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Best Beach Tents

Beach at sunrise
(Image credit: Unsplash/Roxanne Desgagnés)

Beach umbrellas don't always cut it! For the ultimate in protection against sun, wind, and sand, you need a beach tent. The tent I carry is the highly regarded Arcshell Premium XL. It's perfect for storing my gear, sheltering my family, and it's light enough to take anywhere. There's a lot of beach tents out there, and these are my favorite!

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(Image credit: Amazon)

Arcshell Premium XL

Best Overall

Take your beach bum cred to a higher level with the Archshell Premium XL. Included in this package is a 51" x 94" polyester tent, a carrying bag, six stakes, and a stake bag. This shelter is big enough to fit two regular beach chairs inside yet folds down small enough to fit inside a suitcase, overhead storage bin on an airplane, and the trunk of your car.

The floor of this tent is 210D oxford cloth, a flexible canvas material that's waterproof and resistant to scratches and pressure marks from beach chairs, shoes, and coolers. The floor's surface has just the right amount of texture to keep you from slipping on wet feet. One of the features I like best is the storage pockets. There are four bags located in the interior corners that are big enough for phones, keys, and suntan lotions. There's also a more substantial bag sewn into the back that accommodates tablets, games, and bigger items. Handy!

My only gripe is that high winds are a challenge for this beach cover. Like most tents, this one comes with plastic stakes. Those stakes rip out of loose beach sands when the wind kicks up. I rectified this by upgrading to metal stakes. This tiny grumble aside, this is the tent I take with me wherever I go. It fits on an airplane or in the trunk of a car and takes very little time to put up and tear down.

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(Image credit: Amazon)

Coleman Beach Shade

Best Value

Coleman's Beach Shade is an appealing all-around choice if you want to save a few bucks while claiming your personal space in the sand. Most beach tents today are blue. The Coleman comes in five colors. That may seem like a small detail, but having a tent that stands out makes it easier for you and the kids to find your home away from home on a crowded beach. Internal storage pockets give you a safe place for electronic devices and other toys, and there's even a dry line included to hang wet towels and clothes.

The center height on the Coleman Beach Shade is 4'9", so it's a little taller than other models. It's nice only to have to bend at the waist to enter and exit as opposed to crawling on your hands and knees. Another plus is the extended shelter canopy. Regular beach visitors know that you sometimes need to move your tent a few degrees as the sun shifts. With the Coleman, you can set it up, then forget it and play the day away.

One gripe to report: there are no side windows. The back does unzip, leaving you with a large, mesh window. That helps with airflow, but this model could use side windows to get cross-ventilation going. That out of the way, this is my top pick for windy days. You'll be watching your fellow beach lovers battle with their flimsy umbrellas while the Coleman stands strong in even the biggest of gusts. The extended floor also zips back up into the tent for added privacy — a nice touch to an already exceptional beach tent.

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(Image credit: Amazon)

Pacific Breeze Deluxe XL

Best for Families

When the whole family is ready to jump in the waves, the Pacific Breeze Deluxe XL will give you a respite from the sun and wind. This is a large, fiberglass dome-shaped unit that's rated to fit up to four adults comfortably. We've managed three adults and three children inside with a bit of room to spare. 

This one is steady-eddy in the wind. The included sandbags and stakes keep the Pacific Breeze upright and secure in all sorts of conditions. The tent fabric is thin nylon. That's what keeps this shelter around six pounds. It's excellent for weight-saving purposes, but it also traps heat. The material is so thin that even with the three large mesh windows, it gets stuffy inside, especially when you're sharing the space with a few other people.

The Pacific Breeze takes no more than five minutes to erect. It pops up and into place with no trouble and is a piece of cake to tear apart. I love the water-resistant floor! It has a smooth finish that's both grippy on wet feet and easy to clean. This is a superb shelter for families who spend a lot of time at the beach or outdoor concerts. It's a take-anywhere tent that does an excellent job of keeping you out of the elements.

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(Image credit: Amazon)

ZOMAKE Tent

Best Multipurpose

When you need a tent that can go from beach to campground to backyard, the ZOMAKE Pop Up is a first-class choice. Big enough for four, the ZOMAKE basically sets itself up. You unstrap the tent, toss it in the air, and watch it open as it lands on the ground. It can't get any easier!

This multifunction shelter has two doors, so you never need to crawl over anyone to enter or exit. Both are mesh-covered, as are its two windows. The exterior is 210T polyester coated with UPF 50+ to protect against the sun's harsh rays. The floor of this tent has the same material as the sides. A design like this keeps the weight light but makes it a difficult sell as a camping tent. If you plan to use this at a campground, purchasing a tarp to protect the floor against rocks and sticks is a must.

Speaking of camping, this model is big enough to fit a queen size air mattress inside. It lacks side pockets, which are needed for camping and useful on the beach. It's water-resistant, not waterproof, so it's suited more to backyard camping than roughing it. Overall, this is a solidly-constructed beach tent that stands up to wind and the harsh sun.

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(Image credit: Amazon)

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana

Best Ventilation

On sweltering summer days, there are few things worse than being stuck in a stuffy tent. Weather is not a challenge for the Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana. Three mesh windows allow for superb cross-ventilation, and they each come with shades for privacy and temperature control. This model also has an extended front awning, so you don't have to keep moving your tent around as the sun shifts during your beach outing.

Perhaps the best feature of this beach tent is the four-foot porch which gives added room for beach chairs, coolers, or kids who want to keep their feet in the sand. It also prevents tracking sand inside the tent. A winning idea! I also can't talk enough about the internal storage compartments. There are three interior pockets for keeping wallets and electronics safe, and they're all perfectly sized.

This beach tent has some trouble with rain. Its flaps are not zippered but use Velcro. When it rains, they don't stick as they should, and you're guaranteed to get wet. Not a big deal since you're at the beach anyway, but disappointing nonetheless. If you need a tent with excellent airflow and room to stretch out on sunny days at the beach or ballpark, this is a great buy.

Stay out of the sun

Beach tents aren't hard to find these days. If you want the best on the market, skip the high boardwalk prices and the cheap offerings from big box stores. My favorite model, the Arcshell Premium XL, is inexpensive but well made, and it stands up to the abuse of kids, beach chairs, and sandy feet.

I love the slightly textured floor of this tent. It provides enough grip to prevent falls when your feet are wet but not so much that you can't sweep the sand out. The tent walls are coated, preventing UVa and UVB rays from damaging skin, and three mesh windows keep bugs out while letting fresh air circulate freely.

In high winds, this tent's OEM stakes don't stand up to higher quality metal stakes. If you hit the beach in questionable weather, that's a must-have accessory. For beachgoers everywhere, especially those who travel with their tent, this is the best shelter available today. It packs down tiny enough to fit in the overhead compartment on airplanes and is tough enough to shade you from the blistering sun.