We recently announced that Pennine would be showcasing their new Air Porch 6 awning at the Motorhome & Caravan show at the NEC this week.
On Tuesday, I got the opportunity of having a closer look at the product, and, as promised, here is a quick review for anyone considering it for their own unit.
Unlike the main Pennine canvases and awnings, the Air Porch 6 is not made by Isabella, but has been developed by Pennine, in conjunction with Camping International, and, as such, the product is fully endorsed and backed by the company, for use with their folding camper models.
The Air Porch 6 is a purpose developed air awning, for use with the current 6 berth Pennine models, specifically the Pennine Pathfinder, and Conway Crusader. The awning can be retro fitted to earlier model Pathfinders, and more recent Crusaders, but it is not, yet, available for the slide out bed version.
The main framework of the awning is comprised of a combination of a single air beam strut and light weight, adjustable, rigid roof tensioners.
These tensioner poles hook onto the main camper poles, in exactly the same way as a standard awning would (although, of course, there are only three roof tensioner poles on the Air Porch 6, as opposed to five on a standard awning).
Pennine have taken a somewhat different approach from that of others who have adapted porch awnings to fit folding campers. Many have chosen the option of fitting a suitable zip to the awning, in order to ensure a tight and close fit to the main camper canvas, but Pennine have gone for a series of straps and buckles, in order to achieve the same result.
Space at the show prohibited the setting up of the awning and connecting it to a camper, and it was attached to a free standing frame, meaning that the closeness of the fit could not be confirmed, but it, certainly, seemed plenty rigid enough as it was. Also, if you take a look at the Camping International video, below, you can, clearly, see how well the awning does fit flush with the main camper.
The roof tensioners, of the Air Porch 6 hook into the holes in the main camper poles, just like any other awning, however, a series of straps then wrap around those poles, and buckle closed, in order to hold the awning firmly in place.
As with any other awning, the flap on the camper edge extends a short way over the roof of the awning, to assist water run off, however, the Air Porch 6 also has a return flap on its inner edge, which slots under the camper flap, and returns back on itself, to ensure a snug fit and an effective barrier against the elements.
The awning can then be pegged out, and any final adjustments made using the adjustment levers on the roof tensioner poles.
Entry and exit of the Air Porch 6 is via two doors, one either side, and a large, roll up, front section, all fitted with mesh to keep out unwanted flying insects.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of using a generic porch awning is the fact that it is almost impossible to ensure a decent colour match. Although the Air Porch 6 isn’t made by Isabella, the match is extremely good, and it really looks the part, when set up next to a current model six berth Pennine.
The Technical Stuff
The Air Porch 6 is a lightweight porch awning, weighing just 16.2kg, all in, but with a decent floor size of 360cm x 230cms. The canvas is 200D RipStop polyester, with a hydrostatic head of 4,000mm and a UV rating of 50+.
The Air Porch 6 is a bespoke, light weight, awning, and is the first one that has been purpose made to fit, directly, on to a 6 berth Pennine model. It uses a connection method that is a departure from the traditional zip option, so it will be interesting to see how well this holds up in extreme weather conditions (or the British Summer, as they are, also, known) but early indications are good, and, of course, this does over come the zip compatibility issues that have plagued installations of generic models.
At current price, of £499, some feel that this is an expensive addition, however, one of the best known converters of porch awnings for Pennines currently sells their new air models for £395. For me, an extra £100 for a bespoke awning, endorsed by the company, and custom designed to fit the Pennine models is a small price to pay, especially as it includes pump, pegs and storm straps. It’s, also, half the price of a full awning, and, for some, it will be the preferred option, especially on shorter trips. Pricing is, of course, also relative, and £499, against a total price of £13,595 for a new Pathfinder, is not significant, for the flexibility of accommodation it does offer.
All in all, this is a much anticipated offering, that, on first impressions, seems to deliver in terms of quality and flexibility of accommodation. It has been produced, in response to a significant level of demand from existing customers, and I think this is going to prove to be an extremely popular option in the future.
Talking of the future, what are the ongoing plans for the product? We have already been asked about plans for a full size air awning, and can confirm that the company has no plans for this in the foreseeable future, as they already have a lightweight awning frame on existing models. In the medium term, the plan is to adapt the Air Porch 6 for use with the slide out bed version of the Crusader, with the longer term plan being to adapt it for use with older models such as the Sterling. Also, there are no plans to produce a porch awning for the four berth models, as the existing awnings are relatively similar in size, already, and the benefits of using a porch awning are not considered to be significant.
The Air Porch 6 is, currently, set up on the Pennine stand (number 12.20) if you are planning on visiting the show over the weekend. The first video link below is the Air Porch 6, as it appears on the stand. The second link, from Camping International, shows the Air Porch 6 actually connected to a Pennine camper, so you can fully appreciate how well it fits, and how it looks, in situe. Feel free to check them out;