How to Choose the Best Pop Up Beach Tent?
There are different concerns when buying a beach tent. Ease of use, durability, size, material durability, etc. all come into consideration. But perhaps the most important question is: What sort of beach are you taking this beach tent to?
A beach outing that will last only for most of the day in fair weather can get away with less complicated portable beach shelter compared to a beach tent that can be secured against the elements. But if you need to stay overnight outdoors or fear the sudden onset of bad weather, then what you’re looking for has more in common with a hiking tent. An open-air tent is convenient if you just want shade or to sleep a bit, but a tent that can zip closed can serve as a changing room. Having a large insulated front mat might be useful as everyone’s eating and resting area, but pointless if there are actual tables and chairs on the beach.
The type of tent you pick also matters depending upon how far you want to stay from the water, what sort of activities you want to participate in, and just what you want to fit inside.
Size and Weight
The best beach tent for the family is not necessarily the same as one for traveling or a children’s beach tent. You may find it inconvenient to have beach sun tents that are too large than something too small to fit everyone, though too large is usually better than too little.
Do you want something that can fit beach chairs? Then you will probably need one that is taller and wider than something with a lower canopy that’s long enough to lie down in.
Larger beach tents also don’t pack in so conveniently, especially for instant pre-tensioned beach tents that compact into disc-shaped bundles. Such a large but flat package might be difficult to fit into storage spaces in your vehicle. Tents made of sturdier materials also tend to weigh more.
Beach tents also have different means of construction that favor ease of setup, sturdiness, ease of transport, stability, and size. The best balance between all these factors according to what you need all make for the best beach shelters.
Pay careful attention to the poles and struts that support the tent. They can be constructed from plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum and steel – in order of increasing durability. Non-metallic materials don’t rust and are lighter, but also easier to break when improperly handled.
Fabric is another consideration with positives and negatives either way. Yes, having a tent made of thicker fabric would be more durable, but it would also heavier and less breathable. Light fabric wrinkle less. Usually, a beach shade shack tent has a high UV protection rating, but not all of them are waterproof. Ventilation windows should allow cool winds to pass through, but not insects or water spray.
Do you want the tent to have a canvas floor or none at all?
If you choose one with a floor, then make sure that the floor mat is resistant to tearing and scratching, and thick enough to form a cool even surface when laid upon the ground.
Floor-less beach tents do tend to be larger and provide more shade from the sun at all times of the day. Lacking a floor also means less time spending making sure any beach sand that got kicked inside should be all cleaned out before storage. Leftover moisture might provide a great environment for the growth of mold and mildew.
Make sure also that if your tent needs to use guy wires that these don’t eat up too much of other people’s rightful space on the beach or make for a tripping hazard.
The construction of pegs that secure these wires onto the ground also matters. Plastic tent stakes are fine for beach sand, but it lacks bite against soil, which would matter if you put your beach tent a little further back away from the beach so that it doesn’t get into the way of other beach-goers.
Finally, while instant pop-up beach tents are effortless to unpack, they simply cannot compact into as small and convenient hand-bag sized packages as rod-and-strut pop-up tents. They will always collapse into circles that need specially-sized carry bags that would not fit into other luggage. There is a maximum possible size limit to how large these types of beach tents can be.
Not all tents are UV Protected, you need to make sure that they are constructed of UV resistant materials or treated with UV blocking chemicals. This and general airiness are what separates a beach tent from a conventional tent which relies mainly on using dark opaque material to block out the sun.
UV protection is not just for you, but for the fabric too. UV damage causes the thread eventually to become brittle and dry. Polyester tends to be much more resistant to UV than nylon, so even if it is not advertising 50+ UPF rating as long as you know the material it’s made of then it is not qualitatively inferior.
Multilayer fabric construction is still better of course, if more expensive. Silver-coated reflective material means less heat that soaks inside, but a tent such as that needs windows to allow the breeze to pass through.
Similar to the above, this is something you don’t tend to think you’ll need until you do. Water-resistant material helps keep the insides nice and dry from damaging salt spray of the beach or sudden rains. Waterproofing ratings are measured in PU and millimeters, wherein it states the pressure of water before any leakage happens.
Umbrellas, for example, have PU ratings of about 420mm. However, umbrellas also don’t tend to suffer wear and tear from being rubbed with sand. Remember that the more layers and coatings are applied to the fabric, the heavier it gets and eventually might become susceptible to tearing.
1000mm and higher are considered waterproof against most rain conditions. Extreme ratings are probably not required, leave that for actual camping tents.
Of course, you want a tent that looks good and doesn’t scream being cheap and made of flimsy materials. But also the differences in how beach tents are supported by their frames mean that pop-up tents and pole tents and instant pop-up tents have interestingly different shapes.
Shape and color combine to a beach tent that you can be sure of *yours*, easy to pick out on the beach even amidst everyone else’s beach tents popping up all over. If there are options for color, you might want to choose something other than the most common to help with identification.
Of course, you might also want to have a tent that just screams ‘impressive’ as well.
Extra features like floor mats, drying lines, sandbags and ground stakes for extra stability against the wind, and internal storage spaces to keep your valuable belongings (like phones and tablets and other electronics) dry and off the ground might help you choose between otherwise identical tents.
Another often-ignored option for budget tents is the ease of repair. If something does break in your tent, an inevitability over time and repeated usage, just how easy would it be to repair it or would it just be faster to simply buy another cheap tent instead? Then what could you possibly do with the remains?
Some manufacturers or local retailers offer a warranty.
Where to buy beach tents?
Amazon is an excellent place to find quality beach sun shelters. Make sure to check out the top-rated beach tents and user reviews before deciding.
Even chains like Walmart now offer an online selection of goods, so you can pick and choose without having to travel far.
Local retailers do still have an advantage in a tangible ‘handfeel’ – you can touch, prod, and test the tent to your satisfaction instead of waiting for it to arrive and then just sending it back if you feel it’s dissatisfying for some reason. You can judge the real quality of the thing before you buy it.
What are the best tents for the beach?
Some brands are standout in their field. If you’re looking for beach tents that suit your budget, it may be helpful to compare what you meet with these standard examples.
The Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent is a type of cabana style tent with good ventilation and high stability due to its strong six-point supporting frame radiating out of a central hub. Such a half tent for beach activities is easy to access and can fit chairs inside so you can lounge out of the sun. The Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent Deluxe XL is wide and particularly known for being able to fit four adults or three beach chairs side by side with plenty of other baggage around.
However Pacific Breeze tends to come mainly in shades of blue, so if you want other designs in more colors you might want to look at its close competitor the Lightspeed Quick Shelter tents.
The Coleman Roadtrip Beach Shade has overlapping rod structures that provide excellent structural support and maximum shade protection from the sun with a zip-up front mat. Other beach tents offer windows as a feature, but for Coleman having large front wall privacy for changing clothes and better fabric survivability is a larger motivation.
If you need more ventilation while maintaining other features, check out something that looks like the Coleman Evanston 8 screened tent. This sort of very large sleeping tent that can fit four people means that rather than eating outside when it’s time to sit and dine the group can all stay cool inside away from insects.
Outdoorsman Automatic Pop Up Beach Tent with its teardrop-shaped side is an example of the instant setup beach tent style. Automatically setting themselves up, they are a godsend for families with children who just need to throw a shade up anywhere on the quick.
Other pop-up beach tents have a more tube-like structure. Because they’re all so easy to put up, many instant pop-up beach tents are also used for backyard or indoor playpens.
Where to find beach tents?
You can usually find beach tents in sporting goods stores and department stores, but buying from brick and mortar outlets limits you to just whatever they have on stock, which might not be exactly what you need.
Buying online from retailers like Amazon gives you the chance for better deals, a larger selection, and the potential to pick and choose features according to what you expect from the beach. Only by considering all factors within your budget can you find the best beach tent for the family or group.
Why are beach tents important?
Beach tents not only protect you from the sun but also the wind and rain. Of course, this also extends to your food and belongings, which you want to keep away from harmful elements or random animals as much as possible. Electronics and clothes need to be well away from accidentally being wet.
Having your belongings all in one place also means they can be guarded well. Just because it’s a public area doesn’t mean there won’t be thieves. A crowd just might be most convenient to quickly pass along stolen items without being able to trace the obvious robber.
Protect yourself, protect your family’s health, and all your things too.
Beach tents offer shelter away from the heat of the sun, but also from all the sand that’s coarse and rough and irritating that gets everywhere which you normally just have to accept as part of going to the beach. Sands also get hot, so whatever’s under the shade remains comfortable and soft, you don’t need to carry as many beach towels or folding chairs just to have a place to sit. Keep fragile skin away from everything that can cause rashes and irritation when it’s supposed to be the time to take it easy.
Young children can safely take a nap inside when they’re all tuckered out, while for older children your beach tent lets them quickly visually home into where the rest of the family would be. Even in a crowded beach with plenty of other people, tents, and umbrellas, a distinctive beach tent setup is effortless to remember. Don’t let them get lost and afraid for something so easily resolved.
No beach umbrella can beat a well-designed beach tent for quick breastfeeding, diaper change, or change of clothing. Why stand in line waiting at a beach-side shack of dubious cleanliness just to change clothes?
A beach tent serves something like a ‘home base’ where the family can keep their belongings safely and organize their activities throughout the day. In a crowded beach, privacy and a sense of home can be very a precious rarity.
Unlike beach umbrellas with heavy rigid poles and full-size tents, beach tents can compact very tightly into small tubes or flat discs that can fit into trunks or checked luggage. They also tend to weigh much less.
Types of Beach Tents?
Canopy Beach Tent
Canopy tents are a catch-all term for beach tents that have a semi-rigid roof design. Often they are dome tents with two or three curved poles that bend over the top in a semi-circle, forming a geometrically stable structure with good headroom and resistance to wind or rain.
Baby Beach Tent
Baby beach tents are, as noted, for babies and toddlers. Babies need their own tents to relax, sleep and play safely on the beach. A smaller tent can be brought closer to the edge of the waters so that children can play and enjoy time with their family rather than be stuck inside the big tent with the belongings.
With their sensitive skin, they can now get out of the sun to play in short bursts then rest easy by themselves instead of being disturbed each time someone else needs to use something in the big family tent.
Some beach tents come with a built-in floor pool so that babies can have a little dip and share in the fun of going to the beach without danger or being irritated from touching rough hot sands.
Cabana Style Tent
A pop-up beach cabana tent typically has one wall open, sometimes with an extended sunshade or awning on poles. Cabana is the Spanish word for ‘cabin’.
Pop-Up Beach Tent
These instant setup tents need only to be removed from their carry bag and the coiled spring steel inside makes the beach tent unfold by itself to its full size for you. The downside is that as lightning-fast as they may be to put up, forcing the struts back into a more compact state can be a bit of a hassle. They also don’t tend to fare well against strong winds without sandbags and guy wires because its supports tend to be too flexible to hold shape under too much lateral pressure.
Pole Canopy Tent
These tents are mainly just a roof supported on poles. While they might lack other features, their simplicity means that as far as sun shades go, they can cover a much larger area than your typical dome or walled tents. They rely on fabric stretched out on guy wires to keep their shape.
Frame Canopy Tent
This type of beach tent is supported by an internal rib and truss structure instead of the cloth being stretched out from rods forming the shape of the tent. Usually although a little more complex to emplace they have a larger maximum size. The larger ones, like pole canopy tents, are practically just a gazebo with drop-down fabric walls.
A sturdy backpacking tent can serve just as well on the beach. A dome backpacking tent is very similar to a canopy tent, just leave the front open.
Why do I Need a Beach Tent?
You need a beach tent because the sun is not your friend. Ultraviolet ray damage doesn’t just cause hot painful sunburns and prickly hives, but long-term damage like prematurely aging skin or even skin cancer.
Children are especially susceptible to sun-caused skin damage, and turning what should have been a fun day out with the family to days of pain and itchiness can be traumatizing.
You should probably buy a baby beach tent for your toddler even if you have a large tent for the family so that they can stay closer to the action by the waters. Some of the best beach tents for toddlers also have their little pool so that the kiddo can splash and wade about happily and safely too.
You need a beach shelter to stow your belongings and/or as a rest area as well. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you aren’t just as likely to suffer heatstroke. You don’t want your stuff being wet, lost, or robbed.
And finally, when it’s time to eat, large beach tents with mats make for a convenient shared dining area for the family that’s insulated from the hot sands.
There’s nothing quite like having a beach tent to stake your claim on a spot on the beach. Other people who don’t have beach tents or at most an umbrella for shade have to trudge along using beach-provided facilities just to keep dry, hydrated, and out of the sun.
Some Final Thoughts on Beach Tents
Beach tents and the budget don’t need to conflict. You don’t necessarily need to choose between cheapness and quality if you’re a discerning buyer.
The beach tent is a very utilitarian thing. There are different types of beach tents for different people and purposes.
While many might think that ‘bigger is always better’, keep in mind your needs. If you’re going to via plane, then the biggest might not be as good as having the easiest to carry for its relative size. Maybe instead of one super-large tent, you can have multiple for the different requirements, ages, or choice of relaxations. It depends upon the size of your family or your group of friends or if you’re out there for sporting purposes.
In many ways, your choice of beach tent also reveals something about your personality.
While many would just like to throw up an instant pop-up tent, others like taking the time to set things up correctly, comfortable in the knowledge that while it may take a bit longer what they have is perfectly sized for their needs and stands strong against the weather. Most are now easy beach tent installations anyway though.
A large comfy family beach tent with windows and an extended awning, cabana-style is like a home away from home. A tube-like beach shelter with a low roof is great for kids or for sleeping. Having a baby beach tent means you want to keep your child close and have them share enjoying the beach experience as much as you can safely allow.
A beach tent made for privacy shows that you value your time and what you bring with you. A beach tent open to the world shows you are comfortable moving around and being approached.
You may value price and convenience, or you may value durability and high rated protection. It also depends on how much time you expect to stay out there on the beach.
Maybe you just want a tent you can use most times, not just on the beach, but for many different practical or play purposes. Maybe you just like multi-purpose objects.
Take it easy and make your choice carefully. Having a beach tent shouldn’t ever be something to regret.