The Best Beach Umbrellas for Shade on the Sand

Relax and lounge on the beach in shady comfort with one of these reliable and highly portable umbrellas.

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Best Beach Umbrella

Photo: iStockphoto.com

Crashing waves, ocean breezes, and the smell of sunscreen can relieve stress in minutes. You can enjoy them all in the shady oasis you create with your beach umbrella. The best beach umbrellas are portable, offer an escape from the sun and heat, and don’t require an engineering degree to set up. Umbrellas that are built to last should withstand occasional gusts of wind and unexpected weather changes without turning inside out or tumbling down the beach.

These some of the best beach umbrellas available and a shopping guide to help you find your place in the shade on your next beach trip.

  1. BEST OVERALL: BEACHBUB All-in-One Beach Umbrella System
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: KITADIN 6.5FT Beach Umbrella Patio Sun Shelter
  3. BEST UMBRELLA TENT COMBO: Sport-Brella Vented SPF 50+ Sun Rain Canopy Umbrella
  4. BEST REFLECTIVE: Magma 100-Percent UV Block Reflective Umbrella
  5. BEST OVERSIZE: EasyGo 8 Foot Heavy Duty HIGH Wind Beach Umbrella
  6. BEST BEACH CHAIR CLAMP-ON: Sport-Brella Versa-Brella SPF 50+ Adjustable Umbrella
Best Beach Umbrella

Photo: iStockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Beach Umbrella

Beach umbrellas are essential for relaxing on hot beach days. The umbrella type, materials, the frame’s stability, and even the color or print all help make an umbrella more useful and longer-lasting. Family size, available storage space, and personal preferences should also factor into your final decision.

Type

An umbrella is an umbrella, right? For the most part, yes. But some fall outside of the category of traditional beach umbrella that you drive into the sand to anchor. And they might be worth a look, too.

  • Clamp-on. Clamp-on umbrellas attach to a table, beach chair, or other sturdy frame or surface. These models save you the trouble of anchoring the umbrella into the sand. However, they’re usually smaller than umbrellas that anchor into the ground. The clamps open only so far and may work on only a square or tubular surface. You’ll need an idea of where you’d like to attach this type of umbrella before buying.
  • Umbrella/tent combo. Umbrella/tent combos are basically an umbrella with additional sides on the canopy that anchor into the ground like a tent. They offer more protection from sun and wind than a standard umbrella. However, the pole is usually shorter than the average beach umbrella’s, so you can’t stand beneath these sunshades. Umbrella/tent combos offer some extra privacy, and their multiple anchors provide extra stability.
  • Solar reflective. Solar reflective beach umbrellas are made with silver fabric that reflects a large percentage of the sun’s rays away from the umbrella, offering protection from heat and skin damage. These umbrellas can’t reflect 100 percent of the sun’s rays, but they can often yield a noticeable temperature change under the umbrella.

Size and Coverage

Beach umbrellas come in a wide range of sizes. Clamp-on models tend to be smaller with diameters of around 4 feet. Standard-size beach umbrellas are 6 to 7 feet in diameter. Oversize models reach up to 9 feet. When considering size, think about how much space you have for storage and transport. Both the umbrella’s canopy size and the design of the pole or frame affect the size of the umbrella when folded down. A large umbrella with a telescoping pole (one that folds or slides into itself) may take up less space than a model with a smaller canopy but a single pole piece.

The canopy and frame design also affect the umbrella’s total coverage. Of course, a larger umbrella offers better coverage, but one with a tilting pole gives more control over that coverage. The sidewalls of an umbrella/tent combo extend coverage beyond the umbrella’s canopy, providing more space for multiple people to enjoy the shade.

Canopy

The canopy’s fabric affects its ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), durability, look, and feel. The following are the most common canopy fabrics.

  • Polyester is a lightweight, synthetic fabric that resists heat and offers some natural sun protection, up to UPF 30. Polyester canopies usually get UV-protectant treatments or coatings to improve their sun protection. In time, UV rays break down polyester fibers faster than nylon.
  • Nylon is lightweight with natural UPF properties. UV treatments and coatings can add to its UPF. This sturdy material resists sun damage better than polyester.
  • Cotton twill is a heavy cotton weave used to upholster outdoor furniture. Cotton twill canopies are heavier than polyester or nylon and don’t have as much natural UPF. But, UV-protective coatings or treatments help a lot. Cotton twill’s thicker weave, when used in a vented design, also withstands wind better than nylon or polyester.
  • Oxford is a lightweight cotton shirting material. UV treatments or protective coatings can improve its sun protection and weather resistance. While it’s lighter than cotton twill, oxford is heavier than polyester or nylon.

The fabric isn’t the only thing that matters about the canopy. The best beach umbrellas should also have vents in the canopy that allow wind to pass through and help prevent the umbrella from blowing away or turning inside out.

Canopies come in a variety of colors. You won’t be as likely to find cotton twill in fun prints beyond a stripe. But, Oxford, polyester, and nylon come in bright colors, prints, and patterns to add personality to your beach trip. A unique color or print can also make it easier to spot your umbrella on a busy beach.

Pole, Frame, and Anchor

The umbrella’s pole, frame, and anchor system determine how well it stays in place. Telescoping poles tend to be easier to set up and adjust than a single-piece pole or one that comes in several pieces.

The umbrella’s frame consists of the arms that extend the canopy. Carbon fiber offers good strength at a light weight. But the strongest frames generally include aluminum, wood, or steel. These materials add weight, but they’re more likely to withstand high winds.

Some umbrellas come with anchors to hold them into the ground. Umbrellas with built-in anchors have a large screw-like device at the end of the pole. Others have an anchoring system that usually consists of stakes, tie-downs, and an auger (the screw-like device) that plants the pole into the ground.

An umbrella with multiple anchor points will be more stable than one that relies on the pole alone. Some umbrellas do not come with their own anchoring system. These models require the use of a shovel or a separately purchased auger/screw anchoring device.

Another type of anchoring system involves attached bags or small tarps you fill with sand to keep the setup in place. Sandbag systems may also include a more traditional auger pole design and tie-downs to further secure the umbrella.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)

A fabric’s UPF tells you how much UV radiation (both UVA and UVB rays) will reach your skin. Not all beach umbrellas offer adequate UPF protection, but many do. A fabric that’s UPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UV rays. Any protection is better than none, but a UPF of 30 to 49 gets the Skin Cancer Foundation’s (SCF) approval. Fabrics rated UPF 50+ offer the very best protection and get an excellent rating from the SCF.

Setup

A beach umbrella that’s easy to set up is one that will be loved for many years. Some models are easier to work with than others. Those with built-in anchors and no tie-downs are the quickest to set up. However, they’re not always the most stable. Models with multiple tie-downs, stakes, and sandbags may take longer to set up, but they’re more likely to stay put when the wind picks up. Umbrellas that include everything you need to set them up, including a shovel, will make beach life easier.

Portability

The most portable umbrellas include a bag for transporting the whole setup—stakes, poles, sandbag, shovel. Other factors like telescoping poles and lightweight canopies also make a difference. There’s a fine line between weight and durability. It’s here that you find models that are durable yet portable.

An oversize umbrella made of a heavy fabric may weigh over 10 pounds. With all of the other gear you take to the beach, that could get cumbersome. But heavier models can still be super portable if they come with a good carrying bag.

Our Top Picks

Now that you’ve got the 411 on beach umbrellas, here’s a list of top choices. From oversize to clamp-on, these umbrellas are UV-protective, portable, and durable and some are simple and easy to set up.

Best Overall

Best Beach Umbrella Options: BEACHBUB All-in-One Beach Umbrella System
Photo: amazon.com

BEACHBUB’s 7.5-foot, UPF 50+ umbrella with an extra sun-protective (SP) coating provides ample shade and resists winds up to 35 miles per hour. But a canopy alone does not make a sturdy, durable umbrella. Add in this model’s complete setup system, and your chances of having a torn or runaway umbrella plummet.

The setup system includes a “beach gopher” to dig the initial umbrella hole, a triangle tarp, and a sturdy stainless-steel and aluminum frame. After you’ve dug the hole with the gopher, you lay down the tarp and insert the pole through a hole in the center. Each of the tarp’s three points attach to the pole, creating a sandbag that holds up to 120 pounds of sand. Everything needed for setup fits inside a padded carrying bag that you can sling over your shoulder for easy transport. When fully loaded, the bag weighs 9 pounds. Sturdy, easy to set up, and easy to carry—that’s a winner.

Best Bang For the Buck

Best Beach Umbrella Options: KITADIN 6.5FT Beach Umbrella Portable Outdoor Patio
Photo: amazon.com

The KITADIN brings together portability, east setup, and a sturdy, vented canopy. This inexpensive umbrella has an integrated sand anchor and foldable handles on the pole. Fold out the handles to get a good grip, and twist to secure the pole into the sand. The pole also tilts, offering three canopy positions to keep you shaded throughout the day.

The telescoping pole reaches a maximum of 5.6 feet and collapses down to 3 feet to fit inside the carrying bag. With everything inside, you can sling the bag over your shoulder for easy transportation.

Best Umbrella Tent Combo

Best Beach Umbrella Options: Sport-Brella Vented SPF 50+ Sun and Rain Canopy Umbrella
Photo: amazon.com

Sport-Brella’s UPF 50+ fabric blocks the majority of the sun’s harmful rays. And tent-like side flaps extend that protection. Ground stakes hold the sides down, and tie-down cords create tension against the telescoping umbrella pole.

The canopy has windows and vents to let wind pass through, which will keep you cool and prevent the umbrella from flying away. It also contains “tip pockets” to fill with sand for added stability in higher winds. Once this umbrella/tent combo is open, it offers 8 feet of protected shade.

Best Reflective

Best Beach Umbrella Options: Magma Products, B10-403 Cockpit 100-Percent
Photo: amazon.com

Magma Products uses reflective acrylic nylon to reflect nearly all of the sun’s rays. This material resists corrosion and fading in the sun. Vents in the 6-foot canopy let the wind pass through for added stability when those ocean breezes start to gust.

It combines a clamp-on design with four adjustable tie-downs for added stability. The clamp fits railings, chairs, and tables up to a ⅞- to 1-inch diameter. Slide clips on the tie-downs provide counterpressure against the pole. The tie-downs stake into the sand, allowing you to lay claim to your umbrella space. Lastly, a mix of fiberglass and aluminum in the frame gives it flexibility and durability.

Best Oversize

Best Beach Umbrella Options: EasyGo 8 Foot Heavy Duty HIGH Wind Beach Umbrella
Photo: amazon.com

Large and colorful, the EasyGo’s 8-foot circumference is easy to spot and creates ample shade for a family, group, or beach lover who likes to sprawl. The multicolored canopy rests atop an aluminum pole that tilts and offers several height adjustments. Its UV coating boosts the sun protection.

An umbrella this large becomes a runaway fairly quickly without a good venting system. This model’s vented top lets air pass through to decrease your chances of chasing it down on a windy day. It comes with its own setup system that includes a screw handle to reach deep into the sand, anchoring the umbrella and adding stability.

Best Beach Chair Clamp-on

Best Beach Umbrella Options: Sport-Brella Versa-Brella SPF 50+ Adjustable Umbrella
Photo: amazon.com

The Versa-Brella features a durable clamp that connects to square and tubular surfaces. That gives you extra freedom in your choice of chairs or tables that will anchor this sunshade. Clamp it onto bleachers at a sporting event, the table in your backyard, or your beach chair.

This umbrella’s unique shape might be unwieldy if it weren’t for the 360-degree swivel and two push-button hinges that let you adjust it to the perfect angle. The entire umbrella, frame, and clamp system fold down into a small carrying bag that, when fully loaded, weighs only 1.8 pounds. From easy setup to simple, light transportation, the Versa-Brella offers versatile sun protection in a small package.

FAQs About Beach Umbrellas

Beach umbrellas make a day in the sun more comfortable while you mark your spot on the sand. You can carry some models over your shoulder and set them up within minutes, while others require a little more planning and preparation.

Q. Which material is best for a heavy-duty beach umbrella? 

Heavy-duty beach umbrellas are typically made of cotton twill with a steel or aluminum frame on the inside of the canopy. The thick fabric, especially if it has a UV-protective coating, resists wind and UV damage better than other umbrella types.

Q. How do I anchor a beach umbrella? 

The anchoring process depends on the type of anchor that comes with the umbrella. Some are as simple as pushing the pole into the sand and twisting it to activate the auger/screw at the end of the pole. Others require filling a sandbag or extending tie-downs and planting stakes into the ground.

Q. Do all beach umbrellas come with UV protection? 

All beach umbrellas offer some UV protection. Even a rain umbrella on the beach blocks harmful rays. Some materials block more rays than others, and extra UV coatings and treatments can further enhance the umbrella’s ability to keep harmful rays away from your skin.

Q. Can I use my beach umbrella as a patio umbrella? 

Most beach umbrellas have an anchor system at the bottom of the pole that won’t work on a patio. However, clamp-on umbrellas will work on a patio chair or table. A beach umbrella that doesn’t have a built-in anchoring system and fits into a standard patio umbrella stand could work on a patio.