It’s been almost a year since I since I shared my desire to do some camping, perhaps leaning toward overlanding, or what I might call “microlanding” in my GTI. See that article here. Even after a year, I haven’t set out on any camping trips. My schedule just hasn’t worked out. However, I’m still pursuing that goal, albeit very slowly. I recently started watching an overlanding channel called “Softroading The West.” The owner explores Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, state parks, and national forests in his Subaru Forester. He does quite well with his modest setup. He shared a DIY awning video that compelled me to try one of my own, with a few modifications to suit my needs. It turned out good; I even received kudos from @softroadingthewest himself.
The backbone of the project started with a 1-inch by 10-ft piece of Schedule 40 PVC pipe and a ¾-inch by 10-ft piece of electrical conduit. These pieces serve as a boom for the awning. Unlike SoftroadingTheWest, I chose to use longer sections of pipe so that only one piece of conduit is needed to extend the boom to 10 feet. That means my boom is less compact when collapsed, but fewer moving parts when deploying the awning. I cut my pieces to 78 inches to match my cargo box, which leaves ~36 inches of overlapped conduit inside the PVC for extra support. I finished the PVC pipe in black by using a long piece of large heat shrink tubing. It’s durable and looks good. The pole is attached to my Rhino Rack with a pair of Yakima TopGrip lockable clamps, which are made to hold a shovel, ax, paddle, or similar object. An awning boom seems similar enough to me. 😉
I drilled holes at the ends of the PVC to hold the end caps in place, plus holes at the 5-ft mark to hold the center of a 10×10 tarp. I use a set of ¼-inch locking pins to hold the end caps and tarp in place. Speaking of the tarp, SoftroadingTheWest’s recommendation to use this tarp kit is excellent! It comes with everything needed to make the boom work. In my case, since a Golf/GTI sits lower than CUVs/SUVs, I added a set of telescoping poles to enable me to create a vaulted awning. The second set of poles made everything better. My goal was to create a high point so that I could stand under the awning. I accomplished that, but was also pleased to discover that the second set of poles added stability and a better path for rain water to drain. WIN/WIN!
I can deploy the awning in 5-10 minutes, depending on my level of preparation and packing. The boom even helps me to fold the awning off the ground by holding one half as I fold from the other end when it’s time to pack-up and go. Best of all, the project can be made for less than $100 if you skip the heat shrink tubing and use U-bolt clamps instead of the fancy locking TopGrips that I chose. Still, even at $200, my awning solution is simpler and less expensive than a lot of commercial offerings. I think it will work well for Alltrack, Tiguan, and Atlas owners who use an attached awning during their own outings. I’ve shared some photos below. You can also see more in this YouTube video.