Caravan accessory review: Outwell Ripple 320SA awning
Words by Val Chapman Photos by Richard Chapman
Outwell’s new-for-2019 air-awnings combine space and practicality with stylish good looks and a brilliant new inflation system.
Outwell’s Scandinavian seashore-inspired range spans the market: from lightweight awnings to robustly-made models with many features. The Ripple we're testing is one of these.
There are three width options — 320, 360 and 440; all are 2.5 m deep.
Soft but strong
We’re building the 320, and when we — that’s two members of the Outwell team plus me — unfurl it I'm immediately impressed by the density of its fabric. It feels soft, almost like a high-quality canvas, and it’s tough, made of a high-density weave polyester yarn designed for strength and longevity.
The fabric is called Outtex HD — it’s Outwell’s own, and the HD stands for ‘high density’. And the designation SA in the name? That stands for Smart Air; a system with a single inflation point and three release valves for quick deflation.
At 26 kg it’s a hefty awning. We find out exactly how bulky as we embark on the first task — hauling it into the awning channel of our long-term-test Bailey Pegasus Grande Messina.
As we unfurl the bundle of fabric, the breeze tries to raise it and, as we grab a firm hold of the fabric, we notice the dark blue sections have the Outwell symbol embossed into the material; teamed with black and pale grey, it’s a clever combination of colours.
Pump it up
The only element of the build task that requires some energy and strength is pushing and pulling it along the rail. We hook a tent peg into the loop on the end of the awning to help pull it along. In 10 minutes it was up, and we can relax now, knowing we'd done the hard work.
We peg the corners under the caravan, using the enormous steel pegs that come with the Ripple (robust black plastic pegs are also supplied, for the skirt) and I begin the inflation task. Outwell has introduced a new pump for 2019, a tall, single-stroke unit; it only pumps when you are pushing it down, not on the upwards movement. The idea is it’s a more simple action — and I quickly discover it is.
Initially, I’m putting little effort into it, and it feels as if no air is going into the tubes — but I can see that they are inflating; that’s the Smart Air system at work sending air to the furthest point first.
As the air begins to flow through the tubes, I need to put a little more energy into the pumping action. I stop when the gauge on the top of the pump reaches 6psi. Outwell’s valves now have a spring within them, so that they are self-closing when you disconnect the pump.
Pegging it back
We put out the thick, webbing guy lines to hold the awning in place while we begin to undertake the pegging procedure.
As we begin the pegging task, we discover the stiff breeze of the day has pushed the awning along the caravan, almost a metre away from our careful positioning around windows and the door of the Messina.
We have to pull it back, a hard task. We are pushing an inflated awning against the breeze. It does serve to illustrate, though, that this fabric’s toughness means we are not afraid of pulling it hard –and I learn a trick, from the Outwell team, to get around this problem when it arises: we partially deflate the awning, to make repositioning easier — and I get another turn on the single-stroke pump.
I go for it, this time, in the interest of speed, and get some meaningful exercise in the process.
The Ripple 320 is four-square now, and I notice light-reflective stitching on the extensive guy lines as we peg these out. Outwell supplies four cm-deep pads (£29.99) to place under the ends of the tubes for height adjustment, but we find we don’t need these on this occasion.
There are five webbing guy lines and 19 pegging points, which combine to secure the Ripple firmly even in the soft, sandy soil of our pitch at Woodland Waters Holiday Park.
What happens without poles?
Now I discover the ‘pole free’ system that helps create a snug fit against the caravan site.
Some awnings have metal poles to fit against the caravan-side pads; Outwell’s system involves a triangular piece of fabric at the base of the caravan-side pad; you peg the two lower sides of the triangle to the ground.
The top one connects to a webbing strap that pulls the pad tight against the caravan side when you peg the lower corners down.
If your awning goes over a window — as it does on the Messina — you can use Outwell’s semi-circular ‘sealing blocks’ (£25), placed between webbing strap and the pad, below and above the window; they push the caravan-side pad inwards, to shape it around the window to form a seal.
The Ripple has many refined features. A flap of fabric tucks around the whole pad assembly — solely for aesthetics. The caravan-side skirt incorporates two mesh-based storage areas, designed to keep drinks cold.
The Nordic shore theme extends further than the name of the awning. Its zipped-in curtains have a seaweed pattern. Tinted windows, treated for UV resistance, create privacy; the windows and the curtains can be half-opened, to give ventilation at the top while retaining total privacy below.
You can buy an annexe (£460) for the Ripple.
We take out one of the side panels to zip it in. The frame is air-filled, and I quickly pump it up; minutes later, it is guyed out and pegged.
Other options that are available for the Ripple include Outwell’s Continental Carpet (£100), in two shades of grey, and made of robust, woven polyethylene; it’s smart looking and lies flat. You can also get a roof liner (£37.99), which creates a trap for warm air, as well as concealing the inflated tubing.
The Ripple is an awning to go for if you’re looking for longevity, robust fabric and many features, including tinted privacy windows. And you’re not phased by the substantial weight of this robust-fabric awning.
We love the new tall, single-stroke pump. It’s easy to operate. And the Smart Air system that sends air from one inflation point throughout the whole structure quickly, making the pumping action effortless in the first half of the procedure.
And we love the flowing, sleek lines of the Ripple – together with its smart darkest blue and grey colour scheme and seaweed-pattern curtains!
- Size: 3.2 m x 2.5 m
- Weight: 26 kg
- Fabric: High-Density Polyester
- Frame: Air
Price RRP £949