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The Ozark Trail canopy very well might be one of the best selling 10x10 tent brands of all time. The easily recognizable logo has been seen by nearly everyone at youth soccer tournaments or beach vacations in recent years. But the question is, is the popularity of this instant shelter a result of the quality of the tent or because Ozark Trail has prominent shelf space inside the largest retailer in the world as the brand is manufactured, distributed, and owned by Walmart? We wanted to do an in-depth review of this popular instant shelter and ultimately give our recommendation as to if this value brand tent is worth the lower price point vs. the higher quality but more expensive competition. Let's dig in.
As previously mentioned but worth clarifying again as many buyers are unaware, Ozark Trail is the private label camping brand owned by Walmart. As such, they manufacture and distribute multiple product lines within the outdoor tent and camping industry under this brand name. Because of this, you won't be able to find a dedicated website for Ozark Trail to do your own due diligence. They are currently sold in Walmart stores, Amazon and other online 3rd party marketplaces; and at a pretty attractive price point.
The most popular product in their line is the 10x10 Instant Slant Leg Tent with a blue canopy top. It is made with a steel construction frame and polyester material for the canopy, which is in line with just about every shade tent on the market today. The frame is that of a pyramid structure, which are generally found in all value brand canopy tents as they require less material to manufacture vs. that of a full truss system and as a result can keep the price lower.
We typically see pyramid frames built with flimsy trusses and thin struts and reinforced (if you want to call it that) with cheaply made plastic joint connectors, and unfortunately this 10x10 Ozark canopy is no different. The biggest issue in all of this is the inability to withstand any rotational pressure during medium and high impact weather conditions as the joints become unstable and collapse at the mid points. In windy conditions high stress is applied to each side and the frame begins to break down at the unreinforced joint connectors. That is why we always recommend tents with a full truss structure as they are able to withstand rotational pressure since the cross section of the main support runs through the tent's center as opposed to outer perimeter.
It's worth highlighting that despite the advertised dimensions of the 10x10 Ozark Trail, because this is a slant leg shelter the top only measures 8x8. While it might not sound like much, that is a difference of 64 sq. ft. vs 100 sq. ft. of shade coverage which we find to be quite significant. You'll be able to comfortably fit up to 4 chairs underneath the 64 sq. ft. of shade. The benefit of the slanted legs is that these tents are more stable laterally which can increase the stability of the frame and make it less prone to toppling, an important benefit if on a windy beach. Although we always recommend using anchors such as weighted sand bag or stakes with guy lines attached to the top corners.
The legs are locked into place with old school metal push button locks, something you won't see on many modern pop up tents now-a-days. These push locks get very difficult to use over time, especially if the tent is used on the beach and exposed to sand and saltwater, causing rust build up. Many newer tent brands like EZ-Up use revolutionary thumb lock sliders or larger easy to release buttons, which are a much better user experience when setting the canopy up or taking it down. With the push buttons you need to worry about pinching fingers or not being able to release the button when it gets rusted, which is never a pleasant experience. The legs extend to give the top peak a height of about 8'10" which will be plenty of headroom for anyone underneath.
The canopy fabric is made of a lightweight denier polyester, offering water resistant features and 50+ UPF, which we love. Being protected from the suns harmful UVB rays is probably why you wanted a canopy tent in the first place, and this Ozark Trail tent meets all criteria in this department. The one complaint we have is that there is no vents in the fabric at the peak to release the build up of hot air under the canopy. Most new tents incorporate this ventilated canopy design to increase airflow and reduce the trapping of hot air, helping to keep those in the shade cooler and more comfortable.
In the event that your canopy fabic rips or tears, you can purchase a replacement canopy on Amazon or Walmart. However, at current prices for the replacement you're better off buying an entirely new Ozark canopy and you might even come out aheads vs. buying the replacement parts.
The weight of this Ozark Trail is lighter than most of the same size alternative steel frame canopy tents, coming in right about 29 lbs. An argument can be made as to whether this is good or bad. From a positive perspective, the lightweight design increases portability which is certainly important in carrying the tent to its intended location. From a negative perspective, the weight is indicative of a lack of high quality material and components used throughout the shelter. The included carrying bag does not have wheels to aid in transportation, but at only 29 lbs. we don't find that to be a noteworthy drawback as the nylon handles and shoulder strap work just fine in carrying the tent.
One thing we love about Ozark Trail canopy tents are the accessories that can be added to the shelters. These include sidewalls, weight bags, and a host of other great add-ons that can really increase the use and versatility of the canopy tent. Perhaps our two favorites are camping tent additions that connect to the frame of the shelter and leverage the stability of the 10x10 frame to support a camping tent structure.
The first, and larger of the two options, is a 6-person tent that fastens to each of the valences truss bars and all 4 of the telescoping legs to turn your 10x10 pop up into a full blown camping tent that can accommodate up to 2 queen air mattresses. The second option is a smaller 4-person tent that connects to just one of the valence truss bars and two of the canopy legs. The result is a camping tent that sits outside of the pop up and provides a protected entrance for the main opening and creates something like that of a covered patio. This option accommodates 1 queen sized air mattress, perfect for a weekend getaway!
Overall, we think the Ozark Trail canopy serves its intended purpose - a value brand 10x10 instant shelter that caters to price conscious consumers looking for an affordable shade option. And compared to some of the tents in the EZ-Up lineup, it sells for almost a 70% discount. One could, in theory, purchase a new Ozark canopy every year (which they might need to!) and still come out ahead over the years vs. purchasing a more expensive alternative.
Our advice: just know that what you're buying is pretty cheaply made and with lower quality than many of the canopy tents on Amazon today. As mentioned, we tend to prefer and recommend full truss framed tents as they will last for years and are worth the investment. But if you have a smaller budget and you're willing to forego some bells and whistles, you'll still have a shade option in the Ozark Trail pop up canopy that will keep you adequately shaded anywhere you decide to use it - at least for a few seasons.