Summer is coming on strong, and so is the summer travel season. If you're planning to pack up the family wagon, first mind the essentials. You've probably memorized that worn out list of all the safe, boring things you should bring to stay smart and safe. The fire extinguisher. The first aid kit. The properly inflated spare tire. The thoughtful tool kit… Boring? Absolutely. Here's the remedy: A few tried and true stowaways that we can't seem to leave home without.
Patagonia's corporate headquarters is a quick walk from the beach, and it's packed with semi-reformed surf bums. When word gets around that there's a swell on the way, the building clears out like it's a fire drill. Fittingly, might be the best boardshort available. A slightly stretchy fabric coated with a water repellant finish make the trunks comfortable and quick-drying. I have two pairs of Wavefarers: One permanently packed in my luggage for quick dips when I'm traveling. The other is always stashed in my trunk, for impromptu beach trips or workouts on the road.
A small stunt kite like this 1.2-meter provides outsized amusement from a tiny and lightweight package that can fit under a driver's seat. The airfoil wing doesn't require a frame, so the Snapshot packs down to a durable, pliable package that travels impeccably. Without any bones to break, an airfoil kite is also nearly indestructible in a crash, making it a perfect family travel companion.
Military Sur Blanket
A wool sur blanket verges on actual necessity. Besides safety and comfort applications, a blanket can be used to wrap delicate items, insulate a meal if you're heading to a picnic or home from dinner, keep loose bottles from clanking against each other and keep wet swimsuits off of upholstery. Its utility is practically boundless. These heavy are increasingly difficult to find, but they're the perfect combination of cheerful color, softness and size. Leave it to the French military to create a blanket perfect for a summer picnic.
Giant Lifeguard Hat
Big, funny lifeguard hats were a constant growing up at the beach. They're equally useful for yard work, washing cars or wrenching in the sun. Our favorite application though, is providing enough shade for our face and a beverage while spectating at the track. make their classic lifeguard brim out of tightly woven palm, which is surprisingly durable and packable.
A Decent Corkscrew
There is nothing more frustrating than showing up at a summer picnic with a worthy bottle of plonk and realizing you're unequipped to liberate the cork. This little fella, made by HiCoup is overwhelmingly well-reviewed on . It looks the business, and it's cheap, making it perfect for permanent trunk duty. What more could you ask for?
When you have binoculars handy, you find a million ways to use them. Stargazing, birdwatching, or just getting you a little closer to weekend racing action, good binoculars always feel like a little bit of a luxury when you pull them out of the trunk. series have fantastic optics at a reasonable price point.
The Classic Inner Tube
An old truck inner tube is still good, cheap fun. Buy a filthy old thing from a tire shop and cross your fingers, or buy and get that fresh rubber smell. Either way, an inner tube packed into the trunk is just a few minutes and a compressor away from being a full day of amusement on the river or at the beach.
A pair of . They're such a simple inclusion to your trunk, but they open up so many paths to spontaneous decisions. Add a hike to your favorite mountain drive. Get out for a run next time you're rain delayed at the track. They can substitute for driving shoes if your fancy boots get left behind, and if your daily kicks get wet or otherwise uncomfortable, nothing beats having a fresh pair ready to go. They're lightweight and they take up almost no room. For a non-essential trunk addition, an old pair of running shoes is tough to beat.