Best Canopy Tent of 2021
|Price||$408 List||$219.00 at Amazon||$269.99 at Amazon||$99.95 at REI||$74.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Durable, quality materials, fast set-up, excellent travel bag||Easy to use quick release system, 3-year warranty, high ceiling||Fast set-up, durable, protective||Light, easy to set up, familiar design||Inexpensive, easy to use, fast set up, portable, compact, lightweight|
|Cons||Expensive||Heavy, wobbly wheels||Complex design, hard to carry||Fixed floor bases, not very stable, no guy-lines||Lower quality materials, small footprint, walls block breeze|
|Bottom Line||This shelter excels in every category, but you do have to pay for it. If you use it often, it rewards you||This shelter is easy to transport and set up while remaining reliable, sturdy, and modestly priced||Fast to set up, this shelter provides protection from the elements and insects||The design allows for a fast and easy set-up at the cost of durability and stability||The easiest, lightest, and most affordable beach tent we tested|
|Rating Categories||Eurmax Premium 10x10 Pop Up||E-Z Up Pyramid||Quick-Set Escape||REI Co-op Screen House||Pacific Breeze Easy Setup|
|Ease Of Setup (25%)|
|Wind Resistance (20%)|
|Specs||Eurmax Premium...||E-Z Up Pyramid||Quick-Set Escape||REI Co-op Screen...||Pacific Breeze...|
|Measured Weight (lbs)||64.3 lbs||54.1 lbs||32.8 lbs||12.3 lbs||5.0 lbs|
|Peak Height (feet)||11.0 ft||10.4 ft||7.5 ft||7.0 ft||3.9 ft|
|Number of Poles||4||4||Poles integrated into tent material||6||Poles integrated into tent material|
|Floor Dimensions||120" x 120"||120" x 120"||140" x 140"||120" x 120"||87" x 49", half-dome shape|
|Packed Size||64.2" x 11.7" x 11.5"||62" x 8" x 8"||72" x 8" x 8"||9" x 29"||40" x 5" x 5"|
|Main Material||300D polyester||Polyester||Poly-Oxford||Ripstop nylon||Polyester|
Best Overall Canopy Tent
Eurmax Premium 10x10 Pop Up
The Eurmax Premium 10x10 Pop Up offers 100 square feet of sun protection and a peak height of 11+ feet. The moment we opened the box, it was apparent that this shelter was of the utmost quality. Impressive design and quality materials make this weighty steel-framed shelter easy to set up and amazingly durable. Setup and takedown is aided by quick-release tabs that allow each leg to slide easily into place. The traveling case deserves a review of its own, with wide-open access, durable wheels, and comfortable handles. Pockets on both the interior and exterior of the case make it a breeze to organize the components, ensuring you won't lose your stakes again. From its portability to its reliability, this tent impressed our reviewers every step of the way.
The chief disadvantage of this shelter is its overall size and weight. It is the heaviest shelter we tested, though in this case, the weight is an indicator of the quality of the steel frame. Still, this shelter may be too large and cumbersome to operate if you plan on being extremely mobile or if you're solo. Otherwise, if you want a commercial canopy tent, this is where you should start your search.
Read review: Eurmax Premium 10x10 Pop Up
Best Bang for Your Buck
E-Z Up Pyramid
Though the steel frame adds weight to the structure, it also adds stability and durability. This model is capable of keeping your goods safe in inclement weather. However, in more severe weather, we would place our bet on the Eurmax Premium, which we also expect to last longer than the Pyramid. This tent is offered in multiple colors, so you're sure to find something to match your aesthetic needs. Of all the commercial canopies tested, this was the fastest to set up and truly stood out in all aspects.
Read review: E-Z Up Pyramid
Best Beach Canopy
Pacific Breeze Easy Setup
The Pacific Breeze Easy Setup is a beach tent with a half-dome design and enough space to shade one to two adults. Due to its hub-system design, setup is hassle-free and takes only seconds. Thanks to its low weight of 5 lbs and the included carrying bag with a shoulder strap, it's exceptionally portable, and it takes up minimal space in the car. This is a one-piece product, and its integrated poles take away the setup stresses associated with the more complicated designs. Though different from the others we tested, due to its almost instant setup and simple layout, we believe this tent provides everything a solo beach dweller or two could want for a day out.
With that said, this is a half-dome design, which means the tent does not provide maneuverability or that open-air feel. The footprint is small and is only optimal for up to two people. The fiberglass poles, although lightweight, are not the strongest of materials, though the risk is minimized if the tent is oriented properly with stakes and filled sand pockets. For the beach-going individual, couple, or small family looking to procure shade with minimal effort or damage to the wallet, the Pacific Breeze provides what most folks need for a perfect beach day.
Read review: Pacific Breeze Easy Setup
Best Camping Canopy
Clam Outdoors Quick-Set Escape
If you're seeking a large, spacious camping canopy to keep the bugs of summer at bay, the Clam Outdoors Quick-Set Escape is worth considering. Of all the camping models we tested, this one came out on top. It easily fit over a standard-sized picnic table, and we were able to fit six adults under this shelter to eat dinner. Because the design is unique, there's a slight learning curve to erecting it. However, once you get the setup dialed in, this tent goes up super fast, allowing you to spend more time relaxing at your campsite. Other tents cannot compete with this hassle-free, speedy setup. With reasonable care, we also expect this burly tent to last a long time. We even like the non-intrusive, subdued dark green color, which helps our tent blend into the forest rather than stand out.
This model's biggest drawback is its heavy and long packed size. Storing and transporting this tent could be a hassle, which is an important consideration for anyone short on space. As mentioned, the first time you set this tent up, do not expect it to be quick and easy, but trust that setup times will all but disappear once you get the hang of it. Lastly, it's pretty spendy. But for a camping canopy that can take multiple camping trips without falling apart, we consider the price to be within a reasonable range and on par with that of other high-quality camping canopies. We've tested and judged hard, and at the end of our use and abuse, the Clam Outdoors canopy stands out as our favorite model for camping with family and friends.
Read review: Clam Outdoors Quick-Set Escape
Why You Should Trust Us
We assembled a team of experienced canopy tent users, from market vendors to beach lovers, to thoroughly test each model in this review. Michael Wood led our team. He is a regular at local markets and has set up various commercial canopy models countless times. He also has spent many holidays at campsites utilizing camping canopies and using beach models for shade on the shore. Michelle Galinak helped with this review in the camping and beach category. Being a true mountain and beach dweller, she understands how shade on a sunny day or protection from bugs and wind can make or break an entire trip. Senior Review Editor Ross Robinson also lent his experience to this review. Ross relies on canopy tents to survive on summer days while entertaining at local establishments and farmers' markets. He has used enough canopy tents to know what separates a reliable, wind-resistant model from one that, well, isn't.
Our experts teamed up to develop a rigorous test plan, which we applied to every model in our review. We learn a lot about each model in varying environments of the Lake Tahoe Basin mountains, forests, lake beaches, and meadows. Each model got set up and broken down repeatedly to assess their ease of use and craftsmanship, which separated the well-designed from the failure-prone or confusing models. Methodically, we used each tent in its intended environment — plus some unintended ones — to see just how much use we could get out of them. From whipping wind to sweltering sun to relentless rain, we set up these canopy tents across multiple weather scenarios to test them in the worst and best elements. We even carried or rolled each tent 100 yards to see how much suffering it took to move them from point A to B. We also hosed down the tents to see if the material is water-resistant and strong enough for an afternoon thunderstorm in the Sierras. The results are an unbiased and exhaustive review.
Related: How We Tested Canopy Tents
Analysis and Test Results
Our test metrics include Livability (how enjoyable the space underneath the canopy is), Ease of Setup (based on each canopy's average setup time and their hassle factor), Durability (how much life you should expect from a given model in varying weather conditions), and Portability (either carried in hand or on wheels). We weighted each metric according to its importance, and we graded and ranked each shelter, side by side, on a scale of 1-10. Below, we discuss the metrics we used to score each model and highlight impressive performers in each performance area.
Related: Buying Advice for Canopy Tents
Not sure which canopy is going to deliver the best bang for your buck? This category can get pricey quickly, so having an eye on quality per dollar is a great idea. Typically, the lower-priced options in this category will work for the short term. However, their lower-quality materials are more of a struggle to set up, and the longevity generally isn't there. They usually weigh less, which is handy when lugging them around, but it generally means they are not as durable in the wind or trying weather conditions. The higher-priced models weigh more, but that's because the weight comes from more durable and stable materials like steel and thick canvas. Determining which features you need in a canopy will help you choose which one provides maximum efficiency at the right price.
When it comes to value, our favorite commercial canopy is the E-Z Up Pyramid, followed by the Caddis Rapid Shelter. The Pacific Breeze is an inexpensive beach canopy that provides the essentials for a quick, hassle-free setup, but it's not built to last many summers of use. And while the Eurmax Premium is a big jump in price, its likely ability to outlast the others in the long term justifies the cost.
The first metric we tested for is livability. This metric considers each shelter's floor space and height, as well as any design element that may limit accessibility and maneuverability. We erected each model and measured the height and floor space to compare to other tents in its subcategory of camping, commercial, or beach canopy. The majority of the shelters tested offered the common 10x10 floor space, but where we saw the most variation was in each shelter's height and design. Another key aspect of livability is the extra convenience features provided by various models. For example, hanging loops, storage compartments, and built-in pockets make canopy use easier and more organized throughout your day or event.
The E-Z Up Pyramid canopy (below, left) utilizes a frame that adheres to the ceiling, which increases the headspace while limiting the visual peak height. In comparison, the Eurmax Premium (below, right) has an impressive peak, but the frame extends much lower than the perceived height, limiting the available amount of headspace. Both tents boast three height settings, which helps when setting up under tree branches or other height restrictions. The quality of the canvas also provides reliable protection from precipitation and the sun.
As for beach tents, the Big Agnes Three Forks scored the highest, while the sloped style of the Neso 1 and the limited space of the Pacific Breeze garnered the lowest scores. However, livability might not be your largest factor when seeking a beach model because you might spend just as much time outside the canopy as under it. For many folks, the spaciousness of a beach canopy isn't a critical factor. Hanging loops on the REI Co-op Screen House or extra pockets for sunscreen storage in the Pacific Breeze provided bonus livability features. Our testers weren't too upset to head out to locations like Nevada Beach on the shore of Lake Tahoe to test these models.
The Three Forks canopy has an open-air layout promoting maneuverability and ease of access. The Pacific Breeze has a half-dome design that provides shade but does not encourage much movement underneath the canopy, which is likely fine, as your activities under such a shelter may be limited to relaxing in a beach chair reading a book. Determining which one best suits your needs comes down to how you intend to use these tents.
Among the camping models, we found the Clam Outdoors Escape to provide the most internal space with its unique, rounded perimeter. It accommodates a picnic table and guests with space to move around inside. This model, along with the REI Co-op Screen House, adds insect protection with a mesh screen, although this can make them feel less airy and open compared to some of the other canopy tents tested.
Ease of Setup
Our second grading metric involves how fast and easy it is to set up and take down each shelter. While we recommend that most shelters are set up by a minimum of two people, the ease of this process can vary drastically depending on each shelters' design and quality of materials. Each product was set up and taken down a minimum of 10 times with a stopwatch, with the final times compiled and compared to generate an average length for setup. Another factor that goes into ease of setup is the features each canopy provides. For example, quick release systems or sliders offer fewer opportunities for fingers to be pinched, and toe pegs to step on when popping up a heavy commercial tent can make a huge difference when setting up one of these canopies — especially in less than ideal conditions. The footprint a canopy tent takes up during setup is also a factor in this scoring metric.
All tents reviewed were set up with two people, except for the Pacific Breeze, which utilizes a pop-up hub system created for setting up by one person. This design limits hassle and time with integrated pole-to-canopy design in a single system. One person simply folds the legs out and pulls on the rope in the center of the frame, which pops the frame into place. We found it to be the easiest and quickest system tested.
Commercial canopy tents are typically the most difficult to set up due to their sheer weight and size. The Eurmax and EZ-UP, however, utilize quick release systems that limit the resistance as the legs slide into place. The smooth action translates to less struggle during deployment.
Shelters like the AmazonBasics that utilize the familiar metal tab release run the risk of that tab braking, as well as the risk of a pinched finger. Quick-release systems remove both of these threats by offering a much more user-friendly system. While weight and size have a factor in ease of setup, we found that the quality of the tent can counteract the weight. The Eurmax, for example, was the heaviest tent tested, yet it was one of the easiest to erect due to its quality design and steel legs.
The beach tents that we tested are generally easier to erect than their commercial counterparts, since they are smaller and lighter. Remember, beaches tend to be windy, so it is helpful to have another person to manage the "sail" factor of the canopy. Some beach canopies, like the Pacific Breeze, utilize a different design that promotes a single person setup. The design and lack of structure of beach models proved detrimental to the tents' overall stability.
In the camping canopy vein, we also found variance. Due to the familiar design of the REI Screen House, which resembles most camping tents, its setup is comfortable and straightforward. The Clam Quick Escape, however, has the potential for a faster and easier setup since all structural components exist as a whole with the material. The fiberglass poles and the canopy are attached, so the poles don't need to be inserted into any sleeves, which means the tent just needs to be "popped" out. In our experience, this usually led to a very fast setup once we got the hang of it. There were a few occasions, though, where the frame got jumbled and setup became stressful.
The third metric has to do with a shelter's ability to resist windy conditions. Wind resistance is linked to the product's weight, design, and provided stability options (guy-lines, stakes, etc.). Beach and camping tents tend to be more prepared to handle strong winds as they are most likely to be set up and utilized in gusty weather. They are also more aerodynamic than commercial models, with curved and angled canopies instead of boxier ones. They also often come with guy-lines and stakes. Commercial canopies, on the other hand, rely more on their weight to keep them stable and are assumed to be used in more moderate conditions. Additional stability options for commercial canopy tents can be purchased to increase wind resistance, one of the most useful being sandbags. Often, a shelter's ability to resist the wind can be linked to another key performance area — durability.
As far as commercial canopy tents go, the Eurmax stole the show again. With a weight of over 60 lbs and by offering high-quality steel stakes and legs, this was the most stable commercial tent tested. Beach tents rely more on their additional stability options (stakes, guy-lines, or sand pockets) rather than their weight for their stability. Dome-shaped shelters like the Pacific Breeze can survive heavy winds if they are properly anchored down.
Assessing wind resistance during the setup stage is an important ranking value in this metric. Does wind make the setup more difficult or frustrating? When testing the Pacific Breeze and Three Forks on the same day, we found two very different results. The Three Forks was much more frustrating to set up due to the canopy catching the wind. After anchoring the tent down with stakes and guy-lines, a gust of wind collapsed the Three Forks Shelter and bent its aluminum poles. After taking the tent down, we set up the Pacific Breeze. We staked it down and filled the sandbags, and although it tilted a little in the wind, we found its design offered more stability in moderate to heavy winds. The setup was also less frustrating in the windy conditions.
The fourth metric is durability, relating to the material durability and expected lifetime of the product, as well as the stability in inclement conditions supported by the use of stabilizers such as guy-lines and stakes. Stability in poor conditions reduces wear and tear on a given model. By decreasing the chances of movement during stormy weather, shelters are less likely to become damaged.
Commercial canopies tend to be more durable and stable due to their heavier weights, materials, and frame designs. Steel legs are more likely to survive the tests of time and repeated abuse over aluminum or fiberglass ones. They won't bend or warp nearly as easily. The quality and thickness of the canvas canopy also plays into durability. The Eurmax Premium model has a tough, 300-denier polyester top that resists abrasion. That, with its heavyweight status and steel legs, increases our confidence that this model will likely outlast pretty much any other model tested. The thick guy-line webbing and long stakes are also a favorite among our testers, giving confidence to this tent's stability, which translates to less wear and tear and a longer life.
Design also matters. Some models, like the Eurmax and E-Z Up, glide smoothly into position during setup. On the other side of the spectrum is the AmazonBasics model, which requires more force to set it up. Having to repeatedly use such force makes it almost inevitable that such a model will break down faster.
When comparing material durability, the REI Screen House and Clam Escape feel similar to a traditional camping tent with ripstop or polyester canopies and aluminum or fiberglass poles. Though the Clam Escape has fiberglass poles (contrasted with the aluminum ones on the REI model), it struck us as more durable due to its overall design and internally protected poles.
Among the beach canopies, the Pacific Breeze doesn't instill loads of confidence in the longevity department, though it did hold up well during our testing period. It has a lot of moving parts, which presents more opportunities for pitfalls in durability. That said, it was the Big Agnes that was the first to start deforming due to stress from the wind.
The final ranking metric is portability. Don't be fooled; this is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the amount of sweat and frustration a model will induce upon its owner. If there's one thing that we learned over our three months of testing lots of models, it's that a heavy tent with a poor carrying case can make your experience a nightmare.
Portability is especially relevant concerning the commercial tents, as they are typically heavier and more unwieldy. Packing up super long and weighing at least 40 lbs, often more, moving these models from house to car to market and back is no small task. That said, despite the low weight of the Big Agnes Three Forks, its lack of handles or a shoulder strap makes transportation unwieldy, especially when you're on your way to the beach with your hands full. Merely adding a shoulder strap like the Pacific Breeze is a game-changer. With this addition and its lightweight aspect, we could transport this product multiple ways, even while biking to the beach wearing it like a backpack.
The Pacific Breeze, E-Z Up Pyramid, and Eurmax shelters, while varying incredibly in packed size, all stood out in this category due to the quality of their carrying cases, which limits the amount of stress on the user. Wheels on large commercial canopies are particularly useful, especially when the parking lot is full and you have to haul all 40-60 lbs of metal and canvas a quarter-mile.
Canopy tents come in quite a variety, from intended usage to quality to value. We assure you that we went to great lengths to assess each model fairly across pre-determined metrics. The idea is simple — to help you find the model that most fits your needs. The right purchase the first time saves money and reduces stress and hassle.
— Michael Wood and Michelle Galinak