I have been an avid VW camper vanner for many years … originally in a DIY T4 van conversion but recently upgraded to a modified Leisuredrive Vivante T5 conversion. I love the freedom of the VW Transporters – solid as a rock, small, reliable and fast. Over the last few years I have toured Scotland, Wales and Southern England numerous times and also 4000 + mile trips to Southern Spain.
Only one slight problem … I sometimes travel solo but I often travel with 2 adults on board + 2 dogs, and any VW vanner with dogs will know – there is a serious downside when the time comes to sleeping, particularly in wet muddy conditions!
I tried a side awning which was an improvement, but didn’t feel comfortable with the 20 minute ‘build time’ and ‘put away’ time, plus the sheer bulk of the thing in the back of the van … seemed to detract from my‘ freewheelin’ approach to vanning.
The solution appeared to be a tailgate awning, but there were few on the market and the ones available either seemed poorly designed (too many gaps and windy) or were very expensive. In my head I designed my perfect awning … but construction was way beyond my feeble needle and thread abilities.
By accident I stumbled over the PackaShack ... there was (almost) the construction of my dreams, marketed by a most helpful lady, Allie.
Following a brief email exchange Allie agreed to make a few minor mods to her VW T4/T5 shack … and my dream was born – a bespoke Packa Shack!
On the first outing (a day only at a Country Park - it being February!) the Shack went up a dream … 30 seconds and there it was (would have been faster but for my unfamiliarity with the Shack). See the pictures – perfect for me and the dogs.
The ‘standard’ T4/T5 Shack, I’m sure, will suit many, but the mods made it perfect for my needs – there was an underskirt to prevent dog escapes from under the van, and to also prevent that ‘wind tunnel’ experience.
Allie had put requested tie points on the Shack which should provide extra stability using guy lines should the wind get up on overnight stays. The Shack can be purchased with varying zipper formats, I went for the ‘top down’ opening so allowing my dogs to be restrained within the shack whilst still being able to see out and getting ventilation.
I had modified the van rear curtains to be full length covering the whole open tailgate area so that, when the dogs are sleeping in the Shack, the tailgate can be partitioned off so keeping the van cosy (and dog free) during the night.
Easter will bring the first extended use of the Shack in Wales – 2 adults + 1,2 or 3 dogs (time will tell!) and I’ll write a further review on progress with the Shacks
‘longer term’ performance.