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.
Latest update: June 2020
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 timber the heaviest.
- What sort of fabric? Do you want canvas (heavy, hard to dry but traditional) or a plastic/polyester fabric?
Essential for the vintage vibe, though. Best we’ve found so far are the Blue Diamond windbreaks with steel-tipped wooden poles.
Plastic/polythene fabric windbreaks are the cheapest and can actually be quite sturdy. The Marko windbreaks are around £10 for a four-pole, 7-foot stripy.
The WBL windbreaks (below) come with a choice of five sizes, from £10.
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.
For a three panel, four-pole option, the Outwell windbreak is fairly simple. Same set-up method of guyed poles. Around £50.
Just love the description on Amazon – “Self-luminous guiltiness”!
To be honest, most windbreaks we tested were flimsier than they should be, were hard to erect and tended to flop in the wind. Smaller is less prone to these problems.
The best of the bunch (so far) is the Vango Airbeam. We like the fact it comes in separate panels that you can slot together.
The basic three-panel costs around £210.
Top-quality (expensive) windbreaks
For serious enclosures and privacy, Jormax windbreaks start at around £140. They use horizontal poles as well as uprights to keep them stable without guys. They also do pet enclosures and solid or see-through options.
The basic Westfield Pro is around £150. Aluminium frame keeps weight to under 6kg, there’s a carry bag and the length is 4.8m x 1.3 high. It folds to 110 x 25 x 15cm.
You can’t get much sturdier than this pro windbreak from Kampa Dometic. At first we were a bit baffled by the holding poles taking up all the space, but they can be sited closer to the fabric and they really do keep this upright.
The viewing panel is good too. The height is 142cm and it packs to just 15x15x100cm.
It’s made of aluminium (though weighs 13kg). Costs from £140 (two sizes available).
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!
- 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!
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.
Take a look at our inspiring round-up of the best multipurpose shelters that are quick to put up and can be windbreak, dining room, or gazebo
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!