Drive away awnings are a handy way of expanding your space, especially when you’re driving a smaller campervan or car camping. They give you more room to relax, but they don’t need to be packed away every time you want to go for a drive.
If you enjoy spending time at a campsite and getting out and exploring the local area, a drive away awning is a valuable addition to your kit.
We’ve picked out 8 of the best awnings you can buy, as well as running through what you should be looking for and how to attach an awning to your vehicle.
Table of Contents
- Drive Away Awnings for Campervans & Motorhomes
- Vango Kilda Low Driveaway Van Awning
- Vango Cairns Low Campervan Awning
- Outdoor Revolution Key West Drive Away Awning
- Vango Byron Low
- California Coast Drive Away Awning
- Kampa Motor Ace AIR 400 S Inflatable Motorhome Awning
- Outdoor Revolution Cayman Poled Motorhome Driveaway Awning
- Outdoor Revolution Outhouse Handi XL Drive Away Awning
- What is a Drive Away Awning?
- Benefits of Drive Away Awnings for Campervans
- Drive Away Awning Buying Guide
- Choosing the Right Size Drive Away Awning
- Awning Accessories
- How to Connect a Drive Away Awning
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Drive Away Awnings for Campervans & Motorhomes
Vango’s awning range is high quality, with the Kilda being one of their more popular inflatable low awnings for campervans.
It has a single inflatable air beam to provide structure, which does mean it relies on your campervan – it won’t be freestanding when you’ve driven away, but it is easy to roll back and, like all the awnings on this list, it can be connected in multiple ways.
The Kilda has been designed to withstand strong, changeable winds – both the angle of the beam and the Tension Band System keep the awning braced, so you aren’t feeling like you’re being rattled around when the weather picks up.
The Kilda has two side doors, so you have easy access to your campervan’s front or rear door.
If you’re looking for a good quality awning without spending a huge amount, Vango’s Cairns option is worth considering. It shares many features with the Kilda, but it isn’t inflatable. Instead, it uses a single ‘PowerFlex’ pole that’s light and strong to create the arch that’ll hold up the awning.
It’s also similar to the Kilda in that it’s designed to be tough against high winds, and it has a ‘Sentinel Active’ fabric that’s completely waterproof and durable.
All of Vango’s awnings have these fancy-named technologies, but they are pretty good – a lot of customers on independent review sites speak highly of their quality.
Outdoor Revolution is a brand that makes many awnings, camping furniture, and accessories. This inflatable Key West awning is a solid option that gives you two extra spaces to enjoy attached to your campervan.
It’s designed for low campervans, with an adjustable height between 180cm and 240cm, with a zipped-off front porch and living area. It’s also got attachment loops if you wanted to add a bedroom annex.
As a single-point inflatable awning, it’s really easy to assemble and will be blown up in no time. In addition, it has a front eyebrow canopy that helps extend the porch a little further, giving you more room to unwind.
The first of our recommendations for a motorhome, the Kampa Motor Ace AIR 400 S is an inflatable awning with a one-point inflation system that’s large but easy to set up.
It’ll likely run almost the entire length of your motorhome, adding on a lot of extra space where you can relax, eat meals or invite family to sleep.
If you’ve got a motorhome and you want the benefits of an awning, this is a roomy choice, but you need to check your measurements. You’ll need an awning rail that’s at least 4 metres long, and it needs to be between 235cm and 250 cm from the ground.
The Vango Byron Low is a compact awning both in terms of pack size and when fully pitched. In addition, it’s assembled with a single pole, so is another that’s relatively easy to set up, and it’s really lightweight.
You won’t enjoy a lot of extra living space in this awning, but it is a good option for storage space if you’re biking or kayaking.
It does rely on the support of your campervan to stay upright, so you can’t leave it freestanding to use when you’ve driven away, but it is easy to reattach once you’re back on site.
The California Coast is very similar to Outdoor Revolution’s Key West awning, although it is marginally bigger.
It’s an inflatable with two airframe beams and a single inflation point for ease, and it’s got an internal divider that lets you separate the porch and living space.
It has an attachment point for a two-berth tent, so you can either extend your space even more if you need to or invite a couple of friends to attach their tent and share your living area if you’re on holiday together. It’s lightweight and durable, with large PVC windows that let in a lot of light.
The Cayman Poled awning isn’t cheap, but it’s one of the more affordable options if you want to add a good amount of extra space to your motorhome. With a fixing height between 255 and 305cm, it is only suitable for motorhomes and larger vans.
It’s a generous size at 3 metres by 3 metres, and it has doors on every side, including a cowl canopy for a little extra shade. In addition, it has the necessary attachments for an annex if you want to go all-out with your additional space.
The awning has a solid structure that can stand freely when you’ve driven away, and it’s quick and easy to pitch up.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘XL’ in the name of this awning. It’s actually one of the smaller options on this list.
The Outhouse Handi XL Drive Away Awning does offer useful space for your campervan, whether using it as an outhouse or as somewhere to cook or just unwind. It can be freestanding, too, if you choose to separate it from the campervan completely.
The rear cowl is adjustable between 180cm and 240cm, making it more suited to campervans than many motorhomes, although the twin poles give extra height in the main area of the awning.
If you want it to be a relaxing space, you can prop open the front door with poles, creating a pleasant canopy to sit under.
What is a Drive Away Awning?
A drive away awning is a sort of cross between a traditional awning and a tent. They’re a tent space that attaches to the side of your campervan, with a doorway on one side that lets you step between them easily.
The reason they’re called a drive away awning is because they’re designed to stay standing while you go off exploring. You can detach them from your campervan really quickly and easily, leaving them upright as you ‘drive away’ on your road trips.
They’re made from the same materials as a tent and set up in exactly the same way – usually with a combination of poles and pegs, although like tents, inflatable options that don’t need poles are becoming more popular.
Essential features include large doors that let you walk in and out freely, and privacy curtains so that you can use your awning as an extra sleeping space without being watched.
When your campervan space is limited, or if you want a cooler night’s sleep than your van is offering, an awning could be a really useful addition to your setup.
Benefits of Drive Away Awnings for Campervans
A drive away awning is an excellent way of adding some extra space to your campervan – and it’s your space, so you can use it however you want.
They’re popular for lounge spaces – you can generally stretch your legs more under an awning than you can in your van – but you might prefer to use it as somewhere to cook if you don’t want the fumes lingering around your camper or just for a bit of privacy when washing in the morning.
Compared to other awnings, the main benefit is how they combine the best features of a freestanding tent and a regular awning.
It’s an extension of your space, without the need to get out of your campervan and into a separate tent. But, within seconds, they can be detached while you head off for the day.
Drive Away Awning Buying Guide
Drive away awnings generally come in two heights. Low ones are designed for smaller vehicles, such as a VW camper awning, while the bigger ones are motorhome awnings that are often much wider.
Once you’ve found the right height, you then need to decide whether you want a fully freestanding awning that essentially functions as a complete tent with a tunnel or a smaller one that needs your campervan or motorhome to stay fully upright.
Finally, your main decision then comes down to the pitching method. A traditional awning uses fibreglass poles, but more modern inflatable options just use air.
Inflatable awnings tend to be more expensive, and there’s always a small risk one of the beams could get a puncture, but they are much simpler to set up overall.
Choosing the Right Size Drive Away Awning
When you’re ready to choose your awning, you need to make sure you find one that’s the right size for your campervan. The most crucial measurement is the height – buy one that’s too short or too tall, and it won’t fit onto your vehicle.
They come in all different shapes and sizes, including heights – drive away awnings designed for campervans are a lot shorter than those for motorhomes. So it’s important that you shop carefully, checking the product specification to get the right size for you.
Measure from the awning channel to the ground. If you don’t have one, measure from the top of the door instead. Then look for an awning that’s a similar height. They don’t need to be exact, as most are adjustable within a few centimetres.
Once you’ve found one that’s the right height, take a look at the other dimensions and room sizes. Again, it’s important you find one you’re happy with since you’ll probably be using it for years to come.
There are various accessories you could pick up to enhance your awning. A good starting point is a windscreen or windbreak – especially if you’re travelling to the coast where the winds can really pick up and whip the sides of your awning around.
You can also buy carpets and rugs for your awning to make the indoors more comfortable.
And add a little ambience with hanging awning lights.
Depending on what you want to use the awning for, you might want some extra outdoor furniture as well.
Some awnings can also be extended with an annex. These are smaller extra rooms you can add onto your awning to extend them even further. However, make sure you check that your chosen awning is compatible.
How to Connect a Drive Away Awning
There are several ways you can connect a drive away awning to the side of your motorhome or campervan.
The most basic is to use the over-vehicle straps, which you literally throw over the top of your campervan and peg down on the other side. However, it’s not ideal because it’s not the easiest for detaching when you want to go for a drive, and it doesn’t sit snug against your campervan, so water can get in.
The magnetic driveaway awning strip connectors are more practical and easier to use.
If you have a wind-out awning already attached to your vehicle, you just need to pick up a drive-away awning fixing kit that has a 6mm to 4mm beading.
The 4mm side of the beading slides onto your wind-out awning, and then add in the included figure-of-eight strips on the 6mm side. These then connect to your drive away awning, and you simply slide them out when you want to drive away.
The best option is with an awning channel. It works the same as with a wind-out awning. You just need a 6mm to 6mm kit instead. It creates a really snug fit, looks clean, and helps to prevent too much water from leaking in.
You need some figure-of-eight channeling for camper vans with a gutter. It clips into the gutter rail and then onto the awning. You just need to unclip the figure of eight when you want to take a drive.
Finally, if you have roof bars, some awnings (including the Vango and Kampa options above) have Velcro straps that loop around the roof bar. When you want to drive off, just unstrap the Velcro – simple.
Many drive-away awnings are pretty similar, so you just need to make sure you find one that fits your campervan or motorhome and has enough space for you.
Pay a little extra for an inflatable driveaway awning if you can, as they are a lot easier to set up.
If you like to have a lot of space, then look for those with inner tents that can be portioned off, or pick one with the attachments needed for an annex to expand later.
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