James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

Practical Caravan tested 14 rival windbreaks for caravan holidays and now we can reveal that the Coleman Windshield XL is the ultimate winner for 2015!

Overview

Nothing spoils a bright day more than a cold, persistent breeze and, sadly, it’s hardly a rare occurrence in the UK in any season. So it’s no surprise that windbreaks are a favourite piece of kit for caravanners.

Recently, windbreaks appear to have taken on a second function. Often they’re used as a makeshift fence to define territory, which isn’t quite as antisocial as it first seems. If you tour with children or pets, any form of boundary is a useful way of keeping your brood close to home and out of others’ way, too. Even if touring as a couple, many simply enjoy the privacy of their makeshift ‘garden’.

But are any windbreaks tough enough to be left up at all times? Well, no. None are designed to stay standing in the sorts of powerful gusts that can upturn tables and gas bottles. But any that fail in moderate breezes are obviously not fit for purpose.

Strength and stability were high on our testing agenda, but we also considered practical factors such as height, pack-down size and weight, and whether the windbreak could be attached to awnings or even your van.

We prefer ground-hugging models, because they prevent stray breezes sneaking in beneath. And, if a ’break is to be used as a fence, one that hovers a few inches above the ground is an invitation to pets to go exploring.

Window panels are an advantage, too – by blocking out the wind you could be obscuring a very fine view. 

Finally, we prefer windbreaks with enough guy ropes supplied to allow two to be affixed to each post. Although some folk maintain that double lines are only needed on the end posts of a windbreak, that’s not a theory we subscribe to. Invariably, breezes blow in many directions, so while a tensioned single line will hold a post vertical when the wind is battling against it, the same pole will slump towards the line when the breeze dies down. Only two lines per pole will keep it vertical at all times, and having two lines available also helps with the construction. 

For Practical Caravan's July 2015 issue we tested 14 windbreaks. We looked at windbreaks from Olpro, Kampa, Gelert, Quest Leisure, Outwell, Sunncamp, Vango, Halfords, Trespass and Easy Camp and you can read many of our windbreak reviews online. In this review we focus on the Coleman windbreak.

The Coleman Windshield XL is a truly gargantuan windbreak, measuring 7.5m long by 1.65m high. Despite this, it packs down into a modest 70cm x 15cm x 15cm bag, which weighs in at just 3.8kg.

Glassfibre, rather than steel, poles help keep that weight down, and also boost stability.

In high winds, the poles flex and absorb much of the force, rather than relying on the material and the guy ropes to withstand it alone. We like the two lines per pole arrangement, but they highlight one disadvantage of plastic poles: if you set the lines too steeply, which may be necessary thanks to the model’s height, then the poles will flex under tension.

Technical specs

Size7.5m long by 1.65m high
Packed size70cm x 15cm x 15cm bag
Weight3.8kg
FabricPolyester 185T with taped seams
ConstructionFive panels, one with PVC window
Guy ropes14 pre-attached lines with pegs
PolesFibreglass

Verdict

Of all the windbreaks we've tested, we're happy to crown the Coleman Windshield XL the Practical Caravan winner! We think that it's excellent value for money at around the £50 mark. We've awarded it a 4.5 star-rating and would be happy to take it on our caravan holidays.

Conclusion

Pros

  • This is a huge windbreak
  • Small and light to pack
  • Poles flex in high wind
  • Two guy ropes per pole

Cons

  • Guy ropes at a long, shallow angle could trip people up
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