Ultimate List of Essentials to Pack for a Day on the Lake

Are you getting ready for the perfect day on the lake but have no idea what to bring? Lucky for you I’m here to help with my ultimate list of essentials to pack for a day on the lake. This ultimate packing list is perfect for a day at the lake, or the beach, plus it comes with a free printable packing list.

Organized Beach Bag

Since moving to our lake home two summers ago, I’ve become pretty educated on lake life living and all it entails. I now find myself yearning for days spent on the boat, simply fishing off our dock, or just enjoying a glass of wine overlooking the water.

I’ve been completely transformed and am admittedly obsessed with lake life!

Being lucky enough to live on a lake is something my family and I don’t take lightly. We know that having a backyard like this is what dreams are made.

Boy and Dog Fishing on the Lake

Not everyone can just jump on a pontoon on a Wednesday night to unwind after a hectic day. And believe me, I’m always ready for those impromptu outgoings with my well-equipped lake bag.

Packed Lake Bag with Lake Essentials
Packed and ready to go!

Yes, we’re spoiled, but we truly are humble people who just worked really hard to get to where we are today. This, in turn, makes us appreciate our lake life even more!

Lake Dog on a pontoon
That’s a lot of appreciation right there!

Because we actually live on a lake, it’s not a big deal if we forget to bring something on the pontoon with us before heading out on the water. The worst that will happen is we end up turning around and heading back in the house for something we forgot, no biggie!

Father and Son driving a pontoon on a lake

However, this only works for when we are on our lake.

Even though we do live on a lake, we often find ourselves heading out to a different chain of lakes near our house quite often. We like visiting the beach and spending the day with our friend’s on their boat from time to time too.

Pontoon boat on a trailer
Ready to take the pontoon out on the chain of lakes!

The luxury of living on a lake becomes nonexistent in these situations and I too am forced to make a complete list of all the essentials I need for a fun day by the water.

If you don’t live on a lake, or the beach for that matter, packing all the essentials you need for the entire day is extremely important. Turning around and coming home isn’t always an option and you don’t want your day by the water to be ruined because of a packing disaster.

To keep my ducks in a row, and help you with your own, I’ve put together the perfect lake day packing list for you. You can snag a more organized printable version of it from my free resource library. This same packing list will work for a beach or pool day too!

Ultimate List of Essentials to Pack for a Day on the Lake

  1. Swimsuit
  2. Dry change of clothes
  3. Diapers/swimming diapers
  4. Wet bag/plastic bag for wet bathing suits
  5. Sunglasses
  6. Hat
  7. Water shoes/sandals
  8. Towels
  9. Ziploc bag with ID, cash, credit card, cell phone and keys inside
  10. Sunscreen
  11. Emergency kit (like this one)
  12. Brush and hair ties
  13. Bug spray/bug wipes
  14. Hand sanitizer
  15. Wet-ones
  16. Toilet paper
  17. Food
  18. Snacks
  19. Cooler with ice
  20. Water
  21. Additional drinks (soda, juice, beer, wine, etc.)
  22. Bottle opener/wine key
  23. Eating utensils (forks, spoons, knives)
  24. Serving utensils and tools (kitchen knife, cutting board, serving spoons, tongs, etc.)
  25. Clorox wipes
  26. Paper goods (paper towels, napkins, plates, bowls)
  27. Plastic cups, water bottles, Yeti’s
  28. Trash bags
  29. Ziploc bags
  30. Life jackets (ours stay on our boat)
  31. Swim masks/goggles/snorkels
  32. Floats/noodles/inflatable tubes
  33. Beach toys (pails, shovels, nets)
  34. Water skis, wakeboard, pullable tube
  35. Fishing poles and fishing supplies
  36. Fishing license
  37. Boat registration
  38. Book/eBook/magazines
  39. Games (frisbee, beachball, football)
  40. Portable charger with USB cord
  41. Waterproof speaker

Don’t forget to print a copy of my ultimate lake essentials list to keep handy while packing for your lake day. My free printable packing list does a great job of dividing this list into sections that will help you organize your essentials better. Sign up using the form at the bottom of the post.

Lake Essentials Packing List

In terms of food, I wanted to add a couple of things. My personal go-to meal for lake day outings is premade sandwiches and wraps, fresh fruit salad, and snack-sized chips. I like to make the sandwiches and wraps in the morning to avoid the bread getting soggy if at all possible. If I can’t make them ahead of time, I bring the supplies I need to make them on the boat. For picky little eaters, try making fun wraps like peanut butter and jelly with chocolate chips or peanut butter, bananas and marshmallow fluff wraps.

The above-mentioned meal is perfect, but if you want to go all out, bring a portable grill with you and have a BBQ on the lake! Caution though, I would recommend this only for the more advanced lake goer. Stick to sandwiches for the first time or two for a less stressful option. 

In addition to any food items containing things like mayonnaise, remember to put any food or snacks containing chocolate inside your cooler too. If you forget (I know from experience), you’ll end up with melted chocolate EVERYWHERE. It’s a total disaster in case you’re wondering. I try my hardest to not pack any snacks with meltable items in them for this exact reason.

I have the best process for packing food to bring to the lake that’s easy, efficient, and organized. You’ve got to check it out! 

Snack foods to bring on a lake day
Typical snacks I bring along for lake days!

And not to be the party-pooper of the bunch, but make sure to drink responsibly if you plan on operating the boat or driving to and from the lake. Being over the limit isn’t acceptable on land nor water so pace yourself and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Enjoying Lake Life in the water

There you have it! I wasn’t lying when I said I had the ultimate list of essentials to bring for a day on the lake. It looks a bit overwhelming but most of these items can fit perfectly in a lake bag or two! And if you have a pontoon like us, you can even tuck most of the items underneath the seats while you’re not using them.

Pontoon boat on a lake

I hope you found this list of lake essentials helpful! Enjoy your time this summer on the water whether it’s by the lake, beach or pool. And if you think I forgot anything from my list, don’t hesitate to comment below and let me know.



Want to remember this? Post the Ultimate List of Essentials to Pack for a Day on the Lake to your favorite Pinterest board!

Organized Beach Bag

Lake Essentials Packing List

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  1. Okay, Tiffany–I have to say–looking at these pictures make me downright jealous! What a beautiful place you live in! The lake is gorgeous and clearly your family cherishes this place! What great and lasting memories Zach will have of his childhood growing up on a lake. And I LOVE your amazing and very detailed list of all the things needed for a day on the lake. However, I’m going to use this list for when I go to the beach. Thank you for another inspiring and amazing post–love all the pics!

    1. This will most definitely work for the beach, Sharlene! I plan to use this packing checklist for the lake and the beach this summer. I’m going big with my summer plans as you can tell. Thanks for commenting and you’re more than welcome to come to visit me and see this view in person. I must agree it’s pretty darn amazing. <3

  2. Thanks for this post. My husband and I moved to a lake in the past year and got a pontoon boat, fulfilling our dream to have our boat in our own “back yard”. We are very thankful every day. Definitely going to be keeping your boat list handy.

    1. Congratulations on your lake home! Aren’t pontoon boats the best?! I couldn’t agree more with your statement, “We are thankful every day.” It truly is a blessing to wake up with a water view. Thanks for reading and I hope to stay in touch. XOXOXO, Tiffany

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