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Fast and light – our choice for driveaway awnings and shelters

There are lots of awnings out there for campervans and caravans. Many, though, are designed to set up for long holidays, big families or for people who like to take along their living room furniture.

What about something simpler and lighter? A driveaway awning or versatile tent thingy that’s ideal for short stops? That might work with a car? Something easy and light?

Here’s our round-up of the best awnings we’ve found. And some interesting alternatives! 

 

Airhub Hex

How about a versatile gazebo shelter instead of an awning? They tend to be cheaper (though not always). We like the Vango Airhub Hex with three large side doors and six mesh windows. Detachable groundsheet and pump included. 340 x 390 x 240cm and around  £360.

Lots more of this type of thing in our multipurpose shelter article.

Latest update: May 2020

Campervan awning knowhow

A driveaway awning or shelter is great for keeping your camping pitch marked while you’re out for the day; for a dining room, extra bedroom, pets, kids or even a shower!

 

Though most of the awnings we’ve looked at are designed for campervans and small- to medium-sized motorhomes, many also work well with vans and cars. A growing number of people are realising they can camp comfortably with some clever finessing of an ordinary car. Have a look at our article on car camping.

Awning size and packability

Using the Unigear tarp as a shelter gives you lots of options.

The height is important. Check it will match your campervan/caravan roof height. Many manufacturers offer a choice of heights.

And pack size is VERY important. A big awning gives you lots of extra space, but it also takes up space when it’s packed for travel.

If your van or car is already stuffed to the roof, forget the awning and take a tarp instead. These are so versatile, cheap and packable. They can make great, simple shelters. Or…take along a small standalone pop-up tent or shelter.

Do you need a groundsheet?

We prefer not because you can put hot pans straight on the floor and not worry about keeping things clean. Less to carry too. Get an optional, clip-in groundsheet if needs be. 

Tips for awnings

  • Mark your wheel position when you drive off for the day. Otherwise, you’ll have a job lining yourself up again. We like Bev Bottomley’s tip – use tent pegs to pin down two small plant pots in the ground at the centre of both awning-side wheels.
  • C-shape rail

  • Fittings vary – some attach to an existing wind-out awning or awning channel using beading. Some attach to roof bars. And some have magnets

J rail

  • Check your rail (J or C shape), check the rail size. A figure of eight fitting makes attaching and detaching quicker and easier, but can come loose in a strong wind.
  • If you have an existing wind-out awning (the Fiamma, for example), you may need a 4mm attachment (most are 6mm). Some wind-outs have to be opened a little before you can find the C channel underneath. Some wind-outs have no channel at all, so you’ll need to find fixing points at the ends, for example, or try with neodymium magnets.

Cinch Hub

An awning-tent like no other (well, a bit like Decathlon’s discontinued pop-up)

Campervan owners looking for an instant, light and affordable shelter to use in place of an awning should have a look at the Cinch Hub

 
It’s big enough for around five people and takes seconds to pop up and away. You can even add solar power with a special roof port with a power pocket to charge all your gadgets. Although the panel’s not included in the basic price, four LED lights are included.
 
There’s a removable  groundsheet, four entrances to allow for different uses and for connecting to a van and a generous bag to keep it in. Our only issue was the step-over at the bottom, but that does keep out rain and muck when you use the groundsheet.

  • Floor size: 230 x 230cm
  • Height: 196cm
  • Pack size: 86cm round
  • Weight: 8.6kg
  • Price: Around £200-£270

Sheltapod

Now here’s an idea. The Sheltapod is an awning, tent and sunshelter all in one. It will fit on any vehicle (including cars) from 170cm to 240cm.

 

It’s based on a roll-up system so that you can be totally enclosed, as in a tent, or open to the air and sunshine. It has aluminium poles and comes with privacy panels, window blinds, a door panel, a groundsheet and an inner tent included.

Cooking inside an awning makes things a lot easier when it’s wet and windy. Good old Cadac cooker shines again!

All those panels and bits and pieces do make it a bit faffy, but putting it up is fairly quick. You need a large area to be able to handle the long poles.

‘The company has been bought by a bigger tent manufacturer  with a view to selling worldwide. Stock is limited at the moment. Check out their website,

  • Size: 230 x 200 x 180cm
  • Pack size: 84 x 24 x 22.5cm
  • Weight: 11.2kg
  • Price: From £195 and 10% off for Campfire Mag readers with code CAMPFIRE10

Olpro awnings

For very affordable inflatable awnings, Olpro is a good choice.  All are available as poled awnings too and there are lots of accessories.

We like their new colours for 2020 and also their neatness. Of course, they also do bigger awnings for longer stays too.

Loopo Breeze

This awning is suitable for vehicles between 190 and 240cm tall. There’s a sewn-in groundsheet and back doors so you can avoid going through the awning to get into the van. Apart from that, there’s nothing fancy except a claimed 10-minute pitch time. Extras include an inner tent and carpet.

  • Size: W310 x L370 x H215cm
  • Pack size: 82 x 37 x 37cm
  • Weight: 15kg
  • Price: From around £350

Cubo Breeze

Very similar to the Loopo, but slightly smaller and lighter. It doesn’t have the van-side doors, which would be a deal-breaker for us.

  • Size: W310 x L310 x H190cm
  • Pack size: 82 x 37 x 37cm
  • Weight: 16kg
  • Price: From around £280

Uno Breeze

The smallest in the line-up, the Uno has a nice front canopy to protect you from drips. Downside for us is the sewn-in groundsheet, though.

  • Size: W330 x L220 x H215cm. Fits campervans between a height of 190cm and 240cm
  • Pack size: 82 x 37 x 37cm
  • Weight: 15kg
  • Price: From around £300

Affordable Skandika awnings

This Skandika Pitea awning costs under £160. Yep! It’s also lightweight, easy to pack and has some of the easiest instructions we’ve seen.

Only downside for us is the sewn-in groundsheet.

  • Size: 300 x 300 x 225cm
  • Pack size: 68 x 24 x 24cm
  • Weight: 9.3kg
  • Price: Around £160

There’s also a great tailgate tent for SUVs, vans or car-campers. Around £170 and with lovely big windows and standalone/driveaway ability.

Sunncamp’s simple awning

This Sunncamp Swift awning is super-simple, but it gives you shelter and light. Plus it only costs around £100. 

  • Size: 260 x 260cm
  • Pack size: 77 x 15cm
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Price: Around £105

Outsunny shelter tent

This is a great find, not least because it’s big, simple and costs under £140.

This five-person shelter tent pops into position using a hydraulic, umbrella-type system and has great windows with mesh, plus an entrance canopy. Makes a great campervan awning too.

  • Size: 240 x 240 x 195cm
  • Weight: 6.1kg
  • Pack size: Not stated
  • Price: Around £135

Kampa-Dometic awnings

Yep, Kampa now comes under the Dometic brand, just like the fridges!

They make smart-looking but affordable awnings. There are air and poled options and a range of sizes. These are our favourites for ease and simplicity. 

Because of the change of brand, you’ll find some bargains under the former Kampa-only name. The £350 Travel Pod Mini, for example, which is no longer available, used to be one of our top picks. You can still find them on Amazon and it pays to have a little look around there at the other models too.

Kampa Cross Air

Our favourite from the Kampa range, the Cross Air has been updated, but keeps its gazebo-shape. It’s a neat little thing.

The vertical walls give you good headroom, there’s a clip-in groundsheet and privacy blinds. There’s also an optional annexe for one or both sides with an inner tent included. Connect it to your van using the pole and clamp, beading or guy line method. The rear tunnel comes with adjusting straps to take up any slack.

There’s a tailgate version too.

  • Pack size: 76 x 36 x 36 cm
  • Weight: 18kg
  • Price: Around £550

Action Air

The Action Air VW has a clip-in groundsheet and a connecting tunnel with two doors. An inner tent with two berths is available too.

We like the brightness, but also the option to pull across the privacy blinds. 

There’s a £300 pole and sleeve version available too.

  • Pack size: 70 x 35 x 35cm
  • Weight: 13.5kg
  • Price: From around £450

Trip Air and poled awnings

A neat and simple awning with poled or air versions available. Fairly lightweight too. Clip-in groundsheet and doors in the connecting tunnel. We like it for the price.

  • Pack size: 27 x 27 x 65cm (air)
  • Weight: 10kg
  • Price: From around £300.

Motion Air VW awning

The Motion Air VW gives you a great view. And there are two sizes to choose from. The air beams all have their own valves, which makes taking it down a little less stressful, and we like the quick guying system. It’s quite heavy, though.

Outdoor Revolution

Outdoor Revolution claim their Movelite T range is the most versatile available. They’re certainly good to look at. The air versions have just one inflation point and a super-fast valve for quick installation. A telescopic steel pole for the roof adds extra stability.

 

Movelite T1

This awning has a zipped-in, removable polyester groundsheet, and the option of a breathable groundsheet instead (some sites insist on these to protect their grass). We also like the sound of Phoenix Mesh – a smart material that can repair any snags by gently manipulating and moving the mesh around the damaged area.

The design is clever – two zipped doors where the awning meets the campervan or caravan mean you can get access to your vehicle without traipsing through the awning itself. Windows are tinted to stop glare and give you privacy and there are two height options for the cowl that attaches to your van. 

There’s even an electric hook-up point so you can power your fridge in the awning.

Extras include an annexe, inner tents, magnetic attachment kits and lights.

Size: 300 x 300cm, a choice of heights for small van to large motorhomes.

There’s a sub-£400 tailgate version too, by the way.

Turismo awnings

Available as large or extra-large, the Turismo is still a compact-looking driveaway awning. It’s one of the best for being lightweight and affordable, and will fit heights of 180-240cm

  • Pack size: 76 x 32 x 26cm (standard)
  • Weight: 10.5kg
  • Price: Around £300

Movelite T2

The T2 is very similar but is aimed at quick stops, overnights and weekenders. There are various heights, including a lowline model for VW Transporter-size vehicles and a midline for Transit-sized campervans. Inflation is easy with two air frame tubes and a single Velcro in-roof support tube for stability.

There’s a sewn-in groundsheet rather than zip-in. As with the T1, windows are tinted and there’s an electric point. Integral zip-in curtains can be rolled back during the day. The inflatable ‘eyebrow’ canopy on the side door prevents rain water from getting in and there are two rear doors.

Extras include a stone protection groundsheet, magnetic driveaway strip, inner tents and even a mosquito killing light!

  • Size: 310 x 250cm, and a range of heights to fit most vans/motorhomes
  • Pack size:82 x 47 x 39cm
  • Weight: 19.5kg
  • Price: From around £500

The Cayman awnings

A wide range of smaller, neater awnings that work as shelters and utility tents, the Cayman series of awnings mostly cost under £400. The one above is around £250. 

The unusual Cayman Pursuit is designed to work between two vans, but we think it has more to offer than that. It works as a freestanding gazebo, has lots of window light (plus LED lights for night!) and is quick to inflate.

14kg and a pack size of 78 x 41 x 34cm. Around £300.

Outhouse Handi

Best for versatility, this can work alongside a van, or as a standalone utility tent. Plus, it’s super-cheap.

Vango awnings

Another good choice for affordable awnings and with some lightweight models too. Not always the most stunning looking, but very good value for money.

Vango Kela V awning

Available in tall for motorhomes, standard and low (the VW size), the Kela awning can be attached in four different ways to make driving away and reattaching as simple as possible.

We like the skylight windows, but are not so keen on the sewn-in groundsheet. I know some people prefer that, but we like the versatility of being able to remove it and maybe even leave it at home to reduce the weight.

Airbeam construction, plus tension straps for stability.

  • Pack size: 78 x 34 x 32cm (low)
  • Weight: 18kg (12.3 without accessories)
  • Price: From around £570. See the Lichfield section for the identical awning nearly £200 cheaper!

Lichfield lookalikes for MUCH cheaper

Can you spot any difference apart from colour? Not surprising if you can’t. This is the identical awning called the Lichfield California – available in VW size for around £400!

Vango Faros awning

Nice and compact, nice and affordable. This is probably our favourite from Vango, although we do tend to like light and basic over big and sophisticated. Each to his own, eh!

The Faros is a pole and sleeve awning rather than inflatable, but it still comes in tall and VW-sized versions.

  • Pack size: 75 x 26 x 26cm (low)
  • Weight: 9.9kg (5.5kg without accessories)
  • Price: From around £250

Vango Tolga VW awning

New for 2020, the Tolga awning is a squat tunnel shape that looks rather fetching. Another inflatable with some sophisticated additions, such as lighting points and a condensation-minimiser.

 

We like the open walkway between the van and the tent area, which means it’s easy to access. It’s also fairly lightweight (without the accessories anyway).

  • Pack size: 75 x 35 x 36cm
  • Weight: 17.6kg (12kg without accessories)
  • Price: From around £550.

Outwell awnings

 Outwell’s awnings aren’t the cheapest or the lightest, but you can choose from a variety of dome and tunnel styles.

Milestone awnings

The front wall of the Dash awnings opens completely, which makes it lovely and airy in good weather and there are big, tinted windows.

We’ve chosen the 2018 inflatable Milestone Pace Air and the poled Milestone Dash for their simplicity

Outwell driveaway Milestone Pace Air awning

  • Size: W280 x L300 x H220
  • Pack size: 30 x 30 x 70 (non-air) and 35 x 35 x 85cm (air)
  • Weight: 13kg (non-air), 15kg (air)
  • Price: From around £330 (non-air) and from £400 (air)

The Milestone Dash in its pole and sleeve version

  • Size: W260 x L260 x H220
  • Pack size: 25 x 36 x 78 (non-air) and 44 x 41 x 85cm (air)
  • Weight: 11.9kg (non-air), 14.7kg (air)
  • Price: From around £330 (poled) and from £550 (air)

The best prices we’ve found for Outwell awnings are at Newquay Camping on Ebay and LeisureShop on Ebay. It’s worth looking for last year’s models too if you’re after a bargain.

 
Do check the Outwell website if you need to know more, but prices are often MUCH cheaper elsewhere. They have, I’m afraid, refused to work with us since we gave a bad review to one of their products many years ago! Hmmm.

Scenic Road 200

An interesting tunnel shape for the Scenic Road 200 from Outwell

This is an option with an unusual shape that’ll fit at a height of between 180 and 205cm. The front canopy is a nice touch for rainy days. The 200 has a traditional pole structure with a fibreglass roof pole and steel leg, or you can opt for air versions in a range of sizes and connection heights. These awnings are some of the heaviest we’ve tried.

  • Size: W340 x L200 x H225cm (plus 90cm link area)
  • Pack size: 42 x 42 x 80cm
  • Weight: 21.5kg (23kg air)
  • Price: From £390 (non-air) and around £1,000 (air)

The Newburg – new for 2020

There are two sizes of Outwell’s new Newburg that we’d recommend. Both are inflatable and have fibreglass poles for the handy canopy. (There will also be poled versions at a later date).

We like the simple design and the ease of access. There are also options for how you connect – either to the roof rails or using a beading. They’ll fit van heights of 175-200cm.

  • Size: 300 x 350 x 210cm (260) and 250 x 260 x 210 (160)
  • Pack size: 86 x 42 x 38cm (160) and 86 x 45 x 43cm (260)
  • Weight: 12.5kg and 16.7kg
  • Price: From £550 and £790.

Use a tent porch extension – simple and cheap

Many tent manufacturers make add-on porches and extensions for their tents. They often work really well as simple awnings.

Choose between open porch-style shelters or extensions with closing doors to make more of an all-weather living space. If you’re handy, you can adapt the extension joining section to fit into awning rails, using a sewn-in bar or loops/bungees.

Outwell Canopies

A lightweight alternative to an awning, but with a bit if side screening, this is the £130 Outwell touring canopy for campervans.

Vango Woburn

Less than £100 and it closes up to protect you from the weather. This Vango extension should do the job of a more expensive awning.

Pull-out awning? The simplest campervan shelter

If you don’t already have a pull-out awning on the side of your campervan, here’s a VERY affordable option.

The Wild Earth sun canopy costs around £70. Just slide the 6mm Keder beading into the awning rail, C channel figure of 8 strip on your van or caravan.

Waterproof, lightweight (2.8kg) and supplied in a bag with steel poles and pegs, it’ll give you a 7.2sqm shelter. 

 

Also have a look at our article on multipurpose shelters…you might just find something versatile enough to work as an awning!

Give me shelter…and make it multi-purpose

 

Fishing umbrellas for shelter?

One of our readers told us they used a fishing brolly instead of a tarp. It’s a great tip.

 

We like the Bison brolly as it’s very tall (around £25 with side panel), and the Ultra fishing umbrella for its zip-on walls and good coverage (around £30).

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3 Comments

  1. Sue Singleton

    Can anyone recommend a stable awning that will fit a vw caddy. Are there any purpose built for small vans? ED: Have a look at our article on car camping. There are tailgate awnings that might do the trick. Otherwise, many of the all-purpose shelter tents would work well and be very versatile.

  2. Alison Marshall

    Really helpful article to help me decide on what awning to buy, its taken me so long just to narrow it down. Thanks again

  3. Philip Hettiarachi

    Loved your drive away awning article May 2018. Very informative.
    Ed: That’s really kind! Many thanks, Phil

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