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Buying The Right Canopy & Maintenance Tips: Part 2

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[If you haven’t already, please read “Buying The Right Canopy & Maintenance Tips: Part 1” first.]

Before I begin, I think it’s important to state the word “canopy” in this article refers only to the instant, “pop-up” style shelters. They are the accordion style tents that fold down and can be stowed away. I say this because some people refer to products similar to the Caravan Canopy Domain Carport or other, permanent structures as “canopies”.

Caravan Canopy offers four different grades of canopy models in either steel or aluminum variations.

  • Recreational – occasional use for beach, picnics, parties, BBQ, etc.
  • Light-duty Commercial – personal use, part-time vendors, rental companies
  • Heavy-duty Commercial – serious personal use, full-time vendors & rental companies
  • Industrial – hardcore personal use, full-time vendors & rental companies

Recreational Grade Canopies:

Cirrus (discontinued), Cirrus 2 (discontinued), Magnum (discontinued), V-Series, M-Series and Sportcraft.

Caravan’s recreational canopy models are perfect for the beach, the occasional back yard party, park outings, fishing trips and more. These canopies typically come with a 150 denier polyester top and a cathedral truss system as opposed to the full truss system found on professional grade models. On some models the legs are straight and on some they’re slanted. On the slant-leg frames, be sure to check the packaging for actual shade coverage so you know what you’re buying. For instance, many 12’x12’ slant leg canopies offer 81 sq ft of shade.

This canopy grade is not recommended for use in a professional setting. Nothing should ever be hung from the truss bars. If it’s raining or wind is blowing, it’s recommended you take the canopy down immediately.

Light-duty Commercial Grade Canopies:

Traveler, DisplayShade & AlumaShade – all come with a 2-year warranty.

Caravan’s light-duty canopy models are perfect for the weekend warrior as well as the average outdoor enthusiast. Farmer’s market and art fair vendors love Caravan’s light-duty canopies because they’re an inexpensive, professional grade shelter that can be easily customized. If you use your canopy 15 to 20 times per year or less, this canopy will not let you down! Some rental companies even like to use these models because of how easy to use they are.

NOTE: If you use your canopy 20 or more times per year you may want to consider a heavy-duty model. This is not to say, however, after 20 times of use you’ll run into any issues. Like anything with moving parts, if you treat it right you won’t have problems.

The tops are made of 500 or 600 denier polyester fabric and are coated with a fire retardant with a fire patch sewn in for the fire marshal. Caravan’s professional models have steel or aluminum options and use the full-truss system for extra stability. Of course, you’ll have the ability to switch out every, single part. You know, just in case one breaks when you throw it into the back of your truck after a long, weekend.

This canopy grade is definitely recommended for use in a professional setting. We don’t recommend hanging anything from the truss bars but I’ve read a lot of reviews and comments where people say they do and never have problems. They say that if you do end up hanging clothing or other products from your canopy truss bars, make sure you distribute the weight evenly.

Heavy Duty Commercial Grade Canopies:

Classic & Aluma – both come with a 7-year warranty.

Caravan’s heavy-duty canopy models are everything the light-duty canopies are and more! They’re heavier in weight with thicker steel or aluminum (depending on model) and heavier duty brackets and joints. The top is made of 500 denier polyester with fire retardant coating and the full-truss system has replaceable parts. You’ll get 5 more years out of the warranty on this model.

The heavy-duty models are perfect for the hardcore outdoors enthusiasts and serious vendors who want a canopy that can take a beating without worrying it’ll have to be repaired or replaced. Of course, rental companies love the Classic and Aluma!

Industrial Grade Canopies:

Monster I & Monster II – both come with a 10-year warranty.

Caravan’s industrial grade canopy models  are just that – industrial strength. That’s why everyone from the hardcore enthusiasts to the rental company who wants a nearly super reliable canopy to generate a new stream of income.


It’s never a good idea to use an instant shelter/canopy in the rain or heavy winds. In rain, water will pool on the peaks and, eventually, push down on the truss system and collapse the frame. If you must use your canopy in the rain, don’t let the water build up. I’ve heard of people using hula hoops or pool noodles to keep the peaks from catching water. I haven’t personally tried it but have only read positive reviews of how it helped save a show.

Also, most canopies are not water proof. They are water resistant. So before you buy a canopy with a polyester top thinking you’ll never get wet, realize this is fabric that will definitely accept water and leak into your dry space – especially over prolonged use.

If you’re using your canopy and you think there may end up being any winds blowing, it’s a good idea to anchor it to the ground. Caravan has two options for this; weight bags and ground stakes. Our weight bags hold 25 pounds of sand each so that’s 100 pounds of weight, in addition to the weight of the canopy, holding it to the ground. Ground stakes are a great option for those who setup on grass or dirt. Remember though, weighted down or not, it’s never recommended to leave your canopy erected when winds are blowing. This is especially true for recreational grade canopies as they are most susceptible to collapsing and are notorious for twisting in a gust of wind.

If something on your frame breaks do not throw the whole thing away! It kills me to think about how a couple of pieces breaking on a canopy causes people abandon it next to a dumpster. Someone around you will have an allen wrench or a screw driver! Just remove the broken part and fold the canopy down. Then, when you get home, call us. Caravan Canopy sells replacement parts for those times when the wind or rain snaps a truss bar or bends a leg.

Well that’s it for now. I sincerely hope this article (and part 1) has helped to educate and offer insight. If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the products mentioned here, feel free to give us a call. 877-922-6679 Monday thru Friday from 7:30am – 5:00pm.

Have fun out there and stay safe!

Travis Townsend
Sales Manager / Marketing Director
Caravan Canopy Intl. Inc.