Better Quality Display Canopy Comparisons

I'm upgrading from a decent EZ-up and I've been pouring over people's opinions and advice about this brand and that of higher end display canopies throughout the discussions here but I'm still teetering between two major brands. I do my set-up solo - am of a 'certain age', who wants set up and tear down to be a breeze. You know, I want the world - in a display tent!

Must Haves:

  • 1 person set up
  • 10' x 10'
  • dome
  • zipped high quality side panels
  • skylight
  • front and back vents
  • awning
  • durable
  • high quality
  • replacement parts available


I'm attracted to the lightweight portability of the aluminum frame components of the Show off but love the guys at Flourish who make the Trimline that has taken over and improved on the Crafthut experience.

My research here through the forums and posts has found that there are enthusiastic supporters of every brand out there. I decided to compare apples with apples to get a handle on how things stack up! All prices shown are from the websites of each individual company as of today August 28, 2012. At first I thought there were wild ($300ish) price differences but then I looked into the add-ons and found they all come in very close to each other price-wise.

Comparing with: upper vents, 4 sidewalls, skylight, front awning)


  • comes fully loaded 
  • shipping extra (~$80 - 100)
  • heavy (steel)
  • 36 main components to frame
  • Many components = time consuming set up
  • Very Stable
  • Many replacement and upgrades available
  • Great Service
  • Comes with anchoring kit
  • Awning Add $125
  • Carry Bags Add $52
  • BONUS: Awesome sales support - thorough online presence with tons of info
  • Bottom Line: $1152


  • 'free' shipping
  • light (marine grade aluminum)
  • The top canopy goes on the roof frames while still on the ground - maybe not so easy for the person who finds it difficult to squat or bend over
  • 16 main components to frame
  • easy solo set-up
  • Comes with 2 carry bags
  • 2 center zip walls included
  • Said to be super stable
  • Good web site with plenty of info (not as much as Trimline folks though) responsive to email inquiries
  • Bottom Line:  $1170


CraftHut = TrimLine (were bought out)

Light Dome - Finale

  • Finale configured comparably $1069 + Shipping (+ $80 - 100)
  • (Note: doesn't include skylight as they say their tent material transfers light well)
  • Aluminum Frame
  • Top canopy must slide onto roof frame with legs partially extended - maybe not as easy for the shorter person
  • 21 main components to frame
  • do-able solo set up
  • Has some tremendously enthusiastic users many of whom attest to its rain and wind worthiness
  • Replacement parts and upgrades available
  • Carry Bags included
  • All 4 walls come with center zip standard
  • of the 2 Finale seems to have an edge over the Light Dome
  • Not the best web site. Actually pretty 1990's-ish, lol - but a nice gal answered the phone when I called.
  • Bottom Line: ~$1150


Suggested additional Upgrade: get a center zipper in each sidewall so solo roll-up is do-able without a special tool

Another Thoughtful Recap

An artist/blogger by the name of Ron Frazier went through this process a couple of years ago and recapped his thinking here:

Be sure to read the comments. They're making me lean towards The Finale as of this writing.

Add YOUR opinions below if you like:

  1. What canopy do YOU use? 
    Brand and Model if you know
  2. What do your LOVE about it?
    your top 3 features.
  3. What do you wish was better?
    (if anything) about it?

What I Chose:
I went with the SHOWOFF. Here's WHY:

  • fewer overall parts
  • The top is set up before the legs are raised - so no struggling on a step ladder to get situated
  • Tons of customizations available (I added zippers to both sidewalls so I can roll them up easily without using a contraption or a neighbor - I also purchased the rear awning fittings but not the pricey vinyl lean to - I intend to either clip my back sidewall up when my booth is open or add a lightweight tarp as necessary)

I didn't ask for nor did I receive any % off from the seller for announcing this choice.

All three main companies make excellent tents that work great for folks with slightly different needs.  

If your needs are similar to mine and this post helped you decide to also go with the SHOWOFF please mention me (Marti McGinnis) as your referral when you buy yours. They'll give me a little rebate. Then when you tell people about your purchase you'll get one too!



Comment from Discussion (that I closed and moved here)

Permalink Reply by Brandee Ross 14 hours ago

I bought a Light-Dome earlier this year and set it up exactly once: one time was enough to make me realize it was NOT a one-person operation (not this one person anyway).

I really like the ease of a popup tent so I started researching what the food and sponsor guys were using at shows. I found out about TentCraft ( but at ~$1,000 it was more than I wanted to spend. Then I came across a knockoff by Eurmax: I LOVE this tent. My favorite features:


Eurmax PRO 10'x10' Package

  • Hexagon, NOT square legs that are over 2" wide made of thick aluminum
  • Heavy duty, but light enough to put up easily and quickly on my own
  • Good side panels included
  • Side panels attach at top with a velcro border -- no straps/excess shows and it's quick to install
  • Replacement parts available
  • Nicest tent bag of any I've owned
  • Price - under $400

I can't think of any improvements. I don't use an awning but I did buy side rails to add stability, and in the future I might use them to display graphics in my tent.

Good luck!

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  • I haven't set mine up yet - it's all shiny and spankin' new out in the garage - but you better believe I'll be studying your advice on setting up, Larry and Virginia. THANK YOU for taking the time to type all this out! I am always blown away by the generosity of others like yourselves who show up and share info to help make someone else's life a little easier. Another reason I love artists!

  • Margaret, Just follow what the video tells you to do, oops, this tells you how long I have had my Light Dome and I still have it. I put this up myself for many years and can still do it at age 61. you work from opposite corners when setting up. One corner put tellescopeing poles in then opposite corner do the same. -so like a tripod then extend polls to the the other upright poles, put the angle roof poles in then the center t pole. lock that in place. Then pull roof over and snap to up rights. then raise one leg to the height then raise the other leg on the same side. then go opposite it and do the same. It will look funny and unstable but it will be ok. Then I put the side curtains on at the end. I need a small step stool to do that. I do not have the bottom stabilizing bars so can't help you there. Take down just do the reverse. I split my top and sides into 2 large sports bags or else just too heavy. tent poles in the their pole bag. The quickest I would take my art (Framed 2-d art down and have the tent down and in the van and on the road was 45 minutes.  So it is not hard. ONE major point when you put up the side curtains make sure the little label  on the top is faceing  the inside of your booth this way they will be on correctly when you go to zip up the side. Good luck, I love my light dome best tent on the market and it looks classy as well.

  • I now have to set up my Lite Dome my self and spent an entire day learning by  putting it up and taking it down  at least four times.  Here is what I learned. 

     1. Its easiest to assemble it with out the top telescoping  side bars extended. Then walk around , side by side, entending and locking the bars. Similar to opening a KD.

    2. Leave the bottom telescoping  bars off .  They make it almost impossible to raise the canopy.  Its easy to raise going cornor to cornor if the bottom side bars are off.  Its also extreamly difficult to raise if the top vinyl cover is on.  It makes the frame too stiff.

    3, Once raised , its frustrating to put on the top cover since one or two of the top X arch poles will seperate.  There is no lock button unless newer versions than mine  have them.  I drilled a hole thru each commection and put a pin thru to lock them.

    4. Attach a rope to each side of the  vinal top and use the rope as an aid in pulling the top on. You will need a step stool to lock on the top and it also helps when pulling the top over.

    5. At this time,   believe it or not,  I did see my  entire canopy  blow completely over once  due to a wind gust.  Luckily I was not at a show with a glass works exhibitor behind me.   Stake or weigh down the frame before putting on the top.

    6. The vinyl sides go on easily with the step stool  but to save your self the problem of mis matched zippers and a redo, mark each top fabric lock  snap tab with "inside"


    7. On take down do the reverse. Dont try to lower the frame with the vinyl top on or the bottom bars on.   The bars will seize on you and you will learn new swear words and possibly get a nasty pinch on your fingers.


    Maybe some one has a better technique but this is just what I found that works pretty well for me. I keep my vinyl in a wheeled luggage bag available at any flea market for $5.  I took  the sand out of my weight tubes and put in lead shot.  Much heaver.  Gold would be even better and maybe after your next show you can do this..






  • I updated this in the original post - but in case you miss it and care, I went with the Showoff. 

    • Fewer parts
    • Light weight
    • You build the upper part while it is still on the ground

    By the way starting September 5th the first 100 customers can get a special price on their Light Dome orders according to an email I just opened. "During the month of September, 2012 the Light-Dome® will sell for only $749.00* to the first 100 customers ONLY.  That's only $50.00 above the original cost 25 years ago.

     *This offer applies only to the first 100 Light-Dome® orders and can NOT be combined with any other offers except those generated at random through out September, 2012."

  • I loved my Trimline but  have to say - I hated putting it up every time.  As a person who was usually a solo act, it was heavy and a pain in the butt with way too many parts. It did stay completely dry in many a storm though. I sold it last year and want to go to a lighter tent but many of the EZups seem not to have vinyl canopy's. I had an cheap EZ up for one show and that was enough when I first started( a totally rainy weekend with a broom in hand pushing water over the side the whole time). I seem to be headed to a Lightdome because they look easier to put up. Any truth to that? Is there a better canopy for an EZ Up that I haven't perused online yet and I might be missing? The idea of just opening a big umbrella is still very tempting.......

  • My Trim-line is great.  I'm 5'2''- and not young.  I can put it up alone, but rarely have to- a neighbor always offers help before I even ask.  I feel secure once it is up and weighted.  And Flourish's customer service and problem solving is unbeatable.  Those guys jump through flaming hoops for their customers.   

    I do suggest that when you order it initially, do consider ordering it w/an awning, awning zipper strips, (so you can close the front w/out taking down the awning, if you want to leave it up) and upgrade to the  center zipper walls or universal doorwalls.  Also get the staybars.  It costs more if you decide you want this stuff later.  (And you will want it...) 

  • Oh Forgot to tell you that I am a pastel artist and my work HAS to be kept dry, The Light dome has never failed me. Yes the roof is the hardest to put over but I can do it myself and I don't need a ladder, I am 5'4''

  • We use the Trimline and love it. The setup is a pain. But you feel secure when there is a storm. You need to take into consideration if you are always going to want to use a 10 x 10 or might want to use a 10x20. Also will you need taller sides (7 feet vs 8 feet). We started with a 10 x 10 with 7 ft walls and have upgraded to a 10x20 with 8ft walls. We've been able to add to what we've already purchased instead of starting over.
  • The light dome is the best-- I will tell you my age- OH NO 61 and I can put up this tent myself I wrote about it in another's question a while back. It has the fewest pieces and it is truly a sturdy and light emitting tent and besides it looks classy. I have had mine for 16 years and it looks almost brand new but then again I wash it off after the end of each season and never pack it up wet. A few years back I could have my art and screens and tent in the van and on my way in 45 minutes and I have wall art under glass.

    Make sure that you just go to a show and ask artists about each one that they particularly have, that is what I did. I found the Light Dome to be  easy  to put up and had the fewest pieces. All those extra pieces are just more to keep track of Simple stupid is best.

    Best of luck with what ever you choose as you are the one that has to be happy with it.

  • The step ladder is for putting display on walls. The roof goes on the frame while it's on the ground.

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