The 10 Best Canopies
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Don't let the wind, rain, snow, sleet or too much sun spoil your next outing to the beach or an otherwise enjoyable party in your backyard. These canopy tents will protect you, your friends and your belongings from the elements, and some of them even pop up quickly to provide a convenient instant shelter for an outdoor excursion, a camping trip, or an arts and crafts booth. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 17, 2019:
Removed the ShelterLogic MaxAp after discovering an abundance of reports that suggest low-quality components, including thin fabric that tends to rip easily. Several people complained that the frame poles do not fit together securely, so when pressure is put on the joints, they will often fail and cause the canopy to collapse. The Snail Party was not up to standard either — complaints indicated that its weak poles are prone to breaking, and many of its other components lack durability — so we eliminated this model as well.
As far as new additions to the list are concerned, the Quictent Party stands out as one of the larger, heavy-duty models available. It’s designed for use as a tent for large gatherings or as a portable carport, but users have reported utilizing it effectively as a shelter for horses and dogs, too. Thanks to reliable steel cable reinforcement, sturdy stakes, and tie-down ropes, it’s a solid option in areas where high winds can be an issue.
Also added the Crown Shades Instant as a quality choice for less intense applications, such as outdoor tradeshows, farmer’s markets, or beach shelters, and it comes with a convenient wheeled case for mobility purposes.
The Canopy Through The Ages
From the very dawning of civilization, mankind has held a special regard for having a roof over its collective head.
From the very dawning of civilization, mankind has held a special regard for having a roof over its collective head. Why? Because from those first daring homo sapiens wanderers to the Ancient Sumerians kings to the bold knights of the Crusading era to the modern NASCAR fan, no one likes standing there in the driving rain or the beating sun for hours on end. One elegant solution to this plague we call the weather, since time immemorial, has been to erect a canopy. Canopies can be made of cloth, animal hide, or of one of the many synthetic fibers today available; era and material notwithstanding, the design and purpose of the canopy has changed little throughout the ages.
Many scholars believe the word "canopy" came from the town of Canopus, an Ancient Egyptian settlement near modern-day Alexandria. For much of its long history, Canopus was considered to be a place of leisure and luxury, thus the connection makes sense, as canopies usually provide a place for respite. Other scholars call this presumption totally inaccurate, and point to the Latin word "cōnōpēum" which means "curtain."
Etymology aside, there's no denying that the canopy has played a major role in much of our collective history, sheltering warriors as they made their battle plans, providing respite for the traveling merchant or the explorer, or simply by creating a temporary shelter any man or woman from any stratus of society could enjoy. And of course that means you, too, can enjoy the many benefits offered by the humble canopy.
And you don't even need a history lesson to choose the right canopy for your purposes, you just need to consider your own everyday needs.
The Temporary Shelter - Pop Up Canopies
There are many types of canopy intended for short-term use, so a brief discussion of their form and function should precede discussion of which temporary canopy best suits your needs. So, ask yourself, is this canopy intended to...
- Provide a Space for Commerce
- Offer Shelter for Friends/Family Only
- Protect Food, Merchandise, Etc.
- Attract Attention from Passersby
You know these canopies well from street fairs, farmer's markets, and other temporary public venues: they have four legs and a pyramid shaped top.
If you need a canopy that can serve as a sales or information booth, you need one that can be made easy to access, potentially from all sides. (Never erect a barrier to your customers, e.g.) For that reason, a standard pop-up style canopy is usually the preferred choice. You know these canopies well from street fairs, farmer's markets, and other temporary public venues: they have four legs and a pyramid shaped top. E-Z Up is a trusted brand name, for your reference in this category.
If you need a more private canopy intended to create a space for friends and family to enjoy, such as a shelter for use on the beach or at the park, there are many canopies that can spring into shape and create a roof and walls. These shelters are often domed or curved in shape, and they can protect you from rain, wind, sunshine, and the prying eyes of others.
For protection from the elements and from the potential for unwanted guests including insects or grabby hands, many canopies can be outfitted with walls made from mesh screens or from more durable materials. These canopies can create temporary outdoor rooms that can serve as a place to cook, work, or simply to safeguard items or edibles. Just don't get confused with this type of canopy.
Finally, the temporary canopy can serve as more than a place under which to conduct business, but in fact it can be a part of your marketing plan. Choosing a canopy that is vibrantly colored can help you stand out from the pack (most canopies tend to be white, at least at public events), and any canopy offers you several places to hang signs, banners, or to display merchandise. And don't underestimate the power of the canopy to attract people when it's sunny or rainy out: provide a big enough shelter and you might just get a captive audience who will consider your goods and services.
The Semi-Permanent Canopies - Built To Last
There are many reasons one might need to put up a canopy for long-term use. These include everything from covering a car or a boat to sheltering delicate plants that would be damaged by direct sunlight to creating an outdoor workspace at a construction site or archeological dig.
You must consider whether your canopy will face things like...
When considering the right durable canopy for your purposes, of course you need to first consider your needs, such as square footage of coverage needed, access requirements, and perhaps even aesthetics. But equally important as those factors you can control are those variables which must be taken into account. You must consider whether your canopy will face things like...
- Extended Direct Sunlight (which can lead to UV damage)
- Heavy Rain or Snow Load (rain can corrode with time, and snow can weigh hundreds of pounds)
- Wind Gusts (a lightweight canopy is a sail waiting to take off)
For protecting motor vehicles or boats from direct sun, steel-framed canopies with durable vinyl roofing is usually the best choice. These same canopies often offer little protection from rain or wind, though, thus might be poor choices for use as a workspace.
Gazebo-style canopy tents often feature walls that protect against most types of weather and can create a good outdoor room, but watch out for their buckling under snow or faltering in heavy wind: those same walls that protect you from the rain can cause big problems as they catch a gust of air, see?
Ultimately, the best solution to choosing a semi-permanent canopy may be accepting that no one canopy is an all-weather, all-season solution to your needs; fortunately, most canopies aren't that expensive, either, so consider getting two or three.