Awning for Cars-Car Awning Guide

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-The 9 Best Awnings for Cars&Overlanding

What is a car awning?

To awning for cars—that is the big overlanding and car camping question. With an ever-growing range of styles and functions paired with a steady increase in interest in slow travzel and overlanding, it’s no wonder car awnings are one of the most talked-about topics in the motor-obsessed outdoor community right now. But what are they, and why would someone even consider buying one? Well, hold onto your butts, because we’re about to deep dive into the world of car awnings and fill you in on everything you need to know before buying one.

The best car and truck awnings are sold in different sizes to fit different vehicles. A variety of narrower models will fit atop a car or small SUV. Wider vehicle awnings, on the other hand, can span the entire length of a van or wagon. Additionally, batwing-style awnings can give you up to 270 degrees of shelter.

As with any other on-car accessory, your vehicle type and use case will help you determine the best awning for you. Below, we take a look at the best product to help you narrow down your options.

Car Awning Features

Besides the obvious perk of a car awning providing UV sun protection, other not-so-apparent perks include protection against the rain, especially when it’s time to cook, and a bit more privacy.

Car awnings vary in price—going from a couple of hundred dollars up to a couple of thousand dollars—as well as in weight. Weight is important to keep in mind if you’re trying to keep your adventure rig as light as possible.
 
So, when it comes down to it, do you really need a car awning?

In my overlanding experience, which is pretty vast, considering I spend each summer overlanding and car camping across Mongolia, I’ve come to decide that awnings are worth the investment. But it has to be the right awning for you. Otherwise, I understand where the great awning debate begins (and ends). Here are a few other things to consider when researching and buying a car awning.

What is a car awning?

Car awnings, car side awnings, and car sunshades are all awnings. Made for your car. Or truck. Or Airstream. Or any vehicle, really. Pretty straightforward, right? Not exactly. Since these awnings need to be installed securely (read: permanently), you’ll have to have a roof rack (or cross bars, a rooftop tent, or something similar) to install the awning’s backing plate onto. Car awnings are rarely drilled directly onto your 4×4 or trailer. (Phew!)

awning for cars

What should I look for when buying a car awning?

Size: 

Manufacturers offer camper van awnings in different sizes. You want to make sure it’s compatible with your vehicle and extends out long enough to provide enough space for what you want to do outdoors. Camper vans can be tall. So adjustable, telescoping poles are an excellent feature to have.

Mounting Difficulty:

How you plan to mount the tent is critical. Some awnings are fixed to the roof rack. Some are portable. You may be mounted to a different type of roof rack or the load bars on the vehicle and require a special adapter. Some awnings are designed to offer easy compatibility. Some even have tool-less setups. Others may require you to purchase an adapter.

Setup Difficulty:

Like with a tent, you want to set up your awning with as little effort and time and as few people involved as possible. Ideally, you’d have an awning that can be set up within a few minutes and be most accomplished by one person.

Weather Protection:

The more expensive awnings offer better quality material and waterproofing. If you are camping somewhere placid, a simple sun shade may do. But if you’re camping in areas with more wind and precipitation, you may want a more heavy-duty construction to withstand the elements.

Accessories: 

Some camper van awnings offer a range of accessories to customize your experience with features like opaque walls, wind and water protection or mosquito nets.

The 9 Best Car Awnings for Overlanding and Car Camping

Kammock Crosswing

                                                                    Kammock Crosswing

Awning for Cars:Kammock Crosswing

What We Like: 

A three-second setup that you don’t have to set your beer down for Blowing its Kickstarter goal of $10,000 out of the water within minutes, the now fully funded Kammok Crosswing is an Austin, Texas-designed awning so easy to use you don’t even need to set your drink down to deploy it. With a three-second setup time, you simply pull the awning straight out, and you’re ready to pitch your hammock underneath. The aluminum alloy X-Frame design means the awning is self-supporting, so there’s no need to attach poles or get tangled up in tie-downs. The Crosswing comes in two sizes—a seven-foot model with 42 square feet of cover and a five-foot model with 32.5 square feet. Production has already begun, and the first units are estimated to ship out in November 2022.

Alu Cab 270 Shadow Awning

                                                                Alu-Cab 270° Shadow Awning

Awning for Cars:Alu-Cab 270° Shadow Awning

What We Like:

270° of coverage from the OG’s of overlanding When it comes to converting vehicles into overlanding machines ready to take on anything, Alu-Cab has long been one of the best and most reliable brands in the game. Founded in Cape Town, South Africa, Alu-Cab was the first company to introduce aluminum canopies to the world. The not-so-long-ago introduction of their 270-degree Shadow Awning not only turned heads in the off-roading community, but it was a gateway drug for the overlanding-curious, as well. The Shadow Awning is excellent because there are no additional poles to pitch or pegs. You simply unzip the awning’s cover bag and swing the awning’s heavy-duty aluminum arms open in less than 60-seconds. For extra support, deploy a telescoping pole with quick-release lock and the included guy ropes.

Rhino Rack Compact

                                                               Rhino-Rack Compact

Awning for Cars:Rhino-Rack Compact Batwing Awning

What We Like:

If you’re looking for full coverage from an awning, Rhino-Rack has got you covered. Its compact batwing vehicle awning ($766) spans a massive 270 degrees around the right side of your vehicle. This batwing awning not only includes 69 square feet of coverage, but it’s also stylish. Made from a durable ripstop material, this Rhino-Rack compact batwing awning is water-resistant. And it’s tested and rated to UPF 50+ to shield users from the sun’s harmful rays. Made for either the right or the left side of your vehicle, this batwing awning is easy to set up with two people. Simply unzip its storage bag, fold out the arms, and peg down the ropes. You’ll have a shaded and secure basecamp set up in no time. Unlike other vehicle awnings, the Rhino-Rack awning’s poles, ropes, and pegs stow in the main awning compartment rather than in a separate pouch that could get lost. The Rhino-Rack compact batwing awning can be packed away fully extended or at a preset length for your vehicle.

Front Runner Easy Out 2.5m Awning

                                                       Front Runner Easy-Out 2.5m Awning

Awning for Cars:Front Runner Easy-Out 2.5m Awning

What We Like:

An affordable, easy to affix option if you aren’t sure awnings are your thing On the simpler side of awnings, the name of this little guy says everything you need to know about it. Extending 2.1 meters from its mounting point, the awning stands up with the help of corner-mounted twist-lock telescoping poles. When not in use, the awning is protected by a durable, heavy-duty PVC coated 650g nylon storage bag. Add mosquito net siding to make this setup even more comfortable, and use Front Runner’s Easy-Out Awning Brackets for best vehicle-awning compatibility.

Overland Pros Wraptor 4K 270 Freestanding Awning

                                      Overland Pros Wraptor 4K-270° Freestanding Awning

Awning for Cars:Overland Pros Wraptor 4K-270° Freestanding Awning

What We Like:

The most affordable 270-degree awning Unzip. Swing. Cinch. And save? That’s right, at less than $1,000, this awning from Overland Pros is the most affordable 270-degree awning on our list. With a waterproof 280g ripstop canvas construction and 7.4 square meters of coverage, it’s also a sleeper favorite in the overlanding community. Choose to mount the Wraptor 4k to either the driver or passenger side—you have the option to choose from either when ordering. The Wraptor has optional walls to create an awning room, but mounting brackets and guy lines are included.

Rhino Rack Dome 1300 Awning

                                                             Rhino-Rack Dome 1300 Awning

Awning for Cars:Rhino-Rack Dome 1300 Awning

What We Like:

Good for low-to-the-ground vehicles Weather-proof and UV50+ protected, the Dome 1300 was built specifically with lower roofed vehicles and tall people in mind. Plus, the dome design adds for great water run-off in harsher weather conditions. The awning can be mounted to either side of your vehicle, or to the rear, which gives the Dome 1300 an edge over the other awnings on this list, which are too long for this option. While this car awning is tough enough to handle everything overlanding might throw its way, Rhino-Rack still promises a 1-year warranty. It comes with a $333 price tag to boot.

iKamper Awning

                                                                     iKamper Awning

Awning for Cars:iKamper Awning

What We Like:

Rooftop tent integration Awnings aren’t just limited to your vehicle—rooftop tents now come with some pretty incredible awning options as well. Especially for the iKamper Skycamp tent ($4,199), one of our favorite rooftop tents on the market. The awning attachment quickly zips onto the Skycamper’s front window and sets up with support poles and guy lines, making an indoor/outdoor living space that’s protected from the elements.

ARB Touring Awning with Linght

                                                          ARB Touring Awning with Light

Awning for Cars:ARB Touring Awning with Light

What We Like:

 Extra car camping weather and wind protection without the weight When you’re sleeping in a tent next to your car, the smallest added comfort goes a long way. Add an extra layer of sun and weather protection between you and Mother Nature thanks to this Touring Awning from overlanding legends ARB. With an LED light strip built in, the ARB awning makes moving around at night much easier and becomes even more versatile and protective with an added windbreak ($120 extra).

Moon Fabrications MoonShade

                                                      Moon Fabrications MoonShade

Add Your Heading Text Here

What We Like:

Attaching an awning to an overlanding vehicle has its limitations, and deploying it is typically a two-person endeavor. The Moon Fabrications MoonShade ($368) is a 9 x 7-foot portable awning designed around a flexible aluminum pole-and-clip architecture typically used for tents. Setup by one person is straightforward, and the awning is adaptable to almost any type of vehicle. A nice feature is the option to orient the MoonShade with either the 9- or 7-foot side facing outward. The awning fabric is a sturdy 420-denier ripstop polyester with a UV 50-plus topcoat facing outward. The underside has a reflective coating that blocks outside light and works to disperse lantern light. Its tent-like design and light weight make it easy to attach to different vehicles or use as a standalone canopy. When not in use, the MoonShade fits into a zippered bag 28 x 6 inches, weighing a little under 8 pounds. The compact dimensions are great for stowing inside and are much easier to transport. This also keeps weight off your roof when on the go, and doesn’t cut into fuel economy.

What Is the Best Type of Awning?

The best type of car or truck awning for you will depend on how you plan to use it, as well as what type of vehicle and roof rack you have.For couples or those who like to travel solo, a simple side awning might do the trick. No matter what style of awning you decide on, make sure the dimensions are compatible with your vehicle. Also, ensure that the awning can be installed with either your aftermarket roof rack or factory crossbars.

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