Planning an outdoor event? One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy or rent a tent. Having the right type of tent will improve your guests’ experience considerably, so you should definitely take some time to plan it out. But the question is always there: should you buy or rent a tent for your event?
While there’s not a universally correct answer, this article will help you choose by examining the pros and cons of buying vs. renting tents.
Pros of Renting Tents
Renting tents is often the most budget-friendly option, especially for one-time events.
This isn’t a surprise since the upfront cost to buy a high-quality tent can run anywhere from $300 up to $10,000 or more. Yes, some tents are $10k.
“But what if I manage to get a great deal and buy a cheaper tent?”. Well, as long as you know that you’ll still have to pay for storage, transport, setup/teardown, and maintenance in the long term, then by all means, go ahead.
But you should also know that with tent rentals, any costs are based on use. In other words, you only pay for what you need & when you need it.
But this isn’t the only advantage of renting tents for your event – let’s check what else is there.
1) Lower Upfront Costs
Renting a tent is an affordable option if you only need a temporary event structure for a day, weekend, or week, with rates typically ranging from $150 for small 10’x10’ canopies to $5,000+ for large 50’ x 100’ pole tents.
While buying a tent starts cheaper (you can find basic 10×10 pop up tents for less than $100), rental rates can make more financial sense if you’re going for a bigger size and more features.
A high-peak 40′ x 60′ frame tent can cost you $4,000 compared to around $1,500 to rent; or
Luxury tension pole tents from some premium companies are often $9,000+, but have weekly rental rates of around $3,500
Big difference eh?
2) You Don’t Need Storage
When you rent a tent, the rental company takes care of everything: it delivers the tent, sets it up, and then takes it down.
You don’t need to worry about transporting or storing it (especially important if you’re using a large tent).
3) Different Tent Sizes & Styles
Rental companies have a lot of different tents in inventory made for all types of events.
Whether you need a small 10’ x 30’ pole tent for an intimate gathering or a massive 60’ x 180’ structure capable of hosting 500+ guests, tent rental providers have you covered.
This makes it super easy to find the best tent for your budget. If you’re buying, then you won’t have this flexibility.
4) You Can Try Before You Buy
If you’re renting first, then you’ll be able to try different tent types like frame tents, pole tents, and tension tents to decide what works best for your venue before you invest some serious $$ and buy one.
You should be testing the size, the staking requirements, and ease of use by renting tents.
If you do it, it will be much easier for you to decide if owning your own tent makes sense in the long-term (and what type of tent you will want).
5) Latest Safety Standards & Features
Commercial rental tents meet fire code regulations and are built to the most current industry safety standards. They utilize the newest waterproof and flame-retardant fabrics and finishes. And have features like adjustable legs for slope compensation and strong commercial duty frames.
When buying tents, these aspects degrade over years while standards and materials continue advancing.
Cons of Renting Tents
As we have seen, it can be convenient and cheap to rent tents.
However, there are a few potential disadvantages you need to take into account:
A. Early Booking Required
Rental tents book out far in advance, especially during popular spring and summer wedding seasons. It’s not uncommon for top rental companies to be fully reserved 6-12 months out.
If you’re looking to rent, take care of it as early as possible, because last-minute booking won’t cut it.
B. Transportation Fees
Most tent rental companies charge for delivery, pickup, and setup/take down fees on top of the base rental rate. And depending on distance to the event site, they can also add in fuel surcharges.
These extra costs add up quickly, so account for them when making your budget calcs.
C. Limited Customization
Rental tents focus more on function than form: the frames, fabrics, sizes, and layouts are there to serve basic event shelter needs rather than any aesthetic preferences.
While you can often add sidewalls, lighting, flooring, and heating/cooling equipment, we don’t recommend you decorate your rental tents too much. By doing so you will risk having additional damage/cleanup fees when you return the tent.
If you want fully customized tents matching unique décor or color schemes, it may make more sense to buy your own tent.
D. Weather Risks
Bad weather can delay the delivery/pickup of rental tents when outside conditions make the setup/takedown unsafe. This can ruin your carefully scheduled timelines for short term one day events, so be careful.
When Should You Buy Your Own Tent Then?
Despite the many benefits of tent rentals, buying your own tents is the best move in the right situations:
I. Cost Savings Over Time
If you frequently organize events, buying your own tents will be cheaper in the long run than paying endless rental fees.
These daily rental rates add up quickly: just two events can recoup the expense of buying simpler 10×10 and 20×20 tents.
For larger tents, it’s even more obvious: rental costs for a single multi-day event can even be higher than purchase prices.
II. Convenience of On-Site Storage
Keeping tents on your own property removes the need to coordinate with a third party company to come and take care of the logistics.
On-site storage lets you set up and take down the tent on your own schedule. No more waiting for rushed morning deliveries – you make your own schedule.
As we said above: if you rent a tent, you won’t be able to fully customize it. Well, you will be able to, but most likely will need to pay extra fees.
If, however, you own your own tents, then you can do whatever you want without being worried about any rental damage fees.
IV. Guaranteed Event Venue Availability
Booking popular rentals 6-12 months in advance can be stressful, that’s for sure.
Guess what happens if you own your tent? Yes – no waiting times or need to be so early on.
V. Potential Revenue Stream
Some event industry entrepreneurs even purchase tents to add a rental income stream to their business. This can help offset original buying costs while serving local event needs.
Buying a Tent? Here’s What You Should Look For
If you end up deciding you want to buy an event tent, here’s what you need to think about to guarantee that you buy something of high quality.
1. Frame & Pole Strength
The frame and poles form the core structure of the tent, so metal thickness, weight ratings, and engineering make a huge difference in terms of durability. Some key ideas are:
Aluminum or steel poles with a minimum of 1.5 – 2” in diameter handle bad weather better
Look for a 1.5 – 2x safety rating capacity over the expected occupancy loads
You should also inspect joinery methods like pin-and-basket designs: these increase stability and junction strength.
2. Fabric Density
Fabric fibers per square inch will determine the tent’s tear strength and waterproof ratings:
Choose 240+ thread count polyester
300-600 denier polyester fabric thickness handles UV exposure well over the years while staying lighter than vinyl fabrics
3. Fire & Water Resistance
Most of the municipal fire codes require certain flame retardancy and water resistance levels. To comply with these regulations, you should know that:
NFPA-701 certification is the fire standard for tent fabrics
A 1,800mm waterproof rating tells you that you have between 4-6 hours of flood protection before saturation
4. Warranties & Track Record
While tent fabrics typically only carry 1-year warranties, quality frame structures should last 8-12 years.
You should look for at least 5-year frame warranties and shop brands with long reputations.
How Much Does An Event Tent Rental Really Cost?
While prices always depend on each company, from our experience, the typical tent rental prices are around the following:
10′ x 10′ Canopies: $150 – $250
20′ x 20′ Pole Tents: $500 – $800
40′ x 60′ Pole Tents: $1,500 – $2,500
Remember that if you’re looking for tents during peak wedding season, prices will be on the higher end of these ranges. Supply and demand dictate economy.
However, the price of the tent itself is not the only cost you’ll have. Other common rental costs include:
Delivery & setup fees: $200 – $500
Sidewalls: $5-$15 per linear foot
Lighting & power packages: $150+
Flooring: $3 – $6 per square foot
Furniture rental: pricing varies
Things like quantity discounts, midweek discounts, multi-tent discounts, and early booking discounts can help lower your costs.
Finally, you should be using tent rental cost calculators to estimate the total amount of $ you’ll need.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Different Types of Party Tents Available for a Corporate Event?
Pole tents: these are the most commonly rented style and are the best for formal events.
Frame tents: these are normally cheaper and offer full unobstructed interiors. On the flip side, they look a bit too industrial. We would be looking into frame tents if we were organizing a one-time event like a birthday party or another outdoor party.
You can either buy or rent these tents.