A good quality awning is one of most practical and popular 4WD accessories to have. Quick and easy to erect, a side awning gives you effective shade and protection from the sun with minimal set up or fuss.
4x4 Side Awnings come in many shapes, size and application. Side Awnings usually range from 2m -3m in length and generally come out from your vehicle around 2.5m. Rear Awnings are typically around 1.4m to 1.5m in length and come out roughly the same.
Darche have designed the 180 Awning which mounts on the side of your vehicle as normal but expands with the use of swinging arms to give you an awning length of around 6m. Other similar awning are available from Oztent and Supex.
The largest of the Awnings are the 270 Awnings or Batwing Awnings which once again use swinging arms to expand, however wrap themselves around 2 sides of your vehicle (side and rear) essentially giving you shade 270 degrees around your vehicle.
Most awnings also come with optional walls that can be bought separately. Awning walls are ideal to provide extra shelter from wind and rain when pegged vertically down but can also extend the shade area of your shelter when strung out and supported by poles. A great way to add extra protection from the sun.
Things to consider when buying a side awning.
How are you going to mount it?
Typically, you will mount your side awning to your roof rack. It is important that you look at how you can achieve this. Some roof racks are straight forward, and a simple clamping method can be achieved to secure your awning, however more complicated roof racks may require additional parts from the manufacturer to obtain a secure fit.
Weight, especially on top of your vehicle can affect its handling. The more weight on top of your vehicle the higher your centre of gravity becomes. Knowing what weight, you carry up top is a good thing to explore as awning can range from 10kg to 30kg.
How much are you likely to use your awning. If its only going to be a couple times a year, a cheaper awning may be more practical. Awnings from ESC and Oztrail fit very nicely in this category and can offer you a good shade option for between $150 and $300.
If you are an explorer and enjoy trekking and are likely to be using your awning every second weekend, then you may want to consider a better-quality awning. Typically, these awnings will have a better shade fabric made from a rip stop canvas blend, with better seam sealing. In the case of the Darche 2m and 2.5 Awnings, they not only have a great canopy, but have developed the super flex hinge system which allows the poles to flex in the event of a blow over, meaning you avoid damage to your awnings structure.
At the end of the day, who you need to provide shade for, and how many plays a big part in choosing a side awning. For a large family you may want to consider the 180 or 270 awnings that utilize swinging arms for greater coverage. These are also great for camping with swags and stretchers. If you love the idea of a Awning Tent, then any of the 2m and 2.5m Awnings will be suitable to support this.