Best Canopy Tent Brand Reviews
Caravan Canopy is a specialized subsidiary of Caravan Global Inc. It was founded in 1999 and is currently operating out of La Mirada, California. Like E-Z Up, Caravan Canopy has expanded and now produces other products like folding chairs. Caravan Canopy has also ventured into the digital printing industry and offer custom graphic printing, which makes them a viable option for large public events. Because they are a relatively new company, there isn’t much information that we felt necessary to include in this review. Our opinion of the brand is more so driven by the quality of their product, and less influenced by the history of the brand as are our opinions of some of our other top brands.
The reason that we are such big supporters of Caravan Canopy is because we believe that their lower end commercial grade canopy tents are arguably the best all-purpose canopies on the market. Similar to more well-known brands like Coleman and E-Z Up, Caravan produces affordable models that often sell below $100. These models are comparable to other inexpensive canopies that we have reviewed, but don’t stick out as being more valuable. That being said, if you are willing to spend the extra money, in the low $200 range, you can great value for your dollar. What we love about Caravan is that they have an affordable commercial product line. Their commercial canopies are inexpensive enough that you could justify buying one for recreational use, but durable enough that you could use them for commercial events or in harsh weather conditions.
In the picture above, which I took from the company’s website, you can see another market that Caravan is trying to tap into. We know that these are novelty products, but we like that Caravan is thinking outside the box. We haven’t review any of their pet canopy tents, yet. I can’t get my dog to sit still for more than 2 seconds so it has been hard for me to get any legitimate feedback from the target market.
Setting humor aside, we are big advocates for Caravan Canopy tents for consumers looking for something a little more durable than the average mass-marketed affordable canopy. They are inexpensive and portable enough that they are still good for soccer games or beach use, but they are also strong enough that you could feel comfortable knowing that your shelter will protect your goods if a thunderstorm interrupts your craft show.
In the early 1900s, W.C. Coleman discovered that gasoline could be used to fuel lanterns, creating a white flame instead of the yellow flame that was produced by most of the standard kerosene lanterns of the time. The gas-burning lantern became the bedrock that the Coleman company was founded on, and is reflected in their logo. Over the course of the next 50 years the lantern business expanded to stoves, the business grew, and soon many American soldiers fighting in World War II were being issued Coleman products as part of their standard issued gear.
After the war the company kept expanding and by the early 2000s Coleman was producing over 15 million outdoor recreation products per year. It also bought child companies such as Esky, Aerobed, Sevylor, Stearns, and Puddle Jumper. The company is currently owned by Newell Brands. Coleman employs over 3000 employees in Kansas, Texas, and Colorado, but most of these jobs are management positions. The majority of Coleman products are manufactured in China.
When you walk back to the sporting goods department of your local Wal-Mart, you will most likely find a wall of Coleman products. The fact that their products are inexpensive and mass produced has lead to sustainable revenue for the company, but has also lead to a tarnished brand reputation. Coleman doesn’t want to be known as a middle-of-the-road, cheap, brand. So in 2011 the brand took a step in a different direction. They brought in a new CEO, Robert Marcovitch from K2 sports, moved their operations from Kansas to Colorado, and hired an entirely new design team. Coleman’s vision for the future is to be in the same league as brands known for quality, aesthetics, and modern technology. They would like to be in the same retail class as companies like The North Face, Marmot, Patagonia, etc. It is our opinion that it will be a long time before the brand will be seen as a high quality sporting goods company, but during the transition period we believe that you can get good value for your dollar when purchasing a Coleman product.
When a brand seeks to elevate their image, the first step is to actually create a higher quality product. In the past 5 years Coleman has spent money to increase the quality of their products. They have made a push to produce lighter, more durable, tents to market to more extreme backpackers. As a result of this push, we have seen that the fabric that is used by their canopies has increased in quality as well. The great part about Coleman being in a transition period is that they still rely on big name stores for the majority of their revenue, and therefore must remain affordable. Because the public’s image of the brand has not yet increased into the same class as the premium retailers, Coleman cannot demand North Face prices. That benefits the consumer because it means that you can get better quality for your dollar.
Overall we are pleased with the quality that we have seen in Coleman Canopy Tents. We haven’t been blown away, but we think that their tents are worth the price and are the best quality that you can get from large retail stores like Wal-Mart. For the foreseeable future, while Coleman is in a brand-image transition period, you should be able to get good quality for a lower price. My first personal canopy tent, before I began reviewing them professionally, was a Coleman 10”x10” Instant Canopy and it treated me very well. Above, you can see a picture of it while I was camping outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Even with newer technology available I would still recommend it to all of our readers, and I continue use it today.
We enjoy talking about the roots of the Core Equipment Company because its story is one that really epitomizes the so-called American Dream. We live in uncertain times and it is often difficult to leave the comfort of a steady job to pursue a dream, but that is exactly how the brand was created. The founders left their stable corporate jobs with reputable outdoor brands to see if they could produce something better. They are a privately owned company, operating out of the heart of the northwest. Kansas to be specific. There mission statement says that gear should never hold anybody back, especially when it comes to outdoor adventures. And they seek to manufacture high quality equipment that supports that mission.
What we like most about the Core brand is that they are a founder-led company. When you are a small and agile company, you can truly focus on quality and customer satisfaction because the customer is your only stakeholder. Core is a small team of camping enthusiasts who are trying to encourage consumers to get outside and enjoy the outdoors and not to be intimated if its your first time. They market their equipment towards newer enthusiasts and sell a product that is simple and effective. When it comes to canopy tents we have always found that simplicity is usually better, so we support their mission.
The people that make up the leadership of Core Equipment is a team of outdoor enthusiasts. The founders are old friends. You can almost feel this laid back friendliness in their product design. Many companies market aggressive cutting edge technology, which is exciting but can also be intimidating and expensive. The team at Core is targeting the people who want to just get out and enjoy a weekend, and not necessarily climb Denali.
We believe that Core canopy tents are built with comparable quality to the other brands that we have reviewed. Their products are less expensive than most of the other brands, though. This low price tag makes the brand more enticing, especially for customers who will be purchasing a shelter for low impact weather. Core is sold at major retailers like Kmart, Walmart, and Sears. They are trying to be competitive with brands like Coleman and EZ-Up by manufacturing an affordable product. Overall we believe that their quality is similar, so their lower price tag makes Core shelters a good purchase.
In 1983, 21-year-old Mark Carter tried and failed to assemble a piece-together canopy tent with fellow members of his boating team. Pieces were missing and the canopy was unable to stand. Hot and frustrated, Mark fantasized about a portable pop-up canopy tent that didn’t require any loose parts. He began working on his idea the following day in his parent’s garage in southern California. In just a few months, Mark turned his fantasy into a reality and built his first instant canopy tent prototype under the brand name E-Z Up. By the following year demand had grown enough where Mark could no longer work out of his parent’s basement so he moved to a friends warehouse. At first Mark worked out of a corner of the warehouse, identified by a square on the ground made out of masking tape. But the operation grew quickly and within a short amount of time Mark took over the whole warehouse. The warehouse owner, Brad Smith, was an experienced international businessman and eventually partnered with Mark. Brad’s operational expertise combined with Mark’s ingenious product created a perfect partnership and built the foundation for E-Z Up’s success.
Today, E-Z Up operates out of a 125,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Norco, CA and has offices in the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. Many of the manufacturing jobs are in China and Mexico. E-Z Up products are sold in over 100 countries. The breadth of the business has expanded to a wide range of folding products such as flags, chairs, tables, umbrellas, and more. E-Z Up has become a competitive leader in the digital printing industry as well. Mark and Brad realized that many of the settings that canopy tents are used are appropriate for advertisements and that customers may want to put logos or slogans on their canopies. This idea led them in a new direction that has become lucrative for the company. E-Z Up’s digital printing is used by 9 out of the top 10 fortune 500 companies. In the image below, taken from E-Z Up’s official website, you can see an example of how their digital printing has opened new doors for the company.
E-Z Up is founded on the canopy tent product. Unlike Coleman and some of the other sporting goods brands, E-Z Up’s main focus is canopy tents. There are pros and cons to having a niche business. Specialized companies like E-Z Up are at the forefront of product innovation because it is all that they focus on. When you buy an E-Z Up canopy tent, you are buying a product that is the sole representation of the brand. This is good because it means that E-Z Up has put all of their resources into making sure that they have created the best quality product that they can. They need their product to perform because the reputation of the company is on the line. The drawback to a specialized company is that, it doesn’t have access to many of the material and logistical resources that a larger company may have. Sometimes the result of this is higher prices, although we have not seen a gap between E-Z Up prices and prices of larger competitors like Coleman.
From our experience with E-Z Ups we have been impressed. They have different models to nicely fit the price requirements and pysical needs of the consumer. Their affordable models are still made with quality and are surprisingly durable. If you need a canopy that can withstand harsh elements, they have more expensive models that are built to last. Overall I think that E-Z Up provides good value for the money. Their canopies are competitively priced and functional. Their affordable products are fine for recreational users, and their premium products can be trusted to withstand extreme weather conditions. I would recommend this brand to all of our readers.