Exploring the UK in a campervan is a great way to connect to this beautiful country, independently and at your own pace.
One of the drawbacks, however, can be that sometimes you need just a little bit more space to spread out - particularly when the weather turns bad.
An awning is a popular addition to campervans, but just as with buying the right campervan insurance you’ll want to consider all the options before making the investment.
Our guide on how to choose the right awning for your campervan is the perfect place to start.
What are awnings and why would you need one?
An awning is any tent-like structure that campervan owners can use to provide some additional protection from rain showers, sun glare and sometimes chilly breezes.
They can be free-standing or attached to the campervan. Some awnings not only provide shelter but also an additional area for use as a relaxing sun lounge and extra sleeping space for guests or pets.
And if you’re an outdoor adventurer, they’re an invaluable place to store muddy clothes and footwear or sports equipment.
Just like buying the perfect campervan, choosing the right awning is all about what style of camping you like, your particular family requirements and what your vehicle can accommodate in terms of payload and storage space.
The large tent manufacturers produce awnings to suit all budgets – but don’t forget to consider specialist suppliers also.
Even more than motorhome owners, campervan enthusiasts will have the greatest need for an awning because of their lack of interior space. But they will also have the greatest limitations on storage.
What types of awning are there?
The first option to consider is the canopy awning. These can be temporarily or permanently fixed to the sides or roof of your vehicle.
Most permanent awnings are housed in a cassette on the roof or side of the vehicle and wound out manually via a cranked handle or a 12v motor.
They generally have a couple of support legs that fold down or inflate and are pegged when the canopy is fully extended.
There are some self-supporting models popular with disabled campers and those always on the move.
These are often fitted with a wind sensor that retracts the canopy automatically if the wind gets too strong.
At the top end of the canopy range, you can fit fabric walls to the side and front to enclose the space underneath. A permanent canopy will add weight to your campervan and will require specialist fitting.
Lightweight canopies can also be purchased as a lighter and cheaper option.
The big drawback of both these options is that you can’t leave them on site when you head off for the day.
If you want to leave some equipment at the site while you go off in your classic camper then consider a self-supporting drive-away awning.
With easy connection to an awning rail, you can simply slip it off and leave the structure behind ready for your return.
Such awnings give you perfect fully weatherproof access and a convenient place to take off dirty clothes and boots in comfort before entering your campervan – keeping the wet and mud outside.
As well as offering valuable extra dining space, accommodation and privacy while sheltering from the weather they’re also the ideal place to dump sandy beach gear ready for the next outing.
A helpful tip is to mark your van position with pegs or a ‘runway strip’ to ensure you repark in the same position when you return and need to re-connect your awning.
Whichever awning option you choose always remember to measure your van before you buy. You don’t want all that work to go to waste!
As will all things related to outdoor equipment, there are a host of optional extras to consider. From mesh screens to keep those pesky bugs out to even fitted carpets to provide some well-deserved home comfort.
If your awning comes with an integral groundsheet then a worthwhile investment is in a footprint sheet.
This will keep the groundsheet clean and can easily be wrapped up separately and washed when you get home.
This will cut down on that unwelcome musty smell when you unpack your awning for your next adventure. The footprint sheet also protects the groundsheet from becoming damaged on sharp stones.
To keep everyone comfy and warm inside then it’s worth considering how to keep the wind from blowing under your vehicle and into the awning. Draught skirts or inflatable barriers can easily be purchased for campervans to cut out draughts.
Risks for awnings
Awnings are at risk from a host of threats from adverse weather to theft. Follow these tips to keep your awning safe from harm.
- Purchase additional storm straps to improve stability in windy conditions.
- Keep your awning floor clean and protected with a footprint sheet.
- Have a range of pegs handy to ensure your awning stays secure whatever the terrain.
- Always clean your awning with a recommended cleaner or simply warm water and a soft brush. Never use household detergents as these can seriously affect waterproof coatings.
- Never leave a wet awning packed away. Damp conditions can cause deterioration in waterproof coatings, result in mildew and create bad smells.
- Have a go pitching your awning before your trip, checking all parts are present and undamaged.
- Purchase a small portable alarm system which can be clipped inside the awning and will sound if anyone opens the zip and enters without disarming the system.
If the worst does happen, then having campervan insurance from Motorhome Protect could save financial heartache.
Protect your vehicle with campervan insurance
Choosing campervan insurance from Motorhome Protect is the ideal way to protect your investment and get your next trip off to a stress-free start.
Using our panel of leading campervan insurers our specialist team will find you the bespoke cover to suit your needs.
Benefits of policies arranged through us can include:
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
Call Motorhome Protect to get a quote today.