (10′ square).
So you can easily fit multiple people on it at the beach, yet it also folds up into a compact roll. But don’t be fooled by how thin the fabric is: It’s highly absorbent and extremely soft, since it’s made out of microfiber.
The Monster Towel also includes corner pockets to hide your phone and other valuables, as well as a strap to carry when it’s rolled up.
Despite being larger than a King sized bed, it’s surprisingly easy to transport to your next staycation (or vacation) destination.
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Dragon Baile H2O Sunglasses
Available in two colors (including black and gray with blue lenses), Dragon‘s Baile H2O sunglasses will make a wonderfully stylish accessory for your next beach trip.
Made in collaboration with champion surfer Mick Fanning, these glasses actually repel water, so you can wear these while you swim without worrying. They also repel dirt, dust, and oil.
We love that these sunglasses are very lightweight and scratch-resistant, so you can keep a crystal-clear view when you’re out on the water.
They’re also timelessly stylish and unisex, so anyone can enjoy them!
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Julbo Aerolite & Outline
One of our favorite eyewear brands, Julbo‘s new Aerolite and Outline sunglasses both have wraparound lenses for full protection, while still allowing for full vision.
The Outline glasses come in colors such as red, green, yellow, and black, while the Aerolite glasses come in blue, green, black, and white.
The Outlines can also be fitted to work with prescription lenses, and fit well under a helmet for cycling or skateboarding.
Both the Aerolite and Outline are made of polycarbonate, which is rugged and durable enough to withstand all outdoor activities. They’re also well vented, to prevent fogging.
READ MORE: Cycling South Koster Island, Sweden
Ombraz Armless Sunglasses
A 2019 Backpacker Editors’ Choice, these incredibly unique Armless Sunglasses from Ombraz have a built-in cord to tighten or loosen the fit .
You can choose from three different styles of frames– with classic, dolomite, and leggero lens styles–as well as three different frame colors and polarized lens colors.
These high-quality glasses are lightweight and durable, scratch-resistant and smudge-resistant. So they’re a perfect choice for all your outdoor recreation adventures.
The addition of the cord and a wider nose pad makes these glasses comfortable enough to be worn for hours. Without the traditional arms, they avoid the typical headaches some glasses can cause.
Also, Ombraz plants 20 mangrove trees (which help to protect beaches and barrier islands) for every pair sold. So you can look stylish and help the environment at the same time!
Spy Optic Fiona & Julep Sunglasses
Spy Optic is one of our favorite brands of sunglasses because of their fun approach to fashionable eyewear.
For example, just take a look at their Fiona and Julep styles, which are both adorably stylish, but also keep your eyes protected.
The Juleps come in red, white, and clear, with a cute, vintage cat-eye shape. The Fionas come in a variety of colors, including blue, clear, black, and gray.
These cute Spy Optic sunglasses offer 100% UV protection for your eyes from the long-term damage of prolonged sun exposure.
Made out of polycarbonate, they’re lightweight and durable enough to become your new favorite go-to staycation/vacation shades!
Zeal Optics Morrison Sunglasses
Zeal Optics went above and beyond with their new Morrison sunglasses, which can be used for regular shades or eyewear prescriptions.
The lenses are unique because they use what they call Auto Sun technology: They provide polarized protection in the daylight, and but lighten when it gets darker to allow you to see at night.
These sunglasses are surprisingly lightweight, yet comfortable and durable enough for extended wear (they even come with a two-year warranty).
They’re intended for outdoor adventures ranging from fishing and mountain biking to casual hikes, but of course they’re also great for a day at the beach!
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Sandals & Water Shoes
Vionic Women’s Amber Adjustable Sandal & Men’s Leo Sandal
After stepping on the business end of a 6-inch lightning whelk shell in Sanibel Island one year, I really learned the value of a good pair of water shoes.
Vionic has a variety of stylish sandals and water shoes that balance fashion and function, including the Amber adjustable sandal for women and the Leo sandal for men. Like all Vionic shoes, both offer “Three-Zone Comfort” and exceptional arch support.
The Amber sandals come in gold cork (our favorite) and black, with an EVA midsole to absorb shock and reduce stress on your feet, legs and back. From a style standpoint, we also love the cute flowers on the soles of the shoes.
The Leo sandals for men come in black and brown are a bit more basic style-wise, but they also boast an EVA footbed to provide stability, support, and comfort.
READ MORE: The 50 Best Travel Shoes for Women & Men
Vines Harmony Sandal
If you’re looking for eco-friendly shoes to suit your laid-back staycation style, the Harmony X sandals for women from Vines Islandwear are an extremely comfortable option.
The company was originally based in the US Virgin Islands, and their sandals are ethically made by women, for women.
These attractive sandals are vegan-friendly, with black, white, and sand-colored polyester braids. The soles are made of recycled tire rubber, with a lovely scent infused inside it to give the sandals a tropical smell.
They’re perfect beach sandals, but they’re also comfortable and fashionable enough for everyday wear. The neutral colors will pair well with just about anything!
READ MORE: The 20 Best Vegan Boots for Women & Men
Cudas Aruba Water Shoe
These cute Mary Jane-style water shoes from Cudas will keep your feet safe in the water and on land.
The Arubas are made with an elastic strap and a dual sole, so your foot can flex while also having a solid grip over many types of terrain.
They’re really lightweight, and made with mesh so they’re breathable and quick-drying. With their classic style, they’re also versatile enough to wear in the water or to dinner.
The shoes come in black, pink, navy, and gray, so they can complement all types of outfits. Plus, the EVA insole is removable, so you can clean and drain them whenever it’s needed!
Keen Women’s Astoria West Sandal & Men’s Newport H2
Keen has been one of my personal favorite shoe brands for more than 7 years now. From their Bryce Mid WP hiking boots to the innovative Uneek water shoes, every pair I’ve ever owned has withstood the test of time.
Their new Astoria West Sandal for women and Newport H2 Water Shoes for men seem very likely at first glance to do the same.
Available in four different color combos, the Astoria is an attractive wedge-style sandal designed to seamlessly transition from the beach or trail to town. They’re made from recycled plastic webbing, with the subtle heel lift providing cushioning support and slip-resistant, gripping soles.
The olive/bronze-colored Newport Hydro is tailor-made for water-based recreation, with a quick-dry lining and PFC-free webbing that’s both water-repellant and washable. Note that Keen’s website advises ordering these a 1/2-size up, but mine fit well.
Teva Women’s Terra Fi 5 Universal & Men’s Terra Float Churn
Teva has long been one of our favorite shoe brands for the quality and rugged durability. And the new Terra Fi 5 Universal sandals for women and the Terra-Float Churn shoes for men are no exception.
The Terra sandals are quick-drying, made with recycled polyester straps, and have a molded PU midsole. They come in three stylish designs, including Sun & Moon, Canyon, and Manzanita.
The Terra-Float shoes are lightweight, breathable, and offer perfect protection for hiking, crossing streams, and everything in between. They also have a slip-proof outsole to keep you safe when you’re in the water.
After wearing her previous pair of Tevas for more than 10 years, Mary can’t wait to use these shoes on our next trek into the wilderness.
Thule Rod Vault 2
Fishing can be a challenging sport, a fun way to feed the family, or simply a relaxing way to pass the time during summer staycations.
But it’s no fun or relaxation when your lines get tangled, or a hook gets caught on someone’s skin as you carry your rod. Enter the Thule Rod Vault 2, which is designed to hold either fly rods or saltwater rods safely and securely.
Made with aircraft-grade aluminum rod tubes and heavy duty, glass-reinforced, nylon reel cases, the RodVault holds two fully assembled rods up to 10 feet long, with reel diameters up to 4.25 inches.
Other cool features on this essential piece of beach fishing gear include a universal mounting system that fits a wide range of load bars, and fishing rod rack locks that can be secured to your vehicle with a small padlock (sold separately).
Aquaz Kenai Convertible Waders
Intex Mariner 3 Boat Set
From floats and floating islands to inflatable kayaks, a lot of our favorite stuff for the lake came from Intex. So it’s no surprise that their Mariner 3 Boat Set is another aquatic recreation winner.
Part of their durable Pro Series, the 9ft 9in X 4ft 2in X 1ft 6in boat is made with three rugged layers of PVC, with a keel rock guard and extruded plastic flooring for added stability. Inflating it is easy with the enclosed high-output pump, and there’s a repair patch kit included just in case.
The craft is great for boating and fishing, with motor mount fittings and a battery pouch included in case you want to add an Intex motor bracket and trolling motor. Anglers will also love the boat’s two built-in fishing rod holders and handy pouch for stowing fishing gear.
Additional features include two handles on each bow for portage, two 54-in aluminum oars, oar holders and rotational oar locks, two inflatable thwart seats, and a U.S. Coast Guard I.D.
The wireless underwater camera attaches directly to your fishing line, and can used in freshwater or saltwater environments. Measuring just 4.5 inches and pre-weighted to approximately 3.3 ounces, it won’t affect your casting at all.
Whether you’re bottom fishing at depths up to 500 ft, trolling for trophy fish, or simply float fishing, the camera captures all of the action in HD (1080P @ 60FPS, 30FPS, and 720P @ 60FPS). The Float Accessory even allows you to stream live directly to your mobile device.
The company recently dropped prices by $80, and released a revamped app that made navigation easier and improved speed for both downloading and playback.
Miscellaneous Beach Gear
When it comes to choosing the best beach gear or lake gear, we would always list a good grill among our absolute essentials. We use the one on our boat 3 to 4 times a week!
The new smokeless FirePit from BioLite is perfectly portable, measuring 27″ x 13″ x 15.8″ and weighing 19.8 lbs. You can use either wood (up to 4 standard size logs) for a blazing hot fire, or charcoal and the removable grate if you want a Hibachi-style grill.
The FirePit is hyper-efficient in terms of energy, burning up to 24 hours on Low, 10 hours on Medium, or 5 hours on High. And their free Bluetooth app allows you to control the temperature and flame size via the 51 internal jets.
The 10,400 mAh Rechargeable Powerpack can be detached and recharged via USB, or you can purchase a Solar Carry Cover separately to recharge using the power of the sun!
READ MORE: DIY Stoves for Off-Grid Living
One of the toughest things about spending time at the beach is worrying about what to do with your valuables while you’re having fun in the water.
The Beachsafe is one of the most impressive beach gadgets we’ve seen this year. It keeps your wallet, keys, phone, and other essentials secure in a locked, water-resistant case so you can enjoy your day at the beach without concern for someone stealing your stuff.
The device has a solar panel embedded in it, so you can charge your tech device(s) over the course of the day, while also cooling everything inside with a built-in fan.
It’s protected by both a 4-digit combination lock and a 3-foot stainless-steel cable that you can use to wrap your device securely around your beach chair or other objects.
The U-Stand is a deceptively simple but innovative piece of beach equipment designed to keep your beach umbrella from being blown over in a gust of wind.
But what we really love about the product is the fact that it’s one item that can serve multiple purposes during your day at the beach.
First of all, the empty container (which is made from durable, UV-protected plastic) needs to be filled with something in order to hold the umbrella in place. So while you can fill it with sand or water, we recommend filling it with ice and your favorite cold beverages.
We also love that the top of the stand has four cup/drink holders, and that there’s a convenient shoulder strap that makes it easy to carry.
Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket
We love our two dogs, Huckleberry and Buddy (a.k.a. Boo Boo), dearly. But for some reason neither of them has ever been interested in going in the water, despite the fact that we take them to the lake 3 to 4 times a week.
For those dogs who DO like to frolic in the sea, the Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket from Kurgo is one of the best beach accessories for keeping your favorite furry friends safe.
Made from 400D and Ripstop material, the dog vest features a removable flotation layer, athletic style, and reflective accents for better visibility in low light situations.
Other awesome features include two side adjustment points with Nifco quick release buckles, adjustable chest and belly straps, two transverse handles for easy extraction, and two metal D-rings (one of which also works as a bottle opener).
Other Summer Staycation Gear
Swimming is currently our primary form of exercise. So a backyard lap swimming pool is a big part of our plans for our future “forever” home.
For those whose staycations are centered around the pool, the Sutro is an incredibly handy high-tech device that allows you to test pH, chlorine, temperature, and alkalinity levels automatically.
The Smart Monitor is like a pool robot, using the same process as traditional water test kits.
Using chemicals from LaMotte (the gold standard in water testing for over 100 years), the Sutra monitors your pool or spa constantly and sends results to the smart hub using a sub-GHz link.
Not only will it notify you when one of the levels are off, but it will alert you before the water takes a turn for the worse, removing all the hassle of manual testing.
Phoozy XP3 Series & Tablet/Laptop Capsule
We spend a lot of time on, in, and around the water. And because we can work anywhere we get a WiFi signal, we usually have our iPhones and laptops with us.
But of course tech devices and water don’t mix. Which is why we’d say these capsules for phones, laptops, and tablets from PHOOZY are essential beach gear.
Working with literal rocket scientists, they used insulating materials developed by NASA to protect astronauts in space. They’re designed to withstand any hostile environment, providing thermal protection from extreme cold and heat (reflecting 90% of the sun’s rays).
Thanks to the military-grade impact core, they’ll also keep your devices safe from shattering. The XP3 Series can protect your phone from a 9-foot drop!
We also love the XP3’s internal stash pocket, plus the fact that the capsules will actually float if they’re dropped in the water while boating, fishing, kayaking, etc.
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Bindle Bottle Combo Straw Lid Bundle
Looking for ways to reduce your personal plastic usage? Getting rid of single use plastic bottles is a simple way to start!
In terms of BPA-free water bottles, the stainless steel Bindle Bottle makes especially great beach gear due to its hidden waterproof storage compartment. It’s large enough to stash your cash, credit card, ID, keys, and more while you’re in the water.
Their new Combo Straw Lid Bundle is a great deal, featuring one 20 oz Bindle Slim with loop lid, ine 24 oz Bindle with loop lid, plus two straw lids.
We especially love the Slim version, which is made to fit in cupholders. But both bottles offer dual-walled, vacuum-insulated construction to ensure your drink stays cold for hours as you soak up the summer sun.
With travel pretty much off-limits for the forseeable future and most public spaces too crowded for our tastes, the lake has been the only place we feel comfortable socializing from a distance.
So we’ve been adding to our lake gear this year to make hosting friends easier. And the new Horizon drinkware line from CamelBak is a perfect fit for our laid-back lifestyle.
The line includes all sorts of different options, from the 12 oz Camp Mugs and Wine Tumblers to 25 oz Wine Bottles and regular Tumblers ranging from 10 to 30 oz.
They’re all attractive (available in 5 colors) and durable, made from double-wall vacuum insulated stainless steel with a full powder coat finish.
The non-slip silicone pad on the base makes these great for using on our boat or camp tables, and the flow control of their spill resistant tri-mode lids is excellent for drinking on the go. –Reviews by Bret Love & Ari Lentini