Awning or canopy? I’ll help you choose!

An awning or a canopy are both very practical when you go camping. You create shade, you’re better protected from the rain and you’re less affected by the wind. And of course you also have more covered space. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of these two extensions? I’m happy to spell it out for you so you can make the right choice.

Canopy

The canopy

The canopy has always been a popular camping accessory on campsites. Not just fixed onto caravans or motorhomes, but also as stand-alone versions, for a trailer tent, for example. Its popularity didn’t happen by chance, because a canopy:

  • is light
  • takes up hardly any storage space
  • is gemakkelijk op te bouwen
  • is doorgaans goedkoper dan een voortent

In addition, a canopy always gives you a pleasantly shaded spot next to your caravan and protects you from light showers. To what extent a canopy protects you from wind and rain depends on the type of canopy. Some models are curved and have a kink. Some are made solely from canvas, others have integral (tinted) windows. There are also canopies with side walls. Of course it pays to invest in a canopy made from relatively high quality materials. For example, you should check whether the metal components are made of stainless steel.

Whichever type you choose, it’s always important to secure your canopy with pegs, straps or guy ropes, or a combination of the three. Because a canopy is relatively light, it can become loose in strong winds or heavy rain. It’s therefore advisable to take down the canopy if really bad weather is forecast.

Awning

The awning

Statistics from the Dutch research organisation for holidays, leisure, culture and business trips, NBTC-NIPO Research, indicate that people are going on camping holidays more often, but for shorter periods. This change in camping patterns means it’s becoming less practical to travel with an awning. But an awning has a number of advantages, because an awning:

  • is sturdy
  • offers perfect protection against wind and rain
  • provides shade throughout the day
  • significantly increases living space

This last point is the main reason why campers purchase an awning. You always have somewhere dry to cook, eat and store your belongings. This makes camping more comfortable when the weather is not so good, but it takes a bit of effort on your part. Setting up and taking down an awning can take some time. And of course it’s also important here that you camp safely, so secure your awning with pegs, straps and/or guy ropes,

For campers who like to stay for a few weeks on the same campsite (or who overwinter), an awning is a good investment. But if you prefer to visit more campsites in the same week or remain flexible, you probably don’t want to keep setting up and taking down an awning. Thankfully, there are lightweight awnings which can be put up fairly quickly, though of course you’ll be sacrificing some of the stability. Just as with a canopy, you have plenty of choice of design and materials. Some fabrics ‘breathe’ well (cotton), or not so well (nylon or polyester), whilst an acryl awning is easier to clean than one made from cotton.

Seek advice

It’s certainly a good idea to get some advice in a camping shop. Tell the salesperson what type of camper you are and consider your budget. A more expensive canopy or awning will last longer. Higher quality models are often easier to put up because they use a convenient clamping system, which means you need to use less effort. You can ask yourself whether it’s worth paying a bit more to make it easier to put it up. Sometimes you don’t even need to choose. There are also combinations of awnings and canopies. You’ll be surprised by the selection.

Jeroen Timmermans
  • Author: Jeroen Timmermans
  • From Calais to Cannes, and from Nantes to Nancy: Jeroen has definitely done his fair share of exploring in France. With his parents and his brother, he spent weeks at the most beautiful campsites in a trailer tent. Then, the family travelled around the rest of Europe in a motorhome. Now he loves his cultural city breaks. He particularly loves funiculars and cable cars.

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