When you live in a campervan, you might be short on space indoors, but you can expand your mobile home’s square footage by creating an outdoor patio space (and if you want to optimize your space even further, we also have some great thoughts on the many ways you can turn your roof rack into a living space). When you have an outdoor patio space, it’s nice to have a awning to provide protection from the direct elements at times so harsh sun or rainy afternoons don’t hamper your time relaxing outside. We initially researched factory-made camper canopies and felt the sticker shock– in respect to the other aspects of our conversion van’s build we chose to de-prioritize purchasing one. We still wanted to try out a canopy of our own and came up with our own DIY option. This was useful because:
- We only spent a fraction of the total cost on our canopy that we would have otherwise
- We got to try out having a canopy on the cheap to see if it’s something we would use on a regular basis
For us, we found that we actually didn’t use a canopy as much as we thought we would– it’s all a part of our plan to stay minimalist on the road and we’re more of “coffee shop” people than we thought when we have down time. That said, we still really loved the way this set up works and wanted to share out the design. Hopefully you enjoy it and get some quality chill out time in your DIY outdoor patio space!
Note: This set-up works best with a roof rack of some kind. We have an Aluminess Roof Rack but any kind of rack could make this possible!
How To: DIY Van Awning
What You Need:
- 10’ x 12’ tarp with metal grommets
- 2 adjustable tarp poles
- Tent stakes with stopper
- 4-5 Hose clamps
- 4-5 D Rings
- 4-5 Carabiners
- For initial set-up: scissors and a lighter
How to Install the Hardware:
- Prepare your camper for the awning install by lining up the long side of the tarp to the side of your camper and assessing where you will want to connect the tarp to the roof of your vehicle. For your tarp, this will be determined by the grommet holes. Depending on your van’s build you can use a roof rack or other mounting points. 2. Clip carabiners to the tarp where you will be securing the tarp, and install the roof rack mounting points using the hose clamps and D Rings.
Note: Many awnings only cover a portion of your camper side door due to the mounting points available on the roof. We decided to purchase an additional tarp pole and affix it to the roof rack using hose clamps. This allowed us to install the awning over the entire side door entrance.
How to Set Up The Awning:
Clip your tarp to the D Ring mounting points.
For each of the 2 corners of the tarp not connected to the roof:
- Take a tarp pole and place the corner grommet over the peg on the pole.
- Tie the paracord over the peg and bring the line out diagonally into a good mounting point in the earth.
- Place a stake in a secure spot in the earth and tie the other end of the paracord around it. If you haven’t, cut the end of the paracord and burn the end to avoid fraying.
Kick back, relax, and enjoy your shaded paradise– and tell us what you think of this set up in the comments!