Awning Buyer's Guide - Why you need one for your 4x4 trip away

June 30, 2024

Awning Buyer's Guide - Why you need one for your 4x4 trip away

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An awning is one of the best purchases you can make if you love camping or overlanding. When spending time exploring the great outdoors, a good 4x4 awning protects you from the elements, such as the sun or rain, by providing you with shade protection.

 
What’s the difference between a pull-out awning, a shower tent or ensuite, a 180-degree, a 270-degree and a 360-degree awning?

Pull-out awnings or “side awnings” are lightweight and pull out from the side of the vehicle. Pull-out awnings generally use poles and guy ropes to secure them to the ground.

Shower awnings; also known as shower tents, ensuites or cubicles, are lightweight and quickly and easily fold out from the side of the vehicle. These are generally self-supporting and require no guy ropes.

 

darche 4x4 180 awning

180-degree awnings cover one side of your vehicle when deployed. They may use poles and ropes to prop up and tie down the awning or they may be “freestanding”.

 

darche 270 4x4 awning

 270-degree awnings cover one side plus the rear of your vehicle when deployed and may use poles and guy ropes to prop up and tie down the awning or they may be “freestanding”.

 

bushwakka 4x4 360 awning

360-degree awnings cover both the front, rear and one side of the vehicle, with very few on market. 360-degree awnings can also consist of two 180-degree awnings, one on each side of the vehicle and cover across the top of rear of the vehicle and likewise, are rare. “Freestanding” versions for the 360-degree awning are also available.

 

All types of awnings, described above, typically stay bolted onto your 4x4’s roof rack and some allow you to attach additional walls to give you even better protection from the elements.

 

What is a “freestanding” awning?

Freestanding” awnings are typically the 270-degree or 180-degree awnings and don’t require poles and guy ropes in calm conditions. Typically, the structure is more heavily reinforced at the spine of the awning compared to the non-freestanding awnings. The “freestanding” aspect requires that the main spine to be attached to the vehicle and the rafters are self-supporting. These awnings also come with tie down points and pole attachment points where poles and guy ropes can be used in poor weather conditions. You may consider buying a “freestanding” awning if you don’t want to fiddle with poles when trying to set up camp in mild conditions. However, prevailing weather conditions may dictate that they be secured with poles, guy ropes or both. Manufacture instructions vary on this aspect.

RacksBrax recommends you secure your freestanding awning with poles and guy ropes during windy or gusty conditions, when it is raining or snowing so that the awning can drain easily, and also when your set-up is unattended.

 

What do I need to consider before I buy an awning for my 4x4?

Your 4x4’s size and shape will determine which awnings best fit your 4x4 set-up. 

Small 4x4s such as Suzuki Jimnys are generally most suited to the pullout and 180-degree awnings. However, there are some small 270-degree awnings on market which suit these types vehicles. Larger awnings may not suit due to vehicle roof weight restrictions and projection issues; that is fixing points are forward of the front support bracket or to the rear of the rear support bracket – in other words, the smaller roof racks are not long enough to support the larger awnings.  These limits are usually set by the awning manufacturer.

4x4 utes, pick-ups and bakkies often have shorter roof lengths; such as single or twin cab utes, bakkies or vehicles with canopies, where the awning is either fitted to the canopy or the vehicle roof.  Again, larger awnings may not suit due to vehicle roof weight restrictions and projection issues; that is fixing points are forward of the front support bracket or to the rear of the rear support bracket – in other words, the smaller roof racks are not long enough to support the larger awnings.  These limits are usually set by the awning manufacturer.

4x4 wagons such as Landcruisers, Prados and Patrols fit just about all awnings but weight and projection issues mentioned above are still applicable.

 

bushwakka shower awing tent 4x4
 
How can RacksBrax products help me with my awning?

RacksBrax quick release hitches sit between the awning and the bracket and allow your awning to be quickly removed from, or loaded onto, your vehicle’s awning brackets without the need to use any tools. Once loaded they can be locked on with the inbuilt barrel lock.

Removing your awning with the RacksBrax quick release systems reduces the weight, drag and thus fuel consumption, of your vehicle when in motion and dependant on your bracket design can mean reducing the head room of your rig.  This depends on what else is on your vehicle. RacksBrax’ systems also help prolong the life of your awning by keeping it out of the rain, sun and snow when not in use.

Go to the “Works With” menu on the RacksBrax website to see what RacksBrax quick release hitches, brackets and accessories you need for your specific awning and roof rack set up.

 

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