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Canopies go by various names -pop up, easy up, instant up. They are the shelters you have been eyeing enviously while trying to squeeze the family under your beach umbrella. They are the ones that have tent fabric on top of a four legged frame, that can collapse like an accordion into a portable bag.
The two canopies I am comparing here are designed for adaptable recreational use; perfect for day trips to the beach or park. In case you are interested, I have also reviewed a whole bunch of top rated canopies specifically for the beach.
In this article we will be comparing two very popular brands of pop up canopy: EZ Up vs ABCCanopy. The E-Z Up ‘Dome’ is a funky slant legged pop up canopy with a unique top section made of materials that allow it to flex in the wind. The ABCCanopy ‘Beach’ is a simple but sturdy straight legged canopy. The two products have some similarities – they both offer excellent sun protection, were designed with the beach in mind, can be setup to different heights, and only take two people a couple minutes to setup. So how do you choose between them?
Breaking it down
There are five main factors that will help to highlight the differences in these two canopies: portability, wind resistance, rain resistance, canopy size, and extra features. Portability is important because you don’t want to swear out loud as you drag your canopy from your car, for what’s meant to be a relaxing time. You want to know that your canopy can hold up when the wind picks up, and when it’s raining you want to be dryer under it than outside it. I will discuss the difference in shade coverage, and the small ‘features’ that may lean you towards one product or the other.
The ABCCanopy folds up to a small size, and has shoulder straps for transporting. Pretty cool idea, although only you will know if you can practically get a bag weighing 49 pounds onto your back. The back straps are a great help, but it needs some work with respect to comfort (more padding please!). The bag does have small rollers built into it, which will work on flat pavement, but won’t help you across unsealed surfaces.
The E-Z Up range have one of the best looking and functioning carry cases around. It weighs less than 37 pounds, which is significantly lighter than the ABCCanopy. It has nice big, wide-axle wheels made of sturdy plastic that will handle more sophisticated terrain than conventional wheels.
Winner – E-Z Up Dome: You will smile as you continue to roll your canopy straight up to the site, leaving everyone else behind trying to pick theirs up.
ABCCanopy claim that their canopy can put up with 50km/hr winds. Thats a big claim, but suffice to say they have designed it with wind resistance in mind. It comes with sandbags, stakes and ropes (4 of each) to secure it to the ground. The thickened steel frame means it’s harder to warp during strong wind. Although the extra weight compared to the Dome is a disadvantage for portability, it’s an advantage if the wind picks up.
The Dome has an unconventional approach to managing wind. Whilst most designers spend their time trying to make rigid frames, E-Z Up have taken an unconventional approach to the roof design -they’ve used carbon rods to allow the roof to flex in the wind. This allows the structure to absorb the wind pressure, instead of building up tension that might lead to a possible break. It doesn’t have tie down points like the ABCCanopy, instead relying on stakes and weight bags. Theoretically if you add enough weight on the legs you can withstand most wind, however I still like having the option of tying down with ropes. The Dome also has a vented peak like the ABCCanopy, but is apparently designed to increase stability rather than circulate air.
Winner – E-Z Up Dome: The ABCCanopy will definitely put up a fight against wind, but the Dome’s innovative design means you don’t have to fight – just go with the flow!
ABCCanopy have provided their Beach model with a waterproof (not just water-resistant) cover. It’s made of 300 denier polyester coated with polyurethane, and the seams are double stitched. Unlike most other canopies (including the Dome) this will mean that water shouldn’t be able to drip through during a downpour.
According to a representative from E-Z Up, all their recreational canopies are made with a 250 denier polyester material. Whilst this is a decent thickness of material (good durability whilst not being heavy) the inherent properties of polyester are such that it only ‘resists’ water. If the rain is hard enough it will build to a saturation point where you’ll get water leaking through. E-Z Up have a disclaimer that the Dome ‘is water resistant and should not be used in prolonged rainy conditions’. So whilst this is a brilliant canopy, only use when expecting sunny conditions, or very light rain.
Winner: ABCCanopy Beach – Whilst the E-Z Up will protect you up to a point, the ABCCanopy has true waterproof materials to keep you dry.
The ABCCanopy is a 10 x 10 ft straight legged canopy, and therefore the base and the roof are the same area.
The E-Z Up Dome is a slant legged canopy measuring 10 x 10 ft at the base, which reduces to 8×8 ft at the top. Therefore it has less shelter coverage than the ABCCanopy.
Winner: ABCCanopy Beach – This is a clear choice, the ABCCanopy will provide more cover, despite them both taking up the same area at their base.
The AbcCanopy Beach comes with some nice touches to separate it from the crowded canopy marketplace. The top of the canopy has a dual vent to stop hot air stagnating underneath, allowing it to rise up and keep you cool. It comes with 4 weight bags that you can fill up with sand (or similar) and attach to the legs (along with 4 tent ropes and simple pegs). The fabric is CPAI-84 compliant for fire-resistance, meaning you can have a bbq or fire pit nearby without it setting alight. It comes with a 1 year warranty.
The E-Z Up brand is known for quality, and that’s where you will see their attention to detail. You’ll find the roof rods, steel frame uprights and truss bars meeting together in a reinforced end cap, increasing wear and longevity. The fabric here is under tension during use, and so E-Z Up have reinforced the fabric. There is a wind vented peak that guides wind through the roof, rather than turning the roof into a parachute. It’s rated for fire resistance to CPAI-84 and NFPA-701 standards. The Dome comes supplied with a ‘spike kit’ (a.k.a tent pegs) and is supported by an industry leading 3 year warranty.
Winner: E-Z Up Dome – despite not coming with some extras like weight bags, the Dome frame itself is packed with quality components. If you are going to have quality features anywhere, you want it on the most important part – the frame. You can purchase the weight bags separately.
Final Recount: EZ up vs AbcCanopy
ABCCanopy Beach: 2/5 category wins
E-Z Up Dome: 3/5 category wins
Pros and Cons Summary Table
The E-Z up Dome takes the win…just!
It was a close win, so feel free to read the descriptions of each category to make an assessment for yourself. The E-Z Up carry bags are just in a class of their own, and the frame itself is light making it easy to move around. I do like the ABCCanopies backpack feature – perhaps this is something E-Z Up should look into. The innovative frame design attempts to work with the wind, rather than resist it by being built like a ‘brick sh*t house’ (Australian vernacular for built strong). The combination of portability and wind-resistance make the Dome the one of the best EZ up for the beach.
The ABCCanopy is in many ways a nice transition between a heavy commercial setup and the recreational weekender. If you were looking to provide shade over a few days, like a camping trip, perhaps you would lean towards the ABCCanopy.
Through the eyes of someone looking to have a canopy to get them onto the beach a few weekends a year, or give you some shade at the park, the Dome really makes life easier and makes you stand out.
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