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May 26, 2011 7:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm throwing a small outdoor party tomorrow (25 people) and now there's rain in the forecast. It being graduation season, I don't want to spend all day calling party stores to find someone who can still rent me a tent. So, will a pop-up canopy like this protect people from the rain or is it a waste of money?

We planned to set up a few tables in the backyard. We could probably fit two of our tables underneath a 10x10 canopy. But will it make much of a difference? Is it still going to be cold and miserable underneath it?

I figure that people are probably going to end up inside the house anyhow, but there's not alot of room inside, so I'd like to have somewhere dry outside available.

If that kind of canopy wouldn't work, what else can you recommend? We'd prefer something that we can put away in the garage afterwards.
posted by cabingirl to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We use those things all the time for field work. They're great portable shelters for both sun and rain. They go up and down fast and they're fairly sturdy in wind.

The 10'x10' size is the smallest and will only comfortably hold a few people, particularly if you're putting a table under it.

One option for you may be to rent them instead of buying. Party supply and event companies often rent tents like this, though this can get expensive for larger units.
posted by bonehead at 7:30 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: You'd need more than one of those, no way 25 people are going to fit under one. Maybe 4. And if it's blowing in from the side at all they will be useless.

Also, you can't make a solid unit from multiple pop-ups; rain will drip down the seams and into the middle of your party, no matter what kind of system you rig up to catch the runoff.

Popup Credentials: I spend a significant part of the rainy Pacific Northwest Spring and Fall under these things trying not to get instruments wet.
posted by Aquaman at 7:30 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: What's in the backyard? Any trees? You could rig up a tarp and fit a lot more people under it than a 10x10 pop-up.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: If it's going to be cold and slightly windy, you'll want a canopy with walls or at least buy some 10' long tarps and cable-tie them to the canopy. I was under one of these canopies + 1 tarp last week for a whole afternoon and it was quite comfortable and never wet. It wasn't windy here though.

Also, if it's constant rain and the ground is wet and soft, another tarp on the ground will be nice for your guests.
posted by bread-eater at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: Yeah, 10 square feet is a pretty good amount of space for a couple of people and a table (Mrs. usonian and I just bought one of these to use at the local farmer's market) but not 25 people at once. The covering seems weather resistant enough but the instructions that came with it were full of dire warnings about not using it in heavy rainstorms - my guess is that wind blowing the thing away is the main concern there.

For a larger area you could go old-school and set up a tarp.
posted by usonian at 7:39 AM on May 26, 2011

Response by poster: I guess I'll start calling the rental places and see if they have anything. It looks like I can rent a 16x16 or 20x20 canopy tent for the same price as that popup canopy I linked to.
posted by cabingirl at 7:43 AM on May 26, 2011

Response by poster: oops, I was also going to say that we do have trees but also a wide open space, so it would be hard to hang a tarp there.
posted by cabingirl at 7:44 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: Be aware that is there is any kind of wind, you are going to need to secure that thing really well, because it is basically a massive kite waiting to fly off. More so if you get one with walls, because that just makes the surface area larger.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:26 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: Definitely recommend renting. Places that do corporate and wedding events will be expensive, call the places that advertise rentals for kids bouncers ("bouncy castle" in my language!). They tend to be cheaper. Here in SoCal, they rent for dirt cheap in fact.
posted by Joh at 8:33 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That's exactly the kind of canopy that I've been considering buying, since it seems to come up a rainstorm every time we invite 30 people over and fire up the grill. However, I'm working on the assumption that everyone's going to stay inside the whole time, and just relying on the canopy to keep the grill area dry so we can cook without ponchos.

To get people to hang out in the yard, you'll need more cover than that.
posted by aimedwander at 10:04 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: Yeah, these work pretty well, but be careful about wind. They're essentially giant kites.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:16 AM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: LIke a couple people mention above, wind can grab any canopy or tent; use nice *long* tent spikes, and seat them as solidly and as deeply as your ground permits. Is the weather forecasting plain rain, or wind/rain/thunderstorms?

Oh, yeah: if you have your grill under there? A rental tent/canopy will probably be fire-retardant, but keep an eye on it anyway: a tent fire is NOT a festive ending to a cookout!
posted by easily confused at 3:32 PM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: One of these is not going to be big enough to hold 25 people. That being said, here are Molly's tips for making the most of your popup tent in foul weather (with a specific film industry slant, because, hey, that's where I use these):

I have successfully used two of these to keep many thousands of dollars of lighting gear dry and safe in some of the worst wind and rainstorms the Bay Area has had in recent memory. A few thoughts:

Walls are essential. Zipped walls, actually. We were the last to hit up Locations for walls, so we got the shitty brokeass walls. A quick trip to wardrobe with a few beers solved that. The importance of zippers cannot be overstated.

Yes, the two canopies met in the center of our area. If you grab the edge of the two canopies and fold lengthwise three times, securing the fold with #2 grip clips, you'll have a gutter than does not leak.

Now, onto securing the thing to the ground. If you're smart/lucky, you'll have staked out an area with a number of immovable objects nearby to tie to. If so, you need a bunch of rope or ratchet straps. DO NOT USE BUNGEES. This guy lost an eye to a bungee cord. So, take your ratchet strap or your rope and attach it to the corner of your canopy and to a fixed object. You want a pretty good amount of tension in the line. If you're using rope, a truckers hitch is your friend. You want at least one line coming off each corner. Two lines per corner is better. If you're lacking in fixed objects nearby, a full cable cart, a boom lift or forklift parked for the evening, a wheelbarrow full of rocks, whatever's nearby and heavy.

Otherwise, your option is sandbags. Ropes to the roof is much more secure, but sometimes not practical. So, sandbags. These are what we use in film. They come in a bunch of different weights, but the 35 pounders (referred to as ball busters) are the best thing in this situation. You put the leg of the popup through the handle, twist the bag a few times to snug down on the leg, and then drop the bag on the ground, handle down. This both provides weight to the entire structure, and holds the foot close to the ground, preventing the canopy from moving around in a way that could injure someone.

The ground will still get wet underfoot. Water runs, that whole fluid thing.
posted by mollymayhem at 6:56 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I ended up buying one of the popup canopies and not even taking it out of the box. People just hung out inside the house, and it worked out fine. The grill was right outside the door so I just ran back and forth.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. They were all good, so you're all best answers!
posted by cabingirl at 3:00 PM on June 25, 2011

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