Quick Canopy Tent Buying Guide

by Kenneth Huebsch on June 3, 2017

Canopy Tent Buying Guide

Quick Canopy Tent Buying Guide

Think about your upcoming outdoor plans and consider how they would be affected if it were to rain. Sometimes you are able to reschedule your plans to avoid the bad weather. But for outdoor events that you don’t have the ability to reschedule, rain can drastically impact whether or not the event is a pleasant one. I stand by the argument that owning a canopy tent is one of the single most effective insurance policies that you can have to protect your outdoor plans. Canopy tents come in all shapes and sizes, and selecting the right one can be an intimidating process. The intent of this article is to provide you with some suggestions to help you narrow down your search. If would like to save some time, you can take a look at our expert’s list of best canopy tents, but after reading this article you should have enough information to get started on your own.

Which Variation is Best for Me?

Canopy Tent Buying Guide

Canopy Tent Buying Guide

The first decision that you will have to make is what is more important to you, portability or durability. If you need to leave your shelter set up for longer than a day or believe that your shelter will be exposed to medium to high-impact weather, then you should look at Pole Tents or Frame Tents. These are large, durable structures that can withstand heavy wind without being damaged. The drawback to Pole and Frame tents is that they are usually heavy, difficult to set up, and expensive.

Canopy Tent Buying Guide

Canopy Tent Buying Guide

If you plan on using your canopy tent for recreational single day use and portability and ease of use is more important to you, then you should look into Pop-Up canopy tents. Pop-Up canopy tents are the cheapest and most convenient variation. One or two people can usually set them up in under 5 minutes because joints connect all parts of the frame. Erecting a Pop-Up frame is as easy as pulling the legs outwards, similar to unfolding a camp chair.

Which Canopy Tent Frame Material is Best for Me?

The frame itself can be composed of one or more of various materials, each having strengths and weaknesses. The question that you should ask yourself is whether strength or weight is more important to you. Aluminum frames are great for recreational use because they are lightweight and inexpensive. Aluminum is also resistant to corrosion and rust, which means that aluminum will have a longer lifespan than steel. The drawback to aluminum is that it is not as strong as steel so an aluminum frame is more susceptible to bending than a steel frame. Steel frames are stronger than aluminum frames, but they are heavier and more expensive. Also, steel will rust so steel frames require periodic maintenance.

Which Canopy Material is Best for Me?

Polyester is the most common material used for the actual canopy of a canopy tent because it is the most affordable. Polyester is water resistant and durable. It is appropriate for recreational use, but might damage with exposure to high-impact weather. Some people consider polyethylene a step up from polyester because it can be waterproof. Be wary when manufacturers use the term waterproof, though. Manufacturers can apply a cheap chemical sealant to a water resistant fabric and claim that it is waterproof. After a while this sealant will deteriorate and the canopy will loose its ability to block all water permeation. Polyethylene has a denser thread count than polyester so it can block heavier rainfall, but it is not more durable than polyester so it still isn’t a good option for long-term use. If you expect that your canopy tent will be exposed to high-impact weather at some point, then the best canopy material to look for is vinyl. Vinyl, also known as PVC, is a synthetic plastic made from ethylene and chlorine. It is strong and durable and is a viable option for a permanent structure such as a carport or utility shed. The drawback to vinyl is that it is heavy and expensive. Typically, you won’t find any pop-up canopy tents with vinyl canopies.

There are many other factors that you should consider when purchasing a canopy tent and we get into the subject more thoroughly in our all encompassing canopy tent buying guide. Don’t be overwhelmed. Figure out what the most extreme condition that that your canopy tent will be exposed to, and pick a frame variation that will be strong enough to withstand that condition. After you have picked a frame, decide how important water resistance is to you and narrow your search even farther based on the canopy material. From there, read reviews and trust your instinct. Good luck, and stay dry!

This post was written by Kenneth Huebsch

Kenny is a family man, Volkswagen lover, and outdoor enthusiast. He lived in Alaska for three years, while stationed in Fairbanks with the Army. During that time he traveled all across the state in his 1977 VW Westfailia. Now he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Cayce, dog Murphy, and his Volkswagen.

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