shade? what is its price?

Jul 21, 2010

I have been searching for a shade shelter for our big annual camping trip…searching does not even begin to describe the lengths to which I have gone to find the perfect piece of polyester, poly-oxford, poly-coated, poly-nonsense to provide our group of five families shade, rain, and hail protection while eating, cooking, and most importantly, while playing Rook.

My mom has had me looking for weeks, but we have put off making a final decision until we were certain we were getting the best product for the best price. We have been using a 10 x 10 with slanted legs for the last five years or so, but it is on its last duct-taped, missing pegs, ripped velcro, bent legs and it is high time for a new one. We wanted something a little bigger, a little stronger, and something a little less likely to take a finger off when you pull the legs out without watching where your hand is placed.

Oh, what a gargantuan task that is!

So many of the shade canopies have reviews that are complete opposites…some people saying it is the best shelter they have ever had, others saying it should be thrown in the trash upon buying it as it will do you more good there than it will standing up over your picnic table. It is a difficult, overwhelming mess to try to sort out what canopy will actually survive a rainstorm and 20 mph winds without snapping in half.

And the warranties? They all say they are warrantied for 1-2 years, but the internet is full of warranty nightmares where the companies are either impossible to get a hold of or they insist that the broken canopy isn’t covered because it isn’t defective, the user used it inappropriately, so says the companies…oh my, we so did not want to deal with that whole fiasco.

We just wanted to find a shade shelter that would hold up for more than the first few weeks, preferably for several years, through a rainstorm, mild wind, and repeatedly putting it up and down. We also wanted it to not break the bank.

This is a seemingly impossible task. Shade shelters simply don’t exist that do all these things. Shade shelters only exist to put up for a few hours when there is no breeze to ruffle their feathers, not a single raindrop to put undue strain on top, and certainly not for a repeated use.

After a whirlwind packing weekend so I could get to Wyoming by Monday night and to the dentist in Salt Lake by Tuesday morning, I realized I needed to use my time in SLC to find my mom the shelter of her dreams.

Nine hours, multiple cross-valley trips, at least 30 stores, and who knows how many phone calls to my mother brought me nothing, but an exhausted Keziah, blurry eyes, and an encyclopedic knowledge of every shade shelter in existence.

I did make it home with a Kelty Canopy House that was on sale at Target. The thought of having a shade shelter that weighed only 7 lbs and could fit in my beach bag was so intriguing that I drove clear to Timbuktoo on the far side of the Salt Lake valley to snag the last remaining one within 20 miles. But, when Blythe and I set it up this morning we found it was sized perfectly for anyone under the age of eight. Adults would need to go elsewhere to find relief from the sun and rain.

This morning, I have spent hours searching the internet for the Coleman 12 x 12 Straight Leg Instant Shelter that mom decided she wanted. It is sold out pretty much everywhere, even on Amazon. Luckily for her, I am an internet detective and I found it at three stores. The cheapest is Sunny Sports where we picked it up for $169 with free shipping, a bargain since when it was available on Amazon it was $179!

Now she has decided she would also like the 10 x 10 in the same brand and style, so I have been calling Targets all over the country to find one (they are on sale for $125 this week). Most places are sold out, including the Target out in Timbucktoo where I found the Kelty Canopy. I, now have three on hold in Colorado and one on hold in Idaho and am trying to work out which family member I can beg to pick one up for my dear sweet mother who has the simple goal of playing rook without getting wet.

After we use them for two weeks in the Wind Rivers, we will let you know if we made the right choice or not. Then you can avoid the above mentioned mess.

p.s. This does not even include the fact that I DID buy a 12 x 12 Regency last week in Pocatello and miraculously got the 60 lb. monstrosity into my vehicle, but I had to take it back because it had such terrible reviews of collapsing on the first use during a mild rainstorm, or the fact that I had the Coleman 10 x 10 in my hands yesterday and walked out of the store without buying it when we hadn’t yet decided that was the one we wanted.

p.p.s. The price of shade? Apparently more than I could ever earn in this lifetime.

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  1. Anne

    Yes, yes. This daughter of mine went way out of her way to find the perfect shelter for me. She always goes over and beyond what anyone else would/should do. Tracy’s too good to me. And I can vouch for her encyclopedic knowledge of every shade shelter in the universe! What would I do without her!?! I count on her for everything, from the definition to an unfamiliar word, the cure for an ailment, and for listening when I’ve had a crappy day. Love you, Trace! And you can play Rook under my cabana any time!

  2. We’ve had good luck with the EZ-Up things… $97 at Waldemart right now. My husband and bigger kids set it up for me anytime we go to Rigby Lake, because I cannot be expected to endure The Nature without my Pavilion, right? :) Ours has held up for about three years now, if that’s any help.