The days are hot and long, the Netflix queue is bone dry, and that plastic tub you call a kiddie pool out back isn’t gonna cut it. The only cure for your kids’ summertime blues is a trip to the ol’ swimmin’ hole. Something about jumping into a lake (preferably by launching yourself off a tire swing) makes it feel like you’ll never have to go back to school … or work. Whether it’s a plunge into the drink behind your house or a road trip for a day of aquatic festivities, you’ve got to come prepared. Otherwise, it’s just sogginess and cold food on a sandy blanket.
Old Town Penobscot 164 CanoeCanoeing on open water has been a way for people to breathe in the tranquility of nature (and not sink), for thousands of years. Luckily for you, this ancient mode of transportation has evolved to the super light, triple-layer polyethylene vessel before you, so you and your kid can commune with nature without having to hew down a huge-ass tree.
Old Town Penobscot 164 Canoe ($1100)
Zebco Ready Tackle Spincast Fishing Rod and Reel ComboIntroduce your kid to fishing without breaking the bank with this all-in-one kit. Well, not quite “all.” You’ll have to dig up your own bait, and it won’t remove the hook from the fish’s mouth for your kid, but they were never gonna do that anyway. That’s what dad is for.
Zebco Ready Tackle Spincast Fishing Rod and Reel Combo ($29)
Atomik Barbwire Self-Righting RC BoatMaybe your kids aren’t ready for 4 years living at sea. That’s okay. Start small with this radio controlled speed boat that automatically rights itself when flipped, ridding you of the obligation to dive in and fish it out (and thus do exercise). Just don’t try to find yourself a willing performer for the old water skiing squirrel routine. That will not end well for you. Or the squirrel.
Atomik Barbwire Self-Righting RC Boat ($150)
Isle Kids Inflatable Stand Up Paddle BoardThe growing sport of paddle boarding is a great entry point to surfing and will teach your kid Miyagi-like balance without hours of forced backyard crane kick practice. This board offers extra stability, inflates and deflates for easy storage and transport, and comes with a paddle, which seems pretty crucial to the whole operation. You’re on your own to find a way to trick them into waxing your car, though.
Isle Kids Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board ($600)
Coleman 10 x 10 Instant Screened CanopyA day at the lake can also mean an onslaught from a swarm of bloodthirsty mosquitoes — and you know vacation mosquitoes are always more vicious than hometown mosquitoes. Seek shelter and steal a moment of lakeside slumber in this easy access canopy that sets up in no time for shade, wind baffling, and a shield from the nasty chiggers.
Coleman 10 x 10 Instant Screened Canopy ($110)
Intex Inflatable Floating CoolerWater, water everywhere, and not a beer to drink. Keep everyone hydrated (screw it, beer counts for you) without interrupting the water games thanks to this ingenious inflatable cooler, which holds a family-sized selection of beverage cans or even a 48-quart cooler. And what’s cooler than a cooler cooler? Nothing. That’s what.
Intex Inflatable Floating Cooler ($25)
Outdoor Tech Big Turtle Shell Wireless Boombox
Blasting Jack Johnson from your iPhone’s dinky speakers is like playing Halo on a Sony Watchman portable TV. (Thank you for being old and dusty enough to get that reference, by the way.) The Turtle Shell is Bluetooth-ready, water resistant, and rechargeable, which pretty much checks all boxes for a lakeside jukebox.
Outdoor Tech Big Turtle Shell Wireless Boombox ($189)
Baden Champions Series Outdoor Combo Badminton/Volleyball SetSet a good example and stay out of the lake for at least 30 minutes after grilling up a feast for your crew with a pair of classic landlubbing games. Because running around a badminton or volleyball court within 30 minutes of said feast is somehow safer than floating in an inner tube. Hey, you don’t make the rules, you just enforce them.
Baden Champions Series Outdoor Combo Badminton/Volleyball Set ($106)