The problem with most beach umbrellas is that they don’t last. You might remember to buy one for, say, $30 as you pass a boardwalk store on your way to the beach, but it’ll blow away and impale your neighbor or the cheap flimsy pole will snap in half or it’ll rust. Actually, you’ll probably be annoyed enough that you’ll just throw it out on your way home, before it even gets to that point. “If an umbrella lasts more than two summers, you’re getting the most out of it,” says Eytan Benzeno, who founded one of the first online beach outlets back in 1999, beachstore.com. “It usually doesn’t.”
But there is one unusual case. It’s called the Frankford and it has become the go-to umbrella for shade-loving beachgoers. Let’s take a look at its bona fides: It’s the official umbrella for the entire city of North Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach and Chicago. They use a version of the Frankford when you rent an umbrella at the Ritz Carlton in Miami as well as the Delano, the Fontainebleau, and the Eden Roc. The umbrella was first made for beach concessionaires after World War II and then redesigned a few years ago for public use. Its 8-foot pole is fashioned out of flexible long-grain ashwood, the same wood used for making baseball bats, so it won’t snap or rust; the skeleton is a bendable fiberglass, so it won’t break off in the wind; and the 9-ounce marine-grade fabric, which comes in solid bright colors or in soothing stripes, is the same material used in most awnings, so it won’t fade. Plus, it blocks both UV and UB rays.
You can buy it with a carry bag, and you definitely should, because all that durability makes it a hefty 12-ish pounds (about the weight of your average pug). And while the price might scare you away, it really shouldn’t. If you’re looking for the best in long-lasting beach umbrellas, this is the only one, and you won’t have to think about buying another for the next 10 years.
And if you just can’t bring yourself to spend that much, here are two other very good options:
One of the newest features in beach-umbrella technology is the telescoping pole, which stands at about a 45-degree angle, much like a telescope pointing towards the stars. The result is a hybrid tent-umbrella with two side flaps that also anchor into the sand, creating a mini-cabana. The most effective of these is the Sport-Brella, which can comfortably fit three adults and comes with a side window, a flap for ventilation, and a pocket to hold your keys and phone. Most impressively, the Sport-Brella has over 2,700 Amazon reviews and still averages a 4.4 rating. It’s the ultimate crowd-pleaser.
To be honest, nothing about this umbrella is sexy. Not only is it made by Tommy Bahama, but it’s branded with a giant Tommy Bahama logo (even if the online picture doesn’t have the logo, be warned, it will arrive with the logo). But you’ll soon get over all this when you realize this umbrella will never fly away. That’s thanks to the built-in sand anchor, which is like a corkscrew that helps you crank down the pole and secure the umbrella deep into the sand. There’s also a hinge in the middle of the pole so you can tilt just the top of the umbrella to meet the sun without having to dig it out and adjust entire base. Meanwhile, an aluminum undercoating helps block the dangerous rays, while also keeping you cool. And in some places, you won’t even have to worry about that tacky logo. According to Liz Gumbinner of Cool Mom Picks, everyone at Long Beach Island has one.
And for even more beach umbrella options, here’s a selection of beach umbrellas that hyperenthusiastic beachgoers are raving about.
Best No-Digging Beach Umbrella
4.8 stars, 270 reviews
“We were on a Florida beach in gusty winds—sustained 25-30, gusts 30-35. There was not one other umbrella on the beach. When we put up our umbrella, we got a lot of looks from the other people on the beach who were no doubt thinking we were crazy and our umbrella would go flying away like Dorothy’s house in a tornado. Nope. The BeachBUB stayed solidly put and, surely, everybody else on the beach was jealous. (We did field questions from a few of them.) I was reluctant to spend the money on this umbrella, but I decided to splurge as a Christmas gift for my husband and I’m so glad I did.”
Best Height and Tilt-Adjustable Beach Umbrella
4.0 stars, 595 reviews
“The last time we were at the beach I broke out my standard beach umbrella. You know, the one you can buy on the boardwalk or any store at the beginning of summer. As I opened it, I noticed it had seen better days, but I jammed it into the sand and went about setting up the rest of my gear. The wind kicked up so much that day that I spent most of my time either holding it the umbrella in place or flipping it right-side out. When we packed up to leave, I threw it in the trash right on the beach and began my quest for the perfect umbrella—one that would hold fast in the sand and would not flip inside out because of the wind. Well, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that this umbrella fits the bill and then some.
First of all, it comes with a convenient carrying bag. I can throw it over my shoulder and still have my hands free. It’s lightweight, yet sturdy. Setup is easy. It anchored into the ground fabulously. The attached metal rod gives you the leverage to dig the screw-like end deep into the sand. That baby isn’t going anywhere. The umbrella itself is HUGE! I love it! The vents at the top allow air to flow through, preventing the whole inside-out umbrella. There is a tilting function as well so you don’t have to move it all over the place as the sun moves. If you think all beach umbrellas are the same, you are sadly mistaken. You will see this one is well worth the investment into your time and sanity.”
Best Beach Umbrella With a Stand
4.0 stars, 186 reviews
“This product is superior in every way: ease of assembly, ease of tilt, size, quality of materials and workmanship, convenient carrying case, appearance, etc.
These are a little heavy to carry because they’re made of tubular steel, but that’s what you want so it won’t blow away. Comes with a sand screw, but the tripod makes it for us (think pool deck!). Couples, pair two of them together and enjoy the summer sun without being abused by it. Totally worth the money. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, else like these umbrellas exists at this price on the market—trust me, I searched for months.”