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surfers at sunset

With summer comes glorious sunset sessions that end when it’s too dark to surf. Photo: Austin Neill

The Inertia

Summer is here. For most of us, summer means warmer water, smaller waves, and more time at the beach than the rest of the year. If you want to take full advantage of the fun this season brings with it, you’ll need to make sure that you have the essential summer surf gear. There’s nothing worse than missing waves because the sun got to you, you’re dehydrated, or you don’t have the right equipment for the day.

You can be prepared for whatever comes your way this summer. Check out some of our essential summer surf gear to enhance your day at the beach by upping your wave count or simply helping you enjoy what summer has to offer.

catch surf stump

A Soft-Top Surfboard

One of the joys of summer is finding ways to make the most out of subpar waves. If you’ve ever seen Jamie O’Brien or anything from BeefsTV, you know there is nothing like a soft-top for infusing fun into your surfing. Whether the surf is less than mediocre or pumping, a soft-top can work great. Plus, riding a soft-top means that you won’t have to worry about dinging your board in the maelstrom that is summer crowds.

A shorter soft-top like the Catch Surf Stump makes a solid all-around board for anyone looking for a good summer ride. Since it’s still a soft-top, there’s plenty of float so you can catch and ride pretty much anything. The Catch Surf Stump is also shorter than your normal board which makes it the perfect choice for packing it into closeouts or fitting into the pocket of smaller surf. Whatever the ocean throws at you, you’ll have a board that will go great in those conditions. If this soft-top shredder isn’t your style, check out the great options in our guide to the best soft-tops.


jacks surfboards umbrella

Jack’s Surfboards Beach Umbrella

If we’re being completely honest, we know that we’re not just going to the beach to surf in the summer. It’s about hanging out and spending the day in the sun. These can be long days. Unless you want to roast and dehydrate yourself, you’ll need to bring shade with you. A solid umbrella is a must. But, most umbrellas are large and heavy. The best beach umbrellas (like this beach umbrella from Jack’s Surfboards) are thin and lightweight so you can still carry all of your other toys. Plus, thinner umbrellas are a breeze to set up in the sand so you don’t have to spend all your time just setting up.


surf brush

Surf Brush

I was gifted one of these a while back and it’s been a game changer. I thought I loved the feeling of sand being everywhere in my car and at my house. It was kind of comforting, you know. Now that I’m able to brush the sand off, I realized it wasn’t comforting. I just didn’t know that everything didn’t have to be coated in a layer of sand.

Brushing your gear off and keeping the sand away from your car is a game changer. Plus, being able to quickly clean up means that you can extend your sessions and still make whatever plans you might have made since you’ll be less likely to be covered in grainy dirt. A quick brushing off and nobody even knows that you snuck off for a quick surf.


dakine mission surf backpack

Dakine Wet/Dry Surf Backpack

Spending the day at the beach requires a fair amount of supplies. If you just think you’ll be able to shove it all in your pockets or carry it by hand you’re definitely mistaken. A good backpack makes a world of difference when it comes to spending the day at the beach.

If you’re looking for a beach backpack, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is space. You’ll want enough to carry any gear you need, but you most likely don’t need the biggest pack out there. Second, you want to make sure that it’s functional for what you’ll be doing. Fortunately, Dakine makes solid gear and even thinks of everything such as a wet/dry section so you have somewhere to put a wetsuit jacket or pair of trunks that won’t soak everything else. Or, you can use the wet/dry bag as a cooler in a pinch if you bring cold beverages and ice. That’s just on top of the other features that are already included in Dakine packs.


nomadix original towel lifestyle shot best beach towels

Nomadix Towel

Hopefully, you get to spend a lot of time at the beach in the summer. Having a big soft towel will make any beach day better. Whether you’re looking to dry off or relax in the sun, a good towel is definitely an essential. When looking for a towel, it’s important to make sure you get one that is light, dries quickly, and can easily be packed into your bag. Fortunately, Nomadix makes towels that check every box. Or, check out other options here.


hydroflask in pink

Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Just because something is obvious, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be said. Summer is hot and salt water will dehydrate you. Make sure that you’re prepared when you go to the beach and have fluids to drink. If you want to surf or just hang out for any extended amount of time, water is a must.

Having some water doesn’t mean you’re set though. We all know that warm weather and sun-heated water is the worst. At least, it’s almost as bad as the environmental damage of plastic water bottles. Fortunately, Hydro Flask can help out on both fronts. With a Hydro Flask, you can keep your water cool so it’s still refreshing when you’re ready for it. The more water you bring with you, the longer you can stay out. A 32-ounce bottle is large enough to help you extend any beach trip longer than you otherwise would or help you feel like paddling out for a second session.


dakine daylight thruster boardbag

Dakine Board Bag

Everyone tries surfing once the water warms up. More people means you have to either park farther away or find more secluded breaks. Both of which mean more walking for you. Keeping your board in a bag not only makes it easier to carry, but it also keeps your board safer from those random bumps that always seem to happen on the way from the car to the water.

Equally as important, a board bag is a must for keeping your board out of the sun. A yellowing board is just a bummer, but melted wax can be a session ruiner. A board bag can keep your stick out of the heat so that it’s ready when you need it. The Dakine Daylight Thruster Surfboard Bag is an economical option that will ensure your board’s ready to ride this summer. It will definitely stop wax from getting everywhere in your car which is enough right there. In short, this bag takes care of your board protection.


XCEL 2​/1mm Axis Long Sleeve Wetsuit Jacket

XCEL Wetsuit Jacket

Even though the water is warmer in the summer, it can still feel chilly. That’s why you need to make sure you have something that can keep the wind off your back so you can surf for longer. A wetsuit jacket has a few things going for it that make it ideal for the summer. With the warmer water, you won’t have to worry about overheating if you’re just in a top instead of an actual wetsuit. Plus, wetsuit jackets are easy to pack for a day at the beach. They’re easy to take on and off without getting your wetsuit jacket sandy. Best of all, a jacket is small enough that you can dry it between sessions.

There are a few different types of jacket options you can try: front zip, back quarter zip, or zipperless. In my experience, I’ve found zipperless to be the easiest option and back quarter zip to be the worst. Front zips can be uncomfortable for paddling and zipperless jackets can be trickier to put on, but they also fit the snuggest. Plus, there is often a cord to tighten the waist so you won’t have to worry about your jacket riding up. Xcel makes great wetsuit jackets that come at an affordable price.


Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen

Sun Bum Sunscreen

Everyone wants to be tan in the summer, but no one wants to look like an old leather couch. If you forget sunscreen you’re probably just going to end up burnt and feeling like a piece of jerky in thirty years. But in all seriousness, the summer sun is especially harsh and can cause lasting damage like skin cancer. Make sure you have a solid go-to sunscreen and plenty of it. I recommend something with zinc so that it stays on in the water. And, if you wear sunscreen with zinc-oxide, you’ll always be able to tell where your sunscreen is applied. When looking for the right sunscreen, make sure to try to get something reef-safe so you can protect the natural world we’re enjoying, too.

We tested nine different reef-safe sunscreens, which you can check out here, or purchase Sun Bum, one of our favorites, through the links below.



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