Party TentsHow much do you love your favorite team? For millions of American fans, going to their team’s home games wouldn’t be the same without a lively tailgate party. Whether you love racing, football or baseball (or even basketball or hockey), tailgating isn’t just a way of celebrating; it’s an expression of loyalty, and of excitement for the game to come.

When you’re throwing the tailgate party, of course you want to go all-out. But turning it up to eleven doesn’t mean emptying your wallet, either.

A Reserved Space Is Worth The Investment

If your team will let you reserve parking lot space in advance (and you can afford it), go ahead and grab that prime game day real estate. Find out in advance (the beginning of the season, at least) if there are parking spaces near what you want most: the shade of a tree, public restrooms, exit thoroughfares, whatever. On game day, you’ll save yourself a lot of walking around. If you’ve got a canopy or tent, figure out the best spot to set it up within your area: away from your vehicle works best, and out from under tree cover so leaves and branches don’t accumulate on its tarp.

Pack Early, Pack Extra

Party TentsYou know supplies are a crucial part of successful tailgating, but don’t forget that there’s more to packing than getting your food and drinks ready to go. Make a list of everything you want to bring. If you can, start it a few days beforehand, so you have time to remember the odds and ends that always seem to come to mind later.

When preparing the food, especially the side items (beans, potato chips, jambalaya, et cetera) do as much prep work as you can for the food and pack everything in seal-tight plastic containers. This will make your food easier to serve but also helps you clean-up after the game (no trash to throw away.)

Remember to pack plenty of bottled water! You’ll need it to put out your barbecue fire but also for drinking and helping clean up spills. Tailgating experts recommend bringing at least two gallons.

Pack more drinks than you need. A good rule of thumb is to imagine how many cans of soft drink, beer, or other beverages you expect to need and then pack 20% more than that. Better to take some home than run out!

Prepare for Accidents and Emergencies

Nobody likes to think about accidents or other calamities happening during a party, but it’s still best to stay prepared. Put together a tool kit to help you make basic repairs to tables, chairs, cushions and other tailgating furniture. The tool kit should include pliers, extra screws and screwdrivers, electrical or other heavy tape, spare batteries, and a first aid kit. Stay prepared for bad weather with an umbrella and plastic ponchos.

Keep your tickets safe by putting them in an unmarked envelope and locked in your car’s glove compartment.

Don’t forget cleaning supplies!. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer, and two rolls of toilet paper just in case your tailgating area has less-than-comfortable restrooms or portable toilets. A couple of dry towels also have plenty of uses around the tailgate area, too. If there’s room in your vehicle, a broom and dustpan will help clean up spilled food and ice.

Get Seen By Your Guests and Everybody Else

Sports Team Logo Canopies

Click here to find your team's canopy!

Once you’ve set up your canopy or tent, make it show your team spirit with banners, flags, and any other decorations you want. This will make it easier for your guests to find you – and everybody else to see your devotion. Some canopies come pre-printed with your team’s name and logo printed along the sides and top.

Don’t forget to anchor your canopy with some weight bags to hold it firmly in place; once the party starts, you don’t want it getting bumped around and knocked out of place. If and when bad weather comes, pull everything under the shelter of the canopy or tent at once. Packing up is a lot less tedious if your supplies aren’t wet.

Custom GraphicsPicture your company or team’s canopy. Does it seem plain, or does it feature graphics that boldly display your official logo? Is your canopy just a place to meet up and stand out of the sun, or is it a rallying point for your customers and teammates?

If you’re considering how to make your canopy or tent personal to your business or pastime, custom graphics provide a low-maintenance, affordable means to take your efforts into the public eye.

There’s a popular misconception that custom graphics are both expensive and time-consuming when applied to canopies and tents, and that such personalized work takes extensive planning and logistics. But that’s just not the case – far from it. More importantly, custom graphics give your business site or team area a clear, personalized identity and presence no matter what the setting.

Make Any Logo A Custom-Made Reality

Professional and specialized custom graphics printers can transfer the image of your company or team logo – or any other image you want to advertise – across the tops and sidewalls of your pop-up canopy, portable tent, or portable shelter, often at a fraction of the cost you’d normally expect for such a personalized creation.

In fact, many canopy and tent manufacturers offer custom graphics at their factory, meaning your canopy or tent arrives with your logo or graphics already emblazoned according to your specifications.

How Graphics Are Applied

In most cases, graphics are applied through a screen printing process that creates a durable, vividly-colored image that’s imbedded into the weave of the canopy top or sidewall material.

For orders involving very large dimensions (for example on monster canopies and large-scale peak tents), a process called digital dye sublimation is usually undertaken. This Space Age technology prints out a logo on what’s essentially a giant computer printer, creating a large-scale, extremely high definition graphic across the surface of the canopy material.

The Ordering Process

Custom GraphicsThe fastest (and most headache-free) way to order a canopy or tent with custom graphics is to let a canopy agent negotiate the deal for you. These trained, expert canopy and tent graphic specialists acts a go-between for you and the printing factory, making sure you get the best price and prompt delivery and that the factory has all the information they need.

Canopy agents will get you a quote containing the total custom graphics prize, then help you make sure your logo or other illustration arrives at the factory in the proper format (format types depend on what printing process is used; format are usually EPS Vector or Adobe Illustrator for screen printing or TIF for digital dye sublimation.)

The Printing Process and Cost

Generally speaking, depending on the size and resolution, custom graphic order cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000. In many cases, the custom-made canopy or tent can arrive within three weeks after the order is finalized.

Pop up canopyWhat’s a denier? (Does that mean the material is French?) What’s the advantage of aluminum over steel poles (or vice verse)? Why are some canopy legs slanted and some straight?

We know that choosing the right canopy for your business or function isn’t as easy as it looks, and that making the right choice can leave even the savviest consumer feeling a little overwhelmed. But don’t get discouraged! Read along below for some simple, straightforward explanations from our canopy experts.

Canopy Legs

Slant leg canopies feature legs that stick out at a slight angle away from the frame and towards the ground. Straight-leg canopies, as their name implies, simply stick straight into the ground.

Though slant-leg canopies are more affordable than straight-leg, they are less secure and offer less interior sheltered space: a ten-foot by ten-foot slant-leg canopy will offer only sixty four square feet of sheltered space, compared to 100 square feet provided by a straight leg canopy.

Aluminum and Steel Construction: Pros and Cons

Aluminum frames are less likely to rust, while of course steel frames offer stronger durability over time. Steel frames are less expensive, however, and are usually much lighter in weight than steel canopies.

Steel frames are ideal for canopies that will be used in the same location for long periods of time; canopy shoppers wishing for something highly portable should consider purchasing an aluminum frame.

Canopy Material and Construction

The denier of a canopy refers to the thickness of its material. The higher the number, the thicker the canopy. (The name, by the way, comes from an old French coin once used to measure the thickness of yarn.)

Most canopy covers are made from polyester, though some feature a vinyl sheath that improves durability and water-resistance. These vinyl canopy covers are more expensive, however.

Other Helpful Terms

You’ll likely come across these terms when shopping for your canopy:

Canopies

A canopy with sidewalls

Pop-up canopy – a canopy with a special accordion-like frame that deploys in minutes.

EZ-Up Tent – Like Coca-Cola or Band-Aids, “EZ-Up Tent” is a brand name that’s become synonymous with the product itself.

Sidewall Panels - Vinyl or polyester panels fastened to the frame poles; that act as “walls” to enclose the canopy interior.

Graphics – custom-screened illustrations, pictures or logos applied at the factory to the canopy cover.

Powder-coated finish – A special strengthening procedure that helps add weather resistance and all-around durability to the canopy frame.

Party TentsWhen you picture an outdoor event, you might automatically include a party tent in the scenery. And when you think about it, a good, stable tent makes any outdoor event seem a little more sophisticated and even more comfortable.

Buying the right sized and constructed party tent doesn’t have to become a source of frustration and disappointment. In fact, there’s only a few things to keep in mind before making your final purchase.

Different Tents for Different Events

There are four main kinds of party tents: pole tents, tension tents, frame tents, and pop-ups and instant canopies. Pole tents rely on support shafts around their perimeter and at their center, as well as support tie-downs that hold the frame to the ground and provide tension to the roof and walls. Perhaps the most famous kind of tent, they remain popular because of their wide range of sizes as well as their stability.

Tension tents are similar to pole tents but usually have higher peaks, earning them the nickname “peak tents.” Famed for their elegance, tension tents are ideal for wider areas where space for the long supporting lines can stretch out to their maximum tension.

Frame tents use a framework of tubes to support their canopies, removing the need for a center pole. But the frame on some models offers a complicated set up, meaning they take longer to erect. Frame tents typically run no wider than forty feet in width; nevertheless, the lack of a center pole makes them ideal for sheltered dining events.

Pop-ups and instant canopies (sometimes called EZ-Up tents, after a popular brand name) offer quick and sturdy setup, thanks to their accordion-style frames. Pop-up canopies work best for frequent tent users who don’t have great size demands but who appreciate the convenience of a shelter that deploys quickly and requires a minimum of maintenance.

Different Kinds of Canopy Material

Canopy Tent

A modern peak tent

The modern tent has come a long way from the traditional canvas tarp coverings of years past. Modern tents are made either from polyester or a vinyl-polyester combination, giving the material added flexibility while remaining water-resistant. Some canopy and tents tops are also fully waterproofed.

When shopping for a tent or canopy, look for the listed Denier, or thickness, of the canopy top material. The higher the Denier number, the thicker (but also heavier) the top.

Storage and Transportation

Many tents and especially pop up canopies can store inside a reusable box or carrying case, to make transporting them easier. Carrying cases are sometimes included in special package deals or kits that include the canopy, case, and other accessories.

Pop Up Canopy

A basic pop-up canopy

Among the most versatile – and portable – of all canopies and tents, pop-up canopies (sometimes called EZ-up tents, after a popular brand) are a steadily growing favorite among both commercial and non-commercial users. Their lightweight construction and ease of assembly makes them perfect for a variety of needs and applications, while their comparatively low price makes them affordable for pretty much everyone.

Easy Assembly Saves Time, Effort

As their names imply, pop-up canopies assemble in minutes, thanks to an accordion-styled frame frame design that folds out with almost no effort and contracts down again into a compact space-saving shape. Most pop-up canopies can be set up by a single person, and break down again just as fast.Once disassembled, the frame and top fit into a carrying case that fits inside most backseats and trunks.

Durable, Long-Lasting Construction

The frames are sturdy, typically made from aluminum or steel. Aluminum models tend to be slightly more expensive but also lighter in weight, while steel frames can better withstand inclement weather and normal wear and tear. Steel frames are treated to be rust-resistant.

The canopy material itself – called simply “the top” – is usually either polyester or vinyl-coated polyester. Vinyl-coated tops are tougher but also more expensive, and are recommended for users who plan to deploy their canopies on a regular basis.

Canopy top material is graded by its denier, or thickness. The higher the number, the thicker the material. Remember, however, that thicker material also means heavier material.

Water-Proof and Water-Resistant: An Important Difference

Most canopy tops are water-resistant, meaning they will repel most water with which they come in contact; nevertheless, eventually some moisture will seep through the fabric pores. Water-proof, as its name implies, resists all moisture.

Accessories and Tools

Pop-Up Canopy

An accordion frame stretching out

One of the most popular canopy accessories is the sidewall kit. These are the “walls” of a tent that attach to the frame with straps. Roller bags that help transport the canopy top and frame are also much sought after, as are weight bags that help anchor the frame to the ground and anchoring stakes.

Package Deals

A very popular option among first-time canopy buyers, package deals are canopy “kits” that include a canopy, frame, sidewalls, and a variety of extras. Package deals vary by model and manufacturer, so experts advise browsing before making a purchase.