When you are headed for an adventure outdoors, it’s so easy to just get into your vehicle and hit the road for a fun trip. And when you have a roof rack awning that you can easily set up to sleep under or even just hang out under during the day, that makes roads trips even better! Roof rack awnings can help protect you from a hot sun or even a sudden rain shower.
With so many roof rack awnings on the market, it can be challenging to sift through all the various products and choose the best roof rack awning for you. Not to worry though. We’ve checked them all out for you and put together a list of the 7 best roof rack awnings. Check it out below.
Our Top 3 Choices
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After reviewing all the awnings, the ARB 814301 Retractable Awning is the best roof rack awning. Its durability and versatility make it the ideal rooftop awning for any vehicle. It is incredibly easy to mount onto your vehicle and has a solid construction, making it perfect for any weather conditions, whether that be keeping you protected from UV rays or from the rain. It will be the perfect addition for your adventures!
7 Best Roof Rack Awnings In 2023
1. ARB Retractable Awning – Top Pick
ARB is known for product high quality outdoor products, and they hit the mark with the ARB 814301 Retractable Awning. This ARB awning has a universal fit, which allows it to attach onto the side of most roof racks and roof bars of vehicles. The ARB awning is a self-standing retractable awning that takes only 30 seconds to mount, which makes it great for road trips. It comes with pegs and guy ropes for securing legs, stainless steel mounting nuts and bolts, and thorough instructions.
The height of the awning is easily adjusted with its anodised telescoping poles. The awning itself is constructed from tough PU coated 300gsm poly/cotton rip stop canvas fabric, making for a durable awning, regardless of the weather conditions. The awning is completely waterproof and has a UVP rating of 50+. The velcro ties help secure the roof of the awning and the awning is secured in a heavy duty nylon reinforced PVC bag.
300gsm poly/cotton rip stop canvas, PU coated, completely waterproof, velcro ties, stainless steel hardware
- Easy to setup
- Self standing
- Universal fit
- May require mounting brackets
2. Yescom Car Side Awning – Best Side Awning
The Yescom Car Side Awning is an easy to install awning that attaches to your vehicle rooftop rail. It’s a pretty sturdy awning, particularly for the price as it’s made of 420D oxford fabric with 2000mm PU coating. The awning boasts UV 50+ protection and is water resistance so you can enjoy it even during the rain.
It is constructed of aluminum alloy and is rust resistant. The telescoping poles feature a twist-lock design so that you can quickly extend it and collapse it, making setup and breakdown a breeze. The pegs and guy ropes with the Yescom Car Side Awning help to ensure a secure attachment regardless of the weather. All of the hardware you need to install it is made of stainless steel and is included with the awning, which makes it easy to put together. A waterproof carry bag is also included for easy storage.
Aluminum alloy construction, 420D oxford fabric, 2000mm PU coating, UV 50+ protection
- Rust resistant
- Easy to install
- May need more than 1 person to setup
3. Smittybilt Tent Awning – Best Value
The Smittybilt Tent Awning is a rugged choice at a great value. Constructed with the same materials as the roof top tent, the Smittybilt Overlander Awning is a high quality 600D heavy duty ripstop polyester material with polyurethane, that is completely waterproof and UV resistant. With lightweight aluminum legs and rails that are permanently attached, the awning is easy to attach to most standard roof rack. With telescopic legs and arms, as well as twist-lock poles, you can easily adjust this awning to meet your height needs.
The awning is very easy to take down. When you have the awning folded up and stored away, the heavy duty PVC cover is UV-stabilized to keep it protected. Stakes and ropes are included with the Smittybilt awning. If you have a Jeep or similarly sized vehicle, this is the ideal awning.
600D polyester fabric, aluminum legs and rails, UV stabilized PVC cover
- Heavy duty
- Easy to attach
- Legs seem thin
4. Tuff Stuff Rooftop Awning – Easiest to Install
The Tuff Stuff Rooftop Awning is easy to install and can be mounted to the vehicle roof or roof rack using the universal L bracket system that is included. All of the hardware that is needed to install the awning to your vehicle roof rack is included. The awning fabric is constructed of high quality polyester/cotton material, and is windproof. The frame is aluminum and there are 5 support arms with tie ropes to provide additional lateral support for the awning.
It is large enough to provide 8 feet of shade out and 6.5 feet of shade across, making it a nice size covering to block both the sun and rain. So not only will this be a great awning for camping, but also for sporting events or festivals. When you store it away, you can keep it in the PVC bag that is provided so that it stays secure.
Polyester/cotton material, aluminum frame, 5 support arms with tie ropes, PVC bag
- Easy to install
- Large size
- Supporting arms could waver in heavy wind
5. Hasika Versatility Teardrop Awning – Most Versatile
The Hasika Teardrop Awning is unique compared to most of the other awnings in our list. It has a teardrop shape and can be adjusted so the awning provides 60 square feet to 76 square feet of shade depending on what you need. We love the versatility that this adjustable shade covering provides. It’s constructed of rip stop 210T polyester material with air vents in the peak to allow for nice airflow. There is also a large mesh window on the side for ventilation.
The unique design of this awning allows you to either mount it as a side awning or rear awning, or it can be used with steel poles as a ground shelter. If you want, you can even adjust the height of the outboard end all the way to the ground for extra privacy.
210T polyester fabric, air vents, mesh window, teardrop shape
- Can mount as awning or ground shelter with steel poles
- Height is adjustable
- Legs may rust
6. KingCamp Awning Sun Shelter – Best Lightweight
The KingCamp RoofTop Awning is a solid, versatile awning that is very lightweight. It will mount to most vehicles using elastic bungee cord and sturdy hooks. The awning fabric is constructed of heavy duty rip-stop polyester material with 1500mm PU coating so it will can withstand all weather conditions. Assembling this awning is relatively easy, with three shock corded fiberglass poles and two steel canopy poles to stabilize the awning. If you forget how to put it together, the instructions are sewn into the bag! It couldn’t be easier than that. Since it is only 9.7 lbs., it’s simple for one person to assemble and lightweight to carry around.
While many people use this as a side awning, it can also be used at the back of your vehicle. When you aren’t using the awning, it can fold up and be placed in the zipper bag that is included. A one year warranty is included with the KingCamp Awning, including free replacement or refund promised for any quality issue.
Polyester fabric with 1500mm PU coating, 3 shock corded fiberglass poles, 2 steel canopy poles
- Sewn in instructions
- Bag could be bigger
7. OffRoading Gear Portable Awning – Best for Privacy
The versatility and privacy of the OffRoading Gear Awning is what makes this awning so special. It’s the only one that made our list that includes an extra large side wall. Some of the other ones in our list can accommodate a side wall as a separate purchase, but we really like that it is included with the OffRoading Gear Awning. Not only will the side wall provide additional privacy when you want it, but it also protects you better from harsh weather conditions. It’s a double win!
With its design, you can easily fit four people under this shelter, making it a nice option for camping, a day at the beach, sporting event, etc. You can use it this as a roof rack awning or just as a standalone shelter if you prefer. It is constructed of high quality 210T polyester fabric with UV coating, so you know it is built to last a long time. It’s also very lightweight at just under 10 lbs. The assembly for this awning takes just a few minutes and only requires one person. The awning’s fiberglass poles simply slide into the pockets. And since the instructions are sewn in, you won’t ever have to remember how to put it together. All the mounting accessories like brackets, bolts, nuts, ropes, and a wrench are included.
210T polyester with UV coating, fiberglass poles, extra large side wall
- Easy to assemble
- Bag zipper isn’t the strongest
Roof Rack Awnings Buyers Guide
When you are looking at awnings for the ultimate camping experience, you want to make sure you choose one that will suit your needs. As with any purchase, there are several things you should consider before buying. When it comes to roof rack awnings, we think you need to consider the following items: type of awning, material, coverage, weight, ease of installation, and cost.
Type of Awning
Straight awnings are the most popular type of awning. Due to their popularity, this type of awning is pretty affordable and allows you to get a nice covering for a reasonable price. There are also many to choose from when shopping for an awning. Due to their design, they are really easy to set up and tear down, another reason they tend to be popular with people. A lot of them have the option to purchase accessories like extra privacy walls, mosquito nets, etc.
Wing awnings offer a different design and shading than straight awnings. They not only cover the rear of your vehicle but also either one or both sides with their ability to pivot. Depending on your need or use, this may be a good option for you since it can cover the side and rear at the same time. Of course, this additional coverage does come with a higher price tag.
Manual vs. Electric Roof Rack Awning
A roof rack awning can either be set up and taken down manually or electronically by using a power source to retract it for you. Manual roof racks are the most common and most affordable option. All of the roof rack awnings in our list are manually operated.
The material of an awning certainly impacts its durability. An awning could be constructed of nylon and polyester fabric, cotton and canvas fabric, and also feature a coating to protect it from UV rays and rain.
Generally, polyester fabric or a polyester/cotton blend is what you find in most awnings. Since polyester is light and cheaper than other fabrics, polyester awnings tend to be very lightweight overall and more affordable. However, fabric like cotton and canvas provide good insulation, where polyester does not. This ability to insulate is why a lot of awnings, and arguably the best awnings, are constructed of a polyester/cotton fabric combination. They may not be as lightweight as a 100% polyester fabric awning, but most people can tolerate a little extra weight for the added insulation.
Coverage is certainly something to consider, depending on your needs and use of the awning. If you know you will need a lot of protection from UV rays, then the bigger the awning, the better. Also, this will be a factor depending on how many people you plan to go on an adventure with. Some awnings are better suited for a smaller group, while others can easily accommodate a crowd.
Weight is a factor in your purchase because when you are on a camping trip, you don’t want to have to carry around a really bulky, heavy awning. Setting up the awning should be something simple to do and not require a great deal of effort or multiple people. If the awning is fairly lightweight, it will be much easier to handle. However, it also needs to be heavy enough and sturdy to handle strong winds and rain.
Ease of Installation
When you are considering purchasing a roof rack awning, you want to make sure it is something you can easily install onto your roof rack, especially if you will be putting it on and taking it off by yourself. The lighter weight roof rack awnings are going to be much more manageable for one person, opposed to a more heavy duty roof rack canopy. It’s also important to evaluate the hardware that is included with the awning, not just if it is included, but also the quality of the hardware.
How much money you are willing to spend on a roof rack awning is a clear consideration. Generally speaking, the better quality the roof rack awning is, and the more features it has, the more expensive it will likely be. But, there are some great roof rack awnings in this list that are very affordable. All of the roof rack awnings in our list are going to be a great choice and range in price, it just depends on what suits you the best.
We found the 7 best roof rack awnings out there to make your buying decision even easier. But when it comes down to it, the ARB 814301 Retractable Awning is the best rooftop awning for your next vehicle camping road trip. It has a universal fit and high quality awning construction that will ensure it will be able to provide rain and sun protection. The telescoping legs and stainless steel hardware will keep your awning secure to your vehicle regardless of conditions. If it’s a tough car awning you are looking for, then this is the one for you. And if you are planning to bring your kayak with you in your trips, you can check out our recent blog talking about the best kayak roof racks for any vehicle type. We have also reviewed some of the best Toyota Tacoma roof rack on our recent post. And if you’re looking for the best roof rack and you’re owning a Honda Element, you can check our post about Honda Element roof rack reviews.
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