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The 8 Best Beach Shades, Tested and Reviewed

Sep 14, 2023Sep 14, 2023

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Travel + Leisure / Brian Kopinski

If you plan on spending more than an hour or two at the beach, shade is essential. With the right tent, canopy, or umbrella, you can safeguard your skin from the sun's harmful rays while staying comfortably cool and keeping wind and sand at bay.

But which one should you buy? That depends on how many people you're with, what you plan on doing at the beach, and your personal preferences. To help you narrow down your choices, we tested 21 beach shades by the surf, then selected designs that stand out for performance, user-friendliness, portability, durability, and overall value.

Our top picks are easy to assemble, a breeze to pack up, comfortable to carry, and effective at providing protection from the oceanside elements.


This feature-rich umbrella won't budge on windy days and calls on a UPF 50+ shade to safeguard your skin from the sun's rays.

It's pricier than most umbrellas, and at 9 pounds, it's slightly heavier too.

If you have an umbrella in mind, your best bet is the BeachBuB All-In-One Umbrella System. At 9 pounds, it's slightly heavier than most umbrellas, but it comes with a handy case with a padded shoulder strap, so it's not hard to carry at all.

The instructions are simple, and setup is easy enough. After laying the tarp on the sand, you dig a hole with the included tool and twist the pole into the hole until it fills with sand. Then shovel sand onto the tarp, hook the corners to the pole to create a weighted anchor, attach the umbrella shade, and you're good to go. Once you get the hang of it, it'll take roughly five minutes to set up and about two minutes to break down.

This well-made beach umbrella seems like it'll withstand even the strongest winds, and the UPF 50+ material helps protect you from sunburn on hot days. We like that it comes with a clamp, which you can use to hang your towel or beach bag. The price is slightly steep compared to other umbrellas, but it seems like it'll hold up for a long time. In the end, we think it's definitely worth the investment.

Price at time of publish: $157

The Details: 9 pounds | 90 x 48 inches | Fits 2 people


This lightweight yet durable tent is easy to set up and carry while offering ample protection from the sun, rain, wind, and hot sand.

It only has one strap, making it tricky to roll it up compactly.

Our top choice for tents is the Lightspeed Quick Cabana Sun Shelter. We found it conveniently lightweight and a breeze to carry along the beach, thanks to the included bag with an over-the-shoulder strap. Setting it up was an easy, straightforward process — no tools required. All you do is take it out of the bag, unravel it, stake it down, fill the sandbags, and clip together the frame.

Though setup is pretty intuitive, we recommend reading the instructions before clicking the frame into place — but once you get the hang of it, you can do it in seconds. Taking it down is also quick and easy. However, another strap or two would help with rolling it up more compactly.

This durable, water-resistant tent doesn't budge on windy days at the beach. You'll have plenty of shade from the sun and even rain protection in the event of a downpour. The bottom material is also thick, which helps protect you from the hot sand underneath. With a capacity of up to three people, we found it comfortably roomy for spreading out. We also like that there are three windows you can keep open or closed, plus pockets on either side for stashing your phone, sunscreen, and other beach essentials.

All things considered, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend this tent to anyone looking for extra shade during an outdoor activity.

Price at time of publish: $100

The Details: 6.1 pounds | 94 x 94 x 48 inches | Fits 2–3 people


Setting up this pop-up tent is a piece of cake, and you can count on it to protect you from strong winds, rain, and sunburn.

It doesn't have a shade or mesh cover on the front.

For something a bit more affordable for the beach, consider the Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent. As the name suggests, this product is super easy to set up. It has no poles or bags to fill — all you do is pop it open and close it up when you're done. (If you're expecting strong winds, you can fill the included sandbags or use the stakes to keep it in place.) It's also extremely lightweight and comes with its own carrying case with a shoulder strap.

Once we staked this tent to the ground, it wasn't going anywhere, despite the crazy winds. It's a bit smaller than our best overall tent pick but still notably spacious and offers plenty of coverage from the sun. The waterproof, wind-resistant, UPF 50+ fabric seems like it'll hold up in various weather conditions. We also like that it has side pockets for stashing your phone, sunglasses, book, and anything else you want close by. The only thing we would add is a shade or mesh cover for the front, as the fabric is only on the sides and back. But for such a wallet-friendly price, we really can't complain.

Price at time of publish: $62

The Details: 4.5 pounds | 87 x 49 x 47 inches | Fits 3–4 people


The sturdy design screws into the sand and anchors with ground spikes and tie-down cords.

At roughly 8 pounds, it's on the heavier side for an umbrella, and it can only be positioned at a tilt rather than upright.

We also liked the Sport-brella Premiere Umbrella. It weighs roughly 8 pounds, which is on the heavier side for a beach umbrella, but this actually makes it highly durable and unlikely to blow away or break. Thanks to the included bag with a shoulder strap, carrying it is no problem. This shade is easy to assemble — all you do is open the umbrella, connect the two poles, and twist the screw-like end into the sand. It also comes with ground spikes and tie-down cords for securing it in place.

Made of a sturdy UPF 50+ material, the Sport-brella Premiere does an excellent job providing shade and wind protection. We appreciate that it has zippered windows and internal pockets for stashing beach-day essentials. One thing to note is that, unlike most beach umbrellas, it's designed to sit at a tilt. The option to position it upright would make it more versatile, but for such an agreeable price, you really can't go wrong.

Price at time of publish: $65

The Details: 8 pounds | 108 x 61 inches | Fits 2 people


This ultra-lightweight, super compact tent is a breeze to carry, a cinch to set up, and just as easy to break down.

The carry bag seems like it might rip from stuffing the tent in, but you can secure it just with the ties.

The Oileus Beach Tent really stood out in terms of portability. Not only is it exceptionally lightweight at just 4 pounds, but it's also super compact and breaks down small enough to fit in a beach bag. You can also sling it over your shoulder with the attached strap. This tent is very easy to assemble, too, with clear instructions and stakes for securing it to the ground. It took us less than a minute to set up and was just as easy to break down and stuff back into the bag. Though the carry pouch seems like it could burst at the seams when the tent is inside, you can roll it up and secure it using only the ties.

Even without the stakes, the Oileus Beach Tent didn't budge in the wind. Offering shade and wind protection for up to four people, the canopy is surprisingly large, especially considering how compactly it folds up. This tent also has several large pockets and windows you can keep open for a nice breeze or close to keep sand and bugs out. All things considered, it's a very reasonably priced product any frequent beach-goer would be happy to have on hand.

Price at time of publish: $65

The Details: 4 pounds | 92 x 45 x 45 inches | Fits 4 people


It provides privacy and 360-degree protection from the sun and wind while still allowing airflow through the windows.

Assembly is a little complex, like a regular camping tent.

Looking for a fully enclosed shade? We highly recommend the WhiteFang Beach Tent. It comes in a small bag with a strap and weighs only about 4 pounds, making it super easy to carry. But due to the lightweight design, you'll want to be careful about it blowing away while trying to set it up. The assembly process was a bit complex, too, not unlike a regular camping tent. It took us almost 20 minutes, but breaking it down was only about five minutes. We used six stakes to hold it down, and once it was secured, it stayed in place through strong wind gusts.

This tent provides tons of shade and UPF 50+ protection from the sun while still allowing plenty of airflow through the three zippable windows. We like that the entrance zips up completely, offering privacy and extra shade when you need it. Perfect for a family beach day, the sizable design is big enough to comfortably fit two adults, a child, a cooler, and towels — and if you leave it open, it can accommodate even more people.

Price at time of publish: $40

The Details: 4 pounds | 83 x 55 x 46 inches | Fits 3 people


This compact, lightweight shade is easy to pack, carry, and set up while offering reliable sun protection for most of your body.

It's designed to be used with a beach chair.

Our favorite one-person shade is the Sport-brella Versa-brella. The portable design weighs less than 2 pounds and is barely 2 feet long when rolled up, fitting perfectly in a checked bag or duffle. Bear in mind this product is designed to use with a beach chair, but this is part of what makes it so compact. It's also a piece of cake to set up — just click the pole into place, open the shade, then attach it to the chair.

Though it doesn't have many features, we appreciate the simplicity of the no-frills design. The shade offers sun protection for most of your body, and the pole stays securely in place, even on windy days. This beach umbrella also proved incredibly durable, showing no signs of damage after being tossed around in transit.

Price at time of publish: $54

The Details: 1.8 pounds | 42 x 40 inches | Fits 1 person


Though it folds up compactly, this budget-friendly umbrella provides excellent coverage and stays in place with the included sandbag.

The included carry bag isn't the most durable.

The OutdoorMaster Beach Umbrella is a great value as well. Setting it up is simple — it shouldn't take you more than a minute or two if you read through the instructions. And despite the long pole, it folds up compactly and is easy to carry with the attached strap. While this umbrella is conveniently lightweight, it comes with a sandbag you can fill to anchor it down on windy days.

The UPF 50+ cover is surprisingly large, offering lots of shade and sun protection for two adults. You can also adjust the pole to your preferred angle as the sun moves throughout the day. This is a relatively simple umbrella, but considering the high-quality design, we think the price is more than reasonable — we'd probably pay more for it.

Price at time of publish: $60

The Details: 6.3 pounds | 78 x 83 inches | Fits 2 people

Tommy Bahama Fiberglass Beach Umbrella: This beach umbrella was very easy to set up and offers great shade without obstructing airflow. We loved the built-in table with cup holders, but in the end, it just wasn't our favorite.

Shibumi Shade: This extremely lightweight shade is incredibly easy to carry along the beach, and it provides lots of coverage for multiple people. But at nearly $300, the price seems pretty steep for a relatively basic design.

After researching today's best beach shades, we selected 21 to try firsthand through an ongoing testing period spanning six months. After removing each product from the packaging, we took note of the weight, packed size, and construction quality, then assembled them and broke them down based on the instructions.

We took the umbrellas, tents, and canopies to the beach to see how they performed in a real-life setting, noting how much protection they offered from the sun, wind, rain, and sand. After using them for a few hours on multiple occasions, we evaluated the stability and coverage. With standout features and price in mind, we scored each beach shade for portability, ease of use, performance, durability, and value. Those with the highest overall scores are featured here.

UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor, and the rating is essentially like SPF but for fabrics. Some of the best beach shades have umbrellas, canopies, or covers with a UPF 50+ rating, which tells you the material blocks at least 98 percent of the sun's harmful rays.

Beach shades are often billed as water-resistant. This usually means the materials can be exposed to rain, sea mist, and other moisture without getting damaged. But bear in mind water-resistant is different from waterproof. A water-resistant cover can only withstand a certain amount of moisture, whereas a waterproof design will offer more reliable protection.

Think about your entire beach setup. How many people will be with you? Are you bringing a cooler or picnic basket, planning to set up chairs, or laying out towels? Are you packing your shade in a suitcase or the trunk of a car? How far do you need to walk from your car or vacation rental to get down to the beach? Answering these questions can help you figure out the type, size, and features you need when buying a beach shade.

Most beaches in the U.S. allow tents and umbrellas during the day, though some have rules about leaving shades and other equipment unattended between sunset and sunrise. Also, certain locations limit the size of shade and what times of year you can set up structures, including canopies. Your best bet is to check the website for the beach you're heading to, which should state all the local guidelines and restrictions.

Beach shades can range from $30 to upwards of $300. The price depends on various factors, including size, quality, and features. After testing over 20 designs, we landed on several high-quality options under $200 and even a few under $60.

A pop-up beach tent can usually be closed simply by folding the sides flat, then folding it again multiple times until it's small enough to fit back into its carry bag. However, specific breakdown steps vary among brands and models, so you'll always want to check the instructions before closing yours.

Theresa Holland is a commerce writer and product reviewer specializing in travel and recreation. For this story, she compiled our long-term testing insights and combed through product descriptions to craft trusted, thorough recommendations for the best beach shades on the market.

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