Fitting Your Awning
Three of the questions we get asked most often are:
1. Will a Glawning fit to my vehicle?
2. If so, which Glawning do I need?
3. And, er, how do I actually attach the thing?
To answer these questions properly we need to look at them in reverse order.
How to Attach a Driveaway Awning to Your Vehicle
I should start by saying that where there is a will, there is almost always a way, but some ways are better than others. So what are the options?
Option 1 – Attaching your driveaway awning using an awning rail and driveaway kit
The most common way of attaching your driveaway awning, and usually the best way, is by using an awning rail. Put simply, an awning rail is a channel which runs along the top of a campervan, motorhome or caravan into which you can slide a plastic beading (known as a kador or keder beading, depending who you ask). All standard awnings come with this beading sewn on, and it therefore makes for a secure and watertight connection.
If your vehicle does not already have an awning rail fitted it can be fitted by a campervan conversion company or as a DIY job. They can either be screwed on or bonded on to the van. They range greatly in price with models such as the Reimo multi rail at one end of the spectrum and a cheaper aluminium C channel at the other. A quick search in google will reveal all the main options.
If your van has roof rails, it is also possible to fit a C channel underneath. It can be useful because there is usually no requirement to screw any extra holes in the van, as the existing holes for the roof rail bolts can be used. It also means that the awning rail is discreet and hidden away from general view.
If you’re attaching to an awning rail, we would recommend always using a driveaway kit - it makes it easier to connect and disconnect to the van and might help prevent a divorce! A driveaway kit is a long (usually 3m) piece of fabric with a bead along each edge (often called a kador strip), together with 3 plastic “figure of eight” connectors. The beading along one edge of the kador stip slides into the awning rail, while the beading along the other edge is joined to the beading on your awning, using the figure of eight connectors. It’s simpler than it sounds, and below you will find a little pic to illustrate it.
Please note that if you have a wind out awning on the side of your vehicle (such as a Fiamma) then you can connect to the small channel in the bottom of the awning cassette using the Dual Bead Driveaway Kit.
If you are just connecting to an awning rail then you will need the 6mm to 6mm Driveaway Kit
Option 2 - Attaching your driveaway awning with a magnetic strip or limpet suction pads
If you don’t want to go to the hassle or expense of attaching an awning rail to your vehicle, you can attach your driveaway awning using other products which use different methods of securing to the van. The best examples of these are kador strips, attached to a long magnet wrapped in fabric, or to lengths of fabric attached to suction pads.
While these methods can give a good, quick fix when no other option is available, they don’t give the same secure fit that you get with an awning rail. You will struggle to get suction pads to grip to some surfaces (if they’re not completely flat, for example), and magnets will of course only work if your van roof is made of metal. Also, both methods have a tendency to move around or become detached in strong winds.
Option 3 - Throwing straps over the top of the van
This quick and very straightforward method of fixing involves attaching 2 or 3 long guy ropes to the edge of the driveaway awning, where it connects to the van, and then throwing the ropes over the top of your van and securing on the other side. This is an effective method but you should be aware that the ropes can move from side to side in the wind and may rub on your vans paintwork if it’s not protected somehow.
Option 4 - Using Velcro straps to attach to roof bars or similar.
If you have roof bars or a roof rack, you can attach the driveaway awning to it by using Velcro straps or zip ties.
Option 5 - Using a pole and clamp in a gutter
If you have a rain gutter on the side of your van (such as those found on old Volkswagen bay windows or split screen vans), you can attach the awning using a pole and clamp. This involves feeding a pole through the sleeves on the awning and then clamping that pole onto the rain gutter. You can buy specific clamps for the job, or another method (our personal preference) is to use 22mm plastic plumbers pipe clips (they’re cheap so it wont matter if you lose one, and the plastic is less likely to damage your paintwork).
The pole method can also be used with options 3 and 4 above, by using the pole to attach the ropes or Velcro straps to.
Selecting the Correct Size Awning to Connect to Your Van
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to attach the driveaway awning to your vehicle, you can then work out which is the size to order for the best fit. To do this, we would recommend measuring the vertical distance from the floor up to the height at which you will be attaching the awning, (so, for example, if you’re using an awning rail you will need the vertical height from the floor up to the level of the awning rail). The reason this height is important is that it may be different from the actual height of the vehicle. Having said that, if you’re connecting to a “standard” height Campervan, you should go for the standard height connecting canopy. Examples include the Volkswagen T6, T5, T4; vintage Volkswagens; Mercedes Vito; Mazda Bongo; Ford Transit etc.
The heights of Glawning available are:
Standard - for connection heights up to 2.2m
High Top - for connection heights of 2.2 to 2.8m
Ok, now you know the size of connecting canopy you need, it’s time for the fun part - choosing which Glawning to buy! We’ll guide you through the process in our next article, which you can see HERE.