4 min read
Working from our Columbia Gorge office this month, watching the snow level drop and looming ski season approach, I felt it was a great time to reflect on our first summer. We received our first shipment of AH30 rooftop awnings just last April and hit the road attending several expos.
While on the road, we have been pleased to work with some great people and their vans, campers, trailers, jeeps, trucks, SUVs and more. We are grateful for all of the enthusiasm from our first customers.
We have learned a ton about how the awning sets up on a wide range of vehicle types like an expedition vehicle's outside galley, overland trailer awnings and a Subaru Crosstreck awning. We are excited to see more vehicles use the AH30 and we are busy working to bring several new products to market in the coming months.
One thing we have noticed in the marketplace, the AH30 is the lightweight, weather resilient awning solution. It weighs just 6lbs and flexes in strong winds, sheds snows, waterproof and no poles required. Other canopies similar to ours are the equivalent to pitching an aluminum pole tent on or near a vehicle. And when I say similar, I mean an awning that doesn't live on your vehicle, rather setup when needed and then stow for later.
We knew the AH30 awning was a first and had designed it to be versatile -- one awning that can attach to all types of supporting structures. Testament to this, we now have several boat owners who found us that are using the AH30 for aft shade and shelter.
The AH30 versatility stems from our two different mounting accessories. You can learn more from our Setup Overview Here.
One new to market truck canopy we found at Overland PNW this summer is the Air-Topperfrom our friends at www.flated.com. It has d-ring mounts like those found on a whitewater rafts that our AirHavenawning clips right into. This is a tailgaters dream. Just like the AH30, the Air-Topper inflates and sets up and then can be deflated and stowed in a bag.
But we have learned that not all supporting structures have available mounting points. We have customers using suction cup mountssuccessfully. They work if you have a flat non-porous surface to secure. They are strong. Though, not our first choice to survive a windstorm.
We have also used strong rubber coated magnets. Again, strong attachment. But you have to be very careful because they will scratch a vehicle if any dirt is present. We recommend for surfaces that are powder coated or there is no worry from scratching. Otherwise, choose another option for mounting.
Suction cup and magnet anchors also can slip and move when not expected. They are quick temporary solutions for attaching to a vehicle. But we wanted a better, more semi-permanent solution we could offer that we know we could trust. Taking notes from #Vanlife and RV owners, we understood that 3M VHB tape brackets have been used for securing solar panels to roof tops. If it works for solar panels, we knew it would work for our awnings. And so, our R&D began.
We went through several iterations and learned we did not want a rigid plastic mount because they have limitations. We wanted this quick installation, non-permanent anchor to form to curves and gunnels on a vehicle's top. It had to be adaptable. We experimented with different D-Rings, different VHB tape, materials, size. We knew it had to be non-permanent and withstand UV, wind and rain. After all, this four-season mount lives on your vehicle made for attachment. And they had to use an adhesive that wouldn't damage a vehicles paint.
It's fun to look at the evolution of our soon to be released VHB D-Ring anchors we have named Daylodge FlexMounts. These instant anchors are perfect for setting up when you have no mount points available. They can be installed on the top or side of a vehicle. They are really strong. We have been putting them to the test.
We are busy working with our sewers, factories, customers and distributors this Fall. Our next generation of products are in the works. As the winter looms, we still have a limited quantity of the AH30 inventory for cold weather adventures.
Our Canadian distributor also has limited number of awnings available too. We have spent time at their facility in Victoria, BC -- we love BC. A recent article was done on them -- Total Composites by Outside Magazine link here. Total Compositesand Expedition Upfittership overland products including ours to all of Canada.
Our favorite state side camper manufacturer found us in the Gorge while visiting from Colorado. They are testing our first FlexMounts protos and have practical all-season campers they manufacture in Steamboat Springs. Hit them up for AH30 fittings and overland traveling recommendations. https://www.coloradocustomcamper.com/
Another discovery this summer we now cannot live without is the Trailfire Grill -- firepit, BBQ and grill! It's been added to my standard weekend adventure tools package. You can actually cook pizza on it. Check them out IG @trailfiregrill
Finally, we are very pleased we have met Eric and Colby (IG @engineerswhovanlife) They are busy putting the rubber to the road with their new Ford Transit van build. We are challenging them this Fall to find the most inclement weather to put up their AH30 awning.
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"I got this awning a week ago and everything about it is well thought
out! It’s takes me 2 minutes to unpack and set up, and once it’s up
it’s isn’t going anywhere. Snow, rain, wind – it can handle anything.
Can’t wait to take this on many more van-ventures!" --Eric
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