Crane Pop-Up Sun Shelter (Dome or Tube)

Crane Pop-Up Sun Shelter

Dome style at left, tube style at right.

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Aldi sells a number of outdoor products during the summer. Many of those products are designed for use at campgrounds, but Aldi also rotates out beach accessories.

You could argue that the Crane Pop-Up Sun Shelter is designed to do a little bit of both. It can be set up at a campground to provide a small sheltered space from the sun, or it can be dropped down in the sand for those days when you want to sit in front of the waves.

This pop-up shelter (Product Code: 73113) is an Aldi Find, which means it’s only around for a short time. In our experience, it tends to appear sometime in June. Over the last few years, the shelter has come in two varieties: a classic style and a tube style. At the time of this post, both styles cost $16.99. That’s a couple of dollars higher than in the past, but still substantially less than most pop-up sun shelters online. There is no included warranty.

The primary differences are in size and dimension. The dome style is 7.2 feet wide, 3.9 feet high, and 3.3 feet deep, while the tube style is 2.9 feet wide, 3.9 feet high, and 6.6 feet deep. In other words, the dome style is wider but not as deep, while the tube style is deeper but not as wide. If you need something that can fit two or possibly three people, consider the dome style. If you need something that is just for one person, the tube style may be more to your liking.

Also of note, the tube style is smaller when folded up than the classic style.

There are some similarities. Both are the same height and come in various colors. Both are 100% polyester fabric with SPF 40 protection, fiberglass poles, 4 guy ropes, and a carry bag, although, curiously, the dome style comes with 9 steel tent pegs while the tube style only comes with 5.

A few other notes that apply to both styles:

One, neither is waterproof, so while they will offer some protection from the elements, they’re more of a wind and sun shade than a water shade.

Two, neither is terribly tall, especially outside the midpoint, so a full-sized adult may find their head touching the ceiling, depending on one’s height and where one is sitting.

Three, the included steel pegs are fine for soil but may not be good for much in sand, so if you’re going to be on a beach you might want to look for more dedicated sand pegs.

Four, we’ve found in the past that yellow- or neon green-colored versions of these shelters tended to attract bugs (for scientific reasons) so you might want to avoid that color if you’re taking a shelter into the wild.

Here are a few specifics about each style.

Dome Style:

Crane Pop-Up Sun Shelter

In the past, the dome style lacked any kind of ventilation, which could make it stifling in the heat. Recent versions now add a ventilation strip, which helps a lot with airflow and makes the dome style a more pleasant experience.

Crane Pop-Up Sun Shelter

Setup is as simple as it sounds: take it out, remove the strap, toss it on the ground, and the tent just sprouts in front of you. Easy. You can also stake it down if you want.

Taking the shelter down is another matter. There are basic instructions on the bag, and there are more detailed instructions in the manual, but if you’re spatially challenged — or even if you’re not — it might be disorienting trying to figure out how to put this thing away.

Below is a video showing how to put it away. It was taken with an older version of the dome, but we can verify that those instructions also apply to the dome version with the ventilation strip.

In addition, here are written instructions on how to put the dome away.

  1. Turn the shelter face down, with the floor facing up.
  2. Grab one end of the shelter and fold it over to the other side, almost like you are making a taco or cylinder. Take both sides of the shelter with your left hand, which should contain all four poles.
  3. Holding the shelter in this position, rotate the folded shelter on its side so it looks like a cylinder that is facing down to the ground. There is an elastic strap on the shelter, and you want to make sure it is now on the ground.
  4. If you look to your right, you should see two curled poles on the top of the cylinder you’ve made. Take hold of them with your right hand, and push them down toward the ground, in the direction of the end you’re holding with your left hand. If you’ve done it right, you’ll see three circles start to form with the bended poles.
  5. Arrange those circles carefully, then use the elastic strap to keep them together. Put them in the bag, and you’re done.

Tube Style:

Crane Pop-Up Sun Shelter

The tube has a couple of nifty features. One are windows on each side, which are covered with shades attached with Velcro. You can unfasten the shades, roll them up, and then tie them using a string and loop system, which creates air flow through the tube.

Another feature are four sand pockets, which sit on the edges of the tube. Those can be filled with sand, allowing the tube to more securely sit on a windy beach. This is a nice extra especially if you don’t have sand pegs.

Like the dome style, setting up the tube style is simple. You pull it out of the bag, remove the strap, toss it out, and it will expand to full size. Not hard.

Also like the dome style, putting the tube style away is tricky … even more tricky, we think, than the dome style.

Below is a video showing how to put away the tube style.

In addition, here are written instructions on how to put it away.

  1. Turn the shelter face down, with the floor facing up and the open part of the tube to your right.
  2. Grab each end of the shelter and pull it together so that it looks more like a flattened cylinder.
  3. Slowly work the dome around so that the dome is face up, then work the two sides of the poles together so that you have something that looks like a taco or cylinder.
  4. Holding the shelter in this position, rotate the folded shelter on its side so it looks like a cylinder that is facing down to the ground. There is an elastic strap on the shelter, and you want to make sure it is now on the ground.
  5. Take both sides of the shelter with your left hand, which should contain all of the poles.
  6. If you look to your right, you should see two curled poles on the top of the cylinder you’ve made. Take hold of them with your right hand, and push them down toward the ground, in the direction of the end you’re holding with your left hand. If you’ve done it right, you’ll see three circles start to form with the bended poles. (NOTE: if you only manage to achieve two circles in this step, you may still be able to use the strap to hold it together, although it won’t fit in the bag.)
  7. Arrange those three circles carefully, then use the elastic strap to keep them together. Put them in the bag, and you’re done.

The Verdict:

Both versions of the Crane Pop-Up Shelter are good options for outdoor use. They’re inexpensive, easy to set up, and are decently sized. The dome style is good for up to two or three people, while the tube is good for a single person. In addition, the tube has sand pockets that make it more useful for the beach.

They do have limitations, including a ceiling that feels a bit low, pegs that don’t do well in sand, and the fact that they’re not waterproof. There’s also a learning curve to putting these away that may frustrate some people. They’re SPF 40 rated, though, and with the right pegs even the dome style could be a useful beach shelter.


About Joshua

Joshua is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. He is also a writer and novelist. You can learn more about him at www.joshuaajohnston.com.

One Comment

  1. This is a great review, yes putting them away was very frustrating! Great tip on the sand pegs, I had no idea there was such a thing, I just typically lined it with our items and giant rocks. But ours did not have the ventilation strip, which has it’s pros and cons. Cons, the shelter would try to fly away each time a gust of wind came through. The strip would help reduce that. However, it also reduces privacy if you’re changing yourself or your tiny humans in the shelter – just something to be mindful of. Yes, watch several YouTube videos and practice at home so you don’t embarrass yourself on the beach with an audience like my hubs did, haha. Also had no idea about the tent color attracting insects, I’ve learned so much from this one post. Thank you!

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