Baseball games, days on the beach, and camping trips are just a few of the many times a pop-up canopy comes in handy. These portable sun and rain protectors come in various sizes and include features such as mosquito nets, sidewalls, and wheels for added portability. We put the best on the market to the test by using them in a number of real-life settings, including in Pacific Northwest rainfall. The models we’ve picked could handle rain and wind and offered some perks we hadn’t expected.
The best pop-up canopy sets up quickly, offers protection from UV rays, withstands inhospitable weather, and packs down to a compact size that fits most cars’ trunks. Read on for some notable features and tips you should know before selecting your next pop-up canopy.
- BEST OVERALL: ABCCanopy Commercial 10’x10′ Canopy
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Best Choice Products Portable Pop-Up Canopy Tent
- BEST SMALL SIZE: Impact Canopy 4’x4′ Pop-Up Canopy Changing Room
- BEST OVERSIZE: ABCCanopy Commercial 10’x15′ Canopy
- EASIEST TO SET UP: Eurmax 10’x10′ Ez Pop-Up Canopy Tent
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: ABCCanopy Premium 10’x10′ Canopy
- BEST FOR CAMPING: Quick-Set by Clam Escape Screen Tent
- BEST SLANT-LEG: Quest 10’x10′ Slant Leg Pop-Up Canopy
- BEST SLIDER DESIGN: E-Z Up Envoy 10′ Shelter
Types of Pop-Up Canopies
Pop-up canopy material types often categorize these tent-like weather protectors. Polyethylene, polyurethane, polyester, and vinyl are the most common materials. Each has its pros and cons, including a higher price point for some. The canopy’s purpose and most common use will help determine the right material type.
Polyethylene, a common type of plastic found in plastic bags and bottles, is used to make durable, weather-resistant canopies. It’s waterproof and offers UV protection, yet it’s relatively lightweight. Polyethylene is flammable, so manufacturers typically treat these canopies with a chemical flame retardant.
Campers and outdoor vendors are among those who would benefit from such canopies because of their weather resistance and light weight, which makes them easier to transport. Some models have sidewalls for added weather protection.
Many canopy manufacturers give canopies a polyurethane-resin coating that offers some water and sun resistance. The coat usually covers polyester or heavy canvas. Polyurethane does add some weight but is generally lighter than vinyl canopies. This material often costs less than polyethylene or vinyl canopies and balances durability and price.
Polyester is water-resistant and provides some UV protection, though not as much as polyethylene, polyurethane, or vinyl. This lightweight material, which is relatively durable, easily packs down to transport in a trunk. These canopies tend to have smaller footprints and are quite affordable.
Manufacturers of vinyl and polyester canopies often treat the material with a vinyl resin to add waterproofing and UV protection. Of course, waterproofing keeps you dry. UV protection prevents fading, tearing, and material breakdown caused by sun exposure. Manufacturers of wedding tents/canopies and pop-ups meant for more permanent use vinyl because of its high durability.
On the downside, vinyl is much more substantial than polyethylene, polyurethane, or polyester, making those canopies more challenging to fold down and tote to trade shows or sports events.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pop-Up Canopy
Pop-up canopies are available in sizes that range from small 4-foot-by-4-foot models to wedding canopies that span well over 10 feet by 20 feet. However, size isn’t the only factor to consider. You want to think about what you need to do to set it up, determine whether its size and weight are impediments to transporting it, and note what accessories are available.
Size and Shape
Canopies come in a wide range of sizes, and most are shaped as squares or rectangles. The smallest models are typically 4 feet by 4 feet and designed to shade a single person or something akin to a portable changing station. Pop-ups intended for weddings or other outdoor events are typically between 8 feet by 8 feet and 10 feet by 10 feet to 20 feet. Of course, the larger the pop-up, the more space you need to transport and store it. Larger pop-up canopy tents leave the realm of pop-up canopies and become pole tents.
While most pop-up canopies are either square or rectangular, some models come in unusual shapes like hexagons or octagons. Others are shaped like an umbrella with tie-downs and stakes to secure them. Some models resemble half-dome tents that provide shade without view obstruction.
The design of a pop-up canopy dictates the coverage it provides. Canopies with tall legs and peaked covers offer more vertical space but leave more open space at the sides for the elements to get underneath the canopy.
Some models include a sidewall or two, while others have attachment points for sidewalls that can be purchased separately. Other models don’t have any sidewall options. Camping pop-up canopies, which look similar to camping tents, often have bug netting on the sides, so campers can eat or rest free from pests.
Most pop-up canopies come with tie-downs, stakes, and/or sandbags so they can be secured to the ground. Models designed for the beach may have specially designed stakes that burrow deep into the sand for better stability or sandbags that don’t require digging at all. Ultralightweight models may only have a center pole with a canopy stabilized with several stakes for less formal but highly portable sun protection.
The canopy’s frame material plays a big part in the overall durability. Lightweight frames are made with aluminum, while a heavier-duty canopy has a powder-coated steel frame.
Most people need a balance between weight and portability. For family trips to the beach, a lightweight aluminum frame can withstand general use. Heavier frames tend to be sturdier, but they’re more expensive, more difficult to carry, and may require more than one person to set up.
Cover materials all have some level of water resistance. You may need to treat polyester with waterproofing sprays to maintain their resilience. Polyethylene, polyurethane, and vinyl offer extra water resistance and UV protection. Most can withstand rainstorms without a leak, whereas a polyester canopy may leak if the water pools.
Higher ceilings allow users to stand under the canopy without bending over. Canopies designed for use at events typically have a 6- to 12-foot ceiling height. Many models also include adjustable legs that offer two to five height options. Camping canopies that look similar to tents have lower 6-foot ceilings. They’re great to use for shade when sitting, eating, or relaxing, but they’re not meant for people to stand under for long periods of time.
Select brands may include special features with their pop-up canopies to add ease of use and convenience. Here are a few included in the models below:
- Carrying bags with straps or handles that allow users to move the canopy. Heavier models may include a roller bag with attached wheels to pull the canopy.
- Bug nets offer protection from biting insects. Some of these models also include additional walls that can attach over the bug net to act as wind protection.
- Pockets to store stakes, tie-downs, and sandbags.
Our Top Picks
The top pop-up canopies are usually made of durable materials and come with extras that make their designs convenient and easy to use. Read below for some of the highest-rated models. We tested each of the models on this list, looking for ease of setup, durability, and how well the design and extra features enhance the performance of the canopy.
ABCCanopy makes some of the best pop-up canopies on the market, and the 10-foot by 10-foot ABCCanopy Commercial Canopy is made of light yet heavy-duty waterproof polyester with UPF 50+ sun protection and a rust-resistant steel frame. The canopy attaches to the frame via a pocket at the apex of the cover and large strips of hook and loop. Additional hook-and-loop straps hold the center of each side to the frame to prevent flapping in the wind.
We tested this canopy on a mountain camping trip where it rained and blew for 24 hours. The canopy protected the cooking area and stayed in place with the help of the included stakes and tie-downs. The hot sealing tape on the seams proved its worth, keeping out all water despite constant rain. The 10-foot by 10-foot canopy has room for four tables, three beach chairs, or 10 people. This model also features a center pole with a crank, making it more stable, especially when the wind picks up.
The straight legs have three height options. We greatly appreciated the push-button release mechanisms, which helped us avoid pinched fingers. While we like the neutral white canopy, this model is available in 22 colors and seven sizes.
This isn’t a lightweight canopy by any means, and it’s 66 inches long when in the roller bag. But the roller bag makes moving it through a campsite or loading it into a trunk or pickup bed easier. One person could probably set this canopy up on their own, but having an extra person or two to help will speed things along. It’s not difficult to set up or take down thanks to the push-button release mechanisms on the legs and slider (the portion that slides the top of the frame into place). However, ABCCanopy only includes generic setup instructions that don’t specify how to set up the center pole, how tightly to crank it, or what to do with it during takedown. It wasn’t hard to figure out, but better instructions would’ve been helpful.
- Release mechanism: Push button
- Extra features: Roller bag with pockets
- Size and color options: 7 sizes and 22 colors, though all colors are not available in all sizes
- Push-button release mechanism
- Hot-seal seams add waterproofing
- Heavy steel frame and durable cover
- Added stability of the center pole
- Heavy when moving
- Poor instructions
Get the ABCCanopy Commercial 10’x10′ pop-up canopy on Amazon.
Best Choice Products keeps things simple and affordable with its pop-up canopy, which goes together in a quick three-step setup process. A wheeled roller bag, stakes, and tie-downs come as part of the package. This model includes a sturdy (though not heavy-duty) rust-resistant frame and UV-resistant cover. The cover had a noticeable odor that dissipated slightly but not completely with time. The size is 10 feet long by 10 feet wide by 8 feet to 8.5 feet deep, and it’s 48.5 inches long when collapsed into the roller bag.
We tested this model in light rain, and there were no leaks. The canopy attaches to the top and bottom of each leg, offering an extended coverage area that adds some extra shade. Setup certainly wasn’t hard, but takedown had one little glitch: Make sure to unhook the canopy at the lower attachment point or the legs won’t collapse completely. That’s not specified in the instructions, so it took some time to figure out. This model also has a pushpin-release mechanism that makes it easy to pinch fingers, so be careful.
- Release mechanism: Pushpin
- Extra features: Roller bag
- Size and color options: 1 size and 8 colors
- Extended coverage of the canopy
- Light weight made it easy to move
- Extra color options
- Canopy odor
- Easy to pinch fingers in the release mechanism
Get the Best Choice Products pop-up canopy on Amazon or Best Choice Products.
The Impact Canopy’s small 4-foot-by-4-foot size makes it ideal for trips to the beach or park, especially when a change of clothes is necessary. The lightweight polyester fabric is a little deceiving. Upon opening the canopy and setting it up, it looked to us like the fabric was see-through. However, once we stepped away from it, we realized that no one could see what was going on inside the tent.
We tested the 15-square-foot changing area while camping and used it as a shower tent. We hooked up a portable shower to the frame and zipped the door shut when in use. All of the corners secure to the frame using hook-and-loop straps. The privacy definitely made camping more enjoyable. The four sidewalls provide sun or rain protection for one or two people, and the flaps tie open so users can view the scenery or watch a game. However, this fabric didn’t feel high quality and neither did the zipper or hook-and-loop straps. While we enjoyed this canopy for camping, we wouldn’t expect it to last very long if used regularly.
The canopy and the entire frame fold down to 47 inches long by 8 inches wide by 8 inches deep—small enough to fit inside a car trunk. The takedown process wasn’t exactly intuitive, and the instructions lacked any details to help. The pushpin-release mechanisms leave users open to pinched fingers. However, overall this canopy is a lightweight solution when a little privacy in a public space is needed.
- Release mechanism: Pushpin
- Extra features: Carrying bag (no wheels)
- Size and color options: 1 size and 2 colors
- Zippered door offers more secure privacy
- Easy setup
- Versatile use options
Get the Impact Canopy pop-up canopy at Amazon, Impact Canopy, or Sears.
This big canopy has a sturdy powder-coated steel frame with adjustable legs that have a push-button mechanism to adjust to one of three height options. It comes with four sidewalls, one of which has two zippers so users can roll open a door. The configurations can change based on need, allowing for versatility. For example, on a sunny day, users can choose to have two sidewalls on the backside to provide extra shade. Two of the walls contain a zipper, so they can be used as a door.
With a canopy of this size, two people are definitely needed to set it up. It pops open like other ABCCanopy tents. However, this model has two peaks, so there are two center poles and cranks. It wasn’t difficult, but setup took 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish once we’d added the sidewalls. Adjusting the height with the push-button mechanisms was simple, protecting us from pinched fingers. Hook-and-loop straps secure the canopy between the poles for added stability. Once set up and with a person at each corner, we could carry this canopy around to move it. While it is large, it’s relatively lightweight for the size of the canopy.
We set this canopy up for a graduation party in a Pacific Northwest downpour, and it performed beautifully. Not a drop got inside the canopy. If shoppers frequently entertain in the backyard, attend outdoor sporting events, or frequent trade shows, this canopy is durable enough to handle it all and provides 100 square feet of covered space.
This model also includes stakes and sandbags to stabilize the canopy. While this model is heavy, it comes with a roller bag that makes transportation easier. This canopy is available in three sizes and 19 colors. This was one of our favorite models during testing. However, it didn’t come without its faults. The instructions were generic and didn’t include any specifics for a model this size. It was also difficult to fit the frame, canopy, and sidewalls into the roller bag.
- Release mechanisms: Push-button
- Extra features: Roller bag with large side pocket, sandbags, stakes, tie-downs
- Size and color options: 3 sizes and 19 colors (all colors are not available in all sizes)
- Sturdy, durable frame and canopy
- Excellent waterproofing
- Sidewalls add versatility
- Push-button release mechanism makes it easy to adjust the height
- Lots of added stability features (the sandbags, tie-downs, stakes)
- Difficult to fit in bag
- Poor instructions
Get the ABCCanopy Commercial 10’x15′ pop-up canopy on Amazon.
Eurmax’s thumb-button corner sliders lock into place for fast, easy setup. Of all the canopies we tested, this design was by far one of the easiest to set up and take down. The thumb button keeps hands away from the sliding portion of the frame while releasing the lock. One person could get it set up (or taken down) alone, but it’s easier with two people.
The durable steel frame is rust-resistant, and the commercial-grade canopy tent is CPAI-84 fire retardant-certified 500 denier polyester, coated to block about 99 percent of UV rays. The stitching is sealed to prevent water penetration and to make the canopy genuinely waterproof. That waterproofing proved effective during a light rain while testing.
The tent has three height positions and provides up to 100 square feet of shade. It comes with a 65.4-inch-long roller bag with interior organization pockets. This tent is available in five sizes and 18 colors.
- Release mechanism: Thumb-button corner slider
- Extra features: Roller bag with internal organization pockets, sandbags, stakes
- Size and color options: 5 sizes and 18 colors
- Ease of the thumb-button corner sliders
- Easy takedown
- Quality of the canopy fabric
Get the Eurmax pop-up canopy on Amazon.
This pop-up tent is meant to withstand a little extra wind, rain, and use. During our testing, it withstood a heavy rainstorm without allowing a drop of water inside the canopy. Hexagon-shaped legs made of sturdy steel add an additional level of durability and stability. It features ABCCanopy’s push-button release mechanism that still makes it easy to pop up the canopy and extend the legs to one of three heights without getting pinched. (It’s doable with one person but much easier with two.)
The waterproof, windproof, fireproof, and UV-protective silver-coated 300D PU polyester can keep out up to 99.99 percent of UV rays. We could feel a difference in temperature and light when under this protective model.
This ABCCanopy also has a center pole and crank that adds yet another layer of stability. It comes with tie-downs, sandbags, and heavy-duty tent stakes to hold it in place. It collapses and fits inside a roller bag with a side storage pocket. Our only complaint would be the high price tag. However, for someone who frequents events and trade shows, the price is worth it.
- Release mechanisms: Push button
- Extra features: Roller bag with storage pocket, heavy-duty stakes, tie-downs, sandbags
- Size and color options: 5 sizes and 16 colors
- Heavy-duty hexagon-shaped legs
- Silver protective UV coating
- Easy setup
- Push-button release mechanism protects hands from injury
Get the ABCCanopy Premium pop-up canopy on Amazon.
The great outdoors has bugs, extreme sun, and downpours, but that doesn’t mean you need to be uncomfortable. Set up this pop-up tent in 45 seconds (or less) for protection from weather and bug infestations. And when we say this model pops up in seconds, we mean it really does pop up in seconds. The setup process took very little work other than taking the canopy out of the 72-inch carrying bag, spreading it out, and snapping a couple of fiberglass poles into place. As frequent campers, we’d definitely bring it along for those evenings when the mosquitos are out in full force.
The mesh covers all sides, so bugs stay out, and sidewalls that attach with hook-and-loop closures are available for purchase for some privacy or wind protection. We also liked that one person can collapse the canopy without trouble. Simply press in on the center of each side and pull the polls together.
The Quick-Set is large enough to house a standard picnic table and six to eight people. It’s not as tall as some of the other canopies we tested, so anyone taller than about 6 feet 3 inches may have to duck. It’s made from 210 denier poly-oxford fabric with 600 denier in the center section of the roof and 50+ UV guard protection and bug protection. It also has a no-see-um insect mesh screen, a water-resistant top with taped seams, and triple-layer corner pole pockets.
- Release mechanisms: Center-wall collapse
- Extra features: Carrying bag
- Size and color options: 3 sizes and 4 colors
- Easy setup and takedown for 1 person
- Covers an entire picnic table
- Keeps out bugs
- Low ceiling height
- Long carrying bag
Get the Quick-Set pop-up canopy on Amazon or at Camping World.
Slant-leg canopies tend to have lighter builds than straight-leg models, but they’re often a good choice for uneven ground because the angled legs give them added stability. The Quest has a polyester cover and lightweight steel frame. It definitely doesn’t feel heavy duty, but the angle of the legs did offer some advantages when we tested it on a camping trip.
The water-resistant, fire-resistant, silver-coated cover withstood heavy rain and light wind. It comes with foreground stakes, which were enough to keep it in place for an entire weekend. The 10-foot-by-10-foot base measurement is larger than the 8-foot-by-8-foot top measurement to give it the slant. That angle worked well on a sloped campsite.
Setup was doable with two people, though one person could probably manage it. The only problem we had with setup was the traditional push-tab design. The small tabs/pins protrude from the legs, making it easy to pinch fingers. The 53-inch carrying bag doesn’t have wheels, but the canopy is light enough that carrying it isn’t difficult.
- Release mechanisms: Push tab
- Extra features: Carrying bag
- Size and color options: 1 size and 11 colors
- Good stability on rough ground and in the wind
- Easy to carry
- Relatively lightweight
Get the Quest pop-up canopy on Amazon or at Dick’s Sporting Goods.
There are other sliders/release mechanism designs on our list that work incredibly well. However, of all of them, the pull-pin design on the E-Z Up takes the prize. The pull pins greatly reduce chances of pinching a finger or any other type of injury when sliding the frame into place. The legs have a push-button release mechanism that adjusts to one of two heights.
A 51.5-inch-long roller bag holds the 10-foot-by-10-foot frame for storage and several handles for maneuvering the pop-up. The frame is sturdy though not heavy duty. We set it up during a light rain, and the fabric proved its water resistance. The fabric also felt durable without being heavy. However, the fabric had an odor. It dissipated but didn’t completely disappear.
- Release mechanisms: Pull pin and push button
- Extra features: Roller bag bag with pockets
- Size and color options: 1 size and 1 color
- Pull-pin slider design
- Easy assembly and take down
- Relatively lightweight and easy to transport
Get the E-Z Up pop-up canopy on Amazon or at Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The ABCCanopy Commercial 10’x10′ pop-up canopy brings durability and quality to outdoor events. From the push-button release mechanisms, which will save your fingers, and thick, durable frame to the waterproofing of the canopy, this model can withstand heavy use in inclement weather. For those on a tighter budget, the Best Choice Products pop-up canopy doesn’t have quite the durability, but users get a lightweight canopy that can keep rain and sun at bay.
How We Tested the Best Pop-Up Canopies
We made sure to do our research before we pulled a single canopy out of the box. Most of that research surrounded the frame and canopy materials and the design of the hinges and release mechanisms. These canopies also went through a rigorous testing process where they were scored between 0 and 4 for different features, like waterproofing, setup ease, ease of transport, quality, durability, and value.
They were all set up outdoors in inclement weather, namely Pacific Northwest rain showers and wind. We also put their functionality to use by carrying them along to real-life events like camping and backyard parties.
Every canopy was set up and broken down several times to test the release and slider mechanisms as well as how well the canopies fit into their provided storage bags. The canopies were also carried, loaded, and unloaded into vehicles and a garage to test the design of the bags and the manageability of the weight.
The Advantages of Owning a Pop-Up Canopy
Pop-up canopies are popular in the summertime to provide shade. Durable models made with vinyl, polyurethane, or polyethylene resist substantial amounts of rain, providing an escape from unexpected weather. Models with sidewalls may even protect from wind, as long as you stabilize them with stakes or sandbags. With the right accessories, pop-up canopies can also protect you from insects and offer some privacy.
Overall, the best pop-up canopies provide:
- UV protection that prevents damage to the skin
- Shade on hot days
- Escape from biting insects
- Escape from unexpected winds or showers
- Privacy in public spaces
As with every new purchase, it takes some time to learn the ins and outs of pop-up canopies. Here are a few common questions and answers to get you started.
Q. Is a slant-leg or straight-leg canopy better?
Straight-leg canopies are generally more durable and of higher quality. However, slant-leg canopies can perform better on uneven ground due to the angled legs.
Q. Can you use a slant-leg canopy at the beach?
You can use a slant-leg canopy anywhere you can use a straight-leg canopy. They can work well on the beach as long as you have stakes or sandbags to anchor them to the ground in case of wind.
Q. How do you set up a pop-up canopy?
Setup varies from model to model, with some models popping up in a single step and others requiring two or three steps. Be sure to read through the instructions before beginning.
The first step usually involves clearing the space in which the canopy will stand. Then you stand the frame upright and attach the cover to the frame. Pull the frame and cover outward, then lock each leg in place when it pulls taut. Adjust the legs to the desired height and secure the legs with stakes or weighted bags.
Q. How do you anchor a canopy so it doesn’t blow away?
Most canopies include stakes that drive through holes in the base of the legs to hold the canopy to the ground. Others may have tie-downs and additional stakes for added stability. You have to pull the fabric of the cover tight then press or hammer the stake into the ground to keep it secure. It helps to angle the stake toward the canopy so that the tension from the tie-down keeps the stake anchored. Other models include sandbags that attach to the legs and act as anchors.
Q. How much wind can a pop-up canopy take?
The durability and wind resistance varies from model to model. Most canopies, even lightweight models made of polyester or nylon, can withstand light 5 to 10-mile-an-hour winds without a problem. Heavier materials like polyethylene, polyurethane-coated canvas, and vinyl weigh more, which gives them extra wind resistance. However, unless you securely anchor them, they could still blow away.