Which windbreak should you buy? After a few gusty camping trips, it’s time to try out the best – and easiest – ways to shelter from the wind. Retro or high-tech…here are our favourites.
First, though…a few questions to ask yourself.
- What size do you REALLY need? Big is more versatile (you can build yourself a fortified encampment), but all those poles and panels can be impossible to put up, especially when it’s windy!
- Can you live with guylines? All but the very expensive semi-permanent windbreaks that you see around long-term caravanners will need guying in strong winds. Guylines get in the way, so bear that in mind, especially when deciding on size (bigger = more guys).
- Does it need to be lightweight? Aluminium poles will be lightest, steel the next lightest and solid timber the heaviest.
- What sort of fabric? Do you want canvas (heavy, hard to dry but traditional) or a plastic/polyester fabric?
These Eriba caravanners have gone prettily retro with two striped canvas windbreaks. Note how low they are, though. Your feet might be less breezy but your hair will be blown away! Essential for the vintage vibe, though. Best we've found so far are the Blue Diamond ones with steel-tipped wooden poles. Lots of sizes and colours from around £45.
A semi-private changing area for these campers (the half-naked woman is my 84-year-old mum just returned from swimming in the River Wharfe). Plastic/polythene fabric windbreaks are the cheapest and can actually be quite sturdy. The Trail windbreaks are around £10 for a four-pole, 7-foot stripy.
New and rather unusual, the Pronto windbreak is fast and simple to put up and has four panels with a pop-up frame. You peg it down with bungee cords at each foot.
It’s 140cm high and 5.6m long, and packs down to a reasonable 107 x 24 x 32cm. The only downside is the weight of just over 9kg. Price is around £120.
There’s both a four-pole (130×450) and a six-pole (130×750) version of this Royal Leisure windbreak. The viewing window is nice. The poles are steel and guylines and pegs included. It’s not a quick set-up because the guylines are needed to keep everything stable, but reasonably light (3-4kg) and affordable (£27 and £40).
Identical to the VW one in construction, this seaside patterned windbreak has five wooden, plastic-tipped poles and is 120x390cm. Weighs around 2kg and costs about £15. Yello does lots of different patterns. Not optimum quality, but fun and easy to install. Just hammer in the poles.
Top-quality (expensive) windbreaks
What NOT to buy. A few brands you should stay clear of, either because of general poor quality (torn fabric, split softwood poles, frayed edges etc), or because they simply don’t stay up in the wind.
- Lvivo and Oypla – cheap and nasty. Buy one if you must, use it for one season and buy another next year. Better to get something more durable.
- Coleman Classic – looks good, but impossible to put up and not great in the wind!
- Outwell Round – fantastic idea of a curved windbreak, but a nightmare to put up. You might have better luck!
- Outwell Windscreen – gap at the bottom lets wind through…hmmm.
- Olpro Wall – fun patterns, but the material rips.
- Charles Bentley – plain and simple-looking but totally hopeless. Too tall for its own good.
Get clever with windbreaks
The wind's gusting horribly in this photo but that bit of old boardwalk is going to keep us safe...isn't it? This is either Marseillan Plage in the South of France or Hayling Island in the South of England...both breezy! Have a look at our article on camping in your car if you're into cheap and clever.
The best thing about a tarp is its versatility. We use ours as a sunshade, an extension to the awning and a windbreak. The downside is that you have to reconfigure it to suit the conditions. Practise your set-ups and have a look at our article on using tarps in all sorts of ways. Get some lightweight and adjustable poles for multipurpose shelter-making.
Have a look at our inspiring round-up of the best multipurpose shelters that are quick to put up and can be windbreak, dining room, gazebo or yoga studio (yes, we did do that once!). Overkill for a quick trip to the beach maybe, but some of these take less putting-up than a five-pole windbreak and do a lot more!