best in class

The 6 Very Best Beach Carts and Wagons

For carrying both towels and toddlers.

Photo: Hugo Yu
Photo: Hugo Yu

In this article

A day on the sand is much more relaxing if you have the right gear: windproof shelter, fluffy towel, cooler full of snacks, reclining chair. But that’s a whole lot of heavy stuff to traipse along the shore with, especially if you’re a big family or group. This is where beach carts (which have two wheels) and wagons (four wheels) come in handy. Half-wheelbarrow, half–shopping trolley, these big-wheeled beasts can roll across wet and dry sand no matter the weight of their contents. The recommendations below include a beach wagon that becomes a beach chair, beach wagons we use ourselves, and the status wagon at one New Jersey beach.

What we’re looking for

Payload

We looked for beach wagons that can hold all of your belongings and perhaps a toddler or two. All of our recommendations should have enough capacity for a family beach day with the exception of a smaller two-wheeled cart more suited to a smaller crew. We’ve taken note of the maximum payload of each cart, and all of these can hold at least 100 pounds.

Wheel size

“The bigger the wheel, the more traction the wagon can get to pull over the sand,” says Perfect Picnic founder Wendy Weston, who uses beach wagons to set up her outdoor events. We looked for wagons with chunky wheels that can plow through sand as well as those with a sturdy telescoping handle. Just note, though, that wagons with smaller wheels are easier to store — and to use on non-sandy urban terrain.

Extra features

We took note of any fun extras on each of our wagons and carts, including cupholders and storage bags. In general, we checked that all of these wagons can be stored relatively easily, especially favoring those that pack flat but can be reassembled without too much fuss.

Best overall beach wagon

Photo: retailer

Payload: 150 lbs. | Wheels: Four superwide plastic wheels | Extra features: Heavy-duty construction, drink holders, storage bag, flat storage

MacSports’ wagons have come up frequently in our outdoors coverage, and Weston told us that while they’re perfect for picnics anywhere, she’s a big fan of them for beach outings in particular. Her personal favorite is this All Terrain Beach Wagon, which folds completely flat and can carry a lot of weight. Most important — and this distinguishes it from some of the other contenders below — this wagon has a truly monster-truck set of wheels, including two “big wheels in the center, which make it much easier to pull in the sand,” Weston notes. We also like that, unlike some cheaper carts out there, the frame is made from steel as opposed to plastic.

Best less expensive beach wagon

Photo: retailer

Payload: 150 lbs. | Wheels: Four wide plastic wheels | Extra features: Flat storage, storage bag, multiple colorways, drink holders

Weston also likes this more affordable MacSports wagon, which has proved popular with hundreds of Strategist readers over the years as well. Unlike our best overall pick above, this wagon has smaller wheels that are evenly weighted rather than triangulated. Weston says it folds “completely flat and can carry a lot of weight.” While combing the more than 5,000 reviews for this beach wagon, we noticed that two consistent points of praise are its durability and convenience. Other things to like, according to those reviewers, include an easy-to-steer handle, the wagon’s foldable construction, and its generous size.

Best beach wagon with side table

Payload: 150 lbs. | Wheels: Four superwide plastic wheels | Extra features: drink holders, storage bag, flat storage, side table

Strategist senior editor Kayleen Schaefer has spent several seasons honing her on-the-sand setup, which includes a beloved Shibumi beach shade. To cart all of their gear to the perfect spot each time, her boyfriend, Julien du Castel, invested in this MacSports wagon that features a built-in side table with two drink holders and space for food. While they both think the wagon is great, du Castel notes that the big wheels make this wagon more difficult to store in a car. If you think you would have similar issues, the MacSports wagon above has a much smaller set.

Best beach cart

Photo: retailer

Payload: 220 lbs. | Wheels: Two superwide balloon wheels | Extra features: Removable kickstand and handlebars for storage

Former Strategist head of audience engagement Mia Leimkuhler’s aunt and uncle, Mary and Fran Gramkowski, spend their summers by the beach in Brigantine, New Jersey. They told us they’ve used this lovely-looking two-wheeled beach cart “for almost 20 years, and it’s still working as good as new.” According to the Gramkowskis, it’s a bit of a status item in Brigantine. “A lot of people use them here because they move well through soft sand with a full load,” Fran says. “Once you get good at balancing the load, you can push or pull it using one hand.” As opposed to some of the more industrious family-friendly wagons on this list, we think it’s just perfect for a style-conscious couple hitting the strand.

Best convertible beach cart

Payload: 100 lbs. | Wheels: Two superwide plastic wheels | Extra features: Flat storage, transforms into a chaise

As readers of this site know, we’re always looking for ingeniously designed products — especially ones made so thoughtfully they can be used in multiple ways. So as we trawled the internet researching beach wagons, it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that this one, which becomes an actual beach chair, stopped us in our tracks. While some wagons on this list can be converted to become more like chairs, this one is designed to transform into the exact style of lounger you would otherwise tote with you. MacSports says this model, when locked into its wagon shape, “easily rolls over grass, pavement, or sand” thanks to its rugged wheels, which can hold up to 100 pounds. Once you’ve found your spot, the cart can be folded out into a lounger with a built-in pillow headrest for added comfort and can support even more weight (as a chair, it holds up to 225 pounds).

Best beach wagon for kids

Payload: 120 lbs. | Wheels: Four wide rubber wheels | Extra features: Safety harnesses, cupholders, shade canopy

Radio Flyer’s sturdy rubber-wheeled wagons are designed to carry the most precious cargo of all: your toddlers. They have received the stamp of approval from no less than three Strategist moms — editor Alexis Swerdloff, contributing editor Jessica Silvester, and writer Lauren Ro — all of whom personally use them with their own kiddos. Taking up not much more space than a regular stroller, these feature safety harnesses, cupholders, a shade canopy, and brakes. There’s a removable rear storage bag for stashing snacks and other beach-day bits.

Our experts

• Mia Leimkuhler, former head of audience engagement, the Strategist
• Lauren Ro, writer, the Strategist
• Kayleen Schaefer, senior editor, the Strategist
• Jessica Silvester, contributing editor, New York
• Alexis Swerdloff, deputy editor, New York
• Wendy Weston, founder, Perfect Picnic

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The 6 Very Best Beach Carts and Wagons