For having fun without catching too much sun, the best beach umbrella provides an abundance of shade and protection — and they'll stay put when planted in the sand. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when shopping.
Let's be honest, you want a beach umbrella that's durable enough to last more than one season, so it's helpful to understand the materials. Beach umbrella canopies are typically made of synthetic, weatherproof materials. Polyester is durable, dries fast, and is the most commonly used material, as well as one that can be found in many budget-conscious picks, but it's not as breathable as other materials. PVC is extremely waterproof, but heavier than polyester, polyurethane is also relied upon for its superior waterproof properties, and acrylic is considered by many to be the best high-quality umbrella material, but it can be pricier. All of these materials are often designed with built-in UPF to protect against the sun's UV rays. As for the umbrella poles, commercial-grade umbrellas use wood, which is sturdy and attractive but heavy; aluminum poles are lightweight and easy to carry, but steel is more durable. Poles made of PVC are breakable, unstable, and won’t last long outdoors, so I’ve skipped them.
The best beach umbrellas won't blow away on a breeze: Look for ones with either screw-like ends on poles or anchors simply filled with sand. For windy beaches, look for an umbrella that has been tested against high winds.
The walk to the beach will feel longer with a heavy umbrella in tow. Consider a lightweight beach umbrella, especially if you are already lugging other beach gear. Beach umbrellas can weigh as little as a few pounds or more than 10 pounds for larger or heavy-duty versions. Other features like a handle or carrying case make a beach umbrella easier to tote around, and ones that are easy to assemble and take down will always be a favorite.
Finally, how many people are joining your beach party? A canopy extending six or seven feet provides enough shelter for one or two people. For a group of five or so, look for a bigger umbrella extending up to 12 feet wide. A beach umbrella tent can provide even wider coverage, especially as the sun moves throughout the day.