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The Best Beach Umbrella Is Not Actually an Umbrella

Updated Dec 10, 2022
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One of my earliest beach memories is the sight of my father chasing a large, colorful umbrella down the sands on a particularly windy day on the Maine coast. I’m sure I’m not the only beachgoer who’s witnessed umbrellas uprooting and tumbling into sunbathing neighbors despite all efforts. On top of that, even if your umbrella does remain stationary, you spend most of your day chasing the meager, postage-stamp-sized patch of shade it provides as if you’re some deranged sundial. There is a better way: the sunshade.

Sun Ninja 4 Person Tent, lots of shade, wide footprint

Sun Ninja 4 Person Tent

Lots of shade, wide footprint
When you have plenty of space on the beach, this stretchable spandex canopy is easy to set up and offers great sun protection in variable winds. However, it commands a fairly large chunk of the beach, which might annoy your neighbors.
We recommend
Shibumi Shade, smaller footprint, needs a steady breeze

Shibumi Shade

Smaller footprint, needs a steady breeze
With a beguiling, minimal design, this shade is easy and quick for one person to set up. As long as a steady wind blows, the Shibumi fabric floats above you, providing enough sun coverage for six people without buckling or collapsing.
A better upgrade
Sport-Brella Premiere, even smaller and cheaper

Sport-Brella Premiere

Even smaller and cheaper
The easy-to-set-up Sport-Brella features the basic design of a beach umbrella but adds tent flaps for more protection from both sun and (mild) wind. It also has a vent and comes with stakes and sandbags to help keep it from blowing away in stronger gusts.
Budget friendly
Lightspeed Outdoors Bahia Quick Draw, super-easy setup

Lightspeed Outdoors Bahia Quick Draw

Super-easy setup
This polyurethane canopy sets up in seconds to provide shade and a windscreen for two adults, and it packs up smaller than any other tent-style shelter we’ve tested.
Another good choice

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