Eezi-Awn Swift Vehicle-Mounted Awning: An In-Depth, Trail-Tested Review on the 5th Gen 4Runner
Vehicle-mounted awnings have long been a staple camping accessory for the global expedition traveler.
In recent years, they have become more common in the overland and off-road enthusiast markets with newer, more advanced designs.
They’re simple, convenient and provide coverage from the elements when you need it most and even when you just want some convenient shade.
The Reality of Other Awnings
The most common awnings installed are ‘roll out’ models where the legs are attached to the end of the awning canvas and are rolled up in that fabric when stored. This style keeps the overall cost down, thanks to its simple design. However, it creates a tougher situation when setting it up and breaking it down.
I have seen people do it alone, but it usually requires some form of contortionist maneuver to make it all work well.
Basically, it can be done, but it’s not easy.
The Eezi-Awn Swift Awning takes a different approach to accomplish the same goal, and as a result, this awning is very simple to set up and break down alone or with an extra set of hands.
- Length: 95” (2.4m)
- Weight: 34 Pounds
- Deployed Dimensions: 84”x 89” (2.1m x 2.3m)
- Support Leg Maximum Length: 92” (2.3m)
- Mounting Frame: Extruded Aluminum
- Awning Fabric: Black or Tan 260 GSM Water-Resistant Ripstop Canvas
- Cover Fabric: UV Resistant PVC, YKK Zipper
- MSRP: $575 from Equipt
The Swift Awning Difference
The Swift Awning deploys using self-supporting arms that swing out in opposite directions with the fabric supported in the middle.
Yes, that’s right, self-supporting.
Based on the Manta 270º awning, the Swift carries over the extruded aluminum backbone and support arms from its big brother. It’s the same overall design as the 270º, just missing a few support arms and some fabric.
Because of the taller height of the rear hatch when opened on the 4Runner, the layout of the Swift awning is a better fit compared to the Manta 270º awning that would more likely to contact the hatch when deployed.
One Less Thing You’ll Need To Support
The unique self-supporting structure all but eliminates the awkward struggle of rolling out a traditional awning.
The weight of the legs, fabric, and arms are supported by the structure itself making the setup and break-down struggle a non-issue.
The Simplicity of the Swift Awning
All you have to do to set up is unzip, push the support arms in the right direction, set the tensioning rod and walk away.
If it’s windy, then simply drop the legs and stake the feet in the ground using the recommended X pattern and you’re all set for the weather.
Other Review-Worthy Features
The Swift awning has a few other tricks up its sleeve…
Add-on Living Space
There is an available canvas room that can be added to the awning to fully enclose the space. This is an asset if you’re in a place where bugs are relentless or when weather rolls in to ruin your weekend plans.
Mount on a few extra minutes and you will have a fully enclosed room with a door, screens and a window.
Durable Canvas Material
The fabric used for the main canopy is made from a 260 gsm water-resistant ripstop canvas, available in black or tan.
Tan was the winner for this installation as it looks better on the darker 4Runner. And I estimate that it will keep temperatures down a bit more in the direct sunlight than the black version will.
Regardless of awning color, the fabric, itself, is thick and has a quality feel to it compared to some of the budget awnings on the market.
The fabric slides into the extruded aluminum in specific slots and it looks to be removable if a tear or other wear caused a failure.
Slotted Aluminum Construction
Another fun feature which I am utilizing on the 4Runner is the extruded aluminum backbone.
The same slots used to mount the awning to the rack can also be used for small accessories like an antenna. I am using an aluminum L-bracket to mount a cell booster antenna to the backside of the awning as it’s one of the higher points on the rack and it works great!
I wouldn’t mount a high lift or an ax to it, but you might be able to mount a fly fishing case or a set of lights to it without an issue while saving you a ton of overall rack space.
Installing the Awning
I received my Swift Awning from Equipt Expedition Outfitters based out of Utah after a very quick and seamless shipping process. Paul and the team at Equipt were very nice to work from the get go, answering questions that I had about the product and the best way to mount it to my rack. They are the U.S. distributor for all Eezi-Awn products, along with a host of other overland/expedition products. Check out their website for more information on the products they carry!
To install the awning on the 4Runner’s Front Runner roof rack, I used Front Runner’s Manta Awning mounts.
Thanks to the shared extruded aluminum backbone with the Manta, the Swift bolted right up to this beefy bracket.
One of the advantages to this bracket is that it mounts higher on the roof rack allowing for better overhead clearance when the awning is open.
Also, thanks to reinforced bracing, the brackets provide a lot of rigidity to the awning when deployed.
The installation instructions for the awning were very straight forward and simple to follow. I was able to install the awning by myself in about an hour at a casual Saturday with a beer pace.
Using the Swift Awning
I have had the opportunity to use the Swift Awning on the 4Runner for the last few months and I have really grown to appreciate the added shelter that it provides from the summer sun, here, in California.
I will admit that the first few times I practiced setting up and breaking down the awning, I did look a little clumsy. But as I practiced with the self-supporting arms, I soon figured out the best way to get the job done.
How To Set Up & Break Down The Awning As The Solo Camper
Solo, I can set up and break down this awning with ease, even with a steady breeze.
This fact alone can make or break your weekend as taking down the awning is one of the last things to do before leaving your campsite. Fighting an awning to end a good weekend doesn’t make for a happy camper and the Swift takes care of that.
No Flex, Bend or Break
Once opened, the awning is very stout with the legs stowed and seems to have no issue with a light breeze.
I don’t find myself worrying about whether or not it’s going to flex, bend, or break. And the benefit of not having to work around legs or worry about your buddy’s dog taking one out is huge.
I love this take on the awning and how open the canopy feels when you’re around it.
In my opinion, well worth the investment for this feature alone.
Rock Solid Choice For Wind and Weather While Enjoying the Outdoor Life
With the legs down and secured, it’s rock solid and shows no signs of weakness even with gusty winds and weather.
This is a big plus for someone trying to escape mother nature’s wrath during that freak storm you didn’t see coming. They recommend staking the feet in an X pattern to lock in the legs and make them harder to pull out.
You can also use a set of guy lines to put tension on the legs and keep them in place.
The guy lines can be helpful when you have harder or rocky ground under the feet as you can move the stake point around to a more forgiving spot.
Something to Note about the Swift Design
There are a few things worth noting about this awning when it comes to its design.
The same arms that give it its self-supporting party piece are fixed in place, meaning that there isn’t any adjustment up or down on the outside edge.
This could limit the awning’s ability to block weather that comes at you a little more sideways by not being able to adjust it lower.
On a similar note, how it’s oriented on the vehicle and the terrain the vehicle is parked on will determine your self-supported angle.
If the outside edge of the awning is over slightly higher ground than the vehicle, you might need to duck a little to get under it. But I have found by dropping the legs and adjusting them you can lift the outside edge to best match the terrain.
For me, neither of these things detract from the overall awning, but they’re something to consider when parking and setting up to deploy the awning.
The Trail Takeaway
The Eezi-Awn Swift awning is a serious piece of kit, full stop.
It’s built from high-end materials using a unique design that allows it to do something no other comparable awning can do; self-support. I always hunt for the best of whatever it is I am adding to the 4Runner, and I truly believe this awning is the best of the bunch.
It may not be the most affordable awning on the market, however, the features found on it more than justify the additional cost over other comparable awnings.
More or less, the ability to easily deploy shelter at will is something that makes this investment almost a no brainer for someone spending a lot of time outdoors.