What to Look for in a Canopy

Discover the canopy features needed to elevate your next outdoor event.

When it comes to tailgating season, your parking spot is more than just two lines in a lot — it’s your base camp. For an outdoor party, your yard is more than just space — it’s the center of the festivities.

When planning your next get-together, don’t overlook weather conditions.

On a hot and sunny day, high temperatures can cause your drinks to get warm while your guests get too much sun. If rain is in the forecast, the weather could dampen the results of all the hard work you put into planning your party.

This is where a canopy can save the day. They’re easy to set up and could help spare your soiree from the unforgiving elements. But how do you find that perfect canopy?

Here is what you will need to look for to make sure your canopy meets all your needs. There are many variations in size and customization to consider when finding the right canopy for you. Learn more about how to help remove “weather permitting” from your party lingo.


Most canopies have the same design with four legs and an overhead cover, but the size they come in can vary greatly. You will have to consider what your needs are when deciding on your structure’s size. Common sizes for canopies include 10’x10′ and 12’x12′. However, there are larger and smaller sizes available.

Be aware that the legs of your canopy can affect how much protection you’ll receive from the elements. The measurement is for the perimeter of the bottom of the legs and not the fabric on top. You’ll receive different amounts of coverage for straight and slant leg canopies. The straight leg canopies provide more coverage. For example:

• If a straight leg canopy has a measurement of 10’x10’, you’ll have 100 square feet of shade. But the coverage of a 10’x10’ slant leg canopy can be 8’x8’ or 64 square feet.
• If a straight leg canopy has a measurement of 12’x12’, you can expect 144 square feet of coverage. But the same size slant leg canopy may have a 9’x9’ top or 10’x10’ top. This will give you a range of 81 to 100 square feet of coverage.

Remember to also think about the walk-in height of the canopy. If you have taller guests, you’ll want to make sure they aren’t bumping their foreheads every time they step in and out. Cathedral ceilings can provide extra room under your canopy. Telescoping legs also provide height adjustments for partygoers big and small.


Both the canopy and the frame can have a variety of materials used in their construction.

The two common materials used in the frame are steel and aluminum. Steel tends to be stronger and heavier, which can be helpful in windy conditions. And while steel can corrode, many models come with a powder coat to help protect from rust. Aluminum, meanwhile, can be lighter and easier to set up, but it is more likely to bend than steel.

As for the canopy itself, the most common material used is a water-resistant polyester. It can come in different thicknesses, which will have a major impact on durability and how much water it can withstand. The higher the thickness, the stronger it should be.

There are also canopies made of polyester with a vinyl coating. While they might cost more, these vinyl canopies may offer better protection from UV rays and the weather. Some vinyl canopies are also designed to be fire-retardant.


Want to take your outdoor bash to the next level? There are a variety of features and accessories that can help your canopy stand out:

• Sidewalls: These offer both privacy and protection from the weather and sun. Sidewalls can come in full- and half-wall options. You will find polyester sidewalls in varying levels of thickness. You’ll also find mesh sidewalls designed to keep insects away and air flowing.
• Custom graphics: Want to show your team pride? There are canopies with logos for professional and college sports teams to choose from.
• Carrying cases: A carrying case will make moving your canopy a breeze, with handles and wheels for easy movability. You can also find carrying cases with a hard outer shell for added protection. Some canopies will come with their own carrying case from the manufacturer.
• Quick lift technology: Some models come with a spring technology that allows you to set up a canopy by yourself. Other canopies may require the help of a few friends to set up.
• Cupholders: You can add these accessories for a hands-free party experience. The cupholders lock into place on the legs of the canopy. Some even come with a built-in bottle opener.

Remember to weigh down your canopy before potential wind gusts weigh down your fun by causing your canopy to become airborne. Be sure to purchase leg weights, guy lines, sandbags and/or tie-downs if your canopy doesn’t come with them already. It’s not recommended to use a canopy if high winds are in the forecast. While they can provide shelter from the sun and light rain, canopies are less than ideal in big storms.

Once you find a canopy to meet your needs, you’ll be ready to kick back, fire up the grill and make lasting memories with your friends and family.

Looking to knock your next tailgate out of the park? Check out these tailgate hacks from Pro Tips to help throw the ultimate pre-game party.