Friday, August 20, 2021

MoonShade Awning: a Review

MoonShade attached to Airstream Basecamp
After about a dozen set-ups, I can say that the MoonShade awning is an excellent awning for my 16-foot Airstream Basecamp. My prior experience with camper awnings was with my tiny trailer, where I used a white vinyl tarp with suction cups and a couple of extendable tent poles. That actually worked pretty well (and was inexpensive), but with my white tarp initial experience, I have to say that the MoonShade is well-constructed and is designed well.

Homemade awning for tiny trailer
My "homemade" awning for my tiny trailer used suction cups, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. I usually drop my awning anyway if there's a chance of a storm. The Moonshade works on the same principle as my old homemade awning, except the suction cups are more hefty. Also, the MoonShade now comes with keder rail anchors, which really strengthen the connection to the trailer. More on that later.

Visor set-up
I also have the Airstream "visor" awning that came with my Basecamp. It provides some shade but is smaller than the MoonShade. The visor has a continuous keder anchor that is sewn to the visor and must be slipped through the rail. That's pretty stable, although the anchor line can  (and does) slip with the wind. I found the support poles not as strong as the MoonShade poles. The whole visor set-up, really, is not as rugged as the MoonShade. I will take the visor with me sometimes, though. If I'm staying longer in one spot (setting up a more permanent basecamp), then I might use the visor on the off-door side to add more shade if necessary.

The awning bag is small (28x6 inches) and includes the awning, two support poles (adjustable), a strengthening pole if necessary for attaching to something smaller than the awning, tent stakes and guy strings, suction cups, and I included the keder anchors for my Basecamp. A variety of anchors are available at the website, including magnetic anchors. The tent stakes are larger than some, but I immediately replaced the plastic stakes with metal spikes.

Having erected and dismantled the awning about a dozen times, I can confidently say that the process is easy and gets easier with practice. The instructions help make the process easy--such as to attach the awning to the roof prior to inserting the crossing reinforcement poles. I bring along a two-step folding step-ladder, which makes the roof work easier.

Some of the appreciation of the MoonShade is in the details. Corners are reinforced, there are extra loops for attaching extra guy lines, and the underside of the awning has loops for hanging lights or for storage netting. I like how the support poles also have snap attachments to further secure the awning to the poles. Also, the support poles are adjustable so I can compensate for uneven ground or slant the awning if expecting rain. I add swimming noodles onto the guy lines because the lines tend to disappear, causing me to clothesline myself. This is especially true with the MoonShade's black and green "camo" guy lines!

Sloping terrain needed the support stakes adjusted
Some folks like to attach the awning to their trailer with the suction cups so that the upper edge is beyond the edge of the trailer, thinking that this will keep the trailer edge of the awning from dripping water along the line of the door. I get that, but I feel the strength of the keder rail anchors is a better option for stability. In addition to the keder anchors, I also add one small suction cup attachment to the roof in the middle of the trailer-side edge to keep the shade a little higher on the roof. To solely use suction cups, I'd need a taller ladder to get higher on the roof to mount the suction cups. From my experience with my homemade rig that used suction cups, it's also important to have a clean roof when mounting the suction cups; otherwise, they will not adhere well.

All in all, the MoonShade is a pretty sweet product. It looks like it will hold up well, and I think it looks good, too, with my Basecamp. I also like that the clean lines of the Basecamp are not broken with an attached awning. That's probably just vanity, but if the MoonShade were to break or rip, then I could dismantle it and put it away easily. All in all, I feel this was a good purchase. The MoonShade in many ways is a universal awning, constructed to provide shade for a wide variety of vehicles and pull-alongs. It works for me. Would it work for you?

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