The Best Beach Canopies of 2022, According to Tests

2022-08-08 09:40:45 By : Ms. Janice You

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A great canopy makes a day at the beach even better. Whether you want a simple spot to cool off or a full tent that provides shelter, privacy, and storage solutions for the whole family, there’s a perfect shade accessory out there for you. The right beach canopy not only makes your day on the coast more comfortable and convenient, but also gives you a crucial extra layer of protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. 

Our favorite beach canopy is the spacious Qipi Beach Cabana. It’s quick and easy to set up, has a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) to mitigate the risk of skin damage, and is extremely lightweight. Thoughtful amenities like storage pockets also impressed our testers. The classically designed cabana is available in nautical stripes and perky prints. If it doesn’t quite match your preferred aesthetic or beach needs, there are plenty of other beach canopies to choose from; beach canopies come in a variety of styles and sizes, from free-flowing fabric that casts a vast area of shade to kid-sized pop-up tents.

Why We Love It: With its light weight, easy setup, and loads of features for enhancing your day in the sun, this roomy cabana truly makes life a beach. 

What to Consider: Depending on how far you drill the pole in the sand, people who are over 6 feet tall may have to duck in some areas of the cabana.

According to our tester, the Qipi Beach Cabana “is everything you could want or need” for a serene day in the salty air. At 7.5 feet tall, this spacious sun cover will start your beach day off right with a quick and easy setup. Simply drive the drill-ended pole into the sand, unfurl the umbrella-style top to attach it to the pole, and weigh down the bags at the bottom of the four posts with sand. While this canopy provides plenty of shade when it’s assembled, it folds down to a compact size for hassle-free transportation. It weighs just over 2 pounds and comes with a shoulder-strap carrying case.

Cooling off under this cabana doesn’t just feel good — it can help protect your skin, too. It’s made of UPF 50+ material, which means it blocks out 98 percent of the sun’s UV rays. The Qipi cabana isn’t only useful on sunny days either: The fabric is waterproof, so you can wait out those coastal rain showers under it if you have to. You can also hang up the removable wall for extra shade and privacy or leave it off for a more airy feel and panoramic beach views. When it’s not attached to the cabana, the wall can be used as a blanket to sprawl out on. Mesh storage pockets on each of the posts help you slip into relaxation mode instead of worrying about phones overheating or getting lost in the sand. The cabana comes in classic beach stripes in three sea-inspired shades of blue and two prints, pineapples and shells. 

Assembled dimensions: 7.5 x 6 x 6 feet | Weight: 2.13 pounds | Sun protection: UPF 50+

Travel & Leisure / Kaya Abrahamson

Why We Love It: The extra ground cover can be attached to the top of the tent when you need 360 degrees of privacy. 

What to Consider: There’s no window in the back of the tent for extra ventilation.

The Oileus XL offers everything you need in a beach tent and then some. We loved how it’s lightweight, incredibly easy to set up, has a UPF of 50+, and is constructed of durable material that’ll keep you dry if you get caught in the rain. Unlike many beach tents, it has a ground sheet that extends beyond its frame. The extra 4.5 feet of coverage helps keep sand away from the inside of the tent and provides more room for stretching out. Best of all, you can velcro the outer flap to the top of the tent when you need some privacy from the crowds. The Oileus XL has two mesh pockets to help keep things organized and comes in six colors, including pink and khaki.

Assembled dimensions: 7.6 x 3.7 x 3.7 feet | Weight: 4 pounds | Sun protection: UPF 50+

Travel & Leisure / Jamie Griffin

Why We Love It: This canopy comes in two roomy sizes along with a sand shovel, carrying case, and tent pegs for using it off the beach. 

What to Consider: It’s not fully waterproof.

This pop-up’s simple construction is your easy pass to shade by the ocean, and it comes in a 10-foot option if you want extra height. The canopy itself consists of one piece of stretchy UPF 50+ material that’s fortified with triple-stitched seams. The overhang is easily secured to four tent poles using the included bungee ties. A handy shovel for preparing the sandbag weights is also included. Our testers marveled at how easily the poles snapped into place and what a sturdy, durable structure the canopy seemed to be given its highly transportable size. “It’s well worth the money for such a versatile piece. Great value for a great tent,” they shared. 

You should keep in mind that the canopy’s fabric is water resistant, not waterproof. It’ll repel soft drizzles and splashes, but you can’t depend on it for downpour protection. 

Assembled dimensions: 7.5 x 7 feet or 10 x 10 feet | Weight: 5.1 pounds or 9.6 pounds |Sun protection: UPF 50+

Travel & Leisure / Jamie Griffin

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Why We Love It: Shibumi’s unique design adds an extra layer of relaxing sounds to the beach experience. 

What to Consider: It’s pricey and needs wind to function properly.

Two brothers and their friend designed the Shibumi after years of contending with bulky beach umbrellas that can become hazardous when caught in strong winds. Their simple, lightweight design is now a favorite among frequent beach-goers in search of effortless shade. The Shibumi only has two pieces: the durable pole that forms its curved frame and one large piece of fabric attached to the carrying case that doubles as a sandbag. It works with the ocean breeze to produce a sail-like canopy that casts plenty of shade (150 square feet in the right light). You do need wind speeds of at least 3 miles per hour to keep the canopy afloat, but most beach days easily meet this threshold.

Our tester loved the Shibumi’s easy setup and teardown and noted that the sound of the canopy flapping in the wind made their beach day even more relaxing. “This was my favorite beach canopy of all that I tried. It held up well to the wind (in fact it performs exceptionally well in wind) and provided the biggest area of shade. The flapping of the tent was also quite soothing,” they said. 

Assembled dimensions: 16 x 8 feet | Weight: 4 pounds | Sun protection: UPF 30+

Travel & Leisure / Lindsay Boyers

Why We Love It: True to its name, the Pacific Breeze provides ample shade without skimping on air circulation. 

What to Consider: It’s not waterproof.

The Pacific Breeze Beach Tent is made of a breathable polyester with UPF 50+. Along with its refreshing material, the canopy is designed with two adjustable windows for airflow control. Its sizable storage pocket is placed at the top of the tent, so your belongings are always shaded and less likely to get wet or sandy. Its light weight and small size make it easy to carry to and from the beach. Although the assembly process is extremely simple — you just take it out of its carrying case and pull the ropes on top of the tent until it clicks into place — our tester did report needing to use muscle force to pull the ropes hard enough to set the tent up. They added that taking it down and getting it into its storage bag was “a breeze.”

Assembled dimensions: 7.2 x 3.9 x 4 feet  | Weight: 4.45 pounds | Sun protection: UPF 50+

Travel & Leisure / Monica Aguinaga

Why We Love It: This small but mighty tent is extremely easy to set up and take down. 

What to Consider: You’ll need an additional tent to fit adults.

Anything that can simplify a day at the beach with young kids is a win in our books, and the Sunba shade gets it done at a bargain price. After you take it out of its backpack carrying case, it pops right up into a fully formed tent that just needs to be staked down. There are storage pockets on each side of the tent, and you can zip the front of it closed when someone needs a nap or a moment of privacy. The mesh window in the back can be adjusted to control the amount of ventilation in the tent. It has a UPF rating of 50+ to add an important layer of sun protection, and the extended floor piece provides extra space away from hot sand. When it’s time to head home, it smoothly folds into itself to become a thin, compact package that’s easy to store. 

Assembled dimensions: 5.4 x 4.9 x 3.6 feet | Weight: 2.2 pounds | Sun protection: UPF 50+

Travel & Leisure / Jamie Griffin

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Why We Love It: This simple canopy comes in two spacious sizes that make it perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities.

What to Consider: It’s heavy and isn’t waterproof.

The EZ-up delivers effortless assembly and sturdy construction that’s perfect for the beach and beyond. Although it’s significantly heavier than the other sun shelters on our list, its heavy-duty carrying case comes with wheels, a top handle, and two side handles to make transportation easier. Plus, its simple four-post design makes it convenient to use far beyond the beach. The quick, straightforward setup can be done in a jiffy for tailgates, backyard hangs, or park picnics, and it’s roomy enough to ensure no one gets stuck out in the sun. 

The canopy is available in 10 x 10 feet or 12 x 12 feet for even more recreation room. We were disappointed to see that it doesn’t have a UPF listed, and you should also keep in mind that it isn’t waterproof for rain protection. 

Assembled dimensions: 10 x 10 or 12 x 12 feet | Weight: 31 pounds or 36 pounds | Sun protection: Not listed

Travel & Leisure / Izzy Seely

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We recruited a team of testers to evaluate 19 canopies on beaches across the country. They took their canopies to the beach, set them up using only instructions included by the manufacturer, and used them for at least an hour before breaking them down and preparing them to be transported again. Testers rated the canopies on a scale of one to five in five key areas: portability, ease of use, performance, quality, and overall value. We asked them to give as much information as possible to explain each score. 

When it came to portability, the highest scoring canopies were lightweight, comfortable to carry due to well-placed straps, and compact enough for easy storage when folded down. 

To receive a perfect score in ease of use, canopies had to be extremely simple to set up, break down, and put back into carrying cases as well as include extra features that made them especially useful or enjoyable.

Performance ratings were based on the canopies’ airflow, amount of shade provided, and ability to withstand wind. 

A top score in the quality category meant the canopy seemed impressively sturdy and strong and gave testers confidence that it would last for many years.

Travel and Leisure / Lindsay Boyers

Testers refrained from viewing the price of the canopies until they had judged the other attributes on the beach. After the price was revealed, they considered whether they would personally purchase the canopy and recommend it to friends or family. High-priced items that received a top value rating had to have great scores in all other categories and testers were asked to defend the substantial costs. Lower-priced items were considered a good value when testers felt the quality was higher than expected given the affordability.

Two of the canopies we tested had several attributes that impressed our team but displayed weaknesses that ultimately kept them off our recommendation list.

This highly portable and affordable tent has three windows that make for great airflow. However, our tester was frustrated by how long it took to set up and break down the tent.

WolfWise Easy Up Beach Tent

The WolfWise Easy Up Beach Tent had a satisfactory performance in all other attribute categories we tested for, but our tester didn’t think any were outstanding enough to warrant the rather lofty list price. 

Lightweight material is dually functional when it comes to beach canopies, as it makes them more portable and also helps keep temperatures down while they’re in use. Breathable fabrics like polyester and spandex are also great for providing airflow. Perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a beach canopy fabric is its level of sun protection. A material’s ultraviolet protection factor indicates how much UVB and UVA radiation it allows to reach your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation considers a UPF of at least 30 to provide “good” protection, while a UPF of 50 or higher is rated as “excellent.” Regardless of your canopy’s UPF, you should always wear sunscreen at the beach. 

If you’re looking for a beach canopy that can protect you from the sun’s rays and rain, be sure to choose one that is specifically labeled as waterproof. Water-resistant materials repel liquid and resist penetration to a certain degree, but anything beyond a short drizzle runs the risk of soaking through them. Only waterproof products are able to withstand a prolonged downpour and are completely impervious to water damage when submerged. 

No one wants to play musical shade when the losers are left baking in the sun. Study the dimensions of the beach canopies you’re thinking about buying, and keep in mind you’ll want to fit chairs, towels, and coolers in the covered area in addition to however many people intend to use it. Since canopies contribute to vital protection from harmful rays, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consider bigger to be better. However, keep in mind the canopy’s packed size will affect how easy it is to transport and store.

The vast majority of beaches in the United States allow tents and canopies, however, there are several exceptions. For example, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach has some restrictions on the size of structures you can put up on the beach during certain times of the year. It’s always a good idea to double check local rules before bringing your canopy to the beach.

Most canopies are secured by a combination of stakes and sandbags. Be sure to fill the sandbags to capacity and fully bury the shaft of any stakes into the ground. If your canopy has a floor component, you can make it even more secure by weighing it down with your belongings. On particularly windy days, you may want to open any windows and removable walls to lessen the risk of the structure flying away.

Your beach tent should come with its own specific breakdown instructions from the manufacturer. Always read through the guide before heading to the beach so you don’t have to digest it for the first time after a long day of enjoying the surf. Be sure to clean all sand and other debris out of your tent before packing it up. If your tent got wet, prevent molding by opening it back up and letting it air dry in the sun once you get home.

T+ L writers are shopping, travel gear, and product experts who use personal experience and customer recommendations to choose the best items for shoppers. Writer and editor Lydia Price specializes in outdoor products and would undoubtedly rather be on a beach right now. She used substantial research along with extensive insights from our real-world testing team to curate this list of the best beach canopies.  

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