Another term for this category of products is instant shades. They are made so that they can be conveniently moved from spot to spot but give shade to a person or object when required. Because of the need for portability they are simpler, lighter and cheaper than their fixed cousins. The drawback is that they are often more prone to breakage. This is offset by the fact that the portable shade is easier to store and set up.
The reasons why people use portable shades are quite varied. A lot of use is devoted to recreational purposes starting from home. A party held in the backyard sometimes spills over into the lawn or other unshaded areas. Near the house there may be an awning or pergola, but far from the house the guests become exposed to the sun. To protect the guests portable shades can be quickly brought out and set up. There are also people who use portable shades primarily for business.
In what follows we describe a few kinds of instant and portable shades for different kinds of purposes.
A regular awning is a shade that hangs on a truss over the window or door on the exterior of a building. It provides shade near these entry points which reduces the heat from entering the house, much as bamboo roll up blinds on the exterior of a window helps keep the house cool. Portable awnings are similar in the respect that they are a shade stretched over a frame that sits on four wheels. They can be transported from spot to spot. When placed into position the angle of the shade can be adjusted for to the liking of the users beneath.
Many people find that pool use necessitates outdoor shades of some sort except in the least sunny climates. The canonical shade for the pool is the outdoor umbrella. But the umbrella has several limitations, some of which center around their shape, the obtrusive table underneath, or the incomplete shading from the side. As such, portable pool cabanas have been developed which provide more privacy for one or two people. They are like small changing rooms, or perhaps can be accommodated to seat a few people.
Slightly different from awnings are outdoor canopy shades which are freestanding structures that resemble large, standing-room tents. These can be placed onto a porch where it would be called a deck canopy. Although this is a freestanding shade, it is considered fixed because of the enormous time and effort required to set one up. In contrast, portable canopies are very lightweight, but lack the fabric walls that surround fixed canopies. The canopy roof is usually the only fabric in the portable versions.
Portables do not have to be static structures assembled and dissembled all the time. The portable umbrella is mounted onto a metal frame or hitch that is affixed to a vehicle. This is very convenient if the users are constantly moving from spot to spot in a vehicle and need quick assembly of an outdoor shade. Tailgate party goers may find this portable shade to be most useful.