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There’s no better cure for a blisteringly hot day than the beach. It’s a great place to unplug — but I’m a tech nerd at heart (and a tech writer at work) so I still carry a few electronics with me to maximize my relaxation time. Here are a few gadgets that always end up in my beach bag.
While I do read the occasional book, I also have a backlog of magazines, comics and articles I’ve saved online — so reading on a digital device is easier than paper. But reading on your phone or tablet in direct sunlight is darn near impossible, so I recommend one of Amazon’s Kindles instead, which are perfectly suited for outdoor reading. The Kindle Paperwhite is the best balance of price and features, though you might find you prefer a different Kindle model, too.
Your phone is not as waterproof as you think it is. And even if you don’t plan on dunking your phone in the ocean, I recommend some extra protection ith a water-resistant case or bag. Not only will it keep it safe from the kid who tosses a bucket of water near your stuff (“by accident”), but it’ll keep sand out of all the tiny grooves and ports of your phone. The Lifeproof FRE is my personal go-to since it has extra drop protection and easy access to the charging port when I need it.
If Lifeproof doesn’t offer a case for your phone, or if you want to spend a little less, I’ve also used these water-resistant bags with good results. They don’t hug your phone in quite the same way, but they’ll keep it protected from water and sand while keeping the touch screen usable through the plastic.
Of course, you can bring a portable speaker, but be sure to keep it down since not everyone shares the same Spotify Summer Rewind playlist. I prefer to keep my audio to myself. There are a lot of great wireless earbuds out there, and many of them offer high levels of water resistance. But personally, if I’m headed to the beach, I’d rather leave my nice ‘buds at home and bring a cheap pair I don’t have to worry about losing or ruining. If I had to pick one to recommend, it’d probably be TaoTronics’ new SoundLiberty 92. First off, they’re relatively affordable given the quality you’re getting. They don’t use silicone tips, though, which means you don’t get the same sound quality as in-ear models that provide a good seal. But their more open nature does allow you to hear your surroundings a bit better without giving up your music and podcasts. After all, if you’re going to block out the crashing waves and squawking seagulls, why even go to the beach at all?
There aren’t any outlets in the middle of the beach, so if you need a bit of extra juice to keep your Kindle, earbuds, or phone topped off, check out Lifeproof’s Lifeactiv battery pack. Like Lifeproof’s cases, it’s water-resistant and contains some extra drop protection over your traditional battery packs, so it’s a great choice for outdoor use. (Be sure to grab it with the lanyard that doubles as a charging cable, too.)
Lime my earbuds, I’m not stoked about wearing my nice watch to the beach, even if it is water-resistant. And forget my smart watch: The last thing I need is Slack notifications buzzing my wrist when I’m trying to relax. So I plopped $20 down on this Casio watch, with freedom to beat it up however I please. It’s water-resistant, sports a rubber strap that’s perfect for sweaty weather and it comes in a variety of colors for men and women. And if sand scratches up the crystal or gets lodged under the bezel, no worries — that’s what I bought it for.
Okay, it isn’t electronic, but look: This metal insulated water bottle is the best piece of beach gear I’ve ever bought. I’ve had days where the bottle was hot to the touch, but the water inside was still ice cold. I’m convinced this thing has magical powers, which is pretty impressive given its price tag. Skip the plastic bottle and grab one of these the next time you head out in the sun — you won’t regret it.