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? Something simple and light? Here’s our round-up of the best awnings we’ve found.

 

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.


Campervan awning knowhow

Awning size and packability

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!

Tarp and VW Campervan

Using the £30 Decathlon Fresh tarp (UV protection) as a shelter.

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 magnets.

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.

You’ll find some nice older Outdoor Revolution models on Amazon quite cheaply, but Ebay seems to have the best prices for new. Be careful you don’t accidentally buy just an add-on annexe rather than the whole awning!

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 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, a choice of heights for small van to large motorhomes.
  • Pack size: 82 x 47 x 43cm
  • Weight: 22kg
  • Price: From around £700

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 a range of heights to fit most vans/motorhomes
  • Pack size:82 x 47 x 39cm
  • Weight: 19.5kg
  • Price: From around £600

An unusual option, the 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 78x41x34cm. Best prices for new seem to be on Ebay – around £500.

Outdoor Revolution have a huge range of both inflatable and pole awnings. We also liked the neat and versatile Cayman awnings, especially the Pursuit.


Sheltapod

Now here’s an idea. The Sheltapod is (or was) 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.

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 company was sold last year, so you might have to find one on Ebay for the time-being, but they may be relaunched. We’ll let you know.

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

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.

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 £300

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 £250

Decathlon

You don’t find cheaper than this! These awnings are really tents, but they’re light, affordable and quick to put up.

The Arpenaz shelters could make good awnings…only £80 and £120.

Arpenaz Base Fresh Medium

This tent/awning 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!

  • Size: W250 x L250 x H235cm
  • Pack size: 57 x 18 x 18
  • Weight: 7.7kg
  • Price: £80

The larger version of the Arpenaz Base

Arpenaz Fresh Large

  • Size: W300 x L300 x H215cm
  • Pack size:65 x 25 x 25
  • Weight: 12kg
  • Price: £120

Air Seconds Base XL

Another great 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 attach it to your van.

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

Outwell

An interesting tunnel shape for the Scenic Road range from Outwell

Scenic Road 200

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: £390 (non-air) and around £1,000 (air)

Outwell unattached driveaway Milestone Pace Air awning

Milestone range

These awnings fit 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.

There’s a bewildering range of nine awnings – the Nap (with sleeping annexe), Air, Pace, Pro Air etc. First, work out whether you need a tall connection or a campervan height. Then, decide whether you want pole and sleeve or inflatable. We’ve chosen the inflatable Milestone Pace Air.

  • 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 £350 (non-air) to £950 (air)

This is the L version of the touring canopy from Outwell

Touring Canopy

Here’s another low-key option. A canopy in a choice of three sizes. The Touring Canopy ranges in price from around £160 to £220. The large and extra-large have the BIG advantage of sides almost to ground level to shelter you from the wind.


Vango

Airhub Hexaway

What a nice shape! These awnings look more like gazebos than tents (in fact, they’re based on Vango’s Airhub Hex shelter, but adds a campervan/caravan connecting area). They have 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.

There are three options – the original Hexaway, and a Hexaway II with improved fabric in low and high versions.

  • Size: W390 x L410 x H240
  • Pack size: 40 x 42 x 70cm
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Price: £500-£650

Kampa

Travel Pod Cross Air

Our favourite from the Kampa range, the Travel Pod Cross 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.

  • Size: W290 x L360 x H220 (three connection height options)
  • Pack size: 33 x 33 x 65cm
  • Weight: 13.5kg
  • Price: Around £550 – the best prices we’ve found are on Ebay and there are both the 2018 and the 2019 models available new.

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: From around £450

Travel Pod Tailgater

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

Motordome Tourer with Quick Erect poles.

Khyam’s 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. There are pole and sleeve and inflatables as well as the Quick Erect system. prices range from around £300 for the pole and sleeve Kamper Compact to £580 for the smart QE Dub Hub. Lots of bigger and more expensive beasts too!

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: W300 x L300 x H215 cm
  • Pack size:105 x 24 x 24cm
  • Weight: 15.6kg
  • Price: £500

Kamper Compact

The Kamper Compact is a bit heavy.

Nice and neat (though still heavy). Traditional pole and sleeve construction rather than Khyam’s quick system. However, it’s affordable and sturdy.

  • Size: W2oo x L200 x H250
  • Pack size: 75 x 39 x 28 cm
  • Weight: 18.3 kg
  • Price: £300

The Screenhub

Versatile but heavy. You can’t install anything as quickly as this, though. Khyam Screenhub

You could also consider Khyam’s neat and simple Screenhub. These are quick erect gazebos, but they make great awnings and offer more versatility too (garden party, anyone?).

A couple of the team used the older Screendome over a summer of sun and rain for their VW California Beach. They loved how fast it was to install – 20 seconds! 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!).

The Screenhub becomes an awning in this Dub Hub version.

The Screenhub offers all these advantages, but less condensation and better design all round. You can add bedrooms, remove the side panels or clip in a groundsheet. It’s actually our top choice for versatility, but is a bit big when packed and one of the heaviest we’ve tried.

    • Size: W300 x L300 x H210 cm
    • Pack size: 108 x 32 x 32 cm
    • Weight: 22kg
    • Price: £400

There’s also a ‘proper’ driveaway awning version that connects to the side of the van. The Motordome Dub Hub costs around £550.


Zempire

We’ve found Zempire fairly recently and really rate their tents, so we also looked at their Roadie Pro awnings. These are inflatable and at the top of the price bracket, but very smart indeed. There are two sizes and both can be attached to vehicles between 190 and 250cm tall. There are optional annexe bedrooms and other accessories too. Shame about the sewn-in groundsheet.

  • Size: W300 x L300 x H300 cm (Roadie Pro 4)
  • Pack size: 74 x 30 x 44 cm
  • Weight: 18kg
  • Price: £500-£800 (Winfields had the best price at the time of writing).

 


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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3 Comments

  1. 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

  2. Mike Backhouse

    For value the..
    Quechua Air Seconds Base XL Drive Away Awning is hard to beat at £199 for an airbeam with built in groundsheet.
    ED: That is a good one. It’s not strictly a driveaway awning, though, but a good workaround. Do remember that some campsites don’t allow sewn-in groundsheets because they damage the grass.

  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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