I have no idea who shot first, but it seemed like only days between nobody owning one to every other 4×4 having an awning attached to the side of their roof rack.
Good job whoever it was!
This sudden rush of awning love resulted in every single accessory producer rushing to get their own in the market and eat some of that shiny new fad accessory pie.
By pie I mean cash.
Now that awnings have been around for some time, and everyone seemingly has one, from a feature standpoint, you can only really compare them on the little, (some would say insignificant) things. And of course, if someone comes up with something innovative, chances are they’ll be copied in a month anyway!
What always remains as a big factor is reliability and price. Today let’s talk about awnings from Ironman.
I remember when Ironman first arrived on the market. They had a deep history with what is on just about every offroaders wish list — suspension. At some point they got their act together, starting marketing better and were one of the first to take the price wars to the big guys (ARB, TJM et.al).
For a long time, they were dismissed as the cheap alternative you buy if you couldn’t afford the other bigger more established brands. People had become so accustomed to paying top dollar for this stuff.
As time went on, I think we realized that price was an issue for a lot of us and their stuff wasn’t all half bad for the price! This resulted in Ironman growing and today they are a lot more than springs and shocks.
But the metemorphisis I feel a little sad about. Their heritage was to tap into a deep-rooted understanding of a product and disrupt by resetting the ‘value equation.’ But as soon as it needed to go beyond that, they became just another marketing company importing ‘me too ‘products. I’ve never seen them do much exciting from a product standpoint since they arrived.
Their awning, sadly, is no different.
Tigerz11 have them, roo systems have them, TJM have them, even ARB have them. The list goes on. The first thing you need to realize is that there is very little difference in them. If you need one, and there is one, don’t stress that much. Just buy it. If you’ve got an affinity with one brand over another it doesn’t matter, but theirs.
All of them are cheap and the bottom end of the market. Don’t waste your time compare one to another in this couple of hundred dollar mark. Compare it to something like a Hannible awning – a brand you probably have never heard of. That’s actually what a premium awning looks like (and costs more than a grand!)
… but back to the Ironman Awning!
You do have a couple of choices.
- The walls:
Some privacy walls are an option with the Ironman Awning. Not a bad idea if your awning is going to act tent like next to your car, but don’t bother if you’ve already going to have some other private area like a camper.
- Where you want the 2 meters X 2.5 meters:
You can go 2 meters along the car side and 2.5 meters out, or the other way. It’s going to depend on if you have a short 4×4 or a long one. Get out the tape measure. They do have this a 1.4 mt one, which might work from the back of your 4×4, not the side. I just pull up my tailgate :).
- Oh you get some LEDs:
But really, you’d be better to buy some $10 led strip lighting from eBay and velcro/cable tie / glue it to your awning. You can then set up the power / switching / location / brightness to your taste, not the lowest common denominator.
And that’s pretty much it. It’s pretty sucky actually as you get all the widgets with someone like Tigerz11 or Adventure Kings mozzie net, pointless super bundle glory :). And then their is the fox wings to overcomplicate things even more.
Biggest problem with all these awnings are the cam locks
The twist to lock extension poles are a super cool idea, but when built cheaply they are the first to let you down. Unfortunately they are also pretty fundamental to the awning working and will be the reason you’ll probably own a more than one of these awnings in your life.
Careful though you don’t buy too many, or you might exceed what it would have cost you to buy a top end awning that you’ll have for life 🙂 On did I mention the expensive ones don’t need one.
You’ve got to mount this thing to something as well.
I think this goes without saying, but you’ll need something to fix your awning too. Don’t expect them to come with any magical fitting kit. It’s a roof rack accessory than an accessory in its own right. So make sure you’ve got that covered before you hand over your cash and have nowhere to put the things.
Setting them up:
One thing that is true of the awning is (and most others it that they are easy to set up and pull down. A few minutes actually and I’ve done it on my own plenty of times. It is easier with two but very doable with one.
As an awning owner has it been worth it?
I do a lot of my off-roading in the Vic high country. Part of the territory there is a lot of big trees — in other words shade. So the occasion where I’ve had to the roll out the awning to give us some respite from the head has been pretty minimal. We also lug a camper around on a lot of trips, which comes with its own much more significant awning.
But I must admit, when I’ve had the occasion to use it, it’s been pretty good. But I have gone through an Ironman and a tigerz11 one. These things don’t last that long!
If I did more in the middle of Australia where natural shade is a little harder to come by, then I think these things would be worth their weight in gold. Personally, though, if I was going to use it a lot, I buy a better proper one.
To buy or not?
The moral of this story is that Ironman or ARB or Tigerz11 or something else at a couple of hundred, they are all the same. But don’t think that this cheap end of the market is your only option. If you’re going to use it a heap, then it might be worth the extra investment.