It’s not that we don’t want to ever use campsite facilities again, it’s more that at the moment, we’d prefer to stay on smaller sites with no facilities, as we feel they will perhaps be quieter than those with facilities.
So we decided quite early into lockdown to invest in an awning and 12v shower. We picked the Eurotrails tailgate because that way we could aim for a cooler sleeping area during the hotter summer months. Our one criticism of Ruby is that during the height of summer we can get a bit hot in bed and the air around our face becomes a touch stuffy. The idea of a tailgate awning excited us as the prospect of being able to have fresh air around our faces during these summer months would hopefully make for more comfortable nights.
We picked the Eurotrails off-road awning as it looked spacious and very easy to assemble. Everyone refers to awnings as “divorces in a bag”, and we were keen not to be included into that generalisation thanks very much!
The awning is stored in a small tent sized bag and has just two poles for the entrance shelter. You hook the edge of the awning in to the hinge of the tailgate, line up the window in the awning with the window on your tailgate and open the boot! There are handy magnets which keep the awning secure onto the van.
There are two zipped entrances, one on the offside and one on the behind. There is also a window and a vent with net. The space is large enough for two small chairs to shelter in. Our only criticism is that with it being a European design, the side entrance is on the opposite side to our living area on our van, but to be honest I’m not sure we would use the awning to lounge in anyway and it was nice to have some privacy with the entrance being at the back of our pitch.
On our first use, the waterproof-ness was put through its paces as the moment we’d finished setting up the heavens opened and we found ourselves in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. We are happy to say no water got into Ruby and we were watching it like a hawk!
After our first night of sleeping with the tailgate open, we realised the boot light (inside) had remained on and therefore drained our battery! So we’ve since disconnected the light as we never used that anyway.
We were especially pleased to discover that we could close the boot without any drama, we leave the awning pegged in and just close the boot and lock up when we go out as we didn’t fancy leaving the vehicle wide open. On return, it’s really easy to just open the tailgate again and the awning pops up.
We’re really happy with the awning, and although it’s perhaps a little pricey at £200 , it’s going to massively enhance our trips. As well as a private area to shower in, it was wonderful as a dressing room. Another downside of Ruby has been getting dressed in the morning and not being bale to stand up whilst getting our clothes on. Now we can jump out of bed straight into the awning and get dressed whilst standing up!
We have this 12v shower which we are really pleased with. You fill the bucket (Included) with water, dip the motor in and away you go. The pressure is actually very good, and the lead for the 12v to the shower head is so long we can plug it inside the van and run the cable through the bed area. You can turn the water on and off with a switch and on the shower head too.
We used an old solar shower bag to heat the water during the day, (topped up with a couple of kettles) and then poured the water into the shower bucket. We stand in a folding dog paddling pool to collect our used shower water.