Awnings are a great way of extending living space on your caravan holidays and giving that true ‘under canvas’ camping experience. However, day tents and event shelters are increasingly becoming a popular choice with many caravanners. They come into their own if you’re travelling as part of a big group, whether they’re used as a makeshift dining room or kitchen, or just a communal get-together area that’s not encroaching into anybody’s private space. Day tents are also desirable if there are just the two of you, simply because they act as a campsite-friendly gazebo.

As good as those pop-up supermarket versions are for parties in back gardens, countless incidents of them taking off in a high wind – and causing damage on the way back down – have led to some campsites banning them. But if you enjoy being outside but want protection from strong sun or light showers, day tents are the perfect durable alternative.

So, if you’re looking at day tents for sale, what should you be looking out for? To help you, Practical Caravan has conducted a group test of day tents/event shelters, to see which are the best on the market. All were reviewed in the same way, to ensure comparable results.

We began by checking how quickly and easily the structures could be built. Some are, frankly, amazingly rapid to erect.

We also appraised weather resistance in two respects. First, we preferred models that are stable enough to leave up in typical UK conditions. Then we tested whether the unit could be made fully weatherproof. Many can’t, but a structure that can be battened down to protect its contents, such as your best camping chairs and camping equipment, from the elements is an advantage.

To ensure that each product offered a genuine gazebo experience, we also checked the options with their sides. Could they be fully opened, made into canopies, left as windows, or simply be used as screen nets? Nets are especially popular because of their ability to break strong breezes down into pleasantly gentle air circulation.

Moving on from weather issues, we awarded points to formats with extra functions. Floors, for instance, mean a weatherproof shelter can double up as a utility or storage unit. If it’s possible to add bedroom inner tents, then your shelter comes into its own if you have family or friends staying over for a few days.

Finally, we considered each product’s practicalities, such as weight, pack-down size, the space provided inside, and how much of that area is actually usable. Sloping or heavily arched sides often render edges usable only for floor-based storage.

Here we are testing the Khyam Day Shelter 300, which was the winner of our group test. It may seem like an unlikely winner, but it makes a lot of sense on all levels.

This product copes admirably in the day tent/event shelter role. The front and rear doors open fully, can be set as canopies (only enough canopy poles for one door are supplied, however), or they can be left as windows or screen nets. The side openings can either be closed, or opened to also reveal screen nets. Unlike so many models we reviewed, where sides are expensive extras, the fact that they’re attached, and zip shut to make a weatherproof structure, is a massive advantage. It’s also a bonus that a clip-in groundsheet is provided, too.

Because of its traditional pole-and-sleeve construction, pitching time is around 10 to 15 minutes. But one benefit of this simple set-up is the relatively compact 73cm x 25cm x 25cm pack-down size.