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Many beach bags are essentially cloth buckets with handles, and those are fantastic if you are carrying bulky items with you. However, small items such as wallets, lip balms, watches and cameras can get lost among the other items. If you like to carry such items in your beach bag, look for a tote with smaller inside pockets where you can keep track of them.
Many tote bags have open or snap-tops. These have their purpose, but you will want a bag that zips if you will be bringing any valuables to the beach, or if you want to safeguard the contents of your bag against sand, water, or curious gulls. A zippered tote bag is also useful as a travel bag for car, boat or airplane trips on which bags might get jostled around. In contrast, an open-topped tote bag is useful for transporting bulky beach towels or sand toys that people need to access quickly and easily.
Beach bags take a beating: they sit in the sun, get tossed in the back of a car, are dragged through sand and over rocks. Invest in a beach tote bag made from a tough material, such as canvas or dual-ply nylon to withstand the rigors of many days at the beach. Make sure the handles are of a length that is comfortable for you and that will accommodate what you will be transporting: shorter handles might be better for beach bags that carry towels, while longer handles might be better if you need to put the bag over your shoulder and keep your hands free.