Summer is better when you spend it on the water. While lounging by the beach or pool is nice, the real power move is to kick back on the deck of a boat (and maybe throw on some Jimmy Buffett). But before you leave the dock behind, make sure you bring the right gear along with you: This essential boating gear guide will ensure you’re prepared for a full day on the water.
From high-tech marine watches to stylish sun hats and dependable boat shoes, the right gear will keep you prepared and comfortable for a day at the lake or on the ocean. Set sail with this list of 10 essential items from brands like Pelican, Garmin, OluKai, and more.
The Essential Boating Gear Guide
1. Pelican 70-Quart Elite Cooler
Tough enough to withstand a grizzly attack and insulated enough to retain ice for several days, this Pelican cooler deserves a spot on your deck. Beyond the freezer-grade seal and durable latches, it includes several helpful boat-friendly features, including four integrated cup holders, a built-in bottle opener, non-skid raised feet, and an integrated fish scale on the lid.
2. ZEEPORTE Mask Fin Snorkel Set
While spending a day on the water is great, sometimes you want to see what’s in the water. Whether it’s colorful fish or a spooky old shipwreck that catches your attention, this mask, fin, and snorkel set will help you explore beneath the waves. The highly rated set is fully adjustable (ideal for sharing among your crew), the snorkel features a dry-top valve so you won’t suck in water, and it’s very affordable, too.
3. Ugly Stik GX2 Rod and Shakespeare Reel Combo
Even if you’re not a serious fisherman, casting a line from the deck is always fun. This dependable rod and reel setup is beginner-friendly without sacrificing performance should you snag a big one. The six-foot graphite and fiberglass Ugly Stik rod can handle fish up to 15 pounds, while the anodized aluminum spool and bail wire from Shakespeare makes casting a no-brainer.
4. Garmin quatix 6
This marine-focused smartwatch makes a great pick for any boater. The quatix 6 is packed full of features and can even connect to other Garmin devices installed on your boat. It allows you to engage autopilot, view boat data, chart waypoints, access coastal charts and maps, monitor your health metrics, and much more––all from your wrist. In other words, it’s your virtual first mate.
5. SQiN For Him SPF 30 Sunscreen
The only thing worse than forgetting sunscreen? Settling for the bargain-bin formulas, which are full of chemicals that can irritate your skin and harm the environment. This mineral-based, reef-safe sunscreen offers dependable SPF 30 protection and comes with antioxidant-rich nutrients, including aloe vera and pomegranate seed oil, to rejuvenate and moisturize your skin.
6. GoPro Mezcal Floating Polarized Sunglasses
You likely know GoPro for its cameras, but the company also makes a great boat-friendly pair of shades, too: These Mezcal sunglasses offer style, high performance, and an incredible value. They’re polarized and can float in both fresh- and saltwater, and they come with three pairs of tinted lenses (bronze is best for the water) so you can enjoy optimal clarity at sea and on shore.
Captain’s advice: Attach some Croakies to keep your sunglasses secure around your neck while boating.
7. Hemlock Dorado Hat
A lifeguard hat that offers a trendy fusion of durability and personality, a Hemlock hat will keep you protected from the summer sun. These hand-woven straw hats are designed to resist fraying, while the under-brim liner features several colorful print options to match your vibe (we like this funky Dorado version).
8. OluKai Nohea Moku
For a boat shoe that looks stylish and offers top-notch functionality, pick up the Nohea Moku from OluKai. The no-tie laces, removable gel footbed, stretch bootie construction, and breathable mesh upper make it super comfortable and ideal for going sockless. Additionally, the unique Drop-In Heel means you can wear them as slides without causing damage.
9. NRS Men’s H2Core Silkweight Long-Sleeve Shirt
A shirtless day on the boat may feel great in the moment, but your skin will pay a hefty price. Protect yourself with this ultralight, breathable long-sleeve shirt from NRS. The poly-spandex fabric blend dries quickly, and thoughtful seam placement eliminates chafing under the arms.
10. Saxx Oh Buoy Swim Shorts
Don’t let chafing put a damper on your boating day. The Oh Buoy Swim Shorts from Saxx will keep the boys comfortable thanks to a form-fitting mesh liner and the company’s famous BallPark Pouch. On the outside shell, you’ll get four convenient pockets and a stylish pattern that’s sure to nab some compliments from your crew.
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