How to keep the sun off while at the beach, snowflake edition?
June 3, 2016 12:13 PM   Subscribe

We're moving into a house that will be an easy bike ride to the beach. We want to obtain a shelter solution that will fit our needs. Snowflakes inside.

I tend to shy away from the default 4 legged sun-shade and would like something more akin to a camping tarp shelter or something on the spectrum between the two. DIY is an option as I need to buy material for a DIY hammock tarp anyway...

Does this thing exist? Is there a design I can emulate or modify to suit my needs? Can it fit on my person or on a bike/trailer combo? If not, which of the alternatives are the best bet? Bonus points: How to best anchor tension-based things of this sort in fine sand so that the wind doesn't foil (pun intended) my efforts?

Priorities, in some semblance of order:

--- Must block sun and provide shade
--- Durable enough to not be a 1 season then throw away -type item
--- Packable and/or lightweight enough to be transported outside of a car, even if it's not elegant, the less cumbersome the better
--- Lower to the ground than most shelters is ok
--- Sturdy enough to survive a moderate wind and a toddler touch or two (yea, I know nothing survives a toddler for long, but ours is pretty good with things like this, I just don't want it folding up on us at a glance)
--- Not ungodly expensive to buy/build
--- Would consider utilizing 2 of the same shelter rather than going larger with 1 mega-shelter


-- Kelty Sunshade, seems to be discontinued?
-- Kelty Shade Maker 2, bit expensive and has 4 legs but otherwise seems ok.
-- Tsuga, some of these look really neat
-- Other fairly portable, seemingly anyway, solutions
-- Basically, these all look interesting/neat/good, ditto this one
-- Crazy Tent from AliExpress
-- Tarps, tarps, and more tarps

Don't Like:

-- Anything that resembles this, too many bad experiences and the fact that I dislike almost every aspect of them.
-- Anything that purports to use air/ballons to keep the structure stiff/erect. Just... no... stop...

Also, like I said, any tips as to anchoring in sand is appreciated.

I know what a deadman anchor is, I know my knots decently well, and I am no newbie to camping and setting up things like this, but this is new territory for me and I'll welcome any and all help y'all have to give.

posted by RolandOfEld to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We've used a Sport-Brella at the ocean for 2 years now (this coming summer will be 3). It is sturdy, easy to set up, and provides good shade. Should hold up to a toddler (our daughter was 1 year old last summer and never did it any harm; haven't tried it out this year with a 2 year old yet). Stands up to wind just fine with the provided stakes. It's easy to carry when walking with the strap slung over your shoulder, but I'm not sure you could carry it on your person while riding a bike. It's 54" long when folded. Would that fit on your trailer?
posted by Kriesa at 12:24 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This Otentik shade is intriguing. It looks very compact and gets good reviews. A bit more expensive, but it sounds like you'll be getting a ton of use out of it.
posted by Kriesa at 12:27 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Popping in to say that the Otentik is well within our budget, assuming it's well built and reasonably long lived, and looks pretty dang good.

The Sport-Brella (how have I never seen these before today?) also looks good but that length is pretty intense. Regarding the trailer, we don't own it yet but will be buying it for my bike soon after we move but it'll be primarily a kid trailer with storage, not the opposite, so space is still going to be in high demand.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:34 PM on June 3, 2016

Best answer: L.L. Bean Sunbuster Shelter? Weighs about eight pounds, and packs up fairly small. I can easily sling it over my shoulder while walking to the beach, so I imagine it would do fine in a bike trailer. It is crazy sturdy and if it breaks you can return it and they'll send you a new one.
posted by anastasiav at 1:35 PM on June 3, 2016

One thing to check is the rules for the beach you'll be going to. I live in a beach town and sunshades cannot have a floor.

Whatever you find, don't anticipate it lasting more than a season or two. Waterfronts tend to be breezy and most of these don't last.
posted by SuzySmith at 10:17 PM on June 5, 2016

Best answer: Bought the Otentik based on this askme and reporting in after a week of use at the beach. It's really great. We fit three adults and a couple kids under the medium size one. After a week of reasonably strong winds, there is no fraying. The tarp developed one pencil-sized hole, but that hole didn't grow at all. Seems like it will last many such trips.

There was a setup accident where a pole got shoved up through the foam ball that protects its end from the tarp; that got fixed with duct tape. Tip: The poles don't need to be pushed into the sand at all.

It does work best with a constant wind. Without wind it doesn't arc up and so has less room under it. If wind changes direction 90 degrees you may need to move a pole to a different corner.

Best thing about it is it can be set up below the high tide line, for playing around in the incoming tide. Water only makes the sandbags hold it more securely. Until the poles get undermined too much. Then remove poles and drag it 5 feet up the beach to safety.
posted by joeyh at 8:36 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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