The Inertia Contributing Editor
Staff
The Best Beach Umbrellas and Sun Shade Structures for Surfers

Whether you’re staked out for the shot or need to set up camp for non-surfing friends, shade is essential. Photo: Daniel Morton//Unsplash.


The Inertia

Summertime is here and that means long days at the beach and lots and lots of sunshine. While we’d never knock getting a healthy dose of vitamin D, there is such a thing as too much sun. For those moments when you need a break from the harsh rays, an umbrella or sun shade can be a lifesaver. Here, we’ve rounded up six of our favorite shade structures that will keep you covered all summer long.

What Are the Best Shade Structures for the Beach?

Coleman Go Shade Backpack Sun Shade ($120)
Kelty Waypoint Car Tarp ($135)
Caddis Rapid Shelter ($250)
REI Co-op Trailbreak Tarp ($80)
Business & Pleasure Holiday Umbrella ($199)
Tommy Bahama Beach Umbrella ($89)
Jack’s Surfboards Beach Umbrella ($36)

What makes a good shade structure?

When I’m in the market for a new umbrella or sun shade there are a few things that I look for. After considering everything I want in a shade structure, my priorities are stability, durability, actual shade coverage, and portability.

Stability
We’ve all seen that guy chasing a warped beach umbrella down the sand. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been that guy. Stability is one of my top priorities in an umbrella/shade structure. I want something that’s going to stay firmly in place, so I don’t have to worry about it blowing away the moment I turn my back on it.

Coverage
Some shade structures offer a tiny speck of shade, while others offer enough for you, your kids, and the dog. I want something that provides a solid amount of shade, so I don’t have to constantly move around to position myself under a minuscule dot of shade.

Durability
Some umbrellas/shade structures easily pass the test of time, while others warp into something barely distinguishable within a few weeks. I want something that’s going to last me for years.

Portability
Sure, a backyard gazebo does wonders in keeping the sun off but it’s certainly not very portable. I want a shade structure that packs down small and is easy to carry to the beach.

coleman go shade

Coleman Go Shade Backpack Sun Shade ($120)

Stability: 5
Shade Coverage: 4
Durability: 4
Portability: 5
Total: 4.5/5

Weighing in at 10.5 pounds, Coleman’s Go Shade Backpack Sun Shade is lightweight and portable while still offering plenty of coverage. The Go Shade packs down into a convenient backpack with adjustable straps and two mesh side pockets for stashing water bottles and other essentials. Set-up is a breeze: you simply assemble the pre-connected poles, connect the frame, attach the canopy, and you’re good to go. The sun shade secures to the ground using six stakes, two guylines, and four sandbags, so you can rest easy knowing your shade isn’t’ going to blow away. The shade structure includes four interior gear pockets for stashing essentials and a one-year warranty, should anything go wrong. Measuring 7’x7’, the Go Shade offers plenty of sun protections, is portable, and is secure enough to survive even the longest of beach days — it’s a winner in my book.

Buy here.

kelty car tarp

Kelty Waypoint Car Tarp ($135)

Stability: 4
Shade Coverage: 5
Durability: 5
Portability: 4
Total: 4.5/5

If you’re a parking lot rat, Kelty’s Waypoint Car Tarp is for you. The car tarp features a simple one-pole design and attaches to almost any vehicle. It also includes a secondary strap that allows you to attach it to a roof rack. High-ware areas are reinforced with two-layer fabric, making the trap sturdy enough to protect you from both the sun and the rain. Additionally, the tarp includes a sturdy 25 mm steel pole, heavy-duty steel stakes, and guylines that together ensure the shelter is sturdy enough to last all day and all night. When you’re finished, the car tarp packs down into a convenient duffel bag that can be stowed in the trunk or under a seat. As someone who frequents San Onofre a lot, I’m a fan of the car tarp, but if your surf spot’s parking lot isn’t beachfront, this might not be your best option.

Buy here.

caddis rapid shelter

Caddis Rapid Shelter ($250)

Stability: 5
Shade Coverage: 5
Durability: 5
Portability: 2
Total: 4.25/5

Remember E-Z UP from your years of childhood sports? Caddis’s Rapid Shelter is the same idea. Measuring 10’x10’, the Rapid Shelter is a heavy-duty shelter that will keep you protected, rain or shine. The shelter adjusts to three different heights and includes push release buttons, so it’s easy to adjust. The Rapid Shelter comes with a heavy-duty carry bag, poles, and stakes. You can also create a wind barrier by purchasing the matching walls (not included). Although it’s not the most portable option, it’s ultra-durable and offers plenty of protection from the elements.

Buy here.

REI Trailbreak Tarp

REI Co-op Trailbreak Tarp ($80)

Stability: 3
Shade Coverage: 5
Durability: 4
Portability: 5
Total: 4.25/5

Originally designed as a camping shade structure, REI Co-op’s Trailbreak Tarp also works well for beach days. The tarp features a square, symmetrical design that allows for maximum coverage and pitch versatility while the multiple webbing loop lash points allow for easy setup. The tarp is made from a strong 75-denier polyester with a durable water repellant finish that ensures it will stand the test of time. The tarp comes with six stakes, but the adjustable poles aren’t included, so you’ll want to be sure and purchase those if you plan on posting up at the beach. Measuring 12’x12’, the tarp offers lots of sun protection but packs down into a small travel bag so you can easily take it anywhere your travels lead you.

Buy here.

Tommy Bahama Umbrella

Tommy Bahama Beach Umbrella ($89)

Stability: 3
Shade Coverage: 3
Durability: 5
Portability: 5
Total: 4/5

You’d be hard pressed to find a more classic shade solution than a Tommy Bahama beach umbrella. Available in several fun colorways, the Tommy Bahama umbrellas measure 7.5-feet across, offering the perfect amount of shade for one to two people. Rated to UPF 50-plus, the aluminum undercoating ensures you will stay protected from the sun whilst under your umbrella. Additional features include a wind vent, patented sand anchor, and a telescoping aluminum pole with a tilt option. The umbrella withstands wind test most of the time, but on particularly windy days I had to reposition it a few times. The umbrella weighs just 4.84 pounds and packs down into a convenient carry bag with a strap, making it easy to transport to and from the beach.

Buy here.

B&P Luxury Umbrella

Business & Pleasure Holiday Umbrella ($199)

Stability: 3
Shade Coverage: 4
Durability: 4
Portability: 5
Total: 4/5

Interested in a ‘brolly with a bit more of a premium feel? You can’t go wrong with Business & Pleasure’s option, though you will have to pay a pretty penny for it. Made of cotton canvas with a teak wood pole and an aluminum frame, this umbrella will transport you to the Mediterranean whenever you set it up.

Buy here.

jacks surfboards umbrella

Jack’s Surfboards Beach Umbrella ($36)

Stability: 2
Shade Coverage: 4
Durability: 4
Portability: 5
Total: 3.75/5

Jack’s Surfboards Beach Umbrella features a simple, straightforward design that gets the job done. Available in four different colors, the Jack’s umbrella is the ultimate summer beach umbrella. It’s large enough to offer sufficient shade but it packs down small, so it’s easy to take with you on all your summertime adventures. It doesn’t have any features to combat the wind, so you’ll want to make sure you get it securely in the sand or leave it at home on those super windy days. If you’re looking for a beach umbrella available at an affordable price, the Jack’s umbrella is for you.

Buy here.

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

Disclosure: The Inertia may receive a small commission if you make a purchase from the affiliate links included in this feature at no additional cost to you. Our goal is always to entertain, educate, and inspire, and we hope you find this feature useful.

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