Umbrellas create shade, lower ambient temperatures and block UV rays on hot, sunny Summer days. Sitting under the canopy of a quality beach umbrella can make the difference between comfort and sweltering. When choosing an umbrella, we look for durability, wind ratings, weight and size.
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The patented beachBUB system is our pick for the best all-around umbrella. This 9lb. system features a 35mph wind rating (you’d feel sandblasted before worrying about the umbrella), and thick poll walls. It includes a transport bag with heavy duty strap, a unique, stable base system that fills with sand, and a big 7.5ft vented SPF canopy that raises quickly. Everything about this system feels overbuilt. Setting it up is easy for anyone and takes less than 2 minutes. We love that this is an entire system designed to solve common problems, and it does so well.
Another popular choice is the Tommy Bahama 7 foot beach umbrella. This umbrella features a 7ft, SPF/UPF100 vented canopy that tilts. To keep your umbrella anchored, an auger-style poll with twist arms. This system works well, but requires a little more muscle than the beachBub listed above. Once the auger poll is drilled in, the remaining setup is easy. This umbrella is slightly smaller and less complicated than the beachBub, and as a result it is only 4lbs. with carry case. The tilt feature is especially nice for shading the late afternoon sun. This system folds to 44 inches. Opened, it is 82 inches.
Best Beach Shades and Canopies
A growing trend over the past few years has been the adoption of canopies on the beaches. Canopies offer some advantages over umbrellas. With four anchor points, they can be more stable. Most are larger than the average umbrella and offer convenient shade for family comfort. Newer designs pop up and down in seconds with little effort. Many canopies incorporate one or more sides which block wind and increase UV protection in the morning and late afternoon. And, many offer built-in floors which keep gear and toes off hot sand. Here are some highly-rated canopies to consider for your beach vacation.
We like the Lightspeed Quick Canopy for its easy up and down hub and SPF 50 protection. This lightweight (7lbs.) canopy really does go up and down in seconds with an umbrella-like hub system. Floor dimensions are nearly 8’ by 8’. The built in sidewall provides additional protection from wind and sun, while the other three sides allow for wide 270 degree views of the surf and sand. The canopy material is breathable poly with a water-resistant coating. A durable PE floor is included, as well as an easy-to-pack oversized carry bag. This canopy packs down to 50” by 5”. Sand pockets and stakes provide additional stability to corners. Lightspeed offers a 1 year warranty on all their sun shelters and beach shade canopy tents. Lightspeed’s entire line of shelters is highly rated.
The Coleman DayTripper hits our list as a great value shade. We like this style of shade when sheltering infants and small children, or two adults. The three-sided walls offer lots of protection from the elements. Assembled, it measures 7’5” by 4’5” with a 57” total height. Unlike the Lightspeed shade, this canopy does require some tent-style assembly with multiple poles. It takes a few minutes to set up and another few to take down. The DayTripper features SPF 50 UV protection fabric, a carry bag and extra long stakes, as well as a full floor mat. Overall this shade does very well at its price point.
If you’re willing to spend a a bit more, the Easthills Instant Shade offers Coleman – style shade with the added benefit of a quick popup system. This canopy is a bit smaller than the Coleman, but it also weighs a bit less at 5 lbs. The shade material is an ultra-light 185T poly coated with UPF 50 sun protection. Mesh windows allow circulation through the side walls when desired. The floor is a durable 120g PE material with dimensions of 82” wide, 47” deep and a 43” “front porch”. This shade works well for two adults, or children and pets. If you need privacy, the ground sheet can zip up into a 4th wall. Plastic stakes and sand pockets add stability in wind.
Have a big crowd? Want protection from bugs? The Clam Corp Quick-Set Escape is a large shelter with a highly-rated quick popup system. This shelter features full no-see-um screen walls and waterproof taped seams. The top fabric is 210 denier with SPF 50 UV protection. Packed up, this large shelter is a hefty 34 lbs. measures 72” x 8” x 8”, so plan your packing accordingly. If you like the features but not the size, Clam Corporation offers a full line of quick-set shelters. Weather panels are available separately. Our take: If you want to be outdoors without being bothered by mosquitoes, this shelter is a home run. It is large and heavier than the others, but the quality and peace of mind are wonderful.
Looking for a sturdy traditional square canopy? Check out the Core Instant Shelter. This standard 10’ by 10’ canopy takes 2 minutes to set up and take down and offers 100sqft. Of shade. The steel legs and 150d polyester fabric are high quality and durable. A wheeled carry bag is included, but you’ll want to use a beach cart with wide wheels on the sand. Guylines and stakes help keep the canopy anchored in windy conditions. The extended fabric on each corner provides additional stability. This canopy is heavy duty and comes in at around 40 lbs.