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How do I know which Drive Away Awning will fit my vehicle, and how does it attach?

Posted in Camping Tips / FAQs / How To / Motorhomes & Caravans on 8th September 2014

Author - James Coplin

If you have a Campervan or Motorhome and want to add an extra bit of living space at the campsite then you need a Drive Away Awning.

A Drive Away Awning is really just a tent with a small tunnel attached which fixes onto your vehicle, usually by means of a beaded strip which you connect to the gutter rail / fixing rail on your vehicle (or by one of the other methods listed below)

Once set up, you are then free to easily disconnect and reconnect the awning ……. and drive away, leaving the awning freestanding at the campsite, without the need to dismantle it, or put away your camping furniture and paraphernalia every time you venture off to explore the local area.


In recent years Drive Away Awnings have become very popular and are a familiar sight at campsites up and down the country. Most of them are lightweight and simple and easy to erect and they’re a great value add-on to create extra storage space.

Whether you want to set up your table and chairs and use it as a dining area, empty your jam packed camper in there to create a bit of space, or use it as an extra bedroom (some come with built in or optional extra bedroom pods) we find that most Campervanners and Motorhomers now prefer to use one when they rock up at the campsite.



How do I know what size awning to get?

The attachment height is the most relevant dimension that you need to worry about. Most Vehicles will have a gutter rail or awning rail. You simply need to measure the height from the ground to the rail. Make sure you do this on flat level ground to get the most accurate measurement.

If you don’t have a rail on your van you can buy one, or if you don’t want to do that then there are other methods of fixing it to the van ( We’ll get to those shortly )

When you browse our Drive Away Awning Section , just click on the ‘Specifications’ tab on your awning of choice to check the attachment height range of that Awning. There’s normally a fair amount of leeway. Most awnings will fit a VW T4 or T5 / Mazda Bongo size van, but always check before buying, especially if you have a larger motorhome.




How do I fix my Awning to my vehicle?


There are various ways of attaching your awning to your vehicle. You will have to be flexible with this depending on what rails and fittings your van has. The main methods are as follows.

Vehicles with bulit in Awning Channel or Awning Rail

Some vans have a rail or a pre sunk channel which you can slide the 6mm beading from the edge of your awning directly into.  awing fit

This is a great and easy way to attach it if you don’t plan to ‘Drive Away’ at any point ( you simply feed the awning beading into the channel before you erect it ) . drive_away_fixing_kit_1However if you do you will just need a couple of extras to enable you to unattach your awning with ease – These being the the double edged beaded tape ( Twin Piping ) and Figure of 8 Strip shown in the diagram.

Figure of 8 Strip

Figure of 8 Strip – This comes in 75cm sections

Twin Piping (Sometimes known as Kador Strip) is sold per metre.

Twin Piping (Sometimes known as Kador Strip) is sold per metre.


Vehicles with a Gutter Rail

It’s really easy to connect an awning if you have a gutter rail. You simply need a few lengths of Figure of 8 Tracking Strip. These are 75cm long per section so generally 3 or 4 will do the trick (depending on the length of the awning).

gutter rail-figure8

When you want to ‘Drive-Away’ you can easily unhitch (and re-attach on your return) the awning from the gutter rail.

Vehicles with a more Shallow Gutter Rail

Some vehicles (older VWs and some other older makes and models) have a more shallow gutter rail which is no good for gripping the Figure of 8 Strip. To connect your awning onto such a rail you’ll need a Pole + Clamp Kit. Most awnings have a pole sleeve which runs parallel to the beading, you just slide the pole through the sleeve (a pole is usually included) and clamp it onto the rail.


This is also a handy method if you have no rail on your van but you have parallel roof bars. You can either clamp or strap the pole to the rail.


Vehicles with Fiamma/Omnistor Wind Out Awnings Already attached

Fiamma Wind Out Awning

Fiamma F45 Awning

Wind Out Awnings are a great option to quickly set up and get some instant shade. But if you would like to widen your options then you can get a Drive Away Awning and attach it directly onto your Fiamma F45. Annoyingly the channels in windout awnings are 4mm, when every other awning beading is 6mm. So, to attach you will need some Figure 8 Strip and some 4mm/6mm Twin Piping.


If you STILL can’t fix the Awning to your van…..


If you have no rail on your campervan or motorhome at all and you don’t want to fix one then you still have a couple of options.

Some people choose to strap the awning to any tie off point on their vehicle. You can strap, or use guylines to fix your awning to roof racks or roof bars or if you have no tie off points at all it’s possible to use some extra long spare guylines and tie it off or peg it down on the other side of the vehicle.

If all else fails, some of our customers have been known to use dent pullers or suction cups (we don’t sell these but they’re readily available from a quick online search). These are a handy removable means of creating a temporary fixing point to strap to or tie off or to use with the pole and clamp system.

Dent Puller

Be Flexible!

There are so many different models of campervan and motorhome out there that yours will quite likely attach an awning different to your neighbours. Most custom built models will have a channel or a rail built in with an awning in mind, but some conversions won’t. So be flexible to find the best method for you…….and if you have any other tips that we haven’t mentioned above then please let us know! ( pop over to see us on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter 🙂 )



Instructional Videos

Some companies make instructional videos of many of their products. When these are available we try to include them in our website listings as they are great for helping to visualise the size and shape of the awning, as well as tips on how to put them up.

Outwell and Easy Camp are the masters of these videos. Both companies are branches of the ‘Oase’ parent company, hence you will recognise ‘Outwell Guy’ as the expert in all of their slick video productions.

We’ve included a couple of these videos here. Please note in the first, pitching video they show a few methods of attaching an awning

Easy Camp Silverstone Drive Away Awning Pitching Video


Tour of the Outwell California Highway Drive Away Awning

As always, if you have any questions or queries about which awning is best for you, or how to attach it to your vehicle, then please feel free to call us on 01209 203220 🙂

* For further advice on awnings CLICK HERE

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