Archive for the ‘VW Campervan Road Trip’ Tag

2015/16 Vango AirBeam Drive-Away Awning – Comparison Chart   Leave a comment

We get asked “what are the updates on the new AirBeam awnings?” and “what’s the difference between this year and last year’s AirBeam’s?” all the time here at FL – so we thought a 2015/16 Vango AirBeam Awning Comparison Chart showing specifications and dimensions would be the easiest way to answer.

 

We run two VW Buses ourselves so appreciate the associated running costs, we also understand that a drive-away awning is a big outlay and VeeDubbers want the best suited design for their needs. We hope this chart answers your questions and helps you make an informed decision whether you’re buying new or upgrading from an older model.Vango Airbeam logo 2 trans grey

The Vango AirBeam Awnings shown in the chart below are past and present Funky Leisure stock that are the most compatible with VW Transporter Vans. Use this comprehensive AirBeam comparison chart to compare RRP’s and colours through to pack size and total living area on past and present Vango drive-away awnings.

 

Vango AirBeam Comparison Chart crop

For an up to date Vango AirBeam Drive-Away Awning Brochure email your address to info@funkyleisure.co.uk with ‘AirBeams’ as the subject title or visit our Vango AirBeam Awnings section to buy online with free next day delivery.

We hope this information has been helpful.

The FL Team

For the new range go to our latest review for all current prices and bundle deals visit the Vango AirBeam Awning section of FL’s shop.

VW Camper Sun Canopy Awning: Features   7 comments

Original Concept

The original idea of a lightweight sun canopy awning specifically designed for a VW campervan first came to us while on a 5 week road trip around Europe back in 2003. Our 3,500 mile tour took us through 12 countries (including principalities) in our trusty green 79’ Bay.

We didn’t mind too much putting up our drive-away awning when we stayed in one destination for a few days but found this a real drag to pitch when we were in one place for just a couple of days or overnight.

We were wild camping in the Camargue surrounded by brine lagoons full of flamingos when the VW Campervan Sun Canopy Awning was conceived. The Westy was hotting up inside and we just needed a bit of protection from the mid-morning sun to sit in the shade and eat… we decided then that the canopy needed to be simple, really quick to pitch and pack away… and most importantly, lightweight and compact enough to stow easily in the Bus.

Awnings at sunset

Awnings at sunset

Funky Design

The idea quickly snowballed and we started adding additional features… the fabric needed to be waterproof and the design should allow rainwater run off… the canopy needed to cover a large area to offer maximum shade and shelter… the poles needed to be height adjustable with a choice of eyelets so the awning could be set up in lots of different configurations.

On top of these neat features, instead of being just plain green or blue like all the other tents and awnings on the market at the time – the canopy fabric should stand out.

We developed the idea and a couple of years later started manufacturing and selling our first sun canopy awnings online at Funky Leisure.  The first awning fabric designs were a digitally printed blue Op Art design and our classic Sunflower design which we also offered as lightweight windbreaks and 3 man dome tents.

We have always tried to improve our awning design and the latest incarnation has all the original features plus added updates.

New Trapezoid Shape

New Trapezoid Shape

 

 

Trapezoid Shape – 9m² of Shade & Shelter

The new trapezium shaped canopy fabric has been extended to 3m depth with 3m length at the front edge with 2.4m length at the van connection edge offering a 9m square area of sun shade and shelter from rain.

Why trapezium? The 2.4m length connection edge makes attaching the awning to a SWB VW T4, T5 and T6 much simpler without to need to secure any excess loose material at the van edge. This length will also fit neatly onto the gutter rail of a VW Type 2 or Brazilian with a roof rack fitted.

 

 

Freestanding Drive-Away Canopy

VW Camper Sun Canopy Awning - freestanding

VW Camper Sun Canopy Awning – freestanding

The addition of the connection edge guyline tabs with extra guylines and pegs allows the canopy to be set up as a freestanding shelter. The awning can either be quickly pegged down at rear with a single pole at the front or second pole can be inserted into the rear middle floating eyelet to set the awning up in a ridge tent type style. This standalone feature allows camp furniture to be left under cover whilst you’re away from the campsite and also marks your pitch when you’re out for the day in your Bus.

The canopy is supplied with all guylines pre-attached and bundled but if you don’t plan on using the awning as a standalone shelter or find the rear guylines are in the way, they can just be untied and stowed in the peg bag.

If your canopy is connected via the Kador strip beading it will probably take two people to detach, one to hold the canopy fabric steady while the other one carefully drives the van out of position so the Kador can slide out of your C-channel awning rail. Please be very careful and don’t stand in front of the wheels if trying to carry out this manoeuvre as it’s easy to run over a foot… you’ll also find it really challenging (almost certainly ending in divorce) when you try to drive the van back into place whilst trying to thread the Kador beading back into the rail. We recommend using a 6mm to 6mm Drive-Away Kit.

Tip: Mark the ground on the drivers-side with a positioning marker before you drive away – we peg a tensioned guyline at each end an inch or two away from the edge of the tyre, put the pegs in in line with the wheel centre. This will enable you to reposition your Dub correctly when you drive back and attach with the drive-away kit.

Waterproof Fabric with Rainwater Run-Off

We recommend setting up the canopy with a single pole at front middle eyelet and the 2 x front corner and 2 x side guylines tensioned to form a ridge shape at the front. This ridge shape will allow rainwater runoff at each side of the canopy and is very stable in strong winds.  If you have the canopy set up with 3 x poles at the front, with a bit of practice, it only takes a couple of minutes to loosen the front corner guylines, remove the corner poles  and re-tension the guylines into this single pole shape.

Single pole ridge shape for rainwater runoff

Single pole ridge shape for rainwater runoff

With the Funky Leisure canopy set up in this ridge shape you’re able to leave the side door open on your Bus and carry on sitting outside experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of nature during a summer shower. We have even dragged our compact BBQ just under the front of the canopy and carried on cooking with beer in hand whilst other campervan doors are slamming shut and awnings are zipped closed.

*We strongly recommend setting the canopy in this shape overnight and whenever you’re away from the van as you never know when there’s going to be a sudden downpour and it’s sods law it’ll happen in the depths of the night or when you’ve just walked to the local pub or bar.

Tip: When you remove the corner poles just stow them out of the way under the van for safe keeping.

Compact pack size stows easily in a Bus

Compact pack size stows easily in a Bus

Additional Features

  • Supplied with 3 x height adjustable poles (175cm to 220cm) and with 6 x eyelets in the canopy fabric allows it to be set up in many different shapes either attached to the van or freestanding.
  • The pole sleeve is made from heavy-duty silicone coated fabric to allow the pole to slide in and out easily even when wet.
  • The hi-vis pre-attached guylines have reflective stitching sewn-in to pick up torch light
  • The canopy now comes with 8 x heavy-duty rock pegs as standard – these pegs are pretty much unbendable
  • The awning is stores neatly into a compact zipped carry bag with basic attachment and set-up instructions sewn-in – measuring just 75cm x 12cm Ø the packed awning takes up little space in a VW Transporter
  • The canopies are currently available in Brilliant Orange, Chianti Red, Azure Blue, Anthracite Grey, Forest Green and Sierra Yellow – we also have a Black canopy on the way for autumn 2018.

Please note: the Type 2 Pole & Clamp Connection Kit is no longer included as standard with our canopy and in now sold separately as an add-on item.  This is in response to feedback from many of our customers who already own a connection kit for their drive-away awning and customers with C-Channel type awning rails fitted. The kit can be added from the drop-down menu on the product pages for £9.99 (RRP £15.00)

Happy Road Trips – Adventure is out there!

2015 Vango Kela-II AirBeam Awning: Review   34 comments

Overview of the 2015 Vango AirBeam Awning Range

Vango Kela-II AirBeam Awning

Vango Kela-II AirBeam Awning

Vango spent 12 years developing and testing their innovative inflatable AirBeam technology before introducing it to their tent range and then rolling it out a couple of years later in 2013 into their AirBeam vehicle awnings and thus revolutionising the drive-away awning market.  So it’s fair to say that this ground-breaking awning range is truly tried and tested.

The Vango-Kela II – Inflatable AirBeam Awning is just one of the 2nd generation of AirBeam vehicle awnings that Vango are introducing for the 2015 camping season. The Kela and Sapera have plenty of updates and are now known as the AirAway Kela-II and Sapera-II (2). The range has also been extended to include the Idris (a budget version of the Kela) and a completely new luxury design with weather proof porch – The Vango Attar 380.

We first tested the new Kela II back in October 2014 in our SW London showroom, attaching it to our 79’ VW Bay Window and our Volkswagen T5 Kombi fitted with our low-profile C Channel awning rail. The dimensions, tunnel height, connection options and sleeping compartment configuration of the Kela II and Sapera II are all the same as the earlier 2013/14 versions, so we had no problem connecting the Kela to either Transporter.

 

AirBeam Kela II – New Features for 2015

Kela-II Tunnel Entrance Doors

Kela-II Tunnel Entrance Door

Additional Awning Tunnel Doors

The first obvious 2015 upgrades are the additional doors on each side of the awning tunnel which we think work really well as it saves walking through the awning (and stepping over two entrance thresholds) every time you need to get something from the bus… usually a beer from the fridge or another bottle of van rouge!

This convenient feature will not only save time, it will also save a lot of unnecessary spillages, wear and tear, etc… and is an even more important update if you have dogs or kids with muddy paws trying to walk through the awning every 10mins!

The two additional entrance doors will also offer much needed air circulation in the van and awning on hot summer days.

AirSpeed Valve in Higher Position

AirSpeed Valve in Higher Position

AirSpeed Valve System

Another main feature of the 2015 Airbeams is Vango’s new AirSpeed valve system. Each valve is now located on the outside of the AirBeam with a weatherproof rain cover which  eliminates any fiddling with zips at ground level and possible twisting of the valves on the AirBeam. The new valve has also been repositioned at a convenient 86cm above ground level.

AirSpeed Valve with Rain Cover

AirSpeed Valve with Rain Cover

The AirSpeed valve is also easy and even quicker to operate. The clever valve locking cap means no more screwing or unscrewing of the valve body and no chance of cross-threading, just a simple half turn to open and close… a quick twist will deflate the AirBeam in seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tension Band System – TBS II

Vango developed these patented TBS stabilising straps quite a few years back and once again, this clever system has been tried and tested on their tents over many seasons.  The webbing straps are attached halfway up the inside of the AirBeams and stowed in a side pocket and can be engaged by just connecting into the top central clip. When connected, these cleverly design straps form a strong ridge shape that keep the AirBeams stable in extreme weather conditions.

We have only ever felt the need to use this unique system a couple times in the past when very strong gusty winds were blowing in from the side… the strap only took a few seconds to connect and performed well, keeping the awning firm and stable. On the downside, in dim light, it is easy to forget the straps are there and walk into them!

The new Kela II now has the TBS II system fitted on both AirBeams as opposed to just the front which offers increased stability.

Vango weather test all their tents including all four models of the Airbeam drive-away awning at an independent wind and rain test centre to ensure they can withstand extreme weather conditions.

Other New Features

It seems Vango have also spent a lot of time working on some of the smaller details to further improve this innovative awning range.  The Excalibur grey colour is complimented with a 50cm high black band running along the bottom edge with a white reflective strip where the two colours meet. The orange guylines have been replaced by grey guylines with reflective stitching running through them, which combined will make the awning more hi-vis with less trips.

The yellow plastic T profile pegs have been upgraded to steel rock pegs which perform much better in harder ground… although we do recommend using a peg-pull with these – because it’s so much easier to bang them in deeper without breaking or bending, they can sometimes be slightly harder to remove (never use the webbing D ring to pull pegs out as it WILL break under the strain).

Summary

Vango Kela-II connecrted to a VW T5

Vango Kela-II connecrted to a VW T5

Overall Vango have built on this tried and tested AirBeam technology and combined with some excellent updates, have taken the second generation of AirAway inflatable awnings to the next level by making the new AirAway AirBeam awnings even easier and quicker to inflate.

We have had so much use from our original 2013 AirAway Kela including many VW festivals, Glastonbury, general camping weekends etc… without any problems and it’s still looking really good. Although the price tag is slightly higher than last year, Vango seemed to have listened to customer feedback and retained the best parts of this tried and tested awning range while adding some great new features – we still think these rapid pitch AirAway awnings remain the best drive away for VW Transporters!

Although the marketplace has seen a few more manufacturers doing away with poles and introducing inflatable systems into their drive-away awnings over last season, we feel that the Vango AirBeam range is the most reliable as they have been using this technology for over a decade now.  Also, out of all our suppliers, Vango’s customer service department is second to none, offering an excellent after-sales service… which is nice to know just in case you ever should have any problems.

Reviewed by the Funky Leisure Team – November 2014

…If you live anywhere near, or ever travel down to the South-East, call into our Twickenham showroom in SW London to see the Vango AirBeam Kela II connected to a VW T5 as well as lots of other VW campervan gear, awning rails, awning connection kits and other funky camping gear!

For the new range go to our latest review for all current prices and bundle deals visit the Vango AirBeam Awning section of FL’s shop.