Camping Gazebos - a great alternative to caravan awnings

If you love the fresh air, long summer days, and simplicity of a camping holiday as much as we do, you’re probably already starting to imagine yourself relaxing outside your tent or caravan, enjoying a cold drink, listening to the sounds of the camping ground.

Whether you’re a person who just needs the bare necessities, or prefer the idea of glamping – you are bound to find a good use for extra space under a shelter. Caravan awnings, utility tents and porch awnings all make your life a little easier.

Read on to discover our tips for choosing a camping shelter, and find out the pros and cons of using a pop up gazebo versus a caravan awning.

How camping gazebos help you get the most out of your camping holiday

Pop up gazebos are a fantastic option for all sorts of outdoor uses. They are easy to transport, quick to assemble, and very adaptable to your needs. They are used for a wide range of outdoor applications, including outdoor events like festivals, as a beach shelter, or porch awning in the garden. Campers will ask themselves, are pop up tents and marquees suitable for camping? The answer is yes! They give you so many options. Whether they’re used as a caravan awning, as a utility tent, or simply as weather protection while you read a good book – an extra shelter helps you get the most out of your camping holiday.

A pop up gazebo stored in a carry bag in the back of your caravan or car can easily double the living space at your campsite. Most obviously, the shelter can give you protection from harsh UV rays when the sun is shining, and can keep you and your things dry if it rains. That makes it a good option for providing shade to a paddling pool or BBQ, or simply a shaded and dry canopy over foldable chairs. Camping holidays are far more enjoyable when you don’t feel confined to your caravan or tent!

One of the joys of camping is being able to barbecue and eat outside, and then sit back and chat with friends and family while the sun sets and the stars begin to shine. A fully waterproof shelter over your head of course, means you won’t be disturbed by passing showers. A pop up gazebo with sides provides even more benefit, as you can use the sides as a windbreak to block any cool breezes that would usually have you retreating to the tent or campervan.

A pop up gazebo with 2 sides featuring panorama windows

See our range of pop up gazebos with sides

Browse through our range of pop up gazebos with side panels in our shop.

If you don’t need a camping shelter for relaxing in the evening, there’s plenty more that they can offer! If you value your privacy, a gazebo with sides or all-season marquee tent will do the trick – perfect for use as a changing room or shower tent if the kids are jumping in and out of their swimming gear! Alternatively you might use one as an all-round utility tent, to store sports equipment, inflatable pool animals, or other outdoor toys. A small portable garage makes for an ideal bike shed. Finally, if you’re someone who takes a toilet with you on holiday, marquee tents, gazebos, and even portable garages are sometimes used as an outhouse or toilet tent.

Pop up gazebos and marquees - popular alternatives to a caravan awning

If you have experience camping in a caravan, you will know the value of additional shelter in front of the caravan. Even the largest motorhomes require extra space for storage, cooking, or for playing children. Modern caravans and motorhomes often have a built in awning, while there is also a wide range of caravan awnings available from specialists. These products are designed especially to fit certain caravan models, and have some great features.

Pop up gazebos however can be cheaper, and just as effective as an awning for your caravan. Here’s 5 reasons to use a pop up tent as an awning, rather than forking out for the real thing:

1. More space

Pop up gazebos are available in sizes from 3x2m right up to 4x8m or 5x5m. You're guaranteed to find a gazebo that offers just the right amount of space for you.

2. Multi-purpose

Once you get back from your holiday, you can pop the gazebo straight up in the garden and continue the holiday feeling from the comfort of your own porch or garden! If you're a business owner or member of a sports club, you'll find many more uses for the weatherproof event shelter throughout the year. Pop up tents from House of Tents come with a carry bag for easy transport.

3. Adaptable

Caravan awnings are specifically designed for individual caravan models. That's fantastic if you see yourself in the same caravan for decades. A gazebo or marquee however, can be used as a tent porch with any model of caravan or motorhome. Pop up tents in particular have adjustable leg poles that allow you to adjust the height of the tent canopy according to the caravan.

4. Flexible in its set up

While an awning must be placed next to the caravan, with a camping gazebo, you have a much wider set of options. The gazebo may attach to the caravan door but extend beyond the back of the van. Or alternatively, you can erect it a few meters away to allow for separate living spaces, allowing everyone their own area.

5. Why not both!

There's nothing stopping you from having both with you, to really maximise your space. You might use an awning more for storage, and the gazebo for relaxing, or vice versa. It's all up to you!

Attaching a pop up gazebo to the caravan​

Connecting gutters allow you to create a sheltered opening between the gazebo and your campervan. The connecting gutter attaches to the gazebo with a Velcro strip. The easiest way to attach the gutter to the caravan is with a strong magnetic strip alongside the awning rail.

Can you sleep in a pop up gazebo?

If you’re confident that the weather won’t get too wild, you could blow up an inflatable airbed, making a pop up gazebo your home for the night. Marquees are more robust and durable, letting you sleep easier, knowing it is safely anchored to the ground. On the flip side, these tend to be heavier, and require more time to assemble. Whatever you choose, you will want to be confident that the roof over your head is completely waterproof, and will still be there in the morning.

Tie down ratchet straps for marquees and pop up tents are highly recommended for keeping your shelter grounded when the wind picks up. These are available with either ground anchors for soft surfaces, like grass, or for concrete. When setting up on a concrete base, you probably won’t be able to use concrete bolts. Instead, you can find a range of weights, like sand bags and weighted footplates that will keep the gazebo from blowing away on our page of pop up gazebo accessories. Anchoring solutions for marquees and other tents can be found on our page of ground anchor accessories.

TIP: A groundsheet will help to keep you a bit warmer, and will significantly reduce condensation caused by the moisture released by grass forming on cold surfaces. Learn more about condensation in tents here.

What to look for when choosing a camping shelter

Even if you’re only planning on camping a couple of times per year, it’s really worth paying a little extra and getting a higher quality product. This can be the difference between having a gazebo for one or two holidays, or having a product that will last for years and years.

1. Choose a durable frame

For camping, a heavy-duty frame that is strong yet lightweight is an absolute must-have. For this reason, a powder-coated aluminium frame is the best option for campers. Aluminium frames are durable, rust-proof, and much lighter than steel frames. Look for gazebos with hexagonal poles, that tend to be stronger than poles with square profiles.

2. Choose a high quality tarpaulin

Most pop up gazebo canopies are made from PVC or polyester. Polyester is lightweight, tear-resistant, and waterproof. PVC is a stronger material and is less likely to fade in the sun, but weighs more, and takes up more space in storage. A good tip for imagining the difference is to compare the bags of a well known Swedish furniture retailer, to the tarps used for lorry trailers.

Our waterproof materials, PE on the left and PVC on the right

3. Think about side walls

How many side panels do you need? A full set of 4 side walls will come in handy if you plan to sleep under the shelter or if you highly value your privacy. If you intend to use the shelter to relax, and enjoy picnics, 2 side walls might be enough. In any case, its important that the side panels are water-resistant!

4. Throw in some accessories to extend the canopy or stay warm

Connecting gutters are a must if you want to set up the gazebo as a caravan awning. They will also allow you to connect the gazebo to other tents and/or gazebos. A gazebo awning meanwhile, doesn’t require fastening to any other structure, and affords you more shade and rain protection – particularly useful when the sun is low in the sky. A fan-assisted heater will also help to keep you warm if the temperature drops.

What to remember

Gazebos make a fantastic alternative to a campervan awning. The advantage of a gazebo is that it allows you a lot of flexibility. While a caravan awning is specifically designed for camping, and generally produced to fit a particular model, an eye-catching camping gazebo can be used in your garden, on your patio, and many other outdoor uses. When choosing a gazebo for camping, pay attention to the quality of the frame and tarpaulin canopy, and consider how many side walls and which accessories you will need.
Do you have any questions on the subject or is there something else that we’ve missed? Call us on +44-118 31 50 873 or send an e-mail to and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Written by:



I’m Brett, one of the writers here at House of Tents. I love my job, communicating the ins and outs of our tents and gazebos that we have on offer. I go camping each year, in our family’s campervan, where we have a storage tent set up to store our bicycles. I hope you get as much satisfaction from our products as I do.

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