And these compact vehicles are so versatile as a daily run around with the easily to drive characteristics and size perfect for exploring the countryside around a campsite.
But the small size does have a draw back when it comes to life outdoors. While canopies provide light protection to sit under during short stops and overnighters, the lack of space inside the vehicle hampers comfort when on a campsite for any length of time.
This is where you need an awning. These quickly attach to the side or back of a campervan to provide sheltered living space that can be closed off from rain, wind and nosey neighbours – perfect to mark your pitch and safely house bulky items, like chairs and table, when you drive away for the day.
YOUR DRIVE-AWAY AWNING
Yes – drive away! The majority use connection methods that allow them to quickly attach/detach from your campervan so you can use the vehicle without having to keep erecting the awning. In fact, it also allows them to be used with other vehicles, like vans and SUVs. This versatility is perfect for when you need additional shelter at picnics, markets and more, or a place to change and prepare for events and outdoor pursuits. You can normally gauge if an awning will fit to a vehicle by the quoted connection height. This is especially important if connecting to an awning rail.
Many awnings have beading around the edge of its rear entrance that slides into and attaches to an awning rail channel situated along the side of the campervan above the side door. This rail often features on factory-fitted or after-sales wind-out sunshades found on many campervans.
Unfortunately, this method firmly attaches the vehicle to awning for the duration of your stay so it cannot be driven away. The solution is to use a connector set.
A connector set has a double bead tape. One bead is inserted into the awning rail and the other into one side channel of the supplied plastic strips. The awning beading then slides into the opposite channel on the plastic strips. Simply slide the plastic strips off the beading when you want to drive away and re-connect the strips when you arrive back at your pitch. Awning rails normally take either 5mm or 7mm beading and the connector set will normally provide both sizes on the tape to allow an awning to be connected to any vehicle.
However, the simplest connection method uses guylines thrown over the campervan to support the rear entrance and provide a draft free closure. This is ideal for vehicles that do not feature an awning rail and you do not want to go to the expense of adding one. Other connection methods include ties to a roof rail and the use of magnetic or suction attachment points.
BUYING AN AWNING
While you want to seriously consider vehicle connection when buying an awning, there are other key factors that need thinking about. For a start, an awning can be quite large when packed and that could make it awkward to transport in a compact campervan. If it is too large it will take away some of the campervan’s versatility as it will need transporting in the living area where it will get in the way if, for instance, you decided to stop on route for lunch and a brew. A large awning also makes home storage and maintenance difficult.
Poles, pegs and outer of a traditional awning can be packed into separate bags to make ‘Campervan Tetris’ an easier game to play and handling less of a chore. It also helps to store fabric away from component parts that might rust. But, pitching poled awnings can be stressful, especially in windy conditions.
While easier and simpler to pitch, you’ll find an inflatable awning packs into a single large heavy bag that is harder to shift and the awning is more difficult to maintain due to its bulk and weight. And this neatly demonstrates the secret to buying an awning is to think about your needs and balance pros with cons.
As you see here, living space and headroom provided, connection to a vehicle, ease of pitching and use, size and weight for transportation and storage, plus maintenance, should all be in the front of your mind when buying an awning. And you need to look at how your life on the road will be improved by the awning’s quality, reliability and the right features, such as windows and vents, alongside options, like comfortable, warm carpets and inner tents for additional bedroom space and storage. There is a lot to consider but never fear. Our Easy Camp drive-away awnings have been designed to address all these factors in simple to understand designs at highly attractive prices and provide a carefree shopping experience.