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Best Overall: Otentik Beach SunShade at Amazon "Easy to assemble and provides 50UPF protection from the sun, and sand does not stick to the canopy when putting it away."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Mad Grit Portable Shade at Amazon "Stretchy Lycra fabric that repels water, measures 6.5 x 6.5 feet and also includes sand anchors, stakes (for backyard or park use) and steel poles."
Best Budget: Happy Summer Lightweight at Amazon "Made of Lycra fabric that provides 50UPF protection, the canopy is machine washable, durable in winds and sand resistant."
Best for Traveling: Neso Portable Canopy at Amazon "If your beach vacation involves catching a flight, you’ll need a sun canopy that can fit easily into your carry-on bag or checked luggage."
Best Mid Priced: Ziggy Shade at Amazon "A lightweight, sturdy and reasonably-priced sun canopy that provides 50UPF."
Best Oversized: Kelty Noah's Tarp Sun Shelter at Amazon "Measuring 12 feet by 12 feet, the versatile, minimalist canopy can comfortably provide shade (50UPF) for four to eight people."
Best Windproof: Super-Brella Maximum Protection at Walmart "Built-in vents promote airflow, and the whole thing secures to the ground via the center spike and a series of stakes."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Otentik Beach SunShade Original
For a high quality, durable sunshade that is simple to set up, the Otentik is worth the investment. Manufactured in Israel and constructed from high-quality Italian Eurojersey fabric, the Otentik can be set up on the beach using sand to fill the drawstring anchors, or in the backyard using dirt or rocks, and even in the snow. It is easy to assemble and provides 50UPF protection from the sun, and sand does not stick to the canopy when putting it away. On windy days, be sure to load the sand anchors with a lot of sand (they stretch). The Otentik comes in 18 different color varieties and also includes a carry bag (plus a separate pole bag).
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Mad Grit Portable Beach Shade
The Mad Grit Portable Beach Shade is made from stretchy Lycra fabric that repels water, measures 6.5 x 6.5 feet and also includes sand anchors, stakes (for backyard or park use) and steel poles. Bright neon green, red, blue or teal make it easy to spot after a walk on the beach or a dip in the ocean. Mad Grit also donates part of its profits to charitable organizations. The canopy comes with a carry case that can be worn like a backpack.
Best Budget: Happy Summer Lightweight
If you just need a simple, functional and affordable canopy, the Happy Summer Lightweight Sun Shade is a solid choice. Priced considerably less than some of the other options, the Happy Summer is also smaller, measuring 6.5 x 6.5 feet (ideal for two people but other sizes are available) and comes in five bright colors. Made of Lycra fabric that provides 50UPF protection, the canopy is machine washable, durable in winds and sand resistant. Additionally, the tent is very easy to assemble using sandbags, sturdy poles and stakes.
Best for Traveling: Neso Portable Canopy Sun Shelter
If your beach vacation involves catching a flight, you’ll need a sun canopy that can fit easily into your carry-on bag or checked luggage. The Neso Portable canopy is lightweight (just four pounds), and can pack up into a 19.5-inch carry case, easily fitting within the specifications for most carry-on luggage (21 inches in length). The seven-by-seven-foot canopy blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and is available in six different colors and patterns, including a stand-out flamingo pattern. It’s also water-resistant if a quick shower passes by. Be sure to visit the company’s website for detailed instructions on how to assemble the canopy prior to attempting it on the beach.
Best Mid Priced: Ziggy Shade
For a lightweight, sturdy and reasonably-priced sun canopy that provides 50UPF, the Ziggy Shade is a top pick. Made from an Australian company, the canopy includes sandbag weights (that can hold a lot of sand), as well as stakes to secure it in more solid or rocky terrain. Be sure to determine the direction of the light winds before attempting to set it up, and note that it is not ideal on very windy days. The elastic Lycra fabric stretches with the sand and has two sizes: standard (5.25 x 6.55 feet) or family-sized (7.2 x 7.9 feet). The canopy comes in five bright colors and includes a carry case.
Best Oversized: Kelty Noah's Tarp Sun Shelter
If you’re visiting the beach with a larger group or if you have a need to keep coolers and other items under the shade, the Kelty Noah’s Tarp Sun Shelter is a great oversized option. Measuring 12 feet by 12 feet (other larger sizes are available), the versatile, minimalist canopy can comfortably provide shade (50UPF) for four to eight people. The canopy can be used for shade or light to heavy rain protection on the beach, as well as on camping trips and comes with a roll-top carry bag. The tarp includes several storage pouches, guy lines for easy assembly, sturdy seams, and is made from 68D polyester.
Best Windproof: Super-Brella Maximum Protection Shelter
For a sunshade that can withstand a breezy beach, consider the Super-Brella Maximum Protection Shelter — this umbrella-canopy hybrid combines the ease of opening an umbrella with the added anchoring ability of a beach tent. Measuring 8 feet across, the Super-Brella blocks 99.5 percent of UV rays for full sun protection. But it can keep you sheltered from the other elements, too: Built-in vents promote airflow (so it won’t catch the wind like a sail) and the whole thing secures to the ground via the center spike and a series of stakes so your sunshade stays in the sand even when things get windy. It’s also water repellant, which makes it useful in unpredictable beach weather and for a variety of other outdoor events.
What to Look for in a Beach Canopy
Take into account your group size when selecting the right canopy, and be sure to factor in the space you’ll need when you’ve got your chairs, cooler, and towels arranged. When in doubt, opt for more space rather than less. Also, consider the “pack” size—the space the canopy takes up when compressed.
If your typical jaunt to the beach doesn’t involve lots of walking or if you plan to use a beach wagon, a more rugged (read: heavier) canopy might be worth considering as it will prove more durable and is often easier to set up. But for air travelers or for long walks to the beach, lighter models can make things a lot easier without sacrificing too much performance. How you can transport the pack—with backpack straps, for example—should also be considered.
Canopy materials can vary from stretchy fabrics that give you a lot of shade for a little weight to weather-proof protection to those treated with UV or UPF protection. Some also keep sand at bay or are machine washable, which can extend the life of the canopy.