We've reached the middle of July, so you've probably already had some time at the beach to try out your summer gear. Wardrobe malfunction, anyone? Whether you're surfing, paddleboarding, water skiing, playing beach volleyball or just doing a cannonball, you need gear that performs well and, most important, helps you keep up with the unpredictable conditions. These four pieces are key to your active summer.
1. Performance swimwear
There's a new crop of swimwear that is functional, intelligently designed and cute. Born from the demanding needs of surfers, these three brands offer swimwear designed to stay put without sacrificing style. These suits are tested by surfers, paddleboarders, kite boarders and beach volleyball players, so you can be sure they will perform well in a variety of activities.
Calavera Swimwear: Trusted by top UK surfer Evie Johnstone and former professional freestyle skier and current stand-up paddleboard guide Darian Boyle, Calavera bikinis do not budge an inch or stretch out. The magic lies in the under-the-hood construction and fabric choices. The Glam Twist Top ($49) secures across the back and around the trunk, allowing you to create a custom fit while reducing neck strain often caused by halter-tops. The Siren Full Bottoms ($49) feature non-elastic string and rubber lining for a secure fit.
Sensi Bikinis: Worn by professional SUPer Nikki Gregg and professional whitewater kayaker Kim Becker, Sensi draws on similar construction and technology as sports bras. Sensi uses smooth fabrics and avoids hardware and the need for knots. The Sicily Top ($52) features double cross straps in the back and a wide band under the bust for added support. You put it on and forget about it. The Lynelle Bottom ($45) provides moderate coverage that allows freedom of movement but doesn't slip. The side cut-out details add an extra stylish flare.
Mi Ola: Mi Ola is new on the market. Creator and surfer Helena Fogarty brings her high-fashion background to the world of performance swimwear. The Reversible Wrap Top ($85) hugs your chest and keeps you covered. Bonus: Since it's reversible, it's like getting two tops in one! You can adjust the fit of your Mi Ola bottoms ($75)with drawstring ties, and the gripper elastic keeps it in place.
2. Board shorts
You don't have to be a surfer to appreciate the extra coverage and protection offered by board shorts. Athleta's Clearwater short ($49) is made from lightweight, breathable material that dries quickly and minimizes chafing. The seams and closures are smooth so they won't snag your suit or feel uncomfortable when lying down on your surfboard or doing other water activities. Another key feature? A pocket with an internal key loop so you won't lose your keys.
3. Wetsuit top
While summer promises warmer water, sometimes you need a little extra insulation. A wetsuit top can take the bite out of cold water and allow you to stay in the chilly water longer. Roxy's front-zip jacket ($94.95) and vest ($59.95) are made from 2mm fiberlite Neoprene, which is super stretchy and easy to put on. The seams are glued and blind stitched, creating a watertight seam to keep the cold water out. These tops were designed by top long boarder Kassia Meador and are great for any activity that may have you in cold water such as surfing, paddleboarding, swimming and snorkeling.
4. Beach and water shoes
When Australian pro surfer Serena Brooke heads out to the beach, she wears the VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra ($80). The Ultra is actually a 3-in-1 modular, minimalist shoe molded from EVA rubber that can go directly from the road to the beach to the water. Based on barefoot technology, the Ultra offers protection from sand, shells, rocks and anything else you might encounter on the beach or ocean floor. It is super lightweight, thanks to honeycomb cutouts in the shoe's upper, which also let water easily drain and prevent the shoe from feeling waterlogged. A speed lace system allows for easy-on and easy-off while staying secure on your foot. It comes with a removable sock liner and tongue so you can customize the right fit for you. The best part? It's easy to clean.