Caravan awning review: Dorema Horizon Air
The Dorema Horizon Air full is an air awning designed for seasonal use, made of tough fabric, heavy — yet still relatively easy to construct
Words by Val Chapman
The Horizon Air is designed to be suitable for seasonal pitch use, with close-weave, robust fabric — yet is easy to erect and quick to dismantle so that you can take it down in between stays at your caravan if you wish.
This model is the first full-sized, fully air-supported seasonal pitch awning in the marketplace; it was unveiled last year. The fabric is made in the Netherlands and the window film in Japan.
The Horizon Air comes with a hand pump but, for even easier inflation, an electric pump is also available at £199. That’s what we used for this review of one of the largest in the range, a Size 18, on our long-term-test Bailey Pegasus Grande Messina.
The Horizon Air Size 18 weighs a mighty 40kg and comes in two bags — one for the main part of the awning and one for the panels. The fabric is TenCate 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 that it dries gradually in response to ventilation and no droplets are created.
The differences between a porch and a full air awning
I’m accustomed to building porches — and now I'm learning key construction differences between a porch and a full air awning. First, I need to make sure the seam in the gusset that allows for the front body shape of the caravan is vertical, so that when the corner is pegged down a correct angle is achieved.
The pegging point is the base of the seam; we need to peg it four inches under the caravan to ensure the awning corners are in the correct position.
Dorema’s Sales Manager, Stuart Stratton, advises:
“Inflate it to 10psi for seasonal use because it makes it nice and strong. In high temperatures it’s better to go for eight or nine.”
The polyurethane bladders are encased in a twin-walled polyester material secured by high-quality zips that have tags to prevent them opening; the structure is designed to be strong enough to take the slight increase in pressure created by high temperatures.
We’re discovering just how easy this giant awning is to construct, as we switch on the pump and stand back to watch it rise, in just two-and-a-half minutes. The pump shuts off automatically when the psi setting you have defined on its dial is reached.
We’ve initially set it to 6psi because flexibility is retained so that we can insert the roof spars; then we let the pump take it up to a rock-hard 10psi.
Uneven terrain is catered for by circular pads, supplied with the awning, which can be placed under the bases of the air tubes to raise any that are not level with the rest.
Unlike a porch awning, because it's attached to the caravan side, there is a complete seal against crosswinds — and there’s another obvious advantage over a porch: this awning doubles your living space.
As we begin to peg out, the wind sealing efficiency of the Horizon’s double mud wall skirt becomes obvious: the pegging points are in between the two, so that one section folds inwards, to sit under your ground cover, and the other sits outside. It’s very neat on both the inside and outside.
This mighty awning has four additional roof spars and four additional legs that inflate in 10 seconds and are held in place by Velcro.
Door Position Flexibility
We now see that the main door is in the centre of the front or, of course, you can open either end. And you can alter the position of the door, by swapping the window panels so that the door is at one end of the front panel.
As the pegging process gets under way, Stuart offers advice to pass on to readers:
“Serrated rock peg works far better than smooth ones, which can pull out of the ground in high winds. Nylon heavy-duty pegs (which we are using for this awning build), work best on grass.”
We push a pad under one of the vertical supports where the land falls away slightly; seven pads, one for each leg, come with the Size 18 awning.
Talk turns to more advice for readers: “Always cross over the pegging points at each zip point, to create even tension.”
The more we examine the Horizon Air, the more we learn about its strength and durability. The feeder tubes at the corners, which take air from one bladder to the next, are made of PVC reinforced by a flexible PVC coil, inside, for longevity and stability. This also prevents the tube from folding up, which could damage it, when you pack the awning away.
Above, L to R: Pads are supplied, to place under the air tubes to raise any that are not level with the rest, The 12V pump, the air feeder tubes at the corners are reinforced for longevity
It's heavy, it doubles your living space because it's as long as your caravan, yet it's quick to construct. The Horizon's size means that it's quite a tough task to get it into the caravan's channel but the rest of the build is really easy.
On test, the Dorema's Horizon Air was up and ready for pegging in around 15 minutes — that's the time taken to feed its cord into the channel plus inflation time. This is a substantial awning in which we'd have every confidence for seasonal siting when you may want to leave it up for extended periods.
RRP £1,249 to £2,249 depending on size
Find out more here: www.dorema.co.uk