For over a couple seasons we’ve played with different camp-tarp ideas. A few weeks ago I found a new home for our Fiamma F45 10″ awning. While we did use it nearly every trip there were times we should not have due to winds picking up yet still a chance of rain. With minimal space inside our rig to “live” we must think outside the van for our living room. So I pondered possibilities…
One common way to get a tarp up without much fuss is a awning rail mounted to the roof with VBH tape or similar then slide the edge of tarp through slot on rail (example image from google) While this is working for many, I could see the same dangers in windy situation as I imagined with the Fiamma. I have seen both ripped off of RVs in wind not much over ~30mph which is common most outings for us here in the PNW.
Wanting to keep things simple I had a local fabricator weld appropriate brackets onto a 1.5″ x 10’8″ aluminum tube and mount it to the side of the fiberine fiberglass top.
The plan is to have two setups depending on weather conditions. During the spring through fall while on adventures where van is stationary for several days at a time we will most likely put up our 20’L x 12’W Snow White CoolTarp. It weighs about 12 lbs and we actually have it set up to go over the curb edge of roof with appropriate lines (with anti-chafe protection) to street side for securing. There is a noticeable cooler temp under this tarp which may not make it ideal for use when temps go to much below about 60F, though we will test it this winter. The second tarp would be for quick trips of a night or two and utilize one of our Noah 16 tarps. The idea would be to toss one edge over the top of rail and have the ends tied off to curb side of rig (again with anti-chafe protection). Both set ups will allow the wind to blow through the tarps and relieve stress on tarp with no stress placed on van or rail (the tarp is only using the rail to stay above our heads at the ~7ft level and not attached in any way). At least one more use of the rail is simply a place to attach/hang camp items like bug-net or privacy walls, lanterns, etc. For either setup we are using high quality adjustable aluminum tent poles – 60″ to 99″.
I will report back after some field testing. I can say that the CoolTarp did well during a recent trip where other RV’ers had to take down their tarps/awnings and several screen rooms collapsed in the wind/rain. While our CT lacked some elegance as it billowed up above the roof a foot or so to relieve wind pressure (bungees were in place to allow line movement)… It allowed us to stay outside protected from the rain during the storm while others were forced inside.
: ) Thom