by Helen
car with a car awning canopy providing shelter to a single person parked up in a field overlooking a mountain range

If you’re trying to find the best car awnings that you can use without a roof rack, don’t miss this guide!
We’ve tracked down all the best vehicle awning options out there so you can enjoy the great British outdoors – whatever the weather.

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I’d always liked the look of a car awning canopy to use for shelter when out and about but was put off by the idea of having to purchase and install a roof rack as well. Fortunately, I’ve since discovered that there are some awesome awnings that do not require a retractable roof rack at all!

While you’d be absolutely right in thinking that many car top awning products – such as those made by Rhino Rack and other big name manufacturers – do require a roof rack, but luckily this is not always the case.

Whether you want to find the best 4WD awning or simply wish to see a selection of recommended vehicle awnings, join me in my quest to uncover the best rooftop awning for your car, giving you more space wherever you roam.

With the protection the best car side awning or tailgate awning provides, you can enjoy camping, glamping and days out more no matter what the weather conditions. Not only will it protect you from the rain, but when we are blessed with a rare heatwave, a side awning for your car can supply some very welcome shade too.


Vehicle awnings may be described as a sun canopy, tailgate awning, car roof top awning or a side awning for the car. Sometimes, they’re even referred to as a car side tent awning, but as they have no walls they’re not designed for overnight use.

A car awning is basically a canopy that attaches to the side or rear of the car. It may have straight sections, or be built more like a parasol or umbrella, with support poles to prop it up. Once it’s in place, it provides you with useful shelter from rain, wind and sun so you can get on with cooking, playing and eating – or just chilling out. 

The awnings in this guide are compact and easy to transport in their own carry bag. They are also simple to put up so you can get on with your day or holiday!


Buying a car awning without a roof rack gives you a lovely outside space to enjoy whenever you’re camping or on a day trip – no matter what the unpredictable British weather has in store.

It creates a dry area where you can cook, eat or relax, or for the kids to play beneath. 

The best thing is that the car awnings detailed here do not require a roof rack, so you can get set up much more easily and without that added expense.

So read on to find the ideal roof rack free vehicle awning for your next outdoor adventure!


We really rate the IShine Car Awning. It can be used with the boot open to create tons of space, is compact, easy to set up and can be used on many different vehicles from SUVs to hatchbacks. With tough waterproof fabric, this great value car awning canopy is made to last the distance.  

Click here to find out more about the IShine vehicle awnings on Amazon


NameDimensionsMaterialCheck Prices
IShine Car Awning350 x 240 cm 210T waterproof polyesterClick here
Wenhe Tailgate Tent280 x 190 cm190T waterproof polyesterClick here
Hasika Tailgate AwningNot stated190T waterproof polyesterClick here
QianQian Vehicle Awning280 x 280 x 190 cm190T waterproof polyesterClick here
Buycitky Car Canopy190 x 200 x 240 cm190T waterproof polyesterClick here


IShine Car Awning

Best car awning overall 

This is our top pick overall among all the best car awnings listed here.

Unlike other products, this iShine car awning has a side panel to protect users from extreme weather. It’s also made from 210T polyester fabric, so it’s the toughest option included in this round up. As it can be used with the car boot open, this can also give you more space.

Satisfied owners say it’s a great piece of kit for family days out as it provides effective shelter from rain or sun – particularly with the added end section that gives additional protection. It also folds down into a compact package inside the included carry bag.

To assemble it, you simply unpack it from the included carry bag before inserting the poles. Then you attach it to the back of the vehicle before securing the ropes. Once it’s set up, you have a sheltered area for cooking, dining and relaxing.


  • Tough, tear-proof, waterproof fabric
  • Can be used with boot open for increased space
  • Easy to install


  • Heavier than the other options due to the super strong fabric used (4.5kg)

Click here to view the IShine car awning on Amazon

Wenhe Tailgate Tent

Best multi purpose awning

This spacious awning can be used on many different types of vehicles as well as functioning as a gazebo.

It’s made of high quality waterproof and tear-proof fabric and provides comfortable shelter for around 6 people.

As well as being easy to install, it also folds down into a handy tote bag – easy to store, carry and transport.


  • Easy to install
  • Tough fabric
  • Can be used as a gazebo


  • Not the most sturdy

Click here to view the Wenhe Tailgate Tent on Amazon

Hasika tailgate awning

Best value for money awning 

The design of this great value car awning is a little different from the previously listed products.

It’s made to give you extra living space inside your car as well as out, thus it comprises a section of fabric that protects the interior of the vehicle. There is also an outside area beneath.

This is a tailgate awning that attaches to the rear of a car or 4WD. If you want to maximise the available space by utilising the car interior more, then this could be the right choice for your camping trips and excursions. 


  • Great value for money
  • Extends car interior space
  • Insect screen and storm flap


  • Provides less outside space

Click here to see the Hasika vehicle awning on Amazon

QianQian vehicle awning

Best parasol style awning

This car awning canopy is shaped like an umbrella, which allows rain to run off in exactly the same way. It is also designed to resist wind, and is made from strong yet lightweight waterproof fabric.

One happy owner loves the fact that this is compact enough to store in the car for whenever it’s needed. It is also very simple to install. Once in place, it provides enough space for a relaxed family picnic. A carry bag is included, and the universal fit makes it suitable for the rear of cars, 4WDs or trucks.


  • Designed for rain run-off
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Simple installation


  • Not the sturdiest

Click here to view the QianQian car awning on Amazon

Buycitky car canopy

Best ventilated awning

A unique feature of this particular vehicle awning is the screen window which improves airflow on a hot, sunny day. This has a roll-down closure for when wet weather does strike. Again, this awning provides enough space so you can enjoy a sheltered lunch break.

This canopy awning is also arched in shape to encourage rain to fall straight down to the ground, and it is designed to fit small to medium sized cars. It also comes complete with a bag for storage and transportation.


  • Integral skylight window
  • Extra ventilation
  • Arched shape repels rain


  • Not ideal for larger cars

Click here to see the Buycitky vehicle awning on Amazon


Will the awning fit on my car?

Compatibility with your vehicle is surely the first consideration when choosing between car awnings. If you want, for example, the best 4×4 awning, then you need to make sure it will fit. 

Most awnings are universal, which if you think about it makes complete sense. Why would the manufacturer want to miss out on a sale because their awning didn’t fit as many cars as one made by another company?

Check the description carefully – most will state that they suit all kinds of cars including 4x4s. If you have a bigger car, avoid the Buycitky product, as that one is meant to fit small to medium sized cars only.

Is the car awning easy to set up?

How easy is the car awning to set up, and can you do this by yourself if you need to? If you often take the kids out while your partner’s at work, or are a single parent of young children, for instance, check out how simple the awning is to install.

Read user reviews and – if stated – the steps to putting up each vehicle awning. This should give you a clearer picture of how things will work in reality. Most of these awnings take just minutes to install. It’s always a good idea to have a practice run at home too!

Does the car awning provide UV Protection?

Car awnings will offer some shade from the sun. The fabric may be designed to resist UV rays, but it’s best to see this as contributing to the awning’s longevity rather than as sun protection as such.

As the sides are open, you’ll need to apply high SPF sunscreen as usual. It’s also wise to wear a sun hat and sunglasses to protect the face from those strong rays (because sunshine is, of course, the norm in northern Britain).

Will the vehicle awning provide a good shelter?

What sort of shelter are you seeking? The shape of awnings varies quite a bit, as does the space inside them. Most are open on all sides, but one does come with an end panel for added protection from rain and wind.

All of the awnings listed here have been chosen because they’re waterproof, but you still may wish to head indoors during a proper storm. If you’ve ever been camping, think of a vehicle awning as a tent without sides to get the idea!

Is the item durable?

Again we have selected these particular products because they are tough and durable. Every item in this guide is made from waterproof polyester with either a 190T or 210T rating. Each is also designed to be wind-resistant.

You can take some simple steps to ensure your awning lasts as long as possible. Never put it away wet, as steel poles could rust and fabric could become mouldy or even rot. If you do have to, make sure you dry it thoroughly after you get home. Treat it with care and it should look after you for a good while.

Do I need to buy any accessories to go with my car awning?

The vehicle awnings we have included come complete with fixings for attaching it to the car, and poles to hold it up and a carry bag. So no extras should be necessary. 

It is worth thinking about what you want to use it for, however! Do you need camping chairs, a folding or roll-up table or a picnic blanket, for example? Taking items like this can enhance the enjoyment of your trip, providing shelter for preparing food, playing, eating or relaxing. 


I hope this guide has helped you find the right awning for your car or 4×4. Choosing the right vehicle awning means you can make the most of outdoor living, even when the sun decides not to shine. Which, let’s face it, is pretty often here in the UK!

Not requiring a roof rack makes these car awnings really easy to use, and they can even be stored in the car for use at a moment’s notice.

Are you thinking of getting a car awning? Please leave a message in the comments and let me know which one you buy!

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