How to Choose a Beach Shade

How do you choose the right beach shade? What type of beach shade should you buy?

You may be asking yourself questions such as:

“What type of beach tent should I buy?”
“What is the best beach tent?”
“What is the right size of beach canopy for my group?”

A collage of beach shade options.
Which type is best for you?

There are a lot of beach shades to choose from. Choosing the right type of beach shade will have a positive impact on your beach experience. As there are multiple factors to consider, I’ve compiled the following guide to make the decision a little easier.

What Type of Beach Shade to Get

There are several different types of beach shade products. How can you choose the right type? Since there are high and low cost options in each category, it’s worthwhile to first consider what type of beach shade would be the best fit.

Choosing the correct type of beach shade need only depend on a few factors. I’ll outline them below. Once a type of beach shade is chosen, individual products within the type can be evaluated to select the best model.

Group Size / Characteristics

An easy place to start filtering potential types is by considering how many people will need to use the beach shade. Some types of beach shade only cater well to particular group sizes, so starting by considering the size of group is an easy way to begin selecting the right type.

In general, beach umbrellas, beach tents, and small beach canopies work well for a small number of people, and beach cabana tents and larger beach canopies work well for larger groups of people. For example, if there are six people going to the beach together, it’s going to be hard to find a beach umbrella large enough to provide adequate shade for everyone. Considering group size is a good place to start.

I’ve prepared the following table to assist you with weighing options:

Group MakeupBeach UmbrellaBeach TentBeach CanopyCabana Tent
1-2 Adultsyesyesyes – smallno1
1-2 Adults
1-3 Kids
yes – largeyesyesno1
3-5 Adultsyes – largeyes – largeyesyes – small2
3-5 Adults
1-3 Kids
3-5 Adults
4-6 Kids
nonoyes – largeyes
6+ Adultsnonoyes – largeyes – large
What type of beach shade is right for your group?

1 – In most cases, a beach cabana tent would be too large and heavy to be practical for a really small group.
2 – A small cabana would be a good fit for 3-5 adults particularly in the case where standing room was important.

Usage Requirements

Depending on your group size, you should now have at least two product categories to choose from. Now the specifics of how the beach shade will be used can be considered to further filter options. As there is a certain amount of feature overlap between categories, I’ve created a scoring system to help choose the best product.

The scoring system ranks each product type on a scale of 1 to 5. A low score indicates a type would generally be a poor choice for a requirement. A high score indicates a type would generally be a good choice for a requirement.

Only consider the scores from usage categories that you care about. Then, choose the product type that ranks most highly for your needs, prioritizing your requirements if needed.

RequirementBeach UmbrellaBeach TentBeach CanopyCabana Tent
Shaded Area Size2355
Standing Room1235
Easy Setup5343
Small Package3451
Stable in Wind2253
Fits in Luggage1351
Easy to Move on Beach5321
Low scores indicate a poor choice for a requirement. High scores indicate a good choice for a requirement.

Making a Selection

At this point, you have considered the makeup of your beach group. You have also weighed the requirements for a beach shade your group will have. With this information in hand, you should now have settled on what category of beach shade you will select a beach shade product from.

No matter the final category you’ve chosen to buy from, there are a few additional factors that are worthwhile to consider. These won’t impact the category you’ve chosen to buy from. They will only help you make a final decision on a specific product from within your chosen category. I’ll summarize the factors below.

  1. Packed Size – If you will be travelling with your beach shade product, be certain that you consider how much space it will need. For air travel in particular, choosing a product that packs up small is helpful. All of the product categories have specific products that are space conscious when fully packed.
  2. Quality – Quality can be hard to gauge at times, however it is worthwhile to consider. Consider how long you intend to use the beach shade product, then look for one that is likely to last as long as needed. Studying reviews of different products in a category can be helpful when evaluating quality. What issues, if any, have other users encountered with a specific product?
  3. Cost – Within each beach shade category there are high cost options and low cost options. Higher cost options aren’t always better quality. Consider the value you are getting for your hard-earned money.
  4. Weight – Even within a category of beach shade products, weight can vary a lot. Carrying a heavy beach shade down a long beach with all your other beach gear can be exhausting. Consider how comfortable you will be getting your beach shade to and from the beach.
  5. Setup Complexity – Beach shade products differ a great deal in complexity. Even among umbrellas there are options that have additional features that make setting up more complex than just popping open the umbrella canopy. Ask yourself if you and your beach companions will be able to set up the beach shade with ease. If you are a parent with young children, will you be able to setup your beach shade while still keeping a watchful eye on your youngsters.
  6. Footprint and Height – If you intend to visit very popular beaches, consider how large a footprint on the beach your shade will take. Consider if the height of your beach shade might obstruct the view of other people on the beach and cause upset. If a beach is very busy, it could be difficult to set up a model of beach shade that takes a lot of space or obstructs a view. Within each product category, there are shade options that take these considerations in mind.

Where to Buy a Beach Shade

Beach shades are available at a wide variety of retailers. Both online and brick-and-mortar retailers carry them. Large retailers, such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, and REI all carry a wide variety of beach shade products. Take few moments to shop around as the beach shade product space is quite diverse and there are often deals to be found.

Good luck with your search!

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.