Beach tents have become a popular must-have accessory for going to the beach. Whether you are wanting to avoid the harsh sun, protect your skin from harmful UV rays or just have a great place to store your stuff and relax at the beach – beach tents are a great idea.
Beach umbrellas are the go-to classic beach shelter that we all had when we were younger. Coming in all colours, but typically striped, beach umbrellas are famous for being hard to dig into sand, casting shade a mile from where you don’t need it, and for blowing away in the slightest wind (to much danger!). Times are changing, and now there is an amazing variety of beach tents to choose from.
Why beach tents are a great idea
Beach tents have risen in popularity over the last decade for a number of reasons. Beaches today are filled with sun shelters in a variety of shapes and sizes from small pop-up beach tents to large canopy-styled beach tents.
Beach tents offer great protection from the harsh sun light. We are more conscious than ever of the correlation between exposure to UV light and skin cancer – and so beach shelters offer a great way of finding shade on a beach. It’s really important to choose a beach tent made out of a UV-resistant material, which blocks UV light from coming into the tent.
We would all love the beach to be entirely to ourselves for the day, and know how frustrating it can be when the beach is so busy that you are practically sitting on top of another person or family. Beach tents offer privacy in that chaos, and provide a sanctuary for you to sit into, watch the water and the waves without people looking onto you. It also offers protection from people walking passed too closely and kicking sand onto you or your beach towel!
Beach tents offer a great place to store your stuff whilst you are at the beach. Whilst they are never going to be entirely secure, they do offer more protection that leaving the car keys on the beach towel! Beach shelters are a good place to keep the beach towels dry, the food nice and cool in the shade and the drinks cold for when you come out of the water!
Easy to use
Beach tents are becoming more popular because of how easy the new models are to set-up. In the old days, beach tents would involve 1000 parts and hours of assembly – previous time you could have spend in the water! Modern beach tents can be pop-up and installed in seconds. They are also super light weight and easy to carry, which is driving their popularity at beaches all around the world.
What to consider when buying a beach shelter
There is a lot to consider when buying the perfect beach shelter. They come in so many shapes and sizes now that it is important to think about what matters to you and what you like to do at the beach.
Here are our top considerations when buying a beach shelter:
One of the most important considerations is how many people do you want to fit in the shelter? Most shelters will fit 2-3 people comfortably, but given the extensive range available you can pretty much find shelters to fit any amount of people – even a large family.
Remember when thinking about the shelter size that you will probably want to lie down in the shelter, not just sit in it, which takes more space. You’ll probably also want to put your beach bag, food and drinks in the shelter. We recommend getting a beach shelter bigger than you need to make sure you are comfortable!
When it comes to size, it’s also important to think about how small the beach shelter is when it is folded up. Will it fit in your car? Is it hard to carry? All important considerations when finding the perfect shelter.
Weight of the beach shelter
There is nothing worse than having to carry loads of equipment across a long sandy beach. When considering beach shelters, check out the weight of the shelter when folded and make sure that is not too heavy. Obviously, the bigger the shelter, the more likely it is going to be heavier – so this is an important tradeoff to consider.
If you like to (or should we say, lucky enough to) go to beaches where you can park close to the sand, then the weight of the shelter will be less of an issue.
Some shelters come with a floor and others do not. Are you happy to lie with your towel in the sand or do you want some protection from the sand with a tent that has a floor? Again, this comes down to personal choice, but do consider whether you would like the beach shelter to have a floor in it.
Typical canopy shelters do not have a floor, but most pop-up beach shelters will come with one. Remember that keeping sand out of the beach tent is almost impossible, especially with kids, but having a floor does offer some protection.
Not all materials are going to protect you from the harsh UV rays from the sun. If you are buying a beach shelter you more than likely are seeing shelter from the sun, so be sure to checkout the UV rating of the fabric the tent is made from and ensure it is filtering UV light.
Whilst beach shelters with a UV rating will reduce the amount of UV light that hits you as you sit beneath, remember that it is not a perfect shield. You still need to wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself.
Color and style
Even if you are seeing shelter from the sun, you still need to be fashionable! It would be wrong of us not to mention that the color and style of the beach shelter is going to be an important consideration in your purchasing decision.
We recommend neutral colors that are not necessarily the fashion color choices of the season. Beach shelters are designed to last, so going with your classic red/green/blue block colour is going to last you longer than the on-trend colors of the season like peach and mint.
The cost of a good beach shelter can range from $50 to hundreds of dollars. Think about how much you want to spend and what quality you are prepared to pay for when it comes to your beach shelter.
Paying more doesn’t always mean it will last longer, so be sure to check out the ratings and reviews of the brands you are looking at and make a decision appropriate for your budget.
Wind resistance / anchor:
One of the biggest issues with the old fashioned beach umbrellas was that they would blow away in a strong wind. The umbrella stick almost becomes a spear when the wind takes it, making for a dangerous beach experience.
Modern beach shelters have designs to anchor down the tent in the event of wind. From pockets that you need to fill with sand, to guide ropes and pegs, modern beach shelter designers have been hard at work thinking of ways to overcome strong wind.
Consider the beaches you typically go to and whether they have strong winds. If so, remember to review the anchor options of the beach shelter you are thinking of buying and ensure it is going to do the job for your needs.
Types of beach shelter
Beach shelters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Despite the names some brands use, we typically see four types of beach shelters:
Beach umbrellas are the classic beach accessory, and have been around for years! They are still popular for their low price and endless range of colors. They provide a good amount of shade, are light to carry, and relatively easy to install!
The biggest problem with beach umbrellas is their lack of resistance to wind. Strong wind can turn a beach umbrella into a flying missile - and without any way of tying the umbrella down, the only thing to do in high wind is not use the umbrella! That's why the modern pop-up tents have become so popular - they can be easily secured and offer greater protection from the wind.
Baby beach tents
A whole range of beach tents have come to market specifically for babies and small children. There is nothing worse than taking a baby to the beach and needing to find somewhere to get them to sleep away from the sun and sand. Baby beach tents are specially designed to do this, creating a small sanctuary where the baby can sleep whilst you enjoy the sunshine.
When considering baby beach tents, remember to ensure it is big enough to grow with your baby so that you can get some decent use out of it before the baby outgrows it.
Canopy beach tents
Canopy beach tents look more like a traditional tent that you would take camping. They typically having a number of poles that need to click together to form a frame – meaning they can be more complex to set up than a pop-up tent.
Canopy beach tents typically have a floor connected to the walls, but not always. They are normally tied down to the sand using tent pegs or cords that you anchor into the sand.
Pop up beach tents
As the name suggests, pop-up beach tents “pop-up” from their carry bag to become their full size with minimal effort from you. No more assembling tent poles and pulling cables, a pop-up tent is ready to do the minute it emerges from the bag. Pop-up tents use flexible poles that will bend into compact form but have a natural desire to return to their non-bendy state which creates the full tent.
Most pop-up tents have a floor (although not necessarily) and will have bags to fill with sand as anchor points.
We love pop-up beach tents, but most warn of one negative about them, namely – getting them back into the carry bag. Some of the pop-up tents we have seen come with instructions that are impossible to follow, leading to many a frustrating moment at the beach as you try and fold the tent back into the small bag. Be warned, and invest the time in practicing the art of folding the pop-up tent!
Cabanas/gazebo beach tents
Cabanas or gazebo beach tents typically have a roof but not walls of a floor. These types of beach shelters have had a huge revival in recent years with a lot of new brands on the market and some great fabrics and prints.
Gazebo beach shelters are great for holdings lots of people, and are typically easier to set up than the traditional canopy beach tent. They are anchored into the sand with sand bags on the end of each pole.
One down side of a cabana style tent is that without walls they don’t always provide great sun shelter, particularly in the morning or afternoon sun when the sun is lower and the sunshine comes in from the sides!
How do you keep a beach shelter from blowing away?
When buying a beach shelter pay particular attention to how it is secured on the sand. There is nothing worse than struggling to secure your shelter or finding it blowing away. In high winds, beach umbrellas can be dangerous missiles as they fly over the beach, so please be careful.
Modern beach shelters come with either tent pegs or sand bags that keep the structure secured to the sand. Be sure to always use them, even when the wind looks light – as the wind can pick up suddenly and catch you unaware.
How much does a good beach shelter cost?
Beach shelters come in all shapes and sizes, but a good one should cost between $50 and $150.
Where to buy the best beach shelters
There are lots of great brands selling beach shelters. Checkout Instagram (do a search for #beachshelter) and checkout some of the cool designs available. Remember to think about your typical beach experience and some of the considerations we list in this article as a guide to helping you find the perfect structure!
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