Going camping but don’t want to have to hide in your stuffy tent when the sun gets too strong?
A camping canopy could be the answer.
Basically a portable roof with legs, a good camping canopy can provide shelter from wind, rain and maybe even insects if you purchase one with mesh walls.
There are plenty of models to choose from, but not all of them are worth your money.
I’ve put together a list summarizing the pros and cons of the best camping canopies of 2020 to save you time, money and headaches.
If you’d like more background on how to choose, I’ve included some pointers on what to look for after the reviews.
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- TOP 10 Best Camping Canopies of 2020
- Choosing the Best Canopy for Your Next Camping Trip
TOP 10 Best Camping Canopies of 2020
Eurmax Pop Up Canopy Tent
Review: A top-rated, high-quality option, the Eurmax Pop Up canopy tent is a reliable choice for your next camping trip and could be the best camping canopy of 2020 (even though strictly speaking it’s made for commercial purposes).
It’s very easy to put up, made with a double layer of strong polyester, and it’s seam-sealed for waterproofing.
Side walls can be purchased separately if you think you’re going to encounter bad weather, but even without them, if it’s not windy, this tent provides good shelter from rain.
- Durable, well-made and long lasting.
- Good quality wheeled carry bag included.
- Easy to put up with two people.
- A range of colors available.
- Comes with 4 weight bags to help secure the set up.
- Spare/replacement parts are easily available.
- No roof vent.
Eagle Peak Commercial Canopy Tent
Review: Another excellent quality and good value classic market style 10’ x 10’ tent, the Eagle Peak Commercial Canopy Tent is a reliable choice for campers.
Made with impressively tough 400 denier Oxford fabric, you won’t have to worry about durability.
The roof is vented to allow for more air circulation on hot days, and unlike other canopies, it copes well with rain.
- Folds up relatively small considering its unfolded size.
- 400D Oxford fabric is highly durable.
- Water resistant and UPF 50+ rated.
- Telescoping legs have 5 height positions.
- Comes with wheeled carry bag.
- Easiest to assemble with multiple people.
Core Instant Shelter Canopy Tent
Review: For a canopy tent that will stand up well to both rain and sun, the Core Instant Shelter provides a spacious 100 sq. ft. of protection while being easy to set up.
The height of the canopy can be adjusted between three different heights and though heavy, the whole thing is relatively easy to transport in its wheeled bag. It also has a ceiling vent to allow for air circulation.
- Solid, sturdy and durable.
- Comes with wheeled bag.
- Water resistant with taped seams.
- Heavy duty steel frame handles wind well.
- Durable 150D polyester canopy blocks 97% of UV rays.
- Set up requires two people.
- Heavy (43 lbs) and bulky to transport.
Clam Quick Set Escape Shelter
Review: This huge camping canopy comes equipped with no-see-um mesh walls and a water-resistant roof so that you can escape from more than just the elements.
It’s pretty easy to set up, although more awkward to take down. But, it does actually fit back in its bag rather than the bag feeling too small as is often the case.
It’s pricier than a lot of other canopies, but it’s more than just a canopy and a very sturdy set up so if you camp in insect-prone areas, it might be worth the investment.
- Extremely durable 210D poly-oxford material.
- Good protection from rain (provided there’s no wind).
- Stands up well in the wind (provided it’s set up before it gets windy).
- UPF 50+ protection.
- No-see-um mesh provides a safe retreat from insects.
- Can get a bit stuffy inside, the mesh blocks light breezes.
Coleman Instant Canopy
Review: This canopy from Coleman is an easy to use option that is great for providing shade from the sun, even in a slightly windy environment like the beach.
The frame itself is all one piece in a pop-up design and the fabric canopy is made of thick, durable material.
The main downside to this canopy is that it won’t be helpful in heavy rain. It is water resistant so it will protect you from a light sprinkling, but if you get caught in a downpour, you’ll want to retreat to your tent.
Coleman also do an Instant Screenhouse if you’re looking for a walled option to escape from insects.
- Quick and easy to set up.
- Comes with wheeled carry bag.
- UPF 50+ sun protection.
- Can cope with a reasonable amount of wind.
- Some durability issues, particularly with the bag.
- Not completely waterproof.
- Replacement parts are hard to come by.
Coleman Canopy Tent
Review: Another good choice from Coleman, this canopy offers slightly more space so is a great choice for larger groups.
It’s designed with hot weather in mind with a vent in the roof to let out any trapped heat, and the durable material provides UPF 50+ sun protection.
The roof vent also means that you can get good air circulation without any gusts of wind trying to pick the whole thing up.
Again, unfortunately this canopy is designed to provide shade and not shelter from heavy rain so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want all-weather protection.
- Instant pop-up design.
- Includes wheeled carry bag.
- Large 169 sq. ft. of coverage.
- Nice and cool in hot weather.
- Can cope with reasonable winds.
- Heavy and a bit awkward to transport.
- Not waterproof.
Big Agnes Three Forks Shelter
Review: From high-end tent manufacturer, Big Agnes, this lightweight canopy is the convenient option when walking a wee distance from car to camp.
It provides a nice amount of shade, although less than your classic market-style canopy with straight legs.
It sets up easily on sand although it isn’t great in the wind so you’ll definitely want the guy lines well secured.
It’s very portable and easy to transport and will take up no space in your boot, and it offers reasonable protection against rain.
- Separate wall panels can be purchased for extra protection.
- Very lightweight – just 7.5 lbs.
- Strong and lightweight aluminum poles.
- Can be set up solo although it’s quicker with two people.
- Taped seams mean it copes better with rain than some.
- Not great in the wind.
- Tapered legs means slightly less shade than other 100 sq. ft. footprints.
Kelty Shade Maker 2 Shelter
Review: Another of the best portable canopies and a similar design to the Big Agnes Shelter above, the Kelty Shade Maker provides 100 sq. ft. of shade as well as decent waterproofing as a result of the taped seams and PU coated polyester fabric.
It’s really lightweight (just 9 lbs. 11 oz.) and comes in a backpack style bag which makes it really easy to transport.
It also provides very slightly more side protection when the sun starts getting low in the sky than most canopies as the sides come down a little lower.
- Waterproof with taped seams (although obviously with a side wind you’ll still get wet).
- Copes well with wind.
- Lightweight, compact and very portable.
- Needs two people to set up.
- Aluminum poles could be stronger.
MSR Rendezvous Sun Shelter
Review: This is an expensive but ultralight camping canopy option for lightweight campers and hikers.
This kind of tarp canopy is a popular choice with hammock campers, but it’s also an amazing shelter for groups of people looking to escape sun or rain.
It can also be set up over your tent as an extra layer of protection in heavy rain. And, if you’re feeling creative, you can alter how you set it up to provide more or less side protection.
- Ultralight – 6 lbs. 10 oz. for the full set up or a fraction of this if you leave the poles behind and tie to trees instead.
- Versatile and can still be used in tight spaces.
- Good for rain and sun.
- Not suitable for beach use.
Pacific Breeze Sand & Surf Shelter
Review: Canopy tents are often purchased with beach use in mind, and this one has been designed specifically for that purpose.
It comes with pouches designed to be filled with sand to act as anchor points and has a water-resistant PE floor.
The floor is optional so you can choose whether you want to be directly on the sand or not, and there are removable side panels that can be added when you want more side protection from early morning or evening sun.
- Lightweight fiberglass poles.
- UPF 50 sun protection.
- Very easy to set up, can be done by one person.
- Optional floor and side panels included.
- Excellent airflow.
- Some durability issues.
Choosing the Best Canopy for Your Next Camping Trip
Choosing a camping canopy comes to down to balancing your needs and expectations of the canopy with your budget and the quality of the canopy.
There are a few different styles to choose from, a few different features to look out for, huge differences in weight and size when packed, and canopies that are designed for short bursts of use versus canopies that can handle being in place for a whole summer.
Let’s try and break it down:
Your Camping Style
There are two broad categories of camping when it comes to the kind of gear you use, and this is never so important as when it comes to the type of canopy you choose.
Are you car camping a short distance from your car or are you hiking or walking into your camp?
Broadly speaking, which type of camper you are will decide the size and weight of your canopy.
If you’re car camping, everything can be bigger and heavier and not inconvenience you too much. This is where your typical market style 10’x10’ canopy comes into play.
You might set it up over a picnic table or your own camping table, or have it directly next to the entrance to your tent to act like an extension.
This size canopy can happily accommodate a larger groups of people and can usually be safely left up for longer periods of time.
Alternatively, if you’re hiking into your camp, you’ll want to be looking at a lightweight canopy like the MSR or Big Agnes options. These canopies are extremely lightweight and compact when packed so you won’t notice the extra weight on your back.
Tarp style canopies like the MSR are also really versatile and can be set up with the aid of trees for extra anchoring, and customized depending on the type of shelter you want.
Some people sleep under these kind of canopies when they’re traveling ultralight or sleeping in a hammock. If you’re interested in more camping tarps, we have an article dedicated to them here.
Material and Durability
The materials that your canopy is made out of will affect its functionality and durability.
Oxford fabric or canvas canopies tend to be extremely durable but heavy, and may or may not be waterproof (though they usually are).
Coated polyester can be lighter and waterproof but potentially less durable, depending on the workmanship.
Similarly with poles, steel poles are the most durable option but are also by far the heaviest.
Aluminum are much lighter but less strong, and fiberglass are the lightest and vary in strength compared to aluminum depending on quality.
If waterproofing is important and you’re not just looking for a canopy to provide shade, then look carefully at the material that the canopy is made out of and check that the seams are sealed.
Not all canopies are made with rain in mind and might just be water-resistant but not stand up to a downpour.
Ease of Use
Not all canopies are made equally when it comes to how easy they are to put up.
The pop-up design where the frame is all one piece is the easiest, but even these can be awkward for one person and much easier with two or three.
If you’re looking for ultimate convenience and appreciate the pop-up style of camping canopies, you might be interested in completing your camping set up with a pop-up tent as well.
Walls and Mesh
The optional addition of side walls or purchasing a canopy with built in mesh walls may or may not add to your experience, so this is a personal decision.
Walls have their pros and cons, especially where wind is involved. You may appreciate the extra shelter of walls on two sides, but in strong winds, this might put extra stress on the structure.
From and sun and rain perspective, having the option of adding walls can provide additional shade when the sun goes down, or when it rains with just enough of a wind to blow the rain under the canopy.
Mesh walls can be the difference between your canopy being a useless piece of material, and a usable retreat from swarms of insects if you camp in insect prone areas.
They limit the air movement a little so it may get stuffy inside, but at least you’re not being eaten alive and you’ll have more space and air circulation than your tent.
Last but not least, there are a few other things that can be worth looking out for.
If the size and weight of the canopy is too much for one person to easily carry, make sure the canopy comes with a good quality wheeled bag to make transportation easy.
Another great feature to have is a roof vent. A vent will allow for more air circulation to keep the air under the canopy cooler, and will also help prevent the whole thing from being picked up like a kite by the wind!
Overhanging sides can be useful when it rains to prevent pooling, and multiple, strong, long guy lines are essential.
What is the best canopy for camping?
The Eagle Creek, Eurmax and Core canopies are all great options for car camping if you’re looking for something really sturdy and won’t have to carry it too far.
If you’re going to be walking to camp, check out the Big Agnes, MSR and Kelty canopies.
How big of a canopy do I need?
This depends on how many people you want to shelter! The standard canopy size is about 100 sq. ft. and this will comfortably shelter 4-6 adults in camping chairs.
What is the best canopy tent for the beach?
One that can be securely anchored and will cope with the wind! The Pacific Surf Sand and Beach Shelter is a popular choice.
What is better, straight leg or slant canopy?
There are pros and cons to both. Straight leg canopies are less secure in the wind unless they have good guy lines, but they take up less space.
Slant leg canopies have larger footprints but tend to cope better with the wind.
What is the easiest pop up canopy?
Coleman, Eurmax and Core pop up canopies are all quick and easy to put up, though it’s usually still much easier with more people.
How do you secure a canopy in high winds?
Use the guy lines! Secure the guy lines at a distance from the canopy base that will allow for a stable set up using good quality tent stakes, or, if you’re setting up on concrete, weights like sand bags.
Most canopies, regardless of their quality, will not cope with really high winds.
To give them the best shot, get them set up before it gets windy, don’t try and set them up in the wind.
Also, set them up at the lowest height that will still allow you to use the canopy for its intended purpose.
How do you hold a canopy down at the beach?
Burying the legs part way into the sand, using sand bags on the corners, and staking down with guy lines are the best ways to secure a canopy at the beach.
Hopefully this article has helped you to make a decision on what the best camping canopy of 2020 will be for your upcoming adventures.
Feel free to share your thought in the comments below if you’ve tried out any of the canopies above or have others to recommend.