In addition to providing cooling shade, a good beach umbrella provides shelter from the wind and of primary importance, protection from the sun.
When shopping for a beach umbrella there are several features to consider.
Umbrellas are meant to be both large and lightweight. Make sure that the one you select will collapse down to a size that fits easily into your car. Also that it is lightweight enough that you can, and will carry it from your car to the beach. An umbrella left at home or in the car because it’s inconvenient to bring to your day at the beach is a waste.
2. Sun Protection Factor
Just like sunscreen products, beach umbrellas are rated by the Sun Protection Factor or SPF. Umbrellas often include the term “sun screening” in the product name. Just like there is a difference between a sun screen and a sun block, take note of the specifications. A sun screening umbrella may be rated from 35-50 SPF while a sun blocking umbrella may be rated at 100 or more. The higher the SPF, the more protection you will receive and the longer you’ll be able to enjoy the sun at the beach.
Most of the umbrellas meant for use on the beach measure 6 feet in diameter. They do range up in increments to 9 feet but the 9 feet ones may be a bit to difficult for a normal trip to the beach.
Many umbrellas are hinged so they can be tilted to provide long-lasting shade as the sun moves. Another helpful feature for the beach is venting. Some umbrellas have a mesh panel built in to help the wind move through and keep your shade from blowing away in the ocean breezes.
There are two main parts to an umbrella. The canopy or shade and the pole, ribs and spreaders which make up the skeleton. The canopy is usually made from polyester or a cotton-poly blend. The weight or thickness will range from about 75 deniers up to 300 or more. The higher the weight the more sun protection and durability but also the heavier it will be to carry. The skeleton will usually be made from steel or fiberglass.
You might consider getting a fancy color that is easy to remember in a crowd. Suppose the beach is crowded and you go to the bathroom or take a walk along the beach. A colorful, memorable beach umbrella will make it easier for you to spot your area.