Vehicle Awnings Buyer’s Guide
When equipping your 4×4 for your next excursion, you want to make sure you have all the essentials. Recovery kit and winch? Check. Exterior lighting? Check. Air compressor, hand tools, jump starter and work gloves? Check. Off road awning? If you’re missing yours, don’t feel bad: It’s commonly overlooked by riders. Before you head out, check out this quick guide to help you choose the right one for your vehicle.
All About Truck Awnings
If you’ve been off-roading or enjoying the great outdoors for long, you already understand how essential sun protection is. We’re not going to throw skin cancer stats at you, but you also have to worry about other hazards like heat stroke and dehydration. You probably already keep plenty of water handy when you’re on the trails and a high-quality pair of shades, but a truck awning provides valuable extra protection from the searing hot sun. Not only that, a good quality awning also keeps the snow and rain off your head when you’re relaxing near your 4×4 after your ride.
Which Awning Should You Choose?
There are many kinds of truck awnings on the market today. To clear up the confusion and help you select the best one for your vehicle, it helps to know what types you’re looking for:
- Retractable side awnings
- Awnings with floors and walls
- Rear-deployable awnings
All these have their own advantages, and they’re available from a wide range of manufacturers. In the off-roading world, the two biggest brands of awnings are Smittybilt and ARB. You probably recognize those names: After all, they’re two of the biggest suppliers of accessories and discount truck parts online.
As you’re shopping for awnings, it helps to keep your needs in mind. Retractable awnings usually deploy from the side of the vehicle, are easy to install and offer versatile protection. Most are large enough to shelter you, plus a couple of friends in portable chairs and a small outdoor table. They’re typically crafted from heavy-duty nylon or canvas and have aluminum pole supports integrated into their construction. To get extra bang for your buck, look for versions with UV and waterproof protection. Some models have built-in floors and walls for extra shielding from rain or snow.
What About Accessories?
Depending on your off-roading needs, you may also want to consider some awning accessories. Common choices include mounted lighting, windbreaking extensions and exterior wall and floor add-ons. These add more functionality and extra protection after dark or when unexpected storms pop up.
A Quick Word About 4×4 Hardtops
Once you’re chosen your vehicle awning and accessories, you may also want to install a hardtop if you haven’t already. Like awnings, a hardtop shields you from the elements inside your Jeep so you aren’t sidelined when unexpected weather occurs. Shopping for the best hardtop for Jeep Wrangler isn’t much different from looking for awnings, except they require vehicle-specific fitment. Check for key features such as foldable frames, included mounting hardware and weather-resistant materials. For both your awning and hardtop, shop a reputable off-road parts and accessories dealer.