REVIEW: Rhino Rack Batwing Compact Awning

Photo By: Rick Stowe

Quick Take: The Batwing Compact awning from Rhino Rack offers plenty of 270-degree coverage in a compact package. It’s great for mid-sized trucks with 5-foot beds, small SUVs, and wagons. It’s quick to deploy, and while it’s compact in comparison to some 270-degree awnings, it still offers plenty of coverage. It also includes some great features to secure it in high winds so you can keep things covered when harsh weather rolls in.

The benefit of an awning is the ability to bring your shelter from the sun and precipitation wherever you go. Awnings have come a long way in recent years, and now it’s not uncommon to see 270-degree models on all types of overland rigs. It’s great to have coverage down the side of your rig and, more importantly, at the back, where you’re often unloading supplies, hanging out, or cooking. 

The Batwing Compact from Rhino-Rack offers plenty of coverage in a lightweight package that will work for mid or full-sized trucks, SUVs, or even wagons. 

Photo by Rick Stowe

No Need for Instructions

Photo by Rick Stowe

Sometimes I like to test the intuitiveness of products by jumping into the use or installation without cracking the instructions. After I opened the Batwing Compact, I took inventory of the parts and quickly devised a game plan for the installation. After glancing at the instructions to reaffirm my strategy, I bolted the powder-coated steel brackets onto my roof rack. Next, I held the awning in place while my wife secured the bolts that attach the awning to the brackets. The brackets include multiple bolt patterns, so they can easily be mounted to a variety of popular roof rack models. For further customization, you can adjust the position of the awning by sliding the mounting bolts along the track on the back of the awning. From unboxing to unzipping the awning for the first time, the entire process took less than 20 minutes. If it wasn’t for holding the awning up to the brackets, this could easily be a one-person job.

Super Easy Shade

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

The four swing arms are held in place by magnets until it’s time to deploy, and then they easily swing to their open positions. While the awning is dubbed a “compact” model, it still offers nearly 70 square feet of coverage when deployed. The back arm is secured to the roof rack by a webbing strap and the included plastic cleat. 

READ MORE: Editors’ Choice: Overland Lighting

Since installing the awning, I’ve found I’m tempted to use it at every opportunity. From trailside lunch breaks to tinkering with the truck in the driveway, the Batwing Compact makes it too easy to deploy some shade or weather protection if you plan to be around the rig for more than a few minutes. While the first few setups took some fiddling, I soon found a rhythm for swinging out the arms, dropping the legs, adjusting them to height, and getting about the business of enjoying some shade around the truck. 

The Batwing Compact is a great option for overlanders looking to get their first 270-degree awning, but the budget-minded price isn’t the only plus. It’s relatively lightweight, weighing in at only 39.5 pounds, so it won’t push the GVWR of unmodified suspensions. 

Budget Price Without Budget Features

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

This a lightweight and budget-minded 270-degree awning, so it’s no surprise that it isn’t freestanding. Fortunately, the poles aren’t too much of an inconvenience since they are easily unclipped and adjusted to length. The end of each pole is capped with a clever cover that allows two stakes to pass through at opposing 45-degree angles. This provides a sturdy method of securing the awning while minimizing the number of stakes that are sticking out of the ground. The Batwing Compact includes guylines, but they seem to be unnecessarily bulky considering the strength of 550-paracord or even smaller diameter cordage. This is an easy upgrade to make if you decide you’re not a fan of the included ropes.

If by chance, the awning isn’t guyed out in windy conditions, the hinges are designed to be the failure point versus bending the bars. The Batwing Compact includes a spare hinge piece in the pouch that carries the stakes and guylines. To replace any of the hinges, you only need a Phillips screwdriver, an Allen key, and a 1/2-inch socket. 

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

I appreciate the Batwing Compact storage bag is well-designed, so the time spent setting up and packing it away is nearly as easy as the time spent relaxing under it. The zipper travels smoothly down the PVC cover, and the tri-fold hook and loop closure on the end wraps everything up in a weather-resistant package. Rhino Rack also designed the bag with room for a storage bag that holds the stakes and guylines, so you’re never left digging for your awning accessories in other storage areas. While the bag seems plenty durable, if it is damaged, it can be replaced to extend the life of the awning. 


What to know:

  • Covers 68.9 sq. ft. and weighs in at only 39.5 lbs., so it’s suitable for nearly any rig. 
  • The ripstop material is water and mold-resistant.
  • Independently tested UV50+ rating. 
  • Rare earth magnet locking feature to secure awning arms.
  • Rust-resistant black powder-coated poles and frame.
  • Includes two spare hinge moldings.
  • Available in left and right-hand models.
  • One-year warranty from Rhino Rack.
  • MSRP: $766

Photo by Brett Willhelm

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