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A Beginners Guide for You to Choose the Right Caravan Awning

by Iris C on November 08, 2022

Do you really need an awning? 

Awnings are one of the simplest and quickest ways to add extra space to your caravan. These versatile additions provide shelter from heavy winds, rain, and snow - which may offer an open-air living experience; or just a much-needed break from being cooped up inside. They also allow for more privacy than what you would typically find at a tent camping destination - where other campers often set tents directly next to each other. The more modern variants boast being portable, and durable (withstanding high winds) and come in two sizes: small travel-sized tents that measure less than 6 square meters, and large 10-foot wide models measuring over 20 square meters. Modern awnings can include windows (to let natural light in), enclose into separate rooms (to serve multiple uses), or simply act as walls against rain and wind while leaving plenty of floor space available for activities like cooking outside or playing cards with fellow campers).

 

What to consider before you buy one?

If you're considering purchasing an awning, then there are some important questions you'll want to ask yourself before making a decision.

  • Which season and how long time out of the year do you plan on using the awning?
  • Are you staying in one place (seasonal pitch) or are you constantly moving from place to place (touring)?
  • What time period will your awning be needed most—wintertime or summertime?
  • Is this primarily meant as sun protection while traveling abroad during peak hours of sunlight exposure?
  • Will members of your household need shelter from rain/snow and wind while living in it?
  • If so, how many people can fit inside comfortably at once without getting too cramped or uncomfortable?
  • Do you have enough storage space for your new purchase (perhaps in both your current vehicle and new caravan)?

 

What is the right caravan awning?

Awnings are not purchases to take lightly - they're investments. If your awning is going to be used on the weekends, it's worth getting a high quality model. For example, if you go for a luxury full awning, you'll pay upwards of 2,500 - depending on how long your caravan is. On the other hand, you can find lightweight and simple porches starting at just 150 with sun protection features. Between these prices are many options and an awning/porch will fit every budget and need perfectly.

 

Which type of caravan awning do you need?

There is a variety of different types of caravan awnings available for purchase. All come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on the buyers' needs and budget. First, decide if you want an awning that goes all the way across your caravan or one that spans half its length. Once you've decided, take into account whether it will be used during the winter season (seasonal) or only in summer (touring). This decision will dictate what kind of materials it's made from - touring models being less heavy duty so they can easily be taken down at the end of each season when people aren't using them; seasonal models meant to withstand wear and tear over time because they'll most likely stay up year-round without needing an excessive amount of maintenance.

Finally, there are canopies; fixed frames which attach directly to caravans but don't offer protection from rain or wind as other models do.

 

Full caravan awnings

Full awnings allow for increased space and are therefore ideal for long-term vacations such as extended campsites. It takes much longer to set up than porch installations, but that is worth it considering how long you're going to be there (usually 1-2 weeks). Full awnings fit the entire length of your caravan starting at the base near the front and reaching all the way toward its back. A full awning can nearly triple your living space, projecting away from one side of your caravan by anywhere between 2 meters to 3.5 meters. The size measurements of these types of awnings are measured in centimeters and depend on how big your caravan is; if you know what kind of make and model it is, most manufacturer websites have an online guide waiting for you!

Awnings come in many sizes and weights, so it is important to consider the space they will take up in your vehicle when considering a purchase. For example, if you plan on camping with an awning, its weight needs to be calculated against how much extra cargo room you have left in your car.

For instance, some models can weigh over 50 pounds whereas others may weigh less than half of this at just 9 pounds! The heaviest ones are inflatable porch awnings for touring that would be seasonal. The lightest one we have here is 9 pounds.

Also, remember that all these numbers vary depending on the type of vehicle being used- however, make sure you've checked how much weight your car has allotted before loading up anything new. We're thinking about payloads too when designing them - no awning will get too heavy or too big.

 

Porch awnings

Porch awnings are an easy way for campers to create shade where there wasn't any before. They're cheaper and lighter than full-sized awnings, making them quick and easy for anyone who needs protection from the sun. The downside is that you don’t have as much space as with a full awning - but these larger porches suit people who want plenty of room to relax or cook outside on hot days.

 

Canopies

Canopies, while relatively easy and quick to assemble provide no protection from the sides. If a heavy storm blows through it could easily tear apart the thin material with its powerful gusts of wind. However, if the canopy is brought with another piece of equipment called a windbreak that fits around one side of it - then you will be protected against powerful winds.

 

Awning frames – air or pole?

Awnings are supported on one side by the mobile home or other structure and then by either poles or inflatable air supports. Awning frames come in four types: steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and air-supported. And with many awnings/porches, you get to choose what type of metal frame to support it—steel (best against rust), aluminum (lighter than steel but still durable), fiberglass (lightweight), or an inflated rigidity (easier to move around).

 

Awning fabrics

Awning fabrics are a key consideration when buying. It's important to find something that dries quickly after rain, is safe from damaging UV rays, is resistant to strong winds, and also offers a degree of insulation. Different materials will vary from thin yet durable polyester to high-quality acrylics made for prolonged wear. Fabric choice usually depends on how you'll use the awning - frequent users often invest in better quality ones while occasional users might struggle to justify the extra cost.

Lightweight polyester has some perks to it. It dries quickly after rainfall and is light in weight so you can carry them around easily when building or packing them away. They are cheaper than fabric choices such as acrylic. There’s a lot of difference between different weighted fabrics within this category too, with regards to thickness and weave quality etcetera. High-quality acrylic umbrellas are made to last many years – they appear tighter and more rigid than lighter-weight fabrics do - while high-quality fiber-dyed material (also known as solution-dyed) presents an interesting option that is far better at resisting the effects of UV rays compared to other types of dyeing methods used on cloth which may have been completed post-production stage. No matter what type though, always ensure that your model includes weather protection mechanisms that provide an additional defense against damaging water or ultraviolet rays from sunlight.

 

Pitching your awning

Before you buy, consider just how heavy or light the awning is and how difficult it would be to set up - especially when there's a windy day or if there are no people around. Lightweight inflatable porch awnings are very simple to pitch and one person can definitely do it. Depending on who's doing it, all awnings can be pitched by one person, but campsites are very friendly places and if someone seems to need help, they'll soon have fellow RVers coming over.

Setting up an awning may be daunting for some campers. Thankfully, thanks to newer single-point inflation models which allow people to deploy their tents in seconds - setting them up (and taking them down) has never been easier. Remember: You're here on vacation and you deserve the break!

 

Awning manufacturers

Caravan awnings are an established industry, so it makes sense that there would be many options available when buying one. 

Some of the main brands include:

•      Dometic/Kampa

•      Fiamma

•      Isabella

•      Outdoor Revolution

•      Outwell

•      Vango

•      Unikka

 

 Awning accessories

Once you've decided what type of awning is right for your campervan, there are extras to consider. You don't need to worry about the basics needed to set up an awning - most come supplied with everything required, including pegs and guy ropes, storm straps, and even curtains or draught skirts!

However, some items might not be provided by default. For example, if you're using stakes that aren't suitable for soft ground or if you want waterproof flooring instead of carpeting or something else softer. Additionally, some things like electric air pumps might be desirable; however, after setting up an awning it's just up to the user what they put inside of it.

And the list of optional accessories can be extensive:

  • Lighting - LEDs offer some compelling benefits over traditional bulbs.
  • Carpets, flooring, and groundsheets - these increase the comfort, warmth, and practicality inside your awning.
  • Heating - if you're a year-rounder or just like to set up out of-season, an awning heater is an excellent investment.
  • Inner tents, privacy rooms, and annexes are all available to accommodate your specific needs.
  • Pump for inflatable air awnings - essential. There are both foot pumps and electric pumps available.
  • Roof liners - additional insulation properties plus added protection against the elements.
  • Extra tent pegs - often necessary depending on how large your destination is; heavy-duty options exist too.
  • Storm straps - are required for seasonal models but recommended for those camping in less-than-ideal conditions.

 

Some tips for your trip

  • Make sure your awning is rolled up clean when you pack it away. Wet or dirty ones can be unpacked once back home and left out in the open to dry and air out right then and there. Duct tape may also be used temporarily to fix torn fabrics until they are professionally repaired.
  • Most campsites don't charge extra for awnings - make sure they don't while booking, too! It’s standard practice for caravans to come equipped with one. Most sites won’t charge additional fees if you attach another; including gazebos or tents.
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