It started a week ago, this Easter. The weather was glorious in the UK, so on Good Friday we headed to Christchurch to lay on the beach, enjoy the sunshine, the views and our fish&chips…. And we could not stay for more than an hour, because the sun was so strong. The beach tent we had, did not provide any shade whatsoever. More importantly, my 2.5 yo daughter could not stand the heat either and in fear of her getting sun-stroke we decided to go home.
It made me think what the best beach tent would be for us? Our daughter would be with us of course, but if I buy something instead of our flimsy little beach tent that I had bought from Lidl’s a while back, that should be both a baby tent and a proper beach tent for adults.
What Kind of Beach Tent Does a Toddler Need?
First of all, it is a bit of a special need…but here on the southern coast of the UK, the sun will always shine from south, right into your face. That’s why it is so hot in the Summer…and that’s why finding any kind of beach tent is tricky: you either block out the sun AND the views, or else you get roasted.
A normal tent might make sense, but that would defeat the purpose: I’d be too restricted if I stayed in the tent all the time. And I am sure our daughter would not want to stay inside for more than 2 minutes either.
Can’t we have a parasol?
I was thinking of it too…It might work, and I keep it as a Plan B. My issue with this is that we would have to bring the tent AND the parasol on top of our beach kit (eg. food, drink, blankets etc.), plus make sure that the little one holds a hand…
And I should also consider wind: if I don’t want the parasol to be blown away, we’d need to bring a base to fill it with sand or water…
So I’d rather keep this as a Plan B…
What should be the minimum criteria?
Before I started looking (shortly after we arrived home) I made a list in my head what I thought would be the minimum for us when buying our next beach tent:
- Only one, lightweight package
I don’t want to carry any extra weight. It is pretty much impossible to find parking space close to the beach (other always seem to be able manage it…), so I’d like to limit the weight I need to carry. It is not a big distance, but I need one hand free most of the time: she always wants to be carried in hand or else… I know I know…
- UV protection
Pretty obvious. Most tents have UPF 50+ protection (not all of them though…). It you ever wondered what the hell does it mean click here: https://www.covertogs.co.nz/blog/news/what-does-upf-50-mean
- Groundsheet that extends in front of the tent.
So we don’t need an extra blanket when all three of us sit around for lunch / snacks. It is also good when we are on a sandy beach like Christchurch that we don’t carry the sand straight INTO the tent. I hate when sand is EVERYWHERE and I can’t eat a sandwich without grinding some sand with my teeth..
If the tent becomes a tropical greenhouse, no-one would stay inside, defeats the purpose.
- Windows can be closed / darkened
If my daughter wants an afternoon nap. Rarely happens, especially if there are so many excitements around, but just in case…
- Big enough for Mom and Dad too
Does not need much explanation.
- There is room for bags / valuables
I just never felt comfortable leaving anything out in the open, not even my shoes / slippers. Nothing has ever happened, but I always had to keep one eye on my stuff that I left behind, and it was not very relaxing…
- Easy to pop up / fold down
It is almost like the minimum these days…
- Somehow, it should protect us when we are facing the sun
Difficult one, but the most important one. I don’t know how, maybe some extra engineering or an awning I don’t know… But there is no point buying anything that would turn into an oven after 10 minutes on the sun.
That was my initial list, and to be honest I doubted that I would find anything that met all the above. So I prepared myself to make some compromises (or to go with Plan B)…
My friend, Amazon
It took me half an hour to browse through all the beach tents, camping tents, fishing tents and anything that has ‘tent’ in its name. I was looking for a shape I did not yet have in my head, everything else came after.
Then I found it.
It is called the:
And it looks like this:
See what I mean? Looks amazing, right?
So, it has got shader at the front. It should be long enough to shade the inside of the tent when the sun is at its highest. The whole Easthills Outdoors beach tent line has a shader like this, but I don’t know… maybe how it was photographed, or the shade length / tent height ratio gives me the impression, that this shade is longer than the shades on the others.
It takes less then a minute to set it up. Folding it down looks as easy too, and there are assembly instructions sewn into the tent. I have never tried this pulley system before, but Customer Reviews highlight that set up and folding down is super-easy.
It has got 3 VERY LARGE windows, but they can be zipped up. Not sure how dark it would be inside, but at least you can make the tent PRIVATE. No more changing clothes in the loo, or on the backseat of the car, or under a beach towel…
It should not turn into an oven either, those windows are really big. Air should be able to flow freely across the tent.
Extending ground sheet
By the look of it, it is not made of a very thick fabric (indeed, 120gsm). It is in fact the door, that can be laid down as the front porch area. Not sure how good an idea it is…once we brought all the sand onto it, we probably would not want to close it up again and spill all the send right inside the tent. And it does not look THAT durable, considering the footfall it would have to withstand…
Big enough for a Toddler. And Mum. And Dad.
If there is one thing to consider is the height of the tent. You want it high enough to be able to sit up properly. And you want it high enough for your kid to stand up properly. This one achieves both: its 117 cms high, while the floor area is 210 x 130 cm WITHOUT the porch. That’s pretty big.
One, Lightweight Package
The tent comes in a carry bag (good), it only weighs 2.2 kgs (wow, even better), it’s 97 x 20 x 20 cm (ugh…that’s…a metre…long), and it has a shoulder strap (which I would definitely need, if this thing is a metre long). Okay, so maybe it is going to be a bit more awkward to carry than I wanted it to be. But at least I can carry it on my shoulder so both hands are free…
That’s basically all my criteria met (oh yes, it protects from UV too, blocking out more than 97.5% of UV rays).
Two things really, that I could say should be improved:
- The front porch ground sheet is actually the door. This does not seem a good idea to me. I give it a go and let you know if I change my mind. It is not too thick either: I am curios what it will be like on stony beach…I don’t chuck our camping blanket in the bin just yet…
- It is almost a metre long when packed. I would not mind if it was a bit more compact. Some customer reviews say that its actually even longer than they expected…wow.
Everything else: I think I have found the best beach tent. Not just for a toddler, but the best beach tent, full stop.
I have ordered the blue one from Amazon for 60 quid, which is not a lot if I consider its size, its functionality and the 12-month warranty.
I can’t wait to try it out. It’s 10C and raining again so it may take a while ‘till the next warm weekend…
Until then, please leave a comment!