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8 best bucket and spade sets: Entertain kids on the beach or sandpit

Your little ones and their castles are shore to make waves with these seaside kits

<p>We tested for durability and portability, with extra points for sustainability too</p>

We tested for durability and portability, with extra points for sustainability too

The humble bucket and spade is the ultimate beach buddy for a child, allowing hours of endless imaginative play on the sand.

It’s traditional British seaside paraphernalia, but to avoid cracked buckets and uncomfortable to hold spades that can be bought cheaply from any beachside vendor, it’s worth considering your purchase before arriving at your beach of choice.

We headed for golden sands with buckets and spades galore, with the help of our three-year-old and five-year-old reviewers who were more than happy to put them to the test.

We were looking for durable bucket and spade sets that are strong enough to take on the challenge of plenty of play from mini beach-goers.

Portability and ease of transport was considered too, after all you don’t want to break your back before you’ve had a chance to relax on the bay. We also gave extra kudos to products with a sustainable focus.

Read more:

The best bucket and spade sets for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Scrunch bucket: £8.99, Scrunchkids.com
  • Best for sandcastles – Quut beach set alto: £26.99, Trouva.com
  • Best for imaginative play – Melissa & Doug seaside sidekicks sand baking set: £13.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for portability – Kidly foldaway bucket & spade set: £14, Kidly.co.uk
  • Best for beauty – Liewood dante beach set: £30.60, Naturalbabyshower.co.uk
  • Best for sustainability – Plan toys sand play set: £29.95, Scandiborn.co.uk
  • Best value for money – B. Summer beach bag: £16.99, Smythstoys.com
  • Best for two-person play – Hape 5-in-1 beach set: £15.99, Hellobabydirect.com

Scrunch bucket

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

Roll it, fold it, scrunch it... yes, we can attest you can do all of these things. UK brand Scrunch is all about making travelling and storage that bit easier. Made from 100 per cent recyclable silicone – in fact, this bucket is made from sand – meaning it’s environmentally friendly, recyclable and reusable! Impressively, this bucket can hold 1.5 litres yet you can actually fit it in your pocket.

Our testers found the handle easy to hold, and it’s lightweight but super durable. There are seven pastel colours to choose from, and we also dig (sorry, couldn’t resist) the Scrunch spade (£2.99, Scrunchkids.com).

Quut beach set alto

Best: For sandcastles

Rating: 9/10

Belgian brand Quut really have reinvented beach toys, and the result is pretty impressive. While we can’t deny that this isn’t your traditional bucket and spade set, the beach set alto comprises of an alto and raki. The alto is a three-part toy which will take your sandcastle game to the next level – our five year old tester was chuffed with her multi-layered castle. You simply fill the large, medium and small components, press and form and hey presto... a professional firm structure, which won’t crumble in seconds.

The raki offers plenty of fun too; it’s a rake and scoop, all in one. Made of durable, recyclable plastic, which is BPA, latex and phthalate-free, Quut’s products are so at home in kids’ hands. This set also comes in a handy beach bag that dries quickly!

Melissa & Doug seaside sidekicks sand baking set

Best: For imaginative play

Rating: 8/10

Our budding chefs loved cooking up a storm with this sand baking set from Melissa and Doug. With seven pieces, this isn’t your usual bucket and spade set, but the three shell-shaped measuring cups make for great scoops, and the mixing bowl is your substitute bucket. There’s a lid which doubles up as a sand sifter, which our testers put to good use before whisking up their daily special of “sand cake” with the octopus whisk and crab mixing spoon. You might not make many sandcastles, but it’ll have them occupied for hours, leaving parents to kick back and relax.

Kidly foldaway bucket and spade set

Best: For portability

Rating: 8/10

We’re big fans of the online kids store, Kidly. Just in time for the summer holidays, they have launched a great beach buddy for those with limited space; the foldaway bucket and spade set. Available in four beautiful pastel shades, due to its compact size our little testers were calling this the magic bucket.

At just 5cm tall, it’s hard to believe this bucket has a two litre capacity. Made from 100 per cent food-grade silicon it’s the most durable of all the sets we tested. There is a knack to folding and unfolding this bucket though, and it’s certainly too tricky for the kids to master themselves. The trick is to pull out the corners one at a time, which gets easier with a bit of practice. We can’t fault the concept, with a deeply scooped spade for some efficient sand shoveling and comfy rounded handles for small hands. Plus the rotating handle and lipped base ensure easy tipping!

Liewood dante beach set

Best: For beauty

Rating: 8/10

You’ll be the envy of the beach neighbours with this modern set from Nordic brand Liewood. This squishy silicone set includes a durable bucket, mini spade and four fun beach moulds, which our testers found wonderfully tactile – and were often stroking them like pets. Thanks to the silicone composition you can say goodbye to cracked plastic buckets, plus, as all items are malleable they’re easy to squeeze in your beach bag. There’s also a selection of colours and patterns to choose from.

Plan Toys plan toys sand play set

Best: For sustainability

Rating: 7/10

We praise Plan Toys on its passion for sustainability, which feels more pertinent than ever when on nature’s wonderful beaches. This sand play set is ethically made from planwood, a super-eco material manufactured from waste left over from the Plan Toy’s factory. These eco-credentials are matched by performance, as this is a super sturdy set which includes three clever spades and a bucket. Each scoop is a different shape, and leaves a fishy imprint on the sand, while the bucket also has ridged circles on the base to leave fun prints too.

B. Summer beach bag

Best: Value for money

Rating: 8/10

This 11-piece set is the ultimate companion for a day at the beach with young ones. Our testers were fascinated by all the beach goodies, going beyond the humble bucket and spade. Inside the handy bag you’ll find a bucket, a rake and shovel, a watering can, four sand moulds, a mini monster truck – which was a huge hit – a sand sifter and a spinning pinwheel. The bag has a mesh bottom which means you won’t end up taking half the beach home with you either. This set is currently only available in-store through click and collect.

Hape 5-in-1 beach set

Best: For two-person play

Rating: 7/10

Neatly designed, this five-in-one set includes two buckets, one sieve and two spades, so there’s plenty for young beach goers to tuck into, whether they’re playing with sand or water, so you can also avoid sibling feuds. We love the bright colours and compact design, which makes it easy to carry on a trip to the beach.

The verdict: Bucket and spade sets

We love everything about the Scrunch bucket it’s child-friendly, sustainable and it scrunches up so small that it can fit in your pocket. A genius product for less than £10.

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Protect little’s ones from the sun’s rays on your next beach day with our best kids’ sunscreens

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