Best outdoor shelters

(Image credit: Amazon)

We all love tents. But sometimes you need a more open and versatile outdoor shelter, gazebo or canopy to protect you from the rain, sun or wind. Whether it’s a family meet-up, barbecue or camping trip, when you don’t want your time outdoors to be spoilt by the weather, the best outdoor shelters are a great way of giving you more dry space to gather in when it rains or vital shade when the sun is beating down. 

To be as useful as possible, shelters need to be big enough to accommodate your group, stood up if possible. They need to be water-resistant but also open and airy, easy to put up and able to withstand some wind and plenty of rain. Portability could be important if you want your shelter to extend your covered area when camping. Here are the ones we would recommend. 

Best overall

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Kelty Sunshade Pop Up Quick Canopy Shade Tent

Adjustable shade and shelter

The three-legged structure of this sunshade allows for a moveable sidewall to block out the sun and wind from any direction. The fiberglass poles are easy to set up and it gives a total floor area of 78 square feet. Comes with a backpack to carry it in.

Best value

(Image credit: Amazon)

REDCAMP Waterproof Camping Tarp

Stripped-down shelter from rain and sun

Tarps are the simplest but most versatile shelter imaginable. This 10ft x 12ft rectangle of waterproof ripstop polyester can, with help from the six wind ropes and stakes (and optional tent poles), be used as a shelter against sun, wind, rain and snow. It’s lightweight, packs into a small storage bag and could prove invaluable when camping.

Best for comfort

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Alvantor Screen House Room Outdoor Camping Tent Canopy Gazebo

Bring indoor comfort outside

Not so much a shelter as an outdoor room, this comes in three sizes for 4-6, 8-10 or 12-15 adults. The flexible fiberglass frame means it can pop-up automatically, the fabric top provides a UPF 50+ protection from the sun and mesh net screens keep mosquitos, wasps and flies out. Although not waterproof, it’s an instant large outdoor space that you can pack away in a compact carry bag.

Best for quick set-up

(Image credit: Amazon)

Coleman Instant Canopy

Durable fabric and up in minutes

You can get this one-piece frame-based shelter up in three minutes and benefit from the Polyguard double-thick fabric with UPF 50+ sun protection before you’ve unpacked your picnic. Guy lines and stakes help it withstand wind and a wheeled carry bag makes transporting it a cinch.

Bottom line

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You’ll be glad you own an outdoor shelter the minute it starts to rain or when you feel the sun blazing down. They are a versatile way of creating space for you, your family and friends that is protected from the elements. The best outdoor shelter for most people is the Kelty Sunshade Pop Up Quick Canopy Shade Tent. It’s quick and easy to put up and provides lots of shelter from the weather. It’s perfect for a sitting, eating and generally passing-the-time space when you are camping.

If you want a simple shelter that’s easy to carry and versatile enough to suit multiple places, the REDCAMP Waterproof Camping Tarp is a good choice. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Advnture team

Launched in July 2020, Advnture is the ideal destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Whether you're into epic hikes through the wilderness, camping trips with the family, climbing with your friends, or looking for a trail running personal best, our team of experts will point you in the right direction, with top buying advice and in-depth guides to help you get the most of your time in the backcountry.