Manta: 100 Square Feet of Shelter You read that right: 100 square feet of canvas hides inside a thick black cover, ready to deploy a generous amount of shade or shelter in a moment’s notice. These are my impressions after four years of enjoying the Manta’s shade from the blazing desert sun, sheltering from storms underneath it, and putting it through tortures that have ripped lesser awnings to pieces. The Basics When fully deployed, the Manta’s shape provides a larger than 7-by-7-foot rectangle of coverage off the side of a vehicle or trailer, which wraps around the rear with an additional 14-by-7-foot triangle. When it’s time to hit the road, the entire mass of sturdy 260-gram waterproof ripstop canvas rolls up into a UV-resistant PVC cover that’s no bigger than an awning half the Manta’s size. The Manta’s chassis is made entirely of lightweight anodized aluminum. Adjustable legs with integrated stake holes recess inside C-channel rafter arms, which pivot away from a stout length of aluminum extrusion on stainless steel hinge bolts. All of this combines to create a structure that is sturdy, lightweight, and highly corrosion resistant, and easily repaired with basic hand tools and commonly available hardware. That’s not to say the awning is easy to damage—quite the contrary as you’ll read below—but I take comfort knowing that if the Manta gets damaged all of it’s components (including the canvas panels) are field-replaceable. The awning can be mounted to most roof racks or even load bars, thanks to standard 8mm hardware that can be placed nearly anywhere along the Manta’s 90-inch frame. Of course, if you’re running an Eezi-Awn K9 roof rack there is a convenient kit available to match. The legs are adjustable in height up to 92 inches, so it sits nicely on even the tallest adventure mobiles. Setup or Teardown in Seconds (yes, really) That’s not just marketing hype. The first time I set up a Manta I skipped the directions and took just under two minutes. Today I could do it in 30 seconds, or under two minutes with stakes at all four legs. Teardown—which is the messiest and most time-consuming task with most awnings—is just as easy. Better still, you can pack the Manta away without getting the canvas all up in your face. If you’ve ever covered yourself in the previous night’s dust and campfire ashes you know just how important that is. Of all the awning systems I’ve…
Editorial Integrity: A plea to my fellow authors We hate to admit it in our industry, but manufacturers—especially advertisers and sponsors—will have some influence over what, and even how, we write. We are human after all: they may inspire bias for or against the wares they peddle, but they will inevitably make an impression. Anyone who claims otherwise is either lying through their teeth or a robot. It’s impossible to write completely without bias, and even if it were possible, we shouldn’t. Be biased. The audience is where we owe our allegiance: without them we are nothing. When writing an article our goal should not be to write without bias, doing so would only be a disservice to our audience. Our readers are our readers because they identify with our style and value our opinions (or at the very least find us entertaining). Our audience wants to know what we love or hate, and why. Be fair, but don’t water down your true impressions to the monotony of a dictionary just to avoid offense. Be fair. Never allow an advertiser or sponsor to gain a hand in your editorial process. Correct factual errors, of course. Profusely thank sponsors for being awesome, sure. If change for the better occurs as a result of your feedback, then by all means praise the manufacturer for their willingness to listen. Don’t allow them to effect change to the meaning of articles: doing so sets a dangerous precedent for dishonest action, scares off viewers and manufacturers alike, and like a bad infomercial only truly serves to undermine an author’s credibility. Be honest. I challenge my fellow authors to write with bias, fairness, and honesty. And, I challenge editors to approve and publish more of the concepts that arrive on their desk with these principles intact. In this strange new age of manufacturers-turned-publishers it’s the only way we can stand free from their purse strings to create trustworthy and independent content.…