The beach takes all comers, from the co-ed craziness of Lake Havasu to the steady drone of house music on the coasts of Goa to the subdued southern stretches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Regardless of how fast and loose you choose to play it—inspired by serenity or whiskey—you deserve to look good and be well outfitted. And, whichever spring break avenue you prefer, this handful of products will make that week a truly blissed-out affair.
1.Shwood Newports, $129; 2. Lifeproof Smart Case, 80 and Up; 3. BioLite SolarPanel 5+, $80; 4. Outdoor Tech Big Turtle Shell, $200; 5. Keen Uneek Round Cord, $100; 6. Prana Cali Dress, $85; 7. Merrell Palm Rope Print, $85.
Photo: Matthew Straubmuller, CC-BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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This new model from Shwood takes what they've already accomplished—hand-crafting high-quality wood-frame sunglasses—to a whole new level by employing premium Mazzuchelli acetate, a material made from cotton and wood pulp. This strong, all-natural product dominates the frame, with stylish mahogany overlays at the temples. The Carl Zeiss Vision lenses come with 100% UV protection, superior coating to mellow out bright days, and unrivaled clarity.
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All the things that make the beach what it is—the sand, the surf, the occasional thunderstorm, the ocean itself—wreak havoc on our smart devices. To stop the elements from killing your phone (and the high cost of replacing your device), nestle your phone into a LifeProof case. They protect you from dust, damage, and full submersion in water without adding a ton of bulk—and without interfering with your phone's port, controls, or features. LifeProof has cases for just about every phone on the market as well as the full family of iPads.
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This new, ultra-thin solar panel will save you from that inevitable beachside phone battery drain. An integrated sundial helps you align the panel to best capture the rays, with a 360-degree kickstand to make it easy to always achieve the optical angle—or to strap it to your backpack if you're hiking back to the house. An onboard battery within the 5+ stores energy for later, ready to charge your phones, tablets, and other BioLite gear (like their award-winning lanterns) when reserves start to dip. If only it was versatile enough to charge a hybrid.
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If music is a central ingredient to your day at the beach, this water-resistant, dust and shock-proof behemoth of portable speaker will make you the mix master. The Bluetooth connection reaches distances of up more than 32 feet, with the ability to change tracks and adjust volume via on-panel controls. And this beast is loud, blasting out at 110 decibels. Audio commands make pairing easy, and you can even take phone calls (or launch Siri) through the speaker. Just no work calls, please.
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Chances are, when you first see Keen's new take on the traditional sandal, you'll either love it or hate it. Uneek may not match everyone's aesthetic, but the design is truly one of a kind. It utilizes two free-moving woven round chords to form the bulk of the shoe, which shifts and conforms to the shape of your feet. This affords freedom of movement and a highly breathable structure, paired with a high-traction rubber outsole and a microfiber heel back. Use them to wander the beach, jump in the deep end (literally—they're fully water friend), or for long slogs on the boardwalk thanks to the comfortable, durable midsole.
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The scoop neck, empire seam, and dropped hem make this dress a show-stopper, especially if you match that beach locale by selecting one of the fun, floral prints. But beyond its attractive aesthetic, the Cali also utilizes Prana's tropics-friendly Veeda fabric for high-performance stretch and moisture management. The mixture of spun and recycled poly also means it dries quickly.
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This is the upgraded version of your grandfather's old Hawaiian shirt thanks to the Coolmax fabric, which makes up 38% of the shirt and successfully wicks sweat away from the body. The rest of the shirt is made of soft cotton, and the bold hex pattern pays homage the loud flower prints of old—but without screaming.