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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.
This pop-up shelter is an ALDI Find, which means it’s only around for a short time. In our experience, it tends to appear sometime in June. In the year we tested it, the shelter came in two varieties: a classic style and a tube style. Both are $14.99. There is no warranty on either.
The classic 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 classic style is wider but not as deep, while the tube style is deeper but not as wide. 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 classic style comes with 9 steel tent pegs while the tube style only comes with 5. Also of note, the tube style is smaller when folded up than the classic style.
This review focuses primarily on the classic style, although we’d love to hear any thoughts about either classic style or the tube style in the comments.
Setting It Up:
Setup is as simple as it sounds: take it out, toss it on the ground, and the tent just sprouts in front of you. Easy. You can also stake it down if you want.
A few notes about the tent. One, it’s not waterproof, so while it will offer some protection from the elements, it’s more of a wind and sun shade than a water shade.
Two, it’s not 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 found that the yellow version tended to attract bugs (for scientific reasons) so you might want to avoid that color if you’re taking it into the wild.
Five, and maybe most importantly, while the shelter does a good job of keeping out both the sun and the wind, the lack of any ventilation outside the front of the shelter is a liability. For example, it can get pretty warm inside the shelter, and it would be nice if there was the ability to have a little bit of crosswind to keep things cooler. Also, in high winds the shelter could get caught up a little by the wind, since there is nowhere for the wind to pass through. Ventilation is more common now in pop-up shelters, so it’s a shame this shelter couldn’t offer some sort of vent or window.
Taking It Down:
I said earlier that setup is easy. 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. Here’s a step-by-step guide for the classic shelter. (You can also watch the video below.)
Note that these instructions are for the classic style shelter; the tube-style has different instructions.
- Turn the shelter face down, with the floor facing up.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Arrange those circles carefully, then use the elastic strap to keep them together. Put them in the bag, and you’re done.
The Crane Pop-Up Shelter is an adequate option for outdoor use. It’s easy to set up and is a decent size, although it has its limitations, including a ceiling that feels a bit low, pegs that don’t do well in sand, the fact that it’s not waterproof, and the lack of ventilation, which can make things warm inside. There’s also a learning curve to putting it away that may frustrate some people. It is SPF 40 rated, though, and with the right pegs it could be a useful beach shelter. It’s also just $14.99, although there’s no warranty.