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Whether you’re at a sporting event, beach, campsite, or other outdoor space, a pop up canopy tent provides shade and shelter for your group. Ideal for getting out of the sun, waiting out the rain, or housing your camp kitchen, these open floor-plan tents can really elevate your campsite. I tested some versatile canopy tents while camping to find the best models for your summer activities.
How I Chose the Best Canopy Tents
I chose a variety of popular canopy tents to suit any campsite. All of them are easy to set up, provide shade, and feature optional accessories to tailor your pop-up to your outdoor space. I’ve tested the top two in rain, hail, wind, and sun with success. Read on to find out which canopy tent makes the best addition to your kit.
Best Canopy Tents: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Soli Air Canopy
- Weight: 17 pounds
- Size: 10 by 10 feet
- Center Height: 8 feet
- Comes with a backpack for easy storage and transportation
- Hardcore stakes
- Includes a shade wall and air pump
- Easy to setup
- Not as tall
This canopy tent is inflatable, and a unique shape. Though I think it is superior to similarly priced traditional pop-ups for a few reasons. In extreme conditions there is no metal to bend or snap, and as long as the Soli Air Canopy is staked down, it isn’t going anywhere. It’s also extremely versatile so that you can adjust the angle or drop it down by tightening the guy lines in the event of foul weather. The arches also make it harder to bump your head and even if you do, the squishy inflatable hurts a lot less.
The Soli Air Canopy inflates easily with the included rechargeable air pump in just a few minutes. Thanks to the flexible nature of the inflatable you can move the legs in or out for an optimal angle. Though in order to fully zip the included shade wall into place, the legs have to be a certain distance apart. I would recommend staking down the arm with the inflation valve first, then inflating the tent and zipping the wall before finalizing your stake placement.
The included stakes are thick plastic corkscrews that I’m sure work great on a sandy beach. However in dry dirt, they were difficult to screw in and would only go down half-way, but they still did the trick in mild conditions. I switched to heavy duty tent stakes when camping in the high desert. Over the course of testing, this pop-up saw wind, hail, rain, and sun. It stood up to all the elements well. At night I had to re-inflate the arms thanks to a drop in temperature, but it was quick and easy.
Best Budget: Ozark Trail Canopy
- Weight: 29.2 pounds
- Size: 10 by 10 feet
- Center Height: 8 feet, 2 inches
- Easy to set up
- Push button locks
- Not very durable
The Ozark Trail Canopy tent is a great budget pop-up. It’s easy to set up and simple to lower in case of extreme weather. There are three different height settings to adjust how low you want the canopy to sit. Or even account for a slope by lowering two of the poles one notch further than the other two. There are also accessories available to improve your experience. For $50 more, you can purchase an accessory pack that screens in the tent on all sides and provides a shade wall.
In high winds, I would strongly recommend lowering the tent to avoid the metal bending out of place. After two years of using it on an annual high desert camping trip, it’s still holding up nicely thanks to our diligently securing it during rough storms. It isn’t the most durable canopy, as we have experienced a few bends. But with extra care you can keep it in good shape, and it continues to survive another year.
Largest: Coleman Sun Shelter
- Available Sizes: 7 by 5 feet, 10 by 10 feet, and 12 by 12 feet
- Weight: 42.8 pounds (10 by 10 model)
- Center Height: 9 feet, 4 inches
- Wheeled carry bag included
- 1-year limited warranty
- Comfort Grip locks
- Quick set up
The Coleman Sun Shelter comes in three sizes; the largest of which is 12 by 12 feet. Even with the 10 by 10 model, the center height is the highest on this list at 9 feet, 4 inches. If you have a big group or tall friends, this option is great for the beach, camping, or anywhere else you might need shade. The frame is all one piece and expands easily for a quick setup. Coleman also sells a rain and shade wall separately.
The Comfort Grip locks allow you to raise and lower the canopy without pinching metal pins into the legs. It also comes with pre-attached guy lines to secure the tent in unruly weather. There is also a 7 by 5 feet option if you just need a small shelter for yourself. At nearly 43 pounds, the 10 by 10 feet model is heavy but a wheeled roller bag is included for transport.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Canopy Tent
There are a lot of durability concerns with canopy tents. The reviews tend to be filled with bent metal and collapsed canopies. But if you keep your tent lowered in high winds and properly stake all the guy lines out, you should be able to avoid these catastrophes. The Soli Air Canopy provides a unique solution to this issue by being inflatable. The material feels durable and the flexibility gives it an advantage over rigid metal. Regardless of what model you pick, you should treat a canopy tent as carefully as you treat your camping tent for best results.
The tents on this list all come with a carrying case, but they vary in weight. The Soli Air Canopy is lightest and even comes with a backpack for easy transportation. The Coleman sun shade comes with a wheeled bag, but if the ground isn’t flat you’ll have to carry all 43 pounds to your destination.
All of the pop-ups on this list are UPF protected. They should also shelter you from the rain in all but the most torrential downpours. The optional sun walls and mesh panels can provide more shade, shelter, and escape from bugs. I remember when camping as a child, my parents put all the kids in a mesh lined canopy tent to sleep and I have fond memories of sleeping in the seemingly open air while protected from bugs. When it comes to rain, The Soli Air Canopy is the worst at keeping out water thanks to the open design and curved tent. Though you can lower one side by tightening the guy lines to give you a better angle from the rain or zip on the sun shade for added protection.
Read Next: The Best 6 Person Tents of 2023
While slant leg canopies are often cheaper, straight leg canopies tend to be sturdier.
Some of the best brands of canopy tents include Coleman, MasterCanopy, and Outsunny. Many brands make outdoor tents in a variety of sizes, with add-on features like sun walls and mosquito nets.
The main features to look for in a pop-up canopy are ease of setup, how much shade it’ll provide once it’s up, and how easy it is to take where you need it to be.
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Final Thoughts on the Best Canopy Tents
Create the best campsite possible with one of the best canopy tents. A place to escape the hot summer sun, bugs, or a fleeting storm will make your outdoor space more comfortable. House your kitchen, eating area, or base camp to cool off with a UPF protected sun shade. The options on this list range in size and construction but any are a great fit for your next outdoor adventure.