Canopy vs. Tent – What’s The Difference?

Take a look around a commercial  tent supplier, and you’ll see they offer both tent and canopy. You need some kind of outdoor shelter, but what’s the difference between the two? Is one better than the other? To make the right choice for you need all the information, so here’s the differences between tents and canopies.


The Basics

Depending on where you’re looking for an outdoor shelter, you may see the terms canopy and tent used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two. Essentially, if the structure has a roof and supports but no sides, it’s a canopy. If it’s fully enclosed, it’s a tent.

Usually, you’ll see canopies in commercial settings, such as fairs or outdoor shows. Tents are more commonly used by individuals for camping. This is the basic difference, although there is more to it. Let’s dig deeper into what makes them different.

canopy and tent

Identifying A Canopy

A canopy should have a peaked or pyramid roof, and a frame to support that roof. It has an open structure, so people can walk under it freely. You’ll see they come in multiple different sizes, and they’re highly portable. That’s why they’re so popular for events. It’s very easy to transport a canopy and set it up, ready for the event to happen.

You’ve probably seen these canopies at many events, such as business fairs and outdoor markets. You may even have seen them in residential settings, used for outdoor parties. Their main purpose is to provide shade. They’re perfect for creating a shaded spot for staff to work under on hot days, or as somewhere guests can congregate under to get out of the sun. Of course, some are waterproof too and so will keep the rain off too.

As they’re used for businesses more often than not, they need to be seen from a distance. The canopies you see will come in multiple colors, so the buyer can pick out just the color they want on theirs. They even often come with clear sleeves on the front. These are designed for you to slide a business name into, advertising who you are. Some commercial tent manufacturer companies will offer custom colors for their canopies, so the company in question can have it printed in their brand colors.

Even though canopies are designed to be used only for a day or so at a time, they’re still pretty tough. You’ll see that the design is highly durable, able to stand up to winds and rain so it can provide shelter no matter what. Most won’t come with stakes or weights like tents do, mostly because they’re designed to move around. Some do though, so check for that if you’re buying a canopy. It’s also worth noting that some canopies can have side walls added to them, so they look more tent like.

Finally, a canopy can be set up by one person, although it’s advised that at least two work on it. This is because the frame is heavy duty, and you’ll need someone to hold parts together as you set it up.


Identifying A Tent

On the other hand, there are tents. What makes them different to a canopy? As mentioned earlier, they are a fully enclosed temporary structure. These are also used in commercial settings, as they’re perfect for events like concerts, weddings, and so on. You’ll probably be most familiar with them as recreational tools, used for camping trips and for kids to play in in the back yard.

People often get confused between commercial tents and canopies as they offer such similar services. They both are designed to keep the wind, sun and rain off people as they run or take part in an outdoors event. In fact, you can argue a tent is simply a modified canopy, given sides and a larger space in order to accommodate larger crowds.

The way you can customise tents really does set them apart from canopies. There are just so many options. Firstly, there are two main styles to choose from. Firstly there’s the pole style tent, where the roof is held up by poles. This ensures that you get a fantastic looking roof, perfect for any event where there may be a lot of photos taken. The other style is the frame style, which offers a clear space throughout and can be weighted down rather than staked, if needed.

Tents are a lot larger than their canopy counterparts, too. They’re designed for much larger, self contained events. They’re highly popular for weddings as they are so easily customised to suit the event. For example, frame tents are modular in design, so you can make a tent large enough to cater to every guest coming. You can also get tents that come with AC or heating depending on the weather, or even clear roofs so you can see the night sky through them.

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Which Should You Buy?

Now that you know the difference between tents and canopies, you need to buy the right one for you. Which one will work for you and your event? It very much depends on you and your needs.

Canopies work best for one or two day events, where you’ll need to move the shelter once you’re done. They’re great for businesses as they can be built in the right colors, with your branding added to show off your wares at a distance.

Tents are better for larger, self contained gatherings that need their own space. They’re a great option for parties of any kind as they’re very customisable. You can change up sizing, sides, even heating and cooling to suit your needs. They’re also able to be kept up for longer, so they’re best for events where the tent will not need to be moved right away.

There you have it. Tents and canopies have a lot of similarities, so you’ll need to decide on one depending on your needs. Both work well, so ensure you’re picking the right shelter so you can get the most out of it.