By Gail Marsh
We’re not sure what to do. Our first RV had them. We’ve had three RVs since, all without them. I’m talking about slide awnings or slide-out toppers. No matter what you call them, people have very definitive opinions concerning these covers.
We’ve had our current fifth-wheel RV for two years so you might wonder why this topic is just now coming up. Here’s what happened: We were in Florida last year (2021) parked under a mahogany tree. (FYI, the fruit of a mahogany tree is a very large, rock-hard nut. Sometimes when a mahogany tree’s nut falls from the tree, the shell cracks and breaks upon impact.) Well, when we arrived home from Florida we traveled to Iowa. Upon opening the slides, you guessed it, broken mahogany seed pod pieces slid out. We’re not sure how we were able to successfully retract the slide and then extend it again without incident. But it certainly made us stop and think about awnings for our slide-outs.
What do other RVers say about slide awnings?
As with many things RV-related, there are as many opinions as there are RVers. Here are some pros and cons we’ve heard:
Pros for slide awnings
- They protect gaskets and seals from damage.
- Protect top of slide when leaves, nuts, seeds, etc., fall on the RV.
- Protects from snow and ice.
- Adds protection from rain.
- Saves time and energy (you need not climb onto roof to clear slide top).
- Keeps RV cooler by shading slide-out from sun.
- Flies and other insects won’t get inside RV.
- Eliminates debris from getting into slide top gaskets, binding up slide when retracted/extended.
- Extends the life of the slide-out.
- Provides a more “finished look” to the RV.
Cons for slide awnings
- The shade flaps in the wind and makes a lot of noise inside.
- A strong wind can pull the awning off—just another unnecessary cost.
- Snow can stretch the awning fabric and it won’t look or retract as well.
- A cordless leaf blower will clear the slider top for much less money and potential hassle.
- Installation introduces more holes that have potential to leak.
- Not all RVs are constructed with necessary structure to support them.
What do the “professionals” say?
One experienced salesperson told Hubby, “Save your money. An awning isn’t going to do anything to protect your slide-out.” Other salespeople strongly endorse the functionality, durability, and looks of the slide covers.
“If the awning wind noise causes you trouble, you can always bring in the slide. Or, put a beach ball under the awning to stop the flapping noise.” What? If we bring in our slide, we have difficulty moving around inside our rig. And wouldn’t a beach ball crammed between the slide top and the awning stretch the fabric?
“Take it from me,” another RV dealer advised. “Awnings eventually rip, rot, and ruin. You’ll be just fine without them.” Another employee from the same dealership happily boasted that the must-have awning slide covers came “standard from the factory.”
Still another salesperson passing by overheard our conversation and advised, “It all depends on where you camp. If you’re boondocking in the desert, it’s one thing. If you’re set up under trees in the forest, that’s totally different.” Hmmm … I’m still contemplating that advice. He walked off before I could ask, “What if we want to do both?”
Do you see why we’re confused on the slide-out awning question? What do you think?