Yearning for an awning
In the first instalment of our guest blog series, Clueless in a Caravan talks about the love they have for their awning and why they feel it’s an essential piece of kit for their family caravanning trips.
When we first got into caravanning, one of the main demands I had of our first ‘van was that it had to be small and light. I was worried about towing, and we didn’t have the budget to replace our car, so size was critical. So, we bought a four-berth that’s really a three-berth with an unladen weight of 850KG and, after a few trips, I no longer feel the need to pack an extra pair of underpants when towing.
The downside of a small van is that it’s, well, small. For two adults, a thirteen-year-old and two small dogs, it can feel a little “bijou” if we’re all inside and that’s where the awning comes in. Like the caravan, it’s only at the compact end of the range (technically, it’s a porch awning but it covers the whole side of our little ‘van), but our awning is the single best thing we’ve ever bought since we got into this game.
It’s 9am and I’m sitting in it right now. It feels as though I’m out in the fresh air. At just under three metres wide and two metres deep, it’s big enough that we can all sit in it at the same time to, for example, allow George to win a game of Cluedo. It has become our living area, allowing us to leave the seats at the front of the caravan converted into a double bed, so the ‘van has become, effectively, a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
When it came to choosing one, size and budget were the main factors. We measured the awning rail and worked out that 2.6 metres is the maximum, and we’ve always been a fan of Kampa products (we began our camping adventures in a Kampa Hayling 6 tent). The air awnings and “Pro” range were too expensive for consideration, so we settled on a Kampa Rally 260 which cost around £230. It takes about half an hour to get completely set up and, though it was the cheapest of the Kampa awning range, it has weathered well and is showing no signs of use after at least a dozen trips.
There are a couple of downsides – both related to weather. Although the awning isn’t made of a fabric that would rot, we still don’t want to be packing it away wet because it would smell. This means that in spring and late summer/autumn, we have to plan time for any dew to burn off before we pack it away. If we know that it’s going to rain on a moving day, we’ll often take it down the night before so it’ll be dry. And, if we’re only away for a couple of nights and the weather’s predicted to be wet, we don’t use the awning at all.
The other weather-related issue is wind. As we discovered when we were tenters, anything more than a strong breeze can be problematic and if strong winds are forecast, the awning must come down or risk finding it wrapped around the top of the caravan! You can get optional storm straps and I recommend replacing the standard steel pegs with specialist hard ground versions, but these won’t stop the thing flapping and flexing.
Luckily for us, we’ve only been forced to pack the awning away early a couple of times so far. By having an awning, we feel as though we’re getting the best of both worlds: the comfortable, quiet and warmth of the caravan, and the close-to-nature feel of tenting. If you fancy a laugh, you can watch a sped-up version of me putting the awning up here. Also check out George stopping the recording before I’d finished. He then denied he’d ever done it…
Ensure your awning is in the safest possible hands with our touring caravan insurance. For comprehensive cover for your caravan and awning, whether at home or on tour in Europe. Get a quote today or request a callback at a time that’s convenient for you.
An awning is a significant part of your caravanning kit; it goes towards your sums insured and what you pay overall for your insurance premium for your caravan. So please remember if during the course of the season you decide to change your awning or decide to upgrade it from a porch awning to a full awning, please notify us of the new value, otherwise you might not be insured in the event of a claim.