When it comes to going out on the water for a paddle, no matter what your reasons for doing so, it can be frustrating to find that the intense heat of the summer sun is making your enjoyable day out more of a nightmare. Most of us will go kayaking primarily in the warmer months—very few people enjoy the heart-shuddering chills of icy winter waves—and so we have surely all experienced this unpleasant occurrence before.
This is of particular dismay for those kayakers who go out in a full wetsuit, especially a dark one which will heat up under the sun’s rays rapidly. Even those of us who wear standard swimwear will found ourselves suffering, though, with our skin peeling under the heat and slowly cooking away happily so that, by the next day, a red hot and angry burn is guaranteed.
One of the best ways to improve your summer kayaking experience is by investing in a Kayak Bimini. These are essentially a canopy for your kayak, which fit on to provide protection for the cockpit.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of kayak Bimini Tops, Canopies and Kayak Sun-shades on the market, though. How on earth can your find the perfect one for your needs and desires out of a selection that big?
There’s no point in buying a substandard kayak bimini tops; you’ll only be disappointed when it doesn’t fit as well as it should (if at all) or doesn’t provide adequate shade. That is why we have done our best to compile a list of the best kayak biminis on the market today, to help you find the perfect one and keep you paddling happily throughout the summer months.
The Best 7 Kayak Bimini Tops & Sun Shades of 2023
- 1Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade (Best Adjustable Bimini Top)
- 2Portable Bimini Top Cover Canopy For Inflatable Kayak Canoe Boat (2 bow) (Canopies For Best Coverage)
- 3Leader Accessories Light Grey Bimini Top Cover (Best Bimini Top For Money)
- 4Lixada Kayak Boat Canoe Sun Shade Canopy for Single Person (Best Sun Shade For Sun Protection)
- 5Adventure Canopies -Shiner- Kayak Sun Shade - 8 & 9 ft Single Person (Best Fitting Canopy)
- 6Hobie Kayak Sun Shade (Best Lightweight Kayak Bimini)
- 7Boat Bimini Top Sun Canopy Cover Navy Blue 3 Bow 6 ft (Best Bimini Top For Easy Assembling)
What is a Kayak Bimini Top or Canopy?
A kayak Bimini top is a retractable cover that protects the kayaker and his/her boat from the sun and rain. It can be used as a shade, protection from wind and rain, or to cover an open cockpit.
It can be made from many different materials including canvas high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is often treated with UV-resistant chemicals to maximize longevity. The frame can be made of aluminum or steel tubing and covered in mesh cloth for strength and durability.
Types of Kayak Bimini Top or Canopies or Sunshades
There are various types of kayak bimini tops or canopies available for purchase. A lot of these are designed to attach to the boat, while others are to be used as an overhead cover.
For boats that have no roof line, the best option would be a kayak bimini top or canopy to act as an overhead cover. These canopies can either be attached to the boat with straps or they could simply use poles and ropes tethered to the boat's railing.
If you wish to purchase a kayak bimini top, there are different types available for you:
- T-tops - these attach directly onto your boat's bow.
- J-tops - these provide additional storage space on your deck.
- Folding Biminis - these do not require any special tools for installation and can be used in any water or on land.
Kayak bimini tops come in all shapes and size and finding the right one for you is important. Below we have compiled a list of our favorite kayak biminis, so that you can find the right style, shape and overall performance bimini or canopies for you.
This little kayak bimini is notably small and has a frame made from fiberglass as opposed to the standard aluminium or steel.
This makes the shade lightweight and foldable for easy storage and transportation.The canopy can also be removed thanks to release points along the frame.
The Bimini Top Cover Canopy for Inflatable Kayaks is only suitable for inflatable kayak canoe boats and is not ideal for standard kayak models.
It is made from a marine grade polyester canvas which allows for protection from the elements and has aluminium support poles which are lightweight, helping to make this large kayak bimini more portable.
If you’re concerned about looking odd with a kayak bimini, this nifty little piece from WindPaddle is a handy polyester canvas.
It connects to your kayak and then folds forwards towards the front, providing full shade when you need it most, at the hottest time of the day. The sail also has a transparent window inbuilt which allows for better viewing than for a regular bimini.
This polyester canvas bimini has an extra coating of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which makes the canvas much more stable and secure than other biminis.
This also makes it strong against dirt, water and mildew growth, which is one of the major problems of polyester biminis. The aluminium poles also mean that you won’t get rusting of your support poles.
The Vortex Canoe/Kayak Bimini Top/Sun Shade is designed to fit any kayak which has mounting points between 24 inches and 30 inches wide and comes with a 5 year warranty. It is a smaller version of their other bimini top for pontoons.
It has a polyester canvas and nylon fittings which provides additional reinforcement and the aluminium tubing in the support poles makes them strong and highly durable.
The Pro-Techt Portable Bimini Top is ideal for use on smaller kayaks and boats and can be installed anywhere on the kayak thanks to its adjustable features and with fourteen different mounting options available (these are available to purchase separately to the shade itself). The shade is relatively lightweight as well at as little as 5lb.
The shade can open and close within seconds for quick assembly and storage and is of an aerodynamic style to allow for a reduced wind resistance when compared to some other biminis.
The Mexidi Inflatable Kayak Awning Canopy has been created from the highest quality of materials and will protect you from ultraviolet radiation from the sun very well. It uses D-shaped buckles (as well as the boat’s awning) to lock itself onto the inflatable kayak’s body which makes it incredibly strong and durable.
The canopy is available in three different sizes—2, 3 and 4 passengers—depending on the size of your kayak and the number of passengers that it is carrying.
The Lixada Kayak Boat Canoe Sun Shade Canopy is designed for a single person kayak and is made of highly durable Oxford Cloth and aviation grade aluminium rods. The Oxford Cloth has ripstop technology to help protect against sun and ultraviolet radiation and wind.
The canopy can be folded up and stored in a storage bag for easy transportation and its lightweight nature makes it easy to pick up, assemble and store.
What Is A Kayak Bimini Top?
A kayak bimini is a simple little contraption; basically, it is just a set of poles which are attached onto a section of canvas. The canvas shade serves to give you shade and protect you from much of the UV radiation, and it also doubles up as a good rain shelter if you get caught out on a paddle and find the skies trying to unleash their torment.
The canvas for a kayak bimini is usually made from one of two products: polyesters and acrylic. Both of these are waterproof, although the acrylic canvas’ slightly more durable nature will help it to last a little longer, however its waterproofing will become less efficient over time when compared to a polyester canopy, which won’t do so. A notable benefit of the acrylic canopy over a polyester one, though, is that acrylic won’t grow fungi and, by extension, mildew. Furthermore, it allows air to permeate the material whereas polyesters don’t, which can mean that your polyester canopy may get lots of condensation on it and will need frequent, thorough antibacterial cleaning to try to prevent it from growing the aforementioned mildew.
Before buying any kayak bimini, take care to take note of the size and carrying capacity of your kayak. This may seem like an obvious point to make, but many people still get caught out when they find themselves with a kayak bimini which is too big, too small or too heavy for your kayak.
Buying Guide: How To Decide On The Right Bimini For Your Needs
Size Of Kayak
Every kayak is created differently and in the same way, ever kayak bimini is also unique and to their own specifications. Not every bimini will fit every kayak and it is for this reason that you should always take care before ordering one to ensure that you have measured your kayak in advance and know exactly what size, shape and design you want and need. For example, a particularly small kayak needs a specially adapted canopy as most biminis are designed for medium-to-large kayaks. You probably didn’t even consider getting a kayak bimini when you first started out, so it’s important that you always fit the bimini to your kayak, and not trying to fit the kayak to the bimini after you’ve wrongly ordered one.
You should always ask yourself the question, “what will the bimini’s purpose be?” The main reasons that people want a bimini are for shade from the scorching summer sun and for protection from rain. A good bimini will also be useful in providing some shelter from heavy winds, although this requires a sturdy bimini to ensure it doesn’t get blown off or otherwise act as a sail—not useful if the wind is blowing you out to sea!
Materials and Aesthetics
Once deciding what your reasons for getting a bimini are, you next need to work out what design and material you want. The best poles for a bimini are made from rust-resistant aluminium as these are also strong and sturdy. The best material of canopy will be largely dependent on personal preference, as polyester is cheaper and more common however it will cause condensation and can easily grow mildew and mold if not well maintained, whereas acrylic is more expensive but resistant to this. The alternative in our list is Oxford cloth on the Lixada Kayak Boat Canoe Sun Shade Canopy, which is not waterproof however it is still water resistant.
Health and Safety Benefits of a Bimini
Putting on a generous layer of sunscreen and always trying to cover up wherever possible is a well known rule of summer (even if many do forget to heed it).
However, when you’re out on the waters on your kayak, you are simultaneously most at risk of burning, don’t want many clothes on–soaking wet hat, anyone?—and are receiving greater doses of harmful and potentially deadly UV light when it bounces off of the sea and directly towards you.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes serious sunburns on the whole, and if left untreated and unmonitored, these can quickly develop into aggressive and deadly skin cancers. Ultraviolet light, if unlucky, can also damage our eyes by burning the cornea and the lens—the surface of the eye.
Fixing this is easy with a pair of good quality sunglasses, but again, do you really want to be taking them out on the water with you?
Of course, getting blasted with the heat and the ultraviolet UV radiation is just an unfortunate part of being a kayaker, unless you go out solely at night.
You’re never going to escape it fully when there is water all around you, ready to ‘redirect’ a sunbeam directly into you. Unfortunately, a Bimini won’t stop water bouncing UV radiation your way, however they provide some much needed and appreciated shade from the onslaught of heat from the midday sun.
How to Install a Kayak Canopy/Bimini Top
Here are step by step methods to install a Kayak Canopy or Bimini Top like a pro. Just follow the instructions below -
1. First, check the manual of the Bimini Top. You should get it in the box that has been delivered to you.
2. Then take that manual and go for setting your Bimini top for the first time. Just alight the frame sections showed exactly on your manual.
3. Check how the Screw Holes are arranged throughout your Frame Sections.
4. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screws (Here, make sure the Bimini tops cover or clothing don't get torn out)
5. Take the Straps and attach them carefully with your Kayak.
6. Now, it's time to unfold the cloths/canvas carefully.
7. Remember the frames? Well, carefully insert those into your clothing.
8. Work with straps and insert them into the canvas.
9. Buckle up the straps and make it as much secure as you can so that some heavy winds don't make your Bimini top gets blown up.
10. You are ready to go kayaking.
Does Color Matter?
Yes, Color matters for Bimini. Because you will work with the sun and usually lighter colors absorb less heat. Pick a Canopy that comes in the color of whites, yellow or light grey so that you can use it in the summer under excessive heat and sunlight. Always avoid Dark like the Black color as your Bimini top.
Who should get a kayak canopy?
If you are a fisherman or loves touring with a kayak in the deep ocean, then you must need a Kayak Canopy because of the Sun and heat you usually have to face.
And, if you are living in an area where rains are too normal; then a perfect Bimini top will protect you from the sudden rains too when you are in the middle of the river or ocean.
Getting a kayak bimini or canopies is a good investment for any kayaker as it will help to protect you from dangerous and incredibly painful sunburn, as well as making the experience of kayaking more enjoyable and less uncomfortable.
However, it is important to ensure that you take care and choose the right style of canopy for your kayak, otherwise you may find yourself with a bimini top which is not fit for purpose.