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Any caravanners given up on awnings? Alternatives?


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We went away this weekend and remembered that we are really falling out of love with our awning. It is not very big, and barely fits all 5 of us in and the piles of junk that we carry around with us.

But we have always shyed away from really big awnings as we dont have the patience to put them together, and never really find it worth the effort. We actually don't often sit in it, but of course we might if we liked it more. It is also very dark and makes the van dark inside.

We are thinking about a canopy type thing instead, and the wishlist includes

- not dark
- somewhere to put shoes on etc coverd
- somewhere to leave shoes etc out overnight and not worry about them getting soaked in unexpected rain.
- somewhere with shade for continental travelling
- possibly somewhere to sit and eat, although we struggle to eat with bugs/wasps around and often therefore eat in the van, unless we had a totally sealed unit.
- something that will withstand some weather - we are fair weather travellers but of course get caught out, and have been in some whopper storms in france which the current awning has dealt with fine.

Anyone else had this decision?

Thanks

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We use one of these for quick overnights.

https://www.obelink.co.uk/tarpy-caravan.html

2019 Bailey Platinum (640) Phoenix from Chipping Sodbury caravans, towed by our  2017 my Discovery Sport!

 

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As you don’t mention what you have I am guessing a porch/part awning?

We have both full and part awning however, the full is a Isabella Sunshine canopy with a front so, if the weather is favourable the front stays off, if not it goes on.

We also have an Isabella Magnum, with annexe for sleeping in BUT, have just bought a Sunncamp Swift canopy.

 

We will be doing a UK tour this summer with a max of 4 days on any one site so wanted something I could put up easily on my own, and quickly and it may be worth a look.

 

We have tried roll out canopies but they are very limited in the protection they give, from sun or rain.

 

 

Edited by Allan Guest
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My only comments would be that

1) a “canopy type thing”  will provide some shade but that is of course dependent upon where the sun is in the sky and,

2) it won’t provide any protection from any breeze that’s present. 

 

Have you thought of an air awning of around the 390 size?  I have one and it’s possible to leave all of the front (3) panels and the (2) end panels out in any combination. That way we can have shelter from the sun, rain and depending on its direction the wind as well whilst still having the area “open” 

Very quick and easy to erect. Inflation takes just 4 minutes (12v pump) and pegging out is much quicker/simpler than a poled awning.

 

Maybe worth considering at least. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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16 minutes ago, Mr Plodd said:

My only comments would be that

1) a “canopy type thing”  will provide some shade but that is of course dependent upon where the sun is in the sky and,

2) it won’t provide any protection from any breeze that’s present. 

Can I add a number 3 Mr. P ?

A canopy type thing won't prevent your wellies or shoes turning into goldfish bowls during a wet and breezy night or day😉

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We are thinking much the same, we have a large air awning that we have not used since the kids stopped coming, a little 1.5m Vango one for winter - just somewhere to dry the dog and put muddy shoes.

Then we brought a Fiamma roll out canopy for shade in the summer and was wondering about getting the sides which you can attach - would this be a possibility as would provide a bit of shelter?

 

Put shoes/wellies/crocs on their side under the van - this will keep most of the weather out of them.

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we have decided this year that if we're on site 4 days or less we wont bother getting the awning out, but although we have looked at the canopy type thing, we wont be getting one.  They have to be really pegged down as it seems that any bit of wind can cause a problem.  As we're only 2 with 2 small dogs it wont be too much of an issue for us, however with 5 of you, you will have to be super organised, perhaps putting the under bed plastic storage boxes under the van to hold shoes etc.  and also use your car for storing outside things overnight. However, I don't think you are really in a position to do away with having an awning just  yet, but you could start by thinning out some of your "junk" that you put in the awning now. 

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We have an air awning and only used it once.  I have difficulty putting it up as its quite heavy and cant pull hard due to a problem with my chest muscles. We dont sit in the awning so it becomes a storage area.

 

So we do use an Isabella Sun shade. This gives a bit of protection but as Mr Plod says, does not stop the cold wind.

 

We used a tent type awning for a few years, but in heavy rain its wetter inside it than out.

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Maybe the solution is not having an awning too small to have many the drawbacks stated, and not too big to inherent other drawbacks?

Over the years, near 50, we have settled for the last 19 to using an Isabella Magnum, easy to erect , capable of ready and selectively zipping out the panels, not too much wet fabric to live with if it is a damp pack, and able to seal out flying bugs, dew rain and tolerate extreme weather.

The 5 if adults could be a challenge, but we frequently, in better times dined four adults in ours.

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I’ve had similar thoughts as the OP - but then, I started to think along the lines of what Mr P said - so you then you end up getting the sides and front to sort out those problems - and you’re back to square one!

We have ‘collected’ three awnings over the years - Kampa 390 Grande, a big heavy lump to get on the awning rail; a Sunncamp Air 390 - lightweight and much easier to handle; and a Sunncamp 220 poled ( just 2 uprights and a fibreglass hoop so nothing touching the van). It’s very quick and easy to erect and, although small, is perfectly adequate for short stays and storing boots, wet clothes etc.

VW Touareg Escape towing a 2018 Knaus Starclass 695

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52 minutes ago, junglejim said:

 

Then we brought a Fiamma roll out canopy for shade in the summer and was wondering about getting the sides which you can attach - would this be a possibility as would provide a bit of shelter?

 

 

Stay away from that idea is my advice! Been there, done that with a Fiamma “Privacy Room” on  a motorhome and I wouldn’t recommend it at all. In fact I ended up selling the side and front panels. They are heavy and cumbersome, there is no physical joining between the side panels and/or the roof so they are very draughty, it’s a nightmare trying to get them pegged down so they don’t flap and bang in the slightest of breeze. Oh, and they are expensive fir what they are.

If you have a look on eBay there are often many such things for sale “Only used a few times” Probably because people’s experience is the same as mine. 

A lightweight carbon poled porch awning of around the 390 size has plenty of room in it for six providing its not rammed full of “stuff” We regularly have six adults in ours to eat and relax (it is an air awning but the principle is the same), If you can stretch to it the newer air awnings tend to have a bit of a bay window at the front, it’s amazing how much more usable inside space that gives you.

 

Without some form of an awning, and 6 people you are going to really struggle storage wise, and how do you get on if it’s raining and a bit windy? Six in a caravan for even 6 hours is going to be very snug indeed! 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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With just two of us we gave up awnings altogether- we toured in the same way as motorhomers - a few days here and a few days there and awnings were just too much trouble. With a perfectly good caravan why would we need a tent hanging on the side of it. 

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28 minutes ago, moorgate said:

With a perfectly good caravan why would we need a tent hanging on the side of it. 

 

"We" though clearly not all for much the same reason some motorhomers do, along with many caravanners?

Awnings, or even "tents hanging on" if seen as such, are very much a lifestyle choice, ours to live and dine al fresco as much as we can, but with the option to be out of the wind, together with store outside kit and equipment through damp nights etc.

 

 

Edited by JTQ
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We've gone down the Fiamma route - a  great bit of kit. We have a 4.3m one, so big enough for table chairs, fridge etc.

 

The most important thing is that it only needs putting through the awning rail once, which for me is the worst part of awnings (and I gather air awnings are even worse).

 

You have the option of not bothering with it at all - there are four of us and we find an awning is a waste of time for short trips.

 

It can be used as a sun or rain shade in a couple of minutes.

 

Or you get a fully enclosed awning with a little more effort. The sides zip to the roof, so there is no gap and it fits to the caravan much like any porch awning.  Very flexible and high quality material. The whole thing is a kind of plasic, so no worries storing damp if you have to

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We had an Isabella Shadow and it’s certainly quick & easy to put up and pack away, but doesn’t offer any side protection. I was looking at buying the sides for it, but the price put me off. In the end we bought this Kampa Air Sunshine Pro 400 canopy. The sides are an extra purchase, but we were lucky in that they were included with our purchase (got it second hand through Facebook Marketplace). Tried it last week with the sides in and very pleased with it. Note that the sides do not zip in - they are attached by clips to a roof rail and just pegged at the bottom, but it did offer some welcome protection from the stiff breezes.

 

 

D41B50D2-876E-46CA-9635-B59411DAB754.jpeg

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There are usually just the three of us in our four berth van. We haven't bothered getting an awning yet, and nothing has tempted us. We have folding chairs and picnic table with parasol which we can use beside the van if it's sunny. I love sitting outside in the open, although on our recent break in Northumberland, I sometimes needed woolly hat and blankets as the weather was beautifully clear but chilly! If the weather is not so great then we just sit in the van.

 

As for coats and shoes, the coats hang inside the van beside the door; if wet, the heating is more likely to get them dry than if they were in an awning. Outdoor footwear goes on the wardrobe floor where we have put rubber matting. If particularly damp I put them on a flattened plastic bag in front of the living room heating vent to dry off.

 

Also, I don't want my view out of the front side window to be just looking into an awning, thank you. But horses for courses, this is what suits our set up and may not be right for others, obviously.

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7 minutes ago, Susan D said:

As for coats and shoes, the coats hang inside the van beside the door; if wet, the heating is more likely to get them dry than if they were in an awning. Outdoor footwear goes on the wardrobe floor where we have put rubber matting. If particularly damp I put them on a flattened plastic bag in front of the living room heating vent to dry off.

 

Got to agree with this. Our shoes go just inside the door, where there's a blown air outlet. We do find the canopy / awning useful for wet towels in summer but, again, they dry more quickly in the caravan - either in the bathroom, or draped over the rear dinette table while we are out.

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The above posts just go to show how different we all are! 

 

Awnings (be they poled or air) are a bit of a “Marmite” thing, there is no definitive answer, only personal views and opinions.

 

There are just two of us, we have a 390 air awning, and a much smaller (2m square) lightweight porch. We tend to stay in one place for a fair few days at a time now (we did the ‘dashing about” thing when we had a Motorhome)  so the larger air awning goes up for 4 days+ when the weather is warm and the smaller one gets used (basically as a sort of airlock to keep the heat in) during the colder times or for shorter stays.  If it’s hot then all of the panels come out of tge big awning to in effect provide a large sunshade!  I do have a full length sunshade as well, I do wonder why I bought it but it did get some serious use a couple of years back when we went to Corsica

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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2 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

Stay away from that idea is my advice! Been there, done that with a Fiamma “Privacy Room” on  a motorhome and I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

 

Well, you've put me off that idea! Looks like we all need about half a dozen shapes and sized awnings for all eventualities if we had room to store them all.

 

Might just still to the canopy for summer and the little one for winter and if it turns chilly - venture inside, never saw the point in sitting outside wrapped up in hats and coats and blankets.

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To anyone else struggling with a heavy Kampa air awning (we have a Kampa 390 grande) treat yourself to a Kampa awning pulley. They are worth the £30 and make threading the heavy lump ridiculously easy. I'm 72 and have arthritis and a torn bicep tendon but with my wife guiding the awning into the rail while I just use the pulley it's very easy. I know people use dog leads etc to drag the awning through the rail but the pulley system reduces the effort by a huge percentage. All I want now is someone to invent pegs that knock themselves in as I still ache for a day after hammering them in myself. :blush:

John   

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3 minutes ago, johntog said:

. All I want now is someone to invent pegs that knock themselves in as I still ache for a day after hammering them in myself. :blush:

John   

 

Get yourself a bag of screw-in rock pegs and use the rechargeable drill/driver you use for the corner steadies :D They work just as well on grass. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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18 minutes ago, junglejim said:

Might just still to the canopy for summer and the little one for winter and if it turns chilly - venture inside, never saw the point in sitting outside wrapped up in hats and coats and blankets.

 

It is a more  "convivial" world sat out and can be lovely, with good company & good drinks if able to keep warm as with a wrap etc, and in these Covid times our only socialising option is outside.

 

As already pointed out we are all different in our many ways, not least awnings.

 

 

Edited by JTQ
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A dear old friend said to me that he would have to give up caravanning because he could no longer manage the awning. When I said caravanning without an awning was perfectly possible he shook his head in utter disbelief. 

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4 minutes ago, Mr Plodd said:

 

Get yourself a bag of screw-in rock pegs and use the rechargeable drill/driver you use for the corner steadies :D They work just as well on grass. 

Got some of them. We tend to use fully serviced hardstanding pitches and find sometimes they'll just excavate a large hole. I use an 18v cordless hammer drill and always try the screw in pegs first. Sometimes you just have to revert to rock pegs and a lump hammer. 

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For stays of less than 4 nights we don't usually bother with an awning.

 

For long stays we have an Isabella Magum.

 

For stays between 4 nights and a week I've just bought a Outdoor Revolution Porchlite 200 Lightweight Awning (version with poles)

 

Experimented with it to see how it goes up, it's a bit fiddly but I think it is going to work.

 

Time will tell.  

Edited by Cheltenham Caravanner
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