Pop Up Canopy Tents: The Fast and Easy Buying Guide

There are so many different options to consider when looking for the perfect pop up canopy. Reading this article will clear up the confusion, and help you find the best pop up tent for you.

Today, we're going to take you through the different options for purchasing pop up canopies so that you can make that perfect choice.

The Fast and Easy Guide to Pop-Ups

Pop-up canopies, also called instant canopies, have a well-deserved reputation for being the most user-friendly type of canopy. Why are these canopies considered so convenient? That would be due to the unique accordion-style frames that collapse and expands easily with just a little pulling and pushing. Many like this type of canopy since it only takes one or two people to set up and take down without the use of any tools. 

However, it should be noted that no two canopies are going to be exactly the same regarding construction, but all shelters labeled as "pop up" should have a set up similar to this. If the assembly has many complicated steps or requires tools, it's not truly an instant canopy. Be sure to keep that in mind while searching because products can sometimes be mislabeled or, unfortunately, have names that are designed to mislead you.

So once you've decided to get one, finding the right one is the next step. Unfortunately, that can be much less user-friendly. There are many styles and sizes available, so how do you know which one is the right one for you? With this guide, you'll find that selecting the right one isn't as intimidating as it might first appear.

Determining Your Needs

The first step is determining what instant canopy fits your needs. What are you planning on using your shelter for? That has a direct correlation to the size of canopy needed. For example, a canopy that is going to be used for a backyard barbecue would need to be bigger than one used for a craft show. The amount of space you need depends on what your plans are.

The Fast and Easy Guide to Pop-Ups

Unfortunately, individual circumstances vary so there is no definite way to determine an ideal canopy size. However, you can get a rough estimate of how much room you need by allowing ten to twelve square feet per person when hosting a party.

With chairs or lecture-like layouts, you could presume five to six square feet per chair. Or, for an event with meals, you can estimate around 12 square feet per person when using round tables, or 10 when using rectangular ones. 

For business and commercial uses, the way to estimate is a little different. For a craft tent, sales booth, or display center, instead of measuring for people, the best way to determine your space requirements is to measure all of the items. This will indicate what size canopy you need.

Materials and Me

Many popup canopies and tents have a similar setup, but that doesn't mean they are exactly the same. Made with a variety of materials, your needs may be better suited by specific options. There are two main options for tops, frames, and leg position. But knowing a little about them can help determine what is best for you.

The Fast and Easy Guide to Pop-Ups

Most frames are made of either steel or aluminum. Steel is sturdy but heavier and less portable than aluminum. On the other hand, aluminum is lighter but more likely to bend. 

When there is corrosion, aluminum forms aluminum oxide, a hard substance that actually helps prevent further corrosion, while steel rusts, though many frames do come treated to avoid oxidation. This is important information to consider when selecting your frame.

There are two main options for top material: polyester and vinyl. Polyester is most commonly used for pop up canopy tops. They also often cost less than their vinyl counterparts. Both types are durable and water-resistant. Vinyl offers better UV protection and weather resistance as well. They're even easier to clean! Many are certified flame-resistant, but they are typically more expensive as well.

One other thing to consider when making the correct top selection for your canopy needs. That would be the denier, which is the measurement of how thick the material is. It's determined by measuring the weight of 9,000 meters of a fiber in grams. If, for example, 9,000 meters of a particular fiber weighs 550g, then its denier would be 550. It's important to note, though, that you can't always assume that a higher denier indicates superior strength if you're comparing two different materials. Every material has its own strength to weight ratio. 

The Fast and Easy Guide to Pop-Ups

Instant canopies come with either slanted or straight legs. While this may just appear to be a difference in aesthetics, it's actually a major structural component. Slanted legs are less stable than straight legs. They also take up more space while providing less coverage. A 10 by 10 slant-leg pop-up tent will usually only offer 64 square feet of shade, while a 10 by 10 straight-leg model provides 100 square feet of shade. However, the tradeoff is cost. Straight legged canopies are more expensive, giving you something else to consider.

Accessorize Your Canopy

Now that we've covered basic pop-up canopies, we can get into accessories and other customization. These are ways to make sure all your canopy needs are met. Some of the accessories are structural while others make your canopy more convenient to use. A few of the most common types of accessories are sidewalls, stakes and anchors, and storage bags.

Sidewalls are just what the name implies. They enclose some or all of your canopy for privacy or weather protection. You typically have a few different options of types of sidewalls, though it does depend on the manufacturer. Mesh walls, half walls, full sidewalls, some even have food service walls! 

The Fast and Easy Guide to Pop-Ups

Wind can present a problem with any canopy, but it can be especially problematic for instant canopies. There are three different kinds of anchoring that work. The first type and one of the most common is stakes, which are simply used by pushing them into the ground. Anchors are very similar to stakes. The main difference is that you twist them in the ground, providing a better hold than stakes. The third option is weight bags, which use additional weight to stabilize your canopy. 

Most people are interested in pop up tents due to the light weight and portability. A sturdy travel bag will make it even easier to transport! There are several different varieties, including some with wheels or a hard outer shell, but the main things you need to look for are good handles and sturdy construction. Quite a few models come with these included.

The Fast and Easy Guide to Pop-Ups

Another option to accessorize your canopy is getting custom graphics put on it. There are a few different ways this can be done. We use three different ways: screen printing, digital printing, and digital patch printing. If you're interested in learning more about the custom graphics offered by eCanopy, please read our Step by Step Guide to Custom Graphics.

What About A Package?

Package deals are increasingly popular due to coming with many accessories people desire for an affordable price. There are many different sets to choose from so how do you know which one is the right one for you? To make sure a package deal works for you, consider the math behind the package. If it doesn't add up to savings, it probably isn't that good of a deal. Also, make sure you need all the items that come in the package! Spending more to get things you won't use is not advisable. 

Putting It All Together

Instant canopies don't have to be a great mystery. In fact, now you should know enough to make the whole process go a lot smoother. It may seem like a lot to consider, but once you go through the process step by step, you'll see that you're ready to find the perfect canopy!

Still Need Help?

I would suggest reading some of our other helpful articles like the Party Tent Buying Guide and 14 Rules for Canopy Tent Care.

If you still need additional guidance, please contact one of our canopy specialists and they would be more than happy to help you.

Dani Bell

About the Author

Dani Bell

Dani, our Head Writer and Editor, has been in the hearth and fireplace industry for six years. She has written a number of our articles for both eFireplaceStore and eCanopy to balance technical knowledge with customer-friendly terminology and style. Currently, she is studying to earn all of her National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certifications and works with the content department to add products to the eFireplaceStore and eCanopy websites.

Customer Q&A with Product Specialists

Marie from Sonora, Ca asked:
How do I anchor a canopy on a synthetic deck?
How do I anchor a canopy on a synthetic deck?
In most cases, you would use weight bags if you are not able to stake the canopy down.
Answered by: Chaz A.


Deborah L. from Goshen Indiana asked:
What would you recommend for a 10 x10 enclosed vendor tent with zipper sidewalls?
What would you recommend for a 10 x10 enclosed vendor tent with zipper sidewalls?
We would recommend the package deal found here
Answered by: Sarah B.


Lauren from Chicago asked:
My husband is in an art fair and needs a 10' x 10' tent.  He is going to be hanging framed pictures (with glass) on the walls.  What type of canopy and walls would work the best?
My husband is in an art fair and needs a 10' x 10' tent. He is going to be hanging framed pictures (with glass) on the walls. What type of canopy and walls would work the best?
We do not sell any canopies made for that express purpose, and as it would void warranties, we can not make a recommendation.
Answered by: Sarah


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