I love my Caravan canopy. Seriously. It’s a strong and sturdy unit and it’s pretty easy for me to put up by myself.
The canopy came with 4 sidewalls (they just feel…cheap and thin) and 4 weight bags (you fill them up with whatever to make heavy bags) and
the worlds crappiest wheeled carry bag
What a sorry contraption!
Go grab your coffee, this is a bit of a rant.
Are you back yet?
M’kay, put your feet up 🙂
For about a year, months of weekly setting up and tearing down at markets and shows, my canopy has really held up.
The sidewalls are a pita to put on, the velcro straps that fasten the sidewalls to the canopy legs are …”eh”
The weight bags are kinda sorta shredding and little bits of my rocks are falling out. The sewed on handles are wearing a bit. Not the greatest of quality but they’re holding up pretty good, all things considered. (25 lbs of rocks and dragging/dropping/bumping kinda wears a bag out!) My bad. But honestly…pretty good overall.
But the wheeled bag?
Good Gosh… who designed it?
It completely ripped on me this morning when I was taking it outside.
I was going to practice putting on a 10 foot banner. In private. On my own.
We won’t talk about why it’s taken me 8 months to figure out the bungee cord and 10′ banner thing. Other vendors did it with ease and I …struggled with it.
Okay, spill time. A little back story 🙂
I snapped myself in the face in front of all the other vendors last year setting up.
Freaking bungee cord hook hit me in the side of my temple and burned like a #%!$
I cussed and stomped around. It felt like a hot arrow hit me in the head. I sat on a cold blacktop holding my head til the birds quit singing. I quit putting my banner on top after that.
Near death experience stupid accidents happen and I was scared it would happen again (only worse!) and didn’t want to try it again. I was a newbie and it was kinda humbling actually.
First of all, the canopy weighs 70 lbs.
The straps and wheels are not well thought out and the bag itself doesn’t hug the canopy once it’s zipped up.
If the bag doesn’t hug the canopy, then the canopy has more wobble room.
More wobble room means the canopy creates momentum inside the carrying bag and
Whomp, there it is.
I won’t go into the crappy “at the bottom” zipper that you have to lift the canopy into and THEN pull the bag off (when removing the canopy from the bag)
And putting the bag back ON the canopy once the canopy is all folded up pretty and ready to go home…
What a friggin nightmare.
On market days I get up around 4:30 or 5 a.m.
I’m AT the market by 7 a.m.
I’m done setting up around 8-9
Market from 9-3
Pack up and call it a day after 3.
Now, when it’s hot outside, or raining or windy or… <insert fun stuff here>
It’s a nice thing to have some ducks in a row. It’s nice to just … have your stuff organized and packed and ready to put in your car and go home!
Whoever made this canopy bag wheelie cart unit did NOT think of vendors at all. Especially vendors at the end of a long day 😉 Just sayin….
I miss my lightweight Undercover canopy the most when I was unpacking my Caravan and repacking it.
Undercover canopy was my love. It was lightweight, easy EASY bag and reflected heat/light really well. Problem was, it’s aluminum and winds over 10-15 mph CAN turn it into a bye bye birdie. Even with weights, it just takes longer before it hits youtube status (I’ve seen it!)
So here in the PNW, you need something with meat on it. Enter months of
research obsessively searching google and Pinterest and Amazon and god knows where else… and I found the Caravan.
It was a package really. A canopy, sidewalls, weight bags and the everlovin’ wheelie bag cart thing.
For a hair over 300.00.
I’m not trying to bitch about the product or the company or the website. I’m just very unhappy with the carrying wheelie bag doodad.
Once you finally get the canopy IN the wheelie cart carrying bag from hell, the thing flips, drags on the wrong side and if you’re not careful, can twist your arm, flop over and make you trip.
Let me show you what happens when you don’t. let. go. of. the. handle. while. pulling…
(ahem, don’t mind the cheap carpet…we rent the house and it’s over 2 years old. It’s not mine, really)
I held on to it while rolling it up a ramp(there’s a ramp between my attached garage and kitchen…cool huh?)
because A.) If I kept going forward and let the bag drop, I would have fallen sideways off the ramp.
B.) I was afraid if I dropped the canopy, that it would bend the frame…never mind that the frame is steel….When body parts are being wrenched by a 70 lb object, thoughts don’t make much sense.
So, I held on. Canopy fell through the bag off the ramp (3 steps..tiny ramp. Heavy canopy+cheap thin fabric = someone screwed up and sews worse than I do!
I was pissed. My hand hurt, my shoulder hurt and my freaking elbow hurt.
After a slew of cursing after I assessed the damage…
I looked up
obsessively window shopped replacement bags.
My jaw dropped when I saw they wanted so much for a replacement bag that would just be a replica of
my near death experience disaster.
A large canvas condom.
That’s what it looks like in the parking lot when the vendors are struggling with it. I’ve struggled with it many times, had the bottom come and flip me in the head as I struggled to get JUST the bottom part on while the canopy is standing.
I knew it was a matter of time before it knocked me in the teeth and broke a tooth.
Seriously a pain in the ass.
My inner MacGyver emerged after the cursing and shopping for replacement bag spree was done.
Here’s what I did. I cut the remainder of the bag off. I cut the part with wheels off in doing so. No jury will convict me.
I even said “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS” while I snipped.
Then, I added grommets, ball bungees and bungee cords to rig up a cover of SOME kind because…white canopy! I have a cart, so there were my wheels. It’s not a perfect solution but it is MY solution. For now anyway.
Maybe Caravan will see this and create an award winning wheeled carrying bag for all canopies. That would be stellar!
I found the grommet kit at Walmart in the sewing section. It has the tools you need to create the grommet thingy. Follow the directions 🙂
Here’s the bottom grommet part sitting inside the grommet tool, almost ready to go. It’s on my bench block.
Then you get the top part of the grommet. Beware… it’s got teeth 🙂
Mark where you want the grommets and cut a tiny hole. I cut my holes smaller than the grommet so it would be a tight fit. 70 lbs will rip it soon enough so I need all the help I can get!
Place the bottom grommet through the hole on bench block
Take the top grommet piece and place it over the bottom grommet
Place the grommet whomper in the hole on top of the piece with teeth (What? Is there another name for it? pfft)
Hit it with a hammer. I’m accident prone… so I was uber careful here!
5 whacks did it (who needs anger management?)
Tada! Easy peasy lemon squeezy Done!
Top and bottom views 🙂
I didn’t feel like sewing a zipper in. First off, my sewing skills are umm…well…nah. What happens in the sewing room, stays in the sewing room… I just needed something to hold it together.
Bungee cords and bungee ball cords.
I didn’t have to look far for something with wheels. When I started the markets, I used a cart that folded up. (I have a tiny 2 door Rav4 that is small and short on space!!)
To be sure it would hold my 70 lb canopy I checked to see if it had a weight limit.
150 lbs. I was safe! Whoot!
I fastened up the canopy with my bungee cords mess (those bungee ball cords are the devil, one got loose and smacked me in the side and the other one snapped and hit my hand!)
Hmmm, I’m sensing a theme here with me and bungee cords.
And tilted the canopy forward, then slid the wheel cart bottom underneath.
The bottom part of the cart. If you do this, be careful. The flat bottom of the cart has openings and the canopy feet can get stuck. Just move slowly, think things through and be careful. Don’t be like me.
I was able to wheel it up and down the ramp (carefully) and up and down my 3 little steps.
If anyone knows of a wheeled canopy bag that doesn’t require 20 minutes of struggling to put it on like a sock condom, please let me know!
Maybe I’ll figure out a way to sew the ripped part back on to the other part and call it
Because, you know… big stitches by someone who sews crooked and glues herself to projects… total clusterbuck!
Have fun playing MacGyver!
And, to Caravan Canopy. You guys make a really great product. It’s a shame that your bag doesn’t do such a great job of transporting it. For 300.00+ you would think….
I can focus on the 1 thing that totally derailed my day or I can focus on the 10,000 things that don’t. My choice.
I’m glad it was the carrying cart wheelie bob thing and not the actual canopy itself.
It’s the little things folks! Be grateful for the little things!!