Nothing beats a day at the beach which is why it remains the most popular destination for summer vacations. And it offers some great health benefits such as the high calorie burn you’ll get from swimming or playing sand volleyball. Even the most ardent sun worshipers need a break now and then. That is why should consider getting a sun shelter for your next time out.
The 6 Best Beach Tents (Summer 2019) + Buyer’s Guide
Why You Should Buy a Beach Tent
You go to the beach to catch some rays, but there’s a trade-off.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you can’t safely sunbathe without increasing your risk of skin cancer too.
The environment also plays a role because the sand will reflect up to 25 percent of the UV light striking the ground. Having a beach shelter to get out of the sun can reduce your exposure by 50 percent or more.
A bad sunburn or an increased risk of cancer aren’t the only things you need to worry about with too much time in the sun.
Plus, It can also cause premature aging.
That’s not to say you should skip the beach though.
Rather, you should play it smart with a shelter that can limit the time you spend outside. Besides, a sun tent will give you some privacy and a place to store your stuff. That’ll make it easier to pack up when it’s time to go home.[toc]
Types of Beach Tents
You’ll find several different styles of tents, each one with its pros and cons.
But it also comes down to a personal preference for the look and ease of use.
The first kind you may think of is the classic cabana. A hut with a thatched roof probably isn’t the most practical to set up despite the cool factor. You’ll find pared down version of this tent or canopy-like structure.
Another option is a pop-up beach tent which resembles something you might use when you are camping. The advantage of this type is that it’s both versatile and portable.
You’ll also find variations on these basic themes that combine features of several types. Often, manufacturers market these products for other uses, so you might see extras that you’d typically find with a camping model.
Bear in mind that these tents are meant to be temporary shelters and not something you’d stay in overnight. They may not offer the extra protection you’d need against the elements and the critters to say nothing about the mosquitoes. Let’s review what you should look for to get the best beach tent.
Beach Tent Features to Consider
Like any piece of gear, you should review the specs of your choices to make sure you’re getting the right product for your needs. That’s especially true of a beach tent because it can play a direct role in the enjoyment and benefits you get from using one. First, think about the size that you’ll need based on how many people are typically a part of your group.
Also, consider UV protection. Some models may provide just shade because the rays can still penetrate the material unless it has the proper coating. If that’s your main reason for getting one, make sure it has you covered on this core. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
However, you’ll still need to get out of the sun at times, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. And don’t forget the impact of the water and sand on the amount of UV rays you’ll receive.
Ventilation is definitely one of those features that can make or break a good deal. After all, it does little good to invest in a sun tent if you’re sweltering every time you get into it. You’ll often see them with one open wall that will give you a view of the water. Many will also include one or more windows to keep the air circulating. Pay attention to the color of the shelter too. Even if it has the best ventilation, it won’t matter if it’s hot inside.
You’ll see beach tents made of the same fabrics as camping models like nylon or polyester. These materials are strong while allowing for some breathability to keep it comfy inside. Details about this spec will include information about the UV protection it offers. Some shelters may even use flame resistant coatings to increase their versatility for uses other than the beach.
Review the floor dimensions of the tent, keeping in mind how you will use it. If you usually take a lot of gear, plan for it with the size of your shelter. The same thing applies if you’ll use it for a place to nap or change into dry clothing. Check out the maximum height too so that you can stand up in it.
Some tents may only provide partial shade, depending on the angle of the sun. That may mean that you’ll have to lay sideways or diagonally to stay protected. If you’re sharing it with a group, that can be a problem.
Ease of Use
If you camp, you know firsthand how important the ease of setup is with a tent. It’s no different with a beach tent. If the weather takes a nasty turn, you’ll want to be able to break it down quickly too. Make sure and find out what stakes, tie-down cords, or sand pockets are included with the product. Other features to consider include:
- Pole and stake materials
- Storage bag for the tent and stakes
Steel poles and stakes offer the advantage of a more durable material that can handle rough use. However, they will add to the overall weight of the product.
It might not be a dealbreaker for short jaunts to the beach, but it’s something to consider if you’ll use it for other uses such as backpacking.
You’ll find beach tents with no flooring or some with a detachable piece that connects to the main unit. The former solves the problem with sand getting into the tent. But if you want to change clothes, you might prefer the latter so that you can get the sand out of your shoes before you head home for the day.
It can make the post-beach cleanup easier too.
Also, consider the construction of the windows and doors. Some manufacturers have moved away from using zippers to devices like hooks to keep them more beach-friendly.
The sand and moisture will take their toll on anything metal. Even the plastic ones can snag at times too. Our advice is to practice setting up your shelter in your yard before taking it out for the real thing. That way you identify any potential hiccups before you head to the beach.
The Top 6 Picks for the Best Beach Tent
We found a wide variety of styles for a sun tent, so we’ve included some pros and cons of each one to help you decide.
Remember to keep your anticipated use in mind to home in on the best one for you. It’ll prevent you from paying for features that you don’t need too.
Ventilation and roominess are among our main considerations when choosing the right product.
And of course, functionality trumps a pretty design.
Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent
The Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent is all about spaciousness with its generous 87” L x 47” H x 49” D dimensions. You could almost call it a three-season beach shelter because of its features. It has UPF 50+ sun protection to protect you against harmful UV rays. It has a waterproof floor to keep you and your things dry. It also has sand pockets and stakes to secure it on windy days.
Cross ventilation is excellent with two large opposite-facing windows and an open front. The floor only covers the area of the tent and doesn’t extend outside of it. It does include a one-year, hassle-free limited warranty. The setup is quick with no fumbling to get it up fast. It’s well-constructed and able to handle the elements just fine.
The Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent is an excellent value for a well-made tent that will keep you comfortable in a wide variety of conditions.
Coleman DayTripper Beach Tent
The Coleman DayTripper Beach Shade has those extra attentions to detail we’d expect from a manufacturer of tents. It has internal storage pockets and a line for drying clothes. That said, this model is more of a shelter than a beach tent. It’ll keep you in the shade as long as you set it up with the sun’s angle in mind. It has 50+ UPF sun protection which we consider a must-have feature.
The shelter is not the easiest or the fastest one to set up or break down which can be a dealbreaker for some. On a positive note, it is portable so that you can move it with the changing conditions. It has stakes, pre-attached guy lines, and six sand pockets to keep it secure. It includes a floor within the shelter than extends out. It comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The Coleman DayTripper Beach Shade is an excellent example from the manufacturer’s line that includes features that show careful attention to detail with the user in mind.
EasyGo Shelter Beach Tent
The EasyGo Shelter is appropriately named because it is so quick and simple to set up with no loose parts. It’s on the smaller size at 96″ wide, 48″ deep, and 48” high. The flooring extends an additional four feet out from the tent. It comes with both stakes and sand pockets to keep the tent secure on windy days. If you’re taller, you’ll need to lie down diagonally to keep your entire body covered. That can raise some issues if you have a lot of stuff in it.
It has 50+ UPF sun protection to keep you safe. That’s essential if you have little ones at the beach with you. The protection that their skin offers them against UV rays isn’t fully developed until they’re two years old. This one would make a good baby beach tent. The ventilation is excellent too with three windows to keep the air flowing freely.
The EasyGo Shelter is a simple-to-use beach tent that offers both UV protection and excellent ventilation to keep you comfortable.
Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella
The Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella has a lot of the features we like to see in the best beach canopy. The ventilation is top notch with a wide open front and two side windows. It has UPF 50+ UV protection too. You have your choice of three colors including a fun, beachy turquoise pattern that we loved. The design fits in perfectly with a tropical theme and doesn’t look like a camping tent at all.
The best part? The Sport Brella is a perfect cross between a beach tent, and a beach umbrella.
Without a back window, wind can do a number on it. However, the unit does include eight steel stakes and three eight-foot, tie-down cords. It is well constructed with steel reinforcements along the frame of it. The fabric is polyester which is tough to handle the occasional gust. That said, pay attention to the direction of the wind before setting it up to avoid mishaps.
The Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella stands out as the quintessential beach shelter with a fun design that provides plenty of comfort.
OutdoorsmanLab Automatic Pop Up Beach Tent
The OutdoorsmanLab Automatic Pop Up Beach Tent is the one selection among our picks that looks most like a camping model. It comes with six pegs and sand pockets to keep it stable which seems more than enough given its size. It comes in at 71” long, 60” wide, 52” high. It has features we’d expect with a tent for camping including the fact that it is flame retardant. It also has 50+ UPF sun protection.
It includes other details such as inner storage pockets and a hanging loop. The floor extends 26 inches from the shelter for a total of 71” of horizontal space. It has a large mesh window in the back but no side ones. Without them, air flow is an issue sometimes. The zippers tend to snag, so be careful when opening them.
You could easily use the OutdoorsmanLab Automatic Pop Up Beach Tent as a summer camping tent as long as you set it up with the wind direction in mind.
G4Free Outdoors Large Pop Up Beach Tent
The G4Free Outdoors Large Pop Up Beach Tent has a lot going for it. It is a good size at 86.6″ long by 74.8″ deep and 51.18″ high. It has 50+ UPF sun protection and is waterproof to keep you safe and comfortable. Setup is a breeze in that it assembles itself with a quick toss to your site. Taking it down and packing it up again is a different story, unfortunately.
Where the beach tent succeeds is with ventilation. It has two doors and two side windows for all-side air flow. It was the only product to have these features. The floor resembles that of a tent in that it extends up a few inches on the wall. It includes stakes and eight sandbags to keep it stable during windy conditions. It has inner storage pockets which we always love to see in a beach shelter. The color choices are limited, but the ones they have are pleasing.
The G4Free Outdoors Large Pop Up Beach Tent exceeded our expectations for a shelter with a simple setup and excellent ventilation.
And the Winner for the Best Beach Tent Is…
For us, adequate air flow is the make-or-break feature that makes the best beach tent stand out from the rest. The G4Free Outdoors Large Pop Up Beach Tent takes top honors in that regard. We liked the fact that we could customize the ventilation with the use of one or more doors. After all, the point of getting a sun shelter is to enjoy the shade in a comfortable setting.
The other things we liked about it included its profile which strikes a nice balance between a cabana and a tent. The ease of setup also swayed us in this direction. The last thing you want to worry about is a complicated assembly when you hit the beach. It couldn’t be simpler with this model. The floor dimensions and the height also caught our eyes as desirable features. The fact that it’s lightweight sealed the deal.
Getting a beach tent isn’t a luxury but rather a necessity to take a welcome break from the punishing rays of the sun. It’ll give you the privacy you need even if the shoreline is wall-to-wall with people. We can’t think of a better thing to do on a summer day than sip a cold beverage under the shade of a shelter with a view of the water.