Throwing yourselves into the festival season or planning a summer holiday on the road? If your camper is bursting at the seams, ease cramped conditions by investing in a drive away awning. We were delighted to have the chance to review the pole free Vango Idris II Airbeam Drive Away Awning during our half term week in Cornwall.
Product Description: The Vango Idris II Airbeam Awning is a freestanding drive away awning for campervans and motorhomes. We are a family of four with a VW T5 LWB campervan.
Construction: After a few goes, setting up the Idris II is a doddle. Expect the first time to take around half an hour. We easily managed to get this down to 10 minutes with practice. Loosely pegging out the four corners, attach the awning to your camper either with the pre-attached 6mm kador strip (which fits straight onto a rail on your vehicle if you have one), or with webbing straps, velcro tabs or pole and clamps. We used webbing straps, which were thrown over the roof and pegged on the other side. Next blow up the airbeams (easy to inflate with the manual double handled pump included). Lastly insert the bracer pole, which connects inside the awning to the main airbeams with velcro tabs, to increase tension in the roof. Job done.
The instructions are handily printed on the bag, we feel they could be improved by including a diagram particularly referring to the name of each piece of kit, which would make the first time assembly a bit quicker.
Daily Life: Increasing our camping capacity three fold, the Idris II Airbeam Awning was a welcome addition to our camper set up. The one chamber awning allowed us to create a sleeping area for our young girls (5 & 7) outside the camper. Too young to sleep in a detached tent but fast outgrowing the cramped conditions of our camper, they loved sleeping independently. Meanwhile we slept in the camper, leaving the sliding side door open with the connection tunnel fully zipped up on either side. I slept very comfortably knowing they were entirely safe within the enclosed space & totally accessible within seconds if either needed me in the night.
Still with plenty of room to store our kit, the awning freed up the camper almost entirely for day trips out and would be a godsend in bad weather for indoor play/living. The removable (not sewn in) groundsheet has the advantage of being easy to clean, but could be a weak point in extreme wet weather. The awning has large zipped doors on the front and back with plenty of PVC window options that can be rolled up or down depending on how much light/privacy you require.
The connection tunnel has doors both sides giving flexibility to your camping set up, convenient access to both camper & awning (no tramping through the awning living space each time) and allows good flow of air during hot weather. The doors are fully zipped down to the floor allowing easy access and no tripping hazards – brilliant for my 5 year old with mild cerebral palsy and excellent for wheelchairs and those with reduced mobility.
The drive away benefits are ENORMOUS! Quick and hassle free detachment meant up sticking from our camp took only a matter of seconds. Another bonus is, being free-standing, the awning reserves your campsite pitch when you drive away.
Performance: We found the Idris II robust, performing well even during extremely windy conditions. The TBS®II Tension Band System (heavy duty bands on each opening side of the tent) seemed to work well. When tensioned, the bands brace the pole at 3 points, and prevent sideways movement. The rock pegs included were the most strong, sturdy pegs I’ve ever seen! Constructed using 70D polyester fabric, the awning is waterproof, durable and breathable. Whilst there was some condensation each morning, this was kept minimal by multiple ventilation panels. We found a couple of extra guy rope attachments would have been helpful for windy conditions. We love family friendly florescent guy ropes, which unfortunately this model didn’t have. We solved this by attaching some brightly coloured ribbon. We were blessed with glorious weather so we can’t review the webbing strap connection for leakage. I imagine the kador strip would keep a closer drip free connection to the van during wet weather.
De-construction: Extremely quick to break down. I LOVED the wide mouthed bag, which meant stuffing the awning back into the bag was effortless.
Verdict: Retailing at £400 the Idris II is the perfect, affordable awning for a small family wanting to increase camper living space. A much cheaper alternative to a camper pop up, the Vango Idris II Airbeam Drive Away Awning gives an invaluable extra room for additional sleeping/storage space with easy access to your camper and WE LOVED the brilliant drive away facility. Our only problem is – we don’t want to give it back!
L70.0 x H31.0 x W31.0cm
For more information visit www.vango.co.uk
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far