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Country Originals beach umbrellas trimmed with raffia fringe.
Country Originals beach umbrellas trimmed with raffia fringe.
AP Photo courtesy of Home Depot

Packing a
cool lifestyle

Packing a cool lifestyle: Plenty of lightweight beach portables can be found

By Joan Brunskill
Associated Press Writer

Getting fun gear together for summer outings takes a little forethought. But count on carrying your cool lifestyle along with you. It can be done: Youíll find plenty of lightweight portables once you start looking.

Often youíll be heading to the beach, but many nifty comfort items now available are equally useful for country picnics or hikes in the woods.

Please do not forget to take enough sunscreen for everyone in the party. As for other accessories, here are suggestions for smart, colorful stuff to check out:

Beach push cart

First off, something in which to stash your gear and roll it away. A beach or sports-utility pushcart can do it for you, and the Wonder Wheeler by Rio Beach (about $55 at 4thebeach.com ) is good example. These carts come in simple to deluxe versions. Theyíre all-terrain carts with wide wheels, weighing about 11 pounds, that function like a baby stroller; load them up with coolers, sunshades, personal items and up to 4 chairs. When theyíre empty, they fold up easily to stow away in a trunk or closet.

Airy room

How about an airy screened-in room, big enough for a few of you, that folds into a bag to take to the beach? Done.

There really are such conveniences, ranging from basic to rather baronial:

n Basic: Playhut Large Screen Room, 6 feet high with 36 square feet of floor space, becomes your own instant porch or patio. Its bug-protected but breezy space has mesh sides and shade top. It weighs about 14 pounds and comes in a carrying case. Priced about $52.

n Baronial: Hammacher Schlemmerís Instant Portable Gazebo, which looks a bit like a medieval knightly pavilion, stands 9 3/4 feet high, with 10-by-10-foot floor space, giving you 100 square feet of sheltered lounging or dining on the beach or back yard. It has mesh walls you can tie back under a vented roof; it weighs 52 pounds, folds into a neat 4-foot by 8-inch wheeled carrying bag, and is priced at about $300.

Umbrellas

Letís say you donít want to be walled in at all, but you still need a bit of cover.

Whether your beach is bounded by tall palm trees or just a cement wall will not matter if you equip the gang with flirty hot-pink or turquoise beach umbrellas trimmed with raffia fringe. They flash instant exotic charm, have a very practical function. Country Originals carried by Home Depot, priced at $45 each.

Towels, furniture

Now, having taken care of shelter, under the umbrellas you can invite people to sprawl on beach towels or, more ambitiously, on actual furniture which may be basic or elegant or both.

  • Very cheery: generously sized (78 by 39 inches), vertical rugby-stripe beach towels, in a choice of bright, stylish color combinations, made of comfortably thick cotton. Priced at $17.50, or $31 for two, from Landís End:

  • Very elegant: a portable chaise lounge with a flowing line thatís one suave curve, weighing in at 7 pounds on its aluminum frame. Folds in half for easy carrying. About $100 from Hammacher Schlemmer.

    Hammocks

  • Very nifty: a portable sling hammock made of polyester on a steel frame that needs no tools to put up and can support up to 250 pounds in weight. About $70, from Target.

  • Very basic: The full-length Rio padded beach mat-lounger with backrest and waterproof bottom folds flat and has a strap to make carrying easy, plus a zipped pocket for sunscreen or paperback.

    It is made of polyester and weighs just over 5 pounds. About $20.from beachstore.com.

  • Very new-wave: an inflatable hammock water-lounge, chair-size rather than full-length hammock. Made of heavy-duty vinyl, from Target, about $20.

    Chair and canopy

    If someone wants to be alone, between the umbrella group and the pool lounger, thereís individual comfort and shade to be had with the self-contained, all-purpose Kelsyus reclining backpack beach chair and canopy.

    The sitter adjusts the chair to the desired angle, then reclines in the shade of the canopy.

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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