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When you live at the beach like I do, you need a good beach umbrella. I should know—I’ve been through at least seven different types.
One broke on a windy day, another rusted while hanging out in my garage in the off-season, and its successor decided it just didn’t want to open one day (or apparently ever again) for reasons I still can’t figure out.
The next series of umbrellas I tried weren’t much better: The pole of one bent while I was trying to get it into the sand, and the next two didn’t offer up enough shade to cover my body, let alone my family of five.
Just when I was about to resign myself to buying a new beach umbrella every summer, I discovered the Sport-Brella—and I’m completely obsessed.
The Sport-Brella is kind of like an umbrella/tent combo (they call it a “canopy umbrella) and it’s designed to give you maximum shade, wind protection, and even some privacy— a huge perk on a crowded day at the beach.
Here’s how it works: You anchor in the pole like a traditional beach umbrella and then tip it on its side. The umbrella has two flaps (one on each side) that you secure into the sand with little anchors. It has little pockets on the flaps that you fill with sand, ensuring that the umbrella isn’t going anywhere you don’t want it to.
While the Sport-Brella is essentially a portable beach cabana, it has something that “real” cabanas don’t—zippered windows on each side for good airflow. And with an SPF 50 lining, you don’t need to worry about the sun’s pesky rays reaching you when you’re parked underneath.
The Sport-Brella Standard (8 feet) is available in blue, red, or turquoise and comfortably fits three adults. I have the the XL in blue, which comfortably fits at least two beach chairs, a towel, a bunch of tote bags and a cooler.
Given that it looks like a mini tent, I was skeptical at first about putting the whole thing up and breaking it down, but it’s surprisingly simple. I can easily do it in a few minutes while watching my three kids.
I’m heading into my third summer with my Sport-Brella, and that alone is impressive, given that I hit up beach about four times a week during the season. I will never, ever use another beach umbrella again!
Shop it: Sport-Brella, $56 (was $60), amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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