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Old 06-10-2018, 01:51 PM   #1
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To awning, or not to awning?

I'm planning for the upcoming build of my first campervan. I'm waffling on whether or not to include an awning, and would like your thoughts. I can see how it might be useful, but since I haven't done any of this sort of travel, I don't really know how useful. Meanwhile, they do seem rather ugly to me when I see them on a van. And I'm not trying to be total stealth mode, but they do kind of scream "RV". Maybe carrying a portable shade structure in the van would be sufficient? What do you all think?

(Side note: the 2019 Sprinter, which seems to be what I'll end up with, has a 360 camera system. I'm not sure where the right side camera is, but if an awning would interfere with that system, I definitely wouldn't get the awning.)

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Old 06-10-2018, 04:20 PM   #2
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You'll have to check out if it blocks the camera.

A lot depends how and where you camp. At first I never used the awning much. Most of the time I just used a tarp and made a lean-to close to the fire. I do a lot of base camp type camping and the awning is something I have to put away before hitting the trails. With the lean-to setup, returning to camp only required me to pop the top. But on the go camping where I made nightly stops, the ease of deploying/stowing my awning made it one of my favorite pieces of equipment while traveling. In summer you can set up your van so the awning helps shade the side of the vehicle. In the winter I use 3 lightweight nylon tarps to enclose the sides and setup a propane fire. It works pretty well in anything but brisk winds and cuts out the cold while sitting sipping a adult beverage. I usually stake it out and guy it if I'm planning to leave it out while sleeping. High winds can come up at any time & could cause body damage depending how it's mounted so you might want to factor that in as well.
Overall I'm happy with it.
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Old 06-10-2018, 05:34 PM   #3
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We got an awning under the assumption that we'd use it during rainy weather (a frequent concern around here), getting some fresh air rather than being cooped up in the van. The operating instructions, however, claim that it's only for sun, not rain nor snow nor wind nor gloom of night. Oops, skip that last one, that's for postal couriers.

We're ignoring that recommendation, though, and simply making sure one side is lower than the other so it doesn't collect a lot of water. Even so, we haven't used it a lot. At established campsites, it's rare that the parking spot is conducive to deploying the awning, and in mild weather, we'd rather just set up the camp chairs out in the open. Maybe in hot summer dispersed camping it'll be a lot more useful, we'll see.

DaveB, I like that winter enclosed room set-up! We'll have to try that.
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Old 06-10-2018, 06:33 PM   #4
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I too have been on the fence about getting an awning but finally decided against it, for two reasons, PIA deployment and lack of places to use it. I too have a tarp system for the extremely rare occasions (twice in 3.5 yrs).
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Old 06-10-2018, 07:12 PM   #5
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PIA deployment? Not the Fiamma.
Do not use in the rain? Not the Fiamma.

We use ours quite often and especially if it is raining since it allows us to leave the side doors open.
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Old 06-10-2018, 09:15 PM   #6
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I've been using these for a few years....

..but recently went to the dark side during the last Fiamma group buy. I'm camping in flagstaff right now with my shiny new awning but it's been incredibly windy all weekend, so I haven't risked deployment.

..and I still have the other awnings in the van......the convenience of the Fiamma will be hard to beat.
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Old 06-10-2018, 09:26 PM   #7
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When we are staying in one spot for a few days we use tarps for shade and rain protection. If we are moving every day then we do not set them up. Just try to park so the van body and top provide the shade. We also have a non Fiama awning that we never use. It is difficult to setup.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:41 AM   #8
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We camp mainly in the forest. The van gets parked where it's level but that may not be the best lounging location. In a paved campsite the best lounging is never next to the van. Many times we move our lounge around to stay in shade. The wind also blows unpredictably so we wouldn't leave an awning up while gone from camp. The final issue with an awning is the certainty I would scrape it off on a tree branch.

With all that said, it sure would be nice to have an easy erect porch awning when it's raining.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:54 AM   #9
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Definitely these awnings are more attractive in some parts of North America than in others.

In the West (especially SoCal....and Southwest...) where the sun is consistent, unflinching (and seemingly brighter/hotter than anywhere else in the US....) --- IMHO an awning is an absolute/non-negotiable ***must-have.***

As rad as it is to hang out inside the van....the main point of going someplace beautiful with the van is to experience that place OUTDOORS....and it's nice to be able to always comfortably sit outside with some cool shade under the awning. Taking in the desert landscape with a cool drink.....while camped out like a happy salamander under the awning's shade at pretty sublime.

Having the awning deployed keeps the temperatures inside the van much cooler as well. (You can leave doors open and it keeps sun from hitting the interior.)

I can see how having an awning wouldn't be quite as important if we lived in New England or the Midwest, where there's more beautiful cool/cloudy days (I mean that, I really miss having impressive clouds and more frequent "weather")....or anywhere in general that it's more naturally green and shaded/wooded.
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Old 06-13-2018, 02:13 PM   #10
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I have camped with an EzUp and now my Fiamma (actually mines a Faux Fiamma). Advantage EzUp? You can leave it in camp to cover whatever you left for the day.

But I prefer the Fiamma as it does not take up any storage space. One of my buddies has the aluminum cased ARB, which requires two people to setup and take down. I use a drill with a J-hook chucked in it to run my Fiamma in and out. I can setup in 2 minutes without help as I pause to walk the legs out to their fully open spots. Even quicker if I have help.

We do a mix of dispersed camping and campsite camping. While the daytime shade is greatly appreciated here in SoCal, it may be the night LED lighting placement which I find the most helpful. I have two rows of LED, one inner and one outer that are switched separately. It makes a great area to place a table under and do our cooking.

We each have our own reasons for what we pick. You can't go wrong whatever you pick. An awning is an easy upgrade if you decide not to go with one now. Likewise, there's always someone looking for an awning if you decide you wasted your money. Good luck!
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