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
- 1. Editor's Pick: KingCamp Awning and Canopy
- 2. Best Value: Timber Ridge Car Canopy
- 3. Most Clever Design: Hasika All-Weather Batwing Awning
- 4. Smittybilt Trail Shade
- 5. Tent Pro Inc Retractable RV Awning and Sunshade
- 6. Dobinsons Roll Out Awning
- 7. Yescom Pull-Out Tent Shelter
- 8. Eurow Tail Gator Sunshade
- 9. 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
1. Editor's Pick: KingCamp Awning and Canopy
The King Camp Awning and Canopy makes our Editors Pick easily as a great-looking awning with a multitude of uses—vehicular and otherwise—which adds value for the shopper.
This do-it-all shelter is affordable, effective, cleverly designed, and multi-functional. The King Camp Awning and Canopy is built to be durable, features an attractive design and color, and comes in either blue or grey to match your vehicle and surroundings perfectly. Rip Stop 210T polyester will stand up to years of use, and the King Camp Awning and Canopy is both waterproof and UV blocking.
It weighs under 10 pounds and includes a portable zipper bag with handles for easy transport and storage.
The King Camp Awning and Canopy can be mounted in a multitude of different ways—either stood up on poles (3 are included), tilted against the side or tailgate of a vehicle and attached via a rope or bungee cord, or rested on the ground with 1 to 2 poles used to elevate one side. It can provide a shaded rest area, a rain shelter, a way to keep food and drinks protected, or even laid straight on the ground to cover your personal belongings and gear.
In any case, you’ve got a flexible, portable, clever shelter with plenty of uses—all for an affordable price.
2. Best Value: Timber Ridge Car Canopy
The Timber Ridge Car Canopy is one of the most affordable awnings on our list. When fully open, there’s shade for 3 to 4 people, or a table, chairs, coolers, and other gear. The canopy-style design has a domed roof, which helps keep rain and snow from pooling up on top. A built-in vent helps provide added airflow and increased stability in windy conditions, and 3 fiberglass poles are included, as is a carrying bag, and a one-year warranty.
The Timber Ridge Car Canopy can be secured to a vehicle, tree, or other structure by some combination of bungee cords, ropes, and the included poles.
Owner reviews are very mixed. The Timber Ridge Car Canopy is an economy product, and some users appreciate the price to performance quotient, and ease of installation. Others complain of incorrect instructions, missing parts, and difficulty securing the bottom of the awning on any surface other than soft sand. Poor quality has also been reported, with a handful of owners even saying that the awning material started to wear or unravel during their first time using it.
This one earns our Best Value rating, but be sure to keep your warranty card and original packaging in case yours needs to be returned.
3. Most Clever Design: Hasika All-Weather Batwing Awning
How clever is this? Where most vehicle awnings are square in shape and only offer sun protection at one side of the vehicle, the Hasika All-Weather Batwing Awning takes a different route—all owing to its unique shape.
The so-called batwing design means that the Hasika All-Weather Batwing Awning extends generously from three sides of your vehicle. This offers protection at the rear, as well as the left and right sides. That’s plenty of shelter for you and your people to eat, store gear, and keep food coolers out of the sun. It also means room for more family and friends to stay dry in the event of a sudden downpour.
Some owners even position camping tent entryways to tuck just beneath the Hasika All-Weather Batwing Awning, providing a common lounge area in close proximity to the vehicle. Installation is easy, all hardware is included, and the durable fabric offers up 90 percent UV blockage.
4. 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.
5. Tent Pro Inc Retractable RV Awning and Sunshade
The Tent Pro Inc Retractable RV Awning and Sunshade is highly affordable, well-reviewed by dozens of customers, and an ideal way to provide added protection from the elements on the relative ‘cheap’ for anyone touring around in an RV. A 3-year guarantee adds confidence, and with 86 percent UV blockage, you’ll be able to reduce your sunscreen bill accordingly.
The Tent Pro Inc Retractable RV Awning and Sunshade makes it easy to create a shady, cool rest area in seconds. A full outward view is maintained, with a touch of added privacy behind the vertical black mesh screen.
The entire Tent Pro Inc Retractable RV Awning and Sunshade is lightweight, and stores in a handy carry bag when not in use. Bungee balls and plastic stakes are included to help secure things in place. Most owner reviews are positive, and many users say the Tent Pro Inc Retractable RV Awning and Sunshade is a breeze to set up and install. Just measure carefully before you buy to ensure proper fitment and be sure to understand how you’ll mount it to your RV ahead of time.
6. Dobinsons Roll Out Awning
The Dobinsons 4×4 Roll Out Awning is 8 feet long, extends nearly 10 feet from the side of the vehicle, and is made of heavy-duty and waterproof polyester for a long and durable life. All tools, poles, pegs and ropes are included for straightforward setup, and 3 sizes are available to match the Dobinsons Roll Out Awning to virtually any vehicle.
This one’s best used on a 4×4, truck or van, and comes completely assembled and ready to use, right out of the box. Mounting hardware is supplied, though the Dobinsons 4×4 Roll Out Awning is intended for installation on a pre-installed roof-rack, sold separately. There’s no retraction mechanism—which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your take. With no retractor mechanism, there are less parts to wear out or fail—though you’ll have to hand-roll the awning material back into place for storage and transport.
Owner reviews are mixed: many users report that the Dobinsons Roll-Out Awning is sturdy and easy to haul around, though others express frustration with the included mounting hardware, and report limited sturdiness in stronger winds.
7. 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.
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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
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