The 10 Best Beach Shelters

Updated December 04, 2017 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Beach Shelters
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Nothing can ruin a day at the shore faster than a sunburn or bad weather. That's why savvy sun-chasers carry a beach shelter with them, so they have protection from the elements. Coming in cabana and tent styles, they are durable and lightweight, and let you safely stay out longer while always having a place to retreat if necessary. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best beach shelter on Amazon.

10. Texsport Calypso

The Texsport Calypso is a perfect choice for anyone serious about their skin, as the silver polyurethane-coated taffeta keeps the sun's rays at bay. It also has mesh windows that are real lifesavers if the bugs start coming out. You'll need help to set it up, however.
  • flame retardant for use around fires
  • very compact when folded
  • sand gets into support poles easily
Brand Texsport
Model 01831
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

9. iCorer Outdoors

This option from iCorer Outdoors is the size of a yoga mat when rolled up, making it no problem to carry around. The shell and mat do a good job of keeping water out if it rains or a wave sneaks up on you. You have to search online to find an instruction manual, though.
  • sand shakes right off
  • room for chairs and coolers
  • poles can rip fabric if not careful
Brand iCorer
Model fish tent
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. LingAo Pop-Up Tent

The LingAo Pop-Up Tent has double interwoven mesh, ensuring that it will survive rough treatment from the elements. This is especially good for anyone who's going to be traipsing through brush on the way to the sand or campsite. There's not a lot of room inside, though.
  • can be checked on airplanes
  • folds into circle for easy storage
  • folding it takes some practice
Brand LingAo
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Coleman Instant Shelter

The Coleman Instant Shelter is a time-tested classic. It has welded steel feet to keep it stable on any surface, so it works as well on asphalt as on sand. The canopy fabric is low quality, however, and tends to disintegrate over time with heavy use.
  • great for parties and gatherings
  • roller bag for painless transport
  • difficult to lock into place
Brand Coleman
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Wildhorn Quick-Up Cabana

The Wildhorn Quick-Up Cabana is basically a tent with a canopy attachment, making it easy to regulate how much sun and wind you're exposed to. It also has a lock on it to keep your valuables safe if you step away for a minute. The door flaps in a strong wind, though.
  • zips up for full enclosure
  • support joints are reinforced
  • side vents only open from outside
Brand WildHorn Outfitters
Model 2000002120
Weight 7.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Clam 9281

If you need room for a big group, then the Clam 9281 offers enough space to cover a picnic table. The mesh on the screens is small enough to keep even no-see-ums out, so you can relax in peace. It can be hard to find enough space to set it up on a crowded day, however.
  • great for picnics and parks
  • center grommet to hang light from
  • ceiling droops on rainy days
Brand Clam Corporation
Model 9281
Weight 34.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy

The Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy pops up in seconds, providing an immediate shady shelter big enough for a family of four or a horde of kids. It offers a 270-degree view while blocking maximum sunshine from above or wind from the sides.
  • instructions are very helpful
  • wind-shedding design handles breezes
  • can be hosed off for quick cleaning
Brand Lightspeed Outdoors
Model 26769-BV
Weight 9.1 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Sport-Brella Portable

The Sport-Brella Portable is made of durable polyester with steel ribs, so it will be ready to accompany you on outings for years to come. The support pole is thin and penetrates deep into the ground well, giving you some defense against sudden gusts.
  • great for tailgating
  • bag has convenient shoulder strap
  • fabric keeps light from bleeding in
Brand Sport-Brella
Model BRE01-075
Weight 9.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Pacific Breeze Easy Up

The Pacific Breeze Easy Up is a cinch to set up and take down, so you can spend your day soaking up rays instead of fighting with a tent. It has pockets to store your stuff, and the large window flaps provide ample ventilation, ensuring you're comfortable all day long.
  • sand bags keep it secure
  • lightweight and easy to carry around
  • simple to fold back into bag
Brand Pacific Breeze Products
Model pending
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Lightspeed Outdoors

The Lightspeed Outdoors uses pre-threaded poles and a compressed center hub to make it possible to set up in under a minute. Once up, it will provide UPF 50+ sun protection, so you don't have to worry about your tan turning into a burn.
  • durable enough to handle dogs
  • great for small families
  • also good for protection from rain
Brand Lightspeed Outdoors
Model pending
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Which Type of Beach Shelter Makes The Most Sense for You?

Believe it or not, beach shelters are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different companies manufacture different styles. And yet the majority of beach shelters still fall into three basic categories. Below we've provided a breakdown of each one:

1. The Dome. This is the most common type of beach shelter. It has a wide and rounded top with an open face toward the front. Most Dome models can be zipped open or shut, providing varying levels of privacy, or protection from the elements, depending on your needs. Domes are the most popular type of beach shelters because they look cool, they offer room for 2-3 people, and they're easy to assemble or take apart. If you're a person with a small family who enjoys an occasional outing at the beach, a dome is probably your best bet.

2. The Gazebo. A gazebo isn't so much an honest "shelter" as it is a miniature party tent - five poles and a durable canopy that stretches tight overhead. These structures mark your territory, while also allowing enough room for standing - or even barbecuing - underneath. Gazebos block the sun, but not the wind. They are ideal for any group that is slightly larger than the traditional family, and they make just as much sense at a state park or a tailgating party as they do at the beach.

3. The Fly Tent. A fly tent is your basic triangular piece of fabric held up by several poles, perhaps even anchored by some rope and stakes (think Boy Scout tent, and you're on the right track). Fly tents are inexpensive, but they look odd on a beach. You can recline or sleep inside these shelters, but otherwise they're mostly designed for keeping delicate items in the shade.

What Do I Need to Know About A Beach Shelter Before I Buy?

The first thing you need to know is how many people you plan on taking with you during an average trip to the beach. Next, you'll want to read some product descriptions so you can start to gain a grasp of what differentiates a mediocre beach shelter from a great one. How much does each model weigh? What does the manufacturer say about assembly? Does the shelter come with a carrying case? Does that carrying case have wheels? Does it have straps or handles, ala a backpack? Does the open-ended front section of the shelter zip up for occasional privacy? Does the shelter feature plastic windows, or pouches, or zip-down storage sections inside?

Once you've gotten answers to these questions, scroll down to read some of the customer reviews. Don't be dissuaded by a single negative review. What you're looking for are consistent patterns, any selling points or complaints that rear their head again and again. Patterns represent a significant indication that you'll want to take something into account before you buy. On top of which, customers tend to be more straightforward - and emotional - than manufacturers. Customers also have the benefit of having lived with the product for a while.

Along those lines, be sure to check out what type of material each shelter is made of. Polyurethane (sometimes abbreviated as "PU" in product descriptions) is the industry standard. If the shelter's lining is made of this material, chances are it'll be both reliable and light.

A Very Brief History Of The Beach Shelter

Casual observers might look at a photo of an average beach shelter and think, Hey, wait a minute, isn't this thing just a tent? And the truth is, for the most part, those casual observers would be correct. Beach shelters are nothing more than a marketing term for what was originally known as a "beach tent." Beach tents were a derivative of the more traditional camping tents. Both structures were made of the same materials, both were built to stand up to the elements. In fact, the only aspects that differentiated an early beach tent from a similarly-shaped camping tent were an open front and a smaller size.

While most Americans have come to associate a "tent" with camping, these structures, which date all the way back to The Iron Age, were originally used to provide protection in the deserts, along with any arid lands. This, of course, means that a modern-day beach shelter serves the same basic purpose that was originally intended for a tent.

All irony aside, the popularity of beach shelters in America grew as an extension of the free-standing beach umbrella. Today's beachgoers can enjoy all of the shade originally provided by an umbrella along with an increased barrier of protection thanks to a shelter. What's more, beach shelters stand up to wind a lot more effectively than beach umbrellas do. Comparatively speaking, it'd take a significant gale to send someone sprinting down the beach after a 7-lb. shell.

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Last updated on December 04, 2017 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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