The 10 Best Shade Sails 2021 – Popular Mechanics

best shade sails


We all want to make the most of the sunny weather by spending more time outside in the warm weather. But when warm transitions to hot, the inside seems more appealing, especially when your backyard or patio is uncovered. Shade sails are a fast, attractive and relatively inexpensive way to create a temporary roof—and relief from those hot rays.

A shade sail is exactly what it sounds like, except instead of attaching to a boat’s mast, it attaches a roof or other structure to create a canopy of shade, giving landlubbers the ability to harness the ingenuity and style of classic sailboat tech at home.

What to Look for

When selected with care, shade sails are a great way to block out harmful UV rays while adding style to your space. They come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, and are generally constructed of UV-resistant materials. Look for shade sails featuring high-density polyethylene fabric (HDEP), and scout out a classic shape and color that will work with your home and backyard’s design and colors.

Shade sails should also be weather resistant, so you can keep them up rain or shine. Before you make your final choice, think about the size of the space you want covered, and take a few measurements so you’re not guesstimating.

How We Selected

We reviewed hundreds of options, and selected high-performance shade sails crafted from quality fabrics. We also looked for style, and sought out shade sails made by companies with excellent customer service and solid warranties.

All of our final choices have customer reviews of 4 stars or above, and many are 4.5 stars or higher.

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Ultimate Shade

Quictent Rectangle Sun Shade Sail



This massive rectangular shade will have your summer life made in the shade. The 26 x 20-foot shade is easy to install and is sturdy enough to withstand wind and rain. The HDPE is made to withstand 98% of UV rays and sunlight, which means you’ll get natural light without the burn. Each corner ends with 316 stainless steel D-rings making for easy hanging, plus extra stitching to prevent fraying. 

This sail was manufactured to guarantee that users will be “at least” 20 degrees cooler under it than anywhere else on their patio or deck. It’s sturdy and powerful enough for commercial use, but is perfect for residences. It comes in a variety of colors.


Best for Night Owls

Naconic Triangle Patio Sun Block Shade Sail



This triangle shade is great for smaller spaces, measuring 10 x 10 x 10 feet. The sail, which has curved sides to enhance pull strength and prevent drooping, offers 95% UV protection and 90% shading rate. We love the addition of waterproof LED string lights, which are operated by remote control, and take the patio party from dawn to dusk. The sail comes with D-ring design installation, making installation easy and fast.

Keep in mind that some users have complained that it was not completely waterproof, and allowed some moisture to come through.


Best Budget Option

Shade&Beyond 2-Piece Sun Shade Sail



Buyers on a budget don’t have to trade quality for price. This two-piece triangle shade sail is made from 185 GSM UV-protected HDPE fabric, and features stitched seams with stainless steel D-rings at each corner. The design is sturdy, waterproof and breathable, allowing light and breeze to reach you. The sail also has a five-year warranty. Each sail (there are two) measures 12 x 12 x 12 feet. The sails come in beige, gray, red and a darker rust red.


Most Versatile

LOVE STORY Rectangle Sun Shade Sail Canopy



This is a simple, but extremely versatile shade without bells and whistles. At 12 x 16 feet, it will fit a number of spaces, and its HDPE material blocks out 98% of harmful UV rays, and features strong stitched seams with D-ring attachments at every corner. The curved edges lend pull strength and prevent drooping. 

However, its “breathable” status means once the rain starts, you’ll have to head inside. This shade comes in several solid colors, including bright green, turquoise, navy blue and gray, and stripes. This is the kind of shade that will fit in just about everywhere and not draw attention to itself.


Best for Big Spaces

Oversized Triangle Sun Sail Shade

MTN Shadesmith


This 20 x 20 x 20 triangle shade made from HDEP will keep the sun out in large spaces. This shade sail is ideal for large spaces, and works especially well for coverage of pool-side areas, with the option to extend the coverage over the water too. The broad sail works equally well over large backyard and patio spaces, especially for families with active kids whose parents want to keep them out of the sun all day.


Best for Small Spaces

Garden EXPERT Rectangle Sun Shade Sail



This postage stamp (8 x 10 feet)-sized shade sail is made of HDPE fabric that blocks 95% of the sun’s harmful rays. It is breathable, which means breezes come through, but so does rain. This smaller shade sail works great in small spaces, over decks and patios, or gardens. Each corner features a stainless-steel D-ring and durable rope for easy installation. Reviewers loved the bright colors—green, blue and yellow—and durability.


Best Waterproof Shade

Waterproof Triangle Shade Sail



Stay cool and shady, sans rain with this waterproof sun shade made with super durable 220 GSM HDPE fabric. The 12 x 12 x 12-foot shade keeps out 95% of UV rays, and lowers ambient temperatures by at least 15 degrees. The sail includes an easy-to-follow installation guide, with hardware. Users love it in the backyard, but some also recommend it for erecting over the driveway if you’re working on your car, or if the kids want to turn your blacktop into their canvas for chalk portraits. Reviewers praised it for the high quality and durability.


Best Custom-Sized Shade

Made to Order Order Sun Shade Sail



If you have a Goldilocks space that requires a very specific-sized shade sail, you are in luck. This shade comes in sizes from 6 x 6 feet to 24 x 24 feet, with a range of color options, from beige to sky blue, to the American flag. The sun shade is made from 190 GWM HDPE materials, and resists 95% of harmful UV rays. The shade comes with a five-year warranty. 

One note: The hardware kit required to mount the sail is sold separately.


Best Rectangular Shade

Patio Paradise Rectangle Sun Shade Sail



This one-piece shade covers a lot of ground: 16 x 20 feet. It comes in a range of pastel colors, from coral to seafoam green, to beige, and is especially beloved by reviewers on patios, above sandboxes or even over pergolas. The HDEP material protects from 95% of harmful UV rays. 

The sail comes with 20 feet of rope and instructions, which reviewers said were easy to follow. One reviewer praised the “great shade” it offers, after recently testing the temp on the shaded deck (91 degrees) versus the exposed deck (164 degrees).


Best Budget Buy

KANAGAWA Sun Shade Sail



Quality does not go out the window with this budget buy. At 7 x 13 feet, reviewers say this sizable rectangular shade offers “ideal” coverage over patios, carports, lawns, gardens and barbecue areas. 

The shade sail blocks up to 95% of harmful UV rays, and significantly lowers the temperature in shaded areas during the height of the summer season. Users praised the easy installation and “great” color; the shade comes in light or dark gray, beige or rust red.

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May 21, 2021 Harold ottle