My lady and I are HUGE lake day lovers, and have been for years.
Since travel is work for us, a day at the lake feels like a vacation, with time for swimming, enjoying a lake float, grilling food, watching birds and butterflies, and just hanging out with friends and family.
We’ve been going to Lake Allatoona in Cartersville GA 3 to 4 times a week for the last 13 years– ever since we bought a used pontoon boat in 2010. And now we’re searching for our own lake house in the Blue Ridge Mountains!
We always make a habit of visiting as many lakes as possible when we travel the Blue Ridge region.
Some of our favorites include Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee GA, Bass Lake and Price Lake on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC, Lake Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge GA, Carters Lake in Ellijay GA, and Smith Mountain Lake near Bedford VA.
Over the years we’ve figured out a fairly manageable lake packing list that has all of the lake accessories we (and our two dogs) will need for an awesome summer outing.
Every year we discover cool new lake accessories to add to our lake packing list. Some of our favorites include a rocking camp chair, massive sundeck-style lake floats, and a roll-up table that’s perfect for picnics.
Read on for our in-depth guide to the Best Lake Day Gear for Summer, from grills and cooler bags to sunglasses, swimsuits, water shoes, and much more!
READ MORE: The 10 Best Lake Houses in Georgia to Rent
Best Lake Day Gear & Accessories Guide
- Lake Floats & Lake Toys
- Lake Day Relaxation
- Comfortable Water Shoes
- Sunglasses & Accessories
- Lake Bags & Bakcpacks
- Lake Cooking Gear
READ MORE: The 15 Best Lakes in Georgia to Visit
Lake Floats & Lake Toys
Itiwit Ultra Compact Inflatable SUPs
My daughter was never much into lake toys for kids. But when she got a standup paddle board as a teenager, she thought it was one of the most fun lake toys for adults because it allowed her freedom to explore the lake.
The only problem was that her SUP was large, heavy, and difficult to transport. But the Itiwit Ultra Compact & Inflatable SUPs are excellent inflatable lake toys because they pack down into their own easy-to-carry 30L backpack.
They’re available in 3 sizes– Small (8′, up to 130 pounds), Medium (9′, 130 to 175 pounds), and Large (10′, 175 to 550 pounds)– with a weight that ranges from 13 to 17.5 pounds.
They’re wide enough to offer superb stability, and they’re easy to inflate with the Itiwit pump (sold separately).
SUPing is great exercise, and (much like kayaking) it’s a perfect way to enjoy a day of lake fun if you don’t own a boat!
INTEX Floating Recliner Inflatable Lounge Chair
As entrepreneurs who juggle managing 3 to 4 business ventures at any given time, our downtime is precious.
When it comes to rest and relaxation, there’s no better way to spend a day at the lake than lounging in a float, with a cold adult beverage close at hand.
Measuring 71″L x 53″ W and made from heavy duty 18-gauge vinyl, the float rugged and durable enough to last.
We especially love the two cup holders, carrying handles, and adjustable air chambers that allow you to personalize how firm you want the support.
PaddleSmash Backyard Game
We love playing games as a family, but there aren’t many lake games made for playing on dry land (other than the ubiquitous Corn Hole).
Created by inventor Joe Bingham, PaddleSmash is a family-friendly game that combines elements of Pickleball and Spikeball. But it’s portable and doesn’t require much space: All you need is a flat surface!
Recommended for adults and teens ages 12 and up, the game requires 2 to 4 players and uses the same sort of “bump, set, smash” pattern you use in Volleyball. If you miss or fail to get it over the net, the other team scores.
The easy-to-learn game comes with everything you need, including 1 PaddleSmash court, a foldable net, 4 pickleball paddles, and 2 pickleballs.
We love that the PaddleSmash court also doubles as a carrying case, and can easily see this becoming one of our favorite games for the lake.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Lakes in Tennessee to Visit
Lake Day Relaxation
Crua Outdoors Koala Maxx Double Hammock & Coalatree Wanderer Double Hammock
I’ve never been a huge hammock fan. For a guy my size (6’3″, 250+ pounds), they’re difficult to get into and out of, and they aren’t very comfortable even once you’re settled in.
Crua Outdoors is changing the game with their Koala Maxx 2-person Hammock, which uses spreader bars underneath to prevent that burrito-like feeling of enclosure and Scionn Tabs on the side to ensure optimum flat-lay positioning.
Measuring 116″ long and 78″ wide, this hammock was updated in 2020 to include a thicker 360º bug mesh, upgraded zippers, removable pockets, and a stronger construction that can hold up to 500 pounds.
The Wanderer Double Hammock from Coalatree is a more affordable and eco-friendly option. It’s got triple-stitched seams, a stuff sack that doubles as a pocket, and weighs just 24.6 ounces.
Measuring 114″ x 71″, with a weight capacity of up to 660 pounds, it comes with two basic tree straps. or you can upgrade to their Tree Hugger Hammock Straps, which are easy to set up for a day (or weekend) of lakeside lounging.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Campgrounds in Virginia
GCI Roadtrip Rocker
This chair is made with a patented Spring Action Rocking Technology. So while it does not look like a conventional rocking chair, it does the job just as well (if not better).
Its padded armrests and mesh backrest keep you comfy for a full day of chillaxing by the water, while the beverage holder pocket… well, we don’t need to explain why that’s great.
It’s a perfect, portable combination: A rocking chair that folds into a bag, then unfolds to be one of the most comfortable camping chairs we’ve ever tested.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Campgrounds in Georgia to Visit
Thermacell Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller
Of all the tech gear we’ve gotten over the years, the Thermacell Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller is one we use the most often.
North Georgia gets hot and humid, and mosquitos are a constant presence in the foothills and valleys for much of the year. So we use this DEET-free mosquito repeller for coffee in the garden, lunch on the patio, and picnics at the lake.
Charged via USB, the device provides up to 5.5 hours of protection with the push of a button. It comes with a 40-hour repellent cartridge plus a 12-hour refill, with other refills sold separately.
In our experience, the advertised 20-foot protection radius is a bit of an exaggeration. When we meet other couples at the lake, we usually bring two Thermacell devices (despite the fact that we’re less than 10 feet apart).
But with no scent and no spray involved, it’s still a great solution for airborne pests!
Comfortable Water Shoes
Eddie Bauer Women’s Daylight & Men’s Sport Sandals
I learned this lesson the hard way during a visit to Sanibel Island FL about 10 years ago. While walking in knee-deep water, I stepped on a lightning whelk, the business end of which went nearly an inch into my foot!
The lightweight Women’s Daylight Sandal from Eddie Bauer is a great option for ladies. Mary loves the adjustable nylon webbing straps, the comfortable support of the cushioning EVA footbed and midsoles, and the durable Vibram rubber outsole.
Their Men’s Sport Sandals are also a great option. They offer adjustable criss-crossed webbing straps, a molded EVA footbed and midsole, and a MultiPitch rubber outsole that helps with reducing impact.
They’re especially good on the rough terrain we recently encountered while hiking to various North Carolina waterfalls.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Virginia Waterfalls for Hiking
Chaco Z1 Classic Sandal Womens & Mens
When it comes to water shoes, Chaco is one of the oldest and most reliable brands in the business.
Launched in 1989 by a Colorado white water rafting guide, they were all about outdoor adventure from the very start.
It’s named for the Z-shaped straps that criss-cross to wrap your foot in a fully customized fit.
We also love the cushioning comfort of the podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT PU footbed, and the durable ChacoGrip rubber outsole for excellent traction on even the most slippery surfaces.
Xtratuff Women’s & Men’s Auna Sandals
If I’m being brutally honest (and I usually am), I’m not a fan of flip flops.
For whatever reason, I’ve just never liked the feeling of having anything between my toes, nor do I like the sound they make when they “fwap fwap” as you walk.
That being said, the Women’s & Men’s Auna Sandals from XTRATUF are specifically designed to be comfortable for long days on the water.
They feature a “TUFgrp” slip-resistant outsole that provides extra traction on wet, flat, or uneven terrain. TUFgrp has been independently verified to deliver a non-marking grip that makes them great for boat decks in particular.
Sunglasses & Accessories
Zeal Optics Open Hearts Sunglass Collection
His Open Hearts Collection offers a colorful update on Zeal Optics’ classic Crowley and Windsor frames, including four different two-tone combinations of colors.
Both of these frames are made from plant-based materials and feature polarized lenses, with the Crowley offering round frames with smooth lines and the Windsor featuring an oval shape and a keyhole bridge.
Best of all, $5 from each Open Hearts Collection purchase will be donated to SOS Outreach, a non-profit that helps develop youth leadership skills and life skills and fosters improved mental health via outdoor adventures.
Dragon Alliance Finch LL & Wilder LL
If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’m rarely seen without my trademark prescription sunglasses.
It’s not just that shades make you look cool (although they most definitely do). I also have blue eyes that are extremely sensitive to bright lights, especially headlights when I’m driving at night.
Dragon Alliance’s Finch LL and Wilder LL sunglasses are part of their Upcycled Collection. So in addition to looking sharp and providing 100% UV protection, they’re also made using recycled PET material from 5 plastic water bottles.
In terms of style, the Finch has a timeless unisex design that looks great with Matte Tortoise frames, while the Wilder has more of that classic Risky Business look that never goes out of fashion.
As Mary and I have gotten older, we’ve increasingly prioritized exercise in an effort to improve our overall health.
I’ve been using high-performance Momentum Watches for more than 10 years now (both for Scuba diving and lake swimming) because they’re water-resistant up to 200 meters/656 feet.
Their new Torpedo Pro Eclipse Solar Dive Watch is a significant upgrade on my previous model. It’s got a brushed stainless steel case, a 120-click rotatable diving bezel, and a virtually scratch-proof sapphire crystal.
But my favorite new feature is the solar-powered quartz movement, which can last up to 6 months in pitch darkness after a full charge. That means no more need for battery replacement!
Nomadix Towel Parks Collection
Each of these full-sized towels features a retro-hip pennant for one of the most popular national parks (including Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park).
All of their stylish towels are made from certified post-consumer recycled plastic according to Global Recycled Standards.
And we love the fact that 15% of each towel Nomadix sells will be donated to protecting our National Parks, so you can feel good about your purchase helping to fund nature/wildlife conservation.
Lake Bags & Backpacks
Dakine Cyclone II Dry Pack & Uncharted Supply Co The Vault
Whether you’re an avid boater, kayaker, or standup paddle boarder, waterproof bags are absolutely essential to keeping your gear dry during a day on the water.
We often work at the lake, which means there are thousands of dollars worth of computers, smartphones, and cameras that need to be protected from the elements.
The 36L Dakine Cyclone II Dry Pack was designed for surfers, but it’s also a great travel bag for anyone who spends time on the water. We love the welded design, roll-top closure, breathable ergonomic back panel, laptop sleeve, and exterior pockets.
Uncharted Supply Co’s The Vault is a waterproof duffel bag/backpack hybrid that features 3 pockets to keep your gear dry and organized. It also includes an air valve that compresses cumbersome items and has multiple attachment points that make it easy to hang the bag on your boat or other recreational vehicles.
COR Surf Travel Backpack Bundle
This is another new product that was originally designed for surfers, but can be used by anyone who spends a lot of time in and around the water.
Measuring 19 x 11.5 x 9 inches and weighing just 1.83 pounds, the 38L backpack folds out like a suitcase, with 3 compression packing cubes for keeping all your essential gear organized.
Their water-resistant bundle also includes a compact toiletry bag, an additional laundry bag that doubles as a shoe bag, anti-theft pockets, and a shock-proof padded laptop pocket.
All in all, it’s a great bad at an impressively affordable price.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Lakes in the Virginia Mountains
Sea to Summit 65L Big River Dry Bag & Dry Bag Sling
As avid lake lovers who spend 10-15 hours a week on our boat, the importance of dry bags in our daily lives cannot be overstated.
We’ve had one on the boat for 13+ years now: It protects everything from grill tools and lighters to pot holders, napkins, toilet paper and more.
After 13 years, our old dry bag is looking a little worse for wear. But this month we tested a new Sea to Summit dry bag that will make a great replacement.
Their 65L Big River Dry Bag is truly massive, measuring 28.3 x 15 x 13.9 inches, weighing 15.3 ounces, and made from a non-PFC, 420D waterproof fabric. It’s got an oval base design, is abrasion-resistant, and features a non-wicking roll-top closure.
We also highly recommend paying the extra $9.95 to get their Dry Bag Sling, a detachable strap which allows for comfortable hands-free carrying of any of the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bags.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Kayaking Rivers in Georgia
Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler & Igloo Reactor Portable Cooler Bag
Lugging all the stuff you need for a fun family day at the lake can be exhausting. And if you’re on a boat, where space is typically at a premium, those massive 50+ quart coolers take up a lot of room.
The waterproof Igloo Reactor Cooler Bag offers an awesome middle ground. Weighing just over 2 pounds and measuring 12.3 x 11.6 x 10.2 inches, it’s big enough to keep 18 cans ice-cold all day, but small enough not to get in the way of all the fun.
Noteworthy features include Advanced MaxCold insulation (which keeps food cold up to two days), a sturdy compression-molded base for stability, and a leakproof T-bar zipper pull.
Stoic’s Hybrid Backpack Cooler is a more affordable option that weighs just under 3 pounds, measures 19 x 13 x 9 inches, and has a 24-can carrying capacity.
We love the compression-molded bottom (which enhances durability), attached bottle opener, and the fact that the entire bag is waterproof.
Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0
While driving our boat back to the marina at Lake Allatoona a few days ago, we went past some campgrounds.
The wafting smell of campfires brought back boyhood memories of hiking the Appalachian Trail in Georgia with my family.
Even now, nearly 50 years later, I still love cooking on an open fire, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows for S’mores!
The new Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 is a great option for having a bonfire at the lake or beaches where open campfires are not allowed.
Made from stainless steel, the 19.5 x 14 inch fire pit is portable (23.3 pounds, with its own carrying case), smokeless, and includes a removable base plate/ash pan to make clean-up easy.
One of the coolest gifts Mary has ever gotten me was a UFO-shaped gas grill that could be mounted on the side of our pontoon boat. Nearly 10 years later, we still use it almost every time we go to the lake.
For those that don’t have a boat, the Eureka SPRK Camp Grill could prove equally handy.
Unlike traditional camping stoves, the SPRK exchanges burners for a compact grill (total measurements 16.6″W x 11.5″L x 4.6″H) with a non-stick ceramic grate.
The integrated fuel compartment holds an 8 oz butane canister, burning up to 7250 BTU/h to provide that perfect sear that makes grilled meats and veggies so exquisitely tasty.
We love that it weighs just 8.8 pounds, has a removable drip trip to make cleanup a breeze, and includes a handy carrying case for the sake of portability. It’s a great little hack for lakeside cooking when a campfire isn’t possible!
Klean Kanteen TK Canisters
Going to the beach and lakes in North Georgia as a kid, my grandma always brought food in Tupperware containers, and we drank out of aluminum cups that left a metallic taste in your mouth.
Some 40 years later, plastic-free products are vastly preferred, and the family-owned, Climate Neutral Certified Klean Kanteen is part of a movement towards more sustainable drinkware and food storage solutions.
Their new and improved TK Canisters are great for transporting hot and cold drinks, soups, and stews.
They’re available in 8, 16, and 32 oz sizes, all of which include an easy-carry swivel loop.
Our favorite features include Climate Lock double-wall vacuum insulation, a wide mouth for easy eating and filling, and TK Closure internal threads for improved thermal performance.
prAna Lurisia One-Piece & Marina One-Piece
Started in a garage in Carlsbad CA in 1992, prAna has been one of Mary’s favorite clothing brands for years.
They were originally focused on apparel for rock climbing and yoga enthusiasts, but in recent years they’ve expanded into all sorts of “athleisure” wear.
These days they also have lines specifically designed for hiking trails, lounging, traveling, and more.
Though she’s usually more of a bikini gal, the suits were ultra-flattering and supportive for her curvy figure. Between the sexy cut, stretchy recycled nylon fabric, and eye-catching patterns, these rank among her favorite one-piece swimsuits.
Aloha From Japan Shorey Boardshorts & Bucket Hat
Krimson Klover Chelsea One-Piece Swimsuit
One of the problems Mary often has is finding swimsuits that flatter her curvy figure, but don’t look like the traditional “mom swimsuits” most middle-aged women seem to prefer.
And since we tend to swim laps every time we go to the lake, she also needs a swimsuit that can retain its shape in the water, and can handle hours of exposure to sunlight (and chlorine in the offseason, when we swim in indoor pools).
Available in 5 striking patterns (including the “Spectrum Stripe pictured here) and basic black, the Chelsea One-Piece Swimsuit from the female-owned Krimson Klover offers a great blend of coverage and support.
Made from comfortable 4-way stretch nylon and spandex, the swimsuit includes built-in bra cups and UPF 50+ protection, which is great for those long, luxurious days on the lake. –reviews by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett