Cheap Beach Gear
Memorial Day weekend is the official start of beach season. And while May is a bit early to hit the sale racks in search of cheap beach gear, there are still bargains to be had. Here are some deals on basic beach necessities for everyone under the sun.
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Flip Flops. It's time to ditch the shoes and don the sandals. Old Navy is offering its all-time favorite flip flops in a wide range of sizes and colors at the extraordinarily economical starting price of $3.94 a pair; grab two or more at $2.50 a pair. If you're in the market for a more stylish deviation of this cult classic, you'll find an abundance of reasonably priced varieties from which to choose.
Beach Basics. Sun bathe on the sand or dry off after a swim with a fun and festive beach towel, an absolute must-have piece of cheap beach gear. Colorful printed beach towels are available at Kmart, starting at $4.99 and topping out at less than $10. Walmart carries cartoon- and teeny-bopper-print beach towels for $9.97. Bed, Bath & Beyond makes an appearance in this category with brightly colored beach towels tagged at $8.99.
If your style calls for reclining on a beach chair rather than a towel, you've got some options. Kmart carries an adult-size chair for $11.47, with a kid's version going for $12.99. Target is also featuring a beach folding chair in an array of solids for just under $10 (available in-store only).
Playing in the sand is usually high on the summer agenda, which makes toys a necessary component of the cheap beach gear stash. Despite being a tad pricey at $19.99, this fishy six-toy bundle from Bed, Bath & Beyond comes in two versions, each with a decorative and functional bag. Toys R Us features an 11-piece unisex assortment that doubles as a gardening set for just $5.99. Another inexpensive toy set is the eight-piece Toysmith Beach Set in a Bag, available through Amazon for $11.76, with free shipping on orders exceeding $25. Don't forget about the local dollar store, an invaluable source for cheap beach gear such as foam noodles, beach balls, shovels, and sand buckets.
(Our search for sun umbrellas revealed that this piece of beach gear isn't particularly cheap, so consider frequenting a beach that provides them.)
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Protection from the Sun. The best form of sun protection is sunscreen. Target brand Up & Up includes cheap sunscreen with SPF 15, 30, and 50 in kid's spray, continuous spray, sport lotion, and sport spray, starting at 44 cents an ounce. The product garners somewhat polarized user reviews, but a leading consumer products magazine has twice named the in-house brand Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Continuous spray a best overall value. For facial protection, Walmart's Equate brand earns a positive response from users. One ounce of this clear zinc oxide SPF 50 sunscreen sells for $3.98 and includes ingredients such as aloe and vitamins A, C, and E.
While there's no substitute for sunscreen, it's not sufficient in and of itself. A supply of cheap summer gear is incomplete without something to protect your scalp and serve as secondary protection for your face. In other words, don't leave home without an inexpensive but stylish summer hat. Walmart's Saffy Wide Brim Straw Floppy Hat claims enthusiastic five-star reviews, sells for just $9, and comes in three colors -- black, white, and tan. If you prefer a narrower brim, Kmart has a rainbow-hued sun hat for $6.99 by Joe Boxer.
And remember to top off your safe-from-the-sun ensemble with a pair of budget sunglasses.