Beach umbrellas never were a great way to bring shade to the beach. They're heavy, impossible to set up, and provide a pitifully small amount of shade. You can always go with a beach tent instead — lightweight, open-air shelters — which offer plenty of shade but sort of miss the point of feeling the sea breeze and taking in the sounds and smells of the ocean.
That’s why when we first saw the Lovin’ Summer’s beach tent, an insanely simple shelter that's like a more open air pup tent, we knew we had our solution. It can provide enough shade for a small group of friends and, once assembled, holds up under even strong winds. It is also a stand-out accessory — in a sea of umbrellas and pop-up tents, it is incredibly easy to spot.
The tent comes in 6 different prints and comes in a zippered pouch of corresponding design, with two attached handles so you can wear it on one shoulder or two like a backpack. It weighs nine pounds and inside the pouch is the tarp fabric, 4 pegs, mallet, two anchors and 6 bars. An illustrated step-by-step guide (not provided) would be incredibly helpful when trying to erect it for the first time, but after watching an assembly video, it was easy enough to figure out.
Assembly goes like this: you clamp together 6 of the bars into 3 long bars and lay the top bar (indicated by holes on either side) on the sand to mark where you place the anchors for the support bars. Once the anchors are in place, set the support bars inside the anchors and place the holes on the top bar through the rods to keep the structure in place. You are supposed to then drape the fabric over the top of the structure, but we found if you fold the fabric on the top bar when you lay it on the sand then lift that onto the support bars, not only do you save a step, but you spare yourself from having to tangle with the fabric — especially if it is a windy day. From there, secure the grommets on either side of the fabric to the rod on top of the support bars. Each side of the fabric has nylon string with a clamp, and you loop each side to the corresponding grommets and hook a peg through a loop you just made and use the mallet to pound them into the sand - making the structure secure.
Once the structure was up, it draws attention — rightfully so. It provided plenty of shade (it has a UPF 40 rating and blocks 97.5% of UV rays), offers plenty of room, and those in our group that wanted some sun could easily scooch over to get some. You'll wonder what you ever did without it.
You can pick up your own at Amazon, $149.