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Going to the beach is always loads of fun. Between swimming, a stroll in the sand, beach sports, playing in the sand, and a whole lot more, there is always something to do at the shore. Of course, many people go to the beach for ultimate leisure and lounging, however, laying in the blistering sun on that hot sand without shade and protection is a quick way to damage skin and ruin a relaxing trip.Sure, you could bring a beach friendly tent or a stylish beach umbrella, but these options may not offer the coverage you need at the shore. An ideal option for ample shade and protection at the beach is investing in the best pop up canopy for beach use. To help you navigate which product is right for you with ease, we’ve created this simple guide to the best options on the market today. Here are 5 of the best canopies available for beach use, and a buyers guide to help you choose which to invest in.
Canopy Comparison Chart
Best Pop Up Canopy For Beach Reviews
1. AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy
If you are in need of some shelter from the sun at the beach and there are lots of people to accommodate, the AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Beach Tent is a good option to keep in mind. It might not be the cheapest pop-up canopy out there, but it is very large, it is solid and durable, and very easy to set up, not to mention that it is highly portable to boot. Overall, it really is a great canopy.
This one is very easy to set up. You don’t need to deal with any ropes or loose parts like you do with tents. It’s definitely a very convenient option to go with. Simply take it out of the carrying case, unfold it, and you should be good to go. Simply stick the legs into the sand, secure them in place, pop the securing ties into place, and the AmazonBasics Pop-Up Tent is ready for you to sit under. It barely takes any work at all to get this canopy properly set up.
On that same note, this tent comes with a carrying case with handles. Now, getting this back into the carrying case can be a little difficult, but at least the case makes this canopy very easy to transport. In terms of its weight, it is not the lightest pop-up canopy around, but considering that it has a steel frame, it is lighter than we would usually expect. We like how the AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent features an angled leg design as this goes a long way in providing stability, an easy setup, and some good shade too.
The product is 10 feet by 10 feet, making it quite roomy. There should be enough room for about 4 or 5 people at the very least, which is convenient. At the same time, it also features a cathedral ceiling so that even tall people can easily stand up inside of it without bumping their heads on the roof. We like the specially coated blue top, as it does a great job at reflecting the sun’s rays and keeping them off of anybody sitting underneath. It provides up to 99% UV protection, which is about as good as can be expected from this kind of thing.
Now, the roof itself is not the most durable; you will not want to get it caught on anything as it might rip. With that being said, the powder-coated steel frame is quite durable. The frame is made of very strong materials that are not going to break, rust, or bend anytime soon. Although the frame is strong, it is mostly hollow, which is nice because it helps keep the weight to a minimum. Keep in mind that this pop-up canopy is not designed to withstand wind and it is not waterproof, so it is not meant to be used on windy and rainy days.
2. E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy
This is another easy-to-set up pop-up beach canopy; the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy comes with everything you need for an easy and fun day at the beach. It might be a bit smaller than the previous option we looked at, but it still makes for a really good choice for a number of reasons. It is one of the canopies that comes most highly recommended by beachgoers.
For one, the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy is definitely very easy to set up, which is after all the whole point of these things to begin with. It comes with a carrying case, so you can easily carry it to and from the car. The included handles help to make like just a little bit easier. When you get the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy out of its case, all you need to do is unfold the top frame and the legs, stick the legs securely in the sand, and you are more or less good to go. There are no ropes, extra poles, or moving parts to deal with, which is very nice indeed. It literally takes 2 minutes to set it up.
Now, the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy has an 8 x 8 foot roof. It is not quite as large as the previous pop up canopy we looked at, but still large enough to comfortably provide shade to 3 or 4 people. The included roof here is fire resistant for some reason, a nice yet totally useless feature at the beach. It should be wind and rain resistant, both elements which often appear at the beach. Yet, the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy is not meant to handle either rain or wind. With that being said, the roof does provide you with up to 99% UV protection, which we suppose is the whole point here.
The roof itself on the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy is quite durable. Sure, you probably should not go at it with a knife, but it will do fine if it gets snagged on twigs or small branches; just don’t be too rough with it. We do like the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy for the steel frame it comes with. The frame here is very durable; it should be able to absorb a fair amount of wear and tear without coming apart. The frame is also fairly lightweight thanks to the fact that it is mostly hollow. Now, the E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy is quite lightweight for what it is, but it still weighs over 30 pounds, making it one of the heavier options on this list.
3. Coleman Instant Beach Canopy
If you need an extra-large pop-up beach canopy to fit the whole family, the Coleman Instant Canopy is a really good option to keep in mind. Now, it does take a little more work to set up than the other two options but it is also larger, more durable, and offers increased sun protection too.
So, if you are on the hunt for a pop-up beach canopy that can actually fit the whole family, the Coleman Instant Beach Canopy is a really nice option to go with. This thing is a whopping 13 by 13 feet, so you should be able to fit around 8 to 10 people under it with ease. However, this is not an option to go with if you only need a canopy for 2 or 3 people – it’s just way too large for that. However, if you need a big-daddy beach canopy, this is the way to go.
When it comes to setting it up, it is a little large, and it does come with support wires. It will take you and at least one other person about 5 to 10 minutes to set it up. No, it is not as labor intensive as a real tent to set up, but there are 3 specific steps involved to get this from the case to being fully set up. Now, what we do really like here, although the setup is not the easiest in the world, is that it comes with a roof that can actually handle some rain which was not the case with either of the other 2 options we looked at. It’s waterproof and won’t leak on your head in the event that a rainstorm comes along.
When it comes to the wind, it is not like this pop-up canopy is built to withstand a hurricane. However, this one does come with support wires, which does help make things a little more stable, even when some gusts of wind come along. The fact of the matter is that the Coleman Instant Canopy roof has a special UV guard protection coating which blocks out virtually all UV rays and keeps the whole family cool and safe. Now, the Coleman Instant Beach Canopy might not be the smallest or lightest canopy around, but in terms of keeping the whole family in the shade, it is definitely a good investment.
4. New Cool Cabana
Beachgoers need to make sure that they have a place out of the sun where they can relax with their family and avoid getting burned, and while beach umbrellas have long dominated the market, this large cabana is a great choice if you want to enjoy a lot of shade without carrying multiple umbrellas. Not only does it come with a carrying bag to make taking the new Cool Cabana to the beach easy, but thanks to the fact that it’s lightweight, it’s incredibly easy for just one person to put up and take down on their own.
The cotton poly canvas is UPF 50 and does a great job blocking out the harsh rays of the sun, while the strong legs can easily be set up on both hard ground and soft, shifting sand without a problem. Beachgoers will love being able to put sand in the sand pockets to help weight down the canopy so that it doesn’t blow away or tip over in the wind.
They also offer some bright and colorful prints which makes it easy to see this canopy from across the beach, providing a great visual for all family members to be able to easily find their way back to their belongings. Additionally, this canopy provides ample shade so that people as well as coolers and beach toys can remain in the shade and out of the sun, making it easy to stay on the beach for longer during the day.
5. Otentik Beach Sunshade Canopy
While sunshades and canopies are common sights on the beach, not all of these offer the space that is needed for people to stand up under them instead of reclining the whole time. This canopy has long poles and is high enough in the air that users can easily stand up underneath it while they relax and enjoy the shade.
It’s very easy to stretch the fabric and anchor it to the poles so that there is a taut surface offering protection. Additionally, once the sand bags are filled with sand and then anchored to the ground or buried, there is very little chance of this sunshade blowing over in the wind. This makes it ideal for use even on blustery days, as it can stand up when correctly anchored.
When it’s time to head home, this sunshade folds up quickly and easily, slipping into the provided carrying bag so that it can be easily carried from the beach. Additionally, the poles have their own separate bag for storage so that there is very little risk of them poking a hole in the fabric. As long as the fabric itself is rinsed out from time to time and allowed to air dry, it will last for years to come, the color won’t fade, and it will continue to offer stellar sun protection.
Choosing a Pop-up Beach Canopy: Buyer’s Guide
Shopping for a pop-up beach canopy may not seem like something that will take a lot of effort or consideration, but to ensure that you have the right canopy for your particular need, you must be careful when shopping. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking for the right canopy or to buy the wrong one for your use if you’re not careful. By understanding key features of these canopies, as well as what common questions you may have, you can make sure that you buy the best canopy for your use and that it will meet your needs now and in the future.
One of the things that you need to determine before making a purchase is how portable the option in question is. Does it fold down into a neat little package? Does it come with a carrying strap or carrying case? Does it weigh a manageable amount? The point here is that when folded, you want something that is fairly small and lightweight for portability’s sake.
Another thing that you need to look for before buying any pop-up beach canopy is how easy it is to set up. The whole point here is to be able to pop these things into place without a lengthy setup process. You should be able to more or less unfold it, secure a couple of things, and it should be good to go.
The size of your canopy will play a huge role in how you can use it and what kind of event it will work for. Smaller canopies are around 64 square feet, and they are great for providing a little bit of shade or blocking off a specific area, but they aren’t going to be ideal for a larger crowd to use. Larger pop-up canopies can be around 150 to 200 square feet. This not only provides more room, but it will make it easier for people to move easily around under the canopy without bumping into each other.
The main point of bringing a pop up canopy to the beach is to get protection from the sun. Having a beach canopy that has a good roof to block out the sun is absolutely essential. Now, keep in mind that these things usually do not have the best wind protection, but they are mainly built for dealing with the sun.
There are both straight and slant leg pop-up canopies, and both have their own pros and cons to consider when shopping. Straight leg canopies are incredibly sturdy, they are great for use on flat surfaces, and they can be used indoors without any problems. Slant leg canopies, on the other hand, have a lower profile and are much more portable. They are better for use on uneven terrain and tend to be easier not only to transport, but also to set up and take back down.
Not only are some pop-up canopies rated to protect against UV rays, but there are some that are waterproof. There are few things more frustrating than getting wet under a canopy due to a sudden and unexpected storm. Make sure that you are prepared for this by choosing a pop-up canopy that has waterproof fabric. This will allow the rain to roll off of the canopy instead of soaking it and dripping down on everyone underneath.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Steel or Aluminum Frame a Better Option?
Both steel and aluminum frames will provide you with a strong and durable pop-up canopy, but they do have a few differences that you will want to understand before going shopping. Steel frames are going to be heavier than aluminum frames are, but they tend to hold their shape really well, which is great if you are worried about the canopy blowing over or being knocked over. Aluminum frames, on the other hand, are much lighter, which makes them great for taking with you to a different location. They are sturdy, but can’t stand up to as much wind as a canopy with a steel frame will be able to.
What Shape Do I Need?
The shape of your canopy really depends on what you are going to be using it for. If you want to be able to fit a lot of people under the canopy and will be using chairs and tables, then you are probably better off opting for a square or rectangular canopy. That’s because the tables will easily fit into the shape without a lot of problems or difficulties. On the other hand, if you are interested in design and how the canopy looks, such as at a wedding, and aren’t worried about seating, then another shape, such as an octagon or hexagon, may work for you. These shapes are more difficult to find, but will really draw attention to a specific area, such as where you have your wedding cake.
How Do I Keep it From Falling Over?
If you are going to be using your pop-up canopy inside, then you won’t need to worry as much about how you are going to prevent it from falling over, as it won’t be exposed to wind. Using a canopy outside is easy, as long as you take time to anchor it to the ground. Using a canopy stake or spike to anchor it to the dirt is a great idea, although some people prefer to use weight anchors instead.
Is it Easy to Put Away?
Obviously, smaller pop-up canopies are going to be easier to put away than larger ones are, but they all have the same premise and are generally fairly easy to handle, once you have done it once or twice. First drop the legs down to a smaller height and remove the canopy so that you can easily break down the frame. Then the top will fold in on itself, allowing the legs to push in from the corners. This allows the entire canopy to fold up into a compact size that is easy to store.
What are the advantages of a pop up canopy?
Of the three types of canopies, the instant canopy or pop-up canopy is the least expensive. They are the easiest to use and can be set up with just one person. These are the canopies that would be used when BBQing, going to the beach or camping. Pop-up canopies need no tools or anchors and only take minutes to set up. With their easy to carry bags, these lightweight canopies can be transported and stored easily. They could even fit in the trunk of the car with space available.
Are folding canopies water resistant?
While we can't say definitively that all canopies are waterproof or water resistant, practically all of the canopies on the market are made of a water-resistant material. Pop up canopies most commonly use Polyester because they are durable and water-resistant. The UV protection is minimal with this canopy. Folding tents most commonly use Polyethylene because these are usually semi-permanent structures. Those tops protect against UV better along with being durable and water-resistant. A less common top is Vinyl. These are actually polyester but coated with vinyl, which makes most fire retardant along with being water-resistant, UV protected and durable. Always keep in mind that no matter the canopy or tent you need, all of them are available with wall options.
What is the difference between a tent and a canopy?
Frame tents are usually used for small to medium events or temporary shelters. They are held up by four poles but unlike the pole tents, do not require center poles. These are larger than the pop-up canopies and will most likely require multiple people to set up. These styles are good for portable garages. If these are not anchored or left out year-round, they can be damaged by weather.
Pole tents are large tents with a variety of styles. These require center tension poles and will take multiple people to set up. These always need to be anchored. Large events such as weddings or circuses are common uses of these tents. These complicated tents are much more durable and will cost the most. Pole tents are used as semi-permanent or permanent structures.
When deciding if you need a canopy or a tent, the first thing to figure out is how big the event will be. Next is how long you will need the canopy or tent up for. If you are going on a day trip or have a weekend event, a pop-up canopy will be perfect. If the purpose is over a bit of time, then a frame tent or pole tent is better. Tents are used for semi-permanent or permanent structures. Another huge difference between pop up canopies and frame tents is the weight. Frame tents have aluminum poles holding it up, so naturally, they are heavier.
How do I clean a canopy?
Once the canopy is set up and has served its purpose, there are a few things to follow when caring for the canopy or tent. First, wash a canopy with dish soap to clean the soiled parts. Spraying from the bottom, use a garden hose to clean it off. Never use bleach. If its a pop-up, just set it up to dry. If not, keep it off the ground with something like a sawhorse or clothesline. If it is a frame tent or pole tent, then make sure the poles are cleaned as well. The easiest way to clean the poles is when the canopy is set up. Wait until the whole shelter is dry before putting it away. While washing the frame, it is good to check that the joints are tight.
So, as you can see, there are great options on the market for pop-up beach canopies. If you need something with a decent size that is fairly easy to set up, we would recommend the Amazon Basics Pop Up Tent, but if convenience is your main concern, the EZ-Up Canopy might be the better option. Better yet, if you need an option with a whole lot of room, the Coleman Instant Canopy is the best choice to go with, as it is positively huge. Whatever your choice ends up being, you do need some protection from the sun when at the beach, so choose wisely.Has this guide helped you to choose which beach canopy is right for you? Share your adventures to the shore with the Seaside Planet Community in the comment section below!
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.