A top-quality awning on the work ute has become an important fixture on both workdays and weekends. Shelter from the Aussie sun and weather is a high priority in both situations. The Rhino-Rack Batwing Compact awning’s unique fold-out, 270-degree design provides 69-square-feet of shelter. Rotating around both sides and the rear of the vehicle, the system offers a pile of improvements in coverage and protection. But as with any system, if it is overly complicated or time consuming to set up and use it becomes just another thing you’d rather not deal with.
For our tests on the Batwing Compact awning we decided to look at its real-world usability and durability. What we found was quite interesting.
Test #1: Set Up
I figured if any awning system like this needed more than one person to set up in normal calm conditions it would be an instant fail. So the first test was really going to make or break this review.
There were 4 main structural arms which neatly sat together, held in place inside the storage cover by rare-earth, neodymium magnets. The 580gsm, black, PVC cover simply unzipped, thanks to easy-to-grab Rhino-Rack zips, and folded over to provide access to the arms. All 4 arms are hinged at the rear and easily swung out and around, with the last arm pulling the entire system tight. When clipped into position the support poles – stylish black-anodised aluminium with powder-coated extrusion – simply folded down, and with a one-handed twist of the mid-section the pole height adjustment could be set and readjusted at any time. Within minutes the awning was in place and set up.
After a few more minutes to hammer in place the two pegs per pole, the basic awning set up was done and even a good gust of wind wasn’t going to budge it. The poles being integrated into the awning system and not contained in a separate bag is a great design feature.
The optional tapered extensions, zipped on in less than a minute, included velcro panels to further secure the extensions around the poles.
During set up we were racing some pretty heavy dark clouds that were speedily rolling in, and it was a realistic test. Just as we zipped up and velcroed in the tapered extension panels it started to pour down.
Even for a first-time set up we had it completed in less than 10 minutes, including the extension panels.
- UPF50+ sun protection and Cancer Council-endorsed shade
- 270° of shade and 6.4m2 coverage area (69 square feet)
- Rare-earth neodymium magnets lock poles into place
- Ultra-durable, lightweight, 210D poly oxford water-resistant PU2000mm (UPF50+)
- Black anodised aluminium and powder coated extrusions and poles for a sleek look and corrosion resistance
- Easy-to-grab Rhino-Rack zips
- 580gsm black PVC outer bag
- Drop-down poles integrated into the awning
- Includes 2 spare Hinge Knuckles
- Available in Left (#33300) and Right-hand (#33400) models
- Tapered extensions sold separately
- Pegs and guy ropes kept inside the awning in an enclosed pocket
Test #2: Build Quality
Even the cleverest design and functionality will end up being labelled as an epic fail if the construction and build quality doesn’t hold up to the environmental challenges. Regardless of whether the main focus for the Batwing Compact is work or play, the construction is going to be severely tested, either by being close to sharp edges of worksite tools and equipment, or by a barrage from campsite kids cutting loose.
To its credit the Batwing Compact awning is constructed from 210D, rip-stop poly cotton canvas and has a UV rating of UPF50+, fully endorsed by the Cancer Council. The 210D rip-stop poly cotton canvas is also waterproof and mould-resistant, making it an ideal place to escape both the rain and the sun.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The speed of set up, ease-of-use and build quality of the Batwing Compact awning make it something which would be used very regularly. The range of tapered extensions in either solid panels or with doors allows even more flexibility and convenience. It’s one impressive and easy-to-use system, and now has me looking at my old Rhino-Rack on the ute with renewed excitement. A new purchase will help me get away down the coast with the kids in the near future, not to mention keeping my gear out of the sun when working on locations. It’s a win, win!
For more information visit www.rhinorack.com.au