Swimming Hole Essentials

Nine health and grooming tools for maximum good clean fun

Jump in. The water's fine, and the right gear will keep sunburns, bug bites, and stench at bay.     Photo: MichaelSvoboda/Thinkstock

There’s nothing like late summer’s hot days and cool nights for parking it at rivers, lakes, streams, and hotsprings. But resist the urge to go ultralight: packing in a few extra items will make it all the easier to let your cares drift away.

Hummingbird Wide Mouth Carryon

  Photo: Hummingbird

Plenty of drybags protect clothes and towels from water and dirt, but this one from Hummingbird is the best for easy access. It’s no minimalist at 1.75 pounds, but the ultra-durable, reinforced nylon bottom stays put on rocks and in wind, and we had no trouble fitting extra clothes and towels for four into the 40-liter interior. $90, cascadedesigns.com  


L.L.Bean Seaside Beach Towel

  Photo: L.L.Bean

Lounging in the great outdoors requires something more akin to a rug than a towel. L.L. Bean gets it right with thick, cushy terrycloth that dries you quickly but still shakes out easily so you don’t take half the shoreline home with you. At 36” by 68”, there’s plenty of room for sprawling or sharing. $29.50, llbean.com


All Terrain Herbal Armor Spray Insect Repellent and Coleman Citronella Lantern

  Photo: All-Terrain and Coleman

Find a good water spot and you’ll likely find mosquitoes and flies, but most chemical repellents are highly toxic to fish. All Terrain’s Herbal Armor uses EPA-approved essential oils, including cedar, citronella, and peppermint; spray a little in your hair for two-plus hours of bug-free swimming. On shore, this oversize citronella candle from Coleman prevents base camp from becoming a bug buffet, and the bottom-heavy lantern-style casing keeps it stable everywhere we’ve put it—even in high wind. $9 and $11, rei.com


Kiss My Face Sun Spray Oil

  Photo: Kiss My Face

It’s hard to enjoy the water when you’re separated from it by a thick film of SPF. Our favorite new featherweight: Kiss My Face Sun Spray Oil with SPF 30 . The soft, tropical-scented formula ditches waxes for avocado, olive, sea buckthorn, and sunflower oils, which absorb into skin and deliver cell-defending antioxidants. Don’t forget to work it through your scalp and hair: scalp melanomas are twice as deadly as those found on limbs, and a summer’s worth of sun fries follicles as much as a salon bleach job. $16, kissmyface.com


Teva Originals Collection Sandals

When a technical water shoe is too much but barefoot is too little, these throwback sandals are just right. The minimal rubber soles have good traction on rocks, while the slim nylon webbing secures and supports without feeling bulky. And, like all Tevas, they dry quickly for a non-squishy hike back. $40, teva.com


Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer

  Photo: Burt's Bees

Stick your hands in the water? Then don’t think about reaching into that bag of chips without first using sanitizer. This one from Burt’s Bees smells more like cinnamon than alcohol and kills 99.9 percent of germs without over drying skin. $4.99, burtsbees.com


Skratch Labs Daily Electrolyte Mix

  Photo: Skratch Labs

A quick dip does wonders to erase sweat, but don’t forget: you did sweat. Skratch Labs Daily Electrolyte Mix gives water a boost of magnesium, potassium, sodium, and low-sugar natural-fruit flavor (we’re partial to raspberry) that encourages you to drink up. Bonus: it also packs a hefty dose of vitamin C, which helps the body recover from sun damage. From $1.75; skratchlabs.com


Sea to Summit Pocket Shower

  Photo: Sea to Summit

Staying the night? Wash off the funk with Sea to Summit’s Pocket Shower. Hang it in the sun and the black polyurethane-coated nylon will nicely warm ten liters of water—or don’t, if you prefer a cool rinse. Either way, your sleeping bag will thank you. $29.95, seatosummit.com


Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Tea Tree Soap

  Photo: Dr. Bronner's

While you’re at it, set up that shower at least 200 feet from water so you can scrub down with Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Tea Tree Soap. (It’s nontoxic and biodegradable, but it’s still harmful to aquatic life.) It’ll take care of the bacteria hordes that smell musty and make skin itch. From $3.50, drbronner.com.

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