A reliable beach tent can make the difference between getting sunburned or staying relaxed and comfortable. Get tips on how to choose the best beach tent for your sand time.
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For beach lovers, it’s tough to beat spending warm days on the sand by the lake or ocean. As great as it is to bask in the sun, too much of it can get in the way of comfort and safety. A good beach tent can help you to spend the whole day outside without worrying about sun damage and an uncomfortable burn. Beyond shade, a tent can offer a sand-free spot for your personal items, plus privacy and respite for little ones.
When looking at the many available options, it helps to consider sun-protective factors, ease of use, durability, space, and portability. Those factors went into selecting recommendations for the best beach tent, and this guide will help you find one that matches your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent
- BEST POP-UP: WolfWise UPF 50+ Easy Pop Up Beach Tent
- BEST FOR BABIES: Babymoov Aquani Tent & Pool
- BEST UMBRELLA: Sport-Brella Vented SPF 50+ Canopy Umbrella
- BEST EXTRA LARGE: Easthills Outdoors Instant Shader Deluxe XL
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Gorich UV Sun Shelter Lightweight Beach Canopy
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Coleman Beach Shade Shelter
What to Consider When Buying a Beach Tent
Avoid the frustration of a flimsy beach tent or one that’s heavy and difficult to set up by doing some research ahead of time. When browsing the options, first ask yourself what you hope to get from the purchase—maybe it’s a full day of sun protection, shelter for little ones, or perhaps simply storage space for your belongings. Keep these shopping considerations in mind before you buy.
Material & Construction
The material of a beach tent can determine its long-term wear and ability to withstand the elements. The most common choice for beach tents is a combination of nylon and polyester, which offer comfort and durability.
It is important to choose a UV-resistant fabric that is breathable and able to stand up to varying weather conditions. If you’ve ever had to duck away from a flying umbrella on a windy day, the sturdiness of the material and construction is clearly important. Beyond having good airflow (through windows, vents, or mesh panels), stakes or fillable sandbags are important features for keeping a tent in place. Though heavier to carry, steel frames are usually stronger than fiberglass or aluminum for stability.
Size & Storage
Deciding on a tent size requires a review of beach tent needs. Are you looking for a spot for your baby to nap, privacy for changing, or sun coverage for your entire family? If it’s a bit of privacy or a kid-friendly refuge you’re seeking, a smaller tent might suffice, but if you’re looking for shade all day, you probably need a larger option. Do plans involve visiting crowded beaches or ones off the beaten path? For a busier spot, a smaller footprint might be optimal.
Some beach tents have enhanced functioning beyond providing shade, with space available for a cooler and other personal items. Storage pockets can offer a sand-free oasis for electronics, books, and baby items.
Most beach tents have some water resistance, but might only stand up to a light shower. Protection from heavier rain requires features that are not standard with every beach tent. For overnight adventures or off-season beach days, it is critical to check waterproof ratings. Look for options with a zip-up door and windows, as well as a water-resistant coating and taped seams.
If one of the main goals of purchasing a beach tent is to block the sun, choose tents based on their sun-protection rating. Most beach tents have a UPF of 50+, which is enough to protect tented beachgoers from harmful rays or give afternoon nappers safe shelter. Consider coverage as well, especially if you are trying to protect the entire family from the sun.
Good UPF protection can also reduce the temperature inside the beach tent. This is especially important for small children, who might play or nap inside, and could overheat on especially sunny days.
After packing up the sand chairs, towels, blankets, coolers, sandcastle molds, and more, the last thing you need is a 20-pound tent to lug, especially if you have to walk a distance to find the perfect beach spot. Tent weights commonly range from 2 to 10 pounds, so it’s important to note the weight when choosing a tent based on size and features.
Most large beach tents are in the 6- to 8-pound range, and less weighty models are designed specifically for lightness. A carrying case with a shoulder strap is an added bonus for traveling with a tent.
Ease of Setup
One of the most desirable features of a beach tent is ease of assembly and short setup time. No one wants to spend valuable beach moments sweating out a tough setup. Pop-up options are the simplest and can usually go up in a minute or less. For those tents with a slightly more involved assembly, it’s still common to manage setup in under 5 minutes. Some might take a bit of practice, but often, setup gets easier with use.
Like any other purchase, it’s important to consider how much you’re aiming to spend on your beach tent. Generally, options range from about $40 and upward to $150. There are quality items available in each price range. Mid-range and high-end tents might offer larger capacity and more special features for greater comfort and convenience.
Our Top Picks
If you’re looking for the best beach tent but don’t want to spend the time researching features, this list does most of the work for you. These top picks can make your days at the shore more comfortable and enjoyable.
For a simple assembly, the Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent’s compression hub acts like an umbrella as the opening mechanism of this beach tent. The tent and sun shelter weighs in at just over 6 pounds, and an oversized carry bag offers convenient portability.
A spacious shelter and UPF 50+ sun protection offer coverage for a family of four, plus the family pup. Lightspeed Outdoors designed the floor of the tent to be both dog and kid durable. Mesh windows help with ventilation and optional shades can add privacy. Although slightly pricier than some of its competitors, the Lightspeed tent has an umbrella-rated 450-mm PU coating for wet conditions. The purchase includes sand pockets, eight heavy-duty plastic stakes, and guy lines to aid in stability.
The WolfWise UPF 50+ Easy Pop Up tent sets up in seconds and boasts easy transport, weighing just under 5 pounds and folding down to a traveling size of 24 inches. Most of the weight comes from the galvanized steel frame, which offers a sturdy foundation, while four corner sand pockets, wind ropes, and stakes provide added stability. This tent sits a family of four comfortably.
When it comes to fending off the elements, water-repellent polyester with taped seams keeps beachgoers dry in the WolfWise, and a silver-coated tent surface reflects and absorbs sunlight. Mesh windows and rear double-pull sliders offer ventilation and an easy entry and exit. The pop-up tent also includes interior pockets for keeping personal items sand-free. This beach tent offers no-fuss transport with an included carrying case.
For tiny tots, the Babymoov Aquani Tent and Pool is great for hanging out and napping, and as kids grow, the tent offers a play area/pool with a waterproof bottom. With UPF 50+ sun protection, babies will be safe from the sun, and a back window provides ventilation to keep the interior cool. The Babymoov tent includes a removable mattress for added comfort and a zipped mesh netting to offer protection from mosquitoes and other bugs.
An easy pop-up system and stakes make for a quick setup. Since it weighs in at under 3 pounds, this Babymoov tent doesn’t add much weight to your beach supplies, and it comes with a carrying case to make transport even easier.
Water-repellent and supported by steel ribs with a metal tip held in place by a steel screw, the Sport-Brella Vented SPF 50+ Canopy is durable and sturdy. It’s an umbrella with a telescoping pole that works like an open tent. Side flaps offer increased protection and top wind vents, plus side zippered windows, provide ample airflow. The Sport-Brella comes with a storage case for the pole, canopy, and stake accessories, all weighing in at less than 9 pounds.
With its wide coverage and Dark Shelter coating, the Easthills Outdoors Instant Shader Deluxe XL offers plenty of sun coverage for long days at the beach. Large mesh windows allow for ventilation, while a zip-up front provides privacy. It should comfortably accommodate up to four adults and a few pets. Plus, families can store valuables off the ground in the mesh pockets overhead and on the sides.
Easthills Outdoors boasts an easy setup for this 8-foot tent with its patent-pending opening mechanism. The tent also comes with guy lines to tie down for added stability. This Easthills Outdoors tent comes with an oversized carrying case and weighs a little less than 8 pounds.
The Gorich UV Sun Shelter Lightweight Beach Canopy checks a lot of boxes. It weighs only 2.5 pounds and stores compactly for easy portability. The Gorich tent is affordable and spacious, providing space for two to four people with an added porch foldout. A silver coated fabric with a UPF of 50+ offers ample sun shelter, while three insect screens and mesh doors help with bug protection and air flow.
Assembly entails a bit more work than some other beach tents, but it can wrap up in minutes, especially after a practice run at home. The tent includes pegs and sandbags to keep it in place and a storage bag offers a sand-free spot for personal items.
The Coleman Beach Shade Shelter sells for a reasonable price, especially considering its many special features and spacious 7.5-foot interior. A nice added feature is a drying line for bathing suits and towels. Integrated pockets provide storage, while the extended floor zips up for added privacy. Beachgoers can unzip a back window for more ventilation.
The Coleman tent is made of UVGuard material that offers 50+ UPF protection with Polyguard fabric for durability. The shelter involves an easy pop-up setup in under five minutes with ground stakes and pre-attached guy lines that are included. Filling the sandbag compartments adds stability, and the entire set weighs just above 6 pounds.
FAQs About Your New Beach Tent
Considering packing your camping tent for a day at the beach? Wondering what the ropes included with your beach tent are for? This guide addresses common questions that come up while tent shopping.
Q. Are beach tents waterproof?
Most beach tents have a water-repellent coating for an unexpected shower, but aren’t made to hold up to heavier rains like a camping tent might be.
Q. How do you anchor a tent on the beach?
Usually, you anchor a tent on the beach with stakes and sandbags, but some tents also include wind ropes and guy lines (cords or strings used to secure it to the ground).
Q. Can you use a regular tent on the beach?
The main reason to stick with a tent made specifically for beach use is for sun protection. Traditional camping tents often lack the protective coating that’s found on the beach tents included on this list.
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