Keeping your kids safe and happy in the water is certainly a balancing act. Photo: Laylan Connelly

Chances are, if you’re passionate about the water, you threw your kid into the ocean when they were a baby – while other beach-going parents were likely pulling out their phones to call the authorities.

Generally, we can’t wait to pass on or love of the natural world to our kids. And really, how many summers do you have before your son or daughter no longer needs to hold your hand before they want to paddle down to the next peak to surf with their buddies, away from good ol’ Mom and Dad?

Those moments at the beach with the kids are fleeting, and you want to make the most of them. That means having a few key pieces of Dad apparatus or Grom Mom essentials; items that are multi-use and essential to lifestyle for the water-going family.

Comfortable Swim Fins

Churchill fins are pretty well trusted after 80-some years. Photo: Courtesy of Churchill

Once you add fins to your daily beach kit , you’ll wonder why you didn’t add them sooner. You don’t need a big set of dive fins, just a good pair of swim fins like Viper, Churchill, Custom X, Da Fin, or Hydro.

They’re awesome for teaching a kid to surf, especially if the tide is too high for you to stand and also very helpful if you’re not dealing with a sand bottom surf spot.

Plus, you have them for bodysurfing, snorkeling, or just going for a swim. And seeing that lifeguards always have them handy, they’re not the worst thing in the world to have around if someone’s in trouble either.

Churchill is kind of the original company, going back to 1940. The Makapuu are made of floating rubber, so they’re much harder to lose.

Solid Roof Racks

Make the most of your wheels with a great roof rack system. Photo: Courtesy of Frank McKenna/Upsplash

Before we even get into your roof rack, let’s assume you’ve already got some kind of adventure mobile outfitted (to some degree or another) for the family – a van, beach buggy or even just a sand-filled station wagon or SUV.

But even if you have an extended cab pickup, roofracks are a must. Unfortunately, many cars are no longer made with rain gutters, rendering those old all-purpose racks from our childhood obsolete. Today, you have to figure out what fits your vehicle’s factory racks.

And while it gets pricey, there are endless options for whatever kind of gear you're hauling – kayaks, bikes, surfboards, camp stove, fishing poles, SUP … the list goes on.

If you have a smaller vehicle, I recommend wider racks that can fit a travel box (Thule, Yakima, etc) in addition to your boards.

Antimicrobial Towel

A good anti microbial towel can go all summer without smelling like monkey butt. Photo: Courtesy of Sceptre Towels

I’ll be the first to admit that I thought $60 for a beach towel was insane. Then someone gave me one. I don’t think I washed it once last summer and it still didn’t smell like a salty mildew mess.

The only downside is that these towels don’t have the best absorption qualities. If you’re somewhere below 65 degrees, don’t expect to be instantly dry and warm.

However, if you have four little sand monsters, four large beach towels can take up a lot of space. They stay wet and eventually they stink. Sceptre makes a stretch towel that’s lightweight, fast drying, antimicrobial and is awesome for getting changed under. One towel could dry the whole crew.

Standup Paddleboard

A good stand-up board is essential for family fun for an ocean, bay, river, lake or reservoir. Photo: Courtesy of Michael L. Baird

This has kind of become standard gear for the active family. For rivers, lakes, bays and areas with calm water and no crowded surf lineups, they’re an ideal tool and toy.

This is something the whole family can use. Dad can paddle out with his rod and take a few casts, Mom can get her core workout, and the kids get hours of fun paddling, climbing on and diving off.

And cruising around flat water with your little toddler is just so much fun. From the lakeside camp to the beach party, a SUP is always going to get plenty of use (just be sure that your roofracks are up solid enough to handle a 12-foot board).

A Good Backpack

Don’t think you have to trade in your good beach or trail pack for some silly Mom beach bag. Photo: Courtesy of Christian Joudrey/Upsplash

A great sport pack is also a great parent pack. Whether you’ve got spare fins and dive knives en route to a remote reef, or juice boxes and beach blankets to the spot just up the street from your summer rental, you’ve got to be sure the pack you have is designed and made well.

You’re going to need the chest strap, wax pocket and water bottle sleeve just like you would on a legit adventure. Don't forget the extra granola bars and fruit snacks.

A Soft Cooler

Plenty of room for apple juice. Photo: Courtesy of Dakine

If you’ve got the means to get a hard cooler to your summer spot, by all means, use it. It will certainly keep your bevvies colder.

But if you’re hoofing it blocks to the beach or hiking the trail to the swimming hole, a lightweight, packable, soft cooler is where it’s at. And some backpacks even come with cooler attachments or insulated compartments.


It’s okay. Be that guy with the GoPro. Photo: Coen

You didn’t want to be that guy, but 10 years from now, you'll be stoked to have footage of their first wave, that family canoe trip, or a boat day … and GoPro cameras capture amazing photo/video quality for the price.

It’s okay … Be that guy.

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