A Buying Guide to Waterproof Side Awning

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Weatherproof Side Awning Buying Guide

A side awning is a type of shelter that attaches to the side of a vehicle to provide shade while being outdoors. Many types of vehicles include or can be fitted with a side awning, including RVs (recreational vehicles), 4x4s, trucks and SUVs (sport utility vehicles). When shopping for a side awning, consider the two main categories: Open-sided awnings are good for light use and moderate protection against the elements for recreational or road-side stops. Enclosed awnings are better for heavy duty camping as they offer fuller protection from the elements and insects.
 

Open-Sided Awnings

Open-sided awnings extend past the top of a vehicle to create a shaded overhang.
The least expensive and most low-tech is the bag awning. Bag awnings are generally used for smaller vehicles, cover a smaller area and are lightweight. All of the components of a bag awning collapse and fold into a bundle or bag, which can then remain on the vehicle or is detached and stored when breaking camp. When set up, bag awnings are supported by poles in the corners, in the middle, or both.
Retractable awnings are more expensive, often easier to set up and are viable for larger rigs such as RVs. The awning rests rolled up inside a hard case and unfurls to rest on support poles. Some retractable awnings can operate only partially unfurled, when space is limited or obstacles such as tree limbs are in the way. There are manual and motorised retractable awnings. Motorised are more expensive and more prone to malfunction, although they are easier to operate.
Suppliers of open-sided awnings often sell accessories, such as mosquito netting. Some open-sided awnings come with tent kits, which attach to an awning to create walls or even entire rooms. End panels enclose the sides of an awning. Drop panels roll down over the front.
 

Enclosed Awnings

Enclosed awnings offer protection from the elements and a place to sleep while camping. There are almost unlimited variations.
A side tent attaches to a vehicle just like a bag or retractable awning, but is meant to stay in place for the entirety of the camping trip. It incorporates the side of the vehicle as one of its walls, and allows access to the vehicle’s entrance by passage through the tent. A side tent is especially useful for camper vans and other vehicles with cramped quarters, as they add an entire room’s worth of extra living space.
Another type of enclosure is the roof top tent. A roof top tent is a good idea for camping in the bush because it keeps campers up off the ground while sleeping, away from dangerous animals and insects. Roof top tents are available in a variety of configurations, and many come with room extensions or walls which reach to the ground and create a second enclosure or awning.
 

Manufacturers

When shopping for a side awning or tent, look for brands manufactured or distributed specifically to Australia to save on shipping costs and to take advantage of products designed specifically for harsh Australian conditions. Each manufacturer will have advantages and disadvantages. Below is some information on three popular manufacturers of side awnings.

Brand

Types Available

Advantages

Howling Moon

Side awnings.
Roof top tents.
Extension kits and wall kits.

3 year warranty on tents.
Shipment throughout Australia.

4x4 Awnings and Roof Tents

Bag awnings, roll-out and retractable awnings, tent kits, mosquito netting kits, roof top tents and extensions.

Distribution throughout Australia.
Designed specifically for safari conditions.
Company has 30 years experience in the 4 wheel drive industry.

Supa-Peg

Side awnings, rear awnings, awning wall extensions, camping and tent accessories, custom-sized window awnings.

2 year warranty on awnings.
Manufactured in Australia.
Waterproof.


Understanding these basic options for side awning purchase is the first step in buying the best side awning for a particular vehicle. Some of these awnings work interchangeably, whereas others, such as full awnings, only fit on larger, camping-oriented vehicles.

By taking the time to learn what these terms mean and whether or not their descriptions match with one's needs and vehicle is therefore an essential first step in the side awning purchasing process. From this point, there are more specific aspects of weatherproof side awnings to consider.
 

Features and Considerations in a Weatherproof Side Awning

After considering the basic type of side awnings available and determining that which is most appropriate for one's vehicle, there are also additional considerations to make regarding the type of awning and accessories to purchase for a vehicle. For example, one may know that with a larger 4x4 vehicle a porch awning is the best choice, but it is important to know that not all porch awnings are created equal.

Instead, buyers must look at the details in regards to operation and function that each type of awning provides. Minimally, this means considering the way in which the awning is set up and controlled and whether or not the awning is going to be used for camping, and to what degree.

Awning Control Mechanisms

There are basically two options when it comes to the control mechanisms for side awnings. Traditional options use what is known as a hook crank to allow users to manually unfurl the awning from the side of the vehicle when ready to use it. The benefits of the hook crank are in the lower cost and reliability. However, users must be sure to have space to store the detachable crank when not in service, and be willing to put in the manpower to extend and retract the side awning.

The other option is to buy a motorised awning that uses a remote control to electronically extend and retract the awning through battery power or a connection to the vehicle's 12V adapter plug. The advantages of using a mechanical awning are that they allow users to quickly and efficiently unfurl the fabric without the use of bulky extra parts. However, these awnings are often more expensive, and as with all electronic items, can malfunction, especially as they age.

To Camp or Not to Camp

The other major consideration that buyers need to make before committing to a weatherproof side awning is the type of activities that may require awning use. Many people choose to add a side awning to their caravan or 4x4 for camping purposes, for making it into a tent, and for using the awning along with side walls as a temporary living space while on holiday.

The side walls obviously increase the cost of the awning, but really extend its use. They are especially helpful for those planning to use their awning in rougher weather either in the woods or at the seaside. The walls increase the weatherproof properties of the awning, protecting those inside. Depending on the size of the vehicle and the awning purchased, full vs. porch awnings, for example, the space allotted does vary, but there are some awning tents that easily accommodate several people in more than one chamber.

On the flip side, those who are less interested in camping or looking for an awning as an extension of the vehicle for sitting and shade on day trips are likely to find that the addition of the tent walls are less necessary. There are less expensive options that do not come with tents, particularly canopy awnings, and still other brands that offer the tent pieces as a separate purchase, so that one can opt to buy the tent pieces at a later date.
 

How to Buy Side Awnings on eBay

Buyers who are ready to commit to the purchase of a side awning should consider using eBay as a source for a great selection and excellent prices on this and other exterior parts and accessories for their car and truck. As a global marketplace, eBay offers buyers a huge selection of items from sellers who are just around the corner or around the globe.

Using the simple search bar located on every eBay page, buyers can easily find the side awning they want. In fact, they can even limit their search to local sellers in Australia for the benefit of in-person pickup and reduced post costs. In addition, eBay also offers great deals and an easy way for buyers to narrow down general searches for a "awning" by colour, size, price, and brand.
 

Conclusion

The movement toward integrating weatherproof side awnings onto one's caravan, 4x4, or truck has gained a lot of momentum in Australia due to the population's love of the outdoors. As an easy way to provide shade and sleeping space for a day trip or camping holiday, the different types of side awnings each fill a specific need.

Buyers simply need to familiarise themselves with the types of awnings for sale as well as the options for tents and mechanical operation available. Then, once they have decided on the type of side awning they want, using eBay to find exactly what they need is the best choice. With a global marketplace and many options, eBay is a time and money-saving choice for buying a weatherproof side awning.
 

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