Short on time? Our pick for the best camping canopy is the Kelty Sunshade.
The best camping canopy for your next trip, no matter the adventure.
I like camping trips but I don’t like getting rained on, having sand blown in my face, or getting baked by the sun.
This is all to say that I love being outside but my window of comfortable weather is somewhat narrow. Maybe you can relate.
This is why having a good camping canopy is essential for “maximum fun” outdoors.
Imagine never having to cancel a camping trip again due to weather. You just whip out your camping canopy and voila! Family camping trip salvaged!
There are all types of camping canopies on the market: from simple tarps to large event spaces and everything in between.
I go camping a lot and have seen it *all* when it comes to camping canopies.
For this article, I’ve examined the entire internet (yep, the whole thing!) to find the highest-rated camping canopies on the market. Plus, I’ll share the camping canopy I own and what I like about it.
Whether it’s the best camping canopy for wind and rain, the best ultralight canopy, or the best budget pop-up canopy, I have all the details for your next game-changing piece of camping equipment.
If you’re ready to salvage your next trip outdoors, read through to find the best camping canopy for you.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Short on Time? Here’s a Quick Look at Our Recommendations
- Best Heavy-Duty Camping Canopy – Caddis Rapid Shelter Canopy
- Best Camping Canopy for Rain – Araer Camping Tent Tarp
- Best Camping Canopy for Wind – MSR Rendezvous Sun Shield 200 Wing Shelter
- Best Car Camping Canopy – Kelty Waypoint Car Tarp
- Best Hammock Camping Canopy – Eno Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp
- Best Beach Camping Canopy – Oileus X-Large 4 Person Beach Tent Sun Shelter
- Best Lightweight Camping Canopy – Rab Siltarp 2 Person Waterproof Lightweight Shelter
- Best Camping Canopy with Screen Walls – REI Co-op Screen House Shelter
- Best Pop Up Canopy for Camping – Kelty Sunshade
- Best Budget Canopy Tent – Beach Canopy Sun Shade with Shade Wall
- Best Camping Canopy for Van Life – MoonShade Portable Vehicle Awning
- Best Camping Canopy for Large Groups – Coleman Gazebo Event Shelter
#1 Caddis Rapid Shelter Canopy
Best Heavy-Duty Camping Canopy
Our rating: 4.6/5
Peak height: 11’
Floor space: 100 sq ft
Weight: 52 lbs, 14.4 oz
The Caddis Rapid Shelter Canopy is my pick for the best heavy-duty camping canopy because of its durable steel canopy frame.
Steel frames tend to hold up better in windy conditions than aluminum frames, and this frame is particularly stout at just over 52 pounds.
This durable canopy tent comes with flame-resistant and waterproof polyester and double-stitched fabric that has also had a UV-resistant finish applied.
The carrying bag is also heavy-duty (thank goodness because this is a very heavy tent canopy).
The Caddis Rapid Shelter Canopy gives you 100 square feet of UV or rain protection and, as the name implies, has an easy setup.
The legs on this shelter have push release buttons and the whole thing can be set up by one person.
I have set up this type of canopy before and, while I wouldn’t describe it as difficult, I personally find it easier to have two people for setup.
The straight leg design of the Caddis Rapid Shelter makes it versatile enough for setting up at a farmer’s market or for camping.
However, one thing to note is that the weight of the canopy is a little prohibitive, so moving it around a lot may be challenging.
- Heavy-duty steel frame
- Easy setup
- Tall peak height
- Perfect for farmer’s market stalls and other events or for taking to your campsite
#2 Araer Camping Tent Tarp
Best Camping Canopy for Rain
Our rating: 4.7/5
Floor space: 100 sq ft.
Weight: 2.2 lbs
The Araer Camping Tent Tarp is my choice for the best camping canopy for rain because of its very impressive 3000mm PU waterproof rating.
PU stands for polyurethane, which is a waterproof coating applied to camping gear. 3000 is the number of millimeters of water that can be applied to the fabric before water starts leaking through.
Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense – just know that 3000mm is a very good waterproof rating.
This is a tarp without a frame, but in my opinion, that can be useful during bad weather because you can customize the arrangement of the tarp to precisely fit over your gear.
The fabric itself is rip-stop nylon with reinforced corners for extra strength.
This camping shelter also comes with eight nylon ropes, four aluminum stakes, and a carrying bag.
And there are nine total attachment points including one in the very middle of the tarp (helpful if you’re customizing the fit of the tarp).
In addition to being one of the lighter canopies on this list (2.2lbs), the packed dimensions of this tarp are 11’’x 6’’ x 3’’.
Honestly, even if you eventually end up buying a camping shelter with a frame, I recommend having a tarp like this for camping trips, cookouts, or beach days for the “just in case” scenario.
If I had to be picky about one issue on this tarp, it would be the quality and durability. The product description says it has 210T and 210D fabric, which doesn’t make sense.
“T” stands for thread count and “D” stands for Denier. The thread count is the number of cross-hatched threads per inch, and the Denier is the thickness of those threads. As one gets bigger, the other should get smaller.
I’ve also seen a few users say the tarp ripped after a short time, but these were all reviews over two years old. With that said, this is a cheaply priced tarp, and you may be getting what you pay for.
Finally, the stakes are aluminum, which is a material that’s sometimes prone to bending.
- Very waterproof
- Nine attachment points
- Comes with nylon ropes and stakes
- Small pack size
- Cheaply priced
- Some users reported quality issues
- Aluminum stakes may bend easily
#3 MSR Rendezvous Sun Shield 200 Wing Shelter
Best Camping Canopy for Wind
Our rating: 4.9/5
Floor space: 200 sq ft
Weight: 3 lb, 3oz
I chose the MSR Rendezvous Sun Shield 200 Wing Shelter as my top pick for a wind-resistant canopy tent for a few reasons.
First, MSR is known for its high-quality products and this product is no different. The durable fabric on this canopy is made of 68D ripstop polyester with a 1500mm polyurethane/silicone coating.
68D is a pretty average denier rating (numbers like 75D or 150D would be more impressive, but 68 isn’t terrible).
And while a 1500mm water-proof rating doesn’t usually impress me, the combination of silicone with polyurethane means the waterproof coating should stand up well against the elements. This is because silicone is extremely water-resistant.
In addition to the quality of the materials, this item doesn’t come with a frame, which I see as a plus. No matter which type of frame you get, in windy conditions they could be susceptible to toppling.
With a tarp with many anchor points (this one has seven), you can strap it down in the most efficient manner/shape for your current conditions.
That said, the shelter does come with four aluminum poles to use as an optional setup. The poles are lightweight but aren’t adjustable.
As with many quality products, this is an expensive tarp as well.
Finally, this canopy is very large. With 200 square feet of space underneath, it’s great for large gatherings or family camping trips.
- Quality brand name
- No frame means no toppling
- Lots of anchor points
- Lots of square footage
- Aluminum poles only come in one size
#4 Kelty Waypoint Car Tarp
Best Car Camping Canopy
Our rating: 4.8/5
Peak height: 94.5 inches
Floor space: 120 sq ft
Weight: 8 lbs, 5oz
The Kelty Waypoint Car Tarp is my choice for the best camping canopy for a truck/car because of its specialized attachment straps that fit almost any make/model of vehicle.
One end of the tarp attaches to the back wheels of the vehicle and the rest of the tarp spreads out behind the vehicle with one center pole at the non-vehicle end.
This tarp features sturdy construction with 68D polyester and double-thick fabric in the stress spots.
The Kelty Waypoint also comes with a 25mm (diameter) steel pole with steel stakes and guylines to anchor the tarp down, plus a carry bag to stash it when your camping trip is over.
Kelty is an excellent brand in outdoor gear, but for this product, they don’t provide any specs on how the steel may have been treated to be rust-resistant.
Additionally, the total floor area is listed as 120 square feet, but the shaded area is less than that – just 85 feet.
Even with the diminished shaded space, most users found that it provided plenty of lounging area.
The design of the tarp is such that it has a triangular shape off the back of your vehicle. The draped “walls” of the shelter come down to about torso height and can be adjusted so they block low-angle sunlight.
I have done a fair bit of desert camping and the evening sun can be brutal. So, having a way to block low-angle light is quite nice.
Finally, reviewers rave about how easy it is to set up this tarp. Because of its configuration, this would be a great tarp for tailgating parties.
One small annoyance I have with this car camping canopy is that the center pole is, well, right in the center of the entrance. Because of this, it might be easy to accidentally knock the center pole while coming in and out.
- Specially designed to fit on the backs of vehicles
- Ample floor space
- Quality materials
- Able to block off low-angle sunlight
- Easy setup
- The Center pole is easy to knock over
#5 Eno Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp
Best Hammock Camping Canopy
Our rating: 4.7/5
Floor space: 66.5 sq ft
Weight: 22 oz
The Eno Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp is designed to fit over camping hammocks.
I’ve been camping in a hammock before and if I hadn’t had a tarp over the top, I would have died (of discomfort, which can happen).
This Eno tarp is ultralight at just 22 ounces and is made of incredibly durable 210D ripstop nylon.
You could take your chances with some other tarp, but trust me when I say you’re going to want a tarp that fits properly over your hammock.
This tarp is super easy to set up and even though it’s particular to Eno hammocks, it fits over other hammocks as well and can be used as a stand-alone shelter.
There are six anchor points on the tarp but one downside is that they sell the stakes separately.
Additionally, this canopy is very lightweight but it doesn’t pack down very small. It packs down to about the size of a Nalgene, which, in backpacking/ultralight camping is enormous.
- Fits Eno hammocks and other brands of hammock
- Easy to set up
- Reflective guylines
- Expensive considering the stakes are sold separately
- Large pack size
#6 Oileus X-Large 4 Person Beach Tent Sun Shelter
Best Beach Camping Canopy
Our rating: 4.7/5
Peak height: 45’’
Floor space: 92’’ x 45’’
Weight: 4 lbs
The Oileus X-Large 4 Person Beach Tent is my choice for the best beach camping canopy due to a combination of its durable materials and design. This is a dome-shaped shelter so one side can open to the ocean.
The dome shape is also perfect for shielding wind and sand and provides the most sun protection with UPF 50 fabric.
The materials on this beach tent are made of 3000mm PU coated 210T polyester fabric and the floor is made of 150D polyethylene.
The frame is made with fiberglass poles (which means they’re lightweight), and the entire pop-up canopy only weighs four pounds total (again, perfect because you’re probably already lugging a cooler to the beach).
This is also an instant pop-up canopy which is ideal because who wants to wait to hit the waves?
The interior is large enough to fit two adults and two kids, plus this newer design has an awning and two windows for airflow.
To weigh the tent down there are six sandbag pockets all around the exterior of the tent.
Although I like the design of this tent, one thing to note is that the peak height is quite low at just 45 inches. It’s designed to be sat inside, not stood inside.
- Excellent sun protection
- Design shields wind and sand well
- Optional additional awning
- Two windows for airflow.
- Low peak height
#7 Rab Siltarp 2 Person Waterproof Lightweight Shelter
Best Lightweight Camping Canopy
Our rating: 4.6/5
Floor space: 48 sq ft
Weight: 14 oz
The Rab Siltarp 2 Person Waterproof Lightweight Shelter is an ultralight tarp that’s designed for adventure racing or backpacking.
This bad boy is the lightest canopy on my list, weighing in at 14 ounces and is intended to be supported by hiking poles.
This small camping canopy is still wide enough for two people to sleep under and is made of silicone-infused Cordura.
Cordura is a 100% recycled nylon that is used for technical outdoor gear. The silicone in the fabric ensures excellent weather-proofing.
That said, I wasn’t able to nail down an actual number for a waterproof rating. Because of that, I’d have to say this canopy is just water-resistant.
Additionally, this water-resistant camping canopy comes with a small, lightweight stuff sack and the whole thing packs down to smaller than a grapefruit.
There are also anchor points all over this little tarp for maximum customizability.
As with all products, there are tradeoffs. Ultralight items are usually the most expensive at the gear store (like wedding items at the craft store). And due to the smallish size, this canopy won’t protect you from torrential rain.
- Packs down small
- Made from silicone-infused recycled nylon
- Great for backpacking or endurance racing
- Limited coverage in very bad weather
#8 REI Co-op Screen House Shelter
Best Camping Canopy with Screen Walls
Our rating: 4.5/5
Peak height: 84 inches
Floor space: 100 sq ft
Weight: 13 lbs
Sometimes you need a little extra sumthin’ sumthin’ out of your camping shelters and sometimes that “sumthin’” is mesh walls to keep bugs out.
This screen shelter has two entrances with zip-up entry to keep bugs out, and the floor is detachable (love that feature) so you can pop it right over a picnic table.
The polyester taffeta roof blocks UV rays and the solid line of fabric around the bottom of the screened canopy keeps bugs from crawling in.
The REI Co-Op Screen House also has organization pockets on the doors, includes a carrying bag, as well as six stakes to keep it anchored during windy conditions.
Another bonus is that this is a pop-up canopy that’s freestanding and easy to assemble (the clips are color-coded).
It has an aluminum frame and is quite lightweight for screen-walled camping canopy tents at just 13 pounds.
Ok, now to get picky about this pop-up canopy. Polyester taffeta is not very durable and may fade in the sun.
Additionally, the aluminum frame may be lightweight, but aluminum is notoriously bad in windy conditions. You’ll also need to purchase a rain cover separately for this camping canopy.
Finally, if you use any freestanding screen house without the floor, you often have to be on a perfectly level surface. Otherwise, there will be gaps at the bottom of the shelter.
- Good combination of sun protection and bug protection
- Easy setup
- Removable floor
- Polyester taffeta is not durable
- Not great in windy conditions
- Needs to be on a perfectly level surface to keep bugs out
#9 Kelty Sunshade
Best Pop Up Canopy for Camping
Our rating: 4.9/5
Peak height: 7.25 ft
Floor space: 78 sq ft\
Weight: 12.3 lbs
The Kelty Sunshade is an easy-up camping canopy that offers sun protection with a lightweight fiberglass frame.
This pop-up canopy has a detachable side wall that can be positioned to block UV rays or mild rain showers. I like this detachable wall design because you can move the wall with the sun.
The Kelty Sunshade is made of polyester fabric with a 68D rating and has taped seams for added water protection.
This shelter is freestanding and provides a decent amount of shaded space, plus a very tall center height of over seven feet. The overall shape of the shelter is dome-shaped.
Another thing I like – the carry bag for this pop-up canopy is a little backpack! It includes a “shark mouth” design that makes it easy to re-pack the canopy.
As I mentioned above, Kelty is a great outdoor brand and this sun shelter is very reasonably priced coming from them.
Wit that said, even though I like this pop-up canopy quite a bit, I only wish it came with two detachable sidewalls for even more sun protection.
- Pop-up canopy
- Detachable sidewall
- Included carrying bag is a little backpack
- Reasonably priced
- Would be nicer with two side walls
#10 Beach Canopy Sun Shade with Shade Wall
Best Budget Canopy Tent
Our rating: 4.4/5
Peak height: 78.4 inches
Floor space: ~36 sq ft
Weight: 13.97 lbs
The Beach Canopy Sun Shelter is my pick for the best budget canopy tent because it has good reviews and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
This small pop-up canopy tent with slanted legs has an instant setup. All the poles are pre-attached and you simply pull one center pulley to extend the legs.
The frame on this pop-up canopy tent is made of powder-coated steel and the stakes are steel as well. The powder coating helps prevent rust, which can be a problem with steel frames.
Unfortunately, they’re a little loosy goosy on the fabric specs (you get what you pay for and all that), so all I can say is that the fabric is polyester and water-resistant.
The tent weighs just under 14 pounds and is easily transported to the beach or backyard.
Despite the somewhat smaller floor space compared with the other pop-up canopies on this list, there’s still enough room to seat about four adults.
- Instant setup pop-up canopy
- Cheaply priced
- Optional sidewall
- The steel frame is rust-resistant
- Enough space for 4 adults
- Fabric quality may be questionable
#11 MoonShade Portable Vehicle Awning
Best Camping Canopy for Van Life
Our rating: 4.6/5
Floor space: 63 sq ft
Weight: 8 lbs
The MoonShade Portable Vehicle Awning is the best canopy tent for car camping because one side of the canopy has suction cups and carabiners. This means you can attach it to the side of any vehicle. We own this canopy tent and we really like it!
The setup on the MoonShade Portable Vehicle awning is very easy. You just clip in a few pieces and use the suction cups on the side of the camper. The support poles are a little thin, but there are guy lines to help stabilize the whole structure.
This canopy offers great sun protection and is made of water-resistant polyester. We had no problems with it leaking during our rainy road trip through Oregon.
The underside of the canopy is also reflective to help distribute lantern light at night.
No matter what your camping style, this is a multi-purpose canopy tent. We have propped it up at the beach, but you can also use it against a fence in the backyard.
Additionally, the 63 square feet of space underneath is enough to seat about four adults.
This tent is also quite lightweight and packs up to about the size of a yoga mat. It’s not huge, but honestly, I do wish it were a little smaller. Another downside is if that the suction cups can pop off if the outside of the camper isn’t clean.
Read our guide to the best van life gifts.
- Can attach to the side of vehicles and campers
- Easy setup
- Could pack down smaller
- Sometimes suction cups pop off
#12 Coleman Gazebo Event Shelter
Best Camping Canopy for Large Groups
Our rating: 4.7/5
Peak height: ~9 feet
Floor space: 144 sq ft
Weight: 35 lbs
The Coleman Gazebo Event Shelter is the perfect large camping canopy for big events when you don’t want to rent a commercial grade canopy.
This white Coleman canopy is dome-shaped and has kind of a space-age vibe.
The nine-foot ceiling gives maximum headroom for any guest and has air vents to allow hot air to escape.
The ample square footage is certainly enough to cover a picnic table if you take it camping. The fabric on this canopy also has 50+ UV protection for excellent sun protection.
The waterproof rating on this fabric is 1000mm, which is the minimum to be considered waterproof, so it might not hold up as well in a big storm.
With that said, this tent canopy has a very durable steel frame that is powder-coated to be rust-resistant. And the canopy legs are designed to be especially stout even if the terrain is uneven
Despite the added weight of the steel frame, setup is fairly easy with PVC plug connectors to guide you..
You can also purchase add-on sun protection walls and a floor to make this an entirely enclosed event space too.
On the con side of this canopy: it’s not an instant pop-up canopy tent.
While the setup may not be very difficult, this is not a freestanding structure and the guylines must be strung quite a ways to make the shelter stable. This can make the guy lines tripping hazards.
Finally, the carrying bag is a simple rectangular bag. For such a heavy item, I wish it came with a wheeled bag.
- Durable frame
- Great UV protection
- Tall peak height
- Attractive, clean lines
- Long guy lines can be tripping hazards
- Minimum waterproof rating
- No wheeled carry bag
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Camping Canopy
What to Look for in Camping Canopies
Weight & Size
The weight of your camping canopy can vary dramatically. The weights of the canopies on our list alone range from 14 ounces to 52 pounds.
Be sure the weight of your canopy is compatible with the activity you like to do. For example, don’t plan to take anything more than 2-3 pounds on a backpacking trip.
Most camping canopies have very straightforward sizing, however, be aware that slanted leg canopies take up a bigger footprint than they shade.
Likewise, there are a few car canopies that have less square footage because a portion of the canopy sits over the top of the car.
The minimum rating for material to be considered waterproof is 1000mm (sometimes labeled 1000PU or 1000mm PU).
A really good rating would be 2000mm or more. Be wary of manufacturers that don’t give a waterproof rating. That’s a hint that it may not be very good.
Aluminum canopy frames are lighter than steel frames and are the only completely rust-resistant frame choice.
Aluminum can be more expensive than steel frames and are not suitable for high-wind situations as aluminum can bend.
Steel is stronger and heavier than aluminum, so it holds up well in windy conditions. Not rust-proof by nature, most steel is treated with a coating that helps delay rust.
Straight-legged canopies are exactly what they sound like – the legs go straight up and down. From an engineering perspective, the square shape of straight-legged canopies isn’t great.
To compensate for this, straight-legged canopies are often made of heavier, more durable materials like steel.
A straight-legged canopy is an ideal canopy for setting up a stall at a farmer’s market or other multi-day events.
Slanted legs on sunshade canopies give them a more triangular shape, which is less prone to falling over or being blown over. Due to the design’s durability, these types of canopies are often made of aluminum.
Slanted-legged canopies are great for tailgate parties, backyard events, and camping.
Dome-shaped camping canopies are often in the “pop up canopy” category and are very popular for beach trips.
The design of these camping canopies shields wind and rain well, but they often have low peak heights and are designed for sitting rather than standing.
Additional features to look for in a camping canopy include:
- Rust-resistant finish (for steel frames)
- Easy setup
- Removable sidewalls
- Adjustable leg lengths
- Warranties or money-back guarantee
- Reflective guylines
- Wheeled carry bag (for big canopies)
Types of Camping Canopies
The simplest type of canopy tent is the tarp. Tarps come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and thicknesses and can be excellent options for creating custom shelters against wind, rain, and sun.
The best camping canopies for backpackers and minimalists are tarps.
Any canopy tent with a metal “skeleton” is a framed canopy. Framed canopies are best used when there aren’t any trees around to string up a tarp, like at the beach or in the desert.
Framed canopies can have an instant setup (like the pop-up canopies below) or be more durable multi-day structures.
A pop-up canopy tent is a type of framed canopy that is specifically designed to have a quick setup.
Often, a pop-up canopy tent will be made of lightweight materials like aluminum or fiberglass.
Pop-up canopy tents are easy to transport and great for a family camping trip or a fair-weather event.
Screen House Canopies
A screen canopy is a type of canopy tent with mesh walls. These are designed for camping trips with lots of bugs.
Many mesh canopy tents have removable floors and fit over a standard size picnic table.
Looking for a camping tent to go with your canopy? Read our guides to the best 4-person tents, 6-person tents, 8-person tents, 10-person tents, 12-person tents, large camping tents, 3-room tents, instant tents, pop-up tents, inflatable tents, canvas tents, waterproof tents, insulated tents, winter tents, tents with a stove jack, tunnel tents, and cabin tents.
FAQs About Canopies for Camping
Is a slant leg or straight leg canopy better?
Both slant leg and straight leg canopies have pros and cons.
Simply put, slant leg canopies are more structurally stable and less prone to toppling. Due to their stable shape, they can be made of thinner materials and may be lighter in weight.
Straight leg canopies are less stable than slant leg ones and need to be made of thicker metal to compensate and to make them more durable.
That said, the pro of straight leg canopies is that they can be set up in narrow spaces or directly against a wall. Slant leg canopies take up more square feet and don’t provide shade for the entire footprint of the canopy.
Do I need a canopy for camping?
You don’t need a canopy for camping, but if you want to ensure you have a shady, rain-free place to go during your camping trip, you should buy a canopy tent.
What’s the difference between a screen house and a canopy for camping?
A screen house is a shelter that has walls of bug mesh. It’s designed for summer buggy camping trips.
A canopy, or canopy tent, is simply an overhead shelter. A canopy tent may come with a frame or simply be a tarp you string up between trees.
How much should I expect to spend on a camping canopy?
While the best camping canopies will run upwards of $400 or more, you can purchase a tarp with grommets for around $20.
Conclusion: Our Pick for the Best Camping Canopy
The overall best camping canopy is the Kelty Sunshade. The Kelty Sunshade is an overall winner with design features most people can appreciate.
This is a pop-up canopy tent with a very fast setup and a lightweight fiberglass frame.
At 12.3 pounds, this canopy can be easily carried to your lounge location and the dome shape helps buffet rain and wind.
And this freestanding camping canopy with walls comes with a carrying bag that’s also a small backpack.
Finally, the price of this item is hard to beat, especially from such a well-known brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!
Looking for more camping gear? Read our related articles below!
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