Darche 180 Awning

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Jan 1, 2018
Pensacola, FL
Couldn't find much on MUD about Darche when i was researching so thought I'd add what I could for others.

BACKSTORY: Long story short my GF gifted me something I had been wanting for a while. An ARB 250 awning. With Rago Mounts i mounted it to the factory rails and couldn't wait to test it out. But after the first use, with the additional wind breaker, I found one of the main poles (that the wind breaker attached it) had bent and wouldn't go back in. This experience lead me to two conclusions, 1) I LOVED having the awning, but 2) I knew I wanted something sturdier. I beat on my 100 and like the gear on it to last. So I looked at what I had, and what I could get instead. 2500 Awning ($290), Rago Mounts ($140 is what I paid but now showing $100), ARB Side wind breaker ($85), Arb front Wind Breaker ($95). I had about 600 in this Awning and wasn't sure it'd last. That put me into the ballpark of Rhino Rack's 270. Thought I'd give that a try after getting 20% off from Moosejaw. Set it back as soon as I got it. Just wasn't what I was looking for. Constructed like the arb with thin aluminum poles for the main supports, came with extra hinges as these were "intentionally" designed as weak points to prevent the poles from breaking... Not what I wanted at all. While many great brands such as Eezi Awn and Alu Cab make incredibly sturdy awnings I found the price outside of what i was looking for. 1300 just to break into this awning category and I'd either have to fab my own mounts or purchase them separately. Didn't seem to be a middle ground between top of the line and the entry awnings. Then I found the Darche 180 which was exactly the middle ground I was looking for. Mounts came with the awning and close enough to the money I could recoup from the ARB, so an easy sell to the finance department. Getting a larger awning also required sturdier mounting points. Which opened up another upgrade I'd been wanting to do. Either roof rack or load bars, I opted to assemble load bars using Gamiviti towers and front runner slat extensions (Could easily make your own but I really liked the slotted channel and wide thin profile).


DARCHE: An Australian brand that just seemingly broke into the US market in the last year or so. They offer a few different types of awning but the big ones are the 270, and the 180. These are slightly different from the other 270s offered as they include a forward swinging arm and a squared off portion along the vehicle (while the MANTA 270 has the squared front it lacked the front swing arm: more to come on that). From DARCHE: "The awning and walls are constructed using a Proofed 260gsm poly cotton ripstop canvas. The frame is a Aluminum box extrusion with steel hardware. The transit cover is constructed using laminated 600gsm PVC." According to Darche, the awning was designed to be free standing ONLY during setup and pack down. However, I think that is a liability statement as this is a HEFTY awning. I nervously applied pressure to one of the main arms without the support and was pleased to see i could pull myself off the ground (220 Ibs) and it seemed fine. Now, this was near the base and I wasn't throwing my weight around but this is the strength I was looking for.


Packaging: First impressions where great. Well Packed and thought out. Awning and mounts shipped separately and when i lifted the mount box i was surprised by the weight.

MOUNTS: Three mounts included. VERY strong and heavy. Powder coat was lacking in a few spots but not bad by any means. Hardwear included 6 zinc plated U-bolts to mount the bolts to circular racks and bars as well as a bunch of Bolts and nylon locking nuts.

I used the channels in the Load bars and put three bolts into each mount. Mounts seem to be designed to mount long side high as the extra bracing on the shorter side but I wanted the awning mounted closer to the body and not as high so I flipped them over. Time will tell if I need to swap them back around.


AWNING: The outer cover is nice and thick. Nice rubberized Logo is stitched onto it. At 45 pounds it was only slightly heavier than the 2500 i took off. The side by the logo is angled as it seems it was designed to help with cutting the wind when mounted on the drivers side. I elected to mount mine passenger side as my fridge is mounted where the 40 second row seat was.

MOUNTING: Back side of the awning has the familiar t slot for mounting. I slid in the bolts to their approximate location then lifted it up and had my girlfriend adjust them then finger tighten them to the Mounts. After ensuring the mounts were flush against the awning I tightened them to the load bars then tightened up the awning. 10 minute ordeal with 2 people.

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SET UP: Extremely Easy. Easier than the ARB. The awning is tensioned from the front and back. There are two tensioning straps that are stored in the cabin and it pays to set them out first. Both straps are well made and have a metal clamp buckle to hold the tension along with metal S hooks on each end. One end I put over the load bar on the other-side of the vehicle, the other hooks on to the awning arm.


Since mine is passenger mounted my fronts come out first. Unzip the cover and flip it up. Undo two large Velcro Straps then walk the arms to the front and tension with the strap. The walk the other arms to the back and tension those. The middle supports have integrated Legs. Undo some velcro and they swivel on a ball joint down then they twist lock like most awning legs. The Front and Rear legs are stored inside the cabin with the straps and slide into a hole in each arm. My front pole couldn't go straight down because of my bumper so I angled it (as you will see in a later picture)

Guide Ropes attach to each arm top. The supplied guides are thick and bright orange making them easy to see and avoid. Supplied Stakes are also thick and strong as well, though for the main two stakes I used some left over large tree stakes because there was a storm forecast to come through



There are additional Guide points and ropes provided. But these aren't for staking it down. instead they pull the canvas down in the middle to create a gutter for the water to flow off. Wasn't sold on these initially but after a squal line came through and brought a ton of rain, water flowed off very easily.


Awning Material: While the ripstop canvas is thick it felt a little thinner than the ARB which was initially disappointing, However, the water proof coating it has is excellent. Held up to a ton of rain on Friday. and the gutters worked well. Darche also has a zipper that goes along the edge of the awning to allow you to add sidwalls to expand the footprint. Maybe down the line but that required too much commitment to stay put for me initially. and with the 123 square foot of shade coverage already provided it wasn't needed.
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Overall: Loved the awning on it's first trip. Very Easy to set up and break down and it was STRONG. First day of camping brought a strong storm line through with 50 - 60 MPH winds, while the awning didn't see that due to the trees breaking some of it up it withstood 10x what the ARB did before the ARB bent. I wasnt sold initially on the usefulness of the front wing but with the sun not directly overhead for 80% of the day the front and rear wings provided great coverage to where I wanted it, right by my kitchen. Highly recommend people start considering Darche as an awning option. In my option, the perfect middle ground between the pricey top of the line and the roll out awnings.

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