06/09/2019
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Awning review: Dorema Starcamp Magnum Air Force 260

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Versatility is the keynote of the Dorema Starcamp Magnum Air Force porch awning. It has an optional annexe (RRP £427) — so it’s huge if you want it to be.

Words by Val Chapman

When you insert an annexe, the side panel stays in place, rather than zips out, so you can use the annexe section as a separate room.

You can get an inner tent for the annexe, and use it as a bedroom, or use it for storing stuff, so that the main area stays tidy — or you could treat it as a dining annexe… or a playroom! Usefully, the inner tent (RRP £99) is made of a dark fabric to reduce light intake.

Step 1 - Dorema STARCAMP MAGNUM AIR FORCE 2601. It looks a lot of fabric on the ground, laid out ready for the build

Step 2 - Dorema STARCAMP MAGNUM AIR FORCE 2602. In the rail, correctly positioned and ready for inflation

Step 3 - Dorema STARCAMP MAGNUM AIR FORCE 260

3. The 12V pump is connected to the single inflation point and we flick the switch

Step 4 - Dorema STARCAMP MAGNUM AIR FORCE 2604. The Magnum Air Force is four-square in seconds

Step 5 - Dorema STARCAMP MAGNUM AIR FORCE 2605. With the first annexe up, we can create an entrance at the front

And there’s more versatility. You can use the annexe as an entrance to the porch, so that’s the place to leave footwear, away from the main porch area. By adding the annexe, you can turn the Magnum Air Force 260 into a 530 cm-width awning — and by adding a second annexe, at the other end of the porch, the Magnum Air Force becomes an eight-metre awning so it is Magnum indeed!

The annexe is inflated from one point, and Dorema tells us it’s up in seconds. But first, we had the main part of the Magnum Air Force to construct.

This is the touring version of the 260 size; it weighs 27 kg and the annexe weighs 13 kg. The larger size, 390, weighs 37 kg. When you add two annexes to the 390 size, your total porch length becomes a staggering 9.3 metres!

The fabric is 300-denier polyester, a 240-gram weight material, with the weft and weave close together, creating a robust fabric.

There’s also a seasonal pitch version of the Magnum Air Force, made of even more robust fabric. It's known as TenCate and is an all-season, residential-grade coated polyester.

The coating, which has a PVA content, is designed to help regulate condensation by allowing moisture to be absorbed into the fabric so it dries gradually in response to ventilation and no droplets are created.

Dorema Starcamp Magnum Air Force 260 erected

As we build the touring porch we notice the fabric feels strong and durable. And, once inside, we notice the air feeder tubes at the corners, which take air from one main bladder section to the next. These tubes are made of PVC, reinforced inside by a flexible PVC coil. This reinforcement is designed not only for longevity and stability, it makes sure the tube doesn’t fold up, when you pack the awning away, which could damage it.

At 27 kg, we discover the Magnum Air Force isn’t an enormous weight to haul around as we attach it to the caravan — the task of feeding its cord into the channel of our long-term-test Bailey Pegasus Grande Messina is done in just a few minutes with two people working together, one pushing it into the channel and the other easing it along.

Once the porch is in the rail, and we are satisfied we have it in the ideal position for the Messina’s door and windows, we peg the rear corners; there are strong, webbing pegging points at the bases of the corner pads. Our pegging angle goes under the caravan so that the pad is tight against the caravan.

The Magnum Air Force comes with a single-action 2.2-litre manual pump. It also comes with a wheel arch cover, draught skirt and storm straps. Rear poles are part of the kit, too, to hold the thick vertical pads firmly in place against the caravan side.

Even though the porch comes with a hand pump, which we know to be easy to operate, we’re using an electric pump for even easier inflation — just because we can.

Dorema’s Sales Manager, Stuart Stratton, has brought it along with the awning for the review. It’s an optional extra at £199.

Would we go for the 12V pump if we bought a Magnum Air Force? Probably not, given that operating a manual rise-and-fall pump is neither hard work nor time-consuming.

But if you want the luxury of seeing your awning rise on its own, at the flick of a switch, in about the same time it takes for a kettle to boil, then go for it! It’s nice to have the option.

There’s a single inflation point, and we stand back and watch as the Magnum rises from the ground within seconds.

Once we get the Magnum finished, more of the versatility becomes evident; you can remove all the front and side panels, and the side panels unzip and roll back. A great awning!

Verdict

If you’re going away for a weekend, just the porch will suffice. If you’re planning a family holiday, go for one, or even two, annexes — together they will more than double your living space.

The Magnum Air Force’s fabric is substantial, yet the total weight of the 260 size is a reasonable 27 kg.

You could go for the larger, 390, size, at 10 kg and £143 more of course — but the 260’s flexibility, as a great weekend porch, quick to build, and with two annexe options to cater for extra sleeping requirements and provide extra living space, means the Magnum Air Force ticks many boxes.

  • Size 2.6 m wide; 2.8 m deep
  • Weight 27 kg
  • Fabric Polyester
  • Frame Air

Find out more about the Dorema Starcamp Magnum Air Force 260 here

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