Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Beach Umbrella

An umbrella can prevent sun damage to sensitive skin while you’re enjoying a day at the beach with the family.

Overhead shot of a crowded beach
If you’re concerned about sunburn or overheating on a hot day outside, a lightweight, packable umbrella can offer some relief.Unsplash/Sebastien Le Derout

The old days of heavy canvas beach umbrellas are as much history as the Beach Blanket Bingo movies of yesteryear. Today’s beach umbrellas have some sophisticated designs that not only make them easy to carry, but more durable, and with UV-resistant fabrics and wind-resisting designs. Here’s what to look for before you buy.

BEACHBUB All-in-One Beach Umbrella System. Includes 7 ½' (50+ UPF) Umbrella, Oversize Bag, Base & Accessory Kit
This product weighs less than nine pounds.BEACHBUB

How big of a beach umbrella do you need? How far do you need to carry it? For small groups of one or two parents with a couple of kids, a seven-foot diameter beach umbrella will be fine. For larger groups, consider a 10- to 12-foot diameter umbrella. Keep in mind that the larger the diameter, the greater the issues you may have with wind (because an open umbrella is essentially a sail). Also think about how high from the ground you need the umbrella canopy. If you’re just sitting or lying under the umbrella you might only need a six-foot pole, but you’ll need a taller one if you plan to stand under it.

Sport-Brella Vented SPF 50+ Sun and Rain Canopy Umbrella for Beach and Sports Events (8-Foot)
This canopy has steel ribs and an anchoring system in case of wind.Sport-Brella

Beach umbrella construction can vary from the traditional and classic canvas to polyester, acrylic, vinyl, and nylon. Look for an umbrella rated at least UPF 25, which blocks about 96 percent of the harmful UV rays. Reflective material can also help keep shaded areas cooler. Wooden poles are usually stronger but heavier than something like aluminum, and you should try to avoid PVC poles unless you’re using the umbrella in light wind conditions.

Abba Patio 7 Feet Beach Umbrella with Sand Anchor, Push Button Tilt and Carry Bag, Adjustable Height Fiberglass Rib Patio Umbrella, Turquoise
This setup comes with a telescoping pole and steel stakes for extra strength in the wind.Abba Patio

Wind is often welcome at the beach because it helps cool down overheated bodies, but not if it blows so hard it uproots your umbrella and sends it high into the air. Some manufacturers include a test rating on the packaging that outlines the wind sped an umbrella can withstand. However, sometimes dealing with the wind is all about umbrella positioning, which is why a tilt feature and sand anchors are nice to have.


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