Camper van awnings expand van space, here’s how
Camper van awnings can transform your basic campsite into a cozy, personal and highly functional space.
A few of the advantages of van awnings include
- Cooling the van by providing shade
- Creating a place to stay dry from rain, mist, lite snow…
- A place to set up camping chairs, cooking, eating or just relaxing
- Create a feeling of expanded space outside of, but connected to the van
- Add screens for a bug proof area for sleeping or just hanging out.
And there are a wide range of campervans awnings available of all types of vehicles.
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All the ways Camper Van Awnings keep you covered
Efficient, effective air conditioning continues to be the unicorn of campervan life. We tend to overlook how valuable basic shade can be in fighting the heat.
Since most of us do our traveling in the hotter months, shade alone can be reason enough to find the best awning for your vehicle.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I spend a lot of time on the coast. I’m always surprised how fog and mist can permeate clothing and dampen things when enjoying my morning coffee or evening meal.
Camper Van Awnings substantially reduce exposure to mist, light rain and fog while still allowing you to be in the open air. Some allow for protection from heavier weather.
Kids (young and old) love to sleep outdoors and the cover provided by an awning keeps the dew off, and ensures they’re close by during the nigh.
The covered space attached to the van provides a feeling of extended floor space, openness and freedom at meal time, while enjoying a novel or chatting with neighbors.
What are the types of camper awnings?
There are a variety of types of awnings available, each designed for a variety of needs and types of campervans.
How wide are camper van awnings?
This depends on the awning, and it’s a very important question because you need to buy the right width for your campervan.
Each of the products we’ve researched shows the full dimensions of the awning in the product description.
Make sure to carefully measure your van roof or roof rack before purchasing an awning.
Please see our “How to install a campervan awning” section, below for more details about finding the best awning for your van.
Basic sun shades
Light, easy to handle, tend to be lower in price and pack away in a bag. It’s a section of nylon or polyester that slides into and attaches to a rail to the roof of the van.
Sun shades are held up with poles, cord and pegs and they’ll fit almost any van type.
Shapes and features vary widely and you’ll find many types to fit your needs.
The simpler sun shade awnings for vans will not withstand any serious weather. Keep this in mind when planning your routes.
Slide out awnings
These are more substantial for greater weather protection and permanently mounted on your van. They come in a range of features from light and basic to super deluxe.
These include integrated supporting arms and poles. Slide out awnings tend to have durability features like rot resistance, wash-ability and rip/weather proof fabric.
Adjustable length, walls for sides and front are options. There’s lots of sizing and mounting variability for a wide range of van types.
Tent style, or drive away awning tents
We wrote about these at length. If you need more sleeping space, you’ll want to click here to read all about them. You might consider getting one of these and a simple bag type for flexibility. Or go all out and get the deluxe shade, too.
How to install camper van awnings
As usual, every van and awning installation will be different and you’ll need to find the best way to install the awning you choose on your particular van.
So this section is just one example of camper van awning installation on a Mercedes Sprinter Van.
We found a great Youtube channel that included a detailed video showing how to install a Fiamma camper awning on a Sprinter campervan.
The creator of this video did a great job of showing how to adjust the hardware for his van and install the Fiamma.
Here’s the link in case the video isn’t showing below.
Tips for installing a camper van awnings on your van
- First, make sure the width of the awning you choose is right for your van
- Search Google and Youtube for your van make and model and the awning you’re interested in to find forum and blog posts with specific details about your combo
- Contact awning manufacturers to make sure the awning you’re interested in will fit your van
- Take your time! If you get stuck on some mechanical issue, don’t plow ahead, take some time to learn how to do it right, obtain the best fools, as a more experienced builder…
- Don’t dawdle. Get the awning out of the box right away and make sure it’s going to fit your needs so you can return it if necessary.
Some recommended awnings for camper vans
Of course you’ll want to do your own reading of features and reviews on Amazon, but my suggested products are a great place to start.
Here’s a tip: The more features and fanciness, the more expensive, heavy and complex to mount your camper van awning will be.
Unless you’re spending a lot of time in one place, or opening and closing your awning frequently, you might find the mid-range versions to be sufficient for your campervan.
On the other hand the higher-end camper van awnings are often operable by one person, so if you’re solo, just want easy function, or you’ve got a high roof van such as a Sprinter or Promaster, you might take the plunge and get a full featured awning.
|The ARB 814301 is self-standing retractable van awning that can be attached to most roof racks and takes less than a minute to deploy. |
Bring it with you whenever you’re going on camping trips because it’s specifically engineered for harsh off-road conditions.
You won’t have to worry about the weather since it’s fully waterproof and UV protected.
This camper van awning has easy-to-follow instructions and comes with complete hardware such as stainless steel mounting, nuts, and bolts.
You can adjust the height depending on your preference as it comes with telescopic legs that can be secured by pegs and guy ropes.
The dimension of this awning is 49.21 x 82.67 inches, weighs about 26 pounds, and made of poly/cotton ripstop canvas.
For easy storage, you can use the heavy-duty nylon reinforced PVC bag that comes with the unit.
★ VanSage Top Pick
If you want to chill out, go to the beach, or go fishing with your buddies, the Tail Gator Sunshade is a must-have item for your Campervan.
It provides protection from the scorching heat of the sun or to avoid getting wet in the rain.
This van awning has spikes and weights that can be assembled on hard and soft surfaces.
Setting up is easy, simply attach the magnetic strip to the top of your van roof or edge and you’re good to go.
The Tailgator is available in blue and camo pattern that’s about 9 pounds and measures 32 x 10 x 10 inches.
Great for big families and it’s large enough to cover chairs, tables, and coolers.
The backbone of this sunshade uses flexible folding poles and it comes with built-in storage pouches for small items like keys, phones, etc.
|Going for a weekend getaway in your camper van is one of a few things you should do after work so you can unwind. |
Fortunately, Smittybilt has a new line of gear that can make your camping experience more enjoyable.
This rugged van awning can be easily attached to most standard roof racks.
It provides shade on hot sunny days with its UV-stabilized cover that can be set up in minutes.
It comes in coyote tan color and has two available sizes that you can choose from 6.5 or 8.2 feet. In calm weather conditions, this awning is self-standing.
Otherwise, you can use the stakes and ropes for securing the self-contained telescopic arms/legs.
For easy storage and transport, use the heavy-duty travel waterproof bag that’s included in the package.
★ VanSage Top Pick
It only takes 30 seconds to install this self-standing van awning that mounts easily on the side of most vehicles.
The size of this awning is 2000mm x 2500mm, which you might find small if you have a bigger camper van.
Before buying this product, make sure to measure the size of your vehicle. ARB awnings are good for rough conditions since it was designed with strengthened frames and durable materials.
This camper van awning is waterproof and offers a UVP 50+ rating, meaning it can protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
You also have an option to adjust the legs to your desired height so you can move comfortably. To secure the legs, use the guy ropes and pegs that are already included in the package.
Use the PVC bag to put away the tent and off you go to your next adventure.
|Whenever you go on camping trips, take Napier Sportz Cove Awning with you so you can have sun shelter and weather protection. |
It’s designed to fit any camper vans because the sleeve is universal.
This van awning is made of sturdy materials that will withstand rain, cold temperatures or harmful sun rays.
Aside from weather protection, it has a built-in storm flap for some added privacy.
This camper van awning also comes with a mesh bug screen door to protect you from annoying insects.
It’s crafted from polyester taffeta, lightweight, and it’s incredibly easy to set up.
You’ll also receive a lightweight carrying bag when purchasing this tent.
The product dimensions are 25 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches, large enough for multiple people to sit under.
★ VanSage Top Pick
With a variety of anchoring systems, it sets up easily and attaches to almost any sturdy structure.
MoonShade provides 9ft by 7ft coverage but packs down tight and weighs only 8 lbs, making breakdown and storage a breeze.
Size deployed 9ft × 7ft.
Campervan Awnings Recap
- Van awnings expand your van space and make for cozy, personalized campsites
- Create an outdoor space free of direct sunlight and drizzle
- Add an awning room for a bug free sitting or sleeping area
- Sun shades, slide out, tent/drive away… just a few of the awning types
- Make sure your chosen awning will fit your van
- Research products, manufactures and reviews in terms of your specific van to find the best awning for your van
- Take your time when installing a camper awning to get it right the first time
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