Men's Hawaiian Shorts and Woman's Skirt from Immersion Research, the Flip Snorkel and Fino Mask, and Twin Jen Full Foot fins
Whether your locus is marine or riverine, water is the star of the show, and like any celebrity, it makes particular demands. Whether you're bonefishing Bahamian flats, longboarding in Baja, or sailing in Mission Bay, you need airy, quick-dry garb, waterproof paraphernalia, and some cutting-edge toys.
Safely crash yacht-club luncheons wearing Sportif's Teton Polo ($48); it has the Republican looks of a classic cotton polo but incorporates 45 percent CoolMax for quick-dryability, while a loose weave lets sea breezes blow through. The organic cotton/polyester blend of Patagonia's Puckerware Shirt ($58) is crinkled for a slightly rumpled look and a cool, loose feel. The Mountain Hardwear long-sleeve, two-ply supplex Canyon Shirt ($82) has more technical cachetit was designed for canyoneering, when you need sun protection, ventilation, and instant dry-out. Nice touch: uncrackable rubber buttons. The Prana Congo Short ($49) is made from a sensual sueded nylon, has a neoprene waistband (comfy wet or dry), and a big pleated cargo pocket that's zippered and Velcroed for security and mesh-sided for draining. Carabiner grommets on the legs are a cool touch even if you haven't a clue what they're for. Immersion Research's nylon Surf Pants with draining pocket ($62) look like the offspring of board shorts and blue jeanswear them for long days of sunny wet stuff (rafting, sailing) or as an apres-surf cover. Sportif's almost-dressy Matecumbe Convertible Pant ($70) mates the zip-off leg thing with a built-in CoolMax brief; ergo the rugged, multipocketed, sanded-nylon trousers are also worthy swim trunks. The long-cut Men's Hawaiian Shorts ($55) and Women's Skirt ($44) from Immersion Research utilize a supple microfiber that's amazingly soft, yet immune to sogginess. You wanna touch 'em as well as wear 'em. For women, Tyr's Reversible Tankini ($75) is at once sexy and jocky; the long-cut top and bottom stay put even in Ho'okipa waves. Reversing either half of the Lycra/Antron blend suit gives you four different combos.
Head and Toes
Kavu's Chillba hat ($29): A broad-brimmed, conical foam upper is shaped like those of rice farmers, and it barely touches your noggin, which is coolly swathed in adjustable, wide-open-mesh webbing. Bonus: It floats. Hats are helpless in the face of glare, though. The polarized, blue-mirrored lenses of Costa Del Mar's Fathom sunglasses ($149) eliminate glare and deliver a crisp, better-than-reality view while nonslip temples keep them where you want them. But if you're spending time in the water rather than looking at it, strap on Oakley's Water Jacket ($190)a great surf or windsurf shade; with its boldly wrapped and vented frame, head strap, lanyard, and polycarbonate lenses, it borders on a goggle. The Teva Spitfire Deck Sandals ($79) combine Teva's most tenacious retention system (buckled straps rather than Velcro; your foot will come off before the sandals do) with grippy soles that won't mark the deck of the yacht you're staring at from behind the marina gate. Or go casual with Gravis's leather Low Tide flip-flops ($40). Oakley's Big Smoke Sandal ($70) is a roomy neoprene-lined slip-in that snugs with one yank of a toggled cord; an ample carbon-rubber outsole, injection-molded EVA midsole, and urethane-padded footbed combine to create outstanding foot support. Merrell's Shoreline Stretch water shoes ($70) aren't quite so supportivebut they're still more so than most ventilated water shoes, and they provide full-foot protection with a neoprene-and-mesh upper.