Fast and light – our choice for driveaway awnings

There are lots of awnings out there for campervans and but many are designed for setting up for long holidays, giant families or for people who like to take along their living room furniture. What about those quick one- and two-day stops and something simple and light? Here’s our round-up of the best driveaway awnings we’ve found.

 

Though most of the ones 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.

Driveaway awning knowhow

J rail

  • 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!
  • The height is important. Check it will match your campervan/caravan roof height. Many manufacturers offer a choice.
  • 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.
  • 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 magnets.

    A figure of eight rail

  • Practise putting it up before you go camping with it for the first time!
  • Tarp and VW CampervanHave you got room to store the packed away awning in the van? If not, tarps can make great, simple shelters, or take along a small standalone pop-up tent or shelter.

Outdoor Revolution

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

Movelite T1

This one 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 too – 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. Don’t bother with the Jetstream electric pump, however – it’s not great and you’ll be able to find better.

  • Size: 300 x 300cm, cowl height 180-240cm and 240-290cm
  • Pack size: 80 x 50 x 42cm
  • Weight: 19.1kg
  • Price: From around £650

Movelite T2

This one is very similar but is aimed at quick stops, overnights and weekenders. There are three heights, including a lowline model for VW Transporter-size vehicles and 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. The T1 comes with Phoenix Mesh too. 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 cowl heights 180-220cm,220-255cm and 255-305cm
  • Pack size: 80 x 64 x 34cm
  • Weight: 19.5kg
  • Price: From around £550

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.

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

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.

The new and improved Sheltapod was only launched last year and is the baby of Julie Ritson. We’ve given this one a thorough testing and found it really useful for cooking in during some pretty bad Lake District weather.

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 VERY long poles.

The long poles make it a bit of a fight in a small space.

Julie says they’re not trying to compete with traditional gazebo or tunnel-style awnings, but are going for versatility and adaptability. You get a slightly smaller footprint because of the sloping wall, but the advantage of having a sunshelter and eating/cooking area in one.

  • Size: 230 x 200 x 180cm
  • Pack size: 84 x 24 x 22.5cm
  • Weight: 11.2kg
  • Price: Around £245

    Sheltapod attached to the wound-out awning on a VW campervan.


Olpro

For very affordable inflatable awnings, Olpro is a good choice. The downside is that their models are quite basic and they need to be fixed to the awning rail or pegged down with annoying straps that go over the top of your van. There is a magnetic driveaway kit available too for an extra £40. You can choose pole versions instead of the air if you prefer.

The Loopo Breeze 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 £300

The Cubo Breeze is pretty much the same, 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 £300

Decathlon

You don’t find cheaper than this!

We’ve heard good things from some VW campervan owners about the under-£150 Base Seconds Shelter. This isn’t actually an awning, but that probably makes it very versatile. It’s very light and pops up, so literally takes seconds, though you’ll add on some time for guying and fixing to the side of your van. It takes practice to fold it back up again, so watch a video before you try it for the first time!

  • Size: W225 x L225 x H190cm
  • Pack size: 85cm diameter disc, 10cm thick
  • Weight: 6.4kg
  • Price: Not available

The Arpenaz shelter could make an awning…only £80.

The Arpenaz Base Fresh Medium has a living area for up to eight (smallish) people. It’s free-standing and relatively easy to pitch, has two doors and a large mosquito net. The main door could make a sort-of link to your van with a bit of bodging. At £80, could be worth a go! There’s a large version (£140) with opening sides too. Sewn-in groundsheet might be an issue on some sites.

  • Size: W250 x L250 x H215cm
  • Pack size: 57 x 18 x 18
  • Weight: 7.7kg
  • Price: £80

The Air Seconds Base XL is another possibility and looks more like an awning. It’s all-in-one with a single inflation point and can be moved once pitched. There’s a bellows connection to adapt it from tent to van awning too.

  • Size: W250 x L250 x H205cm
  • Pack size: 60 x 28 x 28cm
  • Weight: 12.5kg
  • Price: £199

Outwell

Scenic Road 200

This is an option with an interesting porch 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 the 200SA, which is an inflatable. These awnings are some of the heaviest we’ve tried with a fairly big pack.

  • Size: W340 x L200 x H225cm (plus 90cm link area)
  • Pack size: 42 x 42 x 80cm
  • Weight: 21.5kg (23kg air)
  • Price: £420 (non-air) and around £1000 (air)

Outwell unattached driveaway Milestone Pace Air awning

Milestone Pace Air

This awning fits against the side of your van or campervan rather than attaching to it. We quite like the convenience and speed of that, plus an extended rain canopy gives you a bit of cover between van door and the tent itself. The front wall opens completely, which makes it lovely and airy in good weather and there are big, tinted windows. There’s an optional inner tent. Again, you can choose the Air model, which is the one we looked at, or a traditional pole version.

  • 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: £3oo (non-air), £620 (air)

Vango

Idris II

If you want space and light, the Idris II is perfect. It uses an Airspeed inflation system and has a detachable groundsheet for the main area. There are lots of well thought-out extras, like privacy curtains and light-hanging loops too. There are poles to prop open the canopy if you want air but more shelter. Low and high versions available to fit most vehicles/vans.

  • Size: W370 x L310 x H213
  • Pack size: 31 x 34 x 78cm
  • Weight: 15kg
  • Price: £470

Airhub Hexaway

What a nice shape! This is an awning that looks more like a gazebo than a tent (in fact, it’s based on their Airhub Hex shelter, but adds a campervan/caravan connecting area). It has the SkyTrack II® system, for hanging lanterns or storage pockets too It’s a biggish pack size, though, and doesn’t quite fit the criterion of lightweight.

  • Size: W390 x L410 x H240
  • Pack size: 40 x 42 x 70cm
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Price: £650

Kampa

Travel Pod Cross Air

Our favourite from the Kampa range, the Travel Pod Cross is another gazebo-shaped driveaway awning and 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 optiona

l annexe for one or both sides with an inner tent included. Cinnect 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.

  • Size: W290 x L360 x H220
  • Pack size: 33 x 33 x 78cm
  • Weight: 13.5kg
  • Price: £500

Travel Pod Mini

The Mini is a pole-based driveaway awning rather than an inflatable, but it’s small and quick to set up. A clip-in groundsheet and two-berth inner tent are included. The awning has large panoramic windows all round to let the light in and for a great view out – they all have roll-away blinds. Folds into a compact, oversized carry bag.

  • Size: W290 x L340 x H205
  • Pack size: 30 x 25 x 73cm
  • Weight: 15.4kg
  • Price: £250

Travel Pod Action Air

In three sizes for different vehicle heights, the Action Air has a clip-in groundsheet and a connecting tunnel with two doors. An inner tent with two berths is available too.

  • Size: W300 x L300 x H205
  • Pack size: 32 x 32 x 65cm
  • Weight: 13.5kg
  • Price: £550

Travel Pod Tailgater Air

If you’re camping in your car or need a rear-mounted awning, here’s the Tailgater. It’s a freestanding awning that attaches to your car with straps. There’s a pole version as well as an inflatable. There are more tailgate awnings in our article on how to camp in your car!

  • Size: W300 x L220 x H215 (non-Air H225)
  • Pack size: 27 x 27 x 74cm
  • Weight: 11.5kg (9kg non-Air)
  • Price: £250-£400

KHYAM

Their clever umbrella-style pop-up tents were always fantastic, so what about their awnings? The downside is really that most of them are quite large and not cheap. There are pole and sleeve and inflatables as well as the Rapidex system. prices range from around £250 for the pole and sleeve Driveaway compact (available in 200 and 300 cm). Top prices are around £800.

Motordome Tourer

A lovely-looking awning, again in that gazebo-style. Clip-in groundsheet and lots of light. Couldn’t be easier to put up.

  • Size: W255 x L255 x H215 cm
  • Pack size:105 x 24 x 24cm
  • Weight: 15.6kg
  • Price: £550

Driveaway Compact

Nice and neat, but with traditional pole and sleeve construction rather than Khyam’s quick system. However, it’s affordable and sturdy.

  • Size: W2oo x L200 x H200 (300 square version available)
  • Pack size:65 x 18 x 18 cm
  • Weight: 8 kg
  • Price: £150

Screendome

Singlehanded!

Up in seconds

This is the one our Campfire team member has chosen for their VW California Beach.It’s not an awning as such, but it is incredibly versatile and is up and down in 20 seconds…truly! Lots of head height, big windows and two full side doors, plus a sun canopy that can be attached to the side of your van using tarp clips and bungees (or another clever workaround of your choice!).

  • Size: W300 x L300 x H205 cm
  • Pack size: 102 x 21 x 21 cm
  • Weight: 9.5 kg
  • Price: £260

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

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One Comment

  1. Philip Hettiarachi

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

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