The 10 Best Beach Umbrellas
10. Beach Brella Las Brisas
9. Copa Outdoor
8. TFN EasyGo
7. Coolibar Titanium
6. Sport-Brella All-Weather
5. Besroy Slant
4. AosKe Inclined
3. BeachBub System
2. Tommy Bahama
1. Frankford Concession
How Do I Select The Perfect Beach Umbrella For Me?
All beach umbrellas are not created equal. Size is a factor, believe it or not, as certain people prefer a smaller umbrella (4-6 ft. in diameter) which is fit for one person, while others prefer something larger (8-10 ft. in diameter) which is fit for a group.
In addition to diameter, it's worth confirming that a beach umbrella's height is adjustable. This way you can slide the tent pole down for relaxing, or extend it for welcoming others in a group.
Design is important if you have kids. The idea here is to provide a potential signpost, so your kids - or even company - can always find you on a crowded beach. When considering design, you'll also want to take into account a beach umbrella's durability and fabric. The majority of beach umbrellas are constructed out of some form of polyester, so it's difficult to discern which models are actually superior at standing up to the elements. Upon reading some customer reviews, you'll get a better sense of which umbrellas are prone to tearing, or snapping, or being uprooted and flying down the coast.
As a side note, keep in mind that you can get a lot more use out of the average beach umbrella if you use it for shade in the center of any outdoor table during the off season. This isn't a major selling point, but it could become a factor if your final choice comes down to one umbrella that matches the color of your house and another that looks like it would stand out on a crowded beach.
How NOT To Let An Umbrella Ruin Your Day At The Beach
At one point or another, we have all either experienced the awkward phenomenon of seeing a beach umbrella go rogue along the beach. This is generally the result of a sudden, unexpected burst of wind. And yet, in reality, the true cause has more to do with how the beach umbrella was initially set into the ground.
If you're looking to avoid the embarrassment of having your umbrella blow away - or, worse yet, injure somebody - it's best to use a rubber mallet (or a shovel) when setting the metal pole into the sand. Twisting or forcing an umbrella in by hand is a major no-no on a windy day. At the very least you're going to spend the next few hours constantly readjusting the pole as it leans or tips or falls to one side or another.
Along those same lines, it's important to take the wind's direction into account. You want your umbrella angled slightly into the wind, thereby providing some resistance. Umbrellas that have been angled the same direction as the wind are constantly taking on gales, much like a parachute. This is likely to result in an umbrella blowing away. Wind direction on a beach is prone to change throughout the day. As a precaution look to a nearby flag on a lifeguard stand. This will allow you to confirm when and if the winds have shifted.
If your umbrella is built with a twisting anchor at the bottom, you may be able to gain additional support by bringing along an empty 5-gal. bucket. Plastic buckets are common for the beach, but the 5-gal. size is preferable because it can hold 50 lbs. worth of sand. Fill the bucket halfway. Insert and twist your umbrella pole. Then fill the rest of the bucket and, Voila! You've got yourself a 50-lb. base for your umbrella.
A Brief History Of The Beach Umbrella
The earliest parasols were nothing more than vast palms, usually held by servants over the head of aristocrats for shade. As the separation between nobility and common people grew more pronounced, particularly in Ancient Egypt and China, aristocratic parasols became the expressed province of the wealthy. Pale skin was associated with being part of the upper class. It denoted a person who did not spend his or her days laboring in the sun.
This distinction remained in tact for several centuries, until the utility of an umbrella began to evolve during the 11th Century. The Chinese had taken to waterproofing their parasols, rendering the device twice as useful as before. Over the next 200 years, trade routes to Europe allowed for a mass proliferation of the umbrella. Parasols remained an accessory for wealthy women, but umbrellas were being bought - or more often rented - by European businessmen in droves.
The next great era for the umbrella occurred during the Industrial Revolution. As the American marketplace grew, so too did the new patents. There were pocket umbrellas, and adjustable umbrellas, and umbrellas that could automatically open and close. Along with these came a resurgence of the idea that an umbrella should be used for shade. This is where the beach umbrella, which had existed unnoticed for centuries, really began to come into its own.
Beach umbrellas took off in the wake of America's surfing craze. After that came concerns about skin cancer, which prompted people to stay out of the sun. Today, the beach umbrella remains a fixture on American beaches. It is a constant, just like vacationing at the shore for family fun.