The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Canopy Tents

Monday April 5, 2021

We bought every canopy tent included in this review to test and assess. Below, we detail how our team of experts examined each area of performance.

Livability


This metric details the area of protection provided by the shelter, as well as the accessibility to the shelter. Each shelter was set-up in varied conditions, to better understand the space and protection that each tent offered in the rain, wind, or sun. The shelters that were the most accessible and the ones which had the greatest area of protection scored the highest in this category.

On a calm summer day, our testers could opt out on using the guy...
On a calm summer day, our testers could opt out on using the guy lines on this sturdy camping and beach canopy.
Photo: Michael Wood

Ease of Setup


The ease of set-up metric is as straightforward as it seems. Each tent was set-up and taken down a minimum of 10 times, in both windy and calm conditions. While each shelter was set up with two people, which we recommend using, setup was attempted by one person for all the shelters as well, to better understand the requirements of each shelter. The shelters that were the most straightforward and easy to use were ranked the highest, whereas those that were the most frustrating and cumbersome were ranked the lowest. We recognize that ease of use has an immense impact on the user experience, so we took that into account. We also noted how much space was needed to set up each tent, were the poles integrated making setup area minimal or were they separated needing a larger area to set up? Are there tripping hazards or other hazards created during or after set up? In some situations, like on a crowded beach in July, space is limited for set up, so this was taken into consideration as well.

Forcing this model into place during setup didn't help its score...
Forcing this model into place during setup didn't help its score...
Photo: Michael Wood

Wind Resistance


Our testing grounds are the Sierra Nevada mountains, where windy days are frequent. We made sure to test each model on days with strong winds. We assessed not only their overall stability, with guylines and stakes deployed, but also looked at how much a model's canopy shook and flapped. Quality guylines, straps, or sand pockets increased a model's score in this metric.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Durability


This metric revolves around the quality of materials, design, and stability options provided with each shelter. This was tested by using each shelter in a variety of conditions, to determine the shelters ability to protect its user in inclement weather, as well as to identify any areas of the shelter that may be prone to damage, from weather or time. When it comes to design, by setting each tent up multiple times and noting areas of resistance, we could identify areas of the shelter that are prone to wear and tear. The stability options of each tent, stakes, guy-lines, etc. will increase the shelters durability and limit potential damage to the shelter or the goods underneath. Most tent damage (especially relating to beach and camping tents) comes from the wind, so the better stabilized the shelter is capable of becoming, the higher the score it received in this category.

Portability


The final metric used takes into account the ease of transportation, with regard to the intended use. Over the three months of testing, we found that a tent that is difficult to transport is not worth the money, especially if you are constantly on the go. Each shelter was transported by hand at least 100 yards, and the quality of the travel case had a direct impact on the overall experience with that shelter. Tents with superior travel cases, which minimized the effort and made the experience more enjoyable, scored high whereas shelter with poor case designs and minimal quality of life additions scored low.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge