The Art of Packing a Beach Kit

By Skye Walker

So you’re ready for a full day at the beach huh? No matter the season, when swell arrives… you and your buddies are stoked. It’s time to go to your favorite spot and slay some dragons. Aside from being mentally prepared to throw your body into dark, barreling caverns or slide down the face of a good sized water wall, you have to be prepared for the mission. This means bringing the essentials to the beach and I’m not talking about a People magazine and a diet soda. I’m talking about a real beach kit.

I’m not the best surfer or bodysurfer in the world, but I have mastered the art of packing my bag for epic coastal adventures. The last thing you want is to be stuck at the beach with no supplies while it’s firing. Stay and catch waves or leave to go get some essentials and by the time you get back it’s all over…who wants to risk that? Don’t be the guy who’s bumming water, food or towels off your bros because you didn’t think ahead.

If you can park your car in front of your favorite spot, by all means enjoy the easy access. But if you have to hike down trails that look like they’re from The Lord of the Rings, or slog down miles of beach to get to that secluded no-way-in-hell-anyone-will-be-here-spot…you have to be prepared. As humans, we all need similar items when posting up on a beach in the sun and exposing our fleshy bodies to the elements for hours.

So let’s break it down. The first thing you need for your kit is a solid backpack. Sure you can carry a bunch of stuff in your hands, but why do that when you can put it on your back? It can be any pack, but preferably one that has a solid material that can withstand water, dirt and sand. I’m using an ArcTeryx pack meant for backcountry snowboarding, but it turned out to be great for bodysurf missions.

Now the gear. I like gear. Here are my recommendations for the right gear for your assault…season to your liking and taste of course.



  1. Fins. MANDATORY. Do not forget these, you can have a nice fat pack of gear, but it won’t do you a bit of good if you forget your fins. It helps to have a pack with straps so you can strap your fins to the outside of the pack and leave room on the inside for your other stuff.
  2. Fin leashes. For when it’s bombing.  You certainly don’t want your fins blown into oblivion and you pop to the surface with that “uh oh” face.
  3. Wetty, boardies, bikini or speedos. Depending on the season, you’ll need your wetsuit, boardshorts, or if you’re flashy enough…speedos. And hey, if you’re killing it in the water with your floral speedos on, my hats off to you.
  4. Towel. Sit on it. Dry yourself off with it. Beach change with it. Hide from the sun under it. This is a must.
  5. Water & water bottle. The ocean and sun dehydrate you, especially when you’re doing 360s in the barrel for six hours. You need some agua. So go out and buy a water bottle and fill it up over and over again. This way you aren’t bringing plastic bottles to the beach and adding to the landfills, or to the plastic in the sea. Plus, it’s hip to carry a cool, colorful water bottle. Plastic is so 1990.
  6. Sunglasses. For peepin’ waves, sunsets and bikinis (or mankinis for the ladies). And of course, looking cool. But mainly for bikinis.
  7. Sunscreen. Lather it on. Who cares if you look like a mime… you’re crushing waves and clocking tube time. Get some organic stuff if you can, less toxic to your skin. But whatever works, since your head will be sticking out of the water for hours soaking up those rays. You certainly don’t want to go in the water looking like Hugh Jackman and come out looking like a old saddle that Wyatt Earp sat in.
  8. Change of boardshorts. Bring them. They pack down. No one wants to walk a mile or two in wet, chafing boardies or wetty. Your nether-region will thank you.
  9. Hat. Baseball, trucker, Fedora, Balinese fishing hat or a trash can lid. Anything to keep your face in the shade.
  10. Food. Ah yes, one of my favorite essentials. Bring some snacks or a full on 6 course meal if you like. You’ll need some sustenance to keep you kicking your way to barrel Nirvana. Trail mix is a must. Apples, bananas, plums- easy to pack and eat. Snickers bar, ummm, yeah, I’m burning calories, I don’t care. Chips, yes please. Everyone bring something different and share, we’re all friends here. Just don’t eat my Snickers.
  11. Beverages. Water is great, but sometimes, you want something a bit different. Maybe with electrolytes. Maybe some carbonation or caffeine. Since you’ll most likely be leaving on your mission at dawn, you’ll probably need a wake up drink. Some like coffee, others like tea. My wave hungry cronies and I aren’t above having a sugary, caffeinated can of junk. It’s ok, we’re burning calories. Sidenote: if you really want a jolt of wake up juice, the Cuba Lima delivers.
  12. Tunes. Technology has made it so simple to have a tiny, bluetooth speaker in your pack that links to your favorite jams when you’re taking a break from shredding the gnar. Zeppelin, Boyz II Men, Haul & Oats, The Ramones, Tupac, Bob Marley, Lady Gaga, Iron Maiden… whatever your taste is, rock it. Leave the country music at home.
  13. Camera. Whether it’s on your phone or whether you have a killer DSLR, GoPro, or a hip Lomography camera, bring one to capture some moments of your friends getting pitted out of their minds. Or shoot some artsy shots of the adventure to get there. One day you’ll look back and be glad you have a snapshot of a moment in time when you were young and living it up. No selfies please.
  14. Your phone. Yeah, bring it, it’s got your music, camera and it’s good to have for emergencies. Just don’t be on it the whole time you are out of the water looking on Facebook. No one is doing anything cooler than what you are doing right now. You’re at the beach getting tubed! Nothing on in the inter-web is better than that.
  15. Pocket knife. For cutting food, leashes and filleting fish you caught with your bare hands.
  16. A book. Because you need to read more. Then again… you’ll be in the barrel so much you might not get much reading done… but at least you’ll feel smart having a book in your pack.

sketch3There are many other things that you can bring to the beach. That’s the beauty of a beach kit, to each their own! Get weird with it. Load up your pack with whatever you want. Just pack accordingly, you might be having the session of your life and don’t want to leave because you don’t have food or water. This all might seem like common knowledge…but people still leave their babies on the roof of their car and drive off…not cool.
So pack your bag right and tight. Your friends will be impressed. The ladies will take notice (no they won’t) and you’ll feel confident that you’re not only going to catch the wave of your life… but you’ll be styled and dialed on the beach afterwards.IMG_9084

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Swell Lines Magazine

Bodysurfing yarns woven 'tween crest & trough