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Old 10-04-2013, 08:25 AM   #1
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When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

I had a Class C with an awning so Im aware of the many advantages a permanent RV awning attached to a vehicle offers; making them almost an RV standard. Im also aware that like most things they are not perfect and have disadvantages too.

In the context of how well they work specifically with Class Bs because of their smaller vehicle size (and in both high-roof and penthouse-type) Id like to know what your experiences are. And if you have experience with portable canopies and or large umbrellas to provide shade at campsites Id like to hear your take on these options as well.

I like awnings a lot, but some of the disadvantages I found included:
1) Trees on tight sites can get in way of opening awning
2) If sun is shining under awning you cant relocate it
3) They have to be taken down to move vehicle
4) They are on vehicle whether needed or not
5) They are more expensive, add weight, noise, drag, etc..

Granted some of these are very minor, but you get the point. They are tradeoffs. I guess the question is, considering everything, are you glad you got an awning and would you do it again? Do you use it as much as you expected? Im also curious if anyone has both an awning and canopy/umbrella if they use one more than the other and why.

Ive used both with different vehicles and Im undecided whether itd be worth it for a new Class B that would see more use as an on-the-road vehicle than one that would spend days at a given campsite.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:04 AM   #2
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

If you can only have one...

If you remote camp, it's comfortable to hang out next to your vehicle and therfore a vehicle mounted awning makes sense. If you camp a lot in developed campgrounds, a vehicle mounted awning means you're more or less sitting along the campground road or your campsite parking spot; not a great situation.

I think each users circumstances dictate the best solution to the situation. For me, I've been on plenty of trips where both would have been utilized.

Additional random thoughts;
- both suck in the wind
- canopies are easily replaceable and generally much cheaper
- awnings are more likely to damage your vehicle if a lot of wind picks up unexpectedly
- canopies can go tumbling and damage your vehicle or other vehicles
- canopies need ot be staked down or weighted down at the canopy legs
- vehicle mounted awnings provide some degree of shelter for your vehicle's entry area
- vehicle mounted awnings need to be securely mounted
- vehicle mounted awnings don't take up valuable storage space
- vehicle moutned awnings are easier to deploy (especially by yourself) than pop-up canopies
- I have a pop-up canopy (in sad shape thanks to high winds) but I'm also looking for the right vehicle mounted awning for my teardrop

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Old 10-04-2013, 10:20 AM   #3
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoHauler
.....cut.......

- vehicle moutned awnings are easier to deploy (especially by yourself) than pop-up canopies

......cut......
Great points. Completely agree although my experience is limited to larger (and older style) awning of a Class C versus canopies erected for sporting events and other uses (not camping). Can't compare against newest awnings, or smaller ones used on Class Bs.

Because canopies are indeed harder to set up, and since my wife and I travel alone most of the time and don't need that much space, we tried a large 11-ft umbrella thinking it would be easier to set up. I can set it up by myself very easily, and can fold it down in seconds when not in use so wind won't affect it. We normally fold it down at night too just to be safe.

The main disadvantages are that it's a little smaller and the support is in the center. On the plus side it can be tilted so shade can be greater in early morning or late afternoon. Like other options it solves some problems while compromising on others. That's what makes comparison tough for me.
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:42 PM   #4
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

For the people that use a pop up, do you set it up next to your SMB as if it were an awning?
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:30 PM   #5
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

I installed an Fiamma awning on our Sprinter PH not for so much for sun shade, mostly for Southcentral AK's mild but often rainy summer weather to extend the dry living space (we usually cook outside with a camp kitchen set up) and to be able to leave the van sliding door open and not get the floor and adjacent seating wet. Free standing awnings seemed to deflect some water back on the van and open door.

We also notice that in popular casual non defined camp sites like on the Homer spit beach that having the van awning deployed on holiday weekends keeps the lumbering large RV land yachts from rudely squeezing in close to you while you are away. Leaving some chairs out near the van don't seem to keep them from crowding up to the chairs, but the awning does cause it s right at their cab window height.

We sometimes bring a space hogging to stow free standing folding awning (flee market stall type) to cover a park picnic table but it is not really a rain proof fabric, it drips on you after awhile and you have to watch the ponding water. The last one broke the frame during a night of heavy rain showers.
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Old 10-04-2013, 06:43 PM   #6
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

I used an awning on a VW and hated it. Useless in wind, expensive, fiddly, and too small to be of much use. The shade from the van and penthouse was often enough.

I like a separate sun shelter; mine is a three legged deal that packs up small. As noted, sitting right next to the van is often sub- optimal. The portables are way more versatile, especially in conjunction with a table. And they often provide more usable shade since you don't have a van attached.

For the wet I prefer blue tarps. Cheap, easy, adaptable. I put some eyebolts into the Yakima mounts on my penthouse roof and attach them that way. Or sometimes a big sheet of shade cloth.
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Old 10-04-2013, 11:35 PM   #7
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

I use a 9'X11 ' camo tarp. Three C clamps on my rain gutter through the eyelets,two expandable tent poles from walmart and two ropes staked or with weights. In my profile is my wesite link. 10 minutes up and down. When I leave camp I just drop them on the ground and re attach when we get back. Very cheap. Like me.
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Old 10-04-2013, 11:44 PM   #8
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

I have a similar solution to stanw909's. I modified some Westy brackets to attach the tarp to. Easy up and down with minimal storage space.
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:37 AM   #9
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

And it 's a $9 tarp so if something happens,who cares? I also have a smaller one for the rear as well.
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:59 AM   #10
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Re: When are awnings not the best solution for shade?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikracer
For the people that use a pop up, do you set it up next to your SMB as if it were an awning?
For us it depends on site and weather conditions, but not normally. Mostly I move it around as I want during the day if we have a campsite with a concrete pad -- or other hard surface. Other times I leave it in one place for the entire stay.

I mostly set our large umbrella next to the van if we have limited space or want to shade the van itself. More often I set it a little farther away.

The biggest down side I can think of to using a large patio-style umbrella versus a canopy is that it has to have a heavy base to keep it upright, particularly if there is a some wind. Rather than carry a dedicated base, I use our plastic cargo container to support the umbrella. That works for us because it can also serve as an extra table (like coffee table) in the shade, plus I can then just slide it around as needed. Moving from one place to another on concrete pad just takes a light tug.
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