In general, we are really happy with our Reconn R2 Hybrid Caravan. Its fast to use, comfortable enough, still gives you the camping feel and its light and small enough to legally drag around with our Dmax, wherever we want to go. However, there’s one thing that I’ve never been that happy with, and that’s the rope edge awning that it came with.
Today, you can get a couple of different awning options, and then some owners have gone different routes all together and installed 270 degree options on their Reconn R2 and Reconn R4’s.
Our rope edge awning has been hated so much that I’ve literally refused to set it up unless we are staying in one spot for more than 2 nights, and we really need it. If there’s a tree, or other shade nearby, we don’t bother, and its spent the majority of its life inside our tunnel boot.
What’s the rope edge awning?
Prior to getting our Reconn, I had never really heard the term rope edge awning before. It’s simply an awning that you slide into place using a rope edge, and then you stand the poles up and away you go.
It is different to a bagged awning that lives on the camper in place all the time (and you just fold it out) or a normal caravan awning that you wind out, or pull out.
Why do I hate it?
The whole idea behind getting the hybrid camper was that it was fast and easy to use, and the rope edge awning is exactly the opposite of this. However, it goes further than this, and I’m not sure if its just us that find it such a pain to use.
Setting the awning up for us has historically been a nightmare, despite watching a number of setup videos and using multiple people. Going forward, we have a new game plan for setting it up that I read about online and I’m keen to give it a crack (and very much hope it makes life easier), but up until now I’d happily burn this awning.
EDIT – we have a decent way to set it up now, which involves putting some of the poles in place (attached to the canvas) before we set it up. I reckon I’d still struggle on my own, but its a lot easier.
Its hard work and requires two people
Canvas is pretty heavy, and to set the awning up you have to pull it out of storage, unfold it and then carefully slide it down the rope edge section. I don’t mind this so much, but Sarah really struggles and when it comes to holding the canvas up whilst hanging onto a pole, she hates it. With the bad back that she already has, I feel bad every time we set it up.
Even with our new setup style, I’m not able to do it on my own (but I’ll keep practicing on our lap of Australia!), which makes it difficult. You kind of cross your fingers and toes that the boys don’t start world war two whilst you’re in the middle of the setup!
It takes ages to set up
The primary annoyance for me though is the setup time. Our Reconn can be ready to sleep in and use in under a minute if we stay hitched up and don’t put the legs down. Its called a Hyper camper by Lifestyle for that reason. The awning however, takes about 10 – 15 minutes to set up and you usually end up sweaty and feeling feral after.
I don’t see the point of having a hyper camper if you are going to spend 10 to 15 times the duration setting up the awning!
What’s the benefit then?
The primary reason so many people stick with this style awning is that its much, much stronger in heavy wind and rain than your normal caravan awning. We’ve had it in about 50km/h winds, blowing directly onto the awning and it will handle it. Do that with a van awning and you’d end up with broken brackets, or a snapped awning.
They really are great for bad weather, but come at the compromise of being much harder to set up. The question really becomes whether you can be bothered setting it up, or if you are happy with something weaker that is easy to put out and back in, and you just put it away when bad weather comes.
Alternative awning options
I spent a long time looking at different awnings, and even the option of adding an easier to setup awning above the mounts for this one, so we could use that majority of the time and just set the rope edge awning up if we knew there was bad weather coming. However, we’ve decided its not worth the mucking around, and we’re just going to live with it.
We’re going to live with it
Instead of mucking with the camper trailer awning, we’ve just gone for a Darche 180 degree awning on the rear of our Isuzu Dmax, which is fast and easy to set up if we need shade, and it comes with us at all times.
We could swap the awning out for something else, but the cost, inconvenience and reduction in its ability to perform in bad weather just make it not worth doing. As I said to Sarah, if this is the worst part of our day, we’re doing pretty well!