off-brand awnings?

#16
Who has this actually happened to? So far every knock off that is actually really close to the official product I've seen has been something that was already being made in China for the "manufacturer", then the Chinese just take seconds or run them using cheaper parts and/or no branding and sell them.

The Chinese do this on just about everything that is made there, from electronics to clothing to hardware to you name it. The snorkel for my H3 I get from China is virtually exactly the same as the Safari/ARB one because it is actually made there, not Australia. Only real difference is they made a mold without the branding engraved into it. Technically it's a knock off, but it is functionally and materially the same exact product, just no branding.

Probably the same with the awnings, they are probably put together using the same exact parts as the ARB's, but probably from clear back when they first came out and before updates and fixes were made to their construction.

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This is what I'm suspecting. I see that domestic company "A" , "B" and "C" all seem to be selling the same thing. I'm sure they focus their efforts on the core hardware business and outsource some of the other stuff.
 
#17
I have one of these https://www.ebay.com/itm/Awning-Roo...?hash=item2cc776c77b:m:moA4A6gzVPKJeGnjtsShaB I do not know how it compares to ARB but it was a hell of a deal and is very good quality awning.
So I ordered one of these for my Jeep TJ yesterday based on Lynnrb's recommendation and the fact that it is inexpensive (and I've been wanting one):

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Awning-Roo...?hash=item2cc776c77b:m:moA4A6gzVPKJeGnjtsShaB

I guess we'll see how it works out. It should be here next week. 6.6' x 8.2' in gray. $109 with free shipping.
 
#19
I am curios, I see most of them fold into a bag when not in use. how do you guys keep the bag intact? on my rig that bag would get tore up, then the tarp. my truck has desert pin strip top to bottom and then some. I just use a regular tarp and tent poles. highdesertranger
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
#20
I've been on the fence on getting that same one. Can't wait for you reveiw!
It should be here Monday. First thing I'll have to figure out is if I have to make any modifications to my rooftop basket for the mounting brackets to attach. Won't be a big deal if I do; I'll just have to do that first before I can mount it up and see what it is like. I'll take pictures as I go along. I don't know if the "L" brackets will fit inside the main cross bars or the smaller cross bars I added to my Surco rack. If not, I'll have to get some wider channel and replace the two outer ones I have on there now. The Surco rack came with just two cross bars (that the roof mounting brackets attach to); I added four more to give it more strength and decrease the gaps between the cross bars. Awning hardware.jpg Rack.1.jpg Rack.3.jpg Rack.4.jpg
 
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rickc

Adventurer
#21
Interesting comments. To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of a few South African brands (Bundutek, Eezi-Awn, Howling Moon, maybe a few others) Portugal (James Baround) and Italy (Maggiolina), everything else is made in China; ARB, Tepui, CVT etc. ALL made in China, so this discussion about Chinese ripping off designs is rather comical. All the Australian, USA and Canadian "manufacturers" rip each other off and have done for years; I believe the first flip over RTT designs were South African and really very little has changed. Each company comes up with a slightly better concept/idea whatever and direct the Chinese manufacturer to do their bidding. There are many Chinese manufacturers but again, to the best of my knowledge, there are three main ones that all the big names use. The big names all claim that they have their own guy at the factory to keep an eye on things and make sure quality is a priority; likely to be true as a Chinese employee working exclusively for you doesn't cost much at all.

We have had this discussion before here. People buying "Canadian" or "USA" made tents under the impression that the products are manufactured in North America. The websites rarely tell the whole truth; they state "designed in", "our team does this and our team does that" but almost all the tents are still made in China and always have been.
 
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#22
Rickc I think you nailed it. So many of our consumer products are made in the same factory's. Just to have a different name afixed. The service after sale sets some apart or simply the cost if entry. The global economy offers everyone a price point.
 
#23
Interesting comments. To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of a few South African brands (Bundutek, Eezi-Awn, Howling Moon, maybe a few others) Portugal (James Baround) and Italy (Maggiolina), everything else is made in China; ARB, Tepui, CVT etc. ALL made in China, so this discussion about Chinese ripping off designs is rather comical. All the Australian, USA and Canadian "manufacturers" rip each other off and have done for years; I believe the first flip over RTT designs were South African and really very little has changed. Each company comes up with a slightly better concept/idea whatever and direct the Chinese manufacturer to do their bidding. There are many Chinese manufacturers but again, to the best of my knowledge, there are three main ones that all the big names use. The big names all claim that they have their own guy at the factory to keep an eye on things and make sure quality is a priority; likely to be true as a Chinese employee working exclusively for you doesn't cost much at all.

We have had this discussion before here. People buying "Canadian" or "USA" made tents under the impression that the products are manufactured in North America. The websites rarely tell the whole truth; they state "designed in", "our team does this and our team does that" but almost all the tents are still made in China and always have been.
+1.

I love that "Designed in..." caveat.

Last year I purchased a - fairly expensive - bicycle at a local bicycle shop. Salesman told me it was made in the US. After a closer inspection upon getting the bike home, I found the usual "Designed in California. Made in China." sticker. Same thing for so many products.
 

rickc

Adventurer
#24
Too true but it's not all bad; Chinese made does not equate to bad. Chinese factories are capable of very high quality work but of course the sad truth is that to produce the same in a North American, union shop would be cost prohibitive. The North American RTT vendors are onto a pretty good thing; look at the price of Chinese RTTs on Alibaba, especially when bought in bulk. Add a vendor name to it and a large mark-up; as long as they don't over-extend themselves they can make a good profit. I'm not saying this is wrong; just business.

What is wrong is the implication that the RTTs are "made in North America". I don't think any of the web sites will claim this; the actual location of manufacture may come up in a FAQ response but not in the main advertising text.
 
#25
I am curios, I see most of them fold into a bag when not in use. how do you guys keep the bag intact? on my rig that bag would get tore up, then the tarp. my truck has desert pin strip top to bottom and then some. I just use a regular tarp and tent poles. highdesertranger
The "bags" are actually quite hefty and durable; the same material used for RTT covers (at least for the Tepui/CVT/ARB awnings, I have no experience with the "off-brand" but assume they are extremely similar). I have had dragged it across a tree on a tight trail more than a few times as well as countless branches taking swipes at it... the bag has faired significantly better than my paint. The major negative to the bag style covers is the zippers are exposed to the elements and dust and/or water finds its way into the teeth making opening and closing a PITA at times, particularly in the winter.
 

rickc

Adventurer
#26
highdesertranger makes good points regarding awning/awning bag abuse. The traveling awning typically sticks out a little or a lot at the front. My 2.5m ARB instructions state that the overhang from support point should not exceed 70cm (from memory). It's impossible for mine to fit following the rules; my rear is OK but the front sticks out about 1m maybe a little more. It's also quite tight to the side of the roof. I've got no concerns about the support stiffness and bigger cantilever at the front; nothing moves or flexes as the aluminum backing plate is thick and very robust but the packed awning is great for catching branches if I'm not paying attention. Yarjammer's comments regarding zippers also apply to RTTs; still better than having Velcro.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
#27
It should be here Monday. First thing I'll have to figure out is if I have to make any modifications to my rooftop basket for the mounting brackets to attach. Won't be a big deal if I do; I'll just have to do that first before I can mount it up and see what it is like. I'll take pictures as I go along. I don't know if the "L" brackets will fit inside the main cross bars or the smaller cross bars I added to my Surco rack. If not, I'll have to get some wider channel and replace the two outer ones I have on there now. The Surco rack came with just two cross bars (that the roof mounting brackets attach to); I added four more to give it more strength and decrease the gaps between the cross bars.
It arrived on Monday; hopefully I can start installing it this weekend or early next week. The mounting "L" brackets seem quite sturdy. I think with a small amount of grinding on some of the mounting bolt heads for the Surco Rack I can get them to fit inside the main cross bars on the roof rack (would make installation easy). We'll see - and I'll do a brief write-up on the install and my thoughts of how it should hold up once I get it installed. I've got one of those common 10' square free-standing folding canopy things, but it is a major PIA to set-up when by yourself (and takes up space in my trailer). I'm hoping this will be a whole lot easier.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Awning-Roo...?hash=item2cc776c77b:m:moA4A6gzVPKJeGnjtsShaB

6.6 x 8.2 in Gray ~$109 delivered.
 
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rickc

Adventurer
#28
One consideration when getting an awning is interference with an RTT if you have one. A fox/bat/whatever wing forces you to flip the RTT left, right or forward. If you have a bigger RTT, fitting an awning on one side of the truck can make it really tricky to undo and redo the zipper on the RTT. As an example, my RTT (ARB Simpson III) is attached to a Rhinorack Pioneer Platform and flips backwards, acting as an awning for my tailgate when deployed. The ARB 2.5m awning is attached to the right hand side of the platform leaving only a very small gap between the mounting brackets and the RTT base.

Another possible problem: If you have a long truck and use regular Provincial/State campgrounds from time to time, you may find that you can't deploy a fox/bat wing style awning because the campsite is too small; I've seen this happen on two occasions.
 
#29
It arrived on Monday; hopefully I can start installing it this weekend or early next week. The mounting "L" brackets seem quite sturdy. I think with a small amount of grinding on some of the mounting bolt heads for the Surco Rack I can get them to fit inside the main cross bars on the roof rack (would make installation easy). We'll see - and I'll do a brief write-up on the install and my thoughts of how it should hold up once I get it installed. I've got one of those common 10' square free-standing folding canopy things, but it is a major PIA to set-up when by yourself (and takes up space in my trailer). I'm hoping this will be a whole lot easier.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Awning-Roo...?hash=item2cc776c77b:m:moA4A6gzVPKJeGnjtsShaB

6.6 x 8.2 in Gray ~$109 delivered.
Caveat: I am not a canopy expert. I haven't seen the name-brand (expensive) canopies up close, so I have nothing to compare this off-brand to the name-brand canopies.

This is essentially a 6' x 8' canopy installed on a 1998 Jeep TJ. Impressions:

Mounting hardware: so-so. The two main "L" brackets are quite sturdy and thick. One was slightly longer than the other, and while the holes match-up on both, they are not centered between the outside edges of the brackets. You can make it work (I did). They also have some sort of black anodized coating (or a very thin coat of black paint). I sprayed them with some self-etching primer and then painted them semi-gloss black. Got them to fit inside my Surco rack's main crossbars and bolted them in with two 1/4" SS button-head bolts. It came out well. When the canopy is not mounted to the Jeep, the brackets will be very inconspicuous (they are permanently mounted as far as I'm concerned).

The hardware to mount the canopy to the brackets left something to be desired. The bolt heads were going to spin inside the slots they go in, so as others have done, I got four 5/16" x 1" long carriage bolts, flattened two sides with a grinder, and used them instead. Is probably stronger than the supplied hardware. I did save the supplied hardware for later use (described in a later post). Took me longer to go to the hardware store to get the carriage bolts (and matching locking nuts and washers) than it did to grind the edges on four carriage bolts.

Then I bolted it up and centered it between the CB antenna and the HAM antenna. I think it looks good. I can't see any of the more expensive ones looking any different mounted to the side of a roof-rack. But how does it look and "feel" when set-up? canopy.2.jpg canopy.1.jpg canopy.3.jpg canopy.4.jpg canopy.5.jpg canopy.6.jpg
 
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#30
So today I set it up in the driveway. It was the first time I had ever set one up, so it took longer than it will from now on. Impressions:

The nuts and bolts the poles swivel on do not have locking nuts on them (first picture). Expect them to rattle loose and come apart. I had the leftover mounting hardware available, and the bolt diameter and threads were the same. So I replaced the supplied regular nuts with the locking nuts I had left over - second picture (they're ~ a 5/16" metric equivalent). So now I won't have to worry about them coming apart.

The horizontal and vertical poles twist to lock in place. We'll see how sturdy the plastic locking pieces are over time. I was able to get the canopy quite taunt.

The horizontal poles have exposed threads that go into holes in the front horizontal beam. I took some of the leftover nuts (one locking and one non-locking for each side) and ran them down the threads (third picture). It helps make the horizontal pole more squared on the horizontal brace. Otherwise the edge of the pole wants to rock on the edge of the horizontal brace.

Also on the third picture, you can see the plastic end-piece is just secured into the metal pole by a crimp in the pole (the second picture has it held in place with a rivet on the vehicle side). We'll see how the crimp holds; later-on I might want to put a rivet or a small sheet metal screw in there to secure the plastic end-piece in place.

The horizontal poles will flex inward if you really tighten the Velcro straps on each side. Ok; you don't have to really tighten the Velcro much to make them bow inward.

It comes with not the greatest tent stakes. I replaced them with my regular tent stakes (the ones that look like a huge nail with a plastic end slid down them). The supplied yellow cord will work ok.

Once set up though and the above hardware mods completed, it seems ok. If it is raining I will shorten one of the vertical poles so the rain will slide down and over to one side/front corner.

I drove to my mother-in-law's house this afternoon (Mother's Day), and took the Jeep to see if I could "feel" anything with the canopy up there. Nope. I even adjusted the side-view mirror to see if there was any movement or flexing while going down the highway at 75mph. Nope - rock steady.

I will be at the NW Overlanding Rally in NW WA this June (2018), so I will make it a point to check-out the name-brand canopies, and will compare them to mine. But for $108 (and the couple dollars I spent on the 5/16" carriage bolts and nuts and washers) I don't think I can complain - for now I am pleased. Come check-out my canopy (and Jeep and trailer) if you're going to be at the rally.

Now to go buy some off-brand Maxtrax. canopy.9.jpg canopy.10.jpg canopy.20.jpg canopy.13.jpg canopy.19.jpg canopy.17.jpg canopy.9.jpg canopy.10.jpg canopy.20.jpg canopy.13.jpg canopy.19.jpg canopy.17.jpg drive.14.jpg
 
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