As much fun as it is to spend the day at the beach, there is the concern of spending too much time in the sun. There are products available that can provide shade and protection from the sun. The problem is deciding which product will work the best. Having just spent a week at the beach, I did some research on the pros and cons of various shade providers for my next trip to the beach.
Beach umbrellas are a popular choice. In fact, my husband and I had two with us and had a limited amount of success with them. One of the pros of beach umbrellas is that they come in a variety of sizes. We had a 6 1/2 foot umbrella, weighing about 5 pounds, and a 7 foot umbrella, weighing about 7 pounds. So pro number two, umbrellas are light weight and easy to transport. Most umbrellas have a tilt feature which helps maximize the shade with respect to the direction of the sun. Umbrellas are the least expensive of the shade providers. Our 6 ½ foot umbrella cost $15 and the 7 foot umbrella $20 at Walmart. I would recommend purchasing a sand grabber for your umbrella to anchor it into the sand. Sand grabbers add an additional $10 each to your purchase.
One con of umbrellas, as with most of the shade providers, is that they don’t do well against a strong ocean wind. If you don’t use a sand anchor, you will end up chasing your umbrella down the beach when the wind comes up; which it often does about mid afternoon. Even with a sand anchor, the wind may eventually tip over your umbrella. If you use the tilt feature of the umbrella, make sure you have it facing away from the wind. We learned the hard way and the wind turned our umbrella inside out. Fortunately, we were able to correct it without any permanent damage. Another annoyance with an umbrella is that the shaded area changes in size and direction depending on where the sun is.
Gaining in popularity are shade canopies or tents. There are a variety of these products also. The biggest advantage of canopies is that they provide a larger area of shade than an umbrella. You won’t have to move your canopy around when the direction of the sun changes either. EZ Up appears to be the top of the line brand when it comes to canopies. Sports Authority carries a 10 foot by 10 foot canopy for $99. As the name suggests the canopy goes up and down easily. It has a steel frame and weighs 33 pounds, not quite as easy to transport. We noticed one canopy of this brand on the beach and it seemed to survive the wind with no additional supports or stakes.
Sports Authority also carries a less expensive canopy called Forest Glen from Stansport. It is 10 x 10, has a steel frame but weighs only 17 pounds. It sells for $37.49 and comes with stakes and guy wires. Because of its light weight, stakes would be advised. We noticed a group of senior citizens who came to the beach everyday we were there. They set up two canopies and anchored both down with sand bags at each of the four legs. On a particularly windy day they even attached weights to the frame. I find lugging sandbags around in addition to a canopy a big disadvantage.
Various and Sundry
There seems to be an unending variety of shade protection for the beach. We saw beach tents, sun shades whose sides resemble the wings of a parasail and chairs with awnings. Most of these were small and only offered protection for one or two people at the most. Personally I like the chair with awning, an easy, all-in-one solution. For people who want more shade, like my husband, a chair won’t work. We will probably invest in an EZ Up canopy for our next beach vacation. Whatever you choose for your shade, don’t forget the sunscreen.
Sources: 1. http://www.target.com/s/175-6596420-4682404?_encoding=UTF8&CPNG=Sports&LID=29645503&search-alias=tgt-in