So, you have your roof tent all ready to go and you’re now looking at your options for getting more space and privacy with an extra tent/awning? No problem! Let us guide you through the various types and options (in no particular order), so you can make the best decision possible for your needs!
1. Pull Out Side Awnings (£300 - £500)
These attach onto the side of your vehicle on your roof bars and simply pull out to give you extra shade/shelter. They only take a minute or two to set up and the legs can often be extended to suit your vehicle height. They are compatible with a variety of different vehicles, but please check with the retailer you buy from if they’ll be okay with your vehicle as some are designed to fit vans, some are for Land Rovers or 4x4s, some will fit SUV type vehicles and some will fit normal hatchbacks! In general the ARB and Darche should fit the majority of vehicles and the Thule and Fiamma brands are designed more for campervans, but please check to make sure!
2. Side Awning Tents (£200 - £600 Not Including Pull Out Side Awning Or £540 - £980 Including Pull Out Side Awning)
Another option is having a side awning tent that will usually attach onto your pull out side awning as an extra accessory to it. They do come with the drawback of obviously taking longer to set up and pack away than just having the pull out awnings on their own and you can’t drive anywhere without taking them down first, but they do allow you to stay nice and dry if it’s raining and can be heated up to keep you warm during the Winter months! Just make sure to get a side awning tent that’s compatible with the pull out side awning that you want! We’ve tried to help you out with this by listing the same size (2.5m) and brands (ARB and Darche), so hopefully you can’t go too wrong! Also, bear in mind that the cost of the pull out side awning will have to be factored into your budget if you go for one of these too. This can make it soon add up to quite an expensive setup if you’re not careful!
3. Freestanding Gazebo Tents (£100 - £300)
These are as you would probably imagine by the name- they are usually large tents that stand alone and don’t attach onto your vehicle or roof top tent. They should give you plenty of extra space and the fact that they aren’t attached onto your vehicle should come in handy if you’re planning on driving to lots of different walks and other activities on your camping trips, as you can just leave them behind! Plus, they come with the added benefit of being quite affordable for the average camper, so they’re definitely an option for you to consider!
4. Quick Erect Tents (£149 - £200)
These are similar to the freestanding gazebo type tents and offer the same benefits of not having to be taken down everytime you want to quickly drive to something you have planned, such as driving to a pub you want to try out for example and they are quite affordable as an option for most people. They are quicker to put up and take down though- as their name suggests! So they should come in handy- especially if you’re planning on moving to lots of different campsites/stopovers during your travels! The main drawback to them versus the gazebo tents is the size of them. They’re still a decent size, but you won’t get quite as much space as you’d get with a gazebo type tent!
5. Tailgate Canopy Tarp Awnings (£60 - £120)
Tailgate canopy tarp awnings attach onto the rear of your vehicle and are a very cheap and easy way to get shade and shelter on your camping trips! They're not particularly sturdy, so they wouldn't be very good in a bad storm, but if all you're looking for is a little bit of cover on a relatively mild day, then they might just be what you're looking for!
6. Inflatable Driveaway Side Awnings (£470 - £1450)
Inflatable driveaway side awnings attach onto the side of your campervan and you simply pump them up to erect them, making them really fast and easy to set up! They come in a variety of different sizes, including some very large and spacious ones and they attach directly onto the van, so you don’t have to get wet and cold if you want to get something from your camper, as you’ll always be sheltered! As the name suggests, you can easily detach and drive away from them if you want to nip out somewhere in your van. The main downside of them is unfortunately the price, but you may feel the cost is worth it and there’s always the option of buying a smaller one if you’re on a budget!
7. Poled Driveaway Side Awnings (£200 - £600)
This option is almost exactly the same as the inflatable driveaway side awnings, except they aren’t as expensive. The trade off you make with this however, is that they also take more time and effort to set up and take down. If you are pitching up in the same spot for quite a while, then this may not matter too much for you because you can still obviously drive away from them and leave them when you want to quickly go somewhere in your van. You may want to steer clear if you’ll mostly be doing overnight stopovers during your travels though because you might find the extra time these take to put up and down will become a nuisance if you have to do it too frequently!
8. 270 Degree Freestanding Awnings (£660 - £980 Without Walls Or £1100 - £1760 With Walls)
These come as either 6 panel or 4 panel versions, with the 6 panel models giving you more coverage round your vehicle. There’s also the option of having a 2.5 metre or 2.0 metre version for both of these and you can add extra doors/walls to the sides too if you want extra protection from the weather! They can be set up in a matter of minutes by simply pulling them out from where they attach onto your roof bars and should be able to stand on their own, but it’s recommended to put the legs down for extra support in light to medium winds. You then simply zip the extra doors/walls on to complete the setup. Overall, these offer you plenty of extra space, but carry quite a hefty price tag when you add up the cost of adding all the walls ect. They also come with the same downside as the side awning tents of having to be taken down and set up again whenever you want to quickly pop out to the shops ect. However, they do look pretty cool and are very sturdy (when pegged down) due to the strong support beams and the fact they’re attached onto the vehicle, so they might be a good option for those planning on adventuring in more extreme conditions or those campers that simply aren’t too concerned with the price!
9. Inflatable Driveaway Tailgate Awnings (£430 - £1000)
If having a tent or awning to the side of your vehicle doesn’t suit your setup as much as having one at the rear, then inflatable driveaway tailgate awnings could be a good option for you! They fit onto the back of your vehicle using the same mechanisms as normal side driveaway awnings and like these, you can drive away from them when you need to quickly use your vehicle and they go up and down using the same quick and easy pump up system. You can get them for a variety of different types of vehicles including vans, SUVs, 4x4s, hatchbacks and others. It’s best to ask the retailers if the one you’re looking at is compatible with your vehicle just to make sure because some of them will only be designed for certain types of vehicles such as vans ect. They tend to be slightly cheaper than inflatable driveaway side awnings, but often you’re sacrificing space for this lower price, so it’s up to you which one you’d prefer!
10. Poled Driveaway Tailgate Awnings (£130 - £370)
These are pretty much exactly the same as the inflatable driveaway tailgate awnings- and offer very similar benefits. The main difference, as with the inflatable driveaway side awnings compared to the poled driveaway side awnings is that these will take you longer to put up and take down than their inflatable alternatives. However, they come at a lower price for this inconvenience and in general, tailgate tents are easier to set up and take down than side ones anyway, so you’ll have to decide which option is best for you!
So there you have it, the ultimate guide to help you choose which awning type you have to choose from to complete your roof top tent setup! Overall, we recommend you factor in the time it takes to set up and take down each option, whether you can leave the tent/awning without having to take it down if you want to quickly drive somewhere, how much space you need, how much weather protection you need and of course the price! Happy camping!
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