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The experience of car camping, beach driving, and off-roading are all enhanced by extra shelter in the form of a vehicle awning. Similar to an RV or sun porch awning, the retractable fly furls or folds out of the way when not in use and deploys in minutes at your camp or picnic site. If you put a lot of miles on the road and break often to rest, cook, or just relax in the outdoors, a vehicle awning adds a whole new level of comfort, shelter, and privacy.
Most vehicle awnings mount on the perimeter of a roof-rack system so that they remain aerodynamic during travel. But different models offer varying amounts of coverage ranging from 90 to 270 degrees. Some also have the option to attach one or more side shelters to partially or even fully enclose the awning against the elements.
Some awning materials are marketed as waterproof, while others are not. If you live in an arid environment like the desert southwest, where shade is more important than protection from rain, having a waterproof fabric may not matter. In unexpected rainstorms, angle a non-waterproof awning downward to promote drainage and minimize leaking.
Roof awnings are not one-size fits all. Study the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine whether the awning you are considering will actually fit your vehicle. Also consider whether you have to purchase separate mounting hardware. Many products in the roof-rack and storage category call for components that are sold separately.