4x4 Awnings: Picking the Right One, Setup & Maintenance
There's nothing better than escaping into the great Australian outdoors and spending time camping in nature. Many people think that they need a full-blown caravan with all the necessary accessories to feel the most comfortable, but that can't be further than the truth. All you need is your 4WD and a 4WD awning to have all the space and comfort needed for a weekend getaway. And since you've got the 4WD part covered, let's talk about awnings.
Awnings are the perfect solution for all travel conditions. They're easy to store, provide a lot of space, and offer protection from the harsh Australian weather, keeping yourself and all of your possessions dry and away from the sun. 4WD awnings also give you extra privacy, allowing you to personalise your living space.
One of the best things about having an awning is that you can set it up even if you're all by yourself. It takes less than 5 minutes to install it, making it ideal for one-day trips. So if you've decided to get a 4WD awning for your next trip, here's what you need to know.
Types of 4WD Awnings
When browsing through any 4WD accessories online store, you'll find a few different types of awnings. The most popular type is the side mounted awning. Side awnings provide shade along the side of your 4WD. However, you can also mount it at the rear, which can be beneficial if you have a slide-out kitchen.
The other common types of awnings are batwing or foxwing awnings, which are also side mounted, except they come out at 270 degrees, covering the rear and both sides of your 4WD. These are ideal for people travelling in larger groups who need more coverage. They're also more expensive than side and rear awnings, but they're worth the cost if you're looking to accommodate a larger travelling party.
Size of 4WD Awnings
The ideal size of the awning will depend on what you intend to put under it. So for starters, consider how many people will be looking for shelter under the awning. Will it be just you and your significant other, or do you plan to camp with the kids? Will you only need to put a couple of chairs, or do you need more space for a table and a portable grill too? Take a moment to figure out what you'll need to fit under the 4WD awning and make sure you get the right size. There's no point in getting one if it's too small for your needs, as it will end up being a bad investment and you'll have to bring extra shade with you.
Moreover, you need to consider the size of your 4WD and whether the awning will fit it. If the awning is too long, it will stick out, making it unstable and unsafe if the weather is unfavourable. There are two measurements to look out for - the awning's depth and your vehicle's "A" measurement.
The depth of the awning is the distance from your vehicle to the awning's outer wall. The majority of awning models are between 2 and 3.5 metres deep. Obviously, the more depth the more floor space, but also the more fabric you'll need to deal with and erect. Your 4WDs "A" measurement is typically given in the owner's manual, but if it isn't, you can measure it yourself. Start off by levelling your 4WD, then taking a non-stretch string and running it through the awning track of your 4WD, which includes the rail running around it on the door side through which you'll eventually have to thread your awning.
Awning Material and Fittings
Since you need the awning to protect you from the elements, it must be constructed using high-quality materials and fittings. The majority of awnings you'll find in a 4WD accessories online store are made from polyester cotton which is available in different weights and is measured by grams per square metre. An awning with a 300 GSM is considered decent.
Furthermore, look for awnings that feature UV-resistant and reflective layers, both which are special coatings meant to protect you from the sun and extreme temperatures. Of course, you want the awning to be completely waterproof so it doesn't leak when it rains. Mould-resistance is another feature to look out for. Besides the shading material of the awning, you need to pay attention to the fittings. Fittings should be aluminium or stainless steel. This includes the hinges, fittings and poles. Avoid plastic whenever possible.
Setup and Maintenance Are Important
4WD awnings can be expensive, but they improve your experience in the great outdoors significantly. You should do your best to keep the awning in decent shape by taking proper care of it. For instance, you should practice setting the awning at home before you take it out on the field. This way, you make sure you have a hang of the setup process and can deal with any issues you face in a stress-free environment. If the awning is on the larger side, you may need to ask friends or family for an extra pair of hands in the setup process.
Once you get an idea of how the awning is supposed to be set up, you're ready to apply that knowledge in the field. When you've reached your destination, you want to check the wind direction so you know how to set up your 4WD and awning. Check weather forecasts at least once a day to have foresight of the weather. If high winds or bad storms are approaching, you might want to take the awning down to prevent damage.
Lastly, when you're ready to pack up and go home, take the awning down a couple of hours or a day in advance and let it dry properly before you pack it up. If you store a damp awning it can get mildew and the fabric can get damaged.
How to Prevent the Awning From Flapping
If you notice the weather getting windy, you want to prevent your awning from flapping. You can use a few different methods to accomplish this, all of which are similar. All you have to do is increase the stability and strength of the awning, which will also prevent damage. For instance, you can use clamps to reduce flapping and prevent the fabric from tearing up. Alternatively, you can use heavy-duty pegs and a spring tensioner to secure the awning to the ground. You can use the pegs and tensioner in combination with the clamps for even greater stability.