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What does a Pop Up Tent Cost: 4 Key Factors that Impact Pricing

What does a Pop Up Tent Cost: 4 Key Factors that Impact Pricing

Matt Bulloch, President /// 11/02/2019

I am probably the closest thing to a tent expert that most people will ever meet in real life. My Mom is extremely proud.

Matt Bulloch with mom

And every single day, I am asked how much it costs to buy a custom pop-up tent. The most annoying answer, but also probably the truest is “it depends.”

It is kind of like asking how much a car costs. There are some variables, right? Do you need a 1990 Cutlass Supreme to get you through one last semester of college? Or are you looking for the smooth lines of a Chrysler PT Cruiser? Maybe you need four-wheel drive for Minnesota winters or a convertible Miata for cruising the Florida Keys? You get the idea.

Michael Scott PT cruiser

The truth is, buying a custom printed tent is just one of those things where you get what you pay for. And you have a lot of options. Let’s start by breaking it down to the key factors that impact what you’re going to pay:


  • •  Strength and Durability
  • •  Speed: how quickly it’s delivered
  • •  Print (on a scale from zero to leave no edge unbranded)
  • •  Service and Warranty

Pop Up Tent Strength and Durability


As with any industry, there’s a fairly wide quality spectrum. On one side, you’ve got the entry level recreational grade tents. Somewhere in the middle, you start finding more of a professional grade frame. And way on the other end is going to be your heavy-duty commercial grade pop-up frames.

If you're not familiar with the unattainable triangle, it helps illustrate the wide range of pop up tent pricing. It refers to the principle that high quality products that are delivered quickly, will always come at a higher price and vice versa. The triangle is considered "unattainable" because any business that attains it would be inherently flawed. The below image illustrates the unattainable triangle concept.
unattainable triangle

Recreational Grade

These are your standard light weight steel frames that are easy to setup and commonly found in big box or sporting goods stores. Designed specifically for recreation, these are perfect for a backyard family reunion or your kiddo’s soccer game. Easy setup, easy take-down, don’t forget your snacks, see you next week and goodbye. These are going to start you somewhere around $100-$500 for a 10x10.

PRO TIP: if it’s a steel frame, it’s recreational grade.



Professional Grade

Here’s where you start to see the higher quality aluminum build and more options for custom branding. If you’re planning to use your tent for business rather than pleasure, this is probably the bare minimum to start with. A medium duty frame is going to be in the range of $600-$1,000 for a 10x10.

PRO TIP: aluminum is going to be your red alert that you’re in professional grade territory.


Related: Steel vs Aluminum Pop Up Tents: An Honest Comparison

Commercial Grade

These frames are for folks who are putting some mileage on their pop-up tent or anticipate more than average wear and tear. Setting it up every week or heading out on the road for a 3-month traveling activation? This is going to be the longest lasting option. A commercial grade frame is going to start at roughly $1,500-$2,000 for a 10x10.

PRO TIP: Look for an all aluminum frame, including the connecting elements, to confirm that you’re looking at a truly commercial grade frame.


Related:The Anatomy of a Heavy Duty Pop Up Tent Model

How quickly do you need the tent?


Another fork in the road and the quick answer is that speed will likely cost a little more on the front end. And here’s why:



Production Time

Standard turnaround time ranges in the industry from 3-days to 15-days. So, to clarify – that’s how many days from you approving your custom tent’s design proof, making payment, and formally placing the order, to the day it is finished and ready to ship.

Longer production times indicates that the frame, or the printed assets, or both, are coming from overseas. Think of it this way, your tent is seeing the world and covering a lot of miles, so it takes a while to arrive to the vendor. Imported tents are cheaper because it generally costs less to manufacture in various countries around the world that do not have equitable costs for labor or facilities. The trade-off is it takes longer to receive.

Shorter production time is usually a result from US based companies. They might stock frames from overseas, but print canopies in house, or make everything under one roof. Without the added shipping time from importing, as well as the time wrapped up in clearing customs, they can move your project more expeditiously, but the price point will accommodate American labor and higher quality manufacturing standards.



Shipping Time

If you’re shipping your tent within the continental United States, it’s probably a 1-5 business day transit time, depending on where you are and where your vendor is. If you have plenty of time, you can usually ship standard ground – the most economical method. In this case, thinking ahead will save you a lot of money. If your timeline is tighter, then expedited shipping (2-day, overnight, overnight priority, or first overnight priority – what a party!) needs to be on your radar. It comes at an additional cost, but it could be the only way to ensure delivery on time.



Rush Projects

So now that we’re on the same page about why production time varies, let’s jump into what happens when you need something sooner than “standard.” Many vendors do offer rush services, but at a premium. This is going to tack on cost with rush fees. Some vendors have a flat rush fee, but most add a percentage – typically 10%-50% - of the order total.



Printing and Customization


Oh right, the reason you’re getting a tent, you know, so it can be branded and be the marketing workhorse you’ve been dreaming about. If anything can swing the final price of your tent, it’s this. Printing is a huge variable and generally not a “one size fits all” kind of purchase.



HOW and HOW MUCH:


EDGE-TO-EDGE: Most frequently, tents are either printed edge-to-edge using a full digital UV or dye sublimation process, which essentially covers a white piece of material with ink and effectively embeds the graphic into the canopy so it won’t peel or chip.

Edge-to-edge printing is generally inclusive of graphics on every peak and every valance panel, and will typically have a blanket cost, anywhere from $600-$1,000 for a 10x10.

SPOT PRINTING: A cheaper method is to print decals and adhere them to a stock color pop-up tent canopy with heat. Ever made an iron on design on a t-shirt? It’s the same kind of idea. The graphic is separate from the tent material, so feasibly it could start to peel up at the edges or crack in extreme weather.

Spot printing is a little more variable because you could easily print just the front panels of your canopy, or maybe even a couple of valances, and so you’ll usually pay for exactly as many panels as you print. This gives you a range that starts on the lower end, but is quite a bit wider, because you have quite a bit of wiggle room. You can safely assume adding between $80-$900 for spot printing on a 10x10.

SALE AND AFTER SALE SUPPORT:


So maybe there’s no actual price tag on customer service. At least, I’ve never heard of a “going-rate” for it. Can you imagine?!

“Now, would you like to add good customer service to your order, sir?”

“Oh yeah. Good call. Hm, I don’t know – how much is it?”

“For passable service, it’s $25. That gets you an email response from someone within 72 hours. Medium service includes a direct line, but no promise that they’ll answer the phone. They will call you back and then you’ll call them back and then they’ll call you back…you get the idea. That’ll be $75. And if you’d like premium service, you’ll get an actual human being on the line and no yanking your chain on the warranty. That one’s $200.

All jokes aside, there is huge variability in service offerings in the custom pop-up tent world and you know better than anyone what kind of help you’ll want during your ordering process. And after, which quite frankly, can be most valuable.

If you want guidance and thoughtful advice that is pertinent to not only your tent, but also how you’re using it, where you’re using it, what kind of conditions and long term abuse it’s going to take, then that requires seeking out a vendor that employs industry experts, and enough of them to ensure they have the time to focus on your project. At the end of the day, this is a premium service and any premium product costs more.

But you might be an industry expert yourself! And so maybe turn-key service isn’t quite as valuable or necessary for you. If you know your way around a design template and are savvy with art for large format printing, have a good idea of what grade of frame will work best for your plans, and can read through terms and conditions with a lawyer’s eye, you can buy something without ever talking to another human being even once.

One thing to consider is after the sale. If the Pantone color isn’t right, or you need to make a warranty claim, or the worst - what if FedEx doesn’t deliver on the promised date? Now is the time to think ahead and know what kind of service you will want for issues like that, because you are going to get what you pay for, before and after.



WARRANTY:


Ah warranties – so comforting, and yet, such a mystery. Let’s play a game; I’ll give you two minutes and you tell me everything a pop-up tent warranty covers. And…go! ….

If you have no idea, you’re in good company. And if you think it covers windstorms, you’re in even more company.

Truth is, warranties differ from vendor to vendor just as much as the price or the production time, and just because a frame is warrantied for an impressive amount of time doesn’t mean that the warranty means much. Here’s what to look for in a pop up tent warranty. Keep in mind, the better the frame (and more confidence in their workmanship), the better the warranty.



Just answer the question, Matt. How much does a pop up tent with logo cost?


If you are looking for a completely customized aluminum 10x10 pop-up tent that you are going to own and take care of, you can find acceptable versions from a number of reputable companies for $1,000 - $2,000, and heavier duty versions for $2,000-$2,800.

If you want to buy directly from China, I’d expect to spend $400-$900 by the time it is all said and done, plus international shipping and customs duties.

If you are going to buy from a local sign shop or promotional product reseller, i.e. the same person that sells printed tents, coffee mugs, mousepads or whatever else, I’d expect to pay $800-$1,800. This company is probably buying the same tent that you can buy directly for $400-$900 and putting their margin on it, but they are probably also providing some level of art and design assistance.

I hope this helps!


About TentCraft

We’re more than just custom pop up tents — TentCraft is a premium fabricator of all things experiential marketing and outdoor advertising. If it combines metal, fabric and print our team of skilled craftsmen can transform any napkin sketch or wild idea into a fully realized project. Serving the biggest brands on the planet as well as your local High School, if you want the perfect blend of quality and American craftsmanship, we’ve got you covered.