From the beach to the bush, the Simpson to the Great Sandy, the NT to the Nullabor … if you’re a 4×4 enthusiast, camping connoisseur or outdoor adventurer, you know shade and protection are essential elements of any trip.
Whether you’re doing the “big lap” or just heading to the beach for the day, a 4WD awning is a must-have accessory for your 4×4 vehicle and the off-road lifestyle. And here’s why:
- Instant shade
- Living space extension
- Improve your comfort
- Protection from harsh weather
- Increased privacy
In this best 4wd awnings in Australia practical guide, you’ll learn what to consider when buying a new 4WD awning.
What makes it the best 4WD awning?
Once upon a time, an “awning” was a mere tarp, a few poles and some guy ropes to give protection from the elements. Nowadays, the 4WD awning has evolved into a sophisticated accessory, with many options on the market.
But however elaborate the setup, the best 4WD awning for you should be practical, easy to set up, and offer significant protection from the weather.
Generally, the best 4WD awning will:
- Suit your needs and how you intend to use it.
- Suit your vehicle type, for example, a 270-degree awning has you covered if you access the rear doors of your vehicle often.
- Be easy to set up and pack away
- Be constructed from high-quality material to ensure a long life
What makes the best 4WD awning for you may be vastly different to your mate next door, or the guy at the campground with every contraption ever known!
CHECKLIST: How to choose the best 270 degree awning or 180 degree awning for your needs
A good-quality awning is an investment and worth your research time. Awnings come in a wide range of types, sizes, fabrics and configurations, and your specific needs, vehicle and budget will form the basis of your decision.
Look at how often you will use your awning. If you plan to use it every day because you are travelling or living the #vanlife, then you’ll be opening and closing it a lot, which may potentially increase wear and tear and impact its lifespan.
Vehicle and Roof Rack to Support the Awning
Not all awnings are created equal and not every vehicle set up is the same. Maybe you have a rooftop tent or you tow a camper or caravan, you drive a van or have a dual cab with a canopy, the type of rooftop awning you’ll install is greatly determined by your 4×4 vehicle set up.
For example, single cab or dual cab ute? Wagon or van? Small or large 4×4? Barn doors at rear or a tailgate that lifts up? Towing a camper or caravan? Rooftop tent, floor tent or swag?
And, importantly, roof racks or roof rails? If a roof rack, consider the weight rating of your roof rack – not all roof racks can take a truly freestanding awning due to the leverage on the main mount from what is essentially a big sail! If you’ve only got roof rails, you might need to consider an upgrade or brackets to strengthen how the awning is mounted.
Think about installation too and whether you can do it yourself or if you’ll need a 4×4 accessories fitter to do it for you.
Type of 4WD Awning
The type of awning you choose must suit the way you intend to travel and use it, for example, a 270 degree awning would be ideal for someone who has a fridge and draws at the rear. Where a 180 degree awning would be suitable if you have a van or dual cab where you use the sides of your 4×4 a lot. Also think about where you want the awning, for example, on the driver’s side or the passenger side.
Despite the different designs, configurations and multitude of 4WD awnings on the market, your decision on what’s the best 4WD awning for you may come down to realistically how much you are willing to invest in the type of awning that suits your specific needs and your non-negotiables in a 4×4 awning.
Freestanding or Pole Supported
One of the greatest debates when it comes to 4×4 awnings is: Poles or no poles?! Many awnings still require poles on setup, however, a freestanding awning that doesn’t require poles is a very popular option, mainly because it is quick to set up by one person and easy to use.
If you are opening it several times a day, a freestanding 270 degree awning or 180 degree awning that only takes a few minutes to open may suit your needs more than one with poles that can take more time to set up.
The amount of shade and protection you need will also help you decide which awning is best for you. Is it just you and your significant other travelling or do you have a family to consider? Most average-sized 270 degree awning or 180-degree 4WD awnings will give about 10sq m of coverage, some less and some more. Think about how you will spend your time under the awning, for example, sleeping in a swag and completely living under it, or just cooking and sitting under it.
4WD Awning Weight
Weight is a huge factor when it comes to 4x4s and your awning will add to your overall GVM. Awnings can range in weight, up to 35kg, sometimes more depending on the brand you purchase. The average weight for a good-quality awning is about 25kg.
Material: Steel, Aluminium and Canvas
The quality of your new awning will be dependent on the materials used, for example, the UV and water resistance of the fabric, the grade of steel and aluminium and the overall build quality, will make sure it can stand up to the harsh Australian conditions.
Weather and Wind Rating
Also, consider where you will predominantly use it and the weather factor, for example, if you plan to use your awning at the beach, the wind will play a part in how long your awning lasts, so look for a higher-quality heavy duty awning that can withstand the wind and weather it may be exposed to. Some awnings will have an official wind rating.
Warranty and Brand Reputation
Pay attention to the fine print and the warranty when you’re buying a new awning. It’s important to know what’s covered and what’s not, for example, most awning warranties won’t cover a storm or harsh weather conditions and will only cover workmanship and/or canvas. Look for trusted brands in the marketplace and extend your research beyond how it fits to your 4×4.
Chances are if you’re researching new 4WD awnings, you’ll want it soon (or now!), but have you considered there may be a wait time and the awning you want may not be available right now. Some of the best 4WD awning brands have wait times of up to 9 months, while others have stock on the floor. Factor this into your research and realistic buying time frame. Are you willing to wait or will you be happy with your second choice?
Points of Difference
Looking for the best 270 awning, or best 180 awning? Well, each brand and awning will have its own points of difference, however, it’s at this stage when you are weighing up what awning to buy that you may need to come back to what is important to you. It may be the Australian-made status, or that it’s freestanding, or that it uses a special type of material, or that it just looks different to others on the market.
Accessories for the 4WD Awning
Another point to consider is attachments, spare parts and accessories. Can you purchase walls at a later stage or can you get spare parts, like poles and storage bag, if you need them. Or do you need a special attachment or bracket to secure the awning to your roof rack.
One of the biggest grievances consumers have is customer service, or lack thereof. So when you are purchasing a new 4WD awning, research the company’s policies on refunds, warranties and dispute resolution. Get in touch and talk to the team and get a feel for their customer service. Are you able to get in touch easily, do you get quick replies and are they helpful? It might seem like the best 4WD awning, but without good aftersales support, you might be left unsatisified.
Top brands and the best 4WD awning for you?
With 270-degree and 180-degree awnings available, Destination4WD is a new player in the 4WD market but is cementing itself quickly. The all-Aussie-made awnings are strong, durable and lightweight – but are also innovative with their extendable arms to give more coverage and a completely square design and look.
ESSENTIAL INFO: Corner wall kits and single panel walls available, 2x complimentary universal mounting brackets, completely square, driver’s side and passenger side options, freestanding, 2.2m when packed away, 23kg total weight, 12.4sq m coverage, 260gsm Australian-made Dynaproofed canvas, 316-grade stainless steel and 5005-grade aluminium.
Camp King Industries
Camp King Industries products are made in Australia to ensure quality and longevity. Camp King has taken their knowledge of aluminium and canvas from their tray, canopy and rooftop tents and applied it to their impressive freestanding 270-degree awning. The quickest one person setup we’ve seen, but does have slightly less shade area compared with others.
ESSENTIAL INFO: Wall kits available, various mounting options, mounting brackets not included, heavy duty and completely freestanding, passenger side placement, driver’s side awnings made to order, 2.3m when packed away in storage bag, 24kg, 316 stainless steel pivot bracket, 275gsm Australian-made Wax Convertors canvas.
A trusted brand in the marketplace, Darche is well known for making top-quality camping and outdoor gear, including its huge range of awnings. From 270 to 180 and pullout awnings, the Darche products are designed and tested in the Melbourne office. The most popular and most talked about Darche 4WD awning is the Eclipse 270.
ESSENTIAL INFO: Huge range, pole-supported awnings, walls for 180-degree and 270-degree awnings, annexes and spare parts available, the Eclipse 270 offers 11.5sq m of instant cover, 320gsm polycotton ripstop canvas, PU 1500mm water rating, left or right-hand side mount configurations.
The Bush Company
Manufactured in South Africa, The Bush Company’s 270-degree and 180-degree awnings are popular and can easily be fixed to a roof rack or to their rooftop tents. Setup and pack-down time takes less than a minute and can be done by just one person. There are several awnings in the range including the 270 Gull Wing, 270 XT and the 270 XT MAX, plus the 180 XT MAX.
ESSENTIAL INFO: Wide range, 2.3m in length, 23.5-33.5kg weight range, 8-12sq m coverage, 2x heavy duty “L” mounting brackets included, freestanding, left or right hand side configurations, 320gsm (11.3oz) polycotton ripstop canvas, guy ropes and pegs included.
Other brands to consider:
Boss Aluminium: www.bossaluminium.com.au
Dingo 4×4: www.dingo4x4.com.au
Foxwing by Oztent: www.oztent.com.au/products/foxwing-270-awning
Bushwakka Adventure Gear: www.bushwakka.com.au
Rhino-Rack Batwing Awning: www.rhinorack.com/en-au/products/sport-awnings/awnings
A 4×4 awning is an investment in your next trip
Shade and protection can be hard to recreate when you’re out in the elements, so BYO instant shade and invest in a quality 4WD awning.
Do your research and purchase the awning that is best suited to your particular needs and it will serve you well, whether it’s a day at the beach, a weekend adventure or the full lap.
Found this best 4WD awning Australia 2022 buyers guide useful? What 4×4 awning are you rolling with? Leave us a comment.