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Tent Canopies for your RV?

| Updated Mar 20, 2014

RoadtreksI grabbed a couple of days at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area that came open thanks to an unrelenting 36 hour rain, and was pleasantly surprised to see three other Roadtreks already here when I arrived yesterday. By coincidence, all were late 1990s 190 Dodge Versatiles, far from their frozen homes (Ontario, Ontario, and Ohio, respectively), and two of them had these neat tents/canopies set up, which had allowed them to endure the earlier rain much better than their neighbors. I took a look at each tent/canopy to investigate this possibility of adding to my camping experience.

No Tent Canopy for Campskunk
Poor me – I have no fancy canopy.

I don't really know what to call these things – they aren't tents in the typical camping sense. You don't sleep in them. But they aren't just canopies either – they have screen and sometimes solid waterproof walls to keep bugs and rain out.    It's a nice addition to a Class B camper because it provides you shelter outdoors to lounge and see  the sights, but you go back inside your camper at night to cook, sleep, etc. These tent canopies are more like a portable pavilion.

This is the Swiss Gear canopy, shown without the solid walls they had up in the rain. It also has screen walls.

One of the Ontario couples had a Swiss Gear 10 by 10 foot canopy with all the bells and whistles – screens and waterproof walls. They set it up over their park-provided picnic table, and had a grand time while everyone else was hiding indoors during the rain. These are relatively pricey, and the walls are an option, but it's a large, solid, wind-resistant shelter that will serve you well in inclement weather.  They say it folds up into an approximately four or five cubic foot package which they put under the bed. I already have a bunch of junk under my bed, so I'd definitely have to rearrange things to do this.

The Coleman canopy.
The Coleman screened shelter.

For a smaller, more affordable option, the Ohio couple had a Coleman screened shelter.  It had sloping screen walls, and the 13 by 15 foot size is the floor, not the canopy part, but they had a hammock, a chair, and two big dogs all underneath with room to spare. Probably not as much all-weather capability as the Swiss Gear setup, but at $110ish on Amazon it's definitely more affordable, and with a folded-up size of about ten inches round by four feet long it fits under the bed with ease.  The couple raved about this shelter- they had their dogs trained to stay inside it, so they could leave the door open, the dogs could be outside the camper where the action is, and everyone could relax and enjoy the scenery. They say it's a five minute job to set up or take down, and weighs very little.

I'm not sure where I stand yet on having a tent/canopy – it will be one more thing to carry, and one more thing to set up. But they sure look appealing when the weather's not ideal, and you want to be outdoors anyway.  Hmmm…



RV Lifestyle

Published on 2014-03-20

10 Responses to “Tent Canopies for your RV?”

March 24, 2014at11:02 am, Steve Myers said:

Awning shelters are great when the weather is good. I had one torn to shreds by the wind on the South Dakota Badlands. And having to pack a wet one if breaking camp isn’t something that you would want to do.

March 24, 2014at8:41 am, Pat Lamberti said:

Pam & I are still discussing whether we would get more use out of a canopy like this at the campsite or would we can get more use out of a beach canopy and a beach cart. I could find space for one or the other, but not both. We also looked at screening in the awning, but looks small.

March 21, 2014at9:53 am, Gary Hennes said:

I’ve had one like you describe for several years. Got it at REI on sale – about $250, I think, including fly which extends to make a portico. Packs in bag about 36″ long, 12 ” dia. Have used it mostly for canoe club events when raining – set up over picnic table and pack about a dozen people inside! Would be great for keeping skeeters out, but air traffic control usually grounds them when it’s raining.

March 20, 2014at12:40 pm, Janet said:

Jim and I traveled with one of these for years. We did sleep in ours. It was a lot easier than setting up a tent when we were in the desert, just unrolled our therma-rest and sleeping bags and we were set for the night. It was a nice shade provider during the day. it can get hot out there.

March 20, 2014at11:58 am, Susan Adame said:

We took a canopy to the Keys with us last year, but never used it once! It took up a lot of space so it will stay home next time. If we stayed in one place it would be useful, but we like to make a quick get away and often don’t stay long.

March 20, 2014at11:04 am, Stephanie Alexander said:

I was just in a store looking at these! Not sure about lugging it around yet

March 20, 2014at10:07 am, Jean Boyle said:

I’ve always thought this would be a good idea for marking a campsite when you come and go in an RV plus the practical use against bugs and weather.

March 20, 2014at9:11 am, Cheryl Gregorie said:

A necessity when in areas with gnats and mosquitos !

March 20, 2014at8:56 am, Yan Seiner said:

We traveled with one for quite a while. It was one of those elastic wobbly screened ones, about 9×9 feet, enough to cover a picnic table. Cost about $50 and was a one-person job to put up. Worked great here in the PNW where it rains from October to April. It finally disintegrated and we have not replaced it yet, mostly because our travel patterns have changed – we follow the snow more in the winter than we used to. If we start going to the coast again, we’ll get one.

March 20, 2014at8:50 am, dianekfromohio said:

We have used a canopy for 3 years now and love it especially when you have a picnic table at your site. Love playing cards with the kids. Love your stories/adventures and can’t wait to do it too!

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