Are two frames better than one? The answer may be yes, judging by Outdoor Revolution’s Compactalite Pro 325 Carbon porch awning. In addition to the main frame, which fits outside the canvas, a second internal frame maintains its shape.
The 325 fits 2.35m- to 2.5m-tall tourers, making it suitable for use with nearly all sold in the UK. Its footprint is 325cm wide x 235cm deep, so it can be fitted to avoid windows and vents in many vans.
The Compactalite is lightweight, with a one-piece canvas and a carbon-fibre frame. There is a large door in each side panel and two large windows in the front panel.
The outer frame comprises three poles: one at either end and one at the centre. When these poles are inserted into sleeves in the canvas, they may lean inwards. To prevent this, peg down the stability straps that form part of the canvas; this holds the frame members in roughly the right position as you progress through the other steps.
The frames fit in a ‘ring and pin’ stitched to the bottom of the canvas and clip into robust black plastic clips. With the outer frame erected, the inner one then is fitted. It comprises a cross member that fits to the roof at the front of the awning and two vertical poles set at an angle from the front corners down to each doorway.
We particularly liked the fact that the front pole and angled vertical poles fit into zipped sleeves. Webbing strips in the doorway and along the base in front help ensure that the awning is square and not over-tensioned.
Behind each door is a full-size ventilation/insect screen, but we were not pleased to see that the rear vertical poles holding the draft pads against the caravan are cost options, not standard kit. The grey, dark blue and black of our test awning will not reflect sunlight and may make it extremely hot inside during the summer. The Compactalite is also available in burgundy.
We liked the Outdoor Revolution, its unusual design and clever use
of two frames. It goes up smoothly when erected by two people.
It is far from the cheapest porch awning, but a similar model with glass-fibre and steel poles, the Compactalite Pro 325, costs as little as £255 (from www.leisureoutlet.com).
Tel 01924 410 050
Reviewed in the June 2012 issue of Practical Caravan