A weekend at the lake is so fun, but can pose some packing challenges due to the variety of activities and weather. I’m a minimal packer no matter where I go, but I for sure don’t want to take a ton of stuff to the lake, and definitely not when we are traveling as a family of eight. I came up with the perfect packing list for a weekend at the lake.
The summer after I graduated high school, I spent several days each week at the lake with my best friend’s family. We just got back from a fun time at the lake this weekend, and my packing list was surprisingly similar to what I used to pack back then. Lake apparel is probably still the same as it was in the 50s.
Going to the lake is different than going to the pool or beach. The lake often doesn’t have a beach. There is usually a muddy shore. Lake water, especially at the shore is sometimes more like sludge and less like the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. For this reason I always wear my darkest swimsuits, and I take my old sneakers, not my cute favorites. I also take water shoes because sinking your feet into a muddy, reedy shoreline is less like a spa treatment (no matter what I tell myself) and more like a 1990s Nickelodeon game show that features green slime. If you’re lucky enough to get some s’mores or other fire-roasted meal, your clothes are going to smell like smoke. Keep all this in mind as you choose your items. I stay away from white, and anything I love.
As the sun goes down, the temperatures will dip, and you will want something warmer. We also have a rule that to be by the fire you have to wear long pants and closed shoes to protect from embers and wayward roasting sticks. This rule is mostly for the kids, but when they are with us, we follow the rule as well. When the temperatures dip, the mosquitoes come out, so the longer layers will protect you from them as well. I wrote a post about my favorite natural mosquito repellants here. Here are some pictures of what I wore at the lake last weekend, and below a collage or the perfect packing list for a weekend at the lake.
Flip flops – my favorite rubber flip flops are here.
Sneakers – the iconic sneaker in every color imaginable here
Rash guard – one of the best and easiest ways to protect yourself from the sun, especially when you are out on the water.
Hat – I love this one, this one and this one. I have this one (it’s much cuter on, perfectly crushable and won’t get ruined in the water). I have this one, but I never believe in the crushable straw hat, so I’ve never tried it. I’m tempted to get it in navy and white as well. I feel very glamorous in it. If you prefer a visor, this one comes in tons of great colors.
Sunglasses – Essential
Roasting sticks – we have these for taking to the lake or camping. They aren’t as heavy duty as the ones we use with our fire pit at home, but extremely portable and tiny for packing. They are also color cod
ed, which we love. I also like the look of these because they seem safer for young kids.
Life jackets – One unbreakable rule is that no one, not adults or children, is allowed in the water at all without a life vest. No exceptions.
Paddle boards – If there is no beach at the lake, and the shoreline is muddy and gross, hanging out by the edge of the water isn’t probably the most appealing idea. You don’t have to have a boat or jet skis to have fun on the water. There are other much less expensive options for playing on the water. Paddle boards and kayaks come in a variety of price ranges and are so much fun for kids and adults! Our kids have a ball on them. They like to play pirates and chase each other around. They also enjoy paddling themselves and each other and playing taxi. There is a lot of price variety in paddle boards, and like with many things, but it’s possible to get the most quality for your budget. These are so fun, and far less expensive than a jet ski or boat.
Kayak – another great way to enjoy the water without the price and maintenance of a boat or jet ski. Not to mention what a great workout you get while having all that fun!
Cooler – You can’t forget a cooler to keep the beverages and lunch cold. We are usually water drinkers, so we definitely take that, but we do like to have some Izze sodas as a fun change for a special day.
Sunscreen – nothing will ruin a fun day like a sunburn. Being on the water makes the sun stronger. This is my very favorite sunscreen for faces. My kids and I have super sensitive eyes, and getting normal sunscreen too close to our eyes means a stinging, tear-filled day. It’s also a physical blocker, so it has that white sheen to it. That means I can see exactly where I got it on my kids and be sure I didn’t miss any spots. It’s also great for the whole body, but I always use it for faces. With six kids to slather, it can take me an hour to do everyone with cream, so I like to use spray on their bodies, and this is a great one. It takes a few minutes to do everyone.
Foldable chairs – Mommy needs somewhere to sit besides the ground, so I bring a chair. For the most part, a seat and a cupholder are enough.
Canopy – Because we are a fair-skinned family, we take a canopy so we have additional protection from the sun for the whole family. That’s right, we wear rash guards, hats, sunscreen and sit under a canopy.
Water bottle – I drink a lot of water in a day, and this is what I drink out of every day. It’s my favorite, and everyone in the family has one in their color. Staying hydrated in the sun is doubly important.
Towel – Towels are so bulky, and when you multiply that by 8, it can take half the trunk. We take these microfiber towels with us and they all pack up in this packing cube. Each person in our family has one in their color. They are compact, dry quickly, and wash well.
What essentials are on your lake packing list?
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