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Best Beach Tents: 12 Canopies to Stay Cool in 2020

For family trips to the beach, weekend soccer games or summer camping trips, nothing makes a hot day more enjoyable than some cool shade. Setting up a canopy or beach tent gives your family a place to stash their things and provides the shade you need to keep sensitive skin out of the sun. A good beach tent should also provide protection from the breeze on cooler days, and should stand strong when the wind really starts to whip up.

Beach tents are an ideal place for for small children to spend time at the beach, without you worrying about them having too much sun exposure. But they’re not just great for protecting kids and babies from the elements. If you’ve ever tried to read a magazine on the beach or keep your towel out of the sand, you know how nice it can be to have a clean, cool spot out of the sun.

Summary of the best beach tents in 2020

Take a look at this snap-shot of what your options are (more details on each in the best beach tents and beach canopies section), and then read on to find out what to look for in a beach tent that will keep you and your family chilled out all summer long.

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ProductFeaturesWeightType of tentCost
Kelty Shade Maker 2

Portable9.7 lbs / 4.4 kgCanopy$$$$
Big Agnes Three Forks ShelterRobust and durable7.6 lbs / 3.5 kgCanopy$$$$
Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy Instant Pop Up Shade TentInstant set up7 lbs / 3.2 kgCanopy$$
Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent Sun ShelterSpacious6.1 lbs / 2.8 kgTent$
WolfWise Splitwave Easy Pop Up Beach TentPop up4.6 lbs / 2 kgTent$$
Kelty Cabana ShelterSpacious and robust7.5 lbs / 3.4 kgTent$$$
Jack Wolfskin Beach Shelter IIIGood in rain and wind as well as sun5.8 lbs / 2.8 kgTent$$$
Coleman DayTripper Beach ShadeLightweight6.5 lbs / 3 kgTent$
Pacific Breeze Easy UpInstant set up and lightweight4.5 lbs / 2 kg
Tent$$
The SunBear Co. SunBear ShadeSustainably made and lightweight4 lbs / 1.8 kgTarp$$$
Sport-BrellaGood in rain as well as sun8.8 lbs / 4 kgUmbrella$
Neso Tents Beach TentLightweight and adaptable3.9 lbs / 1.8 kgTarp$$

Beach tents and canopies buying guide

When it comes to figuring out which beach shade is best for you, here are three questions to consider:

How much time are you willing to spend on setup?

If you’re going to the beach for the day, the difference between 5 and 10 minutes isn’t much. If you plan to use your shade for quick trips or a short soccer or baseball game on the weekend, look for something that sets up in 5 minutes or less like the Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy Instant Pop Up Shade Tent. Along the same lines, if you will be traveling long distances with your shade, look for something small enough to fit in your trunk or carry-on luggage.

How much wind do you expect your shade to handle?

Beach umbrellas are notorious for blowing away in gusty wind. If you anticipate needing something that can stand up to wind, purchase a canopy or tent with stakes or weights to hold it in place. The KingCamp Beach Tent has both steel stakes and sandbags.

Where do you plan to use your tent?

Sandbag weights are extremely useful on the beach because they are designed to be filled with sand before each use; that way you do not have to carry the extra weight to and from the car. If your family trips are anything like mine, your hands will already be full with camping chairs and coolers. Anything that reduces the weight of the shade is a good thing. If you will use your shade anywhere else, however, sandbags are no longer helpful. Stakes or permanent weights are a much better option for sitting next to a football field or at a campsite.

Practical properties

There are some useful features that you should look for in the best beach bent. First of all, it should be portable. Unlike luxury tents, your beach tent will get moved around often, and you’ll need to be able to carry it to your place on the beach. For this reason, the best beach tents should be lightweight, between six and eight pounds is average, but tarp canopies should weigh less than six pounds. Most pack into a bag with either shoulder or backpack straps for comfortable carrying. Your beach tent should also be easy to set up, either with built-in poles or a simple pole system. Most of the beach tents and canopy tents on our list take less than 10 minutes to pitch.

Material

You’ll want to make sure that the beach tent ismade from a UV resistant fabric. The best beach tents are made from fabric with an SPF 50+ rating. The tent’s outer material should also be breathable and durable enough to withstand at least moderate weather conditions. Most beach tents are made from some form of polyester, as this meets all three demands.

If you plan to use your beach tent for overnight adventures or spring/autumn beach days, then you should choose a tent with a water-resistant coating and taped seams.

Other useful features include:

  • Internal pockets

    To keep your kit organised whilst on the beach, look for a tent that has built-in storage pockets. Mesh pockets are the most useful because the sand can fall out rather than piling up inside.

  • Groundsheet

    Typically, beach tents come with a built-in groundsheet, which helps to keep the sand out of your gear. Some feature extended groundsheets that extend longer than the walls and roof, providing extra sitting space or play area for babies. Some beach canopies feature built-in groundsheets.

  • Closable front panel

    Some beach tents feature an extended groundsheet that converts to a front door, offering more privacy and weather protection.

  • Windows

    These allow you to increase airflow or enjoy a little more privacy. Mesh windows are also great for keeping the bugs out.

  • Removable sidewalls

    This makes your beach shelter very versatile. Detachable walls can be connected to increase shade and wind protection or to convert a canopy into a tent.

  • Sand anchors/sandbags

    Mostly, these are pouches stitched onto the outer edges of the tent’s groundsheet, but detached sand anchors can also be attached to guy lines. It’s a practical alternative to stakes that tend to get lost in the sand and don’t anchor well if the sand is loose.

Versatility

Another thing to consider is how versatile you want your beach tent to be. If you’re just looking something to provide shade on sunny beach days, then a standard beach tent or canopy will do the job. However, if you use your beach tent for overnight fishing trips, backyard camping, or camping with kids, then you’ll need something more multi-functional. The most versatile beach tents will have features such as removable walls, front and rear entrance, closable windows, and water-resistant fabric.


camping grill gear guide

Types of beach tents

The next thing to consider is what type of shade you need.

  • Beach tent

    Tent

    The classic style beach tent offers the most privacy and protection from the sun, rain, wind, and bugs. Families with babies and small children often prefer beach tents for these reasons. These shades are typically closed on three sides and open at the front, although some beach tents have front doors. Most have built-in groundsheets. For ventilation beach tents often feature windows which may be fixed open and some have a rear entrance too.

  • beach canopy

    Canopy

    Shade canopies are more spacious and allow air to flow. They are usually open on three or four sides, are without a groundsheet, and can fit more people than regular beach tents. Most are tall enough to stand inside so you can comfortably set up a beach chair or stand under the shade; however, they don’t provide much wind protection. Canopy tents are usually easy to set up as many have built-in pole systems. Tarp canopy tents, which are large pieces of fabric propped up by tent poles and secured with sandbags or stakes, are the most lightweight but are trickier to pitch single-handed.

  • Beach umbrella

    Umbrella tent

    Beach umbrellas are the most portable and usually cost less than beach tents and canopies. They’re a practical choice for occasional use or solo trips. These have the same central structure as a regular umbrella, making them easy to set up, but the extra fabric on either side provides a fair amount of shade. The only major drawback of umbrella tents is that they tend to blow away in strong winds .


FAQs when choosing the best beach tent

What is the best canopy tent for the beach?
There are many excellent beach canopy tents on the market. We selected the beach canopies for this list based on their ease of use, durability, special features, and price point. The Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy offers excellent value for money while the Big Agnes Three Forks one of the best beach canopies for harsh weather conditions. For environmentally-conscious shoppers, the Sun Bear Shade is the best beach canopy tent.
Are beach tents waterproof?
Most beach tents have some level of water resistance but may only be able to withstand a light shower. Others, like the Wolfwise Splitwave Easy Pop Up Beach Tent and the Big Agnes Three Forks Shelter, are designed to withstand moderate to heavy rain. Always check the waterproof rating before purchasing your beach tent.
What are beach tents called?
Beach tents break down into a few categories depending on their structure and set up. The most common types of beach tents are called cabana beach tents; these usually have a dome structure and at three walls, canopy beach tents which provide overhead shelter, or tarp beach tents, which are the lightest and most portable. Both cabana and canopy beach tents can be called pop up beach tents if they feature a built-in pole system that ‘pops’ into place.
What is the best beach tent for babies?
Babies need extra protection from UV rays, wind, and rain, as well as a protected place for nap time. That’s why the best beach tents for babies have decent ventilation and high UV protection. A front door is also a bonus. From our list, our top recommendations for babies or young children are Wolfwise Splitwave Easy Pop Up Beach Tent, Coleman DayTripper, and Jack Wolfskin Beach Shelter III.
What is the best beach shade?
If you’re looking for a beach shade rather then a tent, then beach canopy tents or tarp shades are the most useful. These provide large areas of shade without blocking the breeze. There are many great beach shades, but some of the best include the Neso Tents Beach Tent, the SunBear Shade, and the Big Agnes Three Forks Shelter.
How do you anchor a tent on the beach?
Pouches filled with sand are the best way to anchor a tent on the beach. It’s more effective than regular stakes, which are very easy to lose and don’t provide enough stability. Most beach tents and canopies come with built-in sandbags on the outside or pouches that attach to guy lines.
What is the easiest pop up canopy?
From our list of the best beach canopies and tents, the Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy is the easiest to pitch and pack. It comes with pre-threaded poles that snap into place at the top, similar to a garden parasol. You only need to take it out of the bag, unfold, and use the built-in rope to pull it up.
How do you keep a canopy from blowing away at the beach?
Most canopy beach tents come with guy lines and stakes so you can secure your shelter on windy days. Many also come with small pouches, either built-in or attached by ropes, that can be filled with sand and keep the canopy from blowing away. For extra stability, you can also angle the canopy towards the wind. This will reduce wind resistance on the tent.

The best beach canopies in 2020

Kelty Shade Maker 2 beach tent

Kelty Shade Maker 2

Max height: 86in / 218cm

Kelty’s Shade Maker 2 is a tall canopy that easily fits 3 or more full-sized camping chairs and gear. Set up requires at least two people to be done easily, but the canopy is extremely portable thanks to a carrying bag with two shoulder straps similar to a backpack. At just over 26 inches when collapsed, the Shade Maker 2 is small enough to fit in checked luggage and car trunks. The lightweight poles can bend in strong wind, so it makes a better option for calmer locations.

Pros

  • Compact pack size
  • Comes with a convenient carry bag
  • Good head height

Cons

  • Difficult to pitch alone
  • Doesn’t hold up well in strong winds

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Big Agnes Three Forks Shelter

Big Agnes Three Forks Shelter

Max height: 82in / 208cm

Big Agnes is well known for making high-quality tents and camping gear. Their Three Forks Shelter is another example of durable construction. It’s made with a polyester ripstop canopy, sturdy poles, and taped seams. The taped seams keep rain from seeping in, so you can use this canopy even in heavy rain – an excellent feature for camping trips as well as beach days. As with most canopies, the Three Forks Shelter is best suited to moderate weather conditions as it doesn’t hold up well in strong gusts. It does, however, provide plenty of shade thanks to the oversized cover. In most conditions, you can expect 10’x10′ of shade. It’s also tall enough to stand inside.

We also like that this beach shelter has attachment points for removable wall panels (not included). You can attach just one wall for extra sun and wind protection or connect all four to convert your canopy shelter into a private beach tent.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Spacious
  • Waterproof
  • Can convert from canopy to beach tent (detachable wall panels are sold separately)

Cons

  • Not good in strong winds

Find the latest price on:
EMS | Amazon | Backcountry


Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy Instant Pop Up Shade Tent

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy Instant Pop Up Shade Tent

Max height: 60in / 152cm

If you want a canopy with some of the advantages of a beach tent, Lightspeed Outdoor’s Quick Canopy Instant Pop Up Shade Tent might be the perfect solution. The shade tent is tall enough for adults to sit under in camping chairs and open on three sides, giving it the expansive feel of a canopy. Pre-threaded poles mean the canopy pops up instantly, making it the easiest canopy on our list in terms of setup and clean up. Although it does not provide as much shade as the other canopies (8ft. square), the cost is less than half.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to pitch
  • Has inside pockets for storing kit
  • Holds up well in winds
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Not as tall as other canopy shelters

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


The best beach tents in 2020

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent Sun Shelter

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent Sun Shelter

Max height: 48in / 122cm

Another option from Lightspeed Outdoors is their Quick Cabana Beach Tent Sun Shelter. An oversized base and porch area provides plenty of room for kids and pets to spread out. With this in mind, the base is made from thick polyethylene to withstand poky paws without tearing. The thickness and colour of the base material can cause it to heat up, however, which can be uncomfortable for crawling babies or bare feet.

Pros

  • Very quick to pitch
  • Good ventilation
  • Spacious interior

Cons

  • The groundsheet tends to absorb heat

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


WolfWise Splitwave Easy Pop Up Beach Tent

WolfWise Splitwave Easy Pop Up Beach Tent

Max height: 47in / 119cm

This pop up tent is by far the quickest to pitch beach tent on our list. Just remove from the circular carry bag, and it will automatically spring into shape. You can then fill the built-in sandbags for extra stability or stake it down on windy days. The tent comes with two guy lines and eight stakes. It holds up pretty well in strong winds and, thanks to its waterproof, UPF 50+ fabric, this lightweight beach tent is suitable for a range of weather conditions.

The Wolfwise Splitwave Easy Pop Up Beach Tent offers excellent ventilation too. It features a wide front entrance and a breathable mesh strip at the bottom of the back wall. Plus, the rear of the tent can open fully, allowing the cooling sea breeze to pass through. Mesh windows with zippered covers will enable you to choose between extra ventilation or privacy. Another handy feature is the built-in mesh storage pockets. Overall, the Splitwave Easy Pop Up Beach Tent is a well-designed tent that comes at a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Super easy to set up
  • Allows for plenty of airflow
  • Made from durable and weatherproof materials

Cons

  • Takes some practice to get it back in the bag

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Kelty Cabana Shelter

Kelty Cabana Shelter

Max height: 53 in / 135cm

If you want a beach tent that gives more than shade and wind protection, then the Kelty Cabana Shelter is a versatile option. With a spacious interior and a front panel that acts as both a groundsheet and a door, it’s also comfortable enough to sleep in overnight. The tent is tall and wide enough to set a couple of beach chairs inside. It’s also large enough for at least two to three adults (or two adults with two kids) to lay down inside.

We like that the shelter offers both ventilation and privacy; it’s built with three large mesh windows with roll away covers. The Kelty Cabana is also easy to set up, with a classic corner-to-corner folding pol design. Plus, you can use the included stakes and sandbags if necessary. Although it takes a few more minutes to pitch than other beach tents on this list, the Kelty Cabana Shelter is a practical choice for overnight beach camping, fishing trips, or festival camping, as well a sunny days at the beach.

Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Comes with a comfortable duffle-style carry bag
  • Simple set up
  • Great ventilation

Cons

  • Windows and door close with toggles rather than zippers (might be chilly on windy days)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Jack Wolfskin Beach Tent Shelter III

Jack Wolfskin Beach Shelter III

Max height: 39in / 99cm

Eco-conscious: The company use recycled materials in their products and has banned the use of PFC’s, fur, and Angora wool. The Beach Shelter III is made with 100% PFC-free fabric.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendlier beach tent, then the Beach Shelter III from Jack Wolfskin is 100% PFC-free. Despite this, the sturdy polyester fabric has a waterproof column rating of 4,000 mm and provides excellent protection from UVA and UVB sunlight. The tent comes with flexible fiberglass poles that can tackle moderate to strong winds.

This dome-shaped beach tent is freestanding: just unfold the poles, pop them into place, and stake if needed. As well as guy lines, the tent features nine external pouches, which you can fill with sand. Mesh windows allow for some airflow but, when you need a private cabin to change in, the groundsheet converts into a zippered front panel.

Pros

  • Front panel zips closed
  • Very stable (features nine built-in sandbags)
  • 100% PFC Free
  • Water-resistant (inside will stay dry in light showers)

Cons

  • Only has one mesh window

Find the latest price at:
Jack Wolfskin


Coleman DayTripper Beach Shade

Coleman DayTripper Beach Shade

Max height: 73in / 185cm

Offering a great compromise between affordability and useful features, the Coleman DayTripper Beach Shade is a great option for beachgoers seeking light-duty shelter. The unit packs into a tight 24”x5”x5” case and weighs less than a gallon of milk, making it easy to carry to your perfect spot on the beach. Six sandbags are sewn into the shade enabling it to conveniently withstand light to moderate wind, although for heavy winds you may want to bring along aftermarket weights. Extra features include a drying line, a large window, and the ability to zip the front panel completely closed for changing.

Pros

  • The front panel zips closed
  • Holds up to moderate winds (can be staked for extra stability)
  • 5 minutes set up
  • Budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Won’t fit more than two adults inside

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Pacific Breeze Easy Up beach tent

Pacific Breeze Easy Up

Max height: 47in / 119cm

If portability and easy set up are important for you, consider the Pacific Breeze Easy Up beach tent. Two oversized mesh windows with roll-up shades keep the interior cool thanks to better ventilation. The tent can stand up to heavy wind as well with both sandbags and stakes included. Pacific Breeze guarantees this tent is the easiest and fastest beach tent on the market to set up, and there’s no need to worry about forgetting what to do between beach trips – the simple set up instructions are sewn directly onto the bag. At only 4.5 pounds, this is also one of the lightest beach tents on our list.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to pitch
  • Lightweight
  • Has a built-in storage pocket
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Not very spacious (however an XL version is available)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Other beach tent options in 2020

SunBear Shade

The SunBear Co. SunBear Shade

Max height: 72in / 183cm (approx.)

Eco-conscious: The SunBear Shade is made from recycled materials and manufactured in the USA

To minimise your carbon footprint without getting burnt on the beach, look no further than the SunBear Shade from The SunBear Co. This canopy style beach tent is made in California, USA from recycled fishing nets. The fabric is resistant to stains from oils, liquids and lotions. It’s also washable and provides UPF 50+ protection. It comes with two folding poles and a convenient carry bag. Additional poles and tent stakes can be purchased separately for extra headspace and stability on windy days.

The SunBear Shade is available in two sizes; small (comfortable for 1-3 people) or large (comfortable for 2 to 6 people). Both sizes weigh under 4 lbs. Despite its low weight, the SunBear Shade is wind and water-resistant, However, on very blustery days you’ll want to stake the corners good and proper!

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Stain-resistant and washable fabric
  • Can withstand reasonably strong winds if pitched well

Cons

  • Difficult to pitch alone

Find the latest price at:
Amazon


Sport-Brella beach shade

Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella

Height: 54in / 137cm (approx.)

Offering more portability and versatility than the tents and canopies on the list, the Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella is one of the most popular beach and sport shades on the market. The oversized sides can be staked down for stability, although you may want to purchase an after-market umbrella anchor for the center pole if you expect heavy wind. One feature that may make this umbrella a better fit for your needs is that two or more Sport-Brellas can be positioned in a line to make a longer shade for a large group or sports team.

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Sets up in seconds
  • Holds up to moderate winds (but should be staked/anchored)
  • Features zippered windows

Cons

  • Not as sturdy as a traditional beach tent
  • Heavy (compared to others on this list)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Neso Tents Beach Tent

Neso Tents Beach Tent

Height: 66in / 168cm (approx.)

The Beach Tent with Sand Anchor by Neso Tents is widely praised for its extreme flexibility. It can easily be moved and reconfigured to shade nearly any angle – a useful feature as every beach has a different slope and exposure. Offering a canopy of 7’x7’ water resistant Nylon/Lycra, a small family can enjoy the shade it provides. Yet at only 3.9 pounds, even the youngest member of the family can carry it. Anchor bags are present at each corner and can be filled with beach sand or rocks to help keep it steady on windy days.

Pros

  • Can be pitched on unlevel ground
  • Made from durable nylon/polyester fabric
  • Very lightweight
  • Spacious

Cons

  • Not great in multi-directions winds

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Having a place to get out of the sun and cool off when you plan to be outside all day will make your trip to the beach way more enjoyable – especially with small children. Whether you spend all summer at the beach or need a shade for occasional tournament days, one of these superb beach tents or canopies is sure to meet your needs!

About the author

author-kimberley

Kimberly Mays is a writer and editor living in Western North Carolina, where she spends weekends in the garden and hiking with her husband and children.

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