Finally, An Awning Mount Quick Release Bracket System that works for just about any Roof Rack with Crossbars… from Prinsu
Prinsu Quick Release Awning Mounts have been around for a number of years. They recently received a slight refresh with upgraded hardware to provide improved operation and usability of the butterfly clips.
Compared to the other awning mounts Prinsu offers, detailed a bit in the Prinsu Roof Rack Overview post, the quick release mounts have a few standout benefits:
- Allows you to easily remove your awning on your 4Runner on days you won’t use it and put it back when you do.
- Provides access to portions of your roof rack that would be otherwise inaccessible with an awning installed full-time (say when you have a rooftop tent installed).
- Provides clearance to mount your tent without having to keep it off-center, due to the low profile nature of the mount.
This write-up goes over the assembly required, installation process, and trail review with my Eezi Awn Swift awning + GFC SuperLite rooftop tent.
Find it Online:
- Prinsu Quick Release Brackets: Check Price
- Standard/Low Profile Direct from Prinsu: Check Price
- Awning Wall Mount: Check Price
The quick-release mounts come in two versions; Standard and Low Profile, with the Low Profile being one inch shorter overall on the awning mounting plate. The mounts are two connected halves, held together via bolts in a groove and butterfly clips. For added security there is a location for a padlock or security/anti-theft nuts and bolts, making it more difficult to make a quick getaway with your awning.
According to Prinsu, as long as your awning’s bolting locations match up with either the standard or low profile, the mounts are compatible with your awning. They’re incredibly sturdy, made with 1/8-inch black powder-coated steel.
I’ve found that my Eezi Awn Swift has an atypical bolt separation of about 3-1/4 inches. This made finding dimensions online necessary; 4WDCrew.com had this very helpful diagram above.
Mounting and Assembly Hardware:
- 8x Carriage Bolts (18-8 1/4″-20 x 3/4″)
- 8x Nylon Nuts 18-8 (1/4″-20 Course)
- 8x Fender Washer (1/4″ x 1″; black)
- 4x Rivet Nut (5/16″-18)
- 4x Hex Cap Bolt GR8 (5/16″-18 x 1.5″)
- 1x Tube of thread locker
Rivet Nut Assembly Tool Hardware:
- 1x Hex Bolt GR8 (5/16″-18)
- 1x Hex Coupler
- 4x Steel Washers (silver)
Assembly Guide – Compressing the Rivet Nuts
- Two 1/2-inch ratchet wrenches
Step 1: Set Up the Rivet Nut Compression Tool
Ahead of putting everything on your roof rack, you’ll need to set and compress the four included rivet nuts. One rivet nut goes on each of the separate pieces of the mounts. Look over everything before you start, to make sure there is nothing damaged during shipping. Once that is done, you’ll need to assemble the tool used in the following order on the silver hex bolt:
- 2x silver washers
- Hex Coupler
- 2x silver washers
Including the washers helps ensure the rivet nut is properly compressed: They help to apply level pressure over the rivet nut and to create separation between the Hex Coupler and the bolt head for easier use when wrenching.
Step 2: Compressing the Rivet Nut
With the compression tool assembled, place your rivet nut into the individual parts so that the butt-end is facing away from where the two halves of the mount join. By hand, thread the tool until tight, and then use your two wrenches to begin compressing the nut. The wrench holding the hex coupler should be held still and in place compared to the mount itself, while the wrench on the bolt should be the one turned.
It’s critical to set the rivet nut properly and keep it completely flush through this entire process. The process can be awkward and might take a few tries to find the right angle of your wrenches that allows you to keep everything aligned without moving.
Rivet Nuts: Lessons Learned
On my first go, the rivet nut became unseated as I was fumbling with the tools, which I hadn’t noticed until it was being compressed outside of the mount, ruining it. Make sure as things start to tighten that everything is in place and the rivet nut has not moved.
I found that McMaster-Carr has the correct rivet nuts for sale and will ship a bag of 10 in about a day’s time. Websites like Amazon have 5/16 rivets for sale, but they’re narrower, have a smaller flange, and often do not provide the measurements needed to confirm ahead of ordering. Below is the part number you’ll need to order your replacement rivet nuts from McMaster-Carr. I recommend it in the event one ever becomes loose, or you ruin one during assembly. As far as I can tell, this is identical to what comes with your order:
- 95105A151 – Zinc-Plated Steel Heavy-Duty Rivet Nut, Open End, 5/16″-18 Interior Thread,.027″-.150″ Material Thickness
Step 3: Setting the Hex Cap Bolt
The hex bolts help provide the support the awning needs between the two halves. They also help keep everything aligned when taking the awning on and off. To set the bolts, apply a thread locker to the upper portion of the threads, and hand-tighten into the rivet nut. Double-check fitment between the two halves, and adjust as necessary with both halves together and the butterfly clips closed correctly.
There should be enough of a gap that when putting the two halves of the mounts together they fall into place. If you find yourself needing to use excessive force to get the parts together, loosen the bolt a bit, the thread locker will hold the bolt in place once set.
Thoughts on the Assembly Process
The assembly process can be a bit nerve-racking as there are no extra rivet nuts in your hardware kit. However, if you take your time, follow the instructions, and use the correct tools (no sockets!) then you should be fine. A bench vise, or something to hold the parts in place while you compress the rivet nut goes a long way in ensuring things are done correctly.
I reached out to Prinsu to understand why they don’t install the rivet nuts before shipping. They wrote back stating it’s done to keep the brackets more cost-effective and may consider the option of assembly in the future. For those who are wishing for an out-the-door set of mounts, that would make mounts that much easier of a decision to buy.
- 1/4-inch ratchet wrench
- Ratchet wrench to match your awning bolts
- T30 Torx bit (for the roof rack) and driver.
Due to the delay in getting my rivet nut replaced, I had to wait to get the install done while out on a trip (as you may have noticed the change in scenery). This also meant temporarily moving my rooftop tent to mount the brackets. You shouldn’t normally have to do this, however, if you’re adding an awning to your rack after having a tent, you’ll have to do something similar.
With assembly complete, it’s time to install the mounts to your roof rack. Review the mounting requirements of your awning, and look to select the crossbars that best meet those needs. For my Eezi Awn swift, their installation guide states the mounts should be no further than 300 mm (~12 inches) from the edges of the awning.
Step 1 – Insert the Carriage Bolts
The carriage bolts slide into the side of the crossbars to secure the mount to the rack. There are no relief cuts on the sides of the crossbars, only the top. With a T30 bit, unscrew the two bolts holding the crossbar to the frame. Make sure to hold on to the crossbar as the final bolt comes out so it doesn’t ding your paint as it falls.
Slide two carriage bolts into each side and screw the two T30 bolts back into the frame. Apply a small amount of the thread locker from your kit to keep them in place once screwed back in.
Step 2 – Mount the Brackets to your Prinsu Roof Rack
With the tent moved aside, adjust the carriage bolts so that the mount can slip into place. Bring the bolts into the slots cut into the mounts and place one 1/4-inch washer and 1/4-inch nylon nut onto each carriage bolt. I noticed there was a considerable gap between the sides of the mount and the crossbar, of about 1/4-inch. This didn’t seem like an issue at the time of installation.
When tightening the nylon nuts, make sure the gap is completely closed between the crossbar and mount. Make sure they don’t slip out from the grooves of the mount as you tighten.
Step 3 – Attaching the Quick Release Mount to Your Awning
My Eezi Awn Swift only came with four nuts and bolts total. You’ll notice that the quick-release mounts have four locations to bolt to the awning on each mount. I may add additional bolts to the frame of my awning. In the meantime, I loosely attached two bolts diagonally to the quick-release portion of the mounts. Don’t tighten them all the way as you’ll want to be able to make adjustments to the final location when first connecting the two halves.
Step 4 – Mount Your Awning
With a friend helping out (if needed), connect the two halves of the mounts together. Make sure the bolts fit and sit in their proper resting place. At this point, the awning should support itself. Align the awning on the roof rack to where you’d like it to sit.
Step 5 – Tighten Everything Up
With everything in place, go back and tighten down the bolts that hold your awning to the quick-release portion of the mounts. Apply a bit of thread locker if desired. If you’re only using two bolts as I did, double-check and make sure the alignment between the two halves of your mount is as close as possible. They should not have rotated before tightening the bolts.
Lastly, tighten the butterfly clips. There are two on each mount, one on each side. For me, three closed with ease, even within the confined space between the roof rack, rooftop tent, and awning. The fourth, I found very difficult to close.
Thoughts on the Installation Process
The installation process was a breeze and the process took little effort. I found it odd that the mounts themselves had such a large tolerance between them and the crossbar and also that the butterfly clips varied in their ease of closing. After spending some additional time looking everything over and running through the installation process again, I found a couple of issues:
- The portions of the mount that connect to the crossbar flexed a bit when tightening down the 1/4-inch nut. The sides and face of the mount all flex slightly as it conforms to the 2″ width of the crossbar. Looking at the photo above, a slight bend of the face can be seen.
- The gap between the two face plates created by the flanges of the rivet nut did not allow for a completely flush mounting condition, which may have also affected my chances of closing the butterfly clips easily.
To test this, I unscrewed the 1/4-inch nylon nuts just enough that the mounts were free to expand back to the 1/4-inch gap I mentioned earlier. The butterfly clip closed without issue. Tightening the nylon nuts back down fully, opening the butterfly clip, and trying to close it had the same initial result of being very difficult to close.
Already being in the mountains for the weekend, I was able to immediately see how everything worked out. Having installed my GFC Superlite and the brand’s respective quick-release mounts ahead of placing the awning, I realized that many awning brackets would require me to completely remove the awning to get to two of the four release points. This was a huge benefit and ultimately the reason I bought these awning mounts.
The mounts are strong and had no issue supporting my 35-lb Eezi Awn when open. I still like to utilize the legs of the awning as it was a bit windy, but noticed no bending or sagging after the few hours of having the awning open, supporting itself. With everything secured in place, removing and reattaching the awning was an easy one-person job. The hex bolts make for generous targets when wrangling the awning in and out of place.
Heading home, there was 6 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation to cover before hitting the pavement. I could hear a loud noise as I crossed over ruts, washouts, and large boulders. The only thing that had changed from the way up the mountain the day prior was the installation of the awning. I narrowed the noise down to the Prinsu Quick Release Awning Mounts.
Once home, I inspected everything and noticed that three of the four butterfly clips had also come undone, leaving one still secure. I didn’t feel that I sent it down the mountain, but I think the weight of the awning may have stressed out the butterfly clips to the point of opening. Once again, we shut all of the clamps and tried again with the fourth clamp (to no success), we headed out for some choirs. The loud rattling noise heard on the trail is thankfully not as noticeable during road driving, only heard when pulling out of mall driveways or hitting speed bumps.
Working with the vendor I purchased the mounts from, Prinsu sent out a full replacement of the mounts; great warranty and customer service! On the second pass of the entire process above, I found that the mounts came together easier. The butterfly clips all closed with relative ease, although the same 1/4-inch gap was noticed between the crossbar and mount. I fixed this by using some spare washers between the crossbar and mount. I’m hoping this will also fix the noises I’ve heard while on the trail with a full replacement. I’ll follow up with a quick edit from my next time out.
The Prinsu Quick Release Awning Mounts are a great idea and fit my needs perfectly. They allow me to run both my rooftop tent and awning without compromise, leading to a very clean-looking roof setup. The assembly and installation process is straightforward, and with a small amount of improvisation, come together easily within about 30-minutes time.
Being able to keep my awning (and tent) off my 4Runner as my daily driver helps with gas, peace of mind knowing they won’t be stolen or damaged, and that it’s only a few minutes before I’m weekend ready once again.
The two areas I hope to get another look at are the rivet nuts and the gap between the mount and crossbar being reduced. I think that would result in a better overall assembly experience. I did reach out to others who have this setup but with a lighter/smaller awning. Ultimately, your mileage will vary depending on the precision of assembly, the weight of your awning, and your style of driving. Working with both the vendor and Prinsu, the warranty process was effortless and something I can’t speak highly enough about.
Thanks for reading! Do you have the same awning mount? Did you face any of the same issues I did? Let me know if there are things that I can do or try with the buttery clips or rivet nuts.