The 6 Best Kayak Shades and Canopies [Real-Life Tests, 2023]

There are many precautions you need to take to stay safe on the water while kayaking like always wearing a PFD or turning on navigation lights to increase visibility while kayaking night but how to protect yourself in the daytime?

If you prefer kayaking during the day in warmer months, the prolonged exposure to intense heat and UV rays will increase the risks of getting a sunburn or a heat stroke. It can also result in constant sweating which will definitely make your kayaking experience very unpleasant.

That’s why it’s recommended to invest in a kayak shade or a Bimini top, which is essentially a canopy fitted on the kayak’s cockpit, to provide more protection against direct sunlight.

There are a lot of kayak shades models, each comes with different features and benefits, so it can be overwhelming to find the one that’s compatible with your kayak and provides you with the best protection.

To narrow down your options and help you make the best choice, here’s a compilation of some of the top kayak shades available on the market along with a detailed review of what each model can offer you.

Comparison Table of the Best Kayak Shades

Bris Kayak CanopyMarine-grade 600D polyester and aluminum8 lbs.
Hobie Kayak CanopyRipstop nylon and aircraft-grade aluminum2.6 lbs.
Adventure Canopies Sun ShadePolyester and anodized aluminum8 lbs.
Lixada Kayak CanopyOxford Cloth and Aviation Aluminum1.1 lbs.
MOOCY Kayak CanopyCoated sunscreen cloth and Aluminum1.05 lbs.
Saturn Deluxe Travel Folding Canopy600D Polyester coated with PVC and anodized aluminum8 lbs.

List Of the Best Kayak Shades In 2022

Best Overall – Bris Kayak Canopy

The Bris Kayak Canopy is the top recommendation for a kayak shade with its marine-grade construction that protects you from sunlight and harsh conditions such as winds or rain.

It’s made from a marine-grade 600 denier polyester material that’s coated specifically to enhance protection against UV rays. It’s supported with a collapsible aluminum frame that has a 1-inch diameter to increase its stability against strong winds.

It features a 2-bow design that can provide up to 12.5 square feet of shade at a height of 45 inches. It can be easily installed on most without the need to drill extra holes in your kayak.

It weighs 8 pounds and can be folded for easy transport. It comes with a carry bag.

Pros Vs Cons

  • It’s made from a durable marine-grade material
  • It features a 2-bow canopy design that enhances protection
  • It’s highly stable and can withstand strong wind conditions
  • It offers more headspace
  • It’s foldable and comes with a storage bag
  • It can be easily installed and fits most kayaks
  • It’s heavy in weight

Bottom line

Bris Kayak Canopy is the perfect choice for you if you’re looking for a kayak shade that’s highly durable and strong enough to handle all kinds of harsh conditions.

Second Runner – Hobie Kayak Canopy

The Hobie Kayak Canopy is another top-rated kayak Bimini top with its innovative design that fits almost any solo kayak and provides excellent protection against harmful sun rays and rain.

It’s made from a ripstop nylon material that features UPF 50+ protection against the sun and a water-resistant coating. It’s supported by an aircraft-grade aluminum frame to make it sturdier against the wind.

The design is integrated with an accessory mount base to make the installation process quick and easy without needing to drill any additional holes in your kayak.

It comes with an articulation feature and a sliding line that allows you to easily adjust the canopy’s angle according to the sun’s position for maximum protection.

It’s light in weight, weighing only 2.6 pounds, and the frame can be collapsed to make storage easy. It also comes with its own heavy-duty carrying bag to keep the canopy in when you’re not using it.

Pros Vs Cons

  • It’s made from strong water-resistant materials
  • It provides UPF 50+ sun protection
  • It can be adjusted according to the sun position
  • It comes with a carrying bag
  • It can be easily installed without drilling any holes
  • It’s light with a collapsible frame for easy storage
  • The material of the carrying bag is flimsy
  • It’s more expensive than other kayak shades

Bottom line

The Hobie Kayak Canopy is the perfect choice for you if you’re looking for a premium kayak shade that’s user-friendly and easily adjustable.

Best on a Budget – Lixada Kayak Canopy

This kayak sunshade from Lixada combines a stylish design and functional construction that’s compatible with most solo kayaks, all at a reasonable price.

The Lixada is made out of a mesh Oxford cloth material that’s durable and water-resistant to protect you from sunburns and also splashes of water.

It has a strong aviation aluminum frame connected with shock-cord and longer support poles for extra headspace.

It’s super easy to install because of its universal fit and it comes in a wide variety of bright colors that reduce heat absorption and help increase your visibility on the water.

It’s very light in weight, weighing only 1.1 pounds. It can also be folded for easy storage and it comes with its own storage bag.

Pros Vs Cons

  • It’s made from durable water-resistant oxford cloth material
  • It’s available in a wide variety of colors
  • It comes with longer support rods for extra headspace
  • It’s easy to install and can fit most kayaks
  • It’s very light and weight and portable
  • It comes with a carrying bag
  • It doesn’t come with mounting hardware
  • It doesn’t hold up well against strong wind

Bottom line

The Lixada Kayak Canopy is the best option for you if you’re on a budget and looking for an affordable kayak shade that’s reliable and stylish.

Most Versatile – Adventure Canopies Sun Shade

This Bimini top from Adventure is the best model for tandem kayaks with its dual configuration design that offers plenty of shade and excellent protection.

It’s made from polyester material with anodized aluminum support poles which provide UPF 50+ sun protection and blocks 99% of UVA and UVB rays.

The design features two individual kayak canopies combined into one to ensure that both paddlers in the kayak are properly shielded. The front canopy can also be used separately.

It weighs 8 pounds and its frame can be collapsed to fit in a carry bag when it’s not being used.

It comes with four-point connectors integrated into the pole for easy installation and to increase its stability.

Pros Vs Cons

  • It works on both solo and tandem kayaks
  • It’s made from sturdy durable material
  • It features UPF 50+ and blocks 99% of UVA and UVB rays
  • It has a collapsible frame
  • It comes with a carry bag
  • It can be easily installed
  • It’s relatively heavier in weight
  • It can’t be used on inflatable kayaks

Bottom line

The Adventure Kayak Canopy is the best choice for you if you’re looking for a versatile sunshade that provides sufficient protection for tandem kayaks and can be adapted to work on a solo kayak as well.

MOOCY Kayak Canopy – Most Efficient

The MOOCY kayak canopy is another budget-friendly kayak shade with reliable construction and a universal fit.

The canopy canvas is made from a coated sunscreen cloth that offers excellent protection against UV rays, while the frame is made from sturdy aluminum rods that can withstand mild winds.

The design also features 3 installation cords and a support stand rod and it comes with mounting cleats to facilitate installing the sunshade on your kayak.

It’s light in weight, weighing only 1.05 pounds and the frame is collapsible so the canopy can be easily stored. It also comes with a high-quality carrying bag.

Pros Vs Cons

  • It’s made from durable UV resistant materials
  • It’s light in weight with a collapsible frame
  • It features a sturdy frame that can withstand winds
  • It comes with mounting cleats
  • It can be easily installed
  • It comes with a high-quality carrying bag
  • It only comes in dark colors which can retain more heat

Bottom line

The MOOCY kayak canopy is the best choice for you if you’re looking for a reasonably priced sunshade that’s extremely efficient against harmful sun rays.

Saturn Deluxe Travel Folding Canopy – Best Folding

This deluxe kayak Bimini top from Saturn can fit on all sizes of kayaks and canoes, however, it is most ideal for an inflatable kayak.

It’s made from 600D Polyester material with PVC coating to provide excellent protection against harsh UV rays and it’s supported by an anodized aluminum frame with stainless steel screws.

The design features a two-bow canopy that is secured in place by two stern lines, two center brackets, and four bowlines. It also has two support poles on either side forming of the kayak a V and can be anchored to the oar-locks with the provided clips.

It’s easily installed on inflatable kayaks with snap pushpins glue-on mounting patches without screws or drilling. The frame is light in weight and foldable and it comes with a duffel bag, so it can be easily transported or stored when not in use.

Pros Vs Cons

  • It’s made from a durable UV resistant material
  • It fits all kayaks sizes
  • It’s designed with a 2-bow canopy
  • It comes with pushpins and glue-on patches for easy installation
  • It’s foldable and comes with a carry bag
  • It’s perfect for inflatable kayaks


  • It’s heavy in weight
  • The glue-on mounting patches are prone to wear off on rigid kayaks.

Bottom line

The Saturn Deluxe Travel Folding Canopy is the perfect choice if you have an inflatable kayak and looking to get a sunshade that can be easily installed without any need for screws or drilling.

You can check the best inflatable kayaks here, these are the ones that will go best with this shade.

Everything You Need to Know About Kayak Shades

some of the best kayak shades

What Is a Kayak Shade?

A kayak shade, also known as a kayak canopy or a kayak Bimini top, is basically a contraption made of poles that are attached to a canvas that can be secured over your kayak cockpit. This canvas serves to shield you from direct sunlight.

Why Do You Need a Kayak Shade?

When you’re kayaking during the daytime, you’re most at risk of exposure to great doses of harmful and potentially deadly UV radiation.

UV radiation from the sun can cause serious sunburns, and if left untreated and unmonitored, these sunburns can quickly develop into aggressive and deadly skin cancers.

So, it’s ideal to install a kayak shade to protect you from prolonged exposure to UV rays and to reduce the risk of sunburn or any permanent skin damage.

They can help keep you cool in the intense heat and protect you against heat strokes and dehydration from excessive sweating.

Kayak shades can also improve your kayak’s visibility if you choose a brightly colored canvas or even double as a rain shelter in case of a sudden change in the weather.

Does Installing a Kayak Shade Affect the Kayak’s Performance?

Just as there are many benefits to using a kayak shade, there can be some drawbacks.

  • A kayak shade might hinder your kayak’s performance in extreme conditions such as heavy winds or rain.
  • In some cases, the kayak’s performance may be negatively affected by the added weight of the kayak shade.
  • It can also interfere with your fishing activities as it can cause your fishing line to easily get tangled.

Factors To Consider Before Buying a Kayak Shade


You need to make sure the materials are light, waterproof, UV-resistant, and generally durable.

The canvas for a kayak shade is usually made from materials like polyesters or acrylic.

Both of these materials are waterproof; however, acrylic tends to be more expensive. That’s because it’s durable, breathable, and won’t grow mold and mildew.

While Polyester is cheaper and more common. Its main drawback is that can cause condensation and grow mold and mildew if it is not properly maintained and cleaned with antibacterial sprays.

When it comes to the frame and poles, Aluminum and fiberglass materials are light in weight, rust-resistant, and can hold up well in harsh marine environments.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, is strong and sturdy but it’s heavier in weight which could be an issue.

You can learn about Plastic kayaks here and about fiberglass kayaks here. In each guide, I discuss the pros, cons, and when to get it as well as to when you should avoid them.

Size and Compatibility

Not every kayak shade model will be compatible with your kayak, so it’s important to check the product’s description and specifications to ensure compatibility before purchasing it.

You need to make sure you know the exact dimensions of your kayak and determine how large you want the shade to be.

Some kayak shade models might not be designed for use on inflatable kayaks while tandem kayaks might need a specially adapted model because most kayak shades are designed as solo kayaks.

Another thing you need to look out for is whether the kayak shade has enough height for you to be comfortable if your kayak is designed with elevated seats.


You need to make the kayak shade is functional in both the rainy season and summer. It should offer you protection against the scorching sun, shelter you from rain to keep you dry, and also be sturdy enough so it doesn’t get blown by heavy winds.


You need to consider if the weight capacity of your kayak is enough to withstand the added weight of the kayak shade, particularly if you often carry a lot of gear with you, that is to avoid overloading your kayak.


You need to make sure the kayak shade is not difficult to assemble and that the installation process does not take too long.

You also need to make sure that it can be quickly disassembled in case the water conditions change and you need to take the kayak shade down.

Most kayak shades feature easy-to-connect poles that are similar to tent poles. They come with a shock cord inside that can be mounted on rod holders or gear tracks. Other kayak shades can be installed using D-rings and other attachment points on your kayak

Some models might require drilling holes in your kayak for permanent mounting using hardware.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Color of the Kayak Shade Matter?

Yes, the color of the kayak shade matters. That is because lighter colors are known to absorb less heat and can also increase your visibility. So, you need to choose a canopy that comes in colors like white, yellow, or light grey and always avoid darker tones like black as it absorbs the most heat.

How to Properly Install a Kayak Shade?

In order to install a kayak shade properly, make sure to follow the instructions in the manual. You need to align the frame sections and screw holes as shown in the manual then you need to tighten the screws in the holes. After attaching the straps to the kayak and unfolding the canvas, you need to insert the frame sections into the canvas and buckle up the straps securely.

How To Maintain a Kayak Shade?

In order to maintain your kayak shade, you need to store somewhere clean and dry when you’re not using your kayak shade. You also need to make sure to wash it with warm water and mild dish soap and thoroughly dry it before you fold it away to prevent mildew or mold from building up on the canopy.

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