Your job might not be beach, but that shouldn’t stop you from heading out to enjoy the sand between your toes. And thankfully the best beach tents exist to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, because you’re not made of plastic like Ken. You already know you have to pack your sunscreen, swim trunks, and towels on your next beach outing, but a tent is a whole ‘nother level of investment and we’re here to tell you that they’re well worth it.
These crafty little huts offer you a little oasis in the middle of miles of scorching sand and respite from direct sun exposure, which can lead to the development of skin cancer, eye damage, and accelerate the rate that your skin ages—plus, most importantly, kill your vibe on an otherwise blissful beach day. Ever tried and failed to lodge your beach umbrella in the sand only to have it flap away in the breeze, nearly impaling a fellow beach-goer? Never again. A beach tent is the most luxurious way to plant your flag on a prime strip of beach, and not think about the blazing sun for a couple hours.
The Best Beach Tents, at a Glance
Want to dive head first into beach tents? Here, our top picks so you can enjoy your beach day and not worry about burning up.
One Quick Note on Beach Tents
Some beaches—like those in New York and New Jersey—ban people from erecting tents, which makes sense considering the problem of overcrowded beaches. So just make sure you do some research in advance to make sure you’re actually allowed to pitch a tent, or that the one you have is at least small enough to not piss off your fellow beachgoers. And the next time you’re hitting the beach, come prepared with one of these, the best beach tents we could find, from small domes for one or two people to the truly extra beach canopies for protecting your whole crew from the sun’s glare.
The Best Beach Tent, Overall: Pacific Breeze
All that separates you from a fun day at the beach and a bad burn after a couple hours in the sun is a $60 Pacific Breeze beach tent. Its lightweight construction and carrying case make it easy to haul from the parking lot to the prime real estate by the shoreline. The polyester construction of the tent is rated at UPF 50+, and besides being a barrier between you and the sun, it’s also water-repellent (save for the mesh windows, which offer a nice little breeze) and windproof.
Pitching the tent is crazy easy, with Amazon reviewers noting, “you literally take it out and set up with a pull of the strings. [It’s] easy to take down too.” And for a nice added touch, the inside of the tent features a storage pocket to keep your essentials on hand. For those looking to size up, Pacific Breeze also offers this beach tent in an extra-large option (which retails around $78) with enough room for you and around three of your closest homies. That’s not including the addition of an extendable floor (because not everyone loves sand).
The Best Upgrade Beach Tent: Shibumi Shade
Beach Ken would love the Shibumi Shade, a fairly expensive beach canopy that’s best for those who spend a lot of time soaking up the sun. The waterproof fabric is rated at UPF 50+, offering a ginormous amount of shade that can house up to six people (or more, uh, depending on how close you all are). Setting up the shade is fairly easy, so much so that one person can do all the work with minimal effort. All it really takes is snapping some poles together, filling the sand bag to provide weight, and connecting everything together. The Shade stays shady by harnessing the power of the wind to stay overtop, and it’s been designed to be as quiet as possible because the constant sound of wind rustling fabric is more annoying than you’d think.
The Best Budget Beach Tent: Coleman Beach Shade Canopy
Coleman is the go-to brand for most people heading out on an outdoor adventure. Its Beach Shade canopy is a tad small, but for the price, it’s great for couples or individuals looking to enjoy the beach on their own. Its compact size also means it collapses into a very small package, about the size of an extra-large thermos.