Spending a day on the beach means plenty of fun in the sun. Many people take time out to relax and rejuvenate. However, too much time in the sun can end up feeling exhausting. If you want to protect your skin and your time on the sand, a beach umbrella is a good way to complete the experience. It is the perfect way to get the shade you need without moving around with the sun.
Choosing the best beach umbrella isn't as straightforward as you might think. You need to consider the size of the umbrella, the various types of umbrellas, and the anchoring options they have available to ensure it is right for you. Of course, the worst is getting out to the beach and finding that you or the things you want to fit under it are still sticking out into the sun!
Types of Beach Umbrellas
All beach umbrellas are meant to do the same thing, shade and protect you from the sun. That is why we also call them sunshades. However, there are different types of umbrellas. They mostly vary based on how they stand over you and how you anchor them into the beach to keep them from getting swept up by the wind.
Let's take a look at the four primary types of beach umbrellas and how you might choose between them based on your needs.
When you think of a classic vintage trip to the beach, perhaps in the '40s or '50s, you will likely picture this traditional style of beach parasol. It is very similar in shape and function to an umbrella you might use for the sun. However, they are quite a bit bigger since they need to protect your whole body from the sun.
Beach parasols are often octagonal or hexagonal, with a thick pole that sticks up into the middle of the parasol to support it. You often anchor these by pushing them deeper into the sand. They come in all kinds of colors and are often somewhere between 6 and 10 feet in diameter.
You can do this using a motion similar to rocking back and forth to get it into the more packed layers of the sand that you will find deeper down. Once they are partially buried in the sand, so they stay stable, tile it slightly so that whichever direction the wind is coming from pushes the umbrella deeper into the sand instead of lifting under it to pull it out.
A beach tent is similar to what it sounds like, a tent you can use for the beach. However, beach tents have so many variations that they are easily their own category set apart from others. They can be a standard tent shape, but more often, they have a tent-like bottom with an arch or half-dome that runs over the top, supplying shade underneath.
Good beach tents will give you shade while still allowing the breeze all the way through. Some of the fancier ones will have windows on one side of the half-dome that you can open and close depending on the sun and the wind. You might also be able to open an entire side of the dome to turn it into an arch, maximizing its versatility. They also give you more privacy and more space than a beach parasol to store your beach-going items.
A beach cabana is a tent-like structure, but it is typically built on the side of the beach. Instead of being similar to a camping tent, they normally have four pillars that hold up the roof of the cabana. You will often find these look like open-walled tiki huts with chairs or even beds inside them in a tropical paradise.
When you buy one for yourself, you will find that they are much more portable, which takes a bit more time and space than a parasol but provides you with a more comprehensive experience. In addition, since all of the walls or open, you will always get the breeze. Some even have fabric that you can roll down to form walls to block the sun as it moves closer to the horizon.
Clamp-On Beach Umbrella
A clamp-on beach umbrella is the most portable option for beach-goers. It is often sold with a specific chair, or specific brands will sell those that work well with their chairs. All you have to do is take this smaller sunshade and clamp the pole onto the back of the chair. The clamp is often maneuverable, so you can swivel and adjust the umbrella to effectively block the shade during the day.
Beach Umbrella Fabrics
Now that we have covered the primary kinds of beach umbrellas, it is important to understand that it isn't just the style that is important. You also need to get a high-quality umbrella with fabric that does the job properly for a long time.
Cotton is often used in a mixture of polyester when it comes to beach umbrellas, although not always. It functions as a natural heat repellent, which is why it makes an ideal material for umbrellas. Just don't expect this kind of umbrella to help very much if you experience any precipitation.
Not only does cotton repel the heat, but it also is quite affordable and highly durable. The only downsides are its ability to hold color against the sun and its low UV blocking abilities.
Canvas is another resilient option. It is best to find a canvas umbrella with a PVC coating since that makes it more waterproof. However, PVC coatings do not give you any protection from UV rays. In fact, it breaks down quicker under intense sun, so you will need to reapply frequently if you want it to maintain its waterproofness.
Polyester is arguably the best option for beach umbrella fabrics. Polyester not only blocks the heat, but it is also mold-resistant, easy to clean, durable, and flexible enough to increase the wind resistance of the umbrella. If it is pure polyester not mixed with cotton, it will also dry quite quickly.
The fabric type isn't the only thing that matters when considering the material of the umbrella. You also need to factor in the denier rating or the closeness of each line of the thread. The thicker it is, the more protection you get since it will let less through it. Beach umbrellas vary quite a bit when it comes to denier ratings, from about 75D to 300D. Often, the higher the denier rating, the higher the price and quality of the umbrella.
The Best Beach Umbrellas at the Right Size
Choosing the right size of umbrella is essential to the success of your trip. Beach parasols will often be notably smaller than a beach tent or cabana. They are also circular, which means they only offer the maximum coverage in the center of the umbrella. You need to store the rest of your beach gear if you aren't close to your car as well.
Consider how many people you want under the beach umbrella, how many items you plan on bringing and their size, and how much space you like to have around you. When you factor all of these in, you will be able to choose between a beach umbrella with a six-foot coverage and that with a 13-foot coverage, or anything in between.
Also, remember that size affects the umbrella's portability. The larger the umbrella, cabana, or tent, the more difficult it will be to carry out with you and set up. You don't want the challenge to be so high that it makes you feel like not bringing the umbrella along and burning under the sun instead.
How Do I Properly Stake a Beach Umbrella?
You might not think that there is much to learn how to use a beach umbrella. However, getting it staked properly means the difference between running after it down the beach on your relaxing day in the sun or gently falling to sleep without a care in the world.
When you have a beach parasol, the anchor is the pole itself, planted firmly into the ground and deep enough to stop it from moving around. Any other option will require stakes or anchors.
How Does a Beach Umbrella Anchor Work?
A beach umbrella anchor works similarly to a stake for a tent. It is shaped to help better in the fluid sand with a hole to thread through the ties from the cabana or the tent. The stakes for your tent or anchor should come with the product, although they won't always be the highest quality. All you need to do for them to work is to bang them into the sand at a 45-degree angle away from the tent. Voila! You have got a cabana or beach tent anchored for the duration of your stay.
Tips for Finding the Best Beach Umbrellas
Finding the right beach umbrella doesn't have to be a complicated process. Instead, all you need to do is decide on a budget and go into it informed to find the best denier and fabric type on an umbrella that fits the sizing you need.
If you are looking for a beach umbrella or other beach gear to fill out your trip, the RIO line from ShelterLogic carries everything you need and more. From beach carts and chairs to the perfect beach umbrella, we have got it all.