on May 17, 2018 Canopy Information

Heavy Duty Pop Up Canopies Vs. Cheap Tents

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Cheap pop up canopies have an attractive price point, with some costing less than $100, but are they really worth the low price? Maybe. Maybe no

t. Whether you're going to use the canopy once or many times, you want to get something that is high quality, well built, and long lasting. If you're trying to make an impression with potential clients, you want to make sure your custom printed canopy looks good. And not just good, but really good. If you decide to get a cheap canopy, you might be saving money at first, but once you realize the quality isn't what it's supposed to be, you might rethink your purchase. Buyer's remorse is a real thing, and we're trying to save you from that! It doesn't make sense to invest money into a "disposable" pop up canopy that will break after a few solid uses. So is buying a cheap tent really worth your while? Let's find out!

Wise investments

Over the years we have been developing heavy duty pop up tents with our end goal being to create the best possible pop up canopy. You might be thinking, "I won't use my tent all that much, so why not get a cheap tent?" Many of us have thought that at one point or another, but the real question to ask is, "how often do I want to buy cheap pop up canopies?" At Promotional Design Group, we've heard a lot of crazy stories from clients that have mentioned getting the cheap $100 frames they sell at department stores, and it seems that most regret it. The most common problem with cheap canopy tents is that they break easily. Oftentimes, a mere 15 mph gust is enough to bend the bars of these cheap canopy frames. Leaving it out in the sun will also deteriorate it. At that rate, you won't be able to set up in most places. Bummer. Not only that, but if it breaks after a few uses, you'll have to get another, and possibly another after that one breaks. We believe that buying a tent shouldn't be something you do every season. If you're going to invest money into a custom printed canopy, you want to make sure it's something that is going to last and look great for a long time. Sure, the low price point of some tents out there on the market may look appealing, but when you really look at the quality, there's simply no comparison.

Great Quality and Employees Worth Bragging Aboutside-by-side-comparison-of-tent-top-formThe increasing number of companies offering cheap tents is overwhelming, but for most, the quality just isn't there. Many times, companies will produce their products overseas, where the cost of labor is much lower than what it is in America. That might be great for the CEO, but unfortunately, the workers of those companies are getting exploited by having to work grueling hours just to make ends meet. At Promotional Design Group, we don't believe in any of that. We value all our employees, and strongly believe that their needs are important for the success of the company. If you have happy employees, their work output will greatly increase in both quality and efficiency. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff, coupled with the best quality materials available in the industry, allow us to provide customers with high quality, long-lasting pop up canopies that compete with the best in the industry at a fraction of the cost. 

What about warranty differences?

Our Econo Max pop up tent is our entry level model, and even that frame comes with a 2-year warranty. Looking for heavy duty? We have that too. Our Dura Max, Rhino Max, and Gorilla Max pop up tents come with 8, 9, and 10 year warranties! As a matter of fact we are currently working on a tent that will offer a lifetime warranty! How's that for quality? Don't just buy a cheap tent for the sake of saving a few dollars, invest a little more into something that will look great for years to come. For reference, the majority of the cheap canopy manufacturers offer a 1-6 month warranty.

Weight where it counts

Cheaper pop up canopies tend to be fairly lightweight when compared to heavy duty pop up tents. Sure, a lightweight pop up canopy might sound like a good thing, but when you go light, you sacrifice strength. The build quality is flimsier and the weight tolerances are not the same as that of a heavy duty tent. When you're using a canopy, you don’t want it coming down on you, and trust us, this could happen. Cheap pop up tents can fold and bend with less than 50 pounds of weight applied to the structure. Sometimes, cheap canopies can even start to collect water under heavy rainfall. This happens when the tent top becomes saturated with water and starts to sag. Once it sags and dips, it begins to collect water, and that’s when things can quickly become dangerous. If your tent falls, it could seriously injure those underneath it, and nobody wants that. Our pop up canopies won’t bend and collect water because our tent top material is 100% waterproof.

Waterproof VS Water-Resistant

Heavy-duty-pop-up-tent-vs-cheap-canopyThere seems to be some confusion distinguishing the difference between the terms “waterproof” and “water resistant.” Fortunately for you, we’re about to clear that up. A water resistant fabric simply means that it will resist water damage, but it will still leak through if it is under constant rainfall. Water repellent fabric is a step-up from water resistance, where this material is treated to be hydrophobic and repel water. Whereas a waterproof fabric will not allow water molecules to pass through it, making it 100% impermeable. Another factor is how tight the canopy top is on the tent because a top that is not tight will create a water pocket, as seen in the video above. Cheap pop up tents have water resistant lightweight fabrics that will definitely leak at some point. Whereas a vinyl tent top canopy is 100% waterproof and will not leak, guaranteed. (Full Disclosure- This cheap tent we tested actually held up pretty well. Water seeped in about 40 mins after it was wet, but we were surprised!) 

What about the durability of custom graphics?

Our heavy duty tent tops offer digital printing which is meant to last a long, long time. How long? Well, we guarantee the graphics won't fade for 3 years! How about one of the cheap tents? Well, truth is, most don't offer warranties on any sort of printing and the ones that do might have a 1-3 month warranty. On top of an already great warranty, we apply a protective coating to each and every one of our canopy tops. This coating protects the print from U.V. rays which could fade the imaging on the tent and it also protects the graphics from fading and scratching. Does a cheap tent offer that? Hmmm... definitely not.

Do Less expensive tents offer Fire Retardation Certificates?

California is very strict when it comes to flame resistance certification for event canopies. Since we are located in California we have a certification for all of our tent materials, which are required by California law to be flame resistance certified. Almost all canopy manufacturers offer fire retardant canopy tops because of this. The fire certifications you should be asking your manufacturers for are either NFPA 701 (National Fire Protection Agency) and a CSFM (California State Fire Marshal) fire certificate of flame resistance (CSFM F.140.01) With either of these certifications you should be able to install your tent at any of the events you attend in the United States. Sometimes fire marshals will come around and ask for a certificate for every tent and if you fail to provide one, you will need to purchase one from them (typically $45-$50) or take your tent down if it does not qualify for a certification. We provide all of our heavy duty tents with a certificate which is sealed onto the tent itself. We do not know if cheap tent manufacturers offer such certifications, so we recommend you ask them if they can provide them for you. This is a safety concern of ours, please make sure your tent is certified.

Other things we noticed when comparing them-

We noticed that the cheaper canopy top didn't hug the frame the way a heavy duty tent does. this makes the tent look as if it is just draped on top of the frame and it doesn't have the proper pop up tent form. In essence, it didn't look too great. Another thing we noticed is that the material which it is made of, some type of polyester, was really hot compared to vinyl canopy (heavy duty tent.) How hot? Well, the cheaper tent with a non-reflective surface was 102 degrees Fahrenheit while the vinyl top was 89 degrees Fahrenheit.  Also, while performing our water resistance test with one of the most popular cheap tent manufacturer tops, we noticed that their tent held up pretty fine. It is definitely water resistant because water didn't seep through immediately but it did after about 40 mins of exposure to water. Still, we like the fact it held up for being a cheap tent. The one issue that we did see was that it formed a pool of water because the tent top wasn't completely fitted. It seems the cheaper tents are more loose fitting. Another thing we noticed was that the cheaper tent is not too good with accessories since the tent frame can barely handle any weight. Other than that, it gets the job done and we don't mean to bash on it, it's just that there are far more benefits to a heavy duty tent.

Are you working on a budget?

Our team has the tools at their disposal to accommodate just about anyone who needs a custom tent. As a matter of fact, we offer tent packages that provide customization for your tent while saving you roughly 10%. The key thing to remember is that these tents are commercial grade and will not snap, break or rip (tent top) with constant use, whereas a tent with a cheaper price point probably will. Our products are long lasting and the warranties we offer speak for themselves.

The Verdict

So after taking a closer look at some key points regarding cheap pop up canopies, is it really worth getting one? We don’t think so. A cheap pop up canopy may look appealing, but if you’re serious about enhancing your brand at events, we believe it’s wise to invest a little more to get something commercial grade that’s going to look great for years. Although they are somewhat decent for basic use, like a BBQ, it will not be too great at events or places that demand more of the tent. If you do decide to buy a cheap tent make sure it offers all of the safety/essential features any tent should have. They are as follows-

- NFPA and CSFM Fire Certification
- The ability to be properly secured to the ground (sand bags, stakes, etc..)
- Strong and sturdy frame structure
- Proper fit and alignment (tent top)
- Simple structure design, without intricate (possibly dangerous) contraptions.
- Base Plates for a sturdy tent footing
- Waterproof tent top

Even our entry level heavy duty pop up tent has all of the above covered, which means we have you covered too. Buying a cheap canopy tent is like buying a styrofoam cooler from the grocery store. Sure, it might keep your food cold for a bit and maybe you can use it a few times, but really, how long is a styrofoam ice chest really going to last you? Probably not very long, just like a cheap tent. If you invest in a heavy duty canopy tent, know that you’re getting an American made, commercial grade canopy that’s been made to last. Not to mention, we double, triple and quadruple check everything to make sure it meets our standards before we ship any of our products. If you have any questions, feel free to let us know, we'd be glad to help!