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September 25, 2020Best In Tents

Pulling together an amazing outdoor event, party, and/or gathering can be a stressful endeavor. After all, you have to create a space outdoors where your guests will be comfortable, protected, and entertained throughout the day(s).

When it comes to using an event tent to help pull-off an amazing event, two of the most popular options are pop-up canopies and frame tents. While it might seem like all rental and event tents are the same, these products are actually very different… so, which tent should you order for your event?

What is a canopy?

First off, let’s start by explaining what a canopy tent is. While there are various styles a canopy tent can take, these are generally smaller event tents that set up quickly and are extremely simple to use and easy to transport. Canopy tents are the perfect starter event tent and make great coverage for outdoor event check-in areas, family outings, and more.

Canopy pop up tent red

Canopy Features

When deciding which tent is right for you, consider the following common features of most canopy pop up tents:

  • Smaller in size - canopy tents are typically pop-up and perfect for small groups
  • Easily transportable - the size and weight of canopy tents make them easy to get around
  • One-person setup & teardown - smaller canopy tents can easily be setup by one person!
  • Useable in light weather conditions - still offers shelter from light rain and hot sun.

What can canopies be used for?

Canopy tents are best for smaller events. These tents are great for outdoor events with multiple areas/stations, in and outdoor markets, small medical tents, personal outings, etc. Multiple pop-up canopy tents can be set up together for a carnival theme or outdoor game night event, or a single canopy tent can add a much-needed rest area at an outdoor event. These tents make quick, easy shelter on the go and for small groups.

Pop up canopy tent

Where canopies fall short are their size and durability. While these tents are sturdy, they are not built for large events with big crowds, or harsh weather conditions. For large corporate events, weddings, and other outdoor gatherings where shelter from inclement weather is paramount, a frame tent is likely the better option.

What is a frame tent?

Frame tents, perhaps the most popular event tent, is the quintessential rental tent. Perfect for any outdoor event, these are the typical tents that probably come to mind when you think about rental tents. Frame tents can range from small, personal tents to outdoor venues big enough to hold hundreds of guests.

Frame tent

Tent Features

Spacious - frame tents can be made to fit any number of guests, and have even been used for outdoor events like concerts, company gatherings, and more.

Sturdy in harsh weather - frame tents have been used in emergency situations in heavy rain, wind, and hail as a temporary shelter and medical tents and are great at keeping guests inside the tent safe and comfortable.

Classic event tent design - these tents offer the classic look most couples and companies are going for in their wedding and event tents, with beautiful white canvas and dreamy tents that wow guests.

What can tents be used for?

Frame tents are nearly universal; they can be used in rental companies, small and large businesses for corporate events, and for individual events like fundraisers, banquets, and family reunions.

That being said, because they are durable and can be quite big in size, frame tents are not so simple to transport and set up. These tents certainly won’t be being set up quickly by one person, and generally need a team for setup and teardown, depending on the size. These tents are also fairly heavy and might be more difficult to transport and store.

What is the difference between canopy vs tent

Canopy vs Tent: the main differences

Still having a difficult time determining which tent is right for you? Let’s summarize the biggest differences between canopies and tents:

Ease of use - because of their smaller size, it is much easier to store, transport, and set up canopies vs. tents. In a pinch, or for smaller events, canopies are the perfect outdoor venue addition.

Size - though their smaller size makes canopies easier to set up and use, frame tent have a range in size so large that nearly any outdoor event can be accommodated with a frame tent. For larger events, this makes frame tent the clear option.

Durability - Along with accommodating large crowds, frame tents are also superior in sheltering guests from harsh weather conditions. Canopies are perfect for smaller, shorter events, but frame tents are going to hold up in bad weather and last over time better than their canopy counterparts.


You can’t go wrong with using an event tent at your outdoor event, but it’s important to know which tent is the best product for your needs. We hope this guide helps you determine the tent for you. If you need help finding your tent, American Tent is here to help you find your perfect product!

Tony Ehrbar's headshot

Tony Ehrbar

Owner & CEO

Tony's entrepreneurial spirit is woven into the fabric of American Tent (an Inc 5000 company), shaped by his experience running a successful event venue & tent rental service. His recognition as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 is a testament to his impact & dedication to his community. As the Co-founder and CEO of Renegade Plastics, Tony is leading initiatives in the tent industry to integrate eco-friendly, recyclable materials. Contributing as a board member for the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA) & the Green Bay Area Public Schools Foundation and being featured by Entrepreneur, Oracle, & Modern Weddings, Tony plays a pivotal role in enhancing the growth and success of the textile industry.

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