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Discover the ultimate companion for your kayaking adventures – a kayak sun shade.
Providing essential shade and protection from the elements, these tops are kayak accessories that are designed to enhance your paddling experience.
Explore our top picks and find the perfect bimini top to elevate your kayaking journey.
Want to skip to the best one? My top pick is the Moocy Kayak Sun Shade. It’s affordable, easy to use, and offers protection from sunshine and summer showers.
- Moocy Kayak Sun Shade Canopy (Best Overall)
- Hobie Bimini Kayak Sunshade (Best For Hobie Kayaks)
- Adventure Canopies Tandem “Doubler” Kayak Sunshade (Best For Tandem Kayaks)
- Cypress Rowe Outfitters Canoe/Kayak Sun Shade Bimini Top (Best For Wind)
- Lixada Kayak Sun Shade Canopy (Best Budget)
Top 7 Best Kayak Bimini Tops Reviewed
1: Moocy Kayak Sun Shade Canopy (best overall)
- Length: 48 inches
- Weight: 1.3 pounds
The Moocy Kayak Sun Shade is an affordable and lightweight bimini top that offers excellent value for money, making it my top pick for the best kayak canopies.
This is easy to install on most kayaks. It’s designed to fit into an existing rod holder mount. If your kayak doesn’t have any fishing rod holders, you may be able to modify your kayak so that the canopy fits.
It comes with tent-style poles and attachment cords with buckles that can be easily attached to bungee rigging or handles on your kayak.
The durable Oxford fabric canopy covers around eight square feet, which is ideal for a single person. The canopy material also benefits from having a waterproof coating for rain protection and a UV coating to prevent degradation from the sun.
- Sun and rain protection
- Fits in fishing rod mounts
- Might not work with all kayaks
2: Hobie Bimini Kayak Sunshade (best for Hobie kayaks)
- Length: 64 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds 10.4 ounces
The Hobie Bimini Sunshade is an excellent choice for Hobie kayaks but it’s not cheap.
This sun shade is designed specifically for Hobie kayaks so it can be easily installed using the forward accessory mount or sail mast base on the deck. I don’t recommend it for non-Hobie kayaks unless you’re good with DIY.
The mount base is not a standard feature on all Hobie kayaks so you may need to purchase the mount separately.
A great feature of this kayak bimini top is that it can be adjusted to accommodate the changing position of the sun. It’s also height-adjustable.
The ripstop nylon shade is water-resistant to protect you from rain and has UPF 50+ fabric for sun protection.
This kayak sun shade features aircraft-grade aluminum poles for durability and strength. It also features a crossbeam to help the canopy maintain its structure.
- UPF fabric
- Added rigidity from the crossbeam
- Adjustable shade
- May not be compatible with other kayak brands
3: Adventure Canopies Tandem “Doubler” Kayak Sunshade (best for tandem kayaks)
- Length: 49 inches (forward canopy), 54 inches (rear canopy)
- Weight: 8 pounds
This Adventure Canopies Doubler Sunshade claims to be the first tandem bimini top. It’s a very good choice for tandem kayaks and is designed to work with both sit-on-tops and sit-inside kayaks from 12 feet long. Plus, it’s height-adjustable.
This is a durable kayak canopy that features strong fiberglass tent poles for rigidity and structure. Like other Adventure Canopies shelters, it also benefits from having UPF 50+ fabric for exceptional sun protection.
This features two canopies, one for each paddler, but it can be configured to allow a single person only to be under shade. This has the best coverage compared to standard single-person shades.
A great feature of the Adventure Canopies sun shade is that it comes with all the mounting hardware, including hub mounts and stainless steel screws, so you can easily install it on any kayak.
A downside is you have to drill into your kayak if you don’t have accessory tracks on your boat.
- Two canopies
- Great for sit-on-tops and sit-insides
- Mounting hardware included
- Requires drilling or accessory tracks
4: Cypress Rowe Outfitters Canoe/Kayak Sun Shade Bimini Top (best for wind)
- Length: 60 inches
- Weight: 9.3 pounds
The Cypress Rowe Outfitters Bimini Top is a kayak sun shade with a difference. This one has a rigid aluminum frame. This means it’s less likely to get caught in the wind compared to some of the lighter-weight kayak canopies.
However, it’s not recommended to use the canopy if it’s very windy because this could affect the stability of your kayak and make it tricky to paddle.
This durable canvas canopy can shelter you from wet weather and hot sun. It also has a lifetime warranty.
It covers a large amount of space, with the sun shade measuring five feet long and three feet wide.
It’s easy to install on both kayaks and canoes but it will require you to drill into your boat to attach the mounts.
- Ideal for kayaks and canoes
- Rigid frame
- Sun and rain protection
- Requires drilling into your kayak to fix the mounts
5: Lixada Kayak Sun Shade Canopy (best budget)
- Length: 48 inches
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
The kayak canopies come in a variety of colors so you can choose one to suit your boat and enhance your visibility on the water.
This bimini sun shade features water-resistant ripstop mesh cloth for the canopy and there are lightweight aluminum rods, like tent poles, to hold it together.
The rods can fit into most molded rod holders if you have them on your kayak. If not, you will need to purchase the mounts separately to install this on your kayak.
The cords to keep the shade secured to the kayak are included. However, this is not a great kayak sun shade if there’s a slight gust of wind, as it tends to lift up, making it difficult to paddle.
- Budget kayak sun shade
- Compatible with fishing rod attachments
- Not great in the wind
- Mounts not included
6: Kemimoto Kayak Canopy
- Length: 60 inches
- Weight: 9 pounds
The Kemimoto Kayak Canopy is a durable kayak bimini top that features ripstop Oxford cloth with a PU coating for added water resistance.
This is a great choice if you’re looking for something a little more wind-resistant. This one has a durable aluminum alloy frame for rigidity, which means it holds its shape no matter what direction the breeze is blowing.
It also covers a large amount of space, being 60 inches long. But there’s also a larger option that’s 72 inches long and 36 inches wide.
This features four straps that can be secured to pad eyes on your kayak. The two aluminum poles will need to be secured to the gunwales of your kayak or canoe using the included mounting hardware. This will require putting holes in your boat.
- Rigid frame
- Not UPF fabric
7: Adventure Canopies Snook Pro XL Kayak Sun Shade Canopy
- Length: 55 inches
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
The Adventure Canopies Snook Pro XL covers a lot of space compared to similar kayak canopies and it comes with a handy storage bag.
This Adventure Canopies bimini top shades 11 square feet of space and is easy to install using the included stainless steel screws and other hardware.
This can be fixed to your kayak using existing gear tracks on your kayak (track mounts sold separately) or you can fix the included mounts to your kayak by drilling into the deck.
As well as the size of the canopy, one of the best features of this kayak sun shade is the UPF 50+ fabric that blocks out almost all UVA and UVB light to protect you from sun damage.
The tent-style poles are made from lightweight, durable fiberglass and the shade can be easily removed when it’s not needed.
However, this is not a cheap kayak sun shade canopy.
- Compatible with accessory tracks (with separate purchase)
- Oversized shade
What Is A Kayak Bimini, Canopy, Or Sun Shade?
A bimini top is a canvas shade that covers the cockpit area of a small boat, like a little roof.
A kayak bimini top is essentially the same thing, where a canopy provides shelter for the paddler in the cockpit or seated area of the kayak. A bimini top can provide protection from sun and rain, or both.
Most canopies are made to cover a single person or a single seat but there are some products available that can cover a larger space.
Generally, a kayak sun shade or canopy can let you stay out on the water longer in sunny or rainy conditions, as it can protect you a little from the elements. However, the canopy is open on all sides.
Are There Different Sizes of Kayak Sun Shades Available?
Yes, different brands and models of canopies vary by size. The larger the sun shade, the greater coverage the kayak canopy will usually provide. This means improved protection from UV rays and rain.
Kayak sun shades that are built for tandem kayaks will generally have a large coverage area, often larger than those that are designed for a single person.
Some kayak canopies can be easily adjusted and can fit almost any kayak. However, some of the more rigid boat covers that are made with sturdy aluminum frames are often not adjustable to suit different widths.
This means you will need to check the width of your kayak and the width of the frame to make sure the sun shade is compatible with your boat.
Canopies made with tent-style poles and ropes can usually be adjusted to fit various widths and lengths of kayaks.
Can Kayak Sun Shades Be Used on Any Type of Kayak?
Technically, if you find a bimini top in a suitable size then yes, kayak canopies can be used on any type of kayak. However, there are some kayaks that would not be suitable for use with a sun shade.
Whitewater kayaks, sea kayaks, and most touring kayaks would not be best suited for kayak canopies. If you need to edge your kayak, a sun shade could knock you off balance.
Additionally, these types of kayaks are designed to be rolled, which you wouldn’t be able to do effectively or safely with a ripstop cloth roof.
What Are the Best Materials For Kayak Sun Shades?
Kayak shades can be found in a range of different materials. Generally, the best material will offer some sun protection as well as some water resistance.
Common materials include polyester, nylon, canvas, and ripstop Oxford cloth. Marine-grade polyester canvas is often used because of its high water resistance level and increased durability.
Material with a UPF rating can offer a higher level of sun protection than other fabrics. This is the Ultraviolet Protection Factor, like SPF in sunscreen but for material and clothing instead of your skin.
This rating lets you know how much of the sun’s rays are blocked by the material. Just like with sunscreen, the higher the number, the better the sun protection.
The highest rating is UPF 50+ which blocks out at least 98 percent of the sun’s rays.
Advantages Of Bimini Tops
Probably the main purpose of kayak canopies is to provide shelter from the sun and help keep you cool.
When you’re kayaking in the summer, particularly on lakes and other open water, shade is not something that you’ll find very often. Adding a kayak canopy can provide some shade, giving you respite from the hot sun and harmful UV rays.
I recommend that you still wear your sunscreen even if you’re under the shade of a kayak canopy.
Not all kayak canopies offer UV protection. Many do have UPF fabric but a kayak sun shade is unlikely to protect you from the sun at all times while you’re kayaking, due to the moving position of the sun and the direction of your kayak.
Another excellent benefit of a kayak sun shade is that it can help to shield you from the rain, like an umbrella.
Many of the best kayak canopies have a waterproof coating or feature a marine-grade polyester canvas fabric that tends to offer good water resistance to create a decent rain shelter.
Enhanced Kayak Visibility
With a brightly colored roof on your kayak, you’re going to be more visible on the water. This is great for safety, as other water users, particularly larger boats, will be more likely to see you.
Disadvantages Of Bimini Tops
Reduced Kayak Performance
Having a kayak sun shade on your kayak can affect the kayak’s performance, particularly the stability.
Wind can catch kayak bimini tops like a sail, which can affect your ability to control the kayak. Depending on the direction of the wind, this could cause your kayak to capsize or could make paddling extremely difficult.
The added weight, height, and sail-like roof can also affect your speed as well as tracking performance due to the effects on aerodynamics.
Bear in mind that a capsized kayak with a sun shade canopy attached can be more difficult to re-enter.
Height Restrictions On Deck
Another major disadvantage, especially if you’re a kayak angler, is you will be unable to stand up on the deck of your boat.
This means you may not be able to fish as comfortably as you’d like. It also means you may not be able to cast as easily because of the roof.
Getting in and out of the kayak may also be trickier with a kayak sun shade canopy installed, particularly if you usually get into your kayak from a dock.
Some shades are height adjustable but this may still prove to be inconvenient when entering and exiting your kayak.
Reduced Paddler Visibility
When you’re paddling with a kayak sun shade canopy installed, you might find that your view is obstructed.
You usually won’t have a full 360-degree range of vision with most kayak bimini tops, as they tend to restrict your view at certain angles.
How Do I Install A Sun Shade On My Kayak
Some kayak canopies are designed to be installed using existing hardware on your kayak, such as molded rod holders or gear tracks.
However, not all kayak bimini tops can be installed this way. Many will require you to install hub mounts to the deck of your kayak, which will involve drilling holes into your boat.
Most paddlers fix the mounts for the vertical rods at the rear of their kayaks. You don’t want the poles to interfere with your paddling strokes.
Install the mounts if necessary, either by drilling into the gunwales of the kayak or by using accessory tracks. Depending on the sun shade you have, you may be able to make use of existing mounts or attachment points.
Once you’ve decided on the best place to mount the sun shade canopy, you can attach the frame to the mounts.
Most bimini tops for kayaks will come with straps or ropes so that you can secure various ends of the cover to the attachment points on your kayak.
Adventure Canopies brand sun shades generally use only fiberglass poles, no straps, making it super easy to attach and remove them.
Make sure you secure each part of the sun shade canopy according to the guidelines on your particular model.
Can You Make Your Own DIY Kayak Canopy?
If you’re inventive and have some DIY skills, then yes, you can make your own kayak sun shade canopy.
There are different ways to make your own kayak sunshade. For example, some methods use old tent poles, some use PVC pipes, and some use a combination of both.
You can use a tarp, an umbrella, or an old tent for the fabric section. You could also use an emergency blanket.
Making your own kayak sun shade canopy can be useful if other adventure canopies aren’t compatible with your particular kayak. So a DIY kayak canopy could let you custom-make a sun shade to fit your specific model of kayak.
Commonly Asked Questions About Kayak Sun Shades
Can Kayak Sun Shades Withstand Strong Winds?
No, kayak bimini tops are not designed to be used in strong winds. It can be dangerous to use a kayak sunshade in strong winds because it can capsize your kayak or blow you off course.
How Does a Sun Shade Impact the Stability of My Kayak?
A sun shade adds height to your kayak, which can affect the stability by itself. However, the stability can be further affected because of the sail-like cover that’s on top. This can be easily caught in the wind, like a kite or a sail.
Can I Use a Kayak Sun Shade In Any Weather Conditions?
You can use a sun shade canopy in the sun or rain. It can generally shield you from strong ultraviolet rays and can offer a little protection from the rain.
You shouldn’t use a sun shade if it’s windy or in a thunderstorm. You shouldn’t be on the water in a thunderstorm even without a canopy, as this is dangerous.
Do Kayak Sun Shades Provide Adequate UV Protection?
If the sun shade is made from UPF fabric then it will be capable of preventing the sun’s UV rays from getting through to you while you’re on the kayak. However, you should always wear adequate sunscreen while kayaking.
A sun shade canopy won’t be able to protect you from harmful UV rays all the time, as both you and the sun are always moving.
How To Maintain and Clean Kayak Sun Shades
You should always rinse or wipe down your kayak canopy after use, especially if you’ve been paddling in saltwater environments or near sand.
You can use a mild soap if necessary, just as you would use to clean a kayak.
Just like you would with a tent, you should make sure the kayak canopy is completely dry before putting it away in a storage bag to prevent mold and mildew.
Many kayak bimini tops come with a storage bag and this is useful both for transportation and storage.
Does The Color Matter?
Just like with most summer clothes, lighter colors can be better for a kayak shade than darker ones.
Darker shades tend to absorb heat, which can make sitting in your kayak seat feel warmer. Lighter colors tend to be better at reflecting the sun’s rays.
On The Bright Side: Final Thoughts On Kayak Sun Shades
The best kayak bimini top is the Moocy Kayak Sun Shade because it’s affordable, easy to use, and offers a decent amount of coverage.
But if you’re looking for better coverage for a tandem kayak, the durable Doubler from Adventure Canopies can be a fantastic option. It has lightweight fiberglass poles with a sun-protective shade to keep you and your partner cool.
A bimini shade can be a great kayak accessory if you want to enjoy kayaking come rain or shine. Like an umbrella for your kayak, a bimini top can keep you cool in the hot summer sun and give you a little protection from a spring shower.
However, remember, your kayak’s stability and overall performance will be affected if you add a roof. And you might not be able to get on or off as easily or stand up for comfortable fishing.