Words by Jess Fogarty Photographs supplied.
Whether you’re baking in the Kalahari, or bathing in a tropical thunderstorm, either situation requires one of life’s most vital survival tools: shelter.
When it comes to having a roof over your head, few camping accessories can beat the ease and speed of a well-designed awning. But, with so many products to choose from, it’s not easy to know which awning is right for you. So, to make life easier, we’ve compiled an awning buyers’ guide to simplify the decision-making process. But, before we continue, let’s look at the questions you should ask before buying an awning…
WHAT ELSE WILL YOU NEED?
In many cases, you’ll need a full-sized roof-rack before you can fit an awning. These days, some awnings sport elaborate designs that are relatively bulky, so you’ll need a sturdy platform in order to mount such an awning.
WHERE SHOULD I MOUNT MY AWNING?
There are no set rules about mounting an awning, but most people choose to fit their awning on the passenger side of their 4×4. Doing so allows you to pull to the side of the road and erect the awning over the verge and not in the road itself.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY AWNING BE?
Your awning’s bag should never exceed the length of your roofrack. This will ensure that your awning pushes through bushes and branches, rather than acting as a gathering arm that wedges foliage between your roofrack and awning bag.
WHY NOT BUY A GAZEBO INSTEAD?
Gazebos are generally cheaper than awnings; they’re also self-supporting and don’t require a roofrack as a mount. And you can erect your gazebo in a different location to that of your 4×4. However, the obvious downside to a gazebo is its bulky volume and cumbersome operation. In other words, it’s an issue of space and convenience, two areas where an awning usually comes out tops.
FRONT RUNNER: Modular Awning
The Front Runner Modular Awning is one of the lightest and largest awnings on the market. The Modular Awning’s simple and non-permanent mounting straps allow you to mount the awning to any roofrack or rail system with maximum ease.
The Front Runner Modular Awning uses five aluminium poles for support, and an extra pole to create a stand-alone awning that can be erected away from your vehicle.
The compact carry bag, which stores the awning’s poles, guy ropes, ground stakes and the awning itself, can be stored on your 4×4’s roofrack or packed in your boot.
The Modular Awning is gable-shaped for optimum water runoff, and is made from Poly Oxford Nylon – a strong, lightweight, breathable, rot-resistant, waterproof, PVC coated, heavy-duty fabric.
ALU-CAB: 270° Shadow Awn
The Shadow Awn creates a great deal of shade, spanning 270° around the side and rear of your 4×4. The awning’s mounting and hinged points are made from stainless-steel for durability and longevity, while the swing-out arms are made from boxed aluminium for strength and lightness.
The awning’s fabric is Tencate, which is an imported German material that boasts an Aluminised Acrylic coating. This feature allows the Shadow Awn to reflect sunlight and make its shaded portions 5°C cooler than normal canvas awnings.
The awning also includes fixing straps that can be used to stiffen the arms in adverse weather conditions.
The Shadow Awn sports a variety of mounting kits so that it can be fastened to a wide range of roofracks.
EEZI AWN: Bat 270°
The Bat 270° is quick and easy to set up, thanks to its spring-loaded mechanism. The awning is made from top-notch materials, and is compatible with a wide range of vehicles.
The Bat 270° is comprised of anodised aluminium rafter arms, complete with adjustable support legs, stainless steel catches and a PVC awning material that is 100% waterproof.
Although the awning is super quick to set up, two pairs of hands are needed to ensure that the awning slides evenly in and out of its rollers.
The Bat 270° not only can be bolted onto any regular basket roofrack or load-bar system, but it can also be installed on any gutter-roof vehicle – thanks to special brackets.
The Wildearth’s frame is made from heavy-duty aluminium legs that are self-standing and retractable. The awning’s neat bag can be attached to a roofrack, or to the Wildearth tent.
The awning can be set up in 30 seconds, singlehandedly, making it convenient for those quick road-side coffee breaks.