Three best beach umbrellas
There are few things better than spending a summer afternoon at the beach. But as nice as the sun can feel on your skin, it can quickly lead to discomfort and even a burn if you're not careful. But a good beach umbrella will provide some shade for your trips to the beach.
It's important to understand what to look for when shopping for a beach umbrella. You'll need to know what size, materials, and other features make for the most effective beach umbrella, or you can wind up wasting money.
Have no fear, though--our handy shopping guide has all the information you need to make sense of all the umbrella offerings out there. And if you're still feeling unsure, we offer specific product recommendations to help you find the best beach umbrella for your next sandy excursion.
Considerations when choosing beach umbrellas
Size and weight
Choosing the right size beach umbrella is key if it's going to provide adequate shade for your entire group. For one to two people, a six- to seven-foot umbrella works well. If you typically visit the beach with a larger group of four to five people, look for a seven- to 12-foot umbrella.
Pay attention to the height of the umbrella's pole, too. If you plan to lie down beneath the umbrella, a shorter pole that's only a few feet is usually sufficient. If you want to sit in a beach chair or stand up under the umbrella, you'll want a pole that's seven feet or taller.
It's also important to consider the weight of a beach umbrella since you'll have to carry it to the sand. Some models weigh as little as three pounds, while others weigh as much as 14 pounds.
Beach umbrella canopies are usually made of durable, weatherproof materials like polyester, canvas, acrylic, PVC, polyester-nylon blend, or marine-grade vinyl. While all these materials work well, you may also want to look for an umbrella with a reflective silver coating on the canopy. This coating helps to reflect sunlight, so you'll feel cooler when sitting beneath the beach umbrella.
To ensure that your beach umbrella is sturdy and durable, it's also important to choose the pole material carefully. Most umbrellas feature aluminum, steel, wood, or PVC poles. Aluminum offers a nice lightweight option but isn't as durable as steel. Commercial-grade beach umbrellas usually use wooden poles. Wood typically looks the best, but it can be pretty heavy. PVC poles are the flimsiest option, so they're best avoided.
Like an SPF rating for sunscreen, a beach umbrella's UPF rating measures how effectively it blocks UVA and UVB rays. For the best protection, choose an umbrella that's at least UPF 25, which means it can block 96% to 97.4% of UV rays. If you're particularly concerned about sunburn and other sun damage, though, opt for an umbrella that's rated UPF 50 or higher.
Many beach umbrellas are equipped with built-in anchors to keep them in place in the sand. Some anchors have a simple pointed design, while others have a corkscrew shape. If you frequent rocky beaches, opt for a pointed anchor. Corkscrew anchors work best for softer sand.
Some beach umbrellas have a tilt feature so you can change the canopy's position to effectively block the sun as it moves. The tilt feature also allows you to position the umbrella to better withstand wind.
Lugging a beach umbrella from your car to the sand can be a challenge. That's why it's a good idea to choose a model that comes with a carrying case or a handy strap to make transporting the umbrella as easy as possible.
Q. How wind-resistant are beach umbrellas?
A. It varies, but some manufacturers disclose wind resistance in the product specifications. Some beach umbrellas are tested to withstand winds up to 35 miles per hour.
Q. Can a beach umbrella shield me from the rain?
A. While all beach umbrellas are waterproof, they're not designed to serve as rain shelters. If it starts to rain heavily while you're at the beach, it's usually best to pack up the umbrella and seek shelter somewhere else.
Beach umbrellas we recommend
Best of the best: beachBUB All-in-One Beach Umbrella System
Our take: The highest quality beach umbrella on the market--it's more than worth the investment if you take regular trips to the beach.
What we like: Boasts UPF 50 sun protection and can withstand 35 mph winds. Weighted base makes it extremely stable. Also includes a case, shovel, and three-year warranty.
What we dislike: Carries a pretty hefty price tag. Doesn't offer a tilt feature.
Best bang for your buck: Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather Sun Umbrella
Our take: A budget-friendly beach umbrella that offers effective sun protection and a wide array of features.
What we like: Provides UPF 50 sun protection, as well as a generous canopy with window panels. Includes sturdy ground stakes and a carrying bag. Extremely easy to set up and take down.
What we dislike: Isn't the best option for windy days. The hollow pole can feel unstable. Some owners find it difficult to carry.
Our take: This beach umbrella is extremely easy to set up and take down and offers plenty of features.
What we like: Features UPF 50 sun protection and an adjustable pole that can be tilted. Metal components have sun protective coatings. Includes a carrying bag and anchor.
What we dislike: Moves when exposed to strong winds, which can lead to broken ribs in the canopy. Tilt feature doesn't rotate 360 degrees.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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