The Kelty Shade Maker 2 is the tallest canopy tested besides the Paha Que Cottonwood LT. It has a unique aluminum hybrid pole system: the poles are connected in the middle and when assembled form a very large "X". This canopy is relatively light, packs down small, and comes with a very cool backpack style bag.
View of the back of the Shade Maker 2. We liked this canopy, but it just didn't score quite as highly as our Editors' Choice winner, the Three Forks Shelter.
At 7' 2" tall at its peak, the Shade Maker 2 is the tallest dome-style beach canopy we tested. Anyone can easily stand underneath it directly in the center. It is easy to enter this shade shelter via the front or the sides but not the back. The back wall is covered about one third of the way down in order to provide better shade and shelter from the elements. Take care to be careful of the webbing that runs along the ground, connecting the four corners as it is easy to trip on, especially when erected over sand or dirt.
Ease of Set-Up
Setting up this shelter is somewhat similar to setting up a large camping tent, however, it was nearly impossible for one person to set it up alone. Although challenging with one person, this canopy is easy to set-up with two and takes under ten minutes to do so.
The Shade Maker 2 is very difficult to erect in the wind since the canopy has hug clips for the poles instead of sleeves to slide the poles into. If you are going to set it up in windy conditions, we recommend staking the corners in first.
You can see here that this canopy uses external clips instead of pole sleeves to secure the poles. This design makes this canopy much more difficult to set up in the wind.
This canopy catches the wind a slight bit due to its height and the drop down sections of the back and tops of the sidewalls.
We found that the aluminum poles of this shelter weren't very tough and became damaged and bent easily with normal use due to the heavy weight of the ends of the poles in the "X" system. The guy line connection points on the sides of the shelter are large and durable. Its canopy is constructed of durable 68D polyester 800 mm.
If durability is a high priority for you, we recommend checking out the Cottonwood, which earned our highest scores in durability, as well as our Best Buy Award.
The "X" pole system
This shelter was the easiest to carry due to its awesome backpack style stuff sack. That said, it's not as light as the Lightspeed Quick Canopy or the Three Forks Shelter.
The very cool and handy backpack stuff sack of the Kelty Shademaker 2.
This shelter is great for seeking shelter from the hot sun and can fit a family of four with room to spare. However, the Shade Maker 2 is not the best shelter to seek refuge from rain, as its sides are very exposed. We recommend this product for day use during beach, river, or lakeside outings but we don't recommend it for seeking shelter while sidelining at spectator sports because it is too tall and might impede the views of others.
At $200.00, this shelter is not cheap. We think that our Editors' Choice winner, the Big Agnes Three Forks (also $200), is easier to put up especially during windy conditions.
Weighing in at 9 lbs 11 oz, the Shade Maker 2 is the heaviest dome-style shelter we tested, but we didn't notice the extra pounds thanks to its convenient backpack style stuff sack. This very tall dome shaped shade shelter is great for day use.
The extra fabric on this canopy provides a bit of extra sun protection. However, it can also catch the wind.