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What Is The Best Backpack For The Beach? 

 October 28, 2022

By  Diane Wuthrich

A fun-filled day by the sea involves having a few beach essentials with you. These usually mean a beach towel, a change of clothes, sun protection cream, and perhaps a few drinks to share with friends. But how do you choose a backpack for a day at the beach?

Backpacks for the beach come in many styles. It’s best to choose one that is waterproof or quick drying, so that your belongings are safe from water. A good beach backpack should be lightweight and have enough capacity for your trip. Insulated backpacks are recommended if you plan to bring drinks. 

There are a few more things you should consider when shopping for a beach backpack. Continue reading the guide below to learn more.

Choosing the Best Beach Backpack

For many people, nothing beats a full day of fun at the beach.

It’s one of the most relaxing experiences one could have – especially when you have friends and family with you, plus refreshments and snacks. However, you do need supplies for a day at the beach. This can vary depending on the kind of beach trip you’re going on, but typically you’d need to bring a towel, clothes, enough sun protection, toiletries, food, and drinks.

That’s why beach backpacks are the way to go. Unlike a tote bag, backpacks leave your hands free as you transport your belongings from your car to the beach, while keeping all of your beach gear securely in place. 

The good news is that beach backpacks come in many colors, patterns, and sizes, with a design to suit everyone. But how do you choose the best beach backpack? This guide below shares the useful information you need to shop for a beach backpack:

Waterproof or Quick-Drying 

Generally speaking, most people would want the peace of mind that comes with using a waterproof or quick-drying beach bag. It will save you the inconvenience of having to dry your belongings should they get splashed by or submerged in water, spilled on by drinks, or rained on if the weather changes. 

This is especially important if you are bringing along some tech, such as your laptop, chargers, camera, and speakers. These valuable contents should be kept away from the elements at all cost. 

However, if you are only going to pack a change of clothes with your towel, a small, quick-drying mesh backpack will do the job just fine. Just keep in mind that if you are carrying valuables in your pack, you may want to protect them with waterproof material.

Fabric

If you decide not to get a waterproof or quick-drying backpack for any reason, it still pays to know the materials used in the bag’s construction. Even if you are bringing an insulated cooler backpack, they are usually made with varying exterior fabric. The materials used in a backpack have an impact on the price, quality, and durability, so it’s always helpful to understand what your choices are. 

Nylon and polyester are the most popular and widely used among the best beach backpacks. They are water-resistant and extremely durable, easily lasting many years of use. However, polyester is more ultraviolet resistant, so it can last longer even if it’s been placed under the sun.

It's good to know that nylon tends to fade quickly when exposed to sunlight. This is an important aspect you should consider based on how you intend to use your backpack at the beach. 

Those who are shopping around for nylon and polyester beach backpacks are advised to check the fabric’s denier rating for durability. Denier ratings refer to the fabric’s thread count, so a higher denier rating is associated with its strength. Look for denier ratings of 400 and above for a sturdy beach backpack that will last you many seasons.

Canvas or cotton canvas beach bags are also a great choice. They are durable, easy to clean, and stylish. Just keep in mind that it isn’t waterproof. 

Neoprene has become an increasingly popular fabric for beach bags. Whether you’re going to the pool or the sea, this material is renowned for its strength and durability. 

For those that prioritize style and aesthetics, straw or rattan beach bags are always a classic. Straw beach backpacks are a classic summer staple and look great with any outfit. These are ideal if you only intend to bring a few essentials with you, because they are not meant for carrying heavy items, and won’t last as long as nylon or polyester bags.

Lightweight

For any kind of travel, even if it’s a day or weekend beach trip, a lightweight backpack is always recommended. This ensures a hassle-free trip while preventing any inconvenience. Look for a backpack that weighs under a pound whenever possible, so that it doesn’t add any weight when you pack your belongings into it.

A heavy backpack can be burdensome and uncomfortable to carry to the beach. This is especially true if you are carrying several canned drinks and food, which is extremely heavy. Adults should always carry a back that is no more than 20% of their own bodyweight, to prevent injuries and discomfort in the back, shoulders, and neck.

The empty weight of a backpack is always provided by manufacturers. Be sure to check for its weight when shopping for the best backpacks for the beach. 

Capacity

Your beach backpack should have plenty of space for all your stuff. The right size will vary from one person to another, depending on the kind of trip you are going on, the type of activities you’ll be doing, as well as how many people you are packing for. 

For example, if you are only heading to the sea to swim and relax under the sun on your own, you won’t need more than your swimsuit, sun protection, snacks, and perhaps a book. In this case, a 15L backpack or smaller will do just fine. On the other hand, if you are going on a vacation with your kids, you’ll need significantly more space for diapers, swimwear, sunglasses, sunscreen, clothes, beach towels, food, and drinks to name a few. 

Similarly, if you are packing cold beverages for a group of your friends, you will need an insulated backpack that’s at least 20L

Pockets

If you are packing for several people or for a multi-day beach trip, organization is necessary. Different-sized compartments placed strategically on the exterior and interior of the pack will help you organize everything. 

Before buying a backpack, check how many pockets it has and how big or small they are. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a small pocket if you are bringing products such as your keys, lip balm, hand sanitizer, wallet, and mobile phone. At least one compartment with a zipper is ideal because they can help keep sand out more effectively than Velcro or magnet enclosures. 

Stretchy side pockets are ideal too. They can be used to store something you want easy access to, such as a water bottle, flip-flops, and even some of your kids’ beach toys. 

Maintenance

Depending on how you’ll be using your beach backpack, you’ll also want to check how easy it is to clean. Washable fabrics are best for heavy use, especially if you are taking it with you as you travel or hike too – in addition to sand and water exposure. Even if you aren’t getting a washable backpack, one that’s easy to clean is advisable.

Read the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations before spending on a beach backpack. It will give you an idea how simple or difficult it is to clean. Routine cleaning of beach backpacks is always recommended to prevent accumulation of stubborn dirt and stains, and for the prevention of mildew. 

Comfort

If you plan to use your bag as you walk long distances, comfort is important. Look for wide, padded, and adjustable shoulder straps because they protect your shoulders, neck, and back. The bottom of your shoulder straps should

Stabilizers or load-lifting straps are also beneficial for heavy loads; they provide added support for the shoulder by ensuring the bag is kept stable and forward. They also help to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack. In doing so, they prevent your shoulders from getting sore. 

Women also have the option of choosing a female-specific backpack. Since the center of gravity among women is lower than that of men, backpacks designed specifically for them will be more comfortable as the load is distributed more efficiently. Some beach backpacks are available in various sizes for both men and women, while others are designed to be unisex. 

Other Features

Before you decide on a beach backpack, read up on these other features that you might find useful:

  • Handle types: Hauling a beach backpack over long distances can get cumbersome and tiring. Having the additional option of carrying it by hand will give your back a break. That’s why durable and comfortable top handles can be beneficial for some.
  • Insulation: Anyone looking to bring cans of cold drinks for a beach party or picnic should check out insulated or cooler backpacks. Certain features to look out for in insulated cooler backpacks include anti-microbial lining, welded seams to avoid leakage, UV-protective coating, easy to clean polyester fabrics, and extra pockets for the other contents of your bag.

The best beach cooler backpacks come in a range of styles, storage options, and fabrics, but always look for wide, padded, comfortable straps that will be comfortable to wear even if your load is heavy. 

  • Versatility: Many beach backpacks are versatile enough that they can also be used for other outdoor activities, which can include traveling, hiking, boating, or fishing. This is especially important if you are investing in a pricey backpack: it ensures you get more bang for your buck when you can use it in places other than the beach.

Our Recommendations For The Best Beach Backpacks

There is an overwhelming array of beach backpacks on the market. To make your shopping easier, below is a list of some popular models to consider:

Patagonia Black Hole Pack 32L: Beach goers who need extra-large storage for vacation or camping can’t go wrong with the Patagonia Black Hole Pack 32L. The spacious main compartment has lots of room for all the beach accessories you’ll need for a fun-fueled adventure on the shore. It looks heavy-duty, though the tough recycled polyester ripstop construction is actually very light. 

Both big and small beach accessories will be easy to organize thanks to the many strategically-placed compartments. A padded and TSA-approved pocket in the pack’s interior was designed for keeping your laptop safe, while the stretch side pockets are excellent storage for water bottles, a pair of shoes, shades, and even snorkeling goggles. There are more stash pockets located on the front and top of the bag so you can quickly access anything you’ve packed.

Even when packed to full capacity, this product is comfortable to wear. The air mesh back panel ensures ample ventilation even on hot summer days. In addition, the shoulder harness and sternum strap help evenly distribute weight all throughout. 

It’s easy to see why the Patagonia Black Hole 32L is the beach backpack of choice for many travelers all over the world. This is a reliable and long-lasting pack that you can take to many sunny destinations. 

Rutledge & King Beach Backpack: If a light drawstring bag is more your type, the Rutledge & King Beach Backpack is a classy one that won’t go out of style. Its versatile design allows you to use it on other trips, not just on the beach. 

This drawstring pack has enough room for your daily belongings, and the rope shoulder straps can be used on one shoulder or on both. The interior pocket can hold everything you need to avoid sunburn such as your shades and sun cream, while the main compartment can hold your beach towel, swimsuit, snacks, and more. 

The Rutledge & King Beach Backpack is timeless but also practical for days when you don’t have to take much with you. A great choice for women and teenagers!

Dakine Mission Surf 30L Backpack: Surfer or not, you’ll appreciate the thoughtful features of the Dakine Mission Surf 30L Backpack. It’s equipped with a seam-sealed detachable wet and dry bag to separate your beach wear, while the sunglass pocket is fleece-lined for added protection.

The stretchy mesh panel on the pack’s exterior is designed to help your wet clothes dry quickly, though it also doubles as a quick-access pocket. The laptop compartment makes this backpack ideal for those days when you go from the beach to the classroom or office, without wasting any time in between, because you have all your essentials with you

The Dakine Mission Surf 30L Backpack is the ultimate solution for active lifestyles. Both big and smaller accessories have ample storage, so there is no need to rummage through the pack for your belongings. 

REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler: The REI Co-Op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler is one of the most popular backpacks with coolers. Arrive prepared to seaside events and parties: this leak-proof insulated pack can store up to 12 cans and keep them cold for as long as 40 hours. Meanwhile, the top compartment lets you keep enough things for a day trip or hike.

The cooler insert is made from high-quality recycled polyester which is removable too, making cleaning a breeze. If you need extra space, you can keep it removed until you need it for storing ice-cold drinks again. The front lash straps allow you to take bulky items such as a beach blanket, beach chair, or anything else your adventure requires.

With 31.5L of capacity, the REI Co-Op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler is ideal for exciting adventures. It’s versatile enough to use in place of luggage when you travel too. 

Chaos Ready Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack: Customers who love being in the water are recommended to check out the Chaos Ready Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack. Enjoy hassle-free adventures even when you’re on a boat or doing water sports: this pack is constructed with 100% waterproof PVC tarpaulin fabric, which also enables the bag to float if you accidentally drop it in the pool or sea.

The 22L storage capacity is enough for all your day’s needs, but it can also be folded into a compact pouch when needed. The closure is user-friendly, featuring a tri-fold buckle system to seal off the main compartment and protect the inside from water. Roll it up, buckle it on, and it’s good to go.

Each shoulder strap is ergonomically designed and padded for your comfort. Unlike other packs that feel like a chore to carry, this backpack is lightweight as well as flexible and ultra durable.

Conclusion

Having the right beach backpack with you can make a big difference in your comfort and enjoyment. Hopefully, the information shared in this article was helpful for finding the perfect beach backpack for your specific needs and lifestyle.  

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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