Pack it up in style with these fab beach bags

Whether it’s a bold designer number, a statement-making classic, or a beloved basic that goes with nearly everything you wear, handbags an undeniable staple of life.

That’s true year-round – except for the season of summer heat. That’s when we head to the pool or beach to cool off, and that requires a new kind of bag. We need something that can schlep an enormous amount of stuff, that’s constructed of extra-tough materials built to stand up to sand, getting stepped on, spilled on, and tossed in the back of the car. It may be waterproof, and might even function as a de facto refrigerator.

But all that function doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. There are many bags out there that accomplish all of the above.

Consider The Classic Tote ($119 on vivaia.com), with enormous space and capacity — it measures16.5 inches at the base and has a shoulder drop of almost a foot, and can hold up to 15 pounds of whatever you need. Its open interior makes finding water bottles, towels, and SPF a cinch. What’s more, it’s made entirely of recycled plastic bottles and is machine washable. It comes in eye-catching zig zag patterns like Wallace — chevrons in cream and black.

If your idea of stylishly recycled leans more sporty, take a look at the Recycled Sail Bag, Tote Bag Handmade from Sails, Blue & Green ($99 on thenewenglandtradingcompany.com). Each huge bag is handcrafted in Maine from recycled sails that have traveled the world, and each one is unique. Its bottom and zipper top are water-resistant, with extremely durable cotton webbing handles. And in terms of sporty style? Each bag reflects the original character and stitching of the sail it’s made of, plus a sewn-on insignia (available in numbers 1–9).

Color makes a big showing in the The Cooler Tote Bag ($109-$119 on businessandpleasureco.com) in funky color combos such as Monaco navy and pink stripe, or “Rivie Green” — which does indeed call to mind the chic but free-spirited vibe of the Riviera.

With some bags, the word “cooler” is literal. As with the Sun Squad Striped Printed Mesh Cooler Tote ($12 on target.com). It’s your secret weapon for carrying snacks and drinks (and keeping them cool all afternoon), as well as books, shades, and all the rest in style. It’s lightweight and soft-sided, and has convenient zip pocket and double shoulder handles.

Another New England company that recycles sails and turns them into bags is also turning them into coolers. The Sea Glass Print Wine Bag ($45 on seabags.com) isn’t a tote per se — it’s shaped and designed only for a wine bottle — but it fits perfectly in a bigger tote. And its durable fabric is made of recycled sails, yet it’s covered in a joyful print that mimics scattered and colorful sea glass. And it’s a cool and summery addition to any pool party.

Some bags are even able to withstand getting rolled over by a wave. Take the waterproof Woven Long Tote Bag X-Large ($60 on scoutbags.com) in “Cabana Boy” stripes. With its large, soft, and lightweight horizontal design, it stands on its own but is also made of a flexible fabric that’s sand-proof. It’s perfect for keeping everything from blankets or towels dry, and even compresses flat and can be wiped clean after you’re done at the end of the day.

 

The Woven Long Tote Bag X-Large in "Cabana Boy" stripes. (Photo scoutbags.com)
The Woven Long Tote Bag X-Large in “Cabana Boy” stripes. (Photo scoutbags.com)

 

The Classic Tote in the pattern Wallace. (Photo vivaia.com)
The Classic Tote in the pattern Wallace. (Photo vivaia.com)