Easy setup, thoughtful design, and flawless execution make the Shadow Awn a clear winner in the pack.
Alu-Cab founded their business on building custom trucks and specialty products for overlanders in South Africa. Their “if you dream it, we can build it” business concept led to projects ranging from simple drawer systems to stunning Unimog builds, but as the overland market grew they wanted to expand their business with it. To reach the masses, they unveiled a series of standardized products that could be shipped all over the world, one of which was the Shadow Awn.
Installation of this model split the pack on time and difficulty. Although mounting points are pre-drilled, it requires you to punch two holes in the back of the bag to match the brackets. They also recommend riveting the strap to the vehicle’s roof rack, hardshell tent, or body which we decided to forgo for this test.
The UV-stabilized cover is ideally sized, just big enough for an easy breakdown but not so big as to flap in the wind. Its heavy-duty YKK zippers are amply sized for the task at hand and feel stout yet smooth during operation. This small detail is a big win, as undersized zippers are usually the first failure point on soft goods.
South African manufacturers have long carried a reputation for good design with poor execution, yet this wasn’t even remotely the case with the Alu-Cab. The armatures, hinges, and supporting components are not only well thought out but produced with exquisite attention to detail. There were no unfinished edges or loose metal shavings, the welds and paint were flawless, and everything felt durable. It may be a mass-produced product, but it reflects the quality you’d expect from Alu-Cab’s custom pieces.
The Shadow Awn is also packed with small additions that make a big difference in usability and convenience, like a mesh stake bag riveted into the aluminum casing, so you never lose it, and guylines that store inside the armatures for quick access. One of our favorite features is the folding leg that deploys to form a high point in the fabric, preventing rain from accumulating during a storm. Even the fabric itself is innovative, a 270 GSM Tencate aluminized acrylic canvas which reflects the sun’s rays and reduces temperatures beneath the awning.
Deploying and stowing the Shadow Awn was a breeze, producing the second quickest setup time in the test, as well as the fastest breakdown time by a wide margin. Coverage was adequate, but at 107 square feet, it was the second smallest in the test. That being said, it was the most stable of any awning in the evaluation thanks to its robust arms and heavy-duty joints. Even in its freestanding mode, the Shadow Awn showed little deflection in the wind, which means you’ll be able to deploy it unsupported more often. Should conditions necessitate it, a single integrated support leg can be dropped down in a matter of seconds to brace the awning against the wind.
Noise was minimal on the road, thanks to the tidy profile of the bag, and the shakedown test revealed no notable rattles or annoying sounds in camp. During our rain evaluation, the high point we mentioned earlier helped the Shadow Awn to shed water quickly, preventing any accumulation on the fabric.
Of course, you get what you pay for, and you will certainly be paying for the Shadow Awn’s quality. At $1,499 it is tied as the most expensive awning in the test, but if you have the means, I would highly recommend it.
- Excellent fit and finish
- Sturdy when freestanding
- Perfect bag and zipper combination
- Quick to deploy and store
- Feature-rich awning material
- Second smallest coverage