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Beach Tent vs. Beach Umbrella: Which Is Better?

Beach tent vs umbrella

There are two ways to shade yourself on the beach: use a beach umbrella or a tent.

At face value, they seem the same. Both beach tents and umbrellas offer UV protection and can block a stiff ocean breeze. But, as you'll learn below, there are important differences between them, and reasons why a beach tent is purpose-designed for beach trips.

Sun Ninja beach tent

Beach Tent vs Umbrella: Differences and Features

Umbrellas were originally designed with rain protection in mind (and to keep you dry). However, they got repurposed for the beach, often accompanying sun loungers.

Beach tents, on the other hand, were made with the beach in mind. Here are the key differences between the two products:

  • Shape: Beach umbrellas look like large, colorful versions of regular umbrellas. Some even have conventional handles so you can carry them around with you. Most beach tents, on the other hand, are more like gazebos.
  • Size: The average beach umbrella is considerably smaller than the average beach tent. While 2-person tents are available, you can get beach tents with enough room for up to eight people. A beach umbrella big enough to house that many people would be impractical.
  • Setup: Setting up umbrellas usually requires planting the central stake in the sand. However, beach tents, such as the Sun Ninja, come with two main fastening systems: ground stakes or sand anchor systems.

MUST READ: The Best Beach Tent On the Planet

Beach umbrella

Why Beach Tents Are Better Than Beach Umbrellas

Truth be told, even the best beach umbrella can't compete with entry-level tents. The reason is simple: beach umbrellas aren't purpose-built for the beach environment whereas tents are.

Beach umbrellas, for instance, are quite fragile. Manufacturers have to make them like traditional umbrellas to give them the right aesthetic, which means that they can't withstand harsh winds. As soon as the breeze picks up, they're at risk of inverting.

Tents, by contrast, are much stronger. Sun Ninja, for instance, makes its beach shelters from elastane material that can stretch and bend in the wind while still providing plenty of shade.

There's also a ventilation issue. A beach umbrella with constant sun exposure is liable to heat up considerably. Openable flaps on either side offer some airflow, but not enough. By contrast, Sun Ninja's beach shelter offers ventilation on all sides so you never feel like you're baking in the sun.

Then there is the usefulness of sun tents and umbrellas beyond the beach. While a beach umbrella is a fun accessory for visiting the coast, it's not a replacement for a conventional umbrella. The bright colors and flimsy plastic make it unsuitable for regular use.

Sun Ninja beach tent with friends

Beach tents, on the other hand, can be used outside of the beach. You can set them up like a traditional tent in your back garden and use them to provide shade for the rest of the year. Sun Ninja is specially designed for this purpose. You can pair it with beach chairs, sun loungers, or just regular garden seating.

Lastly, umbrellas are useless when you want to shade a large group. There just isn't enough space. Compare that to a beach tent that offers space for the entire family, plus friends. Sun Ninja's shelters, for instance, have room for up to eight people. 

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