After a cold, dark, lonely winter, does anything sound better than sitting on a riverbank with a bunch of your besties, watching the sun sink low? We think not, and here’s the gear you need to make that sweet vision a reality.
Comfy, quick-drying and easy to move in, Patagonia Baggies have been part of the river-rat kit since the early ’80s, when Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard first made a pair of loose-fitting, durable nylon shorts. He wanted something that would hold up to any kind of watersports and Baggies have only improved since then. They now come in a range of inseam lengths, patterns and cuts, and they’re made with recycled nylon, but they still hold Chouinard’s original ideal: one pair of shorts for everything you might want to do under the sun. $55
Save your flip-flops for the campground shower. If you’re anywhere near moving water, you’re going to want sandals that stay on your feet. Chaco’s Z/Clouds, which feature the brand’s custom grippy soles and Chaco’s most cushioned footbed, are both rugged and comfortable. Their criss-crossed straps conform to the shape of your feet, and they stay on whether you’re wading, paddling or playing beach games. Just be prepared for Z-shaped tan lines. $100
It’s all too easy to forget to protect yourself from the sun when you’re lazing around on the beach. The men’s Vuori Uluwatu Water Hoodie, which looks and feels like a casual hoodie, is rated UPF 50+ to help you avoid getting scorched by the sun. And its polyester and elastane construction is light and breezy, so it won’t make you feel over-layered on warm days. $68
We love a refreshing dip in a mountain stream on a summer day. To maintain your core temp while you swim, consider something like the the nylon-and-spandex Carve Designs Dawson Rashguard, which also features UPF 50+ protection. It’s stretchy and quick to dry, and its half-zip and shirred sides allow for easy ventilation. $52
The perfect river shades are a high-low mix, and the Goodr Circle G Polarized Sunglasses are just that: Fancy enough to be polarized and to block a range of harmful rays, but not so fancy that you mourn the loss if you happen to misplace a pair. In fact, many of Goodr’s glasses are among the most affordable polarized options available, but they don’t feel chintzy. They stay on during activity thanks to sticky nose pieces, and they’re stylish without sacrificing function, so they hit all our necessary points. $25
There’s only one requirement for river après: sunscreen application. The Raw Elements SPF 30 face stick is one of our favorites, both for its ease of use—it’s small enough to stick in any pocket, and you can schmear it on without getting your hands sticky—and because of its mineral-based ingredient list that’s free of oxybenzone and octinoxate. It provides water-resistant, broad-spectrum UVA-UVB protection, and it won’t make your face gummy or chalky. Just remember to reapply after 80 minutes. $15.95
Music in the out-of-doors is a controversial subject—you don’t want your experience to override anyone else’s. But if you’re in an isolated spot, alone on the riverbank, it’s generally safe to turn up the tunes. The waterproof, rechargeable JBL Clip 3 is compact and provides high-quality sound, and we love that it clips to your boat or chair, so your sound system doesn’t end up in the drink. For a surround-sound experience, you can link multiple speakers together and sync them up. $69.95
The are two approaches to après: sedentary or activity-based. Whichever you prefer, you can incorporate a toy like the Airhead Rollin’ River Inflatable Tube. Tie yourself off to a tree and lounge in the river, or run some micro-rapids for a little more excitement. Either way, plenty of fun. $19.95
If your feet are in the river, we’re going to assume it’s at least a little bit hot out, and your beverage of choice might need some help staying cool. The most appropriate coozie for the job is the pint-sized Puffin Beverage Life Vest, which looks like it came straight out of a Wes Anderson move. Is it totally ridiculous? Yes. Are we obsessed with it anyway? Also yes. $13.95
When you’re done playing in the river, towel off with the Slowtide Penny Lane Turkish Beach Towel. It’s lightweight enough to throw in your pack and its woven design makes it good-looking enough to double as a personal picnic blanket. $39.95
Just because you’re ready to chill doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is. Keep ’em occupied with this bright, bouncy, floating toy, which mimics sticks found in Ruffwear’s Oregon backyard, but is much easier to spot and will last for more than a few tosses. $14.95
Oh heck no, you’re not standing around this whole time. You need somewhere to sit, and parking it in the sand isn’t going to get you to an appropriate state of relaxation. The REI Co-op Camp Low Chair is durable, easy to carry and made of recycled polyester and bluesign®-approved materials. Also, its low-slung profile and water-repellent padded seat are prime for laid-back lounging. $49.95
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.