The Paha Que Cottonwood LT is a very large and tall freestanding sunshade shelter that can easily accommodate a large group of six to eight people. This shelter works well for family gatherings and campsite outings lasting a full day or longer. The Cottonwood's roof material is made from a sturdy polyester fiber and it has a waterproof coating.
Paha Que Cottonwood LT Review
Cons: Takes a long time to set-up, relatively heavy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Paha Que Cottonwood LT has 100 square feet of fully usable floor space and it is the tallest canopy that we tested. We recommend it for groups of six to eight people who are seeking shelter from the sun or light rain. This shelter takes the longest amount of time to set-up of all of the products that we tested.
The Cottonwood is the tallest canopy tested (8 feet at its peak!) and has the most amount of livable space to relax under, but tall people do have to tilt their head slightly to enter underneath it (it's approximately 6 feet tall at the edges of the roof line depending upon the terrain and how far out the four leg poles are spread out). Six beach chairs can easily fit underneath it but not all will be shaded unless the sun is at high noon because the Cottonwood does not have any sidewalls and the edges of the canopy are relatively high. In order to sit under the canopy's shade you might have to sit a foot or two out from underneath it depending on the time of day and height of the sun. Paha Que does sell sidewalls separately and they also sell another version of the same 10x10 canopy tested that comes with awnings for an additional $114.
In comparison, the Big Agnes Three Forks Shelter, our Editors' Choice winner does not have quite as much livable space, but its lower ceiling and removable sidewall provide more shade underneath.
Ease of Set-Up
The canopy is not simple to set-up and takes two people approximately 20 minutes. The first time we set it up, we couldn't figure out why it was so short. After some sleuthing, we figured out that you have to keep moving the four leg pole corners in towards the middle and then just keep pulling down on the corners of the roof in order to maintain proper height. It's easiest to accomplish this with four people to assist in setting this shelter up. Don't forget to also tighten all four adjustable leg straps at the bottom of the four corners of the roof material.
The Cottonwood tolerates wind well due to the high openings of its sides and the fact that it has two guy lines available at each corner for a total of eight guy lines altogether. When set-up properly and fully guyed out, this shelter is pretty windproof.
The canopy is constructed of 150D polyester oxford and it is sturdy. The poles are made of high performance 100% Aluminum 6061 Series alloy and are shock-corded. We didn't have a problem with them at all during our testing. The roof is treated with a waterproof coating and is also SPF rated at 50+.
This canopy is eight feet tall and weighs sixteen pounds. It is the tallest and also the heaviest product that we tested. It packs down to approximately 26 x 8 x 8 inches and the carrying bag that it comes with has a shoulder strap.
This shelter is great for family outings or parties that need to accommodate more than three or four people. The Cottonwood fits easily over a picnic table.
At $320, this shelter is quite an investment. If you have a large family that likes to have parties outside or go car camping for the weekend often, then it may be worth it. Just make sure that you are not in too big of a hurry to set it up.
This is a great shelter for groups of six to eight people. The Cottonwood is sturdy, well-constructed, has twice the amount of guy lines as most of the other products tested, and is exceptionally tall.
— Valentine Cullen