DIY Van Awning for Under $100

Stoke Loaf Van
DIY Van Awningstokeloafvan

There are a lot of awning options out there for vans and RVs, however they all seem to cost around $300 or more! We couldn’t stomach paying so much for an awning we would only use during the summer months and we didn’t want something that was attached to the van full time when it wasn’t in use.

When we first tested this DIY awning, we base our initial design off of Van There’s blog post. Over last summer we have made a few changes and upgrades that we feel really help the awning stay sturdy and not flapping around in the wind.

DIY Van Awning Shopping List

Let’s go ahead and get right to the parts list and we’ll explain why we made certain material choices after:

Using the cost of each individual item, the parts for this awning come to $96.42 before tax or shipping ($105.88 if you use the pack price). That comes out to be about 60% less than other ready-to-use awnings like Moonshade.

Awning Design
Stokeloafvan Awning 1stokeloafvan

Our first design was rough. We really cheaped out on the awning material and got a 8x10 piece of material that was somewhere between a tarp and a tent. It may have packed down really small but it was noisy and very flimsy.

We used tent poles and tie down straps but we hooked the tarp right to the tent poles. Then once the gussets tore out of the tarp we just tied it to the poles using a piece of paracord. Eventually the wind ripped all 4 corner gusset rings out of the fabric.

We were constantly fighting our awning in this initial design and could basically only put it up if there was no wind. We also couldn’t put up this design alone. We both needed to pitch in to set it up.

Design Version 2 (Current)
Stokeloafvan Awning 2stokeloafvan

We made some changes to our awning set up to make it much more resilient. One of the changes was the material. We went with a larger size 10x10 and we upgraded the material to a woven HDPE plastic. This material is quiet and does not move as much in the wind. The corner rings are also attached with dual layer webbing so they are not going to rip out like the corner gussets on the past tarp.

The other improvement we made was adding in a bungee cord.

These two things alone made SUCH a huge difference and now it can withstand higher winds and stay in place. A bonus is that you can set up this design with only 1 person.

Bungee Cord Attachment
bungee awning strapstokeloafvan

The simple addition of a bungee cord between the tent pole and the tie down makes such a huge difference!

Without the bungee cord, the connection between the awning material, tent pole and tie down is a rigid connection. The bungee cord acts as a sock absorber and it dissipates the force a sudden wind gust puts on the awning. If you do not have a bungee cord a sudden gust of wind could pull the stakes out of the ground and make the awning collapse.

We removed one of the S-Hooks from the bungee cord and attached it to the side of the awning that attaches to our roof rack. Where the S-Hook was removed from the awning, we attached the carbiner from the tie-down straps.

The rubber of a bungee cord can degrade over time in the sun so check it periodically to make sure the material is whole.

Connecting to the Van
Awning connection to the roof rackStokeloafvan

We have a roof rack on out van so we leave 2 M8 eyelet bolts connected to the roof rack all the time. The M8 eyelet bolts attach to the rack using an M8 T-Slot Nut.

When we go to attach the awning material to the eyelet bolts we hook the S hook (on the awning) with the tent pole and raise it up to the eyelet bold. In the picture you can see we wrapped the S hook in some tape. We did this to keep the S hook more rigid, which makes it much easier to hook onto the eyelet.

If you do not have a roof rack you have a few other options. The alternatives are not as stable and should not be used in high winds. You could attach the awning directly to the vehicle using magnets or glass lifting suction cups.

Keep in mind magnets can pick up any metal in the ground, or wherever you store them, and then it can scratch your vehicle. The glass lifting suction cups will cause less abrasion, but when we tried them they would occasionally pop off in the wind and be flailing around attached to the end of the awning material. Please be careful when using these alternative attachments

Tie Down Straps and Stakes
stokeloafvan awning tiedownStokeloafvan

The tie down straps are easily adjustable and have provided a sturdy connection to the ground. When possible place the ground stake further away from the tent pole to create a larger triangle. If you are somewhere that you cannot stake into the ground we have tied the tie down strap around a large rock or around the handle of our 6 gallon water jugs.

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We are KJ & James. We have been traveling around the US and Canada for the last 2+ years in our self converted camper van. On our blog, we share articles about Van Lifestyle, Van Build tutorials, and troubleshooting!

Salt Lake City, UT

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