Campervan Awning Types and how to choose - Click here to read more

1 August 2013  |  Admin

Choosing the right motor home awning. 

One of the most popular small motorhomes in the world is the timeless and immediately identifiable VW Campervan. Building on this fantastic reputation VW continues with its commitment to producing top quality campervans, offering better and better models with each passing year.

Motorhome awning manufacturers have not been too slow in identifying this ever growing market, now there is a staggering variety of small format awning designed specifically for this type of vehicle. Choosing the perfect match for your needs can be a bewildering process, but having the right information to hand can make this process easier. Hopefully we can guide you in the right direction to make an informed decision for yourself - get the most out of your camping experience, that's what we hope to help you with.

First things first; we can probably narrow down your search for the perfect campervan awning by making a few simple decisions from the start. Consider the following questions and decide on what best fits for you.

a. Do you need an awning with an inner tent for sleeping in?

b. Do you need a drive-away option or fixed awning?

Ok that's the easy part over. Now you're sitting comfortably we can make progress on that awning.

Basically speaking there are two types of drive-away sleeping awnings. Some which will take an inner tent and others which have a separate annexe. Annexe types are great, but do take additional setting up. Awnings with an inner tent are much easier to assemble but you obviously need to clear the awning of clutter to sleep in it. Seems you can't always have the best of both worlds.

Most annexe type awnings will come with an inner tent included with the annexe, but do check before ordering. Inner tents for those without annexes are usually an optional extra costing from around £35-40.

Lets deal with the inner tent type first. This type of awning typically has a footprint of around 260cm to 300cm square; some include groundsheets and some are optional. Almost every drive-away awning we supply has the option of a plush awning carpet - a real home from home luxury, or a breathable groundsheet.

Simple to construct the awnings poles are fed through pole sleeves sewn into the awning flysheet. Often colour coded, the poles are constructed from a steel / fibreglass combination, or fully fibreglass. Both types are strong and durable if handled correctly with the fibreglass type obviously being much lighter to ship around. Rigidity comes from a combination of ring and pin fittings (more on this in a moment) and correctly pegging out the awning. Remember these awnings are not a fixed structure so never try to peg them out so tight that they rip on tear in a gust of wind. Always allow for a little movement when pegging out.

So these ring and pins, how do they work? I hear you ask. Simple really, at the bottom edge of the awning flysheet are nylon straps with the ring and pin sewn onto them. As the poles are slipped through the flysheet the pin is inserted into the pole at both ends. This has the affect of forcing the poles into shape and held secure by the material surrounding them. The flysheet is secured to the poles and the poles are now an integral part of the material construction. Peg the awning out and ponder the wonders of modern technology!

Drive-away awnings work by using a system of straps (two in fact) that are attached to the tunnel part of the awning - this is the bit which bridges the gap between your campervan and the awning itself. Simply throw the two straps over the top of your van, pull the awning taught to the van and peg the straps out on the opposite side. When you want to go exploring and still have your pitch when you return; simply remove the pegs and throw the straps back over the van. Secure the awning zips and drive off. Safe in the knowledge that when you return your pitch is secured - and not a beach towel in sight!

The inner tent are generally fixed into position with four corner elastics which correspond to four fixing rings sewn into the awning. All inner tents have a strong sewn in groundsheet, but it's no mattress so be sure to use an airbed, base mat or framed camping bed - the floor gets cold at night, I know, I've been there!

Annexe type awnings can offer all the benefits of the inner type together with the additional space. The annexe is normally zipped onto one of the side panel providing a bedroom for guest whilst keeping all the awning space for storage. Drawbacks? Well that depends on your perspective. They are heavier, larger and require extra setting up, but hey, you get a real bedroom. What's not to like?

Set up is very similar to the above but with a zip or two more and a few more poles and pegs but essentially they are constructed in the same manner.

And so to porch awnings. These types of drive away or fixed awnings are ideally suited to be used just like your porch at home. A place to store your muddy bikes or hiking boots without making a mess of your campervan. But wait there’s more to it than that.

Picture the scene, a warm balmy summer evening, the sun low in the sky and the barbeque sizzling away with the smell of hickory chips and sweet onions filling the air. Now wouldn’t it be fantastic to have your own private little space to sit down and have a quite beer and watch the world go drifting slowly by. Yes, yes – but how?

Well, pop up the front of your porch awning, insert the canopy poles and voila! A perfect retreat with maybe a table a couple of chairs and of course the icebox, all you need is a little imagination.

Porch awnings come in two main types; fixed and drive-away. Fixed awnings are usually attached to your campervans gutter using a figure of eight strip (or two). These plastic fixings simply slide onto the awning cord of the flysheet and then clip onto the vans gutter, making a secure seal between the two. Some vans may already have an awning rail, so will not need the figure of eight strips.

Drive-away types are fitted in the same away as explained in the previous section, by using two throw over straps, pulling the awning tight to the campervan. The obvious benefit being that you can un-peg and drive away, saving your pitch for when you return. Porch awnings are typically 260cm – 300cm square and have a groundsheet either included or as an optional extra. They are usually lighter than sleeping awnings but offer much the same protection from the elements (just in case we don’t have those barmy summer evenings!).

Some models offer further flexibility by allowing you to either roll up or completely remove one or more of the panels, making an almost gazebo effect. Look out for the unique selling points of each awning.


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