We all have that friend that holds a significant social distinction from the rest of their peers. They’ve earned it by storing, hauling and permitting a bulky and consistently expensive watercraft they only use a few weekends or days a year. Yet their effort does not go unrewarded. They do it for the chance to relax and cruise around their favorite lake or body of water.

This person is the ever-popular boat owner. In addition to all the efforts that go into getting the boat ready for summer, there are also plenty of gear considerations to be made. If you have your sights set on owning a boat yourself or if you just want to be a prepared guest, here are some gear suggestions of what to pack in that party or adventure watercraft this summer.

Apparel

First thing is first, how can you possibly go boating without dressing comfortably and looking good in the process. We’re not going for “yacht club, high summer fashion” here. We’ll leave that puffery for other websites. Instead here is some practical gear for those on the water days.

Collared Shirts

 

It comes as no surprise that a summer day on the boat is going to be hot. Staying cool with dips in the water in your swimming suit is the best way to deal with the heat, but when you get out of the cool water or the weather changes, it’s good to have a warmer shirt as a back up. The best option might be a collared button up shirt with short sleeves. The collar will keep some of the sun off your neck, and you can leave the buttons open if you want to stay cooler.

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This Sierra Designs Women’s Solar Wind Shirt is perfect for cooler boat days and it features 35 UPF for extra protection from the sun.

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Fishing shirts like this Simms Men’s Morada Shirt can be great options for tough boat wear as well.

Trunks

 

For men, a day on the boat isn’t comfortable unless you’re wearing a pair of trunks. Get yourself a pair with an interesting pattern and cargo pockets that drain for anything you might need to carry, and you’ll be set for the summer. Extra tip: if you’re spending several days boating, pack two pairs of board shorts so you can alternate from the wet pair to a fresh dry pair on day two.

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Nothing beats a flashy pattern found on these Huk Fish Guide Men’s Trunks.

Water Shoes

 

A lot of those lazy days in the boat will be spent in bare feet, but there are times when you need some protection for your soles while in the water. When you’re loading up the boat or putting it in the water, a good pair of water shoes will allow you to work without getting your tennis shoes soaked. In addition, any time you’re hopping off onto the shore, water shoes will prevent any abuse that sharp rocks might dish out. They come in handy on canoe and rafting trips as well.

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Striker makes some durable water shoes that will last season after season like these Striker Women’s Shorelander Water Shoes.

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Men can get an identical water shoe in the Striker Men’s Shorelander Water Shoes.

Equipment

Once you’re out on the water, there are plenty of things you and your passengers can do. From water skiing to fishing to just hanging out and enjoying the scenery, you’ll want to have plenty of equipment on hand to scout the water and to store food, drinks and other items.

Coolers

 

You can’t have a day on the water without some cold drinks and snacks, and you’re going to need a cooler that can keep ice while the sun is shining down upon it. We recommend K2 Coolers for the job, and make sure you get the right size to match available space on your boat. Nothing is worse than the cooler taking up all the space the passengers need.

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K2’s Summit Series Coolers range from compact coolers like the Summit 20 to giant coolers like the Summit 120.

 Dry Bags

 

If you’re water skiing or cruising the lake at any substantial speed, you’ll want to keep your clothes and valuables dry in case any rouge waves make their way into the boat. The best option for this is a dry bag, and you can get them in the right size for your needs without much of an investment. Dry bags are great for canoe and rafting trips as well.

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There’s plenty of space for your clothes and valuables in this Umpqua Tongass 35L Dry Bag.

Marine Binoculars

 

Scouting on the water requires a specialized optic, and if you navigate any larger body of water, it pays to have a pair to binoculars to turn to check out coves and potential fishing areas. While image-stabilized binoculars are vital for ocean navigation, those who only boat on larger lakes and similar bodies of water can get by with a simple pair of marine binoculars. A non-slip grip, built-in compass and ranging reticle are features to look for in a basic pair of marine binoculars.

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The Bushnell Marine 7x50mm Binoculars are a good entry-level option for casual boaters.

Safety Gear

Safety is paramount on a boat, which is one of the reasons permitting can be a pain in some areas and there’s always the not-so-friendly boat police trolling the same waters that you are. Steer clear of those cranky boat cops and keep your passengers safe with this essential list of safety gear.

First Aid Kit

 

You’ll need to pack a first aid kit in the glove box or storage compartment of the boat for emergencies. A standard first aid kit should be enough to cover your needs, but make sure you have one capable of addressing several injured persons vs. the smaller kits that might only be good for one passenger.

Fire Extinguisher

 

Fire on a boat is a very, very bad thing. Be ready for any unexpected flames with an aquatic fire extinguisher, and store it in an easy to access place on your boat. This is especially important if your boat has an engine, but those who sail should consider this safety measure as well.

Life Preservers

 

In a worse case scenario, all of your boat passengers will have to swim to shore. In cases like this, you’ll need to have enough life preservers to cover all potential passengers. Most states have regulations on flotation devices, and looking up your state’s regulations is a good place to start. If you don’t have enough, you can always ask your passengers to bring their own or rent preservers if you have extra passengers joining you on a trip.

Thumb courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.