Summer holiday kit: 14 seaside essentials

Whether you love boating, floating, sunning, swimming or picnics, there's something for you in BBC Countryfile Magazine's guide to the best gear for a coastal holiday this summer


1 Vintage classic

Deck Chair with sling in ‘Aerobics’ stripe, The Stripes Company, £105.


Relax in the sunshine on this design classic, with a tough, weatherproof teak frame. The choice of colours is fantastic – there are 42 options, all in 100% cotton.

2 Inflatable fun

Waterton inflatable kayak, Sevylor, £379.99

What a fantastic product for seaside adventures – perfect if you don’t have space to store or transport a rigid kayak. Robust and stable on water, it allows a pair of excitable adults or children to paddle around to their heart’s content. Its two tall, comfortable seats provide good back support and are adjustable, so can also be repositioned to suit an intrepid solo, while its simple-to-use Boston valves make it extremely easy to pump up and deflate. It all packs into bag weighing a manageable 11.5kg.

Although Sevylor calls this a kayak, the Waterton is more of a canoe-kayak hybrid, designed with the open body of a canoe but with small integrated spray decks at bow and stern, and powered by a kayak paddle. As a result, it is best used in sheltered bays, estuaries and lakes rather than out at sea, where I felt that large waves could overwhelm the open-topped craft. Its high sides protect against spills from small swells, while its width provides excellent balance (even when getting in and out). Equipped with a removable fin, it manoeuvres well for a large inflatable, responding deftly to paddle strokes.

You will also need to invest in one or two paddles – the Sevylor K-Perf 230 Paddle (£49.19) is a collapsible two-section paddle that niftily clips together, and is perfectly suited to power the The Waterton, being both lightweight and strong.

And remember to wear a buoyancy aid when taking it out – and have fun messing about on the water. MH.

• More details from Sevylor.

3 See clearly now

V-Class Virtue Mirror Goggle, Speedo, £55

Fancy that – a pair of goggles that fit beautifully (being ‘designed for female faces’), don’t steam up, provide clear vision and are very comfortable to boot. The strong pink colour looks great, cutting a dash in the water, while the anti-fog technology prevents the lenses clouding up. The googles fit snuggly and securely without leaving unsightly marks, while the wrap-around style delivers wide views with UV protection, ideal for outdoor swimming. Highly recommended. MH

4 Go undercover

Romany Beach Shirt, Celtic and Co, £72.

This hip-length shirt is perfect when you want to cover up at the beach – the lightweight cotton will keep you cool in the sunshine.

5 Boxing clever

Metal Box Plus S Alu, SIGG, £21.99.

This highly desirable aluminium food container protects your food until it’s time to eat. An old classic, it has recently been redesigned with workplace lunches in mind, and now includes a microwave-friendly silicon insert. At 900ml there’s space for a modest lunch; perhaps consider waiting for Sigg to introduce a larger model? JP.

6 For sand-free picnics

CGear Sand-free rug, £52.99.

Most rugs are soon strewn with sand after a while on the beach. This has the remarkable property of allowing sand to fall through its porous, open weave, keeping surface sand-free. Not that it is a little bulky to carry, and the surface is not as soft as a traditional picnic rug. Available in three sizes: the medium measures 1.55m x 2m. Note that it quite bulky and, at 2kg, heavier than a normal picnic rug. JP.

7 Massage on the move

Cayman waffle flip flops for women, Weird Fish, £15.

The waffle sole is a bumpy moulded foam, which has the property of massaging your feet as you walk. Our tester reported that was particularly pleasant on the arch. JP.

8 A brew on the beach

TrailBreak Ex Vacuum Bottle, Primus £32 (0.75L)  or £36 (1L)

Warm up after a cold dip with this tough and chunky stainless steel flask in bright silicon sleeve. The wide mouth makes it easy to clean, and it comes with a choice of two stoppers, one for maximum insulation, and one for drinking straight from the bottle (this one can be taken apart and cleaned). Ideal for summer beaches and winter hills alike. JP.

9 Stay snug in the sea

Lotic Swimming Wetsuit, Alpkit, £145.

Yikes that’s a tight fit, but that’s what one wants from a wetsuit, and this kept me snug as a bug in cold waters. It’s thick but flexible, and hugs the body, retaining heat while allowing free movement of limbs for powering through the water. The rubber provides an extra bounce of buoyancy, with 4mm thickness in the legs and bottom to give extra lift in the lower half and create a better swimming position, avoiding drag. The Glideskin neoprene makes the swimmer feel like a naturally aquatic creature, as the water slides past without resistance, further reducing drag. In a stylish red and black, the Lotic looks great, too. MH.

10 Swim in style

True North Marea One Piece, Finisterre, £80.

This attractive and slightly retro-looking swimsuit has an active cut, making it perfect for outdoor swimming, water sports or just lounging on the beach. Ideal for sunny days, the quick-drying material offers UPF 50+ sun protection, and is sun, salt and chlorine resistant so should last the test of time. Size-wise the suit comes up small so some may find the cut a little revealing. CM.

11 Versatile shorts

Darwin Boardshorts, Animal, £50.

Whether swimming, walking or lounging in the sun, you’ll feel at home in these rather smart shorts, made of a quick-drying fabric that won’t crease.

12 Stay out in the sun

Endurance Sport Formula Sun Cream, Lifesystems, £9.

It’s essential to protect your skin if you like long swims, snorkeling or otherwise basking in the sea in sunny weather. This water-resistant suntan lotion repels jellyfish, and the compact tube is tailor-made for the hiker’s pocket. One application lasts six hours – or 80 minutes while swimming. SPF 50+. JP.

13 Compact towel

Travel Towel (Head To Toe), Snugpak, £20.95.

Roomy enough to wrap yourself up in (at 120 x 125cm), absorbent, soft and silky lightweight (360g) and easy to pack. It’s also quick-drying and odour-resistant. CM.

14 Keep your dignity

Changing Robe, Finisterre, £50

Warm up quickly after a bracing sea or river swim with this cosy, oversized changing robe. Made with soft terry cloth material, this roomy robe has a hood and drawstring enabling you to get changed on the beach in relative privacy. CM.


• Reviews by BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Maria Hodson (MH), Carys Matthews (CM) and Joe Pontin (JP).
Main picture by Steve Sayers of Secret Studio