Before digging into the Grande review, let’s first learn a little bit more about the history behind the Neso brand because we think it’s an important part of the story and the development of this product.
Diagnosed with early-stage melanoma as a young adult, founder Matt Goldberg knew first hand that getting too much sun at the beach was a real problem affecting millions of people worldwide. Fortunately, Matt has since recovered and is healthy but his experience forever changed his outlook on sun protection.
As a new father, he wanted to ensure that his young daughter had plenty of shade while playing at the beach near their home in Southern California. So in early 2014 when a friend approached him with the idea, Matt’s engineering background kicked in and thought it would be a great passion project that had potential to disrupt the massive sunshade market and become the best beach canopy tent.
After a few rough sketches (and probably some long nights), he found a manufacturer that could produce the Neso 1 at scale and meet the quality standard he demanded. Armed with a few rounds of samples and pending patents, Matt took to Kickstarter to test the market for a lightweight, stake-less, easy to carry, easy to set up, sunshade tent. Within 45 short days, the Neso 1 had received nearly triple the original funding goal and validated to him other people were as interested in it as he was. This campaign would kickstart the brand to becoming a huge success in a very short amount of time.
Since then, Neso has not only continued to improve their product quality but innovate with new products and tent sizes welcoming the Grande (110” x 110”) and Gigante (134” x 134”) tents a few short years later. Their goal, simply put, is to help people enjoy themselves because that is what life is about.
We couldn’t agree more!
We’ll start by saying that we’ve enjoyed having a front-row seat in witnessing a gradual shift in the beach canopy market over the past few years. Where the 10x10 canopy tent reigned supreme on beaches for the last decade or more, customers are now favoring more lightweight, portable designs that are much easier to transport and set up. And as we head into the summer of 2020, we think this trend will only accelerate and these lightweight options will continue to grow as the preferred option for beach sunshade tents.
So to keep up we, got our hands on the Neso Grande tent in the coral color and we’re thrilled to review it from top to bottom. We’ll focus on the quality and type of materials, highlight the features, the functionality, ease of use, things that set it apart, things to consider, and ultimately give our recommendation. Let’s go!
Quality and Materials
The Grande canopy arrived in a 19.5” softshell black bag with a nylon over-the-shoulder strap. There is a nice drawstring with a thumb release lock to cinch the bag and make sure nothing falls out when in transit or storage, pretty standard for most canopy carrying bags.
The first thing we noticed is that the carrying bag seems to be of high quality and feels as though it will hold up to repeated use and abuse, the top thing we look for in carrying bags. On the front pouch, the parts included are on the top of the list of bullet points, so it's easy to take a quick inventory and know exactly what to expect when first opening the carrying case.
The front pouch is Velcro-locked, and we were quickly reminded by the foil-like space blanket material that the listing said there was a cooler inside, and it’s surprisingly big. With enough room to comfortably fit 4 adult beverages (a friend told me), this front pouch is also a great place to store keys, a cell phone, snacks, or other small items that you might carry to the beach, possibly removing the need to bring an extra bag. The Neso 1 bag does not offer the cooler pocket, and while some might think it’s gimmicky and unnecessary, we think it’s a great addition to the Grande carrying case.
Assembly instructions are listed just below the parts section of the front cooler pouch, but if you’re a visual learner like us we recommend to go ahead and open the bag and remove the parts before taking a close look at the set-up instructions. Retaining the assembly instructions, albeit short, most likely isn’t going to happen without seeing the parts inside the bag and you’ll find yourself re-reading them once everything is out.
Upon loosening the drawstring and opening the tent bag, the first thing we noticed is that there are two separate compartments. On one side is the canopy itself, and the other side is the aluminum support poles. This is a nice feature because each of these fit snuggly on their side, and you won’t have to worry about one getting in the way of the other when it’s time to pack up.
We first removed the canopy material from the bag. We’ll start by saying that the Lycra/Nylon blend fabric feels amazing. For those that don’t know, Lycra is a spandex or elastane material made of synthetic fibers that is well known for its exceptional elasticity and offers incomparable 4-way stretch. This type of fabric and quality isn’t something we come across often when reviewing canopy tents. Denier polyester with a polyurethane lining serves as the most common material on canopy and beach tents because of its lightweight and sun and water-resistant features. But this Lycra/Nylon blend is on another level.
Neso says the fabric is UPF 50+, giving it the best ultraviolet protection rating and considered to provide excellent levels of sun protection. You may have guessed it, but UPF is an acronym for ultraviolet protection factor which is a rating scale on fabric and clothing similar to SPF is on sunscreen for our skin. The UPF scale ranges from 15 to 50+, so this canopy is as good as it gets when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. Rest assured that those underneath the canopy will be protected.
Another great feature of this Lycra/Nylon canopy blend is its water-resistant and water repellent properties. We ran the canopy under water to test this claim, and we’ll admit it was very cool to watch. The water beaded right off and didn’t even get the fabric wet. Touching the canopy immediately afterward felt as though it had never touched any water and was as dry as it was out of the bag. Neso doesn’t advertise this tent to be waterproof, but we wanted to test it anyway because we were so impressed with the way the water reacted when it came in contact with the fabric. We created a pool of water on the fabric, and it took a few minutes but it eventually, unsurprisingly, did permeate through the tent onto the ground below.
Edges and Stitching
The stitching of the edges and the thread is much improved over the Neso 1. We’re not textile experts so its difficult to say the type of stitching used, we can say it appears to be a newer stitch type with reinforced thread over previous versions of Neso tents. It’s always a point of concern for us because the stitching and thread are typically the first points of failure in a design of this nature. When being pulled tautly, a Lycra/Nylon always has a great 4-way stretch, but the stitching and the thread does not. This usually results in fraying or loosening of the thread on an edge near a corner, and a chain reaction ensues that can easily destroy the entire canopy. That doesn’t seem likely here with these engineering improvements, and this quality and attention to detail are what’s going to keep customers happy and coming back.
In addition to the edges, we wanted to pay particularly close attention to the corners of the canopy because we knew this is where a lot of stress on the canopy is located. It’s easy to see very quickly when comparing this Grande to early Neso 1 tents that the entire corner construction has been revamped and reinforced. A new stitching technique was used to prevent or eliminate tearing and fraying around the edges of the corner. A reinforced metal grommet is located near the center of the corner construction, where the nylon rope of the anchor bag is looped through and connected by a girth hitch knot. Because they’re already tethered and connected right out of the bag, there is no additional assembly required which is a very nice feature helping to save time during the initial set up.
Made from the same Lycra/Nylon blend as the canopy, we found the anchor bags to be high quality and unique way to keep this tent securely grounded. The cool thing about these is that they aren’t bags, more like flat pieces of the fabric that become bags when filled with sand and cinched closed. The rope used to cinch the bag closed and that connects to the canopy is thick nylon that adequately handles the tension when the aluminum poles are raised under the tent pulling the line taut.
We next removed the aluminum poles from the carrying bag. All Neso tents come included with two aluminum support poles to prop the tent. The first thing we want to highlight on the poles is the aluminum construction. Aluminum has two properties that greatly outrank the common steel frame construction found on most 10x10 pop up canopy tents. First, aluminum weighs significantly less than steel because it is less dense, usually by a factor of 2.5 times. This is one of the main reasons this lightweight tent weighs in at only 6.5 lbs., making it highly portable.
The second benefit of aluminum is that it is rust-proof. This is particularly important for beach tents due to contact with saltwater. Saltwater is a very good conductor of dissociated ions, and several electrolysis reactions accelerate corrosion in saltwater. Because you know, chemistry and stuff. We typically find that steel legs become rusted after just a few times of coming in contact with saltwater, which is why most manufacturers powder-coat their steel. This does help prevent rusting, but it will over time wear down and become rusted. Aluminum is the superior choice in our opinion.
Each pole is broken down into five pieces, all interconnected with a high-quality shock cord running through the center of the pole. This makes assembly super easy because the elasticity of the shock cord pulls each piece together as there are stretched out. There is a foam ball on top of the pole which we found to be awesome because it adheres to the Lycra/Nylon blend very well without slipping, and keeps the pole in place when wedged between sand and the tent. The rounded ball also prevents any possible sharp edges that might come in contact with the canopy fabric causing it to slice or rip.
The last thing we love about these poles is that they’re not telescoping. Most pop up canopy tents have one-piece telescoping legs that slide into each other. The problem with these legs for beach use is when they come into contact with sand. Over time, sand inevitably becomes lodged in the sliding legs and thumb release locking buttons causing grinding and breakdown of the mechanisms. By having the shock cord and interconnecting pieces of the Neso poles, this completely removes the possibility of sand becoming stuck in between two pieces of metal causing breakdown.
Each pole is 6’ 11” (83” total) which is a very nice height and which allowed us to stand underneath, compared to the Neso 1 at 5’ 6” (66” total) which we found to be a bit too short for our liking.
Once we had all of the materials out of the carrying bag, it was time to set up the tent. Following the instructions on the front cooler pouch, the first thing we did was lay the tent flat and stretch each of the anchor bags as far as possible making a big “X”.
With each anchor bag laying flat, we filled them with as much sand as possible until they were overflowing. Then we pulled on the nylon rope of the bag and cinched the anchor bags shut. We then pulled the bags outwards again making sure to pull the Lycra/Nylon canopy fabric as taut as possible. It is very important to stretch the tent out as much as possible. Pulling it completely taut will create downward pressure on the aluminum poles, keeping them securely wedged between the sand and the fabric.
We connected each of the aluminum poles and propped up two corners of the tent. There are two very important things to consider when positioning the poles underneath the tent. The first is that they each need to be 1 foot, toward the center, from the corners. This relieves some of the tension on the corner construction and will provide the most stability.
The second very important consideration of the pole position is to help stabilize the tent during windy conditions. The trick here is to always position the poles so that the wind is flowing directly under the beach tent. For example, if the wind is coming off the North, then position the poles on the north corners of the tent. This will prevent buckling of the aluminum poles and will keep your tent stabilized in the wind. Always position the poles on the same side of the canopy that the wind is coming from.
Things to Consider
There are two things, in our opinion, that need to be brought into consideration before purchasing the Neso Grande. The first is that while this is an excellent beach canopy tent, for those looking to use it at other locations might be disappointed where sand is not readily available to fill the anchor bags. You can use rocks to fill the anchor bags, but that isn’t always a feasible option. We wish that stakes were included with the original purpose. We understand that a lot of the marketing around this tent is that it’s a stake-less design, but it would add a lot of functionality for those looking to use it at a soccer tournament or a park. It wouldn’t add any weight and the stakes are compact so they could fit inside an interior pouch of the carrying bag.
However, you can purchase stakes on the Neso website or just reuse stakes if you have them from a previous canopy tent. If you do have them laying around, throw them in the cooler pouch so you don’t forget them if you find yourself in a pinch.
The second consideration is the footprint that this tent takes up. For those of you on East Coast beaches, you might find there is simply no room to set up the tent with the close quarters and overcrowded beaches (looking at you NJ and MD). The footprint of a 10x10 canopy only takes up 100 sq. ft., but the Neso Grande can take up to 400 sq. ft. depending on how far you stretch the anchor bags. Something to consider if you plan on using it on a crowded beach.
Upon completing the entire review, we can definitely say that in our opinion we think the Neso Grande is the best beach tent on the market. Our compliments start with their customer support and outlook on service and extend genuinely to their products. Their commitment to delivering a tent that has high-quality standards, innovative and thoughtful lightweight features, and unmatched functionality separates itself amongst all the other beach sunshade canopy tents.
We’re still undecided as to what our favorite characteristic is of the Lycra/Nylon fabric; lightweight, durable, water resitant, sun protection, 4-way stretch, or just the cool coral color. No other beach tent will provide more square footage of shade at the same weight as a Neso tent. We love the lightweight aluminum poles and the anchor bags that are easy to cinch closed and keep the canopy securely grounded.
In terms of setup and ease-of-use, this is one of the easiest tents to setup that we have ever reviewed. One person can quickly complete setup in under 4 minutes. Remember our tip with placing the poles on the same side as the wind, and you’ll be the envy of beachgoers everywhere you go. But be prepared, everyone will stop by your tent and ask what the brand name is and where you purchased it. We’re very confident we’re going to be seeing this more and more Neso tents on the beach this summer.
Head on over to Neso.com to check out all of their great beach products.