Campervan awning, tent and shelter advice
Campervan awnings, tents and shelters guide
Travelling in a campervan doesn't necessarily equal sleeping or living in a campervan...
If you’ve got a big tribe or often meet up with friends and family, some portable real estate can provide valuable extra living space. Our campervan experts guide you through the options.
- Introduction to campervan awnings
- Campervan tents, yurts and tipis
- Campervan toilet tents
- About Campervan magazine
Introduction to Campervan awnings, tents and shelters
© Photo courtesy of Outdoor Revolution
Most campervanners will invest in an awning at some point, as they provide shelter from the sun and rain as a minimum, right up to enclosed living quarters complete with bedrooms, if needed.
A common campervan awning is a wind-out or cassette awning, which is bolted to the side of the campervan permanently. Once on site, this winds out and is supported with legs and guyropes. It’s also possible to buy side and front panels for a cassette awning, in order to create further protection from sun and rain.
Note that wind-out awnings are not good in the wind and can easily buckle and break, so they should always be retracted before going to bed or out for the day. For best protection from the wind, get a windbreak.
Larger awnings resemble a tent that attaches to the side or rear of the campervan, and these can be fixed or drive-away.
A fixed awning requires the support of a campervan to stay up, so they are typically used by tourers who move every day. A drive-away or stand-alone awning does what it says on the tin. This is free-standing, which is best for those who stay on the same site for the duration of their holidays, but want to be able to drive out on day trips.
Awnings can either be of a poled or inflatable variety. Poled types have been around longer and are often cheaper. Air or inflatable awnings can be easier to put up because they involve inflation with a pump rather than figuring out colour-coded poles. Like for like, there is little or no difference in pack size or weight, so the type of awning you buy will come down to personal preference and budget.
Awnings vary enormously in size, too, from basic little ones with just enough space for a couple of chairs and a table, up to very large ones with multiple bedroom pods. While it’s tempting to buy a big one that will cover all bases, note that they can be big, bulky and heavy when packed up, so think carefully about how you’re going to use it and where you’ll store it before buying an awning.
Campervan tents, yurts and tipis
© Photos courtesy of Robens; Easy Camp
Tents are a great alternative to awnings. If your kids have outgrown the campervan pop-top or their mates tag along occasionally, a little two or four-man tent could be just the ticket.
Like anything, tents vary enormously in price, size and specification. As a general rule, something cheap and cheerful from the supermarket is unlikely to last very long. However, it’s not worth spending hundreds on a technical tent fit for Everest if you’re only ever going to be holidaying in the UK in summer.
Tipis, yurts and gazebos
For extra living space, a tipi or yurt is another alternative worth considering. Not only do these provide living space and sleeping quarters, but they are also available with portable log burners and insulated carpets, making them ideal for winter camping.
In summer, a garden gazebo is another practical solution for providing shade and shelter. In particularly balmy weather, you could even set up a free-standing hammock in here!
Campervan Toilet Tents
© Photos courtesy of Outdoor Revolution; Geneve Brand
Finally, consider a toilet tent. If you have a portable toilet in your campervan or are thinking of getting one, a toilet tent is a wise investment – the alternative is that everyone else has to get out of the campervan and stand outside when anyone needs the loo!
Toilet tents are small and lightweight, so they don’t take up much room, and are easy to put up. Kit it out with a hanging lamp, a loo roll and a bottle of hand sanitiser, and you’re sorted. Perfect for festivals if you don’t want to trek all the way to the festival loos.
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