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3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Vehicle Awning

Even a small awning can provide enough protection from the sun, wind, and rain.
Even a small awning can provide enough protection from the sun, wind, and rain. (ARB/)

The experience of car camping, beach driving, and off-roading are all enhanced by extra shelter in the form of a vehicle awning. Similar to an RV or sun porch awning, the retractable fly furls or folds out of the way when not in use and deploys in minutes at your camp or picnic site. If you put a lot of miles on the road and break often to rest, cook, or just relax in the outdoors, a vehicle awning adds a whole new level of comfort, shelter, and privacy.

Coverage Area

A vehicle awning should be adjustable so you can angle it where you need the most protection.
A vehicle awning should be adjustable so you can angle it where you need the most protection. (Rhino Rack/)

Most vehicle awnings mount on the perimeter of a roof-rack system so that they remain aerodynamic during travel. But different models offer varying amounts of coverage ranging from 90 to 270 degrees. Some also have the option to attach one or more side shelters to partially or even fully enclose the awning against the elements.

Waterproofing

If you expect to encounter rain, make sure your vehicle awning is waterproof.
If you expect to encounter rain, make sure your vehicle awning is waterproof. (ARB/)

Some awning materials are marketed as waterproof, while others are not. If you live in an arid environment like the desert southwest, where shade is more important than protection from rain, having a waterproof fabric may not matter. In unexpected rainstorms, angle a non-waterproof awning downward to promote drainage and minimize leaking.

Fitting Your Vehicle

Try to find an awning with mounting hardware made specifically for your vehicle
Try to find an awning with mounting hardware made specifically for your vehicle (Thule/)

Roof awnings are not one-size fits all. Study the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine whether the awning you are considering will actually fit your vehicle. Also consider whether you have to purchase separate mounting hardware. Many products in the roof-rack and storage category call for components that are sold separately.

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