Best Beach Tent/Beach Shelter for Travel


Like most people we love a day at the beach. Currently we live most of the year in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is in the middle of the desert!! – so when we travel to the likes of LA, Florida or back to New Zealand (where we are from) we always seek out the nearby beaches. Having grown up in NZ, a small country surrounded by the Pasific Ocean it really is ingrained in our DNA to love the sea.

Our daughter is nearly 15 months old and a month ago we travelled to Miami to visit friends who have a 9 month old boy. March-April is a great time to visit this part of the world as the water temperature is surprisingly warm (much more so than on the Pacific coast) and the weather isn’t too hot or humid yet. During our visit we had a day at a lagoon beach in Oleta River State Park, and then another at North Miami Beach. Of course our babys needed to nap a few times and our friends had a pop up sun shelter which was very convenient for this purpose. The sun shelter greatly extended the amount of time we could enjoy the beach by protecting us from the sun and glare. The wind really got up on the second day and so we were sheltered from that too, while others struggled with their sun umbrellas.

We did notice that it got a bit hot in our friend’s beach shelter, so now that we are definitely in the market to get one too, it’s got me thinking about the features I’d want.

Beach Tent/Beach Shelter wish list:
– something light that packs up small in a carry bag. Remember you’ll be carrying it from your car to the beach!
– quick and easy to erect/disassemble.
– pegs than don’t bend!!!!
– has air vents and windows with mesh to allow adequate ventilation.
– doesn’t get to hit when you’re sitting in it. For this reason I’d go with a shelter rather than a closed in tent which be unbearable in the heat.
– can stand up to a reasonable amount of wind.

Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella. 8-Foot Canopy

This is a very popular twist on a sun umbrella. It sits on it’s side and is held down with 4 pegs. It opens like a typical umbrella and it has a telescoping pole that pokes in the ground on an angle. As with all sun shelters it’s essential that you place the open side in the opposite direction of the wind. On a windy day you can anchor it further by placing sand or weights in it’s internal pockets. It will withstand higher winds by exposing the mesh windows to allow air through. It is made of UPF 50+ rated polyester which is water resistent to keep you dry in a rain shower. Underneath it is 8 ft (i.e 96″) across, comfortably large enough for 2 regular sized sun chairs. Sport-Brella also make a 9 ft (i.e 108″) XL model. This umbrella shelter come in blue or red, and weighs 9 lbs in it’s carry bag, where it is approx. 54″ long and 4″ in diameter. It comes with 8 stakes (4 sturdier ones and 4 which look a bit flimsy) and 3 tie down cords that are 8 feet long. It is not designed to stand vertically, though theoretically you could get it to do so on a calm day.
I like the fact that it is not too enclosed and has air vents for good ventilation. The downside is you would need to move it with the sun if you were at the beach all day.

iCorer Automatic Pop Up Instant Portable Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent Sun Shelter

This is a very lightweight sun shelter that you can even pack in a suitcase. Made of UPF 50+ nylon this 3 sided tent pops up by itself when removed from it’s zip up carry bag. The back wall has a large mesh window (with no optional cover) and there is a floor that extends a little beyond the open entrance. At 65″Long x 59″ Wide by 43.5″ High it big enough for 2 adults to sit on the ground but not big enough for chairs. Although it is very easy to put up many people are challenged by learning the nack of folding it back into it’s carry case. In some instances people have damaged the tent by getting this wrong! So it is best to watch a few YouTube videos on how to do it and practice at home fore you go to the beach. This is what our friends had in Miami. At only 2lb and 17″ diameter by 2″ thick, it was very easy to carry to the beach. Like many people I found the stakes that come with it disappointing. They bent easily and didn’t grip easily in the sand. I think I would purchase some longer and higher quality tent stakes to replace them long term. It does have some sand pockets that you could use for stability. On the windy day we used our personal beach bags and cooler as weights to hold it down – less than ideal. On the hot, calm day I did find it quite hot deep inside the shelter, so the babies didn’t nap there too long. It was better ventilated when there was some wind.

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent Sun Shelter

This sun shelter has a mechanism similar to opening an umbrella which allows it to be erected within 1 minute. It does require some strength to lift this opening mechanism which can be physically challenging for some. It has 3 mesh “windows” (which can be closed by flaps) and an internal pocket for storing a few things. The internal dimensions are 96 x 54.5 x 49.25 inches (LxWxH) which is large enough to comfortably hold 2 adults on low sun chairs or 3 sand chairs. This cabana has a floor which extends 4 feet in front of the shelter. This proves to be somewhat of a negatives as it gets very hot in the sun, either requiring it to be covered by towels or to be folded back within the shade of the cabana. Comes with 8 stakes that are quite short so again, some people will opt to purchase some better ones. There are also sand pockets at the side and back where you can provide more ballast for stability. This shelter holds up well when set up against the wind. Purchasers love that the carry bag is more than big enough to hold the folded shelter, so it is never a struggle getting it back in the bag. All packed up the dimensions are 43 x 5.5 inches and it weighs weighs 6 pounds. This shelter is UPF 50+ Rated for sun protection and will also protect you from a shower of rain. Some purchasers wished that there was the facility to close the front of this cabana so they could change in privacy on the beach. This feature is provided in the Lightspeed Sun Shelter below.

Lightspeed Outdoors Sun Shelter with Clip-Up Privacy Feature

As stated above the front of this shelter can be clipped up for temporary privacy – a very useful feature.
The flooring is a new improved material that doesn’t overheat in the sun and is thicker than the sides. The inside measures 95″ across by 59″ deep by 54″ high and the “porch” flooring extends a further 37″ in front of the shaded interior. This shelter will comfortably hold 2 low profile sun chairs. You can use regular chairs but your head would likely touch the ceiling area, esp. if you are tall. Sitting on the ground you can fit 3-4 people comfortably. It packs comfortably into it’s carry bag (which has a shoulder strap) and weighs 8lb. The dimensions when folded in the bag are 44″ (L)by 6″ diameter so it would be too big for airline carry-on but fine for a car. As with most shelters the 8″ stakes aren’t long enough so we’d suggest purchasing some 12″ ones. It does have 3 sand bag pockets for added stability. The material used in the manufacture of this product is UPF 50+ and resistant to a shower of rain. I like that fact that the front ceiling section has a overhang for added protection from sun glare. N.B the Lightspeed Cabana Tent above also has this “brim” feature.

Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent Deluxe XL

This beach tent gets an excellent 5 star rating on Amazon. It has a similar set up to the Lightspeed’s above and they all have lightweight fiberglass framing. Comes with 4 stakes and has five sand pockets. It’s internal dimensions are 94.9″ wide by 51″ deep, and has a max height of 59.96″ so it can fit 3 adults side by side, or 4 smaller children, or 2 low beach chairs comfortably. The flooring does not extend out the front but the “roof” does protrude forward a little like the Lightspeeds for a little extra shade. This tent weighs just 6 pounds. In it’s carry bag it measures 38″ long by 6″ diameter, so again it will be too long for airline carry on or a suitcase – you’d have to check it separately. It has UPF 50+ sun protection and repels water. A few had concerns about the durability of the fabric and stitching but most people are extremely satisfied with it.

Genji Sports Push up instant Beach Tent Beach Sunshelter

This is another pop up shelter with external fiberglass framing. An umbrella like mechanism it can be put up and folded down within a few seconds once you get the knack. It worth practicing at home before you first use it at the beach. The back of the tent is made of solid UPF 50+ rated material but the two sides are mesh only. This allow for extra ventilation but provides less UV protection. If needs be, some people clip a towel over the side that is facing the sun. The materials used in the construction of this shelter are flame retardant with is a plus.
When erected the internal measurements are 86″ (W) x 59″(D) x 43″(H) so it comfortably fit 2 adults on beach chairs, or one adult and 2 young children.
Folded away in it’s carry bag it measures 29″ by 5″ max. diameter so it could fit diagagonally in a 30+” suitcase. It is also extremely light at on 4.8 pounds. It comes with 4 stakes and also has sand bag pockets at each corner.

Another great thing about all these all-in-one beach shelters is that you can easily lift them up and shake out the sand before you collapse them down to pack away.

Coleman DayTripper Beach Shade

This beach shade would perhaps suit my traveling family the best, as it packs down to 24″ L by about 5″ diameter and only weighs 5lb. It could there fit in checked luggage or carry on better than some of the others. It isn’t an instant pop up tent. There are telescoping 3 poles that need to be inserted through sewn sleeves, 4 tent pegs and sand bag pockets. Most people report that it took them 8-10 minutes to erect the first time but then they got much slicker and faster with practice and got it down to about 5-6 minutes. This tent has 4 sides. The front is usually open (an extension of the floor) but can be zipped closed for privacy – very useful for getting changed on the beach. The sides have no “windows” but the back does. It can be zippered down to reveal the mesh window, or you can open it completely. Some people reported that it can get a bit hot inside without windows on the side. The base in this tent is 90″(W) x 54″(D) x 57″ and it is 57″ high, makng it large enough for 2 adults, or one adult + 2 young children. The non-mesh material is UPF 50+. It is resistant to showers but not waterproof. Inside it has 4 above-ground storage pockets and a line for drying bathing suits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *