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Summer pool season is in full swing and whether you’re a swim team family, parents of divers, fan of swimming laps, or just love the change of pace that being at the pool provides, pool time is always better when you have the right gear. Our family has belonged to our pool for the last 13 years and I’ve learned a few things through my years at the pool, including what gear makes your life easier whether you’re there trying to work while the kids swim or just there to relax. If your pool bag could use an upgrade, the torpedoes you bought last week have gone missing, if you want to up your pool dinner game, or if you’re tired of searching lost and found for your stuff, I’ve put together a list of pool essentials for working poolside and summer fun.
If you’re feeling like you spend a fortune on swim and pool stuff each year, know that Memorial Day weekend is a great time to grab stuff on sale before prices go up in June. July is when retailers start to mark things down as they make way for back to school (yes, really!) items and fall fashion even though we want to enjoy every last bit of summer. Happy shopping and enjoy your time at the pool!
17 Pool Essentials for Working Poolside and Summer Fun
6 Tech Essentials for Working Poolside
From unsealed water bottles tipping over in the pool bag and accidentally drenching phones to tablets getting sandwiched between drippy towels, the pool is not a tech-friendly place if devices aren’t properly protected. In a pinch, a Ziploc bag will do but there are far better items that will do a better job of protecting your phone, laptop, and tablet this summer and beyond.
- Sports earbuds— For conference calls or just listening to favorite podcasts or music, I recommend adding a set of sports earbuds like the Yurbuds Inspire 500 ($38.99 from Amazon). Because they’re sweatproof, they tend to be more water resistant than most models and this particular set is Bluetooth enabled so you can use them without being tethered to your phone.
- Waterproof Bluetooth speaker— Good for streaming your favorite music poolside during a swim or dive meet, the UE Roll 2 is my pick for a waterproof Bluetooth speaker because it has an IPX7 rating, meaning it can be immersed in liquid up to a meter for up to 30 minutes. In addition to its waterproof qualities, the rechargeable battery lasts up to 15 hours (just be sure to plug it in to recharge overnight), has great sound output, can be paired with up to 8 Bluetooth devices so friends can also stream music to it, features the ability to link 2 UE Rolls via Bluetooth for stereo sound in a bigger space, and has a stretchy bungee cord to attach it to your stuff. The UE Roll 2 retails $99 but certain colors are available from Amazon starting at $68.
- Cases to protect your phone and tablet—Lifeproof makes cases for iPhones, iPads, Samsung Galaxy, and other makes and models of Android phones. LifeProof make cases that protect your devices from water, sand, and shock from drops but provide a responsive touchscreen. Before you encase your device in any waterproof case, be sure to test it by submerging it in water without your device first! If you don’t want to invest in a case but want something better than a Ziploc bag, CaliCase is a universal waterproof case that fits different makes and models of phones and protects your phone from water thanks to 2 layers of PVC plastic. All CaliCases come with a carabiner and lanyard which can be helpful beyond the pool. Some CaliCases also have built in floatation so you don’t lose your phone in the depths of the ocean or river when it falls overboard.
- Portable charger— If your pool is like ours and outlets are few and far between, recharge with my favorite charger- Ventev’s PowerCell 10000+. This charger has traveled the world with me and I love it because it has a quick charge port that recharges my devices incredibly fast, can recharge my phone from nearly dead about 2.5 times, it has a display that indicates how much charge is left, and it features built in micro USB and lightning cables so you never have to worry about bringing them along.
- Good wifi or a portable hotspot— Our pool just got a wifi upgrade but if your connectivity isn’t up to speed, invest in a personal hotspot from your mobile carrier or tether your laptop to your phone.
- Folding Bluetooth keyboard— If you work from your tablet, do yourself a favor and get a folding keyboard to make the most of your working hours at the pool. The Kanex Folding Keyboard is the perfect size for tucking in your pool bag and features an ergonomic, V shape for comfortable typing, and a long lasting battery that you can recharge when you get home.
3 Ways to Get Your Pool Gear Back
The worst thing about the pool is that everyone’s gear looks the same. Make your gear stand out by investing in towels, swimsuits, and goggles that look a bit different from the masses so you don’t find yourself making a daily trip to the lost and found hoping that your stuff will turn up. Here’s how to distinguish your gear from everyone else’s.
- Mabel’s Labels— Label everything and I mean everything that you want back. Mabel’s Labels have been my favorite labels forever because they stick and stay stuck. Every year we get a little OCD with our labeling and make sure that everything that goes to the pool has a label on it in case it gets left behind. Get a set of family labels that has your last name and phone number and a set for each of the kids. Let each child choose their label. Not only will this help them take ownership of their belongings, but they’re more likely to spot an item they stuck a label on. Get free shipping on all orders at Mabel’s Labels and while you’re ordering, don’t forget to get some extras to label school stuff before the start of the year!
- Personalized towels— Personalizing towels with a monogram may seem hoity toity but it is one of the best investments to make sure you get your towels back, even if others at the pool have ones in the same pattern. I like personalized beach towels from Lands’ End or L.L. Bean because they are high quality towels that last. Just like the labels, let your kids pick out their towel and select the personalization style to make it easier to spot their stuff.
- Carabiner to corral goggles— Stop digging through your bag for lost keys at the end of the day. Put an end to goggles that go missing because they fall to the bottom of your pool bag, get flung on the deck when they’re not needed, and are left who knows where. Goggles are tricky to label but one good way to account for your family’s goggles is to buy a carabiner and clip it to the strap of your pool bag. When you’re ready to leave, your keys will be clipped to the handle of your pool bag and you can do a quick check to see how many pairs of goggles you have and how many are missing. Plus they’ll never get lost in the depths of your pool bag again, saving you hours of searching!
5 Ways to Elevate Poolside Dining
When you find yourself barbecuing at the pool nights than you eat at home, it’s time to stop buying sleeves of paper plates in favor of upping your poolside dining game.
- Cooler with wheels— Soft sided coolers are fine (I like the Scout Preps Cool Multi-Pocket Cooler) for a morning or afternoon at the pool when you just need some snacks but if you plan to be there hours on end, a cooler with wheels is the way to go. I load mine up with drinks, snacks, and dinner and put in in the car and just roll it to our table. I have an Igloo 38 Quart Wheelie Cooler that’s perfect for daily use for our family of 4. If you think you might want something a bit bigger, try the 60 quart Rubbermaid Ice Chest. You can’t go wrong with either and your back will thank you!
- Quality plastic ware— Do the environment a favor and ditch the disposable plates and plastic ware. Yes, it’s easy to toss cheap paper plates and plastic ware but unless you’re taking your plates home to compost and washing plastic forks and knives nightly, it’s far better to bring silverware from home or buy some plastic ware you can reuse throughout pool season. I will often toss our silverware from our kitchen in a plastic bag when we’re dining at the pool and use the same bag for dirties. As far as plastic plates go, you can’t go wrong with any of the durable melamine plates available via Amazon Prime. There are melamine plate sets in all different patterns to suit every budget.
- Plastic serving pieces with lids— One of my favorite investments that gets lots of compliments when we dine poolside is my Martha Stewart Collection Salad Bowl Chiller Set. Perfect for cut fruit, salad, or pasta salad, this bowl features a removable ice pack in the base that can be put in your freezer plus serving utensils that snap in the lid. I’m also a fan of Rubbermaid containers in all sizes that are a kitchen staple. I highly recommend this leak-proof set and have my eye on the Fit & Fresh Chilled Serving Bowls, Set of 3 Freezable Bowls with Lids.
- Tablecloth– Having just gotten an email reminding parents of diaper wearing babies to NOT use picnic tables as changing tables (ewww!), I’m reminded why I always like to bring my own tablecloth to the pool! Besides the clean factor, a tablecloth helps you claim your space, show your pool pride when you get one in your pool colors, and elevates your poolside dining. If your pool has round tables with umbrellas, not any round tablecloth will do! Be sure to get a tablecloth with a hole for the umbrella and a zipper for easy on and off. I ordered mine from Amazon in our pool colors of green and white! Pool patrons that have square or rectangular tables will have a much easier time finding ones that fit. This time of year JoAnn’s Fabrics, Target, Kohl’s, and other retailers will have them on sale. You might also find them at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.
- Mosquito barrier spray— When the sun goes down, the mosquitos come out! Our pool is blessed with wonderful trees that help shade us from the sun during the day but in the evenings, it would be buggy except our pool has been treated by DC Mosquito Squad for years, making it a wonderful haven as the sun goes down. Traditional mosquito repellants don’t work at the pool since kids are constantly jumping in and out of the water. Mosquito spray would wash off and no one wants to be swimming in that kind of residue! If your backyard pool or pool that you belong to is buggy, call Mosquito Squad to get an estimate for mosquito treatment. They treat home and commercial properties of all sizes to keep you, your family, and friends bite free throughout the summer.
4 Things to Pack for Pool Fun
Besides sunscreen, goggles, and dive toys, here are some other things that you might want to add to your pool arsenal!
- Waterproof card games— We love bringing cards to the pool to wait out delays due to thunder or adult swim. One of our favorites is UNO Splash ($7.64 from Amazon) is same UNO that your family loves but with cards made out of PVC and have a hole in each one so they can be clipped to the included carabiner. Hoyle also makes a deck of waterproof clear playing cards ($6.48 on Amazon).
- Crazy floats— Regular rings are fine but who wouldn’t want to enjoy their time on the pool while floating on a unicorn, giant pink sprinkle donut, or rainbow popsicle?
- Kindle Paperwhite— Besides my stack of magazines, my Kindle Paperwhite always travels with me to the pool. I love the glare-free screen that adjusts according to the sunlight that is always easier on my eyes than other tablets, long lasting battery, and the fact that I never seem to run out of space even though I hoard digital reads on my Kindle. And if your kids have Kindles, they’re great motivators to helping them continue to read throughout the summer.
Besides being must-haves for the pool, many of these items are also perfect to pack for beach vacations. If you’re looking for additional suggestions visit my 7 Tech Must-Haves for a Beach Vacation on Progressive Life Lanes.
D.C. Mosquito Squad is providing barrier treatment for our yard this summer as they have in past years. Some products mentioned in this post were received for testing purposes. Affiliate links are included in this post.