Beach Gear

Sun, Surf, and Sand

We’ve grown up going to sunny SoCal beaches, chilly NorCal hideaways, and scenic Lake Tahoe shorelines. We’ve tested all types of beach gear at these California beaches (and around the world) over the past 10 years. It’s a tough job, we know.

In addition to our at-the-beach tests, we also conduct controlled tests at home to compare products side-by-side in a consistent setting. After months of testing, we rate and score each product based on various metrics most important to that type of gear.

Use this page to find your next piece of beach gear, no matter where your beach adventures take you! Our top articles are right here, but read on for more of our recommended gear and tips!

A woman hiker looks back at the camera as she stands beside a turquoise lake surrounded by evergreen trees.
A woman in sunglasses and a yellow and blue bikini lounges on a beach chair.
A man and woman cuddling on the beach as she sips from a pink insulated cub and laughs at something he whispered in her ear.

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Our Go-To Beach Packing List

If you’re just looking for a quick list of our must-have clothing and gear, these are the products we use the most when we go to the beach.


A woman in an orange bikini poses with her hands on her hips, smiling at the camera.
  1. Bikini: Cupshe’s Green Scalloped Bikini is flattering, colorful, and a fan favorite.
  2. One-Piece Suit: The Summersalt Perfect Wrap is a creative one-piece, with a beautiful design, from a sustainable brand.
  3. Men’s Swim Trunks: Amazon Essentials swim trunks are an attractive cut, affordable, and come in a variety of colors.
  4. Sarong: Ekouaer sarongs are stylish cover-ups, affordable, and versatile.
  5. Straw Sun Hat: The Double Couple sun hat is wide-brimmed for maximum coverage and made of UPF 50+ material.
  6. Flip Flops: Olukai ‘Ohana Sandals are comfortable, durable, water-resistant, and float.
  7. Beach Windbreaker: The Charles River pullover hooded windbreaker is lightweight, packable, water-resistant, and has large pockets.


A woman in a white jacket carrying a tan backpack and pink water bottle turns to face the ocean.
  1. Reef Safe Sunscreen: Coral Isles sunscreen is SPF 50, water-resistant, and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.
  2. Aloe Vera: Seven Minerals aloe is organic, pure, and carbon neutral.
  3. Polarized Sunglasses: Ray-Ban polarized sunglasses reduce glare and provide 100% protection from UV rays.
  4. Sand-Resistant Towel: Cloud beach towels are made of soft, organic Turkish cotton and come in pretty colors.
  5. Wine Bottle: CamelBak’s wine bottles are the size of a regular water bottle but hold an entire bottle of wine. No glass, insulated, we use ours a ton!
  6. Beach Bag: The Scout tote is made of water-resistant material and has plenty of pockets.
  7. Beach Tent: The Pacific Breeze pop-up tent offers SPF 50+ shade for 4 people, and the extendable floor is perfect for kids.

Beach Swimwear

Beach Accessories

Beach Gear FAQs


When you pack for a beach day, make sure to bring a towel, sunscreen, a swimsuit and change of clothes, a sun hat and sunglasses, sandals, water, and snacks.

You’ll probably also want games like frisbee or spikeball. If you’re taking cold drinks, backpack coolers are much easier to carry across the sand than traditional hard-side coolers


When packing for a beach day with kids, take all of the general beach essentials mentioned above, plus wet wipes, sand toys, a beach blanket, and extra sun protection.

Take a beach cart to carry gear and in case your child needs a ride. Strollers will get stuck in the sand, but a cart can be pulled instead of pushed.

Depending on your child’s age, you might also need swim diapers and a sippy cup.

Extra water and clothes are particularly important to pack for kids at the beach.


In addition to the beach gear outlined before, take aloe vera and after-sun lotion, plastic bags for swimsuits or sandy gear, and non-beach clothes and shoes.

Remember your toiletries, daily prescriptions or medicine, a phone charger, lip balm, and clean shower towels.


Check the weather before getting dressed for the beach. If it’s hot at the beach, wear sandals, a bathing suit underneath your street clothes, a sundress, or a cover-up. Pack a change of underwear for after you change out of your swimsuit.

If it’s cold at the beach, layer up with warm pants and a sweatshirt, rain jacket, or windbreaker. Gloves and a hat are also a good idea if you want to walk along the beach


You can rent beach equipment like chairs and umbrellas at some beaches that are popular or near resorts. Beaches known for surfing oftentimes also offer water sports and surfboard rentals at nearby surf shops.


Fun beach activities include building a sand castle, jumping waves, playing Spikeball, volleyball, or frisbee, reading, boogie boarding, and napping.

Our Beach Gear Experts

Mimi McFadden
Founder & Editor-In-Chief

Mimi McFadden Headshot

Mimi grew up in Santa Cruz, went to college in San Diego, and throughout her travels has always had an affinity for the beach. Being near the ocean just makes her happy. Is it the smell of fresh seaweed or the cawing of seagulls? We’re still figuring it out, but for now taking advantage by having Mimi test out all the gear we can.

Mimi’s particularly an expert in swimsuits, sarongs and hats to protect her (very sensitive and very obviously of Northern-European heritage) skin, sunscreen (same reason as just mentioned), sunglasses, beach bags (to carry her books), and how to most effectively transport wine onto the beach.

Suneel Jain
Writer, Editor

Suneel Jain author headshot

Suneel grew up in San Diego, taking regular trips to Del Mar Beach and La Jolla Beach. He eschews all the trappings that Mimi brings along and favors the possibility of getting skin cancer instead, but is working on correcting his behavior. In the meantime, you can find him in flip flops running around the beach or in the water body surfing.

Suneel’s recommendations for the beach are typically more minimal and primarily include swimming trunks, sandals, towels, and beach games.