If you're looking at big caravan awnings, check out Practical Caravan's 2015 Isabella Ambassador Seed awning test and expert verdict
Ask any caravanner to say the first awning manufacturer that springs to mind, and chances are they’ll come up with ‘Isabella’.
There may be a bewildering array of awning companies, types and styles from which to choose these days, but Isabella has been in the business long enough to have almost become a generic term for an awning, in the same way that Biro is now synonymous with 'pen' and the name Hoover is often used for almost any brand of vacuum cleaner.
The point of buying a full awning such as the Ambassador Seed is to provide additional living accommodation, and the Ambassador certainly fulfils that brief – and how – at 2.5m deep. That’s a lot of space on any awning, particularly like the one we tested, with a ground-to-ground measurement of 1050cm – far from the largest on offer.
The plus side of this is that the resultant space is positively enormous. The downside is that you’ll need a mighty big pitch to contain it. The awning itself is a substantial piece of kit, even when it’s bagged up.
One size fits all with this awning. We used our long-term Bailey Unicorn Cadiz as the test mule for assessing the Ambassador, and straight away this threw up a potential problem: Bailey tourers built using the Alu-Tech system do not have standard awning rails, so the usual awning fixings won’t work properly on our Unicorn. The good news is that Isabella has thought of this and produced special stepped FixOn brackets to circumvent the problem.
Bailey is far from the only manufacturer to employ its own type of caravan construction these days, so it’s something that’s worth bearing in mind when you buy your next awning. Impressively, Isabella’s website offers a search engine to help you, so that you’re more likely to pick the right awning for your particular make and model of caravan.
The frame of the Ambassador Seed that we tested is made from CarbonX, a glassfibre that is surprisingly lightweight and yet strong enough, Isabella claims, to withstand most powerful gusts of wind. There is, however, the option of a Zinox tubular steel frame with T-Rex locking clamps. CarbonX poles get IsaFix clamps to hold them after tensioning.
The fabric is Isabella’s 295g/m2 Isacryl, which is a breathable fibre-dyed acrylic. It comes with twin mosquito nets on each side to allow breezes in, but not bugs.
The price for the Isabella Ambassador Seed ranges from £1770 to £2488 for one with the steel frame, or from £1909 to £2743 if you choose CarbonX glassfibre poles.
This awning weighs from 36.8kg to 65.7kg. Its dimensions are 1050cm (as tested) x 250cm (d). The size range is 850cm to 1175cm. When it's all packed away this caravan awning is 110 x 40x 40cm (canvas); 120cm long (frame). The awning offers access from both sides as well as from the front.
The main selling points are the lightweight CarbonX frame, mosquito nets, IsaFix clamps and draught skirts.
You can buy optional extras, as well. These are a storm securing kit (£16); gutter set (£120); tall annexe (£536 steel/£649 CarbonX) and a net front (£99-£115), up to size 1075cm only.
Compare this full awning review to some of our other 2015 Practical Caravan awning tests. If you'd prefer a small porch awning to this full awning, check out our £835 Inaca Jeroboam awning review. Inflatable awnings are becoming extremely popular and you can read our £840 Outdoor Revolution CompactAirLite 340 review, £725 Vango Varkala 420 review and £300 Westfield Easy Air 350 test.
Specs and Layout
It’s hard to pick holes in this latest offering from Isabella. The 2015 Ambassador Seed awning looks great, provides a colossal amount of space and is relatively straightforward to erect. However, we would advise opting for the CarbonX frame, which is usefully lighter than the steel.
- Easy to erect
- Ideal for seasonal pitches
- It may be too big for some pitches
- Expensive (but you do get what you pay for)