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What’s the best drive away awning for a campervan?

best drive away awning
Drive away awning

Which is the best drive away awning? To be honest with you – I don’t know! To answer that question I (or anyone else for that matter) would have had to personally test every awning on the market and compare them for price, quality, and practicality. Not only that – what’s best for me doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best for you.

You might need a small drive away awning just big enough for storing wet clothes or muddy boots. Or maybe you’re looking for a large awning with more living space or a bedroom compartment. Or perhaps you want an awning that’s quick and easy to erect like an inflatable drive away awning.

So, I can’t tell you which is best for you, but what I can show you are 5 drive away awnings available on Amazon, that I think are worth considering. Why Amazon? In my experience, reading through the reviews from customers who have actually bought the product is invaluable. Without this feedback you only have the manufacturers information to go on, which let’s be honest, can sometimes be a bit biased.


5 of the best drive away awnings on Amazon

  1. Lichfield California (inflatable)read more
  2. Outdoor Revolution Cayman (pole) read more
  3. Outdoor Revolution Outhouse XL Handi (pole)read more
  4. Skandika Aarhus (pole)read more
  5. Qeedo Quick Motor (pole)read more

1. Lichfield California drive away air awning

If you’re looking for a good quality, medium-sized awning that’s pretty straightforward to erect, then the inflatable Lichfield California may be for you.

The California comes in two vehicle height variations: Low (180cm to 210cm) which can be found on Amazon here, and Tall (245cm to 290cm) which can be found here.

Being an inflatable drive away awning means there are no separate poles to assemble:

This makes it simple to erect. To do so, you first inflate the two main integral tubes (one at each end), then the removable centre tube which fits between the two main tubes. Finally, the awning is pegged down and the guy ropes tensioned. After you’ve done this a few times and are familiar with the process, the awning can take as little as 10 minutes to erect.

There are four ways to attach the California awning to the vehicle:

  • Awning rail attachment – using the pre-attached 6mm Kador strip
  • Roof rail attachment – using the 2 velcro tabs
  • Gutter rail attachment – comes with an integrated pole and clamp kit sleeve
  • Two 8m long webbing straps – that go over the roof of the vehicle and are pegged to the ground

Everything you need is included:

  • AirOdyssey dual action pump
  • Separate ground sheet
  • Steel rock pegs for hard ground
  • Mallet
  • Storm straps
  • Carry/storage bag

Dimensions:

  • Vehicle height – Low version 180cm to 210cm, Tall version 245cm to 290cm
  • Main living area length – 235cm
  • Main living area width – 310cm
  • Main living area height – 213cm
  • Tunnel length – 135cm

The Lichfield California drive away air awning is the most expensive awning in my top 5. However, I think that it offers a good balance of quality and value for money. Have a read through the Amazon reviews and see what you think.


2. Outdoor Revolution Cayman drive away awning

Affordable, spacious, lightweight (12Kg) and easy to erect, are all words you want to hear when choosing a drive away awning, and the Outdoor Revolution Cayman ticks these boxes.

Two options are available for this awning. The standard version, which is suitable for vehicles with an awning rail height between 180cm and 240cm (this is available on Amazon here). And the XL version, which is suitable for the taller campervan or motorhome with an awning rail height between 240cm and 290cm (the XL is available on Amazon here).

The Cayman is made from ultra-lightweight 68-Denier fabric and the framework uses just two 1/2″ diameter fibreglass poles which are designed to make the assembly of the awning quick and easy. The lightweight fabric and minimal framing also enable the Cayman to pack down into a small and easy to store carry bag.

The fabric colour on the roof of the awning is much lighter than the rest of the awning – this helps to reflect heat and keeps the inside of the awning at a pleasant temperature on warm sunny days.

An integral groundsheet is included, so there’s no way you’ll forget to bring it with you! Large windows give the awning a light and airy feel. For privacy or to help to keep the awning cool in summer, both windows have integral zip-in curtains.

An access door to the side is another useful feature if you don’t want to use the main opening at the front. The Cayman has integral ventilation points which help with airflow and condensation build up.

What’s included:

  • Awning
  • Integral groundsheet
  • Zip-In curtains
  • Storm strap attachment points
  • Peg pack
  • Carry bag

Extras available:

  • Two berth inner sleeping tent
  • Stone protection groundsheet to protect the integral groundsheet from sharp objects
  • Canopy poles so you can use the large access door at the front as a porch/sun canopy

Attachment method:

  • Standard awning rail attachment – Twin piping system (4mm x 6mm)

Dimensions:

  • Vehicle rail height – Std 180cm to 240cm, XL 240cm to 290cm
  • Main living area length – Std 280cm, XL 300cm
  • Main living area width – 300cm
  • Main living area height – Std 225cm, XL 230cm
  • Tunnel length – 80cm

The popular Caymen is sold as an entry level awning, and due to its lightweight construction has been designed with touring in mind. So if you are after an awning that’s easy to pack and erect, then the Cayan may be just what you’ve been looking for.

More information and reviews on the standard Cayman awning can be found on Amazon here

More information and reviews on the XL Cayman awning can be found Amazon here


3. Outdoor Revolution Outhouse XL Handi

Looking for a small drive away awning that won’t break the bank? Then look no further. The Outdoor Revolution Outhouse Handi measures just 2 metres square, but that extra 2 metres of useable space will come in very Handi! Ideal for cooking, extra storage, housing a toilet, or just a place to relax in.

Constructed from flame retardant lightweight fabric and fibreglass poles, the Handi is easy to erect and store and is incredibly light at just under 5Kg.

The front of the awning can be elevated horizontally to create a sun canopy, however, the poles needed to do this are not included (they are an optional extra). There’s a PVC window on either side of the awning and a number of meshed ventilation vents which are handy for keeping cool without letting in flies. One more neat little feature is a mains cable access point.

Attaching the awning to the vehicle can be done by utilising the built-in awning rail piping. It can also be attached using a magnetic or suction drive away awning kit. If your vehicle is fitted with a wind-out awning with an integral awning rail channel, then this too can be used in conjunction with a suitable drive away awning kit.

The awning comes with the following:

  • Separate groundsheet
  • Fluorescent guy ropes
  • Interior storage pocket
  • Steel ground pegs
  • Repair kit

Dimensions:

  • Vehicle awning rail height range – 180cm – 240cm
  • Main living area length – 200cm
  • Main living area width – 200cm
  • Tunnel width – 70cm
  • Pack size 67cm x 46cm x 44cm

Weight:

4.7Kg

Compact, versatile, lightweight, strong, stylish, easy to erect, and very affordable.

As the saying goes: “Good things come in small packages“. Well, according to the Amazon customer reviews, this is one example of that which seems to be true. The Handi is one of the most popular small camper van drive away awnings out there.


4. Skandika Aarhus freestanding awning

It would be easy for me to only recommend well-known brands of drive away awnings, but these can come at a price and not everyone can afford or justify the outlay. So, let’s consider another scenario: say you just need a spacious awning for occasional use, one that has a built in two berth sleeping tent, and is under two hundred quid. What are your choices then?

Well, one drive away awning to consider, would be the Shandika Aarhus freestanding awning. Being a freestanding awning means that the Shandika Aarhus doesn’t need a vehicle to connect to, so it can also be used as a tent.

Never heard of Shandika? Me neither. Shandika awnings and tents are made in China. The quality of their products are in the budget range of awnings, however, you do get quite a lot of awning for your money.

The Shandika Aarhus awning is made from PU coated polyester with sealed seams and fibreglass poles. A two-person breathable and removable sleeping pod with sewn-in groundsheet and mosquito mesh is included, as is a groundsheet which covers the main living area.

Attaching the awning to the vehicle is simply a case of passing the joining flap and guy ropes over the roof of the vehicle, then using the supplied suction pads to attach the ropes to the side of the vehicle. Alternatively, the ropes can be pegged to the ground. Note: The height of the awning is 205cm, so the awning is not going to be suitable for high top vehicles.

Two doors give access to the awning: one at the side and one large door at the front. The main front entrance door can be elevated horizontally to create a sun canopy which is held in position using two steel poles (which are included).

What’s else is included:

  • Carry/storage bag
  • Guy ropes
  • Pegs
  • Repair kit
  • Assembly instructions

Dimensions:

  • Length 345cm
  • Width 315cm
  • Height 205cm
  • Sleeping pod length 230cm, width 140cm
  • Packed size 67cm x 25cm x 25cm

Weight:

  • 14.5Kg

Some readers may question why I have included the Shandika Aarhu in my best drive away awnings list. Well, if you were to use the term best to describe this awning it’d probably come under the heading of best value, which is why I think it is worth your consideration. With that in mind, have a read through the Amazon customer reviews yourself, and see if the Shandika Aarhu is the best drive away awning for you.


One last drive away awning to consider

5. Qeedo Quick Motor drive away awning

Whilst looking through all the drive away awnings on Amazon, I came across the Qeedo bus awning which really caught my eye. I wasn’t going to include it in my list because at the time of writing this article there weren’t many customer reviews to gauge a balanced opinion (only one in fact). However, I really thought that it was worth a mention, as it looks like a well made, thought out design.

Have a look at the video below and then I’ll tell you more about the awning. Oh yeah, being a German made awning – the video is in German!

Qeedo is a German outdoor products company and as you’ve seen from the video, this roomy drive away awning offers some cool features. Clearly, the Qeedo Quick Motor is aimed at the design-savvy campervan owner who’s looking for something a little different. The awning is suitable for campers such as VW buses, Mercedes Vito, Ford Custom, pretty much any campervan with an awning rail height between 195cm and 210 cm.

According to Qeedo the awning can be erected and dismantled in just 120 seconds, which is fast. The front entrance panel can be completely or partially opened (or removed if preferred) and includes a mosquito net. The large windows let in plenty of natural light and integral curtains give privacy when needed. The groundsheet is built into the awning, and the part of the groundsheet that’s in the tunnel can be retracted when not in use to keep it clean and dry. There’s also a handy central storage net which can be removed to expose a hook, ideal for hanging a light from.

4 ways to attach the awning to the vehicle:

  • Built-in 6 mm beading strip which attaches directly to the awning rail
  • Gutter rail attachment, provision for a pole clamping kit
  • Roof rail attachment using the sewn-in attachment loops
  • Over the roof fitting using the included straps and steel T-pegs

Dimensions:

  • Vehicle rail height 190cm to 210cm
  • Living area length 320cm
  • Living area width 320cm
  • Living area height 215cm
  • Tunnel length 80cm
  • Packed size 119cm x 28 cm x 28cm

Weight

  • 15.1Kg

I personally really like the look and design features of the Qeedo Quick Motor and at under £300, I reckon it offers great value for money whilst also being stylish and practical and a little different from the other drive away awnings out there. Here’s the link to the Amazon listing, see what you think.


What is a drive away awning?

As the name suggests, a drive away awning is a freestanding awning which is designed to allow the campervan to drive away from the awning, without it falling down. The drive away awning is a self-supporting structure, much like a tent. Not only does a drive away awning give the campervan or motorhome owner more space, it also claims the pitch when the vehicle is away from the campsite.

What’s the difference between a drive away awning and a caravan awning?

A caravan awning is attached to the caravan via a ‘C’ channel awning rail which runs the length of the caravan. Some of the awning’s poles need to be attached to the caravan to make the structure rigid. This actually makes the awning part of the caravan so the awning is not freestanding like a drive away awning. Remove the caravan and the awning would collapse.

Caravanners usually set up camp on a pitch and don’t move until the end of their stay as they use their tow vehicle to get about in. However, things are different for campervan and motorhome owners. Not only is the vehicle the accommodation but more often than not it’s the only mode of transport too. An awning that is permanently attached to a vehicle that’s in constant use is not going to be very practical, so this is where a drive away awning comes into its own.

What size drive away awning to buy

Drive away awnings come in all shapes and sizes but the most important dimension you need to consider when buying one, is the height. More specifically, the minimum and maximum height the Tunnel is designed for. To work out which size awning will fit your vehicle, take a measurement from the ground to the middle of the awning rail. If you don’t have an awning rail fitted, take the measurement from the ground to the roof gutter, roof rails, or the actual roof of the vehicle. As long as the measured height falls within the specified height range of the awning, you should be good to go.

driveaway awning sizes
Drive away awning

Generally three height sizes will be specified:

  • Low – 180cm to 210cm
  • Standard – 180cm to 240cm
  • Tall – 240cm to 295cm

Low would be suitable for VW T4, T5 or T6 type of campervans, whereas Tall would be more suitable for hightop campervans, or tall motorhomes. The measurements shown should be used as a guide only. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications before buying.

How to attach a drive away awning

The vehicle is temporarily attached to the awning via the non-rigid, tunnel part of the awning which joins the two together. The tunnel can be attached and detached from the vehicle in various ways depending on the make and model of the awning.

Some of the most common attachment methods are:

Wind-out awning attachment

If your vehicle is fitted with a wind-out awning, then there’s a good chance the awning will already have an awning channel incorporated. The channel will usually be 4mm wide on wind-out awnings made by FIamma, Thule, or Omnistor.

Using a drive away awning fixing kit (like this Kampa 6mm to 4mm kit available on Amazon), the awning is attached to the channel in the wind-out awning via a Kador strip and a figure of 8 joining strip. The Kador strip has two round profiles on either side. These can both be 6mm in diameter, or one 6mm and the other 4mm. The 4mm round profile slides into the channel on the wind-out awning, then the figure of 8 strip slides onto the 6mm profile. Finally, the drive away awning slides into the other side of the figure of 8 strip.

You can see how this is done in this video

C rail attachment

Generic ‘C’ section awning rail can be attached to the vehicle using screws. For VW T4, T5 and T6 campervans, a Reimo Multirail awning rail may be more suitable than the conventional aluminium awning rail. Depending on the design of the awning it may be possible to connect the awning directly to the awning rail. If this is not possible, then you’ll need to purchase a drive away awning fixing kit like this one on Amazon. Using the kit, the awning is attached to the awning rail via a Kador flexible strip; a figure of 8 profile then joins the awning to the Kador strip as shown in the diagram below. This creates a very strong and secure weatherproof connection between the vehicle and awning.

drive away awning kit
Drive away awning kit

Gutter rail attachment

If your vehicle has a gutter rail on the roof, then a pole and clamp kit (like this one available on Amazon) is another way of connecting the drive away awning. This is done by feeding a pole through a sleeve at the end of the tunnel of the awning, the pole then sits on top of the gutter rail and is secured in place using the supplied pole clamps.

Watch the video below to see how it’s done

Roof rail attachment

If your vehicle has roof rails fitted then these can be utilised as an attachment point. Some awnings have velcro straps that simply loop over the roof rails. This is a quick and easy way of attaching the awning. However, it’s not going to be as secure (especially on windy days) as the three methods mentioned previously.

Other methods of fixing a drive away awning

If none of the above methods is suitable for your vehicle (or you don’t want to permanently attach an awning rail to your vehicle) then perhaps a magnetic or suction mounting kit will work for you. I have read mixed reviews with these products, they seem to work for some people but not others. For the magnetic kit to work effectively, it needs to be attached to a steel part of the vehicle’s bodywork. The suction kit works best on a flat surface.

The simplest way to attach a drive away awning is by using straps or guy ropes. These go over the roof of the vehicle and are either attached to the vehicle, or pegged into the ground and then tensioned. Obviously, if your vehicle has a pop-top roof then this method isn’t going to be ideal.

How to drive away from a drive away awning

Once you’ve got the awning erected and attached to the vehicle, it’s a good idea to mark the position of the vehicle before driving off, so that when you return, the vehicle can be parked in the correct spot. This can be done by using two strips of brightly coloured nylon strapping pegged to the ground along the length of the vehicle (like a parking bay). Alternatively, you can buy ready-made pitch guides on Amazon.

Tip: Use domed top groundsheet pegs rather than conventional awning pegs to avoid damaging the tyres if the pegs are accidently driven over.

To judge how far back the vehicle needs to be so it is lined up with the awning, use a guide marker (ground peg) positioned opposite the centre of the driver side front wheel. If you are using levelling ramps, then these too can be used as a positioning guide if they are left in place.

We have an article all about levelling ramps: which ones are the best and how to use them.

Before driving off, detach the awning from the vehicle. The method of doing this will depend on how the awning is attached to the vehicle; if a figure of 8 strip is being used, simply remove the strip from the awning tunnel, then make sure the awning is free from the vehicle before slowly driving off. If the awning is attached to a wind-out awning, wind the awning in before driving off. It is not advisable to drive away from the awning whilst someone is holding the tunnel just in case it snags.


Your suggestions for the best drive away awning

Have you got a drive away awning that you’d recommend to our readers? If so, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page and tell us all about it.


A windbreak can be a very useful addition to an awning. If you’re looking to buy one for extra privacy, or maybe you need a dog proof windbreak, then you might find our article on windbreaks useful.

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