Drive-Away Awning Buying Guide
In this buying guide, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about buying and using a drive-away awning, including how to fix it to your vehicle. We’ve also included a few recommendations, updated for 2022.
Read on to discover more about drive-away awnings, how they work, the best awnings this year – hand-picked by Winfields Outdoors – and much more…
In short, a drive-away awning is a tent you attach to the side of your motorhome or campervan, with an opening on one side easily allowing you to pass between the two. They are made from the same material as tents and are erected in the same way.
What makes a freestanding drive-away awning different from, say, a canopy is that you can leave it standing if you want to go out for the day in your vehicle – hence ‘drive-away’. Simply attach and detach as you need to.
Why get a drive-away awning?
A drive-away awning can literally double your available living space. You’re then free to use all that lovely extra room as you wish – more storage space, a sheltered area to sit and relax (ideal for good and bad weather), more room for the kids to play – it’s up to you!
And if you fancy driving somewhere in your motorhome, then you can do it. You don’t have the hassle of putting up and taking down the awning each time – simply detach it from your vehicle, off you go, and then re-attach it when you’re back.
Choosing the right size drive-away awning
Making sure you get the right size awning is vital. The last thing you want is to get to the campsite and realise your freestanding awning doesn’t fit.
The most important dimension you need to measure is the height. Most motorhomes and campervans will have an awning rail on the side, so measure from that down to the floor. Campervans are usually smaller than motorhomes, so will normally require a lower awning.
Each of our awnings pages has the specifications and dimensions so you can double-check before you buy. For example, here are the dimensions for a Vango Kela V Air Drive Away Awning, which comes in different sizes, depending on the height of your vehicle.
How do you connect a drive-away awning?
There are a number of ways to attach a drive-away awning to your vehicle, whether you own a motorhome or campervan. The current attachments on your van will determine the options you have to connect it.
Connecting to a wind-out awning already fixed to your vehicle
Attaching via this method is quick and easy. You will first need to purchase a drive-away awning fixing kit that states that it’s either specifically for wind-out awnings or states that it has a 6mm to 4mm beading. This is due to the channel within the wind-out awning being a 4mm rail. Supplied in the kit will be some figure-of-eight strips and the beading.
Once you have your drive-away fixing kit, you can simply slide the 4mm side of the beading into your wind-out awning channel. The figure-of-eight strips will slide in the opposite side (which will be 6mm). The beading attached to the awning will then slide into the other side of the figure-of-eight, meaning your awning is now fully attached.
When you wish to drive away, simply slide out the figure-of-eight strips to disconnect. Here’s Outdoor Revolution with an excellent video on connecting your drive-away awning this way…
Connecting to an awning channel/rail fixed to your vehicle
This is very similar to fixing your awning to a wind-out awning. However, you will require a 6mm to 6mm drive-away awning fixing kit. The same method applies, but you’ll just be sliding the beading (supplied in the fixing kit) directly into the awning channel, which is already fixed to your vehicle.
This is a very clean and effective way of attaching your awning, and it is well worth getting a channel or rail fitted if you haven’t already got one.
Connecting to vehicle gutter
For shallow gutters, you will need a piece of a figure-of-eight channelling, which will clip in, and then you can connect the beading on your awning onto the vacant side of the figure-of-eight. When you want to drive away, you can simply unclip the figure-of-eight.
You can buy a pole and clamp set, separately, to be used with a deep gutter – just ensure your awning can accommodate this before-hand. Slide the pole onto the sleeve at the top of the rear section of the awning, and then place the pole and fabric into the gutter on the vehicle. Simply finish off by using the clamps to secure the awning at both ends and in the centre.
Connecting to roof bars
Some brands of drive-away awnings, including Vango and Kampa, have velcro loops integrated into the rear cowl (the part that connects to your vehicle). Here, you can simply loop the velcro tab around the roof bar to form a solid and easy-to-remove attachment – when you want to drive away and leave your awning free-standing.
For vehicles without any attaching facility
Don’t worry if this is the case – there is always a way to connect your drive-away awning to your vehicle. As standard, straps or guy lines will be attached to the rear of most awnings on the market, which you can simply throw over the top of your vehicle and peg down at the opposite side. This isn’t the perfect way to attach but should be ample for your outdoor holiday.
Outdoor Revolution has recently released a magnetic drive-away awning strip, which is a great method for vehicles without any attaching facility. However, please note that this is more aimed towards campervans and taller vehicles with a steel body to ensure the magnets will work.
Another method is via ‘suckers’ which will hold a piece of material, which includes a piece of beading and figure-of-eight on the roof of your vehicle. Your awning will then simply slide into the vacant side of the figure-of-eight. Kampa offers a Limpet Suction Fixing Kit for this option.
Many drive-away awnings feature the ability to attach an annexe, allowing you to extend the available space even further. This can be used as even more storage space or even as a bedroom, so you can accommodate more people on your trip. You could consider as a place for your bicycles, hiking gear or anything that may have will get dirty while on your trip. Just double-check your awning can attach an annexe first.
Our drive-away awnings
There are some outstanding drive-away awnings on the market right now, with inflatable drive-away awnings being quite fashionable. We offer a wide range of superb drive-away awnings here at Winfields Outdoors, however, for inspiration purposes – here are some of our recommendations, updated for 2022 so you know you’re getting the latest and best awnings for your motorhome or campervan…
Perfect for short breaks away, the Faros II Air Drive Away Awning is new for 2022 and features quality Sentinel Active fabric. This ensures a compact pack size that won’t take up valuable space. Quick and easy to pitch, this awning takes advantage of Vango’s excellent inflatable AirBeam structure, with its multiple attachment options ensuring compatibility with any vehicle.
The Faros II Air can be left freestanding when you are venturing out for the day and is easy to re-attach on your return. The connecting tunnel features two doors for convenient access to the front or rear of your vehicle, with a TBS®II Tension Band System ensuring the awning performs in adverse weather conditions. A bracer pole is also included to further enhance the stability of the structure.
Attaching Height: 180 – 210cm (Kador Length: 260cm)
Open Dimension: 290 x 180cm (W x D Floorplan Size) + Plus extra 95cm in depth for connecting tunnel
Pack Size: L75.0 x H33.0 x W33.0cm
A great space for relaxing and spending time with friends and family, Vango’s Kela V awning is quick and easy to pitch using AirBeam® technology, leaving you with more time to enjoy your break. Attaching to the side of your vehicle, the roll away connecting tunnel provides a versatile corridor or storage space, enabling you to keep your vehicle clean and dry. A tall version of this awning is also available.
Featuring diamond clear windows and roofline Skylights the awning is a light an airy place to be. There are zipped curtains for when privacy is required and low-level ventilation helps to circulate air in the awning and reduces condensation. Both the front and side doors are fitted with an internal mesh panel to further aid ventilation whilst maintaining a bug-free environment.
Fits: Designed to fit campervans and smaller motorhomes with a lower attaching height
Attaching Height: Low – Between 180 – 210cm / Standard – Between 205 – 245cm
Pack Size: L78.0 x H32.0 x W34.0cm
This poled version of Kampa Dometic’s Trip VW Drive Away Awning features tough, reliable, high-quality fibreglass poles that combine strength with sufficient flexibility. This awning is a free-standing, allowing you to drive-away while still reserving your pitch on site for when you return from your adventures. This is ideal for those wanting an easy quick pitching awning for their campervan and offering ample space and shelter. An air version of this awning is also available.
A large front door rolls to the side offering flexible opening and has a zip mesh panel behind to add ventilation and comfort in warmer weather, whilst keeping insects at bay. This awning also comes complete with a clip-in waterproof groundsheet that can be removed if the site does not allow non-breathable groundsheets. A door in the rear connecting tunnel provides convenient access to your vehicle without having to go through the main awning.
Attaching Height: 180 – 210cm (Connection Width: 250cm)
Open Dimension: 290 x 180cm (W x D – Floorplan size) (Plus extra 90cm in depth for connecting tunnel)
Pack Size: 70 x 24 x 24cm
We hope that you found our buying guide on drive-away awnings useful. The selection above are just some of the amazing drive-away awnings available at Winfield’s – be sure to check out our stock across a range of awnings, including inflatable as well as those for campervans and motorhomes – just in time for your next adventure.