The Kingpin hates to say it but sometimes even if you pay a pretty penny for your event tent, it doesn’t guarantee that you will get a primo product. Checking out great tent products on this site is one thing, but ordering one on your own online can leave you exposed to some bad deals here and there...
Thankfully, as long as you know what you're looking for, you shouldn't be too vulnerable to this sort of thing. The Kingpin has been fooled once, twice, maybe a half-dozen times, and though it sucked each and every time it happened, at least now you have a super helpful list to use when you're ordering your own awesome marquee or party tent.
So, here you go... the Kingpin's 13 Best Event Tent Buying Tips: Things To Watch Out For.
MAKE SURE TO ENJOY THIS LIST ...it came at the Kingpin's expense!
1. Check the reviews
The Kingpin commands it. There is a reason why retailers beg their customers to give them a ring before they complain about a product. A full 88% of buyers trust online reviews more than the opinion of their mothers. Don’t be a schmuck and be one of the 12% that go blindly forward. However, you should also exercise some discrimination. Some reviews are fake (you can tell when there are only 5 reviews, all glowing, and all have the same spelling errors) while some are from sour pusses that could find fault with perfect. Go for the middle of the road and check the 3-star reviews. These are usually the ones that will tell give you the most constructive insight of what you are about to get into.
2. Check the supplier
Conventional wisdom will tell you that event tents made in China are poor quality. This is not at all true. Many excellent tents come from China, and some sucky ones come from the ol’ US of A. . However, tents that come from China do have one fatal flaw: their instructions suck. This is not really a big deal if you know your way around a tent, but if you are a newbie which can’t tell a grommet from a spanner, then you could be in real trouble. If you think you found where to buy a tent at an awesome price, and it isn’t a place where English is commonly spoken, then get someone to help you figure it out.
3. Know your tent fabrics
Most event tents are made of polyester because it is lightweight. However, not all polyester fabrics are durable enough to for use as party tent covers. If the product description does not specify the thickness of the polyester, ask first. You want one that is at least 300-denier thick. It will be more expensive, but you will be able to use your tent more than once.
4. Pay attention to the poles
Event tents are not camping tents. You want camping tent to be thin and flexible because they are supposed to bend. Event tents, not so much. Event tents are larger and the covers are heavier, so you need you poles to be sturdy. Aluminum is fine if they are heavy gauge; steel is sturdier although they rust. Beware of tents that use plastic poles! Can you spell disaster? If you insist on one of those, then be sure you know where to buy tent poles to replace them when (not if!) they break.
5. Know what you are going to use it for
If you are buying a tent for one time use, there is really no reason to buy at all. It would be cheaper and easier to rent. Just setting it up and getting it down is more trouble than it is worth, and that is not even considering storage! However, if you intend to use it more than once, then you have to think about the best size to serve your purpose. If you have multiple uses for it but require it to be mobile, then you should buy something that is reasonably sturdy and easy to set up. It is all in the intention, kemo sabe.
6. Consider the space
There are many types of event tents, ranging from pop up tents to big-top types. The small tents do not usually need clearance because they are stand-alone. The bigger ones, though, require at least six feet of clearance on all sides because they require tension ropes tied to stakes to give the perimeter and center poles the support they need to keep from collapsing inward under the weight of the cover and rain. However, it you have a frame-type tent, which is basically a network of crisscrossing poles that are self-supporting, you will not need tension ropes, so you will not need clearance. However, you will need to…
7. Get help to set it up
The bigger the tent, the more help you need. If you have a couple of obliging neighbors, or strapping sons (or daughters, for that matter) then you are good to go. However, if you are all by your lonesome, you could find yourself with a mess on your hands. Make sure before you go the place you know where to buy tents that you have the manpower to set it up. If you just need a small tent, find out where to buy pop up tents and get one of those. That is usually a one-person job.
8. Check the wind factor
One of the biggest enemies of an event tent is the wind. Even sturdy tents that are properly tied down can succumb to strong winds. If you are setting up in an elevated or windy area, ensure that you have enough tension wires and stakes to keep your tent on the ground. What is the best tent to buy in a windy area? An open-sided one would be your best choice. However, your guests may not be too happy about that. At a pinch, choose tents that have openings on the sidewalls to channel the force of the wind. Better yet, select an area that has a wind break.
9. Ask about rain gutters
Another problem with party tents is accumulation of rain. When the rain comes down hard enough, even the best tent covers will collect water unless it is properly designed with rain gutters. This will channel the water down the sides and off the canopy top. If the product description does not specify it, beware!
10. Corner pockets?
This is more a requirement for pop up tents than party tents, because damage usually occurs first at the corners. Corner pockets increase the durability of the cover, so that it will not rip after just a few uses.
11. Color me neutral
It can be tempting to go for bold colors or stripes when ruminating “what tent should I buy” to yourself because they look so attractive. However, strong colors can look really old really fast because when they fade it is so obvious. With the sun and the rain, you can be sure that they will show signs of wear after just a few uses. It would be better to choose a neutral color. They also blend more easily with any color theme.
12. Consult with other event planners
You could check out forums and blogs for advice from event planners about what tent to buy for specific occasions. They have all been there, done that, so you should at least consider that they know what they are talking about.
13. Check with customer service
When choosing between suppliers that seem neck and neck in the race, the clincher could be the quality of their customer service. Before buying, try asking a technical question. If they respond quickly and gives you a good answer, it means they have someone in place who knows the product. This could stand you in good stead if you encounter problems after you buy. The Kingpin does not guarantee it, however. Nothing is certain but death and taxes, after all!
"Fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, well, I guess I'm the party tent sucker!"
Isn't that what they say? Maybe the Kingpin got it wrong...
Make sure to keep these tips in mind if you venture out on your own! The Kingpin will always provide you with curated, high-quality product lists like this one and this one or even this one... but if you ever find yourself looking around for party tents on your own, hopefully this list will give you a guide to follow. Good luck and keep those tents a' partyin!
Random Awesome Tent Infographic
Speaking of suckers...
The Kingpin as said it before, but he is a sucker for infographics! Check out this awesome one on the history of the party tent... Man oh man, this beautiful invention has come a looooooong way. Please make sure to show the sources of this infographic some love by visiting their links (usually indicated within the bottom area of the image) ENJOY!