- Buyer's Guide
The Best Beach Bags and Accessories in 2021
When you go to the beach, it’s supposed to be a fun, relaxing time. However, the reality can often be very different as you juggle nineteen different items, run across the hot sand, collapse in a heap, then a short time afterward stand up to pack it all up again.
ALL IS NOT LOST! We’ve spent the last two months testing all the best beach bags and accessories. Being Carryology, we focus heavily on beach bags in this guide, but with some accessories thrown in to heighten your outdoor experience. While many of these goods excelled on the sandy shores, they’ll also hold you in good stead into the autumn months and beyond!
The question is, how did we choose these beach bags and accessories? As always – rather straightforward criteria!
- Portable – We’re in the business of carry, and we find that the best things are the ones that can come with you!
- Durable – Being dragged over sand, put down on benches, getting soaked in the ocean – these items should hold up to being used time and time again.
- Simplify – These products should make your time more enjoyable and less worrisome.
The beach bag to rule them all – YETI Camino 35 Carryall
Carryology Credential: This bag can just about do it all – carries everything that your family brings to the beach.
YETI are known for their legendary toughness – across all of their products. We featured their original Camino Tote in the winter and found it to be robust and a “must-have” item for the back of the car. With the new updates, we can safely double down. The ThickSkin™ shell is close to indestructible. And this tote can get dirty, get rinsed out, and go again (it can even work as a camp sink in a pinch!).
At 35L you can fit a healthy amount of goodies in here. And you can attach even more storage to the outside by using the YETI SideKick Dry – a detachable, magnetic closing, and waterproof pouch. However, this isn’t where the updated version thrives. Now it has organization galore, and it elevates the Camino to a different level of carry. Two large pop pockets at either end of the bag can hold a half-gallon water bottle with ease. When these pockets aren’t deployed, they fit so seamlessly that you wouldn’t even know they exist. Impressive craftsmanship from YETI. I found them useful not only for water bottles but for separating wet/dry items and for storing precious items away from the general carnage. These pockets comfortably fit my mirrorless camera and lens, or a speaker, or a change of clothes.
There are also now two zip pockets on the interior; simple organization is often the best. The ability to keep more phones/wallets/keys out of the sun is always a good thing in my eyes. The simple G-hook closure keeps things in situ as you move between house, car, and beach. This tote can accommodate all that you need for a day on the beach and beyond. Is it over-engineered? Yes. Am I complaining? Not one bit.
Beer anybody? – Burton Beeracuda Gearhaus 42L Cooler Bag
Price: $47.96 (On sale!)
Carryology Credential: Brewskies galore (and clothing too!)
Burton may be famous for their endeavors on snow, but they make great products for the sand too! This tote/backpack/cooler hybrid is an exceptionally well-designed and useful bag. Made from a 600D polyester, this tough piece can house all your gear no questions asked. The mesh panels allow sand and moisture to escape and encourage easy location of items at a moment’s notice. With a drawstring closure (secured by a buckle) and a simple full-length side zipper, you can access your goods very quickly – whether it’s a towel, a hoodie, sunscreen or whatever else you might need. There is an internal floating zippered pocket to keep your EDC out of the way.
I found the mesh nature of the bag useful and easy to manage. This bag was easy to hose down at the end of the day – ready to go for tomorrow. The real magic lies underneath though. At the bottom of the bag, you’ll find a tarp-lined compartment that acts as either a mini cooler or a spot for dirty shoes/super wet gear! I managed to fit six tall-boys (16oz) in no problem. And while it isn’t a dedicated day-long cooler, it kept my drinks frosty all afternoon. Then there’s the price. For under $50, this bag is hard to beat. It can hold everyone’s gear, it’s easy to clean, and it collapses neatly when not in use.
42L too big for you? Then take a look at the 7L Beeracuda Sling; a small form factor that has a removable cooler insert (holds 4 12oz cans). I also found the insert doubles nicely as a camera cube for smaller APS-C or point-and-shoot cameras. The Burton Beeracuda collection is a great proposition for versatile beach bags.
Dinner at the beach – Hydro Flask Outdoor Kitchen
Price: $24.95 – $79.95
Carryology Credential: Bring those homemade bites with you!
Eating out is nice, but sometimes the long lines or overpriced sandwiches are just too much. The folks at Hydro Flask have you covered with their new Outdoor Kitchen line. Comprehensively covering the whole gamut of outdoor eating needs, this set includes everything one could need to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the beach.
Stainless steel double vacuum insulated 1, 3, and 5-quart serving bowls are perfect for salads, fresh fruit, and even gazpacho thanks to their mess-free lids. This trio is accompanied by a 10″ plate – ready-made for sandwich sharing or a charcuterie board. Don’t forget the 12oz tumblers (with lids) to keep you hydrated. There are also serving spoons and a cutlery set if you’re feeling fancy.
The 34L outdoor tote houses it all with great aplomb and even has mesh pockets for dirty items on the route home. It also self-stands which makes packing/unpacking your feast a breeze. Small MOLLE strips on the handles allow you to attach keys or beach badges within easy reach. You can even add one of their dry storage pouches for extra protection for your EDC. When not carrying food, this also doubles up as a great beach bag. The exterior pockets are great for games, and the cavernous main compartment can house all that you might need for a day of fun!
Relax in style – Helinox Sunset Chair
Carryology Credential: Handheld comfort – take a load off while watching sunrises and sunsets.
Helinox are specialists at making lightweight camp goods. Since their original camp chairs, they have continued to expand the line into more lifestyle-focused chairs. With a 320lb weight capacity but only tipping the scales at 3lb 4oz (2lb 15oz assembled) – the Sunset Chair is as comfortable as they come. It is designed for relaxation and unwinding with a taller back and higher 14-inch ground clearance. The carry case can easily be stuffed with a towel or sweater to make a headrest (attachable by Velcro) or extra lower back support for those who suffer from back pain. The mesh carry case also encourages sand to escape when packed up.
The Sunset Chair can be set up in well under thirty seconds and you’ll be relaxing in no time. No more carrying around those heavier beach chairs! If you need a little extra comfort you can add the cozy puffy high-back seat warmer or a cup holder for your beverage of choice!
Get Competitive – Buena Onda Games
Price: $29 – $45
Carryology Credential: Feel-good fun – beat siblings/partners in some good old-fashioned games!
Everyone loves to get competitive at the beach. Whether it’s finding the perfect spot to park your chair, or a bit of 3 on 3 “flag” football – there is something about the sun, sea, and sand that gets the juices going. With the handknitted MayaFlya and Bocce from Buena Onda games, you can feel good as you compete. With a focus on Fair Trade practices for their Mayan Artisan Partners, they’ve managed to employ over 600 people from Lake Atitlan and the surrounding areas. The result isn’t just these fun games, but community initiatives such as water filtration stations, lake grass planting, and turtle rehabilitation and population support. Their motto? ‘Play for Good.’
The Bocce kit weighs in at a featherweight 1lb for the whole set – easy to transport and easy to play for people of all ages. Whether 8 years old or 88 years old, this is an easy game to involve everyone. Two 50% fill Kerplunkers are your blockers, while the 100% fill Rollers are your attacking weapons! If you feel more like a game of catch, the MayaFlya is for you – a knitted frisbee that floats (Poseidon model), is packable, and pet-friendly; you’ll have hours of uninterrupted fun! They even come with 20 game variations so you can keep it fresh throughout the summer!
Phone Safe – LifeProof FRĒ
Carryology Credential: Keep your phone dry and pictures cool!
Let’s be honest, we all care about our phones far more than we should. So, with that said, it makes sense to protect them! No one wants the blue screen of death or grains of sand inside the charging port. The LifeProof FRĒ continues to be the epitome of protection for your phone. With 360º protection, sealed for water, dirt and snow, submersible (two meters for one hour) and impact-resistant up to two meters – you’ll have to work really hard to break your phone when it’s inside this! Not only does it protect your phone, it gives you some pretty excellent creative capabilities too. Take it into the ocean and grab some fun family pictures or record your attempts at surfing – the possibilities are endless!
See the world – Nocs Zoom Tube
Carryology Credential: See it all from the comfort of your chair!
There are always interesting things to observe when you’re by the coast. Just this summer alone my wife and I have seen Ospreys catching dinner, naval ships passing through, and even whales breaching just beyond the waves. You always wish you were closer – and with the Zoom Tube you can be! With 8×32 magnification you can get close up to these marvels as they unfold before your eyes.
IPX4 water-resistant and fogproof thanks to the Nitrogen sealed O-rings, the Zoom Tube is a really useful tool that can add a different dimension to your outdoor adventures. A rugged, rubberised casing is not only easy to hold, but also impact resistant – to match the scratch-resistant lenses. The optics are impressive enough to be usable as a photography tool (400mm equivalent!) when lined up with your phone’s camera and Nocs even make a rig to simplify the process! A ¼” thread means you can mount this on a tripod for steady viewing, or to a wide selection of camera quick release accessories. The Nocs Zoom Tube is a fun tool to have in your bag for both adults and kids alike. And hey, it’s always good to get a different perspective!
Natural Sunscreen – Oars + Alps SPF Collection
Price: $12 – $22
Carryology Credential: Don’t be the lobster at dinner!
Oars + Alps are leading the charge in the men’s grooming scene with a whole range of natural deodorants and skincare products. This year, they’ve expanded into SPF protection. Comprising SPF 50 spray, SPF 37 anti-aging moisturizer, SPF 35 clear stick sunscreen, after sun cooling spray and SPF lip balm, there is no reason to be “the one” who moves gingerly for the next three days. All of these products are individually enhanced with natural ingredients – such as vitamins E, B5, C, 100% mineral, or even Olive Leaf extract. The end result is less alcohol content, recyclable canisters, and healthy-looking skin. It’s hard to say no to that!
Headwear – Melin Coronado Hydro
Carryology Credential: Keep the sun out of your eyes with this floating friend!
Not all hats are created equal – and once you’ve worn a Melin hat, you won’t want to go back. This snapback isn’t like other hats, and has many features that make it the first thing you want to grab as you walk out of the door. Firstly – this thing floats. That’s right, it floats. Thanks to the buoyant visor, if you jump off a boat into the water, or a rogue wave knocks you down – this hat will be waiting for you when you resurface. In fact, the whole fabric of the hat is hydrophobic, meaning water and sweat will bead off – and you’ll avoid that soggy hat feeling after a few hours in the heat. The perforated rear panels work to alleviate overheating and when combined with its antimicrobial sweat band, this isn’t a hat you have to worry about cleaning too regularly.
While it’s undoubtedly a workhorse, it’s a handsome one. The shallow depth and moldable visor mean that this hat is equally at home on the beach or in town. And the braided rope adds a certain level of style to the humble hat. The hidden besom pocket is great for keeping some extra cash or a key, and the interior print is a fun colorful design. If you’re looking for a more old-school design, take a look at the A-Game which has a more classic depth and silhouette while still maintaining all of the innovation!
All of these beach bags and accessories have been designed, and selected, to make your days on the beach more comfortable and more fun. What’s your pick? Carry on!
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