LAST UPDATED: September 11, 2019
Best Portable Garages: An Instant Shelter for Your Vehicle
Provide a shelter for your car and restoration projects with these top portable garages
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON September 11, 2019
A portable garage is a structure that provides a ceiling, and walls in some cases, for your vehicle and garage supplies. It’s like extra storage space and shelter for anything you want to protect from the elements. Check out our buying guide if you are looking for a portable garage to protect your classic car or to use as extra shelter for outdoor events.
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Benefits of a Portable Garage
- Shelter. Portable garages provide shelter for your valuable property. If you don’t have a garage or are camping outdoors, you could house your equipment in the structure and protect it from outdoor elements.
- Durability. Cars, motorcycles, bicycles, ATVs, and any other power-driven equipment last longer if they are protected from the rain, sun, and snow. The portable garage will also protect the equipment from dust and debris, which can lead to faster wear.
- Keep your vehicle cool. You know how hot and stuffy it feels to get into a car that’s been left out in the sun for too long. A portable garage shelter is an easy solution to the problem, and it can keep your vehicle cool.
- Protect your animals. Portable garages can also be used to house farm animals and pets. It will protect your animals from cold nights and rain. It can also act as a central location where you can feed and clean the animals.
Types of Portable Garages
These are the most popular and affordable forms of garages, and they feature a single overhead canopy supported with poles. Canopy garages protect your vehicle from the sun, light rain showers, and falling branches. However, they don't offer protection from wind, dust, and heavy rain. Also, your vehicle won't be protected from vandalism.
Most full-enclosure garages are typically made of canvas that covers the top, front, back, and sides. They offer better all-weather protection, and the structure often comes with zips to fully cover the vehicle inside. Full-enclosure units are great for permanent storage but aren't as portable as canopy garages.
King Canopy is a North Carolina-based manufacturing company that started back in 1940 as a family business. The company makes some of the best outdoor covers, canopies, and cabanas. King Canopy products have a high-quality construction that can be used as garages, patios, and greenhouses. Check out the King Canopy Hercules, which is one of its best portable carports.
ShelterLogic is an industry leader in the design of high-quality outdoor equipment. This Connecticut-based company was founded in 1991 and currently has more than 25,000 products in its global network. Some of its top products include outdoor sheds, garages, beach umbrellas, camping cots, camping tables, and outdoor furniture. Some of its best car tent garages are the ShelterLogic Shed-In-A-Box and ShelterLogic Instant Garage.
Quictent is a U.K.-based company that started early in the 2000s as an outdoor equipment manufacturer. The company prides itself in producing affordable and high-quality products, and that's why they have a large customer base in the United Kingdom and the United States. Some of its products include pop-up gazebos, greenhouses, camping tents, sheds, and garages. Consider trying out the Quictent Garage Gazebo, which is one of its heavy-duty portable garages.
Portable Garage Pricing
- Under $150: Most portable garages within this price range are canopy tents, which are not fully enclosed and are typically attached to a house. The majority of the units are big enough to house a truck. However, most of these units share a common flaw in that they aren't weatherproof or very durable.
- $150 to $300: If you pay this much for a car tent, expect to get a durable product that forms a somewhat permanent storage facility for your car and equipment. At this price point, you will find party tents, carports, and fully enclosed shelters that provide perfect storage and sufficient shading for your car. Also, some units may have a solid footpad foundation underneath the tent for enhanced comfort when working inside.
- $300 and up: Most of the products within this price range will give you everything you need to keep your vehicle safe and well-protected from the harsh elements. The garages have durable structures and enough room to fit at least two vehicles. They are also elegant enough to be used for other outdoor activities, such as outdoor dining.
Covers or tarps made from polyethylene and polyurethane are the best since the materials are durable, weatherproof, and fade-resistant if UV-treated. Polyester is an affordable but less durable material. Steel is the best for the stands, and you should ideally buy a unit with a powder-coated stand. It's more resistant to rust and corrosion.
The size you choose will depend on the type of equipment you intend to fit into the structure. You obviously don’t need a big unit if you only intend to store a motorcycle. However, you should note that the larger the unit, the less portable it will be.
- Environmental Conditions: Portable garages are designed to accommodate certain types of weather. For example, some portable garages can handle a huge snow load, while others will crumble under the weight. Consider the weather conditions in the area you live in and shop accordingly.
- Durability: Look for a strong structure that can offer years of service without wearing out. This can include water and UV-resistant ceiling and walls and strong, rust-resistant metal frames that can hold the structure in an upright and steady position.
Best Portable Garage Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This ShelterLogic portable carport is an eight-by-eight, triple-layer polyethylene housing. It stands on four, 15-gauge, high-grade steel frames with premium powder coating for corrosion, rust, and chipping resistance as well as enhanced aesthetics. The cover is heat-sealed for increased water resistance and protected from UV rays. The cover fits snugly on the frames with the help of its ratchet cover tensioning system and web strap components. The manufacturer also provides a slide-across rail in case you want to tighten the cover manually.
The shelter comes with auger anchors and patented ShelterLock stabilizers for stability and safe anchoring. The cover’s interior is painted in white for enhanced illumination, and the outside is treated with fade blockers and antifungal agents for a more durable shelter. Its space-saving design is suitable for storing garden tools, snowmobiles, ATVs, snowblowers, and lawnmowers. You don’t need a building permit to set up the structure.
A major downside of the product is that it’s difficult to assemble the unit and fit the full cover. You may have to rely on a few installation videos or ShelterLogic’s customer support to assemble the unit. Also, you may be forced to use it as a permanent fixture; it can be frustrating having to disassemble and reassemble the unit every time you change your location. You also need to be gentle as the cover is thin, and the zipper may break during installation.
The Caravan Canopy sport is an affordable, steady, and spacious tent measuring 10 x 10 feet and a peak height of 7 feet. The unit is good for keeping objects protected from hot, windy, or rainy weather. It can be paired with the brand’s four polytaffetta walls with steel metal frames that are powder coated for enhanced corrosion resistance. The walls must be purchased separately. The steel frames feature a compression lock that grounds the garage on soft ground and also increases the strength of the structure.
This tent has a canopy top, which is durable, waterproof, heat-sealed, and UV treated. The cover is white to help bounce off UV rays and to keep the tent illuminated. One of the walls has a zipper in the middle for easy entry. It will take you around 30 minutes to assemble the unit, and it’s big enough to fit a standard passenger car, a boat, or a two-wheeler. It can also be used to provide a shed at a special event for outdoor dining.
One downside is you need to purchase the sides separately. Also, the tent cover is made from thin fabric that rips easily, and it has fragile tube frames that may bend in heavy winds. Moreover, if you get a defective product, or it comes with a missing piece, you may have a hard time getting in touch with the manufacturer for a refund. Generally, the unit shouldn’t be used as a permanent fixture because it’s limited in its service life.
The materials that go into making the Quictent Garage Gazebo make it one of the best enclosures for year-round use even under harsh weather. The tent cover is made from UV-protected polyethylene fabric, meaning that intense sun rays won’t yellow the pristine white cover. Polyethylene is a hard-wearing material that’s resistant to tearing. It’s also waterproof and resistant to rot brought on by mold and mildew buildup.
You won’t have to worry about the wind blowing it down since it's anchored with eight, heavy-duty, white, powder-coated steel frames that are resistant to rust and corrosion. The poles are sturdy enough to take on the weight of pooled rainwater, fallen leaves, and snow. They are further reinforced with a steel base plate that keeps the tent steady and upright even on rugged terrain.
Despite having steady steel frames, the sidewall covers can make it susceptible to strong winds. You would have to roll up the side covers if you want it to remain upright under intense winds. Moreover, the tent doesn’t come with windows and this can cause overheating issues when it’s fully enclosed.
- You should assemble portable garages on level ground. Alternatively, you can use a wooden plank to level the ground. Brace the poles on the level surface so that they can remain upright.
- Use a hose to wash the portable garage to get rid of dust and occasionally wash the canvas with water and a mild detergent. Ensure that you let the canvas dry in direct sunlight before you box it to prevent mold.
- You can illuminate the portable garage with a lightweight LED work light kit for better visibility at night. You can attach LED bulbs at the corner of the tent with straps if you have a permanent structure.
- If you are using the garage as a storage unit, remember to check for termites, carpenter ants, and other pests that may eat away the fabric of the canvas. A full-enclosure garage is more prone to pests, especially at the walls or corners.
Q: Do I need a building permit to set up a portable garage?
A: Portable garages are considered to be temporary structures, and in most cases, you won't need a permit for them. Refer to the local ordinances in your area for any restrictions on the ownership of a tent and the height restrictions. Do not buy one before you confirm that it's legal to have one, and check the size restrictions.
Q: Will a canopy tent protect my vehicle from high winds or a bad storm?
A: Portable garages aren’t designed to handle bad storms like a hurricane or a tropical storm. Even the best units can be blown away in such conditions. You should invest in a more permanent structure for your vehicle if you live in an area that’s prone to storms. However, some units can withstand high winds if it has sturdy and thick steel frames and if you invest in an upgraded anchoring system.
Q: Can I use a portable garage as a kid's play area?
A: There are no restrictions to the use of a portable garage as long as the structure is sturdy enough to handle the type of job you need it for. You can use the portable tent as a children's play area, a garage workspace, or a cover for a deck or patio.
If you want a semi-permanent structure for your small passenger vehicle, four-wheeler, farm equipment, or garden tools, then go for the ShelterLogic Shed-In-A-Box, our top pick.
If you are looking for a quality product on the cheaper side, then consider the Caravan Canopy Sports. It’s a sturdy structure that can shelter you and your property from intense sun rays.