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What Are the Best Beach Bags?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Beach days (or weeks) can call for a long packing list: a swimsuit, a sun hat, sunscreen, and, of course, the bag you’ll use to transport everything. And if you’re planning to use it all season long (or again next summer), it’ll have to stand up to some tough conditions — we’re talking triple-digit temperatures, greasy tanning-oil stains, and even hauling a damp towel (or soggy swim diaper) — all while keeping your belongings safe along a crowded shoreline. But the ideal beach bag doesn’t need to be overly fancy. “It’s going to get sandy and potentially wet, so I don’t want anything too precious,” says Aemilia Madden, a brand consultant and former senior fashion editor at The Zoe Report.

To uncover the best options, we spoke to 13 cool people — including stand-up paddleboarders, surfers, personal stylists, and our own writers and editors — about their recommendations, plus we pulled celebrity-approved favorites from our archives. Below, you’ll find 12 styles at every price point, made of sturdy canvas, waterproof vinyl, woven straw, and more.

Best under-$50 beach bags

For over two decades, Gina Bradley, the founder of stand-up paddleboarding company Paddle Diva and a mom of two, has been a fan of Lands’ End bags. She says this is her top choice for schlepping the “many accessories that go along with taking care of kids when heading to the beach.” The durable canvas tote has a water-repellent base, and the widely stitched seams give it a clean look and keep it upright even when it’s placed in the sand, Bradley says. But it’s also her go-to for everyday use — or, as she puts it, “it’s actually my handbag.” It has easy-access compartments, like an outside pocket to hold lip balm, and four interior pockets for sunscreen, sunglasses, or business cards, Bradley adds. (She even uses the key-ring attachment to hold extra hair ties.) And like the L.L. Bean Boat Tote seen in the Strategist 100, this Lands’ End option can be monogrammed for an additional $8. (Bradley’s bag is embroidered with “Paddle Diva.”)

After borrowing this tote from a roommate, Strategist junior writer Anna Yeo says she likes it more than the Baggu bags she owns. While the exterior is made of durable polyester, the inside is protected by a waterproof lining to keep valuables clean and dry. Yeo also praises the zippered top, which prevents sand from collecting at the bottom, and adds that it has plenty of space for all her seaside essentials. And at only $11, you can’t beat the Baggu-caliber quality for the price.

Strategist writer Kitty Guo originally received this BonBon tote (bundled with the brand’s Swedish candy) as a gift; however, she quickly took a liking to the 100 percent cotton bag and its “vegan fish monger” theme. Guo says it has three interior compartments, one larger and two small ones, so her items never float around inside. It’s also big enough to fit a blanket, a large towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, a phone, keys, and more. Guo adds that the bright-cobalt print prevented her from losing it on the busy Rockaway Beach boardwalk.

Best under-$100 beach bags

Liz Parry, a veteran ocean lifeguard and the founder of Hamptons Swim, owns this water- and tear-resistant vinyl bag, which a client gifted to her about a year ago. Parry gives the carryall high marks for durability (it can transport her saltwater- or chlorine-soaked items) and comfort (its supportive straps can sustain loads packed to the brim), she says. Small brass grommets along the base are a clever addition, as they help to filter out sand or pebbles, Parry says. She describes the style as timeless with a “quality coastal vibe” perfect for those, herself included, who summer in the Hamptons. It’s available in three sizes and 12 colors, and a monogram can be added for an additional $13.

L.A.-based stylist Charline Zeroual owns this beach bag from sustainable brand Rivedroite Paris and says its quality and spaciousness are unmatched: “It’s big enough to carry all your family’s towels, your children’s toys, your picnic, and all the essentials for a successful beach day.” This machine-washable tote is made from a durable recycled poly-cotton canvas, which means it won’t stain easily. Plus, it’s foldable and can be tucked away in the offseason, Zeroual says. Available in four colorways, including the beige shade shown here, each bag has a ’70s-inspired floral lining and comes with a reusable drawstring pouch that’s perfect for stashing sandy swimsuits or shoes.

Personal stylist Joy Asibey-Gabriel came across this bag (in a slightly different colorway) two years ago in Accra, Ghana, at a boutique inside the Kempinski Hotel. Handmade from colorful recycled plastic, which makes it water-resistant and “indestructible,” the tote is roomy enough to fit towels, snacks, sunglasses, and books, Asibey-Gabriel says. Describing this carryall as a “maximalist’s dream,” she also praises the boxy, structured shape, which gives it an elevated look, and says strangers regularly stop her to compliment the tote and ask where she purchased it.

Although Madden once opted for basic canvas totes, she now calls this roomy checked alternative her go-to for lugging beach necessities. It’s lightweight and sturdy, plus it’s machine-washable, which is essential if the bag gets overly sandy, she says. And when Madden brings snacks or needs to carry a wet towel or surfing booties, this hand-printed tote can get wet and survive spills. A zippered pocket inside is ideal for protecting any technology or small belongings (such as keys, a Kindle, or a camera), but Madden adds a makeup case to stow other small items.

This bag from Monday Swimwear comes recommended by Vanessa Rivers, a surfer, travel writer, and co-founder of We Are Travel Girls, who says it’s lightweight and highly versatile. As someone who’s constantly visiting new beach destinations, Rivers says she likes that she can rely on the look of the natural seagrass material, and its just-right size to pair with any outfit. “I recently spent a week in Bodrum, Turkey, and I used this bag every day at beach clubs and every night for going out to dinner and drinks,” Rivers says. And it still looks brand-new after almost two years of constant travel, she adds.

Best over-$100 beach bags

Graphic artist Geoff McFetridge can’t live without this French nylon tote, which he began using in the ’90s on surf trips. McFetridge describes the brand’s bags as simple but says the largest size is heavy-duty enough to hold four wet suits and he has even carried his daughters in them. He adds that they’re easy to wash because “you can basically just hose them out and throw ’em on the beach” (though the tote does have an interior zip pocket to keep your belongings dry prewash). New York deputy editor Alexis Swerdloff, who owned a similar style in middle school, repurchased the medium size recently and says she’s now using it as her work bag.

Whitney Bickers, owner of the online boutique Myrtle, discovered this line through stylist Erica Kim and says she became “hooked” when she learned of the brand’s accessibility-friendly designs. “Disability visibility has become increasingly important to me as a disabled designer and parent,” Bickers says. She owns this tote and says features like the D-loops, which help clip the bag onto a wheelchair, and the customizable strap lengths, which the brand offers free of charge, make this beach bag a universal option. It’s also sturdy and stain-resistant thanks to the wipeable waxed cotton and the water-repellent nylon interior. A small pocket on the inside keeps her phone secure, and Bickers says once the summer ends, the Market Tote is neat-looking enough to use on everyday outings with her kids.

[Editor’s note: Some of the Parts lists its prices in Canadian dollars, so this is an approximation in U.S. dollars.]

Best over-$200 beach bags

Unlike the other bags on this list, this is a true backpack. It comes recommended by Catherine Bruhwiler, Canada’s first professional female surfer, because it’s extremely durable and versatile. “I can go straight from work at the surf shop with my laptop to the boat and on a remote beach adventure or an evening salmon fish,” she says. A Tofino, British Columbia, local, Bruhwiler says weather on Canada’s west coast can range from rain and cold fog to super-sunny, but this all-day pack, which has a 29-liter capacity, can handle the elements. That’s because it’s completely submersible and has corrosionproof zippers, meaning the hardware won’t rust after repeated exposure to saltwater; plus, the wide top-zipper closure is ideal for loading surfing gear into the main compartment. Bruhwiler also praises Patagonia’s return policy, which ensures the company will repair or replace the item if it rips or snags. “I hope to have this bag until the end of my days,” she says.

Actress Teresa Palmer uses this on beach days, but over the years, it has also acted as her diaper bag, carry-on, and everyday backpack. She says the one-of-a-kind pick has numerous pockets, including one inside with a zip closure and key-fob clasp, plus two side pockets with magnetic snap closures. It also comes with removable shoulder and cross-body straps. Palmer says she appreciates that the company supports women in Guatemala who create the handwoven designs, providing an economy for them and their community.

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What Are the Best Beach Bags?