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Summer is finally here, and after a year of being cooped up at home due to quarantine restrictions, everyone is itching to spend as much time as possible outside. But the sun, and more specifically UV rays, can be extremely unforgiving, especially to those of us with fairer skin. It only takes about 15 minutes for sunburn to develop and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
No, this doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself indoors again this summer, but you should stay vigilant when it comes to protecting your skin. Make sure you wear sunscreen (and religiously reapply throughout the day), but also make sure to utilize the shade and take breaks from the sun. If you’re at the park, you may be able to seek refuge under a big tree, but having a pop up tent handy can be a game changer for spending time outside wherever you go; you won’t have to worry about your skin burning ever again.
Tents vs. Canopies
Though both provide much needed protection and are sometimes used interchangeably, there are some clear differences between tents and canopies. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is the sides: if it’s a fully enclosed structure, it’s a tent. If there is a roof and supports but no sides, you’ve got yourself a canopy.
Another way to differentiate is to look at the roof. Canopies oftentimes have a peaked roof, resembling a pyramid. Additionally, tents tend to be larger than canopies.
What Makes a Good Tent?
We looked at the following criteria when compiling our list of the best pop up tents to buy online.
Ease of assembly: You shouldn’t need past experience as a Boy Scout/Girl Scout to figure out how to put your tent together. Ropes and strings can be fickle; there are a lot of great (sturdy) options that allow you to click mechanisms into place and have your tent ready and/or packed back up in less than a minute.
Space: Your shelter should be a spacious one. You want to be able to sprawl out while taking refuge from the sun, or accommodate friends or family if they’re accompanying you on your outing. Some tents even have space to store valuables, so you can keep your electronics safe and out of the sun.
Range of protection: The best tents offer strong UV ray protection, in addition to high wind and rainfall protection while providing air circulation to keep you cool while you take a break from the sun.
1. Easthills Outdoor Instant Shader
This spacious pop-up tent can accommodate up to four adults, and promises “no more sunburn,” thanks to the UPF 50+ double silver lining fabric. Whether you’re getting your tan on at the beach or enjoying a day at the park, the lining effectively blocks 97.5% of UVA and UVB rays. Where the inside of some tents may start to feel stuffy after an hour or so, the Easthills Outdoor Instant Shader boasts large, mesh windows so that air can flow freely through the tent, avoiding that stagnant and humid feeling. The surface of the tent literally reflects the heat, so you will definitely stay cool while you take refuge from the sun’s rays.
You also won’t have to worry about sudden rain and/or wind storms either, thanks to the tent’s 300mm waterproof coating and the stakes and sandbags that come with the tent. You can even zip up the extended front of the tent if you’re someone who values their privacy while they’re lounging. When you’re ready to go, just pack the tent back in the convenient carrying bag and be on your way. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
2. Quictent Easy Pop Up Canopy Tent
This pop up canopy is perfect for a sunny day at the park, or for enjoying some time in your back yard or deck. Thanks to the quick release button, this canopy is very easy to assemble and can be adjusted to three different heights depending on your preference or need. But our favorite feature is definitely the four sided bug-free netting, which makes this stand out from other canopies that leave their sides exposed. You still get to enjoy the air flow, without the mosquitos and subsequent bites. If needed, the canopy can be secured with the sand bags, ropes and stakes that are included.
3. NXONE Beach Tent
Don’t let the cheap price point fool you, this lightweight tent is perfect for fair skinned beach lovers. The premium 210D sun-proof materials will keep you safe from those persistent UV rays. The three large mesh windows will ensure you can enjoy a nice breeze and maintain airflow throughout the tent, but you can also hang a portable fan inside thanks to the hanging hook at the top of the tent. The fiberglass frame promises high flexibility and durability.
On the occasion you need some extra space, the tent’s front floor can be extended to provide more space. Perfect for a picnic on the beach if you don’t want to bother leaving to go to the boardwalk for food. The floor can also be zipped up if you need some privacy, whether you’re changing out of your swimsuit or just want to take a nap.
4. Qipi Beach Cabana Canopy
This canopy is available in a variety of fun colors, but is every bit as practical as it is eye-catching. This is perhaps the simplest option on the list in terms of set up, featuring just two main parts: the umbrella and extension pole that can be easily put up and put away in the storage and carrying bag. It also happens to be the smallest option on our list, so if you’re someone who takes solo beach trips or the other members of your group all have their own canopies or tents, this is a good option.
Don’t worry, just because it’s smaller and a breeze to assemble doesn’t mean it won’t keep you safe from the sun. The high quality UPF 50+ fabric will reflect the UV rays. For additional shade and protection, you can use the attachable wall. There are also pockets on the inside on every corner, perfect for keeping your valuables safe or making water bottles and sunscreen easily accessible.