If you are planning your next camping adventure and don´t want to do it without the comfort of a spacious awning, you have certainly already started the -not quite easy- search for a suitable awning. Size, shape, material, price – what matters most? Self-supporting or not? Inflatable or with tent poles? In the following article we will provide some information and guidelines to help you through the search for your awning.
Price of the awning
For a lot of people it is unclear which price should be expected, when buying an awning. The price ranges from € 100 for the simplest to € 2,000 – € 3,000 for awnings with various functions, high-quality materials and accessories. With such a wide price range it is therefore important to ask yourself which functions and concrete needs the awning should fulfill.
Where to use the awning?
Before buying an awning, it is important to clarify the following questions:
- Which vehicle do you use for your camping trips? Are you travelling with a Van, a bus, a motor-home or your car? – the type of vehicle determines the size and type of the awning. Only a few awnings are as flexible as the GT Box and can be connected to many different types of vehicles.
- Place bounded or constantly on tour? Awnings especially differ in the easiness of the set-up process. I you are constantly on the go, you can save time and nerves by using an inflatable awning, which is easily set-up and dismantled. Those who are constantly on the same place, can considered the purchase of a fix pavilion.
- How much space is available for the transport? What should be the maximum weight? Also the pack size, the weight and the handling can constitute a decisive criterion. What is the maximum pack size to ensure that there is still enough space for the remaining baggage? What is the maximum weight, so that the loading capacity is not exceeded? The lighter it is, the easier is the handling when it comes to loading and unloading the tent.
- Do you want to use the awning as living room, small kitchen-awning or universal storage space? Depending on the desired field of usage, the type of awning may differ.
Types of Awnings
When thinking about the field of usage of the awning, one must also think about the suitable type of the awning. Hereafter we will give some information to different versions of awnings.
- Self-supporting vs. non-self-supporting awning: Self supporting awnings can be used without being fixed and are therefore “vehicle-independent”. They offer a great flexibility, as they can be left on the camp-site, without being dismantled, when driving away with the vehicle. By means of a zipper system the awning can be connected and disconnected with the car. Non-self-supporting awnings can not be used without being fixed and have to be constantly connected to the vehicle. As they are made of less material (for example there is no need of a back wall) and they provide less comfort, they are usually cheaper than self supporting awnings. Instead of speaking of self-supporting or non-self-supporting awnings, ii is also often referred to as complete or partial tent.
- Inflatable awning vs. awning with tent poles: Inflatable awnings are the future in the camping market: in most of the cases, they are self-supporting and come with less weight and a smaller pack size than conventional awnings. Moreover they are characterized by the simple handling. Inflatable tents consist of a two-layer air hose system, which is similar to a bicycle hose, and are inflated with an electric pump. With the possibility of attaching them to the ground with guy ropes, they offer just as much support as conventional awnings with poles. The simple set-up saves time, as the poles are missing. It also saves space and weight in the vehicle. Despite their disadvantages in terms of weight, construction and transport, awnings with poles continue to enjoy popularity , as they are considered robust and provide good support. Poles are available in various designs, most of them are made from aluminium. However, there are also cheaper fibreglass poles, extra robust carbon poles or galvanised steel poles.
Material & coating of the awnings
The material and the coating of the awning have big influence on the price, as high-quality materials are expensive. The following awning materials are used in different weather conditions and situations:
- Cotton: As robust and breathable material, cotteon is -among others- from Ten Cate and is processed to be resistant to rot and mould
- PolyCotton: Some tent manufacturers use a blended fabric of polyester and cotton, whereas polyester is providing greater strength. As the name suggests, PolyCotton combines the properties of polyester and cotton.
- 100% Polyester: Polyster is a synthetically produced fibre that is versatile and less demanding than cotton. Fabrics made of 100% polyester are light and robust, but hardly breathable.
- PVC-coated fabric: Double-coated tent fabric is relatively heavy. Thanks to PVC, it is extra robust and windproof.
- Acrylate coating serves as an additional water repellent and is extra easy-care.
Most of our GentleTent awnings are made of TenCate material, which makes them waterproof, durable and easy to maintain.
How to fix the awning?
If you are thinking of buying an awning, you should know in advance, which mounting alternatives are provided by the own vehicle.
- Piping rail: Tent rails can be found in a lot of caravans. The tent fabric is pulled into the piping rail and can be additionally fixed with guy ropes, if necessary. If your vehicle doesn´t have a piping rail, it can be installed easily.
- Marquee: Alternatively the awning can be placed on the marquee and fixed to the ground with guy ropes.
Some awnings are delivered with suction cups or velcro fastener.
By using the car connection, which is included in the scope of delivery, GentleTent-awnings can be fixed to the vehicle via the marquee as well as via the piping rail.
Which size is suitable for me?
The size of the awning is determined differently, depending on the type of awning.
- Partial Tent (non-self-supporting awning): Partial tents are only connected to a part of the car – in most of the cases to the roof. To determine the required size, it is best to use a string to measure the length of the piping rail at the vehicle´s roof.
- Complete Tent (self-supporting awning): When choosing the right size of a complete tent, the circulation length has to be determined. This can also be done by using a string. The dimension are measured starting at the ground at the rear of the vehicle, pulling the string through the piping rail till the ground of the front part of the vehicle. The vehicle should stand on horizontal ground.
Make sure that the dimensions can change, when installing a raised tent floor and that the under-body-height of the vehicle can decrease, when fully loaded.
- Alternatively a lot of websites provide databases with the information to the circulation lengths of the vehicles, so that it doesn´t have to be measured by yourself.
As different producers have different tables of sizes, it is recommendable to reconcile the size with the corresponding size-table.
Buying an awning: The best tips at a glance
Here we give a last overview what should be considered when buying an awning:
Articles you could also be interested in:
- Clean your awning: This is how it´s done!
- Disassembly Manual for GT Home awnings
- How to furnish your camping awning?
- Awning or marquee: What is better for me?
- Maintenance of the awning : The best tips & care instructions