do your research before buying a pop-up tent!
Having a baby is all about prioritization and planning. Case in point: The seemingly innocuous trip to the beach with a tent or playshade to protect your little one. Here’s my story:
It was a beautiful Southern California Sunday in mid-April. With temperatures in the low 80s, it was a perfect day for the beach. We wanted simple sunshade for our little one, so the day before we went to Walmart and purchased a literally cool looking contraption that promised “Easy Installation.”
In its box in the trunk of the Prius till the following afternoon when it was time to get Ariabella ready for some fun in the sun and sand. Except, well, the shade was still in car, but I was confident of the box’s claim, which was suited perfectly for my predilection towards preferring the path of least resistance. But I figured I better take a quick look to make sure.
So, I went to the garage, popped the trunk and opened box. I looked inside and found a handy carrying case with shoulder strap holding a neatly folded tent. And no instructions, apparently. Wow, this will be easy, as I envisioned the shade magically springing open on the sand to unveil a cozy and cool respite from the elements.
If only life was that easy.
A sign of things to come came to us when I got back inside and pulled the tent from the box and out fell some rods. “No worries,” I reasoned, “Something’s got to hold the damn thing up.”
We grabbed the sunblock, towels and Ariabella’s pale with sand shovel and other tools. And away we went for our Sunday adventure. Boy, was it ever.
Now, if you’re familiar with the South Bay, you’ll know a stiff onshore breeze is the status quo. Still, the sun was high, and we couldn’t find Ariabella’s sun hat. So time was of the essence. We arrived at our designated spot and dropped our belongs. I set out on erecting our spectacular new sun shade that would make us the envy of all around. I spilled the contents of the carry case and unwrapped the tent. To my horror I found … instructions?
Oh, no. Oh, yes!
The wind whipped, sending the canopy billowing back and forth as I tried to clench the instructions in my teeth while connecting each end of one of the three poles. OK, this might be a little more challenging.
“Lay the tent out topside up and locate the entrance door,” the instructions imparted. Sure, but the wind is blowing the damn thing all over the sand. Which side is up, anyway?
“Take one of the three smaller poles and insert the ends into each of the clasps (B) and run through the bottom clasps (D),” it continued.
“Insert the longer pole down the side of the tent through clasps (C, E & F) and join to (A).”
I think you get the picture.
After about 15 minutes fussing with this hellish tarp and the seemingly gale force winds at my back, I threw in the flag. I could almost here the guy watching us from 50 feet away laughing at me. By this time, Ariabella is covered in sand, crying.
The moral of the story is, no matter how “easy” something claims to be,” when you have a kid in tow make sure you have a plan and for the most part know the outcome of it before leaving the house, especially when it involves a day at the beach. You don’t want to get caught in hot sun with an infant or toddler.
If the plan involves erecting a tent, perform a dry run before game time. Better yet, do your research for products that do the job you need it to do. So we compiled the following list to help get you started:
A little bit on the pricey side but the $99 is worth it when you realize it unfolds into a read-made tent (or bed) for your child, and it works for preschool-age kids, too, up to age 5. Manufactured by Kidco.
The only thing better than the claim that this product blocks 99 percent of UVA/UBA rays and wind and sand is the lifetime guarantee. Still a little steep at $71.99, but we’re beginning to see a trend here: Ever heard of you get what you pay for? It also is a pop-up tent that unfolds to allow your baby to climb right in.
At $44, now we’re talking! This tent is another pop-up that opens right up to offer a 50+ UVF rating to keep your baby happy and free from sunburn. But even better, the tent measures 31 inches high by 51 inches wide by 39 inches deep, perfect for you and your toddler, or your preschooler and a friend.
Not quite as big as the Schylling playshade, the kilofly is the best value yet at $29.95. It also comes with two tent pegs along with two anchor straps to hold the pegs. And the company boasts that the fabric and ink use certified non-toxic, lead-free, baby-safe material.
Super lightweight at only 11 ounces, this self-expanding screen tent pops up and unfolds in seconds. Plus, the price is right at $31.99. It also uses breathable mesh and waterproof nylon to provide your child a virus free environment while keeping the air flowing and your baby dry as well as protected from the sun.
At 90 inches by 53 inches by 51 inches, this one-piece, easy-to-open tent means fun for the whole family! And moderately priced at $49.95, you’re not spending too much (or too little, if you’re the type who feels value is often too good to be true).