Mike Le CaplainSee other awning reviews written by Mike Le Caplain
Practical Caravan's Mike Le Caplain tests the 2015 Outwell Pacific Coast awning and gives his verdict on the tent-maker's mid-range inflatable porch
The main problem with traditional awnings is that the business of putting them up – especially for the first time – feels so daunting. Not only is the material bulky, but there are all those poles, fittings and pegs to work out, all the while knowing that the occupants of your neighbouring pitch are watching your every move.
So that’s where owning an inflatable awning can help. They’ve been around for a while now, and their USP is the complete absence of any primary poles. Simply attach the awning to your caravan, inflate the thick tubes with a few presses of a hand pump and you’re ready to go. Come home-time, you just need to release a valve and watch the tubes collapse.
We have reviewed several inflatable awnings in Practical Caravan recently, and you can read our 2016 Outdoor Revolution CompactAirLite 340 review, 2015 Vango Varkala 420 awning review and 2015 Westfield Easy Air 350 awning review, as well as more traditional awnings with steel poles, online here.
We tested the Outwell Pacific Coast inflatable porch awning to find out if it really is as simple as it seems to set up.
Our trusty long-term Bailey Unicorn Cadiz once again served as the guinea pig for this test, and slotting the awning into the caravan’s rails was extremely straightforward.
The fact that the Outwell Pacific Coast is a large porch awning effectively means that one size fits most caravans. The fixing height is 260cm and for storage it packs down neatly to 40cm x 88cm. As awnings go, it's quite a manageable item, weighing 16.8kg.
When the awning part is assembled, it’s time to get busy with the inflation. The awning has two flaps clearly marked ‘air in’ and ‘air out’ – so no prizes for guessing which one you’ll need first.
The Outwell comes ready supplied with its own pump and, unlike many of its type, pumping in either direction (up or down) pushes air into the tubes. There are four of the latter: a main supporting arch and three roof beams. All the tubes that form the frame are connected, so you only need to pump air into one place. The pump also has a clearly calibrated gauge on top so you can monitor your progress. Outwell says that no more than 8.7-11.6 psi of pressure should sufficiently fill the tubes without over-stressing them, which represents around 18 pumps.
The fabrics used are pretty tough, too, comprising the company’s patented PU-coated Outex 6000 polyester taffeta in both 150 (side panels) and 300 (roof) denier grades. All of the windows are tinted for glare reduction and privacy, and three types of pegs are used: metal for the corners, black plastic for the skirting and luminous yellow to secure the (also luminous yellow) storm guy ropes. The front canopy erects using a slide-through glassfibre pole.
Once it's up, the awning measures 350cm wide and 250cm deep. There are doors on both sides and in the front, so you can open it up to suit the weather and wind direction.
Some of the Outwell Pacific Coast's main selling points are its Outtex 6000 fabric, inflatable main arch and three roof beams, each of which can be isolated. It also boasts mosquito nets, a draught skirt, colour-coded pegs, a removable groundsheet, a front rain porch and a two-way air pump as standard.
There are optional extras, too. You can choose a waterproof footprint for £30, and a fleece carpet for £80.
Specs and Layout
We’ve seen a few of these inflatable-style awnings now, and as you can see this Outwell Pacific Coast awning is one of the most user-friendly models on the market. It has a high specification, uses premium materials and provides plenty of additional living space. We've awarded it a four-star rating.
- Great specification
- Well constructed
- Fits most caravans
- Inflatable awnings are relatively pricey