How to Pick the Best SUV Roof Rack Awning

What is a Roof Rack Awning?

A Roof Rack Awning is an awning that mounts on to the roof rack on almost any vehicle that has a roof rack. They're most commonly used on SUVs but also used on trucks, jeeps, and cars. 

A Roof Rack Awning is normally used for camping. If you're camping, the awning extends out from 6' to 8' (depending on the model of awning) from your vehicle and gives you a covered area to stay dry during the rain and cool during the sun. Most campers have at some point constructed a village of 'blue tarps' hanging from trees to provide some shelter. A roof top awning provides an easier, more reliable, and more convenient way to give you some covered space.

Many people when they're camping with tents will often use their vehicle as a 'separate room'. They'll use their SUV to store supplies, as a changing room, or as a source of power for the kids to play on their iPads. A Roof Rack Awning basically serves as a patio to enter your vehicle, and also keeps dirt and muck from entering your vehicle.

Roof Rack Awning Pros and Cons


  • Creates a stable covered area to stay dry and cool at the camp site
  • Creates a 'patio' extending from your vehicle keeping dirt and muck out
  • Installs relatively easily


  • You need a roof rack
  • Installation does require some screwing and potentially drilling to your roof rack

How Does it Install?

A roof rack awning installs on to most roof racks. That last part is the important part: it does require a roof rack of some sort in almost all cases.

The rack essentially mounts with two little "L" brackets like seen below. These brackets need to be installed on to your roof rack. The most common way to mount them is to physically drill two holes through your roof rack and secure the brackets with Lock Nuts/Bolts. Yes, there's a good chance you will be drilling through your precious roof rack.

L bracket for SUV awning

 If your roof rack has inside channels (see below) you may be able to simply slide the special "T" screws through the channels. The same goes if you have a cargo carrier installed, you may simply be able to use "U" brackets (included with many awnings) to secure the brackets. See below.

Many people have unique roof rack setups, so it's difficult for manufacturers to provide a one-size-fits-all solution. Ultimately installation simply requires the mounting of those two "L" brackets you see above. 

What Accessories Can I Buy?

What to Look For?