What is a Pop-up Canopy Tent & What Are They Best Used For?

  • By: Ian Dale
  • Date: April 3, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Whether you’re having a cookout, going to a trade show or just having a picnic at the local park, it’s important to know that weather is something that you must keep in mind.

One of the best ways to protect yourself against the elements in these situations is with a pop-up canopy tent.

A pop-up canopy tent comes in a variety of shapes/sizes and, with the help of a few people, can be erected in just a few minutes. A pop-up canopy tent is a temporary structure and cannot be left up all year round.

What is a Pop-Up Canopy Tent?

A pop-up canopy tent is a temporary structure that can be used in a variety of situations as a shelter against weather. Typically, canopies come in two sizes: 5’ x 5’ and 10’ x 10’. The larger canopies are referred to as marquees.

Pop-up canopies are easy to put together and, when packed away, are easy to transport from one location to another. They are an ideal shelter for lots of event venues.

The tribes that invented these shelters didn’t have the luxury of the durable, sturdy materials we do today. Instead, they used animal skins and wood to build their shelters.

The first modern pop-up canopy entered the market in 1983. It was invented by Jim Lynch, who went on to build a successful company. Now, he owns about 40 patents on the pop-up canopy.

When is it Useful to Have a Pop-Up Canopy?

Since that first canopy was invented in 1983, there have been a variety of new models that have come onto the market. They all have functionality and their own unique benefits.

At this time, there are pop-up canopies available for a variety of events, such as:

  • Weddings
  • Birthdays
  • Fairs
  • Community events
  • Trade shows
  • Promotions
  • Other events

A canopy can be used for just about any outdoor event you can think of. They provide shelter against the weather, so you can enjoy your outdoor event no matter what.

Types of Pop-Up Canopies

Now that you know a bit more about pop-up canopies, you should know that there is more than one type of canopy on the market.

Light Canopy

As indicated by the name, a light canopy is only meant to be used for a few hours or maybe a few days. They are not as sturdy as heavier canopies, but they are easy to transport from one event to another.

Typically, they have a carrier bag, which means you can fold them down into small pieces that fit into the trunk of your car.  Light canopies are ideal for days when the weather is good and no wind.

Heavy Canopy

As the name suggests, a heavy canopy is the opposite of a light canopy. They are more difficult to assemble, pack away, and carry.

They’re made of heavy duty materials that can withstand weather conditions for longer periods of time.  In addition to being heavier, they are typically more expensive.

Frame Material

One of the most important aspects of a pop-up canopy is the material the frame is made of. Typically, there are two options: aluminum or steel. The material you choose will depend on your needs.

If you want a lightweight canopy, aluminum is the best option. In addition to being light, aluminum is resistant to rust, so it won’t get damaged when left out in the weather.

In addition, it’s easy to set up and take down. That being said, it’s not nearly as sturdy as a steel frame, so it doesn’t hold up in heavy winds.

Steel is much heavier, which means is stronger and more durable. It does corrode but is more resistant to heavy winds and rain than an aluminum frame.

You can find models that have been treated to prevent corrosion and, with proper maintenance, can last for many years- possibly decades.

Cover Material

Another important thing to know is that there is a variety of cover materials available and, again, the material you choose will depend upon your needs.

Some covers provide UV protection and are fire retardant and water resistant. On the other hand, some are not. There are 3 common types of materials that canopies are made of: polyester, vinyl, and polyethylene.

Polyester: durable and water resistant, also protects against most UV rays- but should not be relied upon for full protection from sun.

Vinyl: this is polyester with a vinyl finish. In most cases, vinyl is waterproof, fireproof, and offers UV protection. However, it can be quite heavy.

Polyethylene: this material is waterproof and offers UV protection. If you want to keep the water out but don’t want a heavy canopy, this is an ideal material.

However, it can burn easily, so you want to make sure that your canopy is treated with a fire retardant.


Finally, pop-up canopies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. As mentioned, they are typically 5’ x 5’ or 10’ x 10’. However, they can be smaller or larger and can even come in a rectangular shape instead of square.

You can even have them made to your size specifications based on your budget.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Pop-Up Canopy

When you are shopping for a pop-up canopy, there are several things that you should keep in mind, such as:


As we have mentioned, pop-up canopies come in a variety of sizes. Make sure that the one you choose fits within the space you need it to. If it’s too small or too large, you may need to change your plans.

Before you make your decision, make sure the measurements you’re given include the legs. Ideally, you should have more space available for your canopy than you need.

Side Walls

Sidewalls are a great way to provide additional shelter from gusty winds and heavy rains- but if you live in a warmer climate, this may not be a great option.

UV Protection

There are some materials that provide UV protection. If you live in a warmer climate, you and your guests may want some protection from the sun during your event.

Even if you enjoy being in the sun, UV protection is a good thing to have, as it prevents you from sun damage.


If you will be attending events in high winds and heavy rains or you’re going to be in the hot sun, you need to know that you’re protected by your canopy.

Ideally, you want a canopy that is wind-resistant and waterproof, can protect you from the heat/sun, and isn’t likely to rust/corrode.

In addition to a UV coating, some canopies have a silver lining that can keep you cool on those especially hot days.

Maintenance Tips

There’s lots of benefits to owning a pop-up canopy, and while they’re designed to withstand harsh treatment, you still need to maintain it in order to ensure that it lasts for a while.

Clean After Every Use

Once you take down your canopy, flatten the cover and wipe off any dirt or water. Whether you use your canopy regularly or not, cleaning it regularly will make a huge difference.

Allow Canopy to Dry

If you don’t allow your canopy to dry before packing it away, you’ll discover that it’ll absorb the moisture and will start to grow mould/mildew- and may even start to crack.

Storing your canopy while it’s wet can eat away the fabric, making it useless.

Repair Damage Quickly

If your canopy is damaged, fixing it early will keep it from getting worse. If the damage gets worse, you’ll end up needing to replace your canopy. Liquid vinyl is good to have around to repair small rips.

Use Mild/Natural Detergents

Strong detergents can melt the canopy, so it’s best to avoid them. However, if you must use them, make sure to rinse well.

Ideally, mild/natural soaps are best, but a white vinegar/baking powder mixed with warm/hot water works as well. Avoid using boiling water or putting cleaning ingredients directly on the cover as it can weaken it.

Use Soft Cleaning Tools

Soft cleaning tools are best when you’re cleaning your canopy. While the damage may not be obvious immediately, it will weaken the cover over time.

A car sponge with a soap/water mixture should get most, if not all stains, out of the canopy.


A pop-up canopy is great to have for outdoor events to protect you and your guests from the weather.

There are several types of canopies on the market and several things that you should consider when purchasing one. Finally, when you have one, you must properly maintain it to make it last for a long time.

Just keep in mind that they are temporary structures, not meant to be left up year-round.

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