Good Quality Beach Tent / Shade ???

Now that we have a baby I need to find a good quality beach tent / sun and wind block so that my wife can take the baby with us to the beach.

I have seen various offerings when at the beach and some certainly appear better than others.

Anyone have any experience or advice? Need something that is not going to be a piece of junk and that can stay intact in a little bit of wind and offer suitable protection for the baby from the sun.



Won’t suggest particular model

– Last Updated: Jun-16-14 12:50 PM EST –

I won't suggest a particular model.
I recently went though "the search" for a similiar shelter. It is now permanently set up on one of our decks. It is strictly to create shade; not for wind or rain protection.

My advice; go to REI online store, and check out their offerings. There are quite a few models for different types of use, a variety of prices, and REI has a decent return policy. You can also read other buyer's
feedback; which often brings "issues" to your attention, before you buy.


PS An issue with virtually every shade shelter or rain fly are the stakes. While NOT the ideal solution in every instance, or suitable for every need; I no longer have that issue. My stakes work great on soft, muddy, or sandy soil.

I made stakes from oak that are about 18 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 3/4 inch thick. When those stakes are set; it is likely that the wind will destroy the shelter before the stakes get pulled loose.

I’ve been wondering. Sounds like everything is turning out well for baby and K. since you are talking about going to the beach.

Waterbearer (Bill) likes to set up his Noah’s tarp at the beach for shade. I’m a little dubious about how much a Noah’s tarp cuts the radiation. Certainly, it is better than nothing, but when I am under one of those tarps, and it isn’t raining, I still feel a lot of solar energy. Those tarps do well in the wind, though at the beach you’d have to bury some dead-men to hold the lines if there is much of a blow. Maybe some other tarps do better at blocking the sun.

Good luck with it, and congratulations. I’m sure the citizens of NC appreciate your support of the fluff pulp industry!


Great shade for the beach. However, be sure and check if the beaches allow such a shelter. Two of the beaches allow nothing but an umbrella. More and more beaches are moving to this. I guess it is much more important to have the lifeguards zooming up and down the beach.

Kelty Cabana
We have a little one as well and this works great to keep the sun off.

stick with outfitters
I would tend to stick with something from outdoor outfitters rather than discount store stuff. These both have good reviews. A family member has an older Kelty I’ve seen set up and it’s well designed:

Sport Brella
I have one of the tent-like sunshades and found them to be limiting. The direction of the sun did not always line up with the tent’s shade and being able to view the water’s edge. The sun was often in my face when facing the water and trying to watch the kids. I also found them to be hot. The tent walls blocked any breeze.

I really like the Sport Brella or Sport Brella XL You can set it up like a tent or as an overhead umbrella. You can also stake it down in wind although in sand you may need to purchase a different type of stake for it to work. I have had mine for almost two years and have used it at the beach as well as soccer fields even in the rain. I have very few complaints.

Gosh! Those baby-on-the-beach memories!
I remember going through this same scenario nineteen years back with my newborn daughter Lauren, who made her first journey to the beach as a 2-1/2 month old with our annual Duckhead pilgrimage to Milburn Landing/Assateague National Seashore. We were mostly pleased with the L.L.Bean beach cabana model we purchased then, a low slung Hollywood Bowl affair which offered a floor along with its quarter-orb environ of nylon, slung aloft per three sectional fiberglass wand poles, a longer one forming the arc of the opening with two shorter ones stiffening and vaulting the canopy from the rear. It was relatively easy to slide all three poles through their respective sleeves while the cabana fabric lay flat on the beach, and then quickly arcing each into grommet and strap stiffeners before a unintentional kite festival went into action. Whilst cheap plastic stakes were just OK, primarily the weight of beach bags and beach grumpy dog Bob and mother and babe and cooler helped hold the thing down. It had a 2 foot by 4 foot screen window at the rear to afford cross breezes, but this had a tendency to allow too much sun to enter. No problem, as a damp beach towel would usually be draped over the back, semi-twisted within the pole rigging, to abate glare.

Still, nuance of placement became a consideration, and I usually still ended up rotating the thing at some point in our day’s shore stay, as the sun worked its clockwise arc around to a lower zenith glaring through our west-southwesterly towel and screen rear.

With a baby, it seems as though you never get to the beach as early as you’d like (at least for me, for I much prefer those first early hours following sunrise and the 3-or-4 proceeding sunset), so often the beach could get a little crowded. Our little cabana was not so big as to present set-up room difficulties midst the mob, nor so intrusive as a large tarp which might otherwise block the critical view of a mom or dad who had arrived earlier than you, and was trying to keep an eye or their adolescents from a point further back from the shore than where you were now attempting to fit in.

The cabana served us well for nearly ten years, and over time I observed newer and better designs by Bean and REI and Kelty and the like making their way onto the sand. Inside zip closures - a full shade for the rear window, and a forward full screen to keep those nasty bottleheads and horseflies from drawing blood - were the prime improvements I noticed, although the fabric going from nylon to a more UV (degradation) resistant polyester was also making its presence. Noticed too that the vaulted height was beginning to climb from our 4 foot model to larger quarter-orbs with 5 and 6 foot high openings, allowing one to sit inside in the tallest of beach chairs.

Personally, I kind of liked keeping it simple, with our smaller model easily being carried within a 2-inch diameter four-foot sleeve, for god knows your hands will likely be loaded with canvas totes and diaper bags and coolers and dog-on-leash and play pails/shovels/boats in mesh duffel and volleyball poles and…well, it was an ambitious time, there in my nascent parent days (so much for “simple”).

In another year or two you’ll be able to delve into those next fine quandaries presented by toddlers on the beach, such as, “How could that much sand have moved through her?” as you’re changing a granularly gross Pamper, or, “Nicky! It’s not a Tootsie Roll! Put the pony poop down!”, or, “No you can’t bury Bob completely! The sand fleas are already feasting upon him!”

Well, happy coping at the cabana! And congratulation, dad!

Noah 12 foot Tarp
Chip is correct - it is my choice for the beach. While it does offer shade, I keep a shirt on underneath it for UV protection.

Our beaches require shade structures to come down at the end of the day, so I prefer compact and light alternatives. A rucksack will hold the tarp, line, six 16 inch plastic stakes from Home Depot that work great in the sand, a 2lb hammer, and 2 shock corded poles. Room for extra stakes as well. It you get an auger anchor used for umbrellas, that will give you a really solid tie to the ground.

Pitched correctly it will handle wind quite nicely, and if it gets very windy at all the kids tend to go indoors.

With the tarp set with one of the pole ends set into the wind, the wind billows out the catenary cut of the tarp into 2 sort of wings. Looks like a gull hovering over the beach; some tell me it looks like a signal for Batman.

It gets lots of stares from folks as it looks radically different than most everything else brought for shade. People come by and introduce themselves wanting to know what the heck it is.

When extended family come we set up the 16 footer.

Noah gets my endorsement.