I hummed and hawed over whether to buy a 2m side awning or the 180º rear awning. Here’s my reasoning if it’s of interest, if not skip to my initial impressions.
Firstly, why change from the 1.4m awning?
There’s a lot to like about fitting a 1.4m awning to the side of a Jimny. The low weight of only 7kg is excellent as is its overall profile being short with no overhang. With the arrangement of our roof tent opening over the tailgate and after making the DIY awning extension we had enough coverage for 2 people (on the rare occasion my wife joins me).
The only problem is when gaining access through the passenger door. I can’t fully open it without hitting the side wall. To line up the tent and awning, allowing for the DIY triangle extension to slot into the side of the tent rails there’s no wiggle room for moving the awning any further forward than you can see in this photo.
It’s not a massive problem, let’s face it but I’d like a bit more room to manoeuvre. This set up worked very well in fairness and I’d likely still have the 1.4m awning unless I found a 1.5m or 1.6m alternative, that don’t seem to exist from the bigger named brands. However, there is another camp set up configuration that I wanted to aim for that helped drive the decision to change it.
Winter set up
I much prefer camping in the Spring, Autumn and especially the Winter. The summer just isn’t as comfortable, even in the UK’s rubbish weather. Too warm and too many Midge. One of the reasons I frequent Blaydon Burn Farm campsite is the fact I can legally light fires to cook and stay warm in the colder months. However, if not for covid my plan was to venture further afield to experience other locations across the UK. The chances of being able to light fires is slim so I want to set up the Darche Awning Wall set and modify it to include a stove jack for a small wood stove. Allowing for cooking and some warmth.
Imagine that tent on the side but smaller. Still enough space for one or two people. Especially when setting it up with the main entrance open and leaving the right hand side back wall off, allowing passage to the rear of the car under the tent. Yes that will negate the warmth aspect but that’s ok. I can batten down the hatches in really bad weather and sacrifice some space.
It may take some DIY fun modifying the wall set to get the set up how I want it. I think this set up will make Winter camping a blast.
£500 for the wall set and a further £300-400 for a wood stove (I’d have to go titanium as I’m obsessed with keeping the payload of the vehicle low) isn’t exactly cheap but I think it’ll take me a step further to my dream camper set up.
In all transparency my personality tends to lean more toward optimism and appreciation so with that in mind, let’s go.
The build, fit and finish I like a lot. It feels quality and is very sturdy. I love the colour of the material, not too dark not too light. The black cover is perfect for the style I’m running with and while I don’t mind the orange logo I would prefer it white or black for a more stealthy looks. Not a fan of massive logos on products.
I’ve had 2 messages on social media from people saying they didn’t rate the quality of their Darche kit but I’ve had zero issues with the 1.4m awning and walls. No stitching coming away, no rusting of any metalwork on the brackets and it just works. Yeah, it’s a basic bit of kit but the material is of a high quality in my humble opinion. The new awning is better again.
The 180º rear awning packed down is 1.5m long so it sits lovely on the Jimny. It protrudes out only 130mm which isn’t bad considering the size of the framing. It’s 180mm high, so if you run a roof tent it’ll sit along side nicely. The biggest downside for me is the increase of 6kg to roof load. That really narks me but now we’ve managed to get a stressful house move out of the way I can start working on my ideas to reduce the root tent weight to sub 30kg! Ever the optimist 😉.
The mounting brackets are something to behold. Absolute beasts and with me still being 12 years old in my head, it’s a nice comedic shape too.
It comes complete with all the ropes and pegs you need as well two supporting poles for the corners. The instructions say to use these every time but I’ll throw caution to the wind (shite pun) and only do so when attaching the tent walls or in bad weather. I avoid pitching anywhere exposed to high winds anyway. I’d rather sit/sleep in the Jimny in such situations than mess around with awnings and tents, then move on. Obviously I’m not a long term overlander so this isn’t an attitude everyone can adopt. If you’re a casual camper like me you can pick your days avoiding high winds. Snow, ice, rain.. all wonderful but gusty wind sucks. Anyway, I digress.
Set up is super easy. Side awnings aren’t exactly hard to deploy but I have been known to make a meal of it a few times, disappearing under a blanket of rip stop material for a few minutes. More user error than it being a product design issue. The swing arms are very sturdy and once I figured out how to keep the material folded nicely into a triangle they close quickly and flush to the backing panel. The waterproof bag is oversized just enough to make packing it away seamless and there’s room to tuck in the two straps for either end if you don’t wish to keep them in the car with the pegs and ropes. I guess you could keep them in there too but you’re adding to roof load. I’m sure you know my feelings on that subject by now.
Here’s some photos from different angles top help you decide if this awning might be the one for you too.
Here’s some time stamp jumps to set up and tear down in my latest video.
I’ll do my best to get the awning wall kit and modified later this year and will update this article with all the details. Hope this blog helps if it does let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you.