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Best Camping Canopies

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 14 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 111 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best camping canopies

    Last Updated December 2018

    Whether you’re going on an outdoor adventure or having a get-together in your backyard, a camping canopy can ensure that your day is memorable for all the right reasons. With a good camping canopy, you’ll never find yourself short of shade or scrambling for cover should the weather take an unexpected turn.

    But with so many options currently on the market, choosing the perfect canopy can be tricky. You’ll need to consider the type, the ease of setup, the weatherproofing, and the price to find the right camping canopy for your outdoor needs. If you need a hand, we’ve got you covered!

    Here at BestReviews, our goal is to take the guesswork out of shopping. We’ve compiled the detailed shopping guide below to help you find the best camping canopy. Read on to find out more.

    Even if you can easily do it by yourself, getting a family member or friend to help you set up your camping canopy will reduce strain on the canopy’s legs and frame joints.

    Types of camping canopies

    When shopping for a camping canopy, the most common frame styles you’ll come across are straight-leg frames and slant-leg frames. Although it can be tempting to choose a style based solely on aesthetic preference, there are a few key differences between the two types.

    Straight-leg camping canopies

    This classic canopy style is sturdy and has a straightforward design that provides coverage that’s equal to its footprint. Straight-leg camping canopies tend to provide superior stability on flat surfaces. They have a space-saving design that offers more coverage without taking up unnecessary room. It’s also easier to find and add accessories like shade walls to a straight-leg canopy.

    That said, because the canopy itself is larger, most straight-leg models cost more than their slanted counterparts. Straight-leg canopies tend to be heavier than slanted varieties, too.

    Slant-leg camping canopies

    These camping canopies have a streamlined look and a more affordable price tag, two features that many people find appealing. Sleek and modern, slant-leg canopies are also lightweight and easy to transport. Slant-leg camping canopies tend to cost a bit less due to the smaller canopy size.

    However, keep in mind that a slant-leg canopy’s wider base will take up more space without offering any additional protection. For example, a slant-leg camping canopy that’s 10 x 10 feet typically only provides 64 square feet of shade, whereas a straight-leg canopy of the same size offers a full 100 square feet of coverage. Slant-leg camping canopies generally aren’t as sturdy as straight-leg models either, and adding accessories can be a little more difficult.

    When purchasing a slant-leg camping canopy, remember to check how much actual coverage it provides. Many of these canopies are measured and marketed by their base dimensions.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Features to consider for camping canopies

    A camping canopy certainly doesn’t have to be complicated to be useful. In fact, some might argue that simpler is better. However, there are a handful of features to look for that can give your canopy’s functionality a boost.

    Size

    When selecting a size, you’ll need to consider both where and how you’ll be using your camping canopy. Smaller camping canopies are ideal for a small family or for displaying goods at your local market. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a large gathering and need to fit multiple tables and chairs beneath the canopy, you’ll need a larger size. You can choose between a single large-frame canopy or multiple smaller models.

    Frame material

    Most camping canopy frames are made of aluminum or steel. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and we recommend choosing the most appropriate material for your needs.

    Aluminum frames tend to be lightweight and are generally easy to transport and set up. If you’re looking for a quick and convenient shelter for picnics, parties, camping, or a day at the beach, an aluminum frame could be just the ticket. Aluminum is also naturally resistant to rust and corrosion. However, it isn’t as robust as steel, and it’s more likely to bend under pressure or take off on a strong gust of wind.

    Strong and sturdy, steel is a good option if you want to leave your camping canopy up for more than a few hours at a time. Steel frames won’t bend or dent easily and usually offer superior structural integrity. Steel frames are also heftier than their aluminum counterparts and are less likely to blow over. Although this makes for a steadier frame overall, their extra weight means they can be a bit more difficult to transport and set up. Steel is also less resistant to rust, so a good protective finish is essential.

    Canopy thickness and weatherproofing

    Durable and naturally weather-resistant, polyester is hands down the most popular canopy roof material. However, not all polyester canopies are created equally. Camping canopy roofs come in varying thicknesses, which is indicated by the fabric’s denier. A higher denier is usually a reliable sign of superior weather-resistance and durability, but keep in mind that thicker fabric will also add more weight. For the best all-weather protection, we recommend choosing a UV-treated camping canopy with a waterproof vinyl or PU coating.

    Easy setup

    Unless you’re hosting a big event or need to leave your shelter up for more than a day or two at a time, we recommend opting for a pop-up or instant camping canopy. These have an accordion-like frame, which can be set up in a matter of minutes. This generally follows a three-step process of expanding the frame, attaching the roof (or simply pushing up a center mechanism if the roof is pre-attached), and extending the legs.

    Other features

    • Sealed seams: Regardless of how water-resistant the canopy fabric is, moisture will find its way into your shelter through needle holes in the seams unless they’re sealed. If keeping dry is a concern, this is a feature you won’t want to miss.

    • Roof vents: A vented roof will allow air to circulate, keeping your shelter from becoming unbearably humid on hot and muggy summer days. Moreover, vents can help prevent billowing in windy conditions, reducing strain on both the materials and the anchors.

    • Sidewalls: If you’re looking for extra protection from the elements or just want a little more privacy, consider purchasing suitable sidewalls along with your camping canopy.

    • Carrying case: Although it might not rank high on your list of camping canopy must-haves, a good carrying case can make a big difference. Not only does a sturdy carrying case act as a safe storage solution, but convenient features like a good set of handles and wheels will make your canopy far easier to transport.
    EXPERT TIP

    Never use your camping canopy as a shelter during a storm. Strong winds can uproot anchors, stakes, or weights and cause injury.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    To prevent mold, make sure that your camping canopy is completely dry before storing it.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Prices for camping canopies

    With a camping canopy for every budget, spending time outdoors with family or friends has never been easier. A camping canopy’s price tag is usually linked to its size, construction materials, and durability.

    Under $100

    Budget-friendly camping canopies priced between $60 and $100 are usually slant-leg models made of lightweight aluminum. While inexpensive canopies can be ideal for those seeking shade on sunny days, they generally aren’t suitable for prolonged use or harsh weather conditions.

    $100 to $150

    Whether you’re looking for a sturdy steel frame or improved weather-resistance, this price bracket offers a wide range of options for both slant-leg and straight-leg camping canopies.

    Over $150

    If you need reliable stability, high levels of weather-resistance, and long-lasting durability, investing in a heavy-duty camping canopy may prove more economical than repeatedly replacing cheaper models.

    Not all camping canopies are sold with an anchoring system, and you may need to purchase stakes, guy lines, or weight bags separately.

    FAQ

    Q. What can I use to clean my camping canopy?

    A. Warm water and mild soap work best. Wash or wipe down your camping canopy gently before giving it a rinse with clean water. To avoid damaging weather-resistant treatments or coatings, don’t scrub, and steer clear of harsh detergents.

    Q. Is there anything I can do about a leaky camping canopy roof?

    A. A leaky roof can have several causes. Tears in the fabric, unsealed seams, and low levels of water-resistance are the most common culprits. Small rips and tears can usually be repaired with a suitable patching kit. Unsealed seams aren’t a lost cause either – you can find a variety of easy-to-use tent seam sealants online or at a local camping shop. However, if you find water seeping through your roof at the slightest drizzle, it may simply be that your camping canopy was designed for shade use only. In this case, your best bet is to upgrade to an all-weather camping canopy with better levels of water-resistance.

    Q. What’s the best way to secure a camping canopy at the beach?

    A. When spending a lazy day at the beach, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a fly-away camping canopy. While using stakes is a great way to secure a canopy on firmer ground, this generally doesn’t work too well on soft beach sand. For lighter winds, weight bags attached to the legs should work just fine. Another option is to use guy lines and sand/snow anchors, which are buried rather than driven into the ground. If you anticipate strong winds, consider using both methods to keep your camping canopy safely in place.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Erica
      Erica
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Stacey
      Stacey
      Writer

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