The Complete Guide to Choosing a Campervan Awning

April 26, 2022 in Tips for Owners and Maintenance & appliances

Investing in an awning for your campervan or motorhome is a great way of increasing space. In fact, it can more than double your pitch area or even serve as an extra room if you choose the right design. Awnings give you additional privacy and extra storage space for bikes, surfboards and muddy shoes and they are a welcome shelter from the rain, wind or even the sun (it happens!). 

Gone are the days when awnings require hours of your valuable holiday time and endless patience to put up and take down. Today’s versions are surprisingly lightweight and can be set up in minutes. They come in a variety of attractive shapes and designs and, depending on the fabric you choose, are also quick to dry and easy to maintain. 

So, why not be the envy of your fellow campers and treat yourself to a mobile canopy for your vehicle? From selecting the right type of awning for your motorhome to choosing the most durable fabrics, here is your complete guide to choosing a campervan awning. 

Goboony Campervan Awning Motorhome Canopy H2 Camper

How to decide which is the best campervan awning for you

Before you start looking at the available options, take a moment to answer the following questions. This will help you narrow your search and ensure your campervan awning ticks all the important boxes. 

  1. What do you want to use your awning for? For example, will it be primarily for shelter for your group, storing gear, or creating extra space? 
  2. What is the maximum height and length you can have for your awning, based on your vehicle dimensions? If you’re not sure how to do this, take a look at this video guide to measuring your motorhome for an awning.
  3. Are there any other considerations you need to make for the depth of your awning? Bearing in mind that some campsites and caravan clubs have restrictions on sizes or charge more for larger awnings. 
  4. Is the awning mainly for summer use or all year round? How much protection will you need from the elements?
  5. What will you be storing under the campervan canopy and how much space will you need? Work out the length, width and height of your accumulated belongings and then add a bit more, just in case. Keep in mind that rain comes from all angles so you might want to factor in some wriggle room so items don’t need to be stored right up to the edge. 
  6. How much extra weight are you happy to add to your campervan? Full awnings can weigh 50kg and more, though most are considerably lighter. 
  7. How will you store the awning when it isn’t being used? If space is at a premium you might want to consider a roll-out awning rather than an inflatable awning, for example. 
  8. What kind of structure would suit you and your campervan? If you do a lot of touring you might prefer a model that is easy to put up and take down. If you’re likely to be in one spot for longer then you could opt for something more substantial. 
  9. How many people will be on hand to help with the awning? Modern awnings are pretty easy to assemble once you’ve had a few practice runs. Though, you don’t want to find yourself on your own, grappling with handfuls of poles in a headwind!

Goboony Campervan Awning Motorhome Canopy H2 Camper

Choosing the right fabric for your campervan awning 

Selecting the best fabric for your awning is an important part of the process. Anyone who has been camping will appreciate the benefits of quick-drying material! Plus, it’s a good idea to choose something that is robust enough to withstand strong winds and rain and that protects against UV light. If you are thinking of investing in a full-cover awning you may want to consider buying an insulated model.

Most motorhome awnings are made from polyester or acrylic though some older products are available in natural fibres like cotton. One thing you’ll definitely want from your awning fabric is durability and water resistance, so synthetics could be a better option. 

As a lightweight fabric, polyester cloth is good for storage and for easy set-up. However, if you intend to use your awning regularly consider opting for something a little more robust like synthetic polyester with vinyl laminate, PVC or acrylic coating. These coatings add a valuable layer of water resistance, strength and durability which will more than offset the extra weight you’re dealing with. 

Getting confused with the jargon? Take a look at this glossary of awning and tent fabrics.

Types of motorhome awnings available

1. Full awnings

As the name suggests, these motorhome canopies fit along the full length of the vehicle and project between 2m and 3.5m from the side of the motorhome. Full awnings are usually a completely enclosed space but you can still get plenty of natural light through the windows. 

Full awnings would suit motorhome owners who:

  • Don’t intend to move around very much (set up can take longer than other models). 
  • Aren’t concerned about extra weight in their vehicle or have additional towing capacity
  • Have a minimum of two people willing to help set up and pack up the awning. 

2. Air/Inflatable awnings

Air or inflatable awnings consist of a rail fitting and tubes that you pump air into. These awnings are pretty straightforward to set up, though it can take time and a bit of fiddling to feed the awning through the rail. Once the awning is in place, you simply inflate each beam and you’re good to go. It’s worth bearing in mind that some models come with single inflation points and others require each beam to be inflated individually which will add to the time it takes to erect and take down. 

Top tip: As with any inflatable product, tears can occur so make sure you have a repair kit handy. If you get stuck mending your canopy, check out this guide to fixing an air awning  

Air/Inflatable awnings would suit motorhome owners who:

  • Want an awning that is relatively simple to erect and only requires a couple of hands on deck. 
  • Might be visiting windy places (these models are flexible so tend to fare well in higher wind speeds)
  • Are happy to spend a bit more money. 
  • Are able to take a bit of extra weight on board (air awnings tend to be heavier than pole models). 

3. Pole awnings

Pole awnings are a long-established fixture on UK campsites and are thought of as the most traditional model. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t a good option for the modern traveller. The first few times you assemble a pole awning could be a challenge but once you get the hang of it they can be considerably quicker to set up than an air awning - and are usually cheaper too. 

It’s always important to invest in a quality awning, and in this case doubly so. Paying a bit extra for IXL fibreglass poles and - as mentioned above - a good quality fabric will be 100% worth it in the long run. 

Pole awnings would suit motorhome owners who:

  • Want to keep additional onboard weight to a minimum
  • Have at least one extra person to help set up and pack up
  • Will be generally avoiding sites with high winds or strong gusts. Poles can break under pressure and warranties don’t usually cover breakages. 

Goboony Campervan Awning Motorhome Canopy H2 Camper

4. Roll-out awnings

Roll-out awnings do exactly what they say on the tin. They fit snugly into the awning rail and roll out to their full extent. They are then secured and positioned with poles and/or guides, depending on the design. If you’re looking for an airy space with a bit of shelter from the elements, roll-out awnings could be just the ticket. 

Roll-out awnings would suit motorhome owners who:

  • Don’t require privacy or all-round shelter from inclement weather
  • Will require protection from the sun
  • Want to keep storage space and onboard weight to a minimum
  • Would prefer something simple to set up and take down 

We hope these tips have helped you on your journey to finding your perfect awning. If you want to offset the cost of your new canopy why not hire out your motorhome to trusted Goboony customers? Find out more.