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Awnings - help me sort out the confusion

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    Awnings - help me sort out the confusion

    Can you help me around the complexity of Awnings? The van is now starting conversion and I probably need to decide quite quickly if I want awning options fitted now, rather than later.

    I see 3 main reasons for an awning:

    1. Somewhere to sit outside in the shade on a hot sunny day. This would be quite important to me as I prefer to be in the shade rather than out in the sun.

    2. Somewhere to expand to when camped up, maybe with outside table/chairs or somewhere to wash, etc.

    3. A place I can leave things when I need to drive away in the van.

    The van is a VW Transporter SWB with Rear Barn Doors and High Roof added. I suspect that most of the time I will be staying on campsites. Any awning would need to be easy to install/uninstall by one person.

    So here are my thoughs/questions, in no particular order:

    1. The guy doing the conversion has the option to fit a Fiamma F45s wind out awning. I have read that some campsites do not allow awnings at all, would this apply to the wind out awning which is basically just a sunshade?

    2. I've seen comments that you should not buy an awning with an integral ground sheet as you won't be able to use it on some campsites. Does this mean no ground sheets are allowed, or is it only a certain kind, do you not get awnings integrated with the right kind?

    3. Some people seem to suggest using stand alone tents rather than awnings - are these allowed or does an awning have to be attached to the van?

    4. What about toilet tents - are they classified as awnings, are they disapproved of?

    5. Drive away awnings - are they easy to attach/detatch, how easy is it to line up the van and re-connect? From my limited experience of the van before it went away for conversion I was not particularly good at reverse manoeuvring but hopefully that'll get better with practice.

    6. If you left an awning up, would you be comfortable leaving anything of value in it whilst you went away for a while?

    7. Given the choice would you put an awning off the side door or the rear doors, it will be a rear galley van so I would be able to use either doors to get in and out?

    So for now I need to decide quite soon if I want the Fiamma awning installed (this would also give me an awning rail to attach a proper awning to at a later date), or to get just an awning rail fitted, or to do nothing at this stage.

    Any thoughts/advice appreciated.

    If you like shade I'd definitely have the fiamma fitted, you would then always have use of that if you didn't want to take a drive away awning one time.

    It would be a strange campsite that classed a fiamma as an awning. So long as you used just the canopy and didn't buy the privacy room sides you can get now days.

    Get the fiamma fitted then take your time choosing a bigger awning or tent
    Guardian of the Ducks
    2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Quack!


      I can't answer all your questions, but I do know the answers to some of them...

      2. Integral groundsheets are usually solid plastic and kill the grass after a few days. Which is why some sites don't like them. If you're on a wide hard standing pitch, it might not be a problem...
      3. Most sites are OK with standalone tents, but some are not licensed for tents (I seem to remember Butlins being one of them). There are rumours that some people have had to tie their tents to their vans with guy ropes to keep the wardens happy!
      5. There's a trick to this - you put a guy rope along the ground in a line alongside the van before you drive off. You can then use this as a literal guide line when reversing back onto the pitch...
      6. Depends on what it is,and the size. I wouldn't leave a wallet or jewellery in the awning, but would leave bikes in there. Your valuables are probably as safe on the site as they would be in the van, where they could potentially be on display to everybody who walks past your van in the street or car park...
      There are hundreds of eyes on a campsite, and someone entering an unattended awning and carrying things away from it is likely to be noticed by somebody...
      7. Most pitches are designed for caravans, so they expect the awning to be on the side. A rear awning makes for a very long, thin unit. In practical terms it probably doesn't make too much of a difference...
      Last edited by blackadderkate; 08-05-2018, 21:24.
      Schrödinger's cat:
      Wanted Dead and Alive.


        Originally posted by Pauline View Post
        If you like shade I'd definitely have the fiamma fitted, you would then always have use of that if you didn't want to take a drive away awning one time.

        It would be a strange campsite that classed a fiamma as an awning. So long as you used just the canopy and didn't buy the privacy room sides you can get now days.

        Get the fiamma fitted then take your time choosing a bigger awning or tent
        But make sure you put it away in the event of bad weather or it will probably get damaged by the strong winds.

        Gregor you have identified the main reasons that we use an awning. On the odd occasion we have managed without one but 99% of the time we take it with us. Very useful for all the reasons you suggest. There are many threads about which awnings members prefer. Ours in a Kyham instant erect one, and is stable even in the worst weather, having flexible joints.

        A toilet/utility tent is usually ok as well as an awning. It makes a great place to dump chairs, the bags for the silver screen awning etc. Ours is a Kyham utility tent, having wasted too much money on other toilet tents whose canes snap all too easily.

        Our toilet usually goes in the awning, not in the toilet tent. Easier access for night-time visits, assuming you don't have room for the loo inside your van.
        Carpe diem! :)


          LOL Of course the toilet tent is also useful as a toilet tent!
          Carpe diem! :)


            Here are my answers probably similar to Kate’s.

            1. A Fiamma wind out awning would not be considered an awning on 99% of campsites.
            2. We’ve been to lots of campsites and some do ban ground sheets so this could be an issue with a sewn in one.
            3. We once had a jobsworth warden that wanted to charge us for an extra pitch because we had a tent we used as an awning, it depends on the campsite I think and how much common sense the warden uses. If your storage tent is no bigger than an awning and is within the boundaries of your pitch I don’t see a problem and would argue that fact. Also if you had cooking facilities in the tent and your van this might pose a fire risk in their eyes as there is often a rule about space between units.
            4. I don’t think a toilet tent would pose a problem.
            5. Once you get the knack of lining the van up it comes easy but it helps to have a partner guiding you, blackadderkate ‘s guy rope idea is brilliant.
            6. It depends on the campsite and how secure it is we leave chairs etc. But I wouldn’t leave anything really valuable.
            7. This can depend on the size of the pitch, if it’s long and narrow you could put it on the back, if it’s wide but short put it on the side. One downside of putting it on the side is that you can lose light to your side door, however we use the side given the choice as we use that door more than the back door which is normally cluttered and has a lift up work top that goes across it.
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              Originally posted by NomadSue View Post

              But make sure you put it away in the event of bad weather or it will probably get damaged by the strong winds.
              Yes definitely put away a fiamma if it's windy or use a good strong tie down kit. They can blow up and over your van in a not too strong wind and cause a great deal of damage.
              Guardian of the Ducks
              2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Quack!


                We use an Outdoor Revolution Utility Tent and it takes all our "junk" as others have said. We have never had a problem on a campsite. When asked if we have an awning (which is what we use it as and how we view it) I just say we have a small utility tent.

                As Graham says, as long as it stays within your pitching boundary and doesn't have a sewn in/lift upable groundsheet there shouldn't be a problem. I would avoid anything that has a fixed in groundsheet.
                They are killers of a campsite grass area and leave a bog for the next camper. Very nasty


                  A tarp is enough for me...either free standing


                  or (rarely!) attached to the car, kind of like this (I do not have an own pic of that, but this one does give the idea)....more versatile than anything else...and cheap...

                  Last edited by NiedrigerIQ; 09-05-2018, 08:42.


                    When I had my little demountable, I always had a drive away awning on the back where the door was, unless I was en-route to somewhere else and only staying for one night. It nearly always fit on a pitch, in spite of the extra length - but it was only small! I have a similar arrangement now with my small Kip caravan, as the door it still on the back, and so is the awning. sometimes you can pitch sideways on, so that is always an option with something attaching to the back.

                    Most of your questions have been answered here, so I will just add that what sort of awning/utility tent you need will depend on what sort of camping you intend to do. If you're only staying for one night and then moving on, then the wind out awning would be a good option. You don't have to store it anywhere, it's there for use whether you want to use it or not.
                    If you're staying for a few nights or more on a campsite, you would find a drive away awning a good addition to your kit, as it just gives you more room to spread out a bit. And if you want to use the van as a car during the day, you have somewhere to put your bits and pieces, rather than have to put everything away before you go out.

                    The Khyam website has a lot of pics of their awnings with pictures of how they fit different vehicles, so that might help you to visualise the different options.

                    Most drive-away awnings have optional groundsheets ( I rarely use mine, unless very muddy or wet underfoot) and proper tents made for camping and sleeping in usually have a sewn in groundsheet.
                    Last edited by jayjay; 09-05-2018, 09:25.


                      You guys are replicating home......with fixed walls and all......I brake a lance for less is more....and that not coming from budgetary constrictions in our case, well, if, then only a little bit.....but I can see the appeal your approach has..

                      Last edited by NiedrigerIQ; 09-05-2018, 09:32.


                        We have 2 different size Outhouses, a Movelite and a tarp. The tarp lives in the van and gets used when we need an awning, the smaller Movelite comes with us on really long trips when we are out long enough to need to do laundry and need an outside drying area for socks (everything else tumble dries).

                        The other two live in our garage at home unless we are going to a meet or something.

                        We have an easy answer as to where to store all the "junk" - back at home


                          Originally posted by BrianTheSnail View Post
                          need an outside drying area for socks (everything else tumble dries).
                          Lots of good pointers and suggestions here - thanks all - I'm leaning towards the wind out awning initially and then having a good look round as I travel to see what everyone else does.

                          I can't believe I've been getting the sock thing so wrong all these years - they get tumbled along with everything else - LOL!


                            We tumble dry ours too. It's just that most of the rest of our travel clothes are quick dry. Even cotton underwear seems to dry faster than socks, although we do have some faster drying microfibre underwear for traveling. Socks take ages and campsite driers are too expensive in terms of both money and time to put them through an extra cycle.

                            So longer trips we always carry both inside and outside drying facilities for those damper items.


                              Special underwear for camping? - Wow, I've still got an awful lot to learn!

                              BrianTheSnail I've found the answer to your damp socks:



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