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Camper vans may be the ultimate outdoor exploration vehicle, offering the amenities one finds in larger motorhomes or camping trailers but with maneuverability closer to that of a passenger car. One drawback is they can get a little tight on the interior. Buying a camper van awning can be a great way to expand your living space without spending much money (at least in camper van terms). And you can find one at virtually every price point, from a simple sun shade to a full-on mobile habitat.
What to Look For When Buying a Camper Van Awning
Size: Manufacturers offer camper van awnings in different sizes. You want to make sure it’s compatible with your vehicle and extends out long enough to provide enough space for what you want to do outdoors. Camper vans can be tall. So adjustable, telescoping poles are an excellent feature to have.
Mounting Difficulty: How you plan to mount the tent is critical. Some awnings are fixed to the roof rack. Some are portable. You may be mounted to a different type of roof rack or the load bars on the vehicle and require a special adapter. Some awnings are designed to offer easy compatibility. Some even have tool-less setups. Others may require you to purchase an adapter.
Setup Difficulty: Like with a tent, you want to set up your awning with as little effort and time and as few people involved as possible. Ideally, you’d have an awning that can be set up within a few minutes and be most accomplished by one person.
Weather Protection: The more expensive awnings offer better quality material and waterproofing. If you are camping somewhere placid, a simple sun shade may do. But if you’re camping in areas with more wind and precipitation, you may want a more heavy-duty construction to withstand the elements.
Accessories: Some camper van awnings offer a range of accessories to customize your experience with features like opaque walls, wind and water protection or mosquito nets.
The Best Camper Van Awnings You Can Buy in 2022
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The Best Camper Van Awning to Get
Thule Hideaway Awning
- Hand crank for one-person setup
- Spring-tensioned arms for sturdy weather resistance
- Lightweight and corrosion resistant aluminum construction
- Can add Thule accessories
- Mounting adapters sold separately
- Expensive with cost around $1,000
The Thule Hideaway is a roof-mounted awning, designed specifically for camper vans like the Mercedes Sprinter. It’s strong enough to handle inclement weather with spring-tensioned arms, waterproof materials and welded seams.
Best Affordable Camper Van Awning
Front Runner Easy Out Awning
- Easily compatible with Front Runner racks and accessories
- Extendable support poles for use with taller vehicles
- Harder to set up with one person
As the name suggests, Front Runner’s Easy Out Awning installs in less than 60 seconds with two people. The support poles are extendable for use with taller vehicles. You can also add a range of helpful Front Runner accessories like a mosquito net.
Rhino Rack Batwing Awning
- 270-degree coverage
- Water resistant and UV-protective material
- Compatable with other racks.
- Offers both left and right hand models
- Weighs nearly 50 pounds
- Need to know whether you need a left or right hand model ahead of time
No more cramming everything underneath a small awning. Rhino Rack’s Batwing awning expands out to cover a 270-degree radius and offers up to 118 square feet of sun protection. It’s available with both left and right-hand models, depending on which side of the car you want to use.
- Tool-free installation system
- Can be used with a roof top tent
- PU coating offers some water resistance
- Won’t withstand heavy rainfall
The Yakima SlimShady lets you conserve your energy for your outdoor adventure. It offers easy installation with a tool-less system and is designed to roll out and prop up with ease once installed.
The Best Camper Van Awning Splurge
Dometic Rally Air Pro
- Single-point inflation
- Sets up in seconds with Quickpitch Guying system
- Wind and weather protection with Weathershield Pro double-coated polyster material
- Costs nearly $2,000
- May need accessories that don’t come included
The Dometic Rally Air Pro awning is an inflatable awning that dramatically expands your camper van’s living space. It’s also freestanding, so you can leave it in place at the campsite and still use your vehicle to explore.
Want to Buy a Camper Van? Here Are the Brands You Need to Know
Europeans and Aussies get many of the best camper vans. But there are still some great options you can buy in the United States.
ARB Awning with Light Sleeve
- Pre-installed light sleeve
- Waterproof and UV protected
- Telescoping legs for adjustable height
- Brackets not included for mounting
ARB’s awning is designed for a 4×4 adventure with a pre-installed light sleeve. It can extend out 8 feet from the side of the vehicle to provide ample shade and the legs are telescopic to offer an adjustable height.
Big Agnes Sand Wash Car Tarp
- Reflective guy lines for low light setup
- Additional fabric panel to block the wind
- Loops for hanging third party lights
- Not permanently mounted to the roof rack
- Lighting options sold separately
The Big Agnes Sand Wash sunshade is designed to set up quickly and create instant shade on the go. And it comes in at a very reasonable price point. It does come with a durable carry bag but is not meant to be permanently stored on the roof.
- Can be mounted directly to load bars
- Lockable hoods to prevent theft
- Two-year manufacturer warranty included
- Not optimal for wet weather
The Overcast is a basic lightweight offering from Thule that extends 6.5-feet and provides a respite from the sun. It’s compatible with most roof racks, though you can also mount it directly to load bars.
Hasika Versatility Teardrop Awning
- Very affordable
- Can be used on a wide range of vehicles, even boats
- Air vents allow upward drafts to pass through
- Weighs less than 10 pounds
- May not be optimal for inclement weather
Hasika’s Versatility Teardrop Awning is, as you might anticipate, versatile and teardrop-shaped. It’s a sunshade that can fit a wide range of vehicles and serve a range of purposes. And it’s not a major investment, coming in at a little over $100.
The Best Rooftop Tents You Can Buy
If you’ve always enjoyed the top bunk, you should invest in a rooftop tent.
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