Camping Canopy and Kitchen Tent Reviews
Although a kitchen tent is not a necessity on a camping trip, it is certainly a luxury I love to bring with me on my family camping excursions. A kitchen tent is, essentially, a floorless structure which gives you a shaded and bug-free area in which you can create your food. It doesn’t need to be its own entire tent, as it really isn’t all that important to be sheltered from the rain or to be able to walk around barefoot. It simply needs to keep the bugs off of your food and protect you from getting a sunburn as you fry up some morning pancakes on your camp grill.
This page is dedicated to bringing you the best kitchen tents on today’s market. Since some people aren’t all that concerned about bugs and are mostly worried about sun protection, I have also included some reviews of today’s top freestanding canopy structures.
Top Three Choices Of Kitchen Tents and Canopies
If you have visited any of the other pages on this website, you have probably noticed that I like to include a list of the three top choices of any given product, before including all of the other quality products in that category. I do this to save you some time and hassle.
In my research for this website, my first step is always to select the most popular, top-selling items in any given category. I don’t want to bring you a list of low quality products which sound good to me because they’ve been marketed well. Instead, I want to bring you top quality products. I identify those products by their popularity – people wouldn’t continue to purchase these items if they weren’t any good. The three items which find their way into this special section are the ones which stand out among the others on this list of popular kitchen tents and canopies.
Overall Best Screen Kitchen Tent
Clam Corporation 9281 Quick-Set Escape Shelter
This easy to assemble, fully-screened kitchen tent is the perfect escape from the summer sun and even, at times, the rain. Assembly will take less than one minute and, unlike many other “instant” kitchen shelters, can be assembled by one person. All you have to do is remove it from its bag, open it up, pop the sides out, and pop the top up. The specially-designed side panels and roof can be erected by simply tugging on a small looped handle in the center of each of them. They have each been reinforced with their own structure in the shape of an X, so that they do not rely on pole systems to stay erect. In fact, you will not have to construct as single pole to get this shelter to stand up.
The entire structure measures about 12 feet by 12 feet, though the walls bow out slightly, allowing for a little bit of extra elbow room. You should be able to fit a regular sized picnic table inside this tent with room to spare to allow people to walk comfortably around the table. Conversely, you could choose to erect a table along one wall and use the rest of the space for moving around as you prepare a meal or cycle people through a buffet-style serving area. A spacious 7.5 feet of head room at the tent’s highest point allows for most people of average height and slightly above-average height to move around the tent with ease.
The fabric roof features UV protection and is said to be rather water resistant. Rain or shine, this tent should keep you and your food protected. The mesh sides will offer further protection from pesky insects so that you can confidently eat your food without worrying about what may have accidentally made its way inside.
Overall Best Canopy Top
Coleman Instant with LED Lighting System
If the Clam kitchen tent listed above is a little bit more than you are looking for, you may want to consider this Coleman canopy. Instead of featuring a full fabric roof and mesh side panels, this structure features only a fabric roof, which means that air will flow through with even more ease, as will people. The 100 square feet of space underneath this canopy top can be used for cooking, dining, or simple entertaining. The roof’s fabric features UV and rain protection. At night, flick on the built-in LED lights to see what you’re doing. The somewhat reflective interior will amplify the light coming from the bulbs. If you are hoping for a little calm or romantic ambiance, use the handy dimmer switch to set the mood.
These days, a tent structure such as this one just cannot compete with the others if it is not easy to assemble. Companies who are focused on innovation, such as Coleman, are always trying to make our lives simpler so that we have more time to spend enjoying ourselves and spend less time fussing with things such as canopy tents. This tent is an excellent showcase of these efforts. The entire tent fits neatly inside a small carrying bag. After removing the tent from the bag, simply open it up like an accordion and extend the telescopic poles. That is all there is to it.
Best Easy Exit Screen Kitchen Tent
Tailgaterz Magnetic Screen House
Although I truly believe that the Clam Corporation shelter listed above is, by far, the best screened-in kitchen tent, I understand that some people are in search of convenience. As someone with children, I understand the importance of being able to enter and exit a room without needing to use my hands to open and close a door. I installed swinging doors on my own kitchen to make it easier to bring dishes and trays back and forth. Think of this Tailgaterz shelter as the camping solution to swinging doors.
Installing actual swinging doors on a mesh structure would be quite difficult and would allow for gaps through which bugs could make their way in. Instead of actual swinging doors, this structure features the next best thing – magnetic doors. Where other kitchen tents feature zippers, this one features magnets so that you can walk in and out with ease – even with your hands full. In fact, you can even walk in and out through two separate doors, each located on the long walls of this 11 foot by 9 foot structure.
A combination of metal spikes and guy lines will hold this shelter steady even through mild wind storms. Unfortunately, some assembly is required, as this is not an instant structure. Luckily, consumers have reported that assembly time is really quite minimal.
Are the three options listed above not quite doing it for you? Are you in need of something larger, smaller, or with a completely different shape? Perhaps you would like something a little more adjustable. Though the Top Three Choices have received the best consumer reviews and ratings for the categories, the following five kitchen tents and canopies have also received very positive reviews and could be just what you are looking for.
Coleman Back Home Instant Camp Screenhouse
Coleman certainly loves to create instant structures. I realized this trend when I was reviewing tents and have seen it come up again as I am reviewing kitchen tents and canopy tops. Of course, this screened kitchen tent does not stray from that path. It is quick and easy to assemble by simply opening its frame, securing the cover on top of the frame, and extending the telescopic support poles. The frame itself folds up like an accordion for easy storage, making setup and tear-down equally fast and simple.
A large T-shaped door on one of the six sides makes entering and exiting this tent quite easy, and is even wide enough to allow you to move a small table inside. About 120 square feet of space inside should accommodate a table and chairs, and leave you and your guests enough room to move around. Given the hexagonal shape of this tent, I would suggest placing a round table in the middle of this tent for cooking, dining, or general entertaining. Tie backs will hold the door open as you move things in and out or if you aren’t overly concerned about bugs at any given time.
Guy lines extend from the canopy to hold this structure down with much more stability than the spikes in the poles could manage to do on their own. The lines also place a little extra tug on the canopy of this tent, luring water away from the side panels and toward the ground in light rain showers.
Quik Shade EX64, 10 by 10 Slant Leg Camping Canopy
Available in a vast array of color options, the Quik Shade EX64 is one of the most basic canopy tops on today’s market. It is, quite simply, a fabric roof stretch over a metal frame. The roof itself is not pulled taunt to the ground and features no guy lines to keep it secure. The fabric does not run down the length of the poles, which means that it does not work to pull water away from the edges. Chances are that, if it rains, this tent top will experience slight pooling around the middle area of each side. Luckily, a very tall, pointed top will help to keep water moving in the direction of gravity and should prevent pooling from getting out of hand.
That all being said, I’d like to point out that it’s a very good thing that this tent top is, at least, fully waterproof. Some of the other tent tops on this list are only somewhat water resistant. Consumers who have purchased and used this particular canopy have raved about its ability to keep them sheltered in pelting rainstorms. Of course, this will only work if the rain is falling downward.
Compared to many other options available on today’s market, this canopy is very lightweight and easy to carry. Unfortunately, this also means that it is easy to blow away, especially with the absence of guy lines. I recommend this canopy for superior rain and UV protection over short periods of time. It is not meant for a major wind storm and shouldn’t be left up unattended.
Shade Tech 64, 10 by 10 Canopy Top
Although made by completely different companies, the Shade Tech 64 is, basically, an upgraded version of the Quik Shade EX64 listed above. Both feature the same square footage and basic build. Like the Quik Shade, this Shade Tech is no more than simply a UV and water-resistant fabric roof stretched over a metal frame. The roof does not extend to the ground and there are no guy lines to hold the structure steady against strong winds.
Despite being very much like the Quik Shade (and even looking incredibly similar), this canopy features a few upgrades that the other cannot boast. First, it comes with a wheeled carrying bag for extra convenience, despite already being lightweight. Second, unlike the one-height telescopic legs of all the other tents and canopies on this list, these poles can be set at three different heights. Of course, you may not want to use them at their lowest point, since you will find yourself with more of a children’s play fort than an actual kitchen tent, but you can choose to reduce the height of only one side to block sun coming in at different angles.
Coleman 10 by 10 Instant
Boasting a reasonably spacious 100 square feet of space, this kitchen tent is designed to meet your basic needs and then some. Let’s first take a look at the ways it meets those basic needs then move on to discuss some of its special features. Two large T-shaped doors, which each extend the entire length of their respective sides, allow you to effortlessly move things in and out of this kitchen. Whether you are moving large things or small things, you can use whichever entrance or exit is most convenient.
The mesh walls are slanted outward toward their bottom where the square footage has been measured. They come inward toward the top of the tent where the fabric roof comes to a point to allow for extra head space, lamp space and to encourage water to follow the path of gravity toward the ground. An instant assembly design allows you to unpack this tent and have it set up in mere minutes. When you are finished, simply reverse the process to pack it away inside its convenient wheeled carrying bag in the same short amount of time.
Guy lines running from the top of this tent’s canopy to the ground have been added for extra stability. Loops have been added to the basic tent structure so that you can hold the doors open when moving things in or out. The roof’s fabric runs the entire length of each pole to help pull water away from the mesh sides and down toward the ground as it funnels itself off the sloped roof.
Coleman 15 by 13 Instant
Boasting an unbelievable 195 square feet of interior space, this screened in kitchen tent is by far the largest of all the tents listed on this page. In fact, I dare say that you could easily fit a food prep area as well as a dining area under this tall roof. The hexagonal shape of this tent, however, lends itself more toward fitting it over top of one large round table. Of course, you could choose to use part of that table for food prep while using a different part for actual dining.
The tough, polyester roof is supported by a steel frame and boasts strong UV and rain protection for those working, eating, or simply relaxing beneath it. The mesh walls offer premium protection from flying and crawling pests, keeping both you and your food safe. This wouldn’t be a popular Coleman structure if it was simple to assemble. The instant-style framing for this structure goes up within one to three minutes so that you can spend more of your spare time enjoying your camping experience. Measuring a very tall 7 feet 4 inches at its pinnacle, this tent offers sufficient headroom, even with a hanging lantern attached to its center point.
Selecting Your Screen Tent or Canopy
It is very important to consider your own personal needs when purchasing a kitchen tent or a freestanding canopy. Luckily, there are thousands of people who have come before you and tried the ones I listed on this page. The ratings and reviews I have included here take into account the feedback from those consumers as well as the basic specification of these tents and canopies.
However, if you’re not ready yet to make your decision, I suggest that you begin your search by defining exactly what it is you are looking for. I will give you some additional information to help you with this task.
Benefits of a Kitchen Tent
The first and most important thing you need to consider is the type of structure which would best suit your needs. Would you like a full kitchen tent or a simple canopy top? Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. Full kitchen tents offer superior protection from bugs. Their mesh walls will keep pesky mosquitoes and flies from biting you as you try to prepare and eat your meal. The walls will also stop bugs from getting into your food. Of course, these walls aren’t made of steel and will not protect your food from wild animals. Therefore, I do not suggest leaving food in this area overnight or while you are away from your campsite.
All kitchen tents include a canopy, so you know that you will be protected from the sun’s rays as you get to work on creating and devouring your meals.
Benefits of a Freestanding Canopy Top
Some people prefer canopies over kitchen tents. These are usually people who do not camp in bug-infested areas. For example, people who camp in desert locations are much less likely to encounter annoying flying bugs such as mosquitoes and flies, because those bugs tend to breed around water. These people may simply be looking for a place to escape the sun as they create and eat their meals, or even as they relax to read a book in the afternoon.
Freestanding canopies offer you protection from the sun when it is overhead. They also offer limited rain protection, so long as the rain is falling straight down. One thing that many people like about canopies is that they are easy to use. Unlike kitchen tents whose walls and zippered doorways interfere with the natural flow of life, people can freely enter and exit a canopy from any direction, even with their hands full.
Consider Rain Protection
Though very few kitchen tents and canopies come with full, water-resistant walls, some companies have taken special measures to help you out in the case of rain. If you are concerned about rain protection you will want to find a kitchen tent or canopy with a water-resistant/repellent roof. This may seem as if it goes without saying, but what many people do not realize is that not all of these structures are made with this type of roof. Some are made strictly for solar protection and will leak heavily if it rains.
You should also look for a structure which features fabric that runs the length of the corner poles and can be pulled slightly outward with guy lines. These pieces of fabric will funnel water from the roof out toward the exterior of your tent or canopy. Some options, especially freestanding canopies, will allow you attach walls which can be purchased separately.
Which Size is Best?
The size of kitchen tent or canopy which will best meet your needs will rely heavily upon exactly what those needs are. The first question you need to ask yourself is, “How will I use this structure?” You should also consider whether or not you will want to fit an entire picnic table inside. A typical picnic table measures somewhere around 4 to 5 feet by 6 to 8 feet, so keep those measurements in mind as you begin your search.
Personally, I like to use my kitchen tent strictly for food preparation. I need to be able to fit a small table inside upon which I will place my grill, camp stove and various food preparation tools. I also need to fit my food inside. For the most part, I lug my coolers and food storage totes inside this tent for the larger part of a day so that I have everything on hand. On top of that, I need room to move around inside the tent with all of these things. If I were to decide to try to do all of this inside the tent and allow my entire family to eat in there around a picnic table, my kitchen tent would have to be incredibly large.