Caravanners will know that whatever the size of your unit, floor space inside is always limited. The easiest way of increasing your living space is to have an awning that will bring part of the pitch beside your caravan under cover. There are three main types of awning available, a full awning, porch awning and canopy awning. There are different variations of these types and plenty to choose from. You need to consider which fabric you want, which type of poles to go for and whether you will also need a groundsheet.
The Full Awning
A full awning can often double your living area and provide plenty of space to relax in whatever the weather is like. Full awnings are structured like tents and are available in many different fabrics, sizes and qualities. Some are provided with separate sleeping cabins and some have side panels that can be removed on sunnier days.
If you decide to choose a full awning you will need to take two measurements into consideration – the depth of the awning and the “A” measurement of your caravan. The awning’s depth is the distance between your caravan and the outer wall of the awning. This is usually between 2.1 metres and 3.5 metres deep. Naturally, the deeper the awning the more floor space you will have, but you need to balance this with transporting more fabric and having more to erect when you reach the site. The “A” measurement of your caravan should be given in your owner’s handbook, but if you have to measure it you can do this by leveling the caravan and running non stretch string through the awning track to the ground at both ends, maintaining the angle that it exits from the awning rail. Tensioning the string and measuring it in centimetres will give you the “A” measurement of your caravan.
The Porch Awning
Porch awnings are generally smaller than full awnings and can be more convenient for short stays because they are easier and quicker to erect. A porch awning will provide somewhere to remove wet coats and footwear before entering the caravan, so that you can keep it cleaner. They also serve to protect the door from wind and rain and make a good place to store items such as bikes, buckets and spades, as well as tables and chairs. Most porch awnings are large enough to allow you sit at a table inside if the weather is not brilliant, but you can still enjoy the outdoors by rolling the front up. When measuring up for your porch awning you need to take the height of your caravan and the position of the windows into account. Measure from the top of the caravan’s awning rail to the ground for the height before buying a porch awning. If there is a window close to the door, the edge of the awning may come down over it. This may or may not be a problem, but if the window is over a hob it may need to be opened when cooking.
The Canopy Awning
Canopy awnings can be permanent or temporary. The permanent canopy awnings which roll out like a blind usually need to be fitted by a specialist and include poles that fold out to make legs. Some canopy awnings also have optional fabric walls to enclose the space.
Inflatable awnings have become increasingly popular and are very easy to set up. The traditional poles are replaced by air poles so they are also lighter to transport. Whichever type you choose, awnings can make all the difference to your caravanning experience. If you decide on a large awning for your caravan, you may find that it is easier to transport and handle if you split it into several bags.
How and when you intend to use your caravan awning will inform your choice. If you will be touring with the awning, it should be easy to erect and take down and not weigh too much. However, if you need an awning to leave up for a while on a seasonal pitch or possibly use it in the winter you need something more substantial. How you will transport the awning is also relevant. You may be able to carry it in your car, but if it has to be transported in the caravan it has an impact on the payload.
Consider how much space you need and whether you will be using the awning for dining. If so, you will need to allow plenty of space for a table and chairs, but if you just want a storage area for muddy boots and wet clothing, a smaller awning will be adequate.