Peter BaberSee other awning reviews written by Peter Baber
Combining air and pole technology results in a distinctive look, says Peter Baber
Inflatable air awnings have been a major innovation. It’s not difficult to see why, given their speedy set-up.
However, conventional poled awnings haven’t gone away, and many still prefer what they see as their better shape. So what about an awning that combines both technologies?
That is what Vango’s latest, the Maldives 400, from its Prestige range, aims to be. The main structure is held up with air and roof beams, with steel poles at the front.
The designers have made use of this hybrid nature to give the 400 its hexagonal shape, yet its depth is still only 300cm. Five of those six sides can include a removable panel, so on a hot day, it would be easy to turn your awning into a sun canopy.
The two side panels include a mesh door that is split 60/40, in case you only want to open it a little to gain entry. The three front panels include doors with mesh and zip curtains, and there are skylights near the roof.
The new Sentinel Elegance fabric is worth noting, too: with a density of 163g/sq m, it has been tested to more than twice the strength of Vango’s Sentinel Active fabric. The Diamond Pro windows are also 67% thicker, allowing greater insulation.
A combination of wider-than- average air beams, inflated with a supplied double-action pump, and steel poles didn’t make assembly more complicated, as the real support work is still in the air beams – you only add the steel poles at the end.
It’s good to know you don’t use any poles up against the caravan – Vango’s draught seal system is designed to keep all draughts out without risking any damage to the van.
Although it was only a breezy day at our location (Love2Stay near Shrewsbury), the wind did catch the roof of this awning, causing it to billow a little.
That didn’t seem to affect its stability, but you could possibly lessen this effect on the inside by attaching a roof lining (an optional extra). There is also an annexe, that can be used for storage or sleeping space, or as somewhere to leave a bike – it has its own door.
There’s a huge selection of extras as standard. Apart from the pump, these include rock pegs, a mallet, storm straps, two wheel-arch covers and a draught skirt. You also get the Sky Track II hanging system, designed to make it easy to put up storage hangers or LEDs.
Specs and Layout
The Maldives has an attractive shape that should stand out from the crowd on-site. At £900, it is a good price, and the extra kit that comes as standard is really useful.
- Striking design
- Great list of extras as standard
- The roof on our test model was a little billowy