Kelty Big Shady – The Ultimate Canopy


The Kelty Big Shady ($250) has been our go-to canopy for over a year now. Able to handle some major rain and even light snow and provides shelter for an entire party!

Kelty Big Shady
Kelty Big Shady


Kelty Big Shady – Fun Name, Legit Shade

We have used several sun shades, or canopies, over the years.  They can be great when having a picnic, at an outdoor concert, and at camp to provide some shade.  I have found them to be an almost essential item for camping trips of more than 4 people.

What I did not like about many of the other canopies we have tested is that either 1) they did not protect that much area or 2) relied on part of our vehicle as an attachment piece. Now, neither one of those is a reason to not purchase a different sunshade.  I am being particular in this observation.

Kelty Big Shady does not need a truck to set up
Kelty Big Shady does not need a truck to set up

One of the many things I like about the Kelty Big Shady is that is 100% free standing of other objects.  It is not “free-standing” in the tent way – you will need to guy it out.  But, there is no need to attach it to our truck.  This allows us to place it anywhere we want. This is a very helpful feature.

If it is just me and the dogs camping, then I don’t mind using the awning built into my rooftop tent set up.  That is usually enough space for me and my wife to hang out in.  But, not everyone wants to hang out at your vehicle, you know?

Big on Size, Big on Fun

Every time we have used the Big Shady, it has become the center of the party.  My wife and I love to bring people to the mountains and get them camping.  The Big Shady has been instrumental in making this happen. The Shady has provided countless opportunities for us to host great camping trips and picnics.

Impressively durable

We have used the Big Shady on hot summer days with ease.  Surprisingly, we have used it in snow and sleet too.  I am not saying it is a 4 season canopy, but it has handled some stuff!  We were camping for our “wedding anniversary/summer solstice” trip (6/21) and the weather did what it does here in Colorado.  It showed us at least 3 seasons in one day LOL.

Kelty Big Shady
Kelty Big Shady

We set it up in a rainstorm, which turned into a snowstorm, with plenty of winds.  All of this just below tree line, so we were pretty exposed.  The Big Shady weathered the storm and provided the perfect space to host 8 people and our dogs.

The canopy is made of 68D poly and the poles are burly enough to handle the situation mentioned above.  Plus, the canopy was strong enough for us to mount LED lights and a big USB battery pack!

Kelty Big Shady late night shenanigans
Kelty Big Shady late-night shenanigans

Set up is… involved

Do not let that deter you from this canopy.  If you have 2 or more people, this is an easy to set up canopy.  With one person, it is doable – I have done it many times.  Just like anything, you can make of it what you will, and we choose to make it a fun experience with our camping friends.

Usually, I start with the middle pole, then stake that out. Moving onto the entrance and then onto the rear (I am not always sure which one is which LOL).  Then I go around the tension the hell out of the guidelines.  If it is raining, make sure to re-tension the guidelines as they can have some play when temps and moisture change – just like any other tent.

Kelty Big Shady with lights
Kelty Big Shady with lights

Kelty Big Shady Review

As you can tell, my wife and I are big fans of the Big Shady. It has been the center of so many great camping trips and picnics.  Every time we use it, people appreciate the heck out of it.  I can say that it has saved several trips too!

Summer 2020 has been a weird one for sure.  We have had a fire ban all summer here in Colorado.  So, we use the Big Shady as “the” place to gather (rather than the fire).  With the LED bulbs in there, it is a legit social hang out spot.

At 13lbs and 25″ x 9″ packed, it is easy to carry to a spot in camp, or at the park.  Set up is not the easiest thing ever, but it is definitely doable, and very much worth it.  Thank you Kelty for making this awesome canopy!  It really has been the center of many, many great trips.  Lots of wonderful memories have been made under this badass canopy!

Kelty Big Shady - The Ultimate Canopy 2Big Shady






Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: