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The Best Camper Van Awnings You Can Buy: Thule, Yakima and More

Sep 11, 2023Sep 11, 2023

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Expand your living space into the great outdoors (for relatively little money).

Camper vans may be the ultimate outdoor exploration vehicle, offering the amenities one finds in larger motorhomes or camping trailers but with maneuverability closer to that of a passenger car. One drawback is they can get a little tight on the interior. Buying a camper van awning can be a great way to expand your living space without spending much money (at least in camper van terms). And you can find one at virtually every price point, from a simple sun shade to a full-on mobile habitat.

Size: Manufacturers offer camper van awnings in different sizes. You want to make sure it's compatible with your vehicle and extends out long enough to provide enough space for what you want to do outdoors. Camper vans can be tall. So adjustable, telescoping poles are an excellent feature to have.

Mounting Difficulty: How you plan to mount the tent is critical. Some awnings are fixed to the roof rack. Some are portable. You may be mounted to a different type of roof rack or the load bars on the vehicle and require a special adapter. Some awnings are designed to offer easy compatibility. Some even have tool-less setups. Others may require you to purchase an adapter.

Setup Difficulty: Like with a tent, you want to set up your awning with as little effort and time and as few people involved as possible. Ideally, you'd have an awning that can be set up within a few minutes and be most accomplished by one person.

Weather Protection: The more expensive awnings offer better quality material and waterproofing. If you are camping somewhere placid, a simple sun shade may do. But if you're camping in areas with more wind and precipitation, you may want a more heavy-duty construction to withstand the elements.

Accessories: Some camper van awnings offer a range of accessories to customize your experience with features like opaque walls, wind and water protection or mosquito nets.

The Thule Hideaway is a roof-mounted awning, designed specifically for camper vans like the Mercedes Sprinter. It's strong enough to handle inclement weather with spring-tensioned arms, waterproof materials and welded seams.

As the name suggests, Front Runner's Easy Out Awning installs in less than 60 seconds with two people. The support poles are extendable for use with taller vehicles. You can also add a range of helpful Front Runner accessories like a mosquito net.

No more cramming everything underneath a small awning. Rhino Rack's Batwing awning expands out to cover a 270-degree radius and offers up to 118 square feet of sun protection. It's available with both left and right-hand models, depending on which side of the car you want to use.

The Yakima SlimShady lets you conserve your energy for your outdoor adventure. It offers easy installation with a tool-less system and is designed to roll out and prop up with ease once installed.

The Dometic Rally Air Pro awning is an inflatable awning that dramatically expands your camper van's living space. It's also freestanding, so you can leave it in place at the campsite and still use your vehicle to explore.

Europeans and Aussies get many of the best camper vans. But there are still some great options you can buy in the United States.


ARB's awning is designed for a 4x4 adventure with a pre-installed light sleeve. It can extend out 8 feet from the side of the vehicle to provide ample shade and the legs are telescopic to offer an adjustable height.

The Big Agnes Sand Wash sunshade is designed to set up quickly and create instant shade on the go. And it comes in at a very reasonable price point. It does come with a durable carry bag but is not meant to be permanently stored on the roof.

The Overcast is a basic lightweight offering from Thule that extends 6.5-feet and provides a respite from the sun. It's compatible with most roof racks, though you can also mount it directly to load bars.

Hasika's Versatility Teardrop Awning is, as you might anticipate, versatile and teardrop-shaped. It's a sunshade that can fit a wide range of vehicles and serve a range of purposes. And it's not a major investment, coming in at a little over $100.

If you’ve always enjoyed the top bunk, you should invest in a rooftop tent.


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