Vehicle awnings are a smart way for off-road truck and Jeep owners to get a break from the sun on those hot days. This buyer’s guide will look at some of the best vehicle awnings available today.
Sun protection is serious business: and whether you want to avoid the sun’s harmful rays to help stay cool, to protect from skin damage, or to protect your eyes, there’s no shortage of options for vehicle awnings that’ll form a comfortable barrier between you, your skin, your eyes, and the constant barrage of UVA and UVB rays streaming your way from overhead.
Vehicle awnings are popular with folks from all walks of life. They’re useful at motorsports events, days at the beach, sporting events, road trips, and for camping. Most offer solid sun protection, a useful shelter from rain or snow, or just a place to chill out with friends and family out of the sun.
Most vehicle awnings are portable, easy to use, and easy to bring along for the ride. It’s likely you’ll find plenty of new uses for yours on almost every voyage. Below, a look at some popular vehicle awning options, and some useful tips and information to help you decide on the right one for you.
Table of contents
- Editors Choice - Slumberjack SJK Roundhouse Tarp
- Best Value - Yescom Pull-Out Tent Shelter
- Most Compact - Smittybilt Trail Shade
- Hasika Versatility Teardrop Awning
- Eurow Tail Gator Sunshade
- Quik Shade Pop-Up Canopy
- Things to Consider When Buying a Vehicle Awning - Will it Fit?
- UV Protection
- Protection from the Elements
- How to Install
Editors Choice - Slumberjack SJK Roundhouse Tarp
The Slumberjack SJK Roundhouse Tarp might be the most versatile of the vehicle awnings on our list. The manufacturer calls this a 3-in-1 tarp, but there are many way sot get this tarp to fit your needs and your off-road vehicle. Included in the package are two 96-inch tall steel poles, eight 10-inch steel stakes, 68D polyester fly, heavy duty reflective guylines, and a carry bag.
You can set this up as a single-pole A-frame design with your vehicle, a dual-pole awning set up with your vehicle, or a dual-pole A-frame without using your vehicle at all.
Reviews of the Slumberjack SJK are overwhelmingly positive. The general consensus is that with a little creativity, you can set up this tarp to work on most any vehicle in a wide variety of conditions. Owners are particularly happy with the reinforced corners and overall rugged build quality. Some did wish the poles could have adjustable lengths and others added suction cup mounts separately for a different way to connect it to the vehicle. But more than 90% of the review are five or four stars.
Best Value - Yescom Pull-Out Tent Shelter
Offering up 65 square feet of shade at a reasonable price, the Yescom Pull-Out Tent Shelter comes with good owner reviews for its ability to quickly and effectively shelter users from the sun and rain. It’s a simple design, but it’s that simplicity that puts in our list of the best vehicle awnings.
High-quality Oxford fabric helps justify the slightly higher price than some competitors, and a stable aluminum structure provides strength while keeping weight to about 25 pounds. This makes the Yescom Pull-Out Tent Shelter easy to bring along for just about any outing in just about any vehicle.
The telescoping poles feature a quick-lock design for fast setup and tear-down, and the unit can be retracted easily when not in use. With nearly 30 inches of height adjustability, the Yescom Pull-Out Tent Shelter is easily adapted to just about any application. The aluminum and stainless steel components ensure maximum resistance against corrosion, and a handy carrying bag is included—as are a selection of bolts, nuts, wrenches, mounting brackets and plates, and other hardware.
Most Compact - Smittybilt Trail Shade
The Smittybilt Trail Shade is a simple and easy way to erect a simple shady shelter behind your vehicle. Smittybilt is a well-known brand in the vehicle tents and awnings scene, and their lightweight shade measures 10 feet long by 6 feet wide. Nylon shock cords and stakes are included to help stabilize the shade once installed, and lightweight construction means the entire thing stores up into a durable and compact backpack style carry bag. Collapsible poles are also included.
When using the Smittybilt Trail Shade, one end attaches to a fixed object—like a rear-mounted spare tire, the edge of a roof rack, or a tie-down cleat on the side of a pickup truck bed. The other end of the Smittybilt Trail Shade is supported by the included poles, and stabilized with the shock cords and stakes. This one’s easy to use and attaches easily to just about anything.
Plus, it’s portable enough to take it hiking or camping, where it can be attached easily to a nearby tree or other structure. Owner reviews are generally good, though many mention that, given the relatively narrow width of this shade, sun protection is limited. In our opinion, it is one of the best vehicle awnings you can buy.
Hasika Versatility Teardrop Awning
In our search for best vehicle awnings, we couldn’t pass up the Hasika Versatility Teardrop Awning. This shade offers up to 76-square feet of sun and weather protection, meaning it’s large enough to shelter up to 4 people comfortably. Made from 210T polyester rip stop fabric, it can withstand plenty of abuse and even features air vents in the peak allowing wind to flow through. Setup is said to be a one-man/woman job by roping the shelter to your vehicle, clipping in the supplied poles and attaching to the two steel poles at the end. The awning also comes with two sandbags that you can attach to the legs to ensure the awning stays in place on breezy days.
By all means this seems like an easy to use set up anywhere awning, but some reviews suggest that this setup only works best with vehicles that have a hatchback door.
Eurow Tail Gator Sunshade
With a unique and pleasing design, simple setup, and effective sun protection, the Eurow Tail Gator Sunshade is designed for excellent performance and ease of use.
The canopy design effectively protects from the sun and rain, and a sturdy fiberglass frame keeps things strong and light. Available with highly reasonable pricing in either blue or camo designs, the Eurow Tail Gator Sunshade is big enough to cover tables, chairs, coolers, kids, and pets, but folds down into a compact and portable size that makes it easy to bring everywhere. Best of all, included accessories make this one a cinch to use on soft or hard surfaces. Parking on pavement or concrete? No sweat—the included weights replace the drive-in stakes for a secure shelter.
A protected magnetic strip attaches to the vehicle tailgate easily, and shock-corded poles stiffen the structure while keeping weight down. The Eurow Tail Gator Sunshade even includes a built-in storage compartment to keep smaller items safe and secure. This might be one of the cleverest awnings on this page.
Quik Shade Pop-Up Canopy
The Quik Shade Pop-Up Canopy isn’t a dedicated car or 4×4 canopy, but it makes our list because of its compact sizing, easy to use design, and the fact that it folds down to the size of a backpack, making it easy to keep in your trunk or hatchback for use just about anywhere you’d like. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach, camping, or watching a sports tournament, the Quik Shade Pop-Up Canopy can be erected easily next to your vehicle for added shelter from the sun and rain. Best of all, since it doesn’t attach to your vehicle (but fits perfectly beside it), there’s no additional installation required.
The Quik Shade Pop-Up Canopy provides 36 square feet of coverage, is made of corrosion-resistant materials, and weighs just 14 pounds. A sewn-in back panel provides enhanced privacy and there’s no assembly required. Once you take the Quik Shade Pop-Up Canopy out of your car, the one-person, one-minute setup means your shelter is ready fast—with nothing to bolt on, tie on, or stake. Owner reviews are generally good, but many users note that this canopy is meant to sit, not to stand, under, as it’s fairly low. Some owners express disappointment with the quality, too.
Things to Consider When Buying a Vehicle Awning - Will it Fit?
When shopping for a car canopy or vehicle awning, it’s best to first measure the height, width and length of your vehicle carefully. Consider creating a diagram to help you visualize which products will properly and comfortably fit on your vehicle, and which ones won’t. You may also want to spend a few minutes having a walk-around of your vehicle with a tape measure, for the same reason. This tip helps address one of the most common reasons for poor owner reviews: the fact that sometimes, the canopy doesn’t fit as expected, causing disappointment. If in doubt, contact the seller.
Also, be sure to read all measurements very carefully. Note that the peak height of an awning or canopy may not be the effective height of the product—in some cases, the shape of the product means that the roof peak is highest at one specific point, and lower, everywhere else.
Whether you’re someone vulnerable to skin damage, skin cancer, or other harm from the sun’s rays, or just a general sun protection enthusiast, be sure to carefully read the product description and ensure the sun protection offered meets your needs in full. The material used to create certain products provides total UV blockage, and in other cases, partial UV blockage is all that’s offered. Though an awning with “80 percent” UV blockage might sound perfect, remember that most dermatologists agree that there’s no ‘safe amount’ of exposure to UV radiation, especially for vulnerable individuals. Shop accordingly, and don’t forget the sunscreen.
Protection from the Elements
For maximum protection against the elements (and minimized likelihood that your awning will perform poorly in inclement weather) be sure the product you select features stakes, tie-downs or bungee cords/straps that will secure each part of it, in full. Remember, too, that products with slanted or dome-shaped roofs allow water and snow to fall or drip off without accumulating, which can cause leaks, stress or wear the fabric and associated hardware, and otherwise lead to a less-than-stellar experience. Do you need added protection from the sun, wind or rain? Some awnings feature built-in side or rear panels for added shelter. Finally, remember to avoid storing your fabric awning when its damp or dirty, and to inspect and adjust all hardware regularly, too.
How to Install
The options for securing an awning to your vehicle are as numerous as the options for vehicle awnings themselves. Read the product description, carefully observe all images provided by the seller, and be sure to pour over any owner-submitted photos in the Amazon reviews section as well. This may provide additional information or ideas on how you’ll mount yours. Many owners who have had to get creative with mounting hardware and fabrication also share this information in the reviews section, too. Just remember—most awnings come with mounting hardware included, though additional parts and components may be required. Many sellers offer specialized mounting accessories as a supplemental buy, if they’re required.
If I purchase one of these awnings, is there anything else that I need?
This all depends on which you get. Some awnings attach to your vehicle with straps and buckles and some will require that you have a roof rack or basket to allow for mounting brackets to attach the awning to your car. Be sure to check with the manufacture before making your purchase.
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Updated 03/11/2021: Removed discontinued items, added new items, ranked items, and added FAQ.