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Vango Varkal 420 - Mini Review


Eddiewin88
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Used the above for the first time this weekend - which turned out to be a baptism of fire (or, more correctly, 'wind')

I am an awning hater, but chose the Vango because (1) it promised to be much less hassle than a conventional awning, and (2) because we needed the extra space.

Firstly - it *was* easy to erect. The hardest part was pulling the beading through the channel - not *particularly* hard, but the awning is heavier than you might expect, and being 4 metres long there is a lot of material to handle.

We laid it on an awning carpet in case the grass had dirt/oil/dog wee (take your pick) on it.

Once through the channel, inflation was very simple - 16 pump strokes for each of the 4 supporting beams, and three strokes for front lateral braces (which are held permanently in-situ, but have independent inflation points.

The three separate lateral roof rafters take a couple of pumps each - but, in all honestly, they seem quite superfluous, and the awning could be used equally as well without them in place.

We were glad that we stumped up the extra £100 for the larger version. The extra space was noticeable, and the size meant that the awning missed all caravan windows completely (on our current van, obviously)

The attention to detail was quite impressive - from the interlinked guy ropes, provided with velcro ties, to the reinforced adjustable webbing peg points, it was obvious that Vango had put quite a lot of though and care into the design (which for the price, of course, they should!!)

Zips were heavy duty, the mudwall was also very high quality, and the awning fabric itself seemed durable (although not as thick as the '450 Denier' rating might make you think.

It's an awning that will last for quite a few seasons (depending on UV degradation) - which, once again, purchasers have a right to expect for the price!)

It comes with just about everything you need - good quality rock pegs, rear steel poles, and pole padding that is held in place by a wide velcro strip. Vango also toss in a draught skirt and a wheel-arch cover which is fastened on using 'lever' type suction cups (like a sat-nav windscreen mount

These, however, were of no use to us as the caravan door opened against them, and the suction cup handle protruded too much and would have dented the door!

Buckle storm straps are also included - although it seemed a bit mean of Vango to only include two, when there are four buckles on the awning.

As far as design goes - well, to my eyes, Vango are *the* best looking air awnings out there. The side profile is angular, rather than arched, the tubes are very discreet (at least, externally) and the colours are a nice blend of grey, 'bluey-greeny' grey, and greyish fawn - obviously entirely subjective, but we loved it (and a few people commented on it)

Shortly after putting it up it began to rain ;) - and not long after that the wind began to pick up.

By this morning the wind had become a gale - and it was fascinating to see how the awning would monetarily buckle under the force of the wind, then pop back up again.

There were some really strong gusts - and I think a conventional frame might well have bent under the sheer force of the blasts.

As it was, the Vango kept bending and popping back - accompanied by an awful lot of 'creaking' noises as the tubes moved inside their outer covers.

When it was clear that the wind wasn't going to abate in time for us to pack up, we had the bite the bullet and take the awning down in the gale.

That was *much* easier than we feared. We removed all the pegs except for the rear corners, then deflated the tubes in sequence (just unscrewed the vales and the air rushed out with a ''pop')

The awning sank immediately to the floor, and it was simple to pull it back through the rail and bundle it into the bag. In better conditions I would have spent time putting those guy ropes neatly back into their velcro straps - but this was a matter of haste. ..

It was during the dismantling that we removed the three centre roof beams, and found that they made no noticeable difference to the way the awning withstood the wind - I doubt if we'll even bother with them next time.

All in all - a relatively expensive awning that is well made, and which stands up to winds exceptionally well.

Actually, one of the reasons we chose the Vango over the Kampa equivalent (apart from the nicer (in our eyes) design and colour was the fact that it didn't have a single inflation point and rigid interconnecting tubes like the Kampa.

Yes, the Kampa is more convenient - but when the awing was taking a buffeting from the wind I could see that had there been rigid pipes they would have been under a lot of stress.

The valves are only glued into position, and I believe that the rigid pipes are a potential weak spot. In normal conditions, of course, no problem - but in severe winds the constant movement could well weaken them at the point where they enter the air tubes.

That's just my own opinion, obviously.

I'm pretty sure that air awnings will be the future, and it will be interesting to see what manufacturers like Isabella come up with if they decide to enter the market.

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I think because the kampa awning has an "airframe" with all the tubes connected in one solid structure you will find that it doesn't "bend and pop" back into shape, mine has been up in 50+ gusts and although it flexes slightly when it takes the weight of the wind the movement is fairly minimal.

 

Both good awnings by the sound of it and definitely the future, just waiting for the first one to bring out a full awning and annexe now!

 

Be interesting to see how other folk have got on with the different brands in high winds.

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I think because the kampa awning has an "airframe" with all the tubes connected in one solid structure you will find that it doesn't "bend and pop" back into shape, mine has been up in 50+ gusts and although it flexes slightly when it takes the weight of the wind the movement is fairly minimal.

 

Both good awnings by the sound of it and definitely the future, just waiting for the first one to bring out a full awning and annexe now!

 

Be interesting to see how other folk have got on with the different brands in high winds.

 

 

Obviously I've no experience with the Kampa - and I don't want to give the impression that the Vango was sinking to its knees like a camel ;) - but, when the gusts belted it side on, the end beam did flex and pop back instantaneously.

 

Such was the fury of the wind I'f be very surprised if any awning remained impervious to it. - I was, actually, becoming convinced that the caravan, itself, would topple over - I was sitting on the loo, and though, *Just my luck! - it's going over and I'm like this" ;)

 

I think Mrs Eddie must have anchored it (but I dare not say so ;) )

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I'm normally a committed Kampa fan but I saw a Vango Varkal on site recently and was quite taken with it. I do like the idea of separate air pockets in case you get a leak. As you say these air awnings do seem to be the way ahead. We have some friends who recently bought an air tent ! They love it too. I wonder if air beds are integral. ..... ? :D

 

Edwin88 - do you have any pictures of your lovely new awning ?

 

I need reupholstery and new carpets first, then maybe an air awning. ...... ! :rolleyes:

2007 Bailey Series 5 Senator Arizona (4 berth, rear bathroom, side dinette) towed by a 57 Kia Sorento XS Auto with Kumho KL17 tyres, Reich Mover, Kampa Rally 390, Caravan Tyres : GT Radial Maxmiler CX 185/80 R14 102R.

 

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I'm normally a committed Kampa fan but I saw a Vango Varkal on site recently and was quite taken with it. I do like the idea of separate air pockets in case you get a leak. As you say these air awnings do seem to be the way ahead. We have some friends who recently bought an air tent ! They love it too. I wonder if air beds are integral. ..... ? :D

 

Edwin88 - do you have any pictures of your lovely new awning ?

 

I need reupholstery and new carpets first, then maybe an air awning. ...... ! :rolleyes:

 

 

Hi - no pictures, sadly - I fully intended to take some, then the weather turned nasty and other things seemed more important ;)

 

However, we're off for the BH, so I will definitely take some then - hopefully in calm conditions.

 

As for being the way ahead - current manufacturers are simply reinventing the wheel I remember the PTC (Pneumatic Tent Company) 'Igloo' from the mid 60's. These were a large square tent with a sewn in groundsheet, and four rubber tubes on each corner that rose to meet in the centre.

 

Inflation was via a car foot pump, and the tubes were very strong (I think you would have needed to really stab at them to puncture them)

 

I can still recall camping at Stratford upon Avon in 1967 with some friends, and seeing a PTC igloo flexing happily in the wind - in fact, that was the first thing that came to my mind when the Vango was doing the same thing ;)

 

Then the PTC company vanished, and it's taken forty years for the concept to reappear in the world of camping (although inflatable commercial structures have always been around)

 

I don't know what the people at PTC would have made of today's designs, though - they used tough rubber tubes, not plastic bags encased in nylon.

Edited by Eddiewin88
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