A gazebo tent can be a lifesaver when it starts to sprinkle during your outdoor party! We've researched and reviewed some of the best-selling backyard canopies out there to make it easier for you to stay cool and dry. First, check out the list of specs below that you should consider when shopping around for a gazebo tent. Tip: While some canopies can handle mild wind and rain, never use your canopy in strong wind for your own safety.
Side Wall: An included side wall can help protect you from the sun, rain, and wind--or you can get one separately.
UV Protection: Stay cool and avoid sunburn with a backyard canopy that has a high UV protection rating (in percentages).
Bag Included: You shouldn't have to tote your canopy around in a garbage bag--keep it all together with an included carry bag!
Base Size: How big is the tent's footprint? This is important for your available space and how much shade it provides.
Weight: Most gazebo tents range from 30-50 pounds, so keep that in mind if you want to carry one around.
Warranty: The warranty options offered ranged from one to two years in the pop-up canopies we researched.
Ready to get some shade? Our top pick and budget pick are the best options we found in our research. However, if the specs aren't quite what you're looking for, keep reading! We have eight other products that we just couldn't resist. Our reviews are definitely in-tents!
Do you know what can ruin a fun day in the sun? The sun. Wind and rain are a close second and third. What we need is a manmade structure that protects whatever and whoever from Mother Nature’s strikes – this is where canopy tents come into play. A canopy is the best collapsible structure that prevents nature from raining down on your backyard BBQ.
In general, there are 4 main types of canopy tents to choose from. They are instant canopies, inflatable tents, pole tents, and frame tents. Let’s go over their key features and how they differ.
Instant canopies, also known as pop-up canopies, are the simplest type. These temporary structures usually require only one person to erect, and it can be done literally in minutes.
+ Quick and easy to set up
+ Sturdy enough to protect against light rain and wind
+ Lightweight and portable
- No pegs, fast winds will blow the canopy away
Inflatable tents are another type of temporary canopy. The main difference between the two is that inflatable tents rely on air for support rather than plastic or metal. These are a lightweight alternative if you need something to provide shade at the beach.
+ Easy to set up
+ Available in different shapes and designs
+ Newer, trendier type of canopy tent
- Less support against rain and wind
- Requires an air compressor
- A rip in the fabric renders the entire tent useless
Pole tents are a sturdier type of canopy. At least one central pole is used to keep the unit standing while stakes and ropes help maintain the tent’s shape. This is a great option for those who need a long-term structure for protection against sunlight, rain, and wind.
+ Sturdier thanks to pegs and rope
+ Easy to install
- Not something to take with you to the park
- Not useful on asphalt or sand
- Central pole gets in the way
Frame tents are sort of a mix between pole tents and pop-up tents. This tent does not require pegs and ropes, but instead, it stands vertically on aluminum frames. As such, this type of canopy takes longer to set up and dismantle, but it’s a lot more durable than the other types.
+ Stands against hard rain and wind
+ No central pole(s) means more square footage beneath the canopy
+ Can be set up on both soft and hard surfaces
- Pricier than other canopies
- Longer to set up
- Not easy to transport and store away
Canopies may seem like straightforward products, but there are plenty of things to consider before settling on one particular model. In this section, we’ll go over canopy fundamentals. This information should help you find the ideal canopy for whatever outdoor adventure you have planned.
Where you plan on setting up the canopy should determine which type of canopy will suit you best. Pop-up, inflatable, and frame canopies are extremely user-friendly and can be erected on most surface types (grass, sand, asphalt, etc.). Pole canopies need compacted dirt for the pegs to hold.
Pop-up and inflatable canopies are temporary and can be transported to and fro without much fuss. Although no canopy tent is truly “permanent,” pole and frame canopies can provide shade for several years in the same spot.
The construction of a canopy tent is divided into two components: the frame and the canopy. Frames are typically made of aluminum or steel; the former is lighter in weight and more ideal for transport, whereas the latter is heavier but provides better protection against rain and wind.
As for the actual canopy, the most commonly used material is waterproof polyester, but many high-end models use a vinyl coating which protects against harmful UV rays. The thickness of the canopy’s material will also determine how resistant it is to nature’s elements.
The benefit of straight-legged canopies is that the supports do not take up more land than the actual canopy. If the canopy is listed as a 10 x 10-foot model, you’ll actually get 100 square feet of shade. As for slanted-support canopies, they look absolutely adorable in the right conditions, but they’re a lot less stable than their straight-legged counterpart, and their slanted legs require more space to install.
You might think that setting up a canopy is a simple process, and you are correct. However, if you want to get the most out of sun-blocking shelter, then take a look at what the gods of canopy ownership have to say.
Sandy beaches make for the ideal picnic spot, but winds can be a nasty reminder of nature’s hatred for mankind. To keep your canopy from getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle, bring plastic bags with you on your beach trip and fill them up with sand. Next, either hang the makeshift sandbags on a canopy hook or tie them to the frame.
If you’re setting up a canopy in a park or your backyard, try and find a spot as close to a building as possible. Hopefully, the building takes the brunt of high-speed gusts of wind, leaving your canopy completely intact with minimal damage.
Your canopy is designed to protect you from rainfall, but without gutters, there’s nothing that will save you from the accumulated droplets that will eventually soak into your shoes and socks. To prevent rainwater from ruining your Crocs, dig a shallow trench along the perimeter of the canopy. If all goes as planned, the water will have nowhere to go, and you’ll have a moat to keep any hostile black knights at bay.
Sidewalls are used to add protection against the rising or setting sun, but when the wind kicks into high gear, the sidewall will actually cause the canopy to lose its footing. When it’s not raining or the sun isn’t particularly bothersome, remove all sidewalls to allow wind to peacefully pass through.
No matter how careful you are, there’s no way to prevent the inevitable crack in the canopy’s frame or pole. A snapped frame or pole can be devastating, but it’s not the end of the world. Using some rope and a flat piece of scrap wood, you can create a splint to tie the pole’s pieces together. It will only be a matter of time before it snaps again, but at least you’ll get a couple of hours of use.
And finally, keep your canopy away from trees. Tree limbs break off all the time, and if/when a branch comes crashing down onto your canopy, it could create an irreparable gaping hole and ruin your trip.
To get the most out of your canopy tent, you’ll want to glamorize the frames and canopy with one or several of these handy accessories.
Hooks and cup holders are great for hooking things up and holding onto cups. Having extra storage space never hurts when taking a trip to the beach or park.
A roller bag makes transporting canopies extremely easy. Some bags are spacious enough to fit both a canopy set and a carpet.
It won’t hurt to give your canopy much-needed support by placing a few weights on the frame. These are especially helpful on grass and/or uncompacted soil.
If you’d like to turn your canopy into a tent, then you need several additional screen panels or sidewalls. The great thing about screen panels is they have mesh windows that let air in while stopping insects from trespassing.
Even with all the shade, a canopy with four walls can get stuffy. Use a disc fan to shoo away sweat-inducing humidity by improving air circulation.
One of the handiest accessories you could install on your canopy is rain gutters. If you don’t like the idea of digging a trench around your canopy, then rain gutters attached to the canopy’s edge can help by redirecting accumulated rainwater to one corner of the canopy.
Expert Researcher and Writer
Jennifer Trimbee, a lead researcher and writer at GeekWrapped, is an expert writer with many years of experience. Jennifer writes about technology, sports, outdoor, and gear products.
Article last updated on:
September 30, 2019