Eureka Tagalong Shelter Review
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Eureka Tagalong Shelter
|Price||$187.39 at REI|
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$188.86 at Amazon
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|Pros||Well-made, lightweight, repels rain, small packed-size, lots of built-in features||Rugged, well-crafted, easy to set up, adjustable, excellent travel bag||Pinch-free setup, steel frame, adjustable, repels water, excellent roller bag, easy to set up||Inexpensive, easy to set up, portable, compact, lightweight||Less expensive, lighter than similar models, easy to set up and reposition, shades well|
|Cons||Sits low, smaller that standard canopies, sways in the wind, takes time to set up||Expensive, heavy, large packed-size, feet are plastic||Heavy, wheel assembly is mostly plastic, a little wobbly at full height||Lower craftsmanship, small, bad air flow, doesn't repel rain||Thinner materials, ineffective roller bag, rain penetrates seams, wobbly in wind|
|Bottom Line||The perfect blend of spacious, rugged, portable, and fun - this canopy covers a lot of ground but doesn't take up a lot of space||We scoured this monster canopy from head to toe and found nothing but quality||Spending your weekends sitting along the sidelines just got a whole lot cooler||A great landing pad for a respite from the hot sun, but we wouldn't want to sit in it all day||Not everyone needs a military-grade canopy tent, so if all you want are the basics, then don't pay more than necessary|
|Rating Categories||Eureka Tagalong She...||Eurmax Standard 10x10||E-Z Up Pyramid||Pacific Breeze Easy Up||Caravan Canopy V-Se...|
|Ease of Set Up (25%)|
|Specs||Eureka Tagalong She...||Eurmax Standard 10x10||E-Z Up Pyramid||Pacific Breeze Easy Up||Caravan Canopy V-Se...|
|Measured Weight||5.9 lbs||64.3 lbs||54.1 lbs||5.4 lbs||32.1 lbs|
|Peak Height||6.3 ft||11.0 ft||10.4 ft||3.9 ft||9.2 ft|
|Number of Poles||2||4||4||Poles integrated into tent material||4|
|Floor Dimensions||132" x 108"||120" x 120"||120" x 120"||87" x 49", half-dome shape||120" x 120"|
|Packed Size||23" x 10" x 6"||64.2" x 11.7" x 11.5"||62" x 8" x 8"||40" x 5" x 5"||53" x 9" x 8"|
|Main Material||Polyester||300D polyester||Polyester||Polyester||Polyester|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Tagalong didn't look like much when we first untied its packing straps, but after clipping in the aluminum frame and staking this thing down, we were pretty impressed. This canopy quickly jumped out as a possible award winner the first time we used it. It's perfect for wanderers, on-the-go adventurers, or soccer parents who simply want a lot of shade without a lot of weight or hassle.
The thin, tent-like fabric and aluminum poles of the Tagalong aren't very impressive at first glance, but when combined, they produce a decently accommodating shelter with lots of little user-friendly extras. We feel the Tagalong is a great choice for a beach outing, picnics, car-camping trips, or outdoor soccer games.
The unique shape of the Tagalong is appealing, and it's fun to set up and use. Its legs flare, making it difficult to get an accurate measurement, but the canopy is about 8x8 at the top and 10x10 at the bottom. Its valances are angled and sit much lower than a traditional canopy, allowing it to block out the sun's different angles better than some of its competitors.
There are many things we love about the Tagalong. Its open design and longer valances perfectly balance sun protection and airflow, keeping you shaded and cool for most of the day. It's also filled with loops and hooks for gear, and it even has mesh pockets built into its legs. Much like a lightweight backpacking tent, the Tagalong can be easily lifted into the air by one person, and this comes in handy for shaking off sand or repositioning. Additionally, the canopy has a 50+ UPF rating.
We love the "it" factor of this shader. It sits low and has a sleek design, like a race car. However, it cannot be adjusted. With a peak height of just over 6 feet and a main entrance that stands at only 5 feet, the Tagalong feels a little more cramped if a lot of people want to seek shelter at the same time. We feel it can accommodate between 4-6 people, depending on age, chair size, and gear. Lastly, its thinner, 63-denier polyester taffeta fabric allows ambient sunlight to glare through into the eyes. This isn't a huge problem, but it's noticeable compared to the thicker canopy materials employed by other models.
Ease of Set Up
After countless assemblies in everything from grass to sand, we found the setup process of the Tagalong to be fairly straightforward and intuitive. If you've ever set up a camping tent, you'll be able to set up this canopy without ever looking at the instructions.
While one person can set up this canopy with relative ease, it is much easier with two. That said, the Tagalong did not earn the highest scores in this metric because the tent material gets easily twisted and blown out of configuration if there's a breeze during setup. Additionally, it takes time to slide the poles into the canopy sleeves, arch the tent into position, fill up the built-in sandbags, and stake it down.
Despite the intuitive assembly, the Tagalong actually requires double or triple the amount of time to set up compared to the other models we examined. So, the process is easy, but it just takes more time. Its strong, 7000-series aluminum poles are very long and a little awkward to maneuver.
We highly recommend using the built-in guy lines, which will take additional time to secure. And, unlike many other canopy tents, the take-down process requires an equal amount of time. Regardless, we love this canopy and didn't mind the extra 3-5 minutes required to set it up.
Despite being a little wobbly in the wind, we still awarded the Tagalong a good score for protection. It noticeably sways during breezy conditions, but when staked down and anchored with its built-in guy lines and sandbags, this canopy resists wind quite well — just not as well as the beefier models we tested. In terms of sun and rain protection, it is rated at 50+ UPF, and it avoids water like a cat.
We were pleased to see the Tagalong incorporate design styles similar to high-end, four-season tents used for expeditions or in regions with extreme weather. Those features include enclosed, full-length sleeves for its poles, giving the tent frame added strength and stability. Additionally, all four legs are reinforced by interconnected webbing, which can be covered with sand — this keeps each leg from moving independently and provides a stronger base. We also were pleased to see that key fabric joints are reinforced, and all of the tent's seams are double-stitched and weather-taped.
We doused the Tagalong with a backyard hose to see how it responds to heavy rain, and we were pleased with the results. Not a single drop made its way through into the interior. Additionally, the longer valances block the sun more efficiently and add increased protection from blowing rain. Our only complaint is that the tent-style design cannot be adjusted to lower heights, which would allow users the ability to really hunker down if a freak storm blows in.
Regarding protection, we only noted two small negatives: the Tagalong sways in the wind, and its tent-like material provides good shade but still allows ambient sunlight to shine through. In the end, we were impressed that such a simple design can offer excellent protection from sun, wind, and rain. While the Tagalong didn't earn the highest scores in this metric because it doesn't match the protective level of larger, more rugged models we tested, it is a fantastic shelter for the right use cases.
The Tagalong is well-built and has very few moving parts, resulting in a shelter rugged enough to weather years of use if used and maintained with care. It earned above-average scores for craftsmanship, falling short of the best scores only because its canopy is thinner and its frame is aluminum. It doesn't compare to the 500-denier fabrics and powder-coated steel used to build other styles. That said, beefy and heavy isn't the Tagalong's niche, and we feel it is the perfect design for a portable, grab-and-go canopy.
For its intended use, we feel the Tagalong boasts impressive craftsmanship. As mentioned in our protection metric, this shelter is double-stitched, weather-taped, and reinforced. It uses full-length fabric sleeves to house its aluminum frame instead of mesh or plastic clips. These design features are then complemented with continuous webbing at its base. The fabric, plastic, and metal used in the construction are top-notch, leaving us with very few concerns. The only slight criticism we have is that we wish the stakes were cork-screw shaped and larger, longer, and tougher.
We held back on giving the Tagalong really high scores on all of our previous metrics; however, that is not the case when it comes to portability. Transportation is this canopy's forte. It's lightweight and proud of it, earning it some of our best marks in this area.
This canopy fits easily into any trunk or back seat, and when you reach the beach, it can easily ride on your back with the help of a comfortable shoulder strap. Weighing in at just under 6 pounds, the Tagalong is super easy to carry while rock-hopping, river-wading, or schlepping through sand.
The included tote bag is about the size of a regular draw-string backpack, and it has a cool triangle zipper pocket on the cover flap to hold all your stakes. We also loved the handy weather-proofed instructions that are permanently sewn to the inside of the bag. We can sum up the portability of the Tagalong in two words: easy peasy.
Should You Buy the Eureka Tagalong Shelter?
If you're always wondering what's over the hill or around the bend, the Tagalong Shelter is a great choice for you. It's perfect for adventurers who want to sea kayak to a secluded beach, hike to a scenic overlook, or canoe to an island in the middle of a lake. Likewise, if you just want a chill day in the forest, this canopy is your perfect grab-and-go companion. You should consider buying the Tagalong if you want a lightweight canopy that is easy to carry and fun to use. However, you will have to be willing to accept its limitations: lightweight = less rugged. That said, the manufacturer didn't cut any corners. This canopy is well-crafted, so plan on spending a little extra.
What Other Canopy Tents Should You Consider?
If your idea of a day on the shoreline includes a massive canopy tent that is rugged, waterproof, and doesn't flinch when faced with wind, we highly recommend our top-scoring tent, the Eurmax Standard 10x10. This tank of a canopy borders on commercial grade, and we feel it is built to take on nearly anything from trade shows to surfing competitions. If you like spending time in the mountains but are looking for a more comprehensive shelter that can protect against sun, wind, rain, AND bugs, we suggest the Clam Outdoors Quick-Set Escape. It's the best camping canopy shelter we've ever seen.
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