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The Best Portable Garages of 2018 (Reviews & Guide) - Armchair Empire

The Best Portable Garages of 2018 (Reviews & Guide)

We set out on a mission to find the best portable garage on the market. After one year spent testing 18 different models in a variety of weather conditions (rain, snow, and extreme heat), we’re confident in recommending the Palram Vitoria Carport & Patio Cover as the best of the best.

Budget Pick

ShelterLogic Shed-in-a-Box

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Our Pick

Palram Vitoria Carport & Patio Cover

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Mid-Range Pick

King Canopy HC1020PC

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Table Of Contents

Introduction

There are many benefits to owning a portable garage. Let’s say you have a vehicle but you don’t have an actual garage to put it in – you can actually save a lot of cash by simply setting up a car shelter right beside your home.

You can use it as a temporary carport while your actual garage is being built, or indefinitely if you don’t feel like splurging for a constructed garage. Of course, an actual garage is more sturdy and secure, but you can’t overlook the pros of having a portable canopy as well.

Here are our top picks for 2018!

Top 5 Car Shelters Reviewed

1. Palram Vitoria Carport & Patio Cover

This is the only full metal option on our list, and for good reason. Usually if you’re in the market for a metal carport, you’ll either spend a lot of money or end up going all the way and shelling out for a constructed garage. The Palram Vitoria occupies the unique space of being both high quality enough and affordable enough to be well worth a purchase.

If you’re looking for a sturdy portable shelter that will keep you vehicles safe from rain, snow, hail, and anything else that may fall from above, you can’t go wrong with Palram’s product. It looks gorgeous too, which is a big plus – most other tarp-based shelters tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

The Palram is made of heavy duty aluminum and galvanized steel, and is fully rust resistant. The top panels are twin-wall polycarbonate, and are shatter resistant, weather proof, and block 100% of UV rays so nothing underneath this awesome canopy will get sun-bleached or burnt.

We consider the Palram Vitoria to be the best portable garage for snow load, as well as the most heavy duty portable garage on our list.

2. ShelterLogic Shed-in-a-Box

This ShelterLogic model is one of the most popular options out there. Available in an array of sizes ranging from 6′ x 6′ to 12′ x 12′, you’ll be able to pick up a model tailor-sized to whatever you need it for.

Using a high grade steel frame as it’s base, ShelterLogic’s shed-in-a-box won’t be chipping, peeling, rusting, corroding, or otherwise degrading anytime soon. Atop the high quality steel frame sits a “ripstop tough” fabric cover – 7.5 ounce triply layer polyethylene. This fabric is heat-sealed in order to really prevent moisture from sneaking its way into your carport.

My favorite thing about this model is that the cover is fitted using ratchet tensioning, which means the cover fits very tightly over the frame. The whole unit is much more “smart”-looking than some other models out there, as there’s no excess fabric flapping about. ShelterLogic includes auger anchors with your purchase, so you know this thing won’t be going anywhere no matter how windy it gets.

3. DELTA Canopies Garage Storage Canopy

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DELTA Canopies markets this specific model as a “heavy duty carport,” and I have to say I agree with their description! They’ve done just about everything you can do to increase the longevity and protection offered by a portable carport.

The canopy’s frame is made of galvanized steel that’s rust and corrosion resistant, and it sits firmly on top of 12 sturdy legs capped with steel foot plates. The polyethylene cover is heat bonded, which is always nice to see – sewn covers suffer from moisture leakage and generally do a worse job of keeping the elements away from your vehicles and equipment.

Much like the ShelterLogic model, this one also features a ratchet tensioning system that keeps the cover taut over the frame. It’s important to note that you must anchor this canopy to the ground with storm straps / ground pegs in order to protect it against strong wind.

4. King Canopy HC1020PC Hercules 8 Leg Canopy

King Canopy’s 9-legged model is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a simple, elegant option. A big perk is how incredibly easy this is to set up – I was able to get it done in an hour or so, completely by myself.

The polyethylene cover is firmly secured to a powder coated, heavy duty steel frame via King Canopy’s patented drawstring fitting system – it’s not quite the same as a ratchet-tensioned setup, but the end result is quite comparable. The cover ends up taut and protective across the entire frame. The steel frame, again, sits on 8 legs, which can be fitted with removable steel foot plates (6 included) that have bolt holes pre-drilled for easy anchoring.

Finally, the cover itself is UV proof, fire retardant, and water resistant, as you should expect from any halfway decent shelter out there. This King Canopy model is perfect for vehicle storage and outdoor gatherings alike, again thanks to it’s supremely quick setup time. If you’re just looking for a generic carport that does its job without any fuss, this one is for you!

5. Outsunny Heavy Duty Outdoor Party Tent / Carport

Outsunny’s “heavy duty” part tent / carport is a fully-featured option, and comes with an appropriately higher price tag when compared to some of the more basic options I’ve mentioned. This huge canopy setup is meant to cover all of your bases, from vehicle storage to lawn party and everything in between.

From a technical point of view Outsunny’s model features an 180g polyethylene cover on top of a standard steel frame – the unit is quite big, weighing in at 304 lbs total. It does come with two removable sidewalls, as well as two zippered fabric doors, so that you can configure it to meet your needs exactly. The sidewalls each have 4 large, transparent PVC windows build in to them to boot.

I like this one because you can tell Outsunny really tried to nail the details down – the top cover has a “scalloped edge,” meaning that there are side skirts which facilitate top notch moisture drainage. In other words, this thing is meant for the rain. The frame and covers are put together using a series of heavy-duty bungee cord straps, eyelets, and heavy duty velcro.

This is the perfect choice for anyone who needs a truly versatile lean-to, and especially for those who often have outdoor events. It may be a bit overkill if you’re looking for no-frills protection for a single vehicle, however.

Our Review Process

Unlike many sites out there, we actually physically reviewed each of these models. We began our journey with around 20 different models, but we quickly narrowed that down to the 5 reviews included in this article.

The main things we considered when looking at these options were:

Ease of setup

How many people were required to set up each carport? What tools were needed? How long did it take? Rest assured that every single model we included in our final list is easy to set up (with the possible exception of the ShelterLogic option), comes with just about every tool you’d need for setup, and didn’t take any longer than an hour or two at most.

Durability

This is the single most important characteristic of any portable shelter out there. You need something that can stand up to the elements day in and day out, across the seasons and for years to come. We immediately discounted anything that ripped easily, used light or subpar material for the cover, or otherwise demonstrated structural instability right out of the box.

Versatility

If you’re shelling out for a portable car shelter, you want to make sure you’re investing in one that will cover all of your needs well into the future. If you can get an option that doubles as an outdoor party tent at the same cost as a less-versatile option, why would you not choose the former? Every single model on our top 5 list can be used in any way you’d like. It’s important to note that some of these do require you to select a specific size when buying, so bear that in mind when considering exactly what you want to do with your brand new car canopy.

To get a decent handle on those three qualities, we did the legwork ourselves. We set up each of these carports with no professional help and nothing other than a standard toolbox (in addition to whatever tools and materials shipped with the canopy, of course).

We left them out in wind, rain, and snow to see how they fared against mother nature, and we also performed some impromptu stress tests ourselves – namely, lobbing gravel and rocks of various sizes at the roof of each model to see how it held up.

In the end, we’re positive we ended up with the top 5 garages out there (at least out of the 18 models we tested). If you go with one of the models off of our list, you can be sure you’re investing in a product that will do exactly what you need it to for years to come.

Buying Guide (2018)

Primarily used to help protect your vehicle from the natural elements of the outside, car shelters can also be used in several ways. You can use it as a storage area for your tools, bikes, etc. You can even use it as a workshop if you want. It can also be used to house parties and other occasions. Choose an option that has removable side panels in order to have that open-air experience for gatherings.

The biggest advantage of a portable car shelter is that it is cost-effective. You won’t need to spend the exuberant amount of cash necessary to build a standard garage. Most portable options range between $200 to $2000 depending on the size and quality. They also do not need any prior foundations to setup, other than some stakes in the ground if you choose to anchor your canopy down. All you need is a flat surface and enough space. Make sure to have permanent anchors installed as well in order to ensure stability.

Installing a modular garage is also simple and easy. You usually won’t even need to get a permit when setting up. But to be on the safe side I suggest you contact your local building department first. Setting it up can be done within the day, a couple of hours for the standard portable canopy. Unless you need to install a permanent anchor, you really won’t need any special tools to erect the carport.

Basically, these garage canopies are flexible and can be used in multiple ways. If you have extra space in your land but no place to park your vehicle then installing a modular garage can save you a ton of time, headache, and money.

How to Choose the Right Car Shelter

There are several factors to take into account when buying:
 
  • You need to take into consideration if this will be a long-term or short-term carport.
  • What type of vehicle will you store in it?
  • Will you need a portable canopy that can store multiple vehicles at once?
  • Take into account the various uses you will need it for, not just as a carport.
  • The price will also be need to be mulled over, get one that will deliver optimum use while still staying within your budget.
You should also be aware of the various types of garages at your disposal. There are several options that utilize different types of materials, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
 

Steel

Steel car shelters are the sturdiest and most durable. However, setting it up is a multiple man job due to its weight. They are also the more expensive type of portable canopy available in the market. This is perfect as long-term carport.

Tin

Lighter than steel canopies, tin models are easier to set up. This one is best suited for short-term use though as they are less durable. In terms of aesthetics, this one offers the bare bones approach.

Aluminum

These options are extremely lightweight. They can be assembled and disassembled within the day making them a great choice for emergency use. They are also far cheaper and easier to maintain.

Wood

Portable canopies that are made of wood usually win when it comes to aesthetics. A long-term type of portable garage, they are extremely difficult to transport. While there are ways to disassemble wooden portable canopies, the time and hassle it requires to do so is not worth the effort. Only get wooded models if you plan on setting it up on specific location permanently.

Polyester

This one is the cheapest of the bunch and is specifically designed for easy transportation and installation. It may not deliver the durability of the other materials, but it makes up for it with its overall flexibility and ease of use.

Those are the most commonly used materials you’ll find. When buying, there are specific features that you should take into account as well in order to avoid any problems during assembly.
 

How easy or difficult is it to set up? While polyester and aluminum carports can be assembled by 2 to 3 individuals, steel and wooden canopies will need more and will most likely require special tools.

Where will you place it? You can choose between single-standing or lean-to-house types. If you plan on setting it up in an open space then the single-standing portable canopy will suffice.

Enclosed or open air garage? If you live in an area with harsh weather then try getting a unit that has side panels as well as flooring. There are canopies that offer removable side panels and windows, for example. These ones are perfect if you also wish to use it for picnic and celebrations.
 

Final Thoughts

A portable car shelter is a cost-effective choice for those looking for a carport or even a place to store equipment or to be used in special gatherings. Simply put, a portable garage is a smart investment that you should seriously consider. 
 
Use this guide to determine what type you will need and to make sure you get your money’s worth when buying!