To err is human, the saying goes, and everybody makes mistakes. But some mistakes are more common than others. And some are made by almost everyone!

Here are five of the most common misuses, misconceptions, and misunderstandings about owning and operating a canopy tent, popup canopy, or portable shelter. They’re arranged in no particular order of calamity or misadventure.

“The Rain Can’t Hurt It.”

Many first-time canopy owners confuse the terms “waterproof” with “water-resistant” – and end up soaking wet.

The truth is that only some canopy models, such as the one made by Vitabri, are completely and reliably waterproof. Most canopies, however, will resist water but cannot completely repel it. In fact, water pooling across the canopy can stretch the canopy material and even damage the trusses and frame.

As with most of the issues on this list, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of properly working canopy. Take the canopy down in the event of rain, taking care to wipe the frame and cover dry first.

”It’s Plastic. It Doesn’t Need Cleaning.”

Canopies Because most canopy tops are made from treated polyester, there’s a widespread misconception that they don’t need cleaning and preventative maintenance. But moisture, dampness, and normal wear and tear will take their toll on canopies that go too long without care and attention. The result? Mildew, rips and weak spots in the canopy covering.

Mildew happens when the canopy cover is folded up and put away while still wet. It actually grows in the dark and damp folds of the canopy material, spreading quicker if the canopy is stored in a warm place (like a garage or attic.) Mildew can be tough to remove, too, without using harmful and abrasive chemicals.

The sad, ironic fact is that canopies are built for a long life, and are actually simple to keep in top condition. If you need help with your canopy cleaning, check out our easy to read cleaning guide elsewhere on this blog.

”The Frame’s Weight Will Hold It In Place.”

In almost all cases, canopy frames will lack the structural weight to prevent the canopy from capsizing in the event of high and even moderate winds. And while some canopy tops are vented at their tops to reduce heat within the canopy’s interior, that venting will offer little egress for strong wind currents.

Capsizing presents numerous dangers for canopies: bent or broken legs and trusses, punctured and torn canopy covers, and broken locking and adjustment mechanisms. These malfunctions can be costly to replace and repair. In fact, many canopy warranties expressly exclude damage caused by inclement weather.

Some canopy owners often use weight bags and tie-downs to give their canopy tents better stability and grounding. However, these accessories are not designed and should not be used to anchor canopies through severe weather conditions.

“The Canopy’s Supposed to Stay On The Frame When You Pack It Away.”

CanopiesCanopy roller bags and carrying cases are convenient, easy to use ways to get your canopy top and frame from one place to another with a minimum of wear and tear. However, when incorrectly used the roller bag or carrying case presents its own dangers to your canopy top’s condition.

Leaving the canopy top on the frame when you store it in the carrying bag will save a few minutes when you take it out again, yes. It will also cause the canopy top to become pinched within the folded-up truss and frame supports. The pressure between the two metal frame or truss parts is enough to squeeze holes into the canopy top material.

Generally speaking, roller bags are very carefully and exactly designed. Straying from their directions and recommended use invites damage to the canopy top and frame alike.

”The Canopy’s Open, Right? Smoke Isn’t A Problem.”

This one seems obvious enough, but still confuses some canopy users. Never keep an open fire under a canopy cover, including vented canopies. Smoke, embers and ash can get caught against the canopy top’s underside or fall back to the ground, presenting fire and burning hazards. And even though some canopy tops are certified fire- and flame-resistant, some are not.

Accumulated smoke caught by the canopy also presents allergy and respiratory problems. Keep barbecue pits, fires, chimeneas, and other wood- and gas-burning heat sources well away from the canopy materials.

How to Get Help

Got a question about canopies, tents, or personal shelters? Contact our helpful customer service department.

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