Of all the ways to use a tent, there’s none less intensive and more communal than tailgating. Your backpacking setup won’t be of much use for that, instead you’ll want to make sure you have the right kind of tent, which will invariably be much larger, canopy-style tents. Luckily for you, we’ve scanned the current market and found five examples of the best tents for tailgating. Not only that, but we’ve listed out their pros, cons, and explanations of why we included them on the list.
If you want to learn for yourself what kinds of tents are best suited to tailgating, we’ve included a buyers’ guide and a small FAQ which details the differences between your standard camping tents and the tents you’ll want. If you want to future-proof yourselves against bad purchasing decisions, we’d highly recommend you give it a read.
Is the game on soon? If you’ve got a tailgating party coming up soon then don’t let us keep you, you can see our top recommended product right here and then be on your way. We chose the ABC-Canopy Canopy Tent, one of several canopy tents this manufacturer has produced in a stunning array of sizes and colors. See why we chose this tent in some more detail below:
Spacious and sturdy steel-framed canopy tent that can fit over ten people, and that’s including furniture.
210D walls with sealed seam stitches and a 500D top with polyurethane lining that blocks UV rays, to be waterproof and sunlight-proof all in one.
Comes with a convenient carry bag and includes sandbags, ropes, and stakes to hold it steady, no other tools required and so easy to set up.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best Tents for Tailgating - Reviews
Last in our list is another Quik Shade tent, the Go Hybrid Pop Up Backpack Canopy. It’s a simple canopy setup, made of water-resistant polyester that boasts a 190 thread count and is treated with Alumina protection so that 99% of UV rays have less of a detrimental effect on the color and durability of the material. Speaking of color, this product comes in many colors too, not as many as our number one option but enough to have your bases covered. As the name suggests, it is easy to set up and very compact when packed away, owing this to the three-piece telescopic aluminum legs that fold into each other to make a lightweight, easy to transport husk of a tent that can be carried with ease by the deluxe store bag included in your purchase.
It's a bit smaller than others on this list at 7x7 and with a peak height of six foot, averaging out at around four and a half foot along the edges. This means that it’s a short, outdoor occasion tent designed to be sat under, and you should keep that in mind when making this purchase. If your tailgating parties usually end up with you and some friends parked under tents, then this might be an affordable option for you.
Our second product in our list comes from an established tentmaking brand, Coleman. We’re interested in their Instant Canopy today, which has 10x10 and 10x12 variants depending on your tailgating space. The canopy on this tent is made of UPF 50+ UVGuard material that keeps those pesky UV rays from weakening and discoloring the material at the top of this tent. The canopy itself sits on a one-piece frame that folds down into a compact unit that can then be stored and set up rather quickly.
The joints on that frame can be fragile and so should be handled with care, but the packing bag that the compacted tent fits into is wheeled for ease of transportation. Be careful of the assumptions you may make about this Coleman tent, as whilst it comes from a reputable camping tent manufacturer, they have said themselves that it is not to be left out overnight and is instead a tent for occasional setup. Luckily for you, you’re searching for a tailgating tent which, if you decide this is the tent for you, will only be set up on occasion.
This third option is for those who like to go above and beyond when it comes to tailgating. It’s the American Phoenix Canopy Tent, measures in at 10x20 feet and raises 10 foot into the sky. That’s a lot of tent and so naturally the price may seem steep, but if you crunch the numbers then you’ll see it’s not that much for how much tent you get. The fabric used is high-density 200 Denier fabric that’s coated in PVC for water-resistance, whereas the frame is a steel one coated in rust and corrosion resistant powders.
Despite the size, the setup time isn’t much providing that you have at least three, preferably four, people to work each leg simultaneously. After it is set up, you then have the choice of four height levels to set the tent at. Sidewalls with this tent aren’t included, so they’re something that’ll require a second purchase if you do go through with this massive product.
Next in our list is the Quik Shade Expedition Instant Canopy, an affordable alternative to those who need a tailgating tent but don’t want to spend too much. The top is the standout component of this product, being made of 150 Denier polyester fabric that is not only very breathable but also contains protective Aluminex covering which fights against the damage that sunlight does.
You have choices with this product, first which color you want to select out of the few but all-encompassing options they have, and then which height you want it to be. This is because the tent has an easy latching system which uses leg extender devices to put this tent at one of three height options, the tallest of these being nine feet tall. The legs are part of this tent’s one-piece frame, a durable design made only more durable by the corrosion-resisting power coating on it. If you go for this one, make sure that you get it from a well-reviewed and trusted seller. Since Amazon aggregates sellers of a product into a single page, some have received subpar or used tents from bad actors.
We’re going big for our first tailgating tent in this list with the ABC-Canopy’s Canopy Tent. If the name of the business didn’t tip you off, they make canopy tents of different sizes, shapes, and heights. The one we chose is available in a few sizes, being able to fit nine to fifteen people under it depending on which size you choose, and that’s including spare leftover room for tables, chairs and other amenities. You’re also spoilt for choice by the very wide variety of colors available, with colors that will appeal to anyone
But let’s get into the details of this tent, it’s a spacious canopy tent settled on a sturdy black-powder-coated steel frame for some added stability, and it also meets the CPAI-84 fire retardation standards. Its walls and door measure at 210 Denier, whereas the top is a very thick 500 Denier and is coated with polyurethane lining to block out 99% of the sun’s UV rays. It is seam sealed along it’s stitching lines for waterproofness, too, and if all of that wasn’t enough, it has a no-tools-required easy setup.
The main downside to this product is the price. We said we were going to go big for our number one spot and sadly that applies to the price tag too. Some have also reported that this tent, for as well as it fares against fire, water and sunlight, is vulnerable to the wind. Whether it’s a problem with the tent or human error during setup remains to be seen, and they seem to be a minority of people as this product is rated to four and a half stars on their Amazon page.
Best Tents for Tailgating - Buyers Guide
A lot of the usual considerations apply for tailgating tents just as they do for the others, such as wind and weather-resistance. However, since tailgating tents are invariably canopy tents, they have different construction and use, as well as extra considerations.
Due to the nature of the tents, you’ll need to have some idea of the space your tent will be deployed in so that it’s not too big or small.
Fortunately, tailgating tents are usually party tents, and so you won’t need to plan for squatting on the sideways slope of a mountain since it’ll be somewhere public and comfortable, and you’ll generally know how much space you have to work with. Size restrictions are also at play if you’re tailgating at public venues like stadiums, so you’ll need to do your homework for that.
As you may have expected, since tailgating is usually done in public places the weather precautions aren’t as stringent as with backpacking or even car camping. Canopy tents come in variants without walls for summertime, with walls for harsher climates and with detachable walls for the best of both worlds, and it’s up to you to decide which one will be best suited to the tailgate you’re attending.
Walled canopy tents tend to cost more than unwalled ones, all else being equal. You’ll also have to contend with wind depending on the area and climate you’re tailgating in, since wind will always be a problem for your tent. Some tents retail with sandbags that are used to anchor the tent to the ground, or otherwise they’ll just use ropes.
How well any tent withstands different weather conditions is often down to the materials that tent is made from, namely the frame material and the canopy walls themselves. This shouldn’t be too much of a consideration if you’re somewhere that is temperate for most of the time, but if you live somewhere that gets very wet and cold, you’ll want to pay attention to the materials used for your tent.
Most tent frames are made from aluminum due to its lightweight but sturdy qualities and are usually paired with some plastic which are cheap but can be flimsy when compared to the metallic components used. Steel canopies also exist as sturdier options, though this means they’re heavier and can translate into heftier price tags.
They’re good for winter when snow adds extra weight to canopies, or for high winds in general since the added weight of the steel frame makes sure the tent won’t budge.
As for the canopy material itself, the canopies on them are usually made from some nylon or polyester as most tents are. Though common, they both suffer from UV damage when left out under the sun. This is why you should look for UV resistant fabrics if possible so that the sunlight doesn’t ruin the color or the structural integrity of your tent.
As far as waterproofness goes, a nylon canopy is better than the polyester variants due to its inherent waterproof qualities and its compatibility with special coatings like durable water repellents that can improve the durability of your tent.
Seam sealing is another important facet of waterproofing a canopy tent. Fabrics can be, in the most technical sense, waterproof, yet tents made with them can still allow water in. Why is this?
This is because the stitched seams of the tent may lack waterproof taping over them. If this is the case with you, you can seam the seal yourself using some silicone seam sealer though the most quality products will come with these in them.
Since you’ll be setting up in a public area and for the purposes of a social gathering, you’ll want to opt for pop-up tents that are easy to put up and pull down, so you don’t miss any of the fun.
Nowadays pop ups come in larger forms, so opting for a pop-up tent doesn’t mean you have to compromise or exclude anyone from the fun with excuses like tent capacity.
Speaking of tent capacity, if there’s tall people at this gathering then you may want to consider the peak height of the tent. Most should be fine for the average person, but some tents aren’t as accommodating to the tallest walking among us and the right choice of tent can remedy that before it becomes a problem.
Being able to sit up in your backpacking tent is one thing, but if you’re tailgating and the tent can’t accommodate someone when they’re standing up then the party’s pretty much over before it started.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to waterproof my tent even more?
It depends on the tent. When using things like durable water repellents on tent fabric, it only works because of the fabric’s pre-existing status as waterproof fabric. This means that you can’t take a tent made of non-waterproof and spray it with the repellent, if waterproofing was that easy then waterproof fabrics that are designed and tested in laboratories would have no need to exist.
You can wash your canopy in a front-loading washer (they’re gentler than top loaders) and get some more waterproofness via durable water repellent. Otherwise, if you’re planning on spraying it on, you’ll need to set it up on a warm day outdoors and make sure it dries thoroughly so that it doesn’t get ruined.
Can I hang things on my canopy tent?
Since canopies tend to be made from lighter metal like aluminum, they can generally handle you hanging a few objects that pull down on the construction. However, they will struggle if anything you’ve connected to it pulls by the sides; this will break the canopy rather quickly.
If you’re unsure, a good safe spot to hang things is by the main supporting legs of the canopy, and only hang lightweight things.