Best Beach Canopies

Updated November 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

39 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
523 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best beach canopies

Last Updated November 2019

Going to the beach? Get ready to splash around in the water, have fun with floaties, and enjoy yourself all day. Maybe you’ll windsurf. Maybe you’ll play on jet skis. In between your aquatic activities, you’ll want to kick back on the beach and relax. You’re going to need some protection from the sun.

Sunscreen washes off in the water (though you should still wear it), but a beach canopy will provide you with the shade you need to enjoy the beach without getting burned. If you’re going to the beach this summer, you need a beach canopy, but which one? Beach canopies are simple items, but there are still a handful of factors to consider before you buy one.

In this guide, we discuss the types of beach canopies you’ll encounter and the price ranges you can expect to see. We answer your frequently asked questions and point you in the direction of some of our favorite beach canopies. Read on to find out what you need to know so your next day at the beach is a cool, comfortable one.

A mesh window opposite the front of the tent will create a wind tunnel effect that keeps the canopy cool. In fact, this configuration should keep it cooler than mesh side windows alone.

Key considerations

Ease of setup

Is the canopy you’re considering easy to set up, or does it require two people and the precision of a military field maneuver? If it takes more than five or ten minutes for one person to set it up, you are probably not going to want it. After all, you’re going to the beach to have fun, not spend all your time messing around with a canopy. Some larger canopies require a two-person team to set them up. That’s not necessarily a drawback, but it is something you need to be aware of if you’re going by yourself.

Taking it down

Equally important to ease of setup is how easy the canopy is to take it down. At the end of the day, it’ll probably have sand in it, and you’ll be tired and worn out. A canopy that is difficult to take down and pack isn’t going to be any fun. Again, a general rule of thumb is that it shouldn’t take more than five or ten minutes for one person to take it down. Of course, if you’re shopping for a larger canopy, you may have to forgo this rule and involve two or more people in the take-down.

Carrying weight

Smaller beach canopies shouldn’t weigh more than ten pounds. Ideally, they should weigh less than five pounds. Larger canopies may weigh up to 40 pounds, which can become a significant weight at the end of a long day at the beach when you’re tired and/or the car is parked far away.

Wheels

Wheels don’t work in the sand, but some larger and heavier canopies have wheeled bags anyway. The wheels are great once you reach the boardwalk or sidewalk but getting the canopy there might be an issue. Keep this in mind as you shop.

Securing it in place

Due to their light weight, beach canopies need to be secured so the breeze doesn’t blow them over. Wind coming off the water, whether the lake or the ocean, can be pretty stiff at times. Read the description closely to see how the canopy should be secured. Are the stakes and lines included, or do you have to purchase them separately? Some canopies come with built-in sandbags that you must fill with sand. Those sandbags have to be emptied at the end of the day, too. Don’t get caught off guard by this one; make sure you know how it is secured before you buy it.

EXPERT TIP

A rating of “XX UPF” means the beach canopy only allows 1/XXth of the sun’s rays to penetrate. Therefore, a 50 UPF rating means it allows 1/50th of the sun’s rays through the fabric.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Color

Blue is far and away the predominant color for beach canopies. Green and orange are somewhat less popular, along with a smattering of other colors. Blue canopies are available in various shades of blue, from light sky blue to deep royal blue. If you don’t want blue, you may have to look a little longer, but you can find other color choices.

Mesh windows

Mesh windows offer the ventilation you need on a hot day at the beach. The sunlight heats up the thin material very quickly, and you want the breeze to be able to get through. The best canopies have zip-up covers so you can close the windows for privacy.

Privacy

A few canopies have a front ground flap that can be lifted and closed with a zipper or Velcro to give you complete privacy. Under this type of canopy, you can change clothes or your swimsuit without having to traipse around the beach looking for a public changing room. This is very handy, especially at the end of the day when everyone is exhausted and ready to go home.

Materials

Polyester is the fabric of choice for most beach canopies. The materials for the frame are a bit more varied. Cathedral-style, open-sided tents have steel legs that are powered-coated to prevent rust. Smaller tents often use fiberglass in their frames. Galvanized steel is sometimes used as well.

Water resistance

Water resistance isn’t guaranteed on beach canopies. Some offer it, but since the main purpose of a canopy is to protect you from the sun, don’t count on it. A waterproof canopy is rare, but there are some available if you really want it.

Coating

Some beach canopies have an inner lining or silver coating for extra protection against harmful UV sunlight. Granted, the lining adds weight to the canopy, and less carrying weight is desirable. However, the extra layer of protection might be worth it to you — especially if you tend to burn easily.

Pockets

Organization is important when you’re at the beach. Most canopies offer some pockets for storing your sunscreen lotion, towels, magazines, books, and water bottles. The number of the pockets varies from one to four, and they are usually not very large.

EXPERT TIP

A canopy with an external frame gives you more usable room inside the canopy.


Staff  | BestReviews

Beach canopy prices

The price of a beach canopy relates more to its size than its features. A low-priced canopy in the $35 to $50 range will be large enough for one or two people to sit in, although beach chairs may not fit inside.

From $50 to about $90, you’ll find canopies with room for a family of four. If only two people sit inside one of these canopies, you would probably have room for beach chairs as well.

Anything above $90 is on the high end. These beach canopies are generally open-sided, cathedral-style tents with four metal legs and 10’ x 10’ size. These canopies tend to weigh over 30 pounds and are tall enough for you to easily walk beneath them.

EXPERT TIP

A cathedral-style canopy is one that has a vaulted ceiling up to seven or eight feet high.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Stakes and lines increase the area your canopy requires on the beach. Whatever size the canopy is, double that figure to get a rough estimate of how much room you’ll need on the beach once all the lines and stakes are in place.
  • Bring a rubber mallet to drive the stakes deep into the sand to securely anchor your canopy in place.
  • Place heavy items inside the canopy to help weigh it down when the wind blows.
  • Wet beach towels can be dried by placing them on top of the canopy. As an added bonus, they will also help block some of sunlight.

Other products we considered

Another canopy we like is the ZiggyShade Family Beach Sunshade. This unique tent comes in five different colors (violet, sky blue, red, prange, and jasmine green) as well as three different sizes. It’s an open-sided shade with tent poles, sandbags, and tent pegs. It’s made of Lycra and has its own carrying case. It’s also lightweight; the jumbo size only weighs seven pounds.

Another very cool canopy we like is actually an umbrella with side flaps: the Sport-Brella Super-Brella. This sky blue polyester canopy is supported by four steel ribs and a stretcher. It has telescoping poles and zipper windows on the side flaps for ventilation. It’s very quick and easy to set up, too.

The main difference between a canopy and a tent is that canopies are completely open on at least one side and do not provide any sleeping space.

FAQ

Q. How should I clean my canopy?
A.
Use a mild detergent in warm water. Set it up, wash it gently by hand, and let it air dry.

Q. What effect does wind have on canopies?
A.
The looser the canopy is stretched, the more it will flap in the breeze. Stretch it tight for best results.

Q. What is the largest beach canopy I can use?
A.
Every beach has different regulations, but 10’ x 10’ is probably the limit in most places.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey