The 10 Best Beach Mats
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in June of 2016. While many enjoy an afternoon by the sea, nobody appreciates getting sand or salty water all over themselves or their belongings. Our selection of beach mats will give you and your family a clean, dry, and comfortable spot to sit and lie on, or to spread out a delectable picnic. Choose from a vast assortment of sizes, designs, and colors, most of which pack down small for transport. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
January 23, 2020:
We wanted to make sure that each of our products help relieve the many nuisances that can come with a beach day, from sand on your belongings, to a damp bottom, to the discomfort of sitting on bumpy or hard surfaces.
While a simple blanket only gives you the option to either lie down or sit entirely erect, we like that the Picnic Time Oniva Beachcomber has an adjustable backrest, so you can recline at almost any position you desire. The American Dawn Outdoor Living gets comfort points, too, because it has a detachable pillow to prop your head up.
Battling sand is always an issue at the beach, so mats that address that were a top priority. Though the original CGear Sand-Free on our list boasted the brand's patented system that allows dirt and sand to sink through without rising back up, we removed it in favor of the CGear Sand-Free Life Sandlite. It has the same anti-sand feature, but comes in more attractive designs and folds up better than the original for transport.
Considering how much stuff you likely already lug to the seashore in your beach bag, we wanted to add models that fold up compactly, like the Matador Pocket 2.0 and the MIU Color Outdoor Blanket. The latter scored a spot on the list for its waterproof design, too. The CozySwan Picnic didn't fare so well in the presence of moisture, as it tended to develop mold, so we removed that model.
Jungmaven Hemp 2.0 Made from 100-percent hemp canvas, the Jungmaven 2.0 is soft enough to cuddle up with, yet durable enough to use for laying out on the sand or in a park. It comes stonewashed, which adds to its coziness, and is available in six colors, all of which are un-dyed and simply the natural color of the material. jungmaven.com
Tesalate The Alchemist Functioning as both a towel and beach mat, The Alchemist can accommodate up to two people and is crafted from a special fabric that sheds sand quickly and is highly absorbent. Plus, it dries in half the time of a traditional towel, so you won't have to deal with stuffing a wet towel into your bag when it is time to leave. tesalate.com
Making The Mat Choice
Also, many mats come with stakes that bump up the overall weight, which may or may not be worth it depending on how much space you have.
A beach mat can make or break your day at the beach. Get one that’s right for you, and you’re in for a stress-free day of lounging; get one that’s all wrong, and you’ll be spending the day brushing sand off everything you own. Fortunately, with today’s well-thought-out models, choosing a good beach mat is just about as easy as relaxing on one. We’ve got a few things you should consider as you’re picking out your new beach companion.
First and foremost is size. How many people will it need to accommodate? If you’ll be enjoying the mat all to yourself, how much room do you need? Today’s beach mats range from just larger than a standard towel all the way up to nearly 10 feet wide on all sides, which is an appreciable difference. Keep in mind that a larger mat may be harder to secure on a windy day, so if you’ll be on it by yourself, you’ll need plenty of stakes or heavy items to use as anchors.
You’ll also need to consider the materials from which the mat is made. Some are designed specifically to keep sand at bay, while others are better at preventing water from getting through (useful if you frequent locations where the ground tends to be wet). You’ll probably find that nylon and similar materials are quite slippery, so if you have kids, you might look for one with a woven texture that isn’t as slick.
Next comes packability, a function of size and materials combined. Some beach mats today are so lightweight that they fold up to the size of a deck of cards, perfect for backpackers or one-bag travelers. There are also less-compact models that carry like a large towel, which is probably fine if you’re driving to your destination.
Finally, when thinking about portability, don’t forget to factor in the accessories that go along with the beach mat. Some have a pouch included or even built into the mat (great if you tend to lose things), while others use straps or simply fold up. Also, many mats come with stakes that bump up the overall weight, which may or may not be worth it depending on how much space you have. On a windy day, remember that you can use your bags, shoes, and snacks to weigh down your mat, too.
Don’t Sand So Close To Me
The perfect beach mat is only one piece of armor in your line of defense against the hordes of sand particles that want to infest your home. To really keep your home grit-free, you’re going to need a multi-pronged approach, starting with prevention and ending with good cleaning techniques. With just a little extra vigilance, you won’t be finding sand in your clothes, shoes, and bags long after summer ends.
Shake out towels and clothes, rinse off shoes, and use wet wipes to get all the grit and oil off your water bottles or sunscreen.
To get started, you’ll need to create a line of defense against sand. Line your trunk or back seat, wherever your sandy items will go, with a sheet or extra-large towel. Rinse off all the items that you can before you load them into the car. If there’s nowhere to rinse, and you have wet sand stuck to yourself, use baby powder. Sprinkle it on your sand-covered body parts and then wipe it off; because it attracts water, it’ll help suck up some of the moisture and make it easier to brush the sand away.
Once you return home, clean off your beach gear before bringing it in the house, whether that’s your luggage from a tropical vacation or your beach mat and items from a day at the ocean. Shake out towels and clothes, rinse off shoes, and use wet wipes to get all the grit and oil off your water bottles or sunscreen. Wipe out the inside of your suitcase or beach bag, too.
After the majority of the sand is gone, you’re ready to bring everything inside. Take your clothes, mat, and towels to the washing machine straightaway, and vacuum the bottom of your shoes and inside your bags. Try to do all of this in one room, like your laundry room or entryway, to avoid a mess throughout the whole house.
When the items are all clean and sand-free, you’re ready to give the floor a thorough vacuuming. Sand tends to spread, so use an attachment to get into the cracks between the walls and the carpets, and don’t be afraid to go over the floor a few times if you tracked in more sand than you intended.
Beyond Beach Mats
A beach mat, some cold drinks, and a bathing suit might be all you really need to get your kicks on the beach, but if you’re the type who likes to lounge in style and luxury, there’s plenty of great gear to keep you comfortable.
But many of the ones you find today do so much more than keep your soda frosty.
For instance, a large and sturdy beach umbrella not only makes lounging and reading a book more pleasant, it can also keep you safe. You won’t be exposed to as much harmful UV radiation, a leading cause of skin cancer, and the shade will keep everyone cooler and at lower risk of heat stroke. Some innovative models even provide protection from the wind.
You can protect your drinks from the wind and sun, too, with a handy beach cooler. But many of the ones you find today do so much more than keep your soda frosty. Some double as chairs, others are backpack hybrids, and some even have speakers built right in. Pair your cooler with a drink holder, which’ll keep the sand out of your beer, for all-day refreshment.
And speaking of keeping sand where’s it not wanted, a pair of sand socks or beach shoes will keep annoying grit out from between your toes and protect your piggies while you’re taking a stroll down the shore. Look for water shoes that dry quickly, usually crafted from synthetic fabrics, and ones that you can pop on and off quickly so that you don’t track any sand onto your beach mat.