Camping means basking in the fun and excitement that the outdoors bring.
An awning for your caravan makes complete sense when the sun is beating down on you or the elements are starting to make their presence felt.
Most caravans come fitted with an external awning, which shields the vehicle as well as allows you to relax and have fun while staying protected from the sun and rain.
There are various considerations to make when getting a new caravan awning. These include material, size and intent or purpose.
Let’s have a closer look at these factors as well as five caravan awnings on the market that you might find suitable for your all-Aussie caravan.
Types of Awnings for Your Camping Adventure
Here are the various types of caravan awnings available on the market for your needs.
This is designed to attach to your caravan via the full length of the awning rail.
The process creates a room that more than doubles the living area inside the caravan while protecting from the elements.
The depth of full awnings typically range from 2 metres to 3.5 metres.
A potential downside to this type is the size and weight, particularly with the use of steel poles. A full awning, for instance, can weigh over 50 kilograms!
This attaches to the awning rail at the roof level. The side of the RV holds the end panels through vertical poles and foam-filled padding.
Porch awnings can be almost the same width as full awnings. Generally they are quicker to set up and lighter to transport.
The space might be a little less, but this isn’t likely to be a problem if you’re travelling alone or with few people onboard.
A porch awning is popular for its versatility and the wide range of models available. You can also fit it to your motorhome if it has a suitable rail to take the roof beading.
The depth can range from 1.8m to 2.5m.
This is a cross between the first two awning types, requiring a full awning rail typically provided by your caravan.
Here, the roof as well as one side (may be the front or rear depending on the design) are situated in the awning rail while the other side is attached to your caravan via a pole and padding.
The advantage of combi awnings is in the improved weather seal compared to a porch awning.
However, one downside is lacking the versatility of moving the awning back and forth to clear a window or locker.
This is also why fewer combi awnings are created on the market.
If owning one interests you, you may purchase a full awning that’s a smaller size than your RV. then you get a combi conversion kit to complete the job. A number of manufacturers sell this kit.
This increasingly popular type ditches conventional poles in favour of inflatable tubes, a technology otherwise known as an air tube.
One key advantage to this is fast pitching and putting it away, as well as being generally lighter than awnings with steel poles.
Inflatable awnings are usually all-in-one so everything is packed and moved together, which can be tougher to feed into your awning rail.
However, they are less likely to cause damage to your caravan during storms, and there’s no danger of poles falling out and hurting kids.
Ideal as extra bedrooms or for storing bulky items such as bicycles, these awnings offer more internal space from the zip-out sides.
It’s worth noting, however, that you should check your intended pitch: is it big enough to accommodate the annex? This is more important if you own a full awning.
Intended to stay erect without needing vehicle support, this type is made for motorhomes as well as campervans.
There are different ways to attach it to your caravan, each designed to protect from the weather.
A simple technique is to use straps going over the roof of the vehicle, anchoring them to the ground on the other side.
Also known as a “safari room,” these canopies are popular for the ease of using them. You can easily create enclosed spaces by combining it with front and side panels.
The storage housing of the canopy may be rigid and come in the form of a bag with access negotiated through a zip.
During windy weather, though, great care should be observed to prevent harm and damage.
From the name itself, these awnings are created for continual use over longer periods of time, but can also be used for seasonal pitching such as by campsite staff.
Now that we’ve discussed a few of the types of awnings for camping, let’s proceed to the various parts and accessories of caravan awnings and build a familiarity around them.
How to Clean Your Rear Awning Tent
Expect your caravan awning to get grubby over time, especially when left standing for months at a time.
Cleaning and maintaining your awning, including reproofing efforts, will keep it working well for years.
For starters, there are a number of tools you need to clean your awning. These include warm water, a bucket, cloths or sponges, soft brush, towel and a long reach brush.
It’s ideal to do the cleaning on a dry, warm day.
It’s best to do this at the end of a touring holiday. Of course, visiting your caravan from time to time to wipe down stains and dirt on the awning is highly recommended as well.
It’s best to clean your awning on site, while it’s still attached to your caravan. This allows you to get to the awning roof without setting it up on the floor.
Under less friendly conditions, take out the panels and clean them at home. Lay them down on a tarpaulin piece if possible.
Here are some general steps for cleaning your awning.
Step 1: Remove curtains
Remove these from your awning and clean separately.
Step 2: Remove panels
Using warm water and a soft cloth, clean the panels individually.
Use a light cleaner to remove light stains and mud.
During seasonal pitching, you can do this whilst the panels remain on the awning. Wipe down with warm water as well as a light cleaner.
Step 3: Clean the awning roof
While the awning is still in the rail, let the roof drop down against the caravan. Clean it down with warm water and cloth, or ideally a soft long-handed brush if you’ve got one.
For stubborn stains, you may opt for a more abrasive cleaner. Common offenders include birdlime, food grease, tree sap and maybe some thick mud.
Brush over the stain and then damper with water and a wet brush. Put the cleaner onto the stain and proceed to brush.
Step 4: Rinse, wipe and dry
Wipe the specialist cleaner away with warm water to get rid of any remaining chemicals on your awning material.
Next, dry the awning using a towel or simply leave it to dry on a fine day.
While drying, clean the poles and pegs; scrape off any extra mud. Using warm water and a soft brush, wash them down for a nice clean finish.
Step 5: Pack it away
Once clean and dry, pack your awning away for your next camping trip.
Do I Need to Reproof My Rear Awnings?
This is one commonly asked question after cleaning: Do you need to reproof your awning?
The answer is yes only if you have done an extensive clean or used an abrasive cleaner on the awning fabric. The reason is that these cleaners will begin to take off the waterproof coating that your awning is made with.
So how do you do it?
Prior to reproofing, make sure your awning is clean and dry.
A specialist reproofing spray that suits your awning fabric is recommended. Spray it on the canvas and let it dry.
This reproofing spray can work both on the outside and inside of the caravan awning.
Recommended: Best Awning for Your Camping
Here are five awnings available on the market and you might consider the best awning for your needs and preferences.
Allshield 4x4 Awning
Made for 4WD vehicles, it features a caravan fabric that’s able to cool down the temperature in the shade and can stay sturdy enough to withstand natural elements.
What this means: a cozy, relaxed time under your own awning.
Installation is somewhat convenient and setup doesn’t entail a lot of effort. Just pull out the awning and use the guy ropes and supporting poles to erect the structure.
Allshield 4x4 awning starts at $285.
Find 4WD awning products here.
Carefree Fiesta Roll Out Awning
With a range of sizes and features, this awning is a sure hit among campers and caravanners.
The roll out awning comes with LED light, weather-proofing for UV protection and vinyl protector to shield users from the weather.
The size can vary from 3.05m to 6.4m, and it extends out up to 2.36m depending on the chosen size.
You can get the Carefree Fiesta Roll Out Awning for $550 to $900. Cons: It doesn’t come with arms, which cost upwards of $400.
Find this side awning here.
Fiamma F45 S Awning
Fiamma is deemed a market leader in awnings. An Italian brand known for its style and quality, Fiamma boasts of the F45 S series, or rollout awnings that come in a lineup of sizes.
Get an awning as small as 1.68m, gradually progressing to 4.7m. This will be a good fit for small to midsize caravans, with potential to extend to 1m to 2.5m depending on the size.
Some salient features: with LED lighting, waterproof, UV resistant and practically effective in most of Australia’s weather conditions.
You can choose from five colours, so this is a point for style flexibility for your van.
While the smallest one starts at about $800 and is undeniably among the more expensive awnings, this Fiamma car awning comes with a one-year warranty (excluding water damage) and is known for its top quality.
Find the product here.
Dometic 9000 Caravan Rollout Awning
A premium offering in the rollout awning space, this one comes from a manufacturer with a strong reputation in caravan gear and equipment.
As a highly durable brand, Dometic offers a complete range.
If you’re a fan of the Dometic 8500 model, think of it for the Dometic 9000 but with thick-grade vinyl on both sides. The arms are enhanced for the awning through an integrated cast iron locking mechanism.
Get a mix of performance, durability as well as aesthetic appeal with cost starting at $1,469.
Find Dometic RV awnings here.
Camper Room Awning Walls
An innovative take on awnings, this can be used on any wind-up camper.
The camper room is made up of a rollout bag awning attached to the camper via a sail rack, which also accommodates the use of a full annex or walls. Then an anti-flap kit prevents the caravan awning from flapping.
This comfortable home away from home starts at $999.
Discover the product here.
Rhino Rack Batwing Awning
Another all-new caravan awning is the Batwing, touted to be packed with style as well as function.
Some of its top features include 270 degrees of shade, 11sqm of coverage and a heavy duty material that's water and mould resistant.
This caravan awning material is also said to be tested and rated to UPF 50+ for maximum sun protection.
Your favorite best caravan awning accessories, from side walls to tents, are also compatible with this Rhino Rack awning, answering for increased coverage.
Explore this awning here.
Bonus: How to Repair Awning Hardware Like Mounting Brackets
It's a joy to be able to extend your living space on your camping or caravan adventure through the magic of a retractable awning or something you can set up with a handy mounting kit.
Yet during windy conditions, even the best awning can be prone to hardware damage.
With sudden gusts of wind, awning components can get excess pressure. They might not break right away, but the effect can build up over time.
You can easily get awning spare parts online or in stores and they are fairly easy to replace. Awning spare parts from Fiamma, Dometic, Carefree and other brands are stocked by many official retailers.
Top tip: clean the arms to remove any debris that may get in the way of the operation.
Hose down the channels; if needed, wait until they dry and apply a small amount of dry silicone spray inside the channels and joints. This way, they can glide like they’re brand-new!
Discover our guide to the best awnings for your 4WD for next time when you're exploring the great wide outdoors!