Last updated on November 28th, 2023
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Pop up gazebos tested for waterproofness, stability and ease of assembly
Following on from my review on hardtop gazebos, where we found the Outsunny 3m x 3m Hardtop Gazebo a good choice if you need a more permanent gazebo, we have written a review looking at options that aren’t as permanent.
Like many people, I decided I needed a gazebo that was more portable, and easy to put up but is much more substantial than the cheap flimsy party gazebos you often see at the supermarket, Argos, B&M etc. This led to me testing some premium pop-up gazebos to see how they compared. I can tell you now, that, you will need a budget upwards of £140 to buy a decent 3m x 3m pop-up gazebo that doesn’t break the frame or rip the cover off at the first sign of a gust of wind
In this review, I tested the best pop-up gazebos in my own garden as well as looked at two, of what I like to call, old-style gazebos where the frame pieces slide together instead of folding out and upwards. I find them a little of a headache to put up, unlike the pop-up models, however, we think they are still worth considering.
I also took some of them to the beach, and, more recently, to my mum and dad’s house for a big family BBQ we had. I even use the MasterCanopy to provide some shade over this bouncy castle for my daughter, as you can see in the picture above. Generally, though, I just put it up in the garden to provide some shade over the lawn because my 3m cantilever parasol has my patio covered and I can’t easily move this to the lawn.
I also used to have one of these but without the side panels. It was also an excellent gazebo, probably one of the best, but it doesn’t have the air vent as the MasterCanopy does
Let’s just say, the MasterCanopy model has been put through its paces, heavy downpours at Christmas, windy evenings over the new year and even snow when I forgot to put it away and it’s still going strong. It’s definitely my personal favourite. Even though it’s in its third season (I think), it still looks like new, showing no signs of rust on any of the steel frames and the fabric canopy is still in good nick too. What I usually do is put it up, fasten it down with the pegs, sometimes using the guide ropes and then watch the forecast. If it’s forecasted windy weather, then I take it down at night.
First things first, what an amazing piece of kit this MasterCanopy 3m x 3m Pop-up Gazebo is. It really does stand out from the other models I have used which is why it’s still the gazebo I use myself. So what makes a gazebo the best? Well, this is probably a little debatable but what I think it really comes down to is the build quality, what gauge is the steel? Are the plastic parts strong nylon? How thick is the fabric? Is it waterproof or just showerproof? (Yes there is a difference as I found out) and how easy is it to put up?
On my own, believe it or not, I can put this MasterCanopy gazebo up in about 2 minutes, and I can do it even faster with the second pair of hands. In terms of build quality, while it’s not really professional quality, it’s certainly got to be up there with the best for more domestic use. I would say, even professionals like mobile car mechanics could rely on this with no problems.
Something else I also noticed, it’s also easy to fold back down, I don’t even have to remove the canopy. It folds down perfectly with the canopy still on and slides nicely back into its carry bag, as you can see above. From experience, I can tell you not all gazebos go back into their carry bags that easily.
BEST POPUP GAZEBO
Don’t forget to check out my top recommended gazebo leg weights here (opens new window).
The best pop-up gazebos I included are listed below:
- MasterCanopy 3m x 3m Pop-Up Gazebo – BEST PICK
- Airwave 2.5m x 2.5m Waterproof Pop-Up Gazebo – BEST SMALL WATERPROOF PICK
- Casaria Lorca Canopy Gazebo
- Airwave 3m x 6m Waterproof Gazebo – BEST LARGE PICK
Top 4 Gazebo Reviews
This list starts with my best pick (the gazebo I still use) then the rest follow in no particular order. Read on to learn which models made it onto my list of the best gazebos.
1. MasterCanopy 3m x 3m Pop-up Gazebo
Check out my video review (below) where I show you how easy it is to put up!
- A great pop-up gazebo that is very well built, and easy to put up in under 2 minutes.
- Heavy-duty steel frame and reinforced joints with quick-release buttons to secure the frame.
- Can be put up in around 1 minute with 2 people, on my own I’ve been able to put it up in around 2 minutes.
- Fully waterproof canopy, even in heavy rain and snow it’s never leaked through.
- Quality fabric with UV 50+ so great for use as a shade.
- 3 leg height options from 64 inches on the lowest setting, 68 inches on the middle setting and 6ft (180cm) on the highest setting.
- Inside the canopy, the floor to the centre of the peak of the gazebo is 8ft (240cm) with plenty of headroom, even for taller people.
- Can be used on most even surfaces and comes with eight pegs for fastening to soft ground. Also included are weight bags that fasten to the legs with velcro straps and can be filled with sand, gravel or anything heavy.
- The pop-up canopy offers 9 square meters of coverage from the sun and rain, which is easily big enough for 6-10 people or a large round 8 seater.
The issue with a lot of these pop-up gazebos is they look almost identical, in fact, I’m sure most are made in the same factory, just with a different brand attached to them. When it comes to differentiating between the different models this is where it became a little difficult because they are all so very similar.
After comparing and testing, I’m sure that this MasterCanopy 3m x 3m Pop-up Gazebo is by far one of the best models, followed by the Airwave pop-up gazebo I also review below.
Where I noticed the differences straight away is with the materials used and the build quality, it just feels more substantial. The steel used for the frame seems to be more heavy-duty.
The joints are also reinforced and the plastic parts are. Where the different sections join on the frame and the large red thumb buttons (which you can see in the picture above) all seem to be much stronger and, in general, a better quality plastic.
The design seems to be the same but just improved with better materials and a few added features such as the velcro on the corners that hold the canopy on while you are erecting it to prevent it from blowing off before it is secured.
So let’s quickly talk about the canopy. I’ve always been careful not to rip the canopy as it’s not overly thick and I’m sure it could tear if you catch it on something. That being said, it has held up very well over the last 2 years now and hasn’t faded. I have no way to measure this but the Polyester canopy is rated as 50+UV-resistant and it’s fully waterproof.
So in terms of size, I think it’s a decent size at 3 metres by 3 metres. It also has 3 height settings but I’ll be honest and say, you will probably always use it on the highest height setting, which is around 6ft tall from the floor to the lowest part of the canopy. Now I’m 5.8 and can walk underneath it comfortably but it’s also 8ft inside the canopy so even though the tallest of my friends might have to duck slightly to pass under, they have plenty of headroom once inside, as you can see in the quick walkthrough video below.
So the question everyone always asks. How easy is it to put up and how long does it take?
When it comes to putting it up, I can do it in around 2-3 minutes on my own and in around 1-2 minutes if I have someone to help by holding one corner of the frame while I pull it out into its full size.
When I do this myself, I peg one corner down (as shown in the picture above) with one of the included pegs and then walk around the frame pulling out each corner a little each time until it’s fully extended.
I then make sure the canopy is over the frame and then pull each corner up until they click into place.
After this, I make sure the canopy is tight around the frame and I like that it has velcro on the corners of the frame to help hold it in place, this is a nice touch.
After the frame is fully extended and the canopy is on tight, I then extend the legs to the full height, there are 3 heights to choose from. Starting at the lowest height of 64 inches from the floor to the canopy, 68 inches makes it slightly taller and you can have it on the tallest setting which is around 6ft and the height I always use.
In terms of keeping it grounded, it does come with pegs and these are what I mostly use because it is usually on soft ground where I use it. However, it also comes with 4 weight bags that you can fill with sand, grit, or whatever you can put in really to weigh it down. These weight bags have velcro straps that wrap around the legs to weigh them down. You can see in the picture above I actually used two weight bags and have pegged the other two legs down as they were on the lawn.
Finally, one of the other things I really like about this pop-up gazebo is the carry bag and how easy it is to put away. I can take the gazebo down and put it in the carry bag in less time than it takes to put it up.
I leave the canopy cover on the frame and fold the frame back inwards pressing all the big red buttons to release the frame. I then stand it in an upright position and slide the carry bag over the frame and zip the end up.
I also like that the carry bag has wheels to make it easy to carry and pull, it also fits nicely into the back of a boot.
I have a Kia Sportage and it fits in the boot perfectly which is why it’s perfect for taking to the beach.
If I had to buy another gazebo it would have to be this MasterCanopy pop-up gazebo again. For me, the extra I paid compared to some of the slightly cheaper alternative models was well worth it for the extra stability the stronger frame provides, as well as the overall quality of both the frame and canopy.
Overall it’s just an impressive gazebo that will last a good few years at least, if not much longer. The only thing this model didn’t come with was wall sides. I have not ordered any sides yet, however, I know you can get sides from MasterCanopy which I have seen available here and could be worth looking into.
If you want to read my more detailed review of the gazebo with a step-by-step setup process with pictures, check out my more extensive review of the MasterCanopy 3m x 3m Pop up gazebo here.
Looking for a hexagon gazebo? Pop-up or permanent? – Check out my review of the best hexagonal gazebos in this guide here.
2. Airwave 2.5m x 2.5m Pop Up Waterproof Gazebo
BEST SMALL WATERPROOF GAZEBO – FULLY ENCLOSED!
- Fully waterproof with seal taped seams.
- The canopy features Anti-Puddling Eyelets to avoid gathering water.
- Includes 4 sidewalls, two have windows, and two with zipped doorways.
- Pop Up gazebo – quick and very easy to erect. (Set up in around 60 seconds.)
- Carry bag included for easy storage.
- Steel frame construction for added strength and stability.
- Two wind bars for extra protection against winds.
This is another great gazebo and one that is more affordable than many of the other gazebos in my review. The structure is fairly good, not quite as good as the MasterCanopy, and perhaps not quite finished off to the same standard but it’s more than good enough.
An example of this is the small push-in thumb buttons you push in to click the legs and bars into position (you push them in slide the corners up and they click into position, same for the legs). On the MasterCanopy they have really improved upon this design with big large red buttons which make it easier and have less chance of trapping your skin. It’s worth noting that the standard thumb buttons on this model still do the same job, the process is, how can I put it, not polished off like that on some of the more expensive pop-up gazebos.
This gazebo by Airwave is actually a very popular brand, I think they possibly made one of the first gazebos that pop up in this manner, and the rest have just copied or improved upon the design. However, it’s proven and it works well. Assembly is still easy, it’s probably just as easy as any other pop-up gazebo. It takes around 2-3 minutes once you know what your doing but fastening the sides on probably takes another 15-20 minutes. It’s worth mentioning you can use the gazebo without the sides if you wanted.
In terms of size, this gazebo is 2.5m x 2.5m so it’s a good choice for those with smaller patios or gardens. A feature I do really like is that it comes with 4 side panels included which, for the price, is fantastic. For most other models you can get the sides but they are an additional costs and it can work out expensive. The material used is 420D polyester for the canopy and a slightly lighter 210D polyester for the sides. Overall, the quality is good, it’s strong, durable and waterproof.
Back to the side panels, two have full-length zipper doorways that roll up, and the other two feature church-style windows which let in plenty of light. The panels are ready to attach in your desired combination giving you the complete freedom to have the doors and windows where you want. It just makes it a little easier to erect as it doesn’t need to face any particular direction for the doors or windows to fit. What I will say is the windows seemed like they could become brittle over time. I’m yet to see this happen but the thickness just gives me that impression. Maybe don’t take the sides off too often.
Something this model does have that the other models don’t is the two storm bars that will provide greater stability if you get caught out in stormy weather. The box also contains four leg weight bags that can be filled with soil or sand to support the gazebo just like the MasterCanopy comes with. If you are not comfortable with sand or soil, I found that you can use 2-litre drink bottles filled with water and they fit in perfectly.
The gazebo comes with a carry bag to help with transportation and storage but again, it’s not as polished off as the MasterCanopy carry bag with its transport wheels. Also, the zips could do with being a little more heavy-duty, that being said, for the price, it’s probably expected
The Airwave Gazebo is an extremely well-put-together gazebo without the fancy features and is surprisingly strong, as long as it’s set up properly. This means, that if you plan on leaving it up for any length of time, I would use the guide ropes, something I often neglect but really shouldn’t.
Overall, if you’re looking for a smaller gazebo, something that’s a little more affordable, this is well worth considering. I am actually considering getting another one to possibly do some of my woodwork in as I have a small area, it would fit perfectly and it comes with the sides.
3. Casaria Garden Gazebo Pavilion Lorca
So, you have probably noticed this is not a pop-up gazebo but more of a Pavilion, now what I will say is this is more of a semi-permanent gazebo. I wanted to include this as it’s quite impressive for the price and as long as you build it correctly, and use the included guide ropes, it will stand up to some fairly windy weather. Again though, it needs building correctly with the fabric pulled tight, pegged down (or screwed) and guide ropes attached.
So at 3m wide and 2.6m tall in the centre at the highest point, the Lorca gazebo has a lot of headroom underneath, Just remember though that despite the height in the centre, at the edges where you walk under the gazebo it is a fairly standard 1.8m (6ft). Still tall enough for most people to walk under without ducking.
There are many different gazebos that share this same design but this is one of the best in terms of build quality. Even so, the cover is water-repellent (not waterproof) with the roof material being polyester so this is more used to provide some shade.
What I did notice is that one does have lockable metal eyelets on the roof. This means when it’s not in use you can remove them and it helps prevent the roof from pooling water, a common problem with these types of gazebos. The frame is made from powder-coated steel so is fairly strong too. The build time is a couple of hours, maybe a little longer for the less experienced, but the instructions let it down, however, take your time and it is fairly straightforward.
I think the design of this gazebo is admirable and there are beautiful details included in the construction.
- Water repellant cover.
- Easy to assemble.
- Perfect for any garden and patio.
- Stable and sturdy metal struts for extra support.
- Ideal for garden parties and summer parties.
- Cover material: Polyester.
- Material structure: Powder-coated metal.
- This gazebo may be water-repellent but it’s not showerproof. This means in light showers it’s fine, but if they get heavy the rain will start seeping through.
I included this gazebo as it is a semi-permanent shelter that can be left up in okay-ish weather, don’t leave it out in storms, it’s just not worth the risk. If it’s in a more sheltered position, tied down with all 4 guide ropes and secured to the floor in all 28 anchor points, it will probably be secure enough to leave out all year although it is not made for doing this.
4. Airwave Waterproof 3 x 6m Gazebo
BEST PICK FOR LARGER PARTIES
I’ve included this gazebo because it’s big at 3m x 6m (which gives you 18 sq. meters of floor space) and it’s ideal for occasional parties, maybe put up a couple of times a year. Take note here, it’s not the most heavy-duty gazebo, quality-wise, it doesn’t even come close to the MasterCanopy and the material does seem a little thin, however, if it’s built correctly, the cover is tight, you have secured the guide ropes and have secured down by the feet it will get the job done. I would be expecting to get 2-3 years out of this if it’s just used occasionally.
It’s ideal for most outdoor activities, including weddings, large BBQs and parties, basically, any time you need an affordable gazebo. It features one roll-up door and one zippered Arabian style door along with six sides, four of them full size and there are three church style windows on each panel of the four sides.
The frame features a white powder-coated steel tube with durable nylon connectors. It’s easy to erect following the numbered poles and the process needs at least 2 people and some patience. Basically, you build the frame which slides together, add the nylon connectors and then put the cover over the connectors and secure it in place as tight as you can, be careful not to rip it.
- Fully waterproof for shelter no matter the weather.
- Can be erected on both soft and hard surfaces, pegs or sandbags.
- 1 zippered Arabian style door.
- 1 roll-up door.
- All 6 sides included 4 of them full size with 3 windows per panel.
- White powder-coated steel tubes.
- 120g polyester with PVC coated cover for protection against rain.
- Plenty of space for parties – Dimensions: 3m x 6m
- This is one of those tents that doesn’t like windy conditions. The frames are likely to bend in windy conditions.
The Airwave waterproof gazebo is a great tent for most garden activities where you need a large gazebo. I like that it’s quite spacious, giving you plenty of room, and how easy it is to erect and get the cover on.
It is also very affordable for the size. What I will say is that it’s only really suitable for occasional use, this is not something you can put up for anymore than a couple of days in fairly good weather. What I did forget to mention is this model came with wind bars for added stability, something some of the other very similar gazebos of this size didn’t.
Gazebo Buyer’s Guide
So, like you, I was once looking for a new gazebo which is why I have created this buying guide so you know what to look for in a good pop-up gazebo. Figuring out what style, size and material you want is critical in choosing what kind of gazebo is ideal for you.
Here’s the guide that’ll give you a superior comprehension of what you’re searching for when choosing the perfect model for you:
How do you put up a pop-up gazebo?
Watch the video below where I show you how to put up a pop-up gazebo on your own in under 3 minutes.
What do you need the gazebo for?
This is a crucial question and it’s very important in determining what you’ll settle for. This question will also help you figure out where you’ll position the gazebo. One of the following might be your answer:
- Some people purchase gazebos to increase the value of their homes (there are more permanent gazebos that are solid structures).
- Perhaps you simply need somewhere outside to relax and unwind which offers some shelter from rain or a little shade.
- Maybe you have a wedding or reception planned and need a big gazebo for a one-off use.
- You have guests over to entertain and thought a gazebo will be awesome for dinner or drinks.
- You want an easy and fast to erect pop-up gazebo to take camping or to the beach.
- If you work from home and you’ve always imagined the breeze and the birds tweeting as you sit at your work area and work away.
- If you have children, a gazebo can be awesome, and putting it in an area that you can see from your windows will give you a sense of security. Plus they also get that much-needed shade on hot days. I use mine to shelter the bouncy castle as shown below.
Where do you plan on having it?
Without a doubt, you know you are going to erect it on a level surface. In any case, there are many alternatives to approach this:
- Do you want to erect it on a lawn, an existing patio, a solid pad, pavers, or even a wooden deck or pool?
- Contingent upon the kind of rooftop you want, whether closed or more open, would you lean toward your gazebo to be in a sunny location or in the shade by the trees?
- You know exactly where you want to put your gazebo and what activities you might give up on your lawn. In the event that you have children, then perhaps place it at the edge of the yard so despite everything they’ll have space to play.
- Perhaps you would favour it ideal off the deck, or need it to be the point of convergence of your yard by putting in a focal range.
Know the Gazebo Features
- Size – gazebos come in different sizes, from 7 sq. ft to rectangles and ovals to more than 20 ft long. On the chance that you want covering for a little loveseat or intimate bench, a 7 sq. ft can be sufficient. If you need something sufficiently enough to handle a dinner party, you’ll definitely need something bigger. You also need to confirm the size you want can fit easily within what remains of your lawn landscaping.
- Shape – gazebos customarily have an octagonal shape, so in case you have a more traditionally styled and arranged home, you may opt to go with the 8-sided gazebo. On the hand, if you own a modern house, you may want to go for the more contemporary, angular look that’s found with a square or rectangular gazebo. There are likewise round and oval shapes that can blend more effectively with a bending walkway or flowing garden arrangement.
- Materials –the option of portable gazebos is the most reliable these days, with most of them being made from polyester material. They are stand-alone gazebos that need a bit of assembly to erect and need to fold down after use. Polyethene is a great choice for canopy tents that are taken and erected for shorter periods because of its lightweight and portability. You should ensure that any cover material used near a fire is fire-retardant.
- Roof – some roof features such as waterproofness add to the overall quality of a roof. Some models even come with roofs that protect against UV. Ideally, the better the roof is equipped, the safer you’ll stay underneath. Polyester is the most popular top material used because it’s affordable, resistant to water and durable.
- Frame material – the frames usually come in steel or aluminium. Steel frames reduce increased amounts of rust that can cause slow damage. Aluminium frames are lightweight and perfect for portability. Aluminium is easy to flex and may not stand as tough in windy conditions.
- Portability and assembly – the best pop-up gazebo tents with simple features are the easiest to erect and take down. Make sure to check if the canopy can fit into your vehicle. Buying carry bags can help especially when travelling with a huge canopy tent.
- Lightweight vs Heavy-Duty Canopies – lightweight canopies are perfect for short-term use, a day or two, while heavy-duty canopies are ideal for long periods of time and can withstand elements within their time of use. Lightweight canopies can be assembled and taken down by two to three adults and fit easily into the trunks of most vehicles. Heavy-duty canopies are usually expensive but then they last longer than lightweight canopies.
Gazebos are a wonderful solution for many outdoor activities to protect your friends, furniture and other possessions from the elements.
They come in all sorts of sizes, styles and shapes and your ideal gazebo depends on why you need the gazebo and where you want to put it.
- ✅Upgraded Frame: Modern and durable design. Conducive for ventilation and cooling with vent on the roof. Strong and durable with upgraded steel frame construction, reinforced stress points where peak poles meet, and plastic parts. All these make the pop up canopy last long.
- ✅Upgraded 3-Height Settings: The improved toggle leg adjustment will keep your fingers pinch-free and is easier to unlatch. Three different height settings allow you to choose the height that meets your needs. Straight Leg height options: High 81', Medium 77', Low 73.2'. Perfect for commercial activities, camping, festivals, tailgating, backyard events and etc..
- ✅Upgraded Package: Includes 3x3M Pop up canopy frame + Canopy tent top cover + Roller bag + 4 Weight bags. Wheeled bag is 52x9x9, 600D coated PVC fabric to transport the pop up canopy at ease.
- ✅Upgraded Fabric: The improved fabric is UV coated to reflect 99% of harmful sun rays and water-resistant.
- ✅Upgraded One-Minute Set-Up: 1.Take the fully assembled frame with top out of the bag and pull it open. 2.Place the fabrics over the frame and extend the legs. 3.Use the thumb press buttons to easily adjust height and then snap into place.Quick and simple.
Best Party Canopy
Now you have a good idea of what to look for when you want to buy a gazebo. We hope you’ve learned from our top gazebo reviews for you to make informed decisions when shopping.
Last update on 2023-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API