The 4 Best Beach Canopies

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Beaches can be a relaxing and rejuvenating place to spend a day, weekend, or week. But as wonderful as the beach can be, it can often take a bit of strategizing to enjoy the surf and sand without overexposure to the elements. Umbrellas are a classic go-to, but they can provide limited shade and be tricky to set up — and ideally, you want to avoid that all-too-familiar sight of an umbrella blowing down the beach. The best beach canopies not only allow you to enjoy more shade, but they also don’t require readjustment and are easy to set up. Additionally, depending on the model you choose, they can be great for individuals all the way up to families and large groups.

Beach canopies come in a range of sizes and price points, but besides group size, you want consider how you will typically be using it. If you’re frequently day-tripping to the beach, a simple beach tent (which requires little setup) can provide easy, on-the-go shade. If you’re more likely to spend several days on vacation, it may be worth it to set up a larger canopy that won’t need to be taken in and out of a car every time you use it. Additionally, if your main concern is keeping a baby or pet from overheating, you may find that a dome canopy is even easier to transport and set up.

No matter what your needs (or reason for heading to the beach) there are lots of options. Here are the best picks:

1. The Best Overall Canopy Tent

Beach canopies are, by definition, temporary structures. The best options should be substantial, easy to set up, and provide ample shade and space. Coleman’s canopy tent is designed to be set up in three minutes. The entire structure collapses and expands for storage. Telescoping poles allow you to adjust the height according to your needs, and the back legs can even be lowered for more tent-like coverage. A vent, not often found in budget models, helps airflow and keeps the wind from picking it up. The poles click into place when the top is fully extended, keeping it from collapsing as well. Included ropes and anchors make it easy to secure if needed, like on windy days. The storage bag even comes with wheels, making it easy to transport to and from a car or house. When not using it at the beach, you can also throw it in the car for parks or camping trips.

Great For: Beach vacations, windy days, and camping trips

What Fans Say: “It was very windy at the beach and the canopy was completely stable... It also has a vent at the top that helps keep the canopy stable in wind. Very nice product."

2. The Best Budget Beach Canopy

With fewer bells and whistles than the top pick, this one still provides excellent temporary shelter at the beach. The folding steel frame extends in a minute with two different height options. The included polyester top coat stays on when in storage, making setup even quicker. That said, the Sierra II does not include anchors, so you should plan to use sandbags or other weighted items to keep it secure when it's windy. The top also doesn’t have a vent. However, for the price, you may find you don’t miss those things. Additionally, the lack of vent might be good if you're experiencing a rainy day. Like the top pick, it also comes with a rolling bag for easy transportation and storage. If you also want a canopy for poolside use, the simple design also makes it easy to set up on concrete.

Great For: Beach vacations, rainy days, and poolside

What Fans Say: “We have lost a couple of beach umbrellas because of the wind at this particular beach. We were tired of throwing away money so we decided to invest in something more permanent. We are so happy with it! We particularly liked that the legs are adjustable.”

3. The Best For Small Groups, Babies, And Pets

If a traditional beach canopy is on the pricier side or just bigger than what you need, beach tents offer similar protection from the sun for a much lower price (and smaller footprint). Especially if it's just for a few people, pets, or babies, this can be a low-cost, easy way to get shade at the beach. The pop-up Coleman Beach Shade gives users the option to situate themselves snugly inside the tent or in the front flap section for partial coverage. A front zip allows the tent to be completely closed while a back flap can be unzipped partially or fully for ventilation as well. Additionally, keeping it fully zipped gives you more protection from wind if it's chilly. Included storage pockets and even a drying line allow you to store your beach supplies comfortably, making it a good option even as a base of operations if you aren’t totally concerned about overhead coverage.

Great For: Beach day trips, cooler weather, and small groups

What Fans Say: "If you angle the Coleman correctly you don't have to battle the sun or move it. The front of the structure was just long enough to shade my family... The front panel does zip closed all the way, there are other similar models that do not."

4. A Chic Canopy With Lots Of Color Options

If you are with a smaller group (four or fewer people) and want something a bit chicer than your average beach canopy, the Neso beach tent is a great option. A lot lighter than a traditional canopy, it’s only 4 pounds, relies on two tent poles, and has anchors you fill with sand to hold it up. The lightweight design also makes it ideal for people who are flying to their beach vacations — no more buying beach supplies and tossing them after the week is up. The angled style makes it great for catching cross breezes while the sand anchors keep it from flying away. Additionally, it comes in 16 fun patterns and shades including flamingos, camouflage, and periwinkle.

Great For: Packing in a suitcase, festivals, and Instagram

What Fans Say: “The concept is so simple, yet so effective. The fact that you can use beach sand for the anchor method, means you're not toting extra weight or additional supplies to secure this on the beach.”

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