by Lisa McGrimmon
If you're in the market for a portable canopy, have you considered the Undercover tent?
Over the years, I've done loads of research on craft tents, but I hadn't come across this model until a reader emailed to let me know how she made her decision about which canopy to buy, and why she chose the Undercover brand.
Hilary, from Salamander Feltworks, (Check out her gorgeous felted creatures.) kindly emailed to tell me about this craft show canopy, which she loves. She noticed I hadn't featured it here on the site.
Hilary also has a fantastic story about how she decided which craft tent to buy. It's a smart strategy with a great lesson.
So, before we dive into details about the Undercover tent, I want to share with you exactly how Hilary chose her shelter.
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Hilary told me she was about to buy a different craft tent model, but before making her purchase, she did something a lot of us fail to do.
She talked to people face to face and got first-hand advice from people who already own the tents.
In the age of easy internet research, it's tempting to jump online and gather all of our information here. Of course, I think the internet is a great place to get and share a lot of information. I wouldn't write this site otherwise. However, sometimes it is extremely smart to do a little face to face research as well.
Talking to other craft professionals can help you get more nuanced answers as well as information specific to your location.
After doing some research online and getting some good information, Hilary decided to go to a local farmers' market and take a look at the tents different vendors were using.
If you want to do your own face to face research, and there aren't any craft shows in your area in the near future, you'll find plenty of vendors with opinions about portable canopies at your local farmers' market.
Hilary saw a wide variety of craft tents at her local market. She talked to vendors and asked them all the same question:
"Do you love your tent?"
Hilary said, "Responses went from 'It's OK' to 'I wouldn't get another one of these,' except for one brand...The six owners of Undercover shelters all said 'Yes!'"
She had a clear recommendation from people who use a craft tent at least once a week.
I understand that face to face research can feel like more work, and it's not easy if you have a more introverted personality. However, requiring that little bit extra of yourself can really pay off. If you can't decide which tent to buy, it's smart to check out what brands craft professionals are using in your area.
If I had done this kind of research early on when I was buying my own tent, I would have saved myself a whole lot of time. Based on my online research, I initially had my heart set on an EZ Up tent. Then I tried to buy one, only to discover they were not widely available where I live, in Canada.
Once I had a good look at tents used at shows in my local area, I realized that Caravan Canopies were much more common here. Supplementing my online research with some in-person research would have taught me that lesson quickly and saved me a lot of time.
After using the tent, Hilary agrees with the other people she spoke with. She definitely loves her tent.
She says, "I really can put it up and take it down by myself - not in the minute the guy in the video manages, but five to ten minutes is fine for a 72-year-old woman with a moderately gimpy shoulder. They've thought through everything, from the nylon-core steel upper frame that keeps the weight down and the strength up while providing a perch for my magnet-mounted dragons to the no-pinch hardware and the built-in cord that the walls hang from (using clips permanently attached to the walls)."
I want to thank Hilary for taking the time to share her experience. First hand information from craft professionals is extremely valuable in decision making. Based on this information, I'd say the Undercover tent should definitely be on your list of models to consider if you're in the market for a new craft canopy.