Motorhomes and campervans can be pretty roomy this days. You can happily live in them for a while and not feel too cramped, but if you really want to get the best out of them, then you need to consider treating yourself to a drive away awning.
In this buying guide we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about buying and using a driveaway awning, including how to fix it to your vehicle. We’ve also included some of what we think are the best drive away awnings, updated for 2018 with the latest awnings from the biggest brands. But first, the basics…
What is a drive away awning?
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 to, 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 driveaway 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. 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 the Vango AirAway Galli awning, which comes in three 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 firstly need to purchase a driveaway awning fixing kit that states that it’s either specifically for wind-out awnings (FIamma, Omnistor are both popular 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 8 strips and the beading.
Once you have your driveaway fixing kit, you can simply slide the 4mm side of the beading into your wind-out awning channel. The figure of 8 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 8, meaning your awning is now fully attached.
When you wish to drive away, simply slide out the figure of 8 strips to disconnect. Here’s Outdoor Revolution with an excellent video on connecting your drive-away awning this way…
Click to see how drive away awning fixing kits
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 driveaway 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 figure of 8 channeling, which will clip in, and then you can connect the beading on your awning on to the vacant side of the figure of 8. When you want to drive away, you can simply unclip the figure of 8.
You can buy a pole and clamp system separately to be used with a deep gutter. 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. Finally, use the clamps to secure the awning at both ends and in the centre.
Connecting to roof bars
Some brands of driveaway awnings, including Vango & 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 have recently released a magnetic driveaway 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.
Drive Away Awning Annexes
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 – just double check your awning can attach an annexe first.
See all of our awning annexes.
What is the best drive away awning?
There are some outstanding drive away awnings on the market right now, with inflatable drive away awnings being quite fashionable. Here are some of recommendations for the best drive away awnings, updated for 2018 so you know you’re getting the latest and best awnings for your motorhome or campervan…
Vango Airhub Hexaway Drive Away Awning
Vango Galli II Air Drive Away Awning
Sunncamp Motor Buddy 250 Drive Away Awning
Kampa Travel Pod Touring Air Drive Away Awning
Vango Kela IV Air Drive Away Awning
Take a look at our full range of drive away awnings – Great prices, with many available on 0% finance.
Last modified: April 17, 2018