I will have a video of this ARB Awning review soon. The ARB Awning is one of the best purchases I have made and it’s an excellent addition to the van. I went with the 2000×2000 4×4 accessory awning for my GMC Safari van and ordered off Amazon. As a prime member, the free shipping was great. The thing is a work of genius and falls into the category of beyond useful gear like the roll up camping table.
ARB Awning Installation
I don’t have a roof rack so mounting the awning required some research and a little luck to find brackets that would work. Luckily, my van is cheap and I have no issue drilling right through the fiberglass topper.
I found these mounting brackets at Lowe’s and they happened to have the exact spacing between the bolts. I mounted the brackets and bolted them right to the side of my van. I’m about 4 months into full-time living and everything has remained snug and it rides without any issue. ARB also sells mounting brackets that look really strong and they will work with most vehicles. If you have a roof rack, the installation will be much easier with their brackets but it’s not too difficult to get creative for your installation and find alternatives at the hardware store.
Setting Up the Awning
The awning itself is surprisingly easy to setup. I’m traveling solo and after a few rounds, it gets progressively easier. I like to roll the entire fabric section out first, then I extend the legs and unfold each cross member for attachment. It’s really important to make small adjustments until everything is taught. Stake it out as tight as possible and it will hold in a strong wind. My first trial run was followed by a heavy windstorm and the horizontal member on one side kept popping off the vertical leg. A few adjustments to tighten it out and everything was great. Also use all the straps connecting the fabric to the horizontal bars. It will steady everything out.
If you have two people, setting it up would be a breeze. You could hold up both corners and hook up the supports in seconds. Once setup, it’s just a matter of adjusting and fine tuning everything. The one thing that is really important is to STAKE IT OUT. Make sure the legs are secure to the ground because the right gust of wind can lift the awning up and damage the fabric or legs. If this happens, it’s a user error as everything is well built.
The PVC lined polyester fabric feels really tough and it has a nice slick coat that is clearly waterproof. I had mine out in a heavy rainstorm and the water just beads up and rolls off. It’s really nice and means that nothing is absorbed so you can roll it up quickly after a storm without storing a bunch of water. I did adjust mine so it sloped downward during the storm because water was pooling. If you set a moderate slope, the water can roll off much easier. The storage bag has a super heavy duty zipper that seams like it will last for a very long time. The bag itself is also durable and after bouncing around dirt roads for months nothing has budged. The bag interior has Velcro straps that keep the awning tight and secure against the railing.
Downsides to the ARB Awning
I’m stoked about the ARB awning and it’s an awesome product. The only downside is that it’s connected to the vehicle (unless you’re using a trailer). That means you have to setup and take-down to drive away. I’m really liking it for multi-day campsites. I’m in Montana now and there are plenty of trees and the weather is fairly cool. When I hit the coast in Mexico and am battling the sun and heat, I think it will be a daily use item. The attached room will be more of an overnight or multi-night only situation. Ultimately, I think it’s the best 4wd awning on the market today.