If your a caravan beginner you may not be aware that in the ‘caravanning community’ there are few conversational topics. For instance, opinions on air awnings vary dramatically and so do opinions on caravan towing covers. We do have several guests each year who arrive with a towing cover on their caravan. There are several reasons why a caravanner would choose to opt for a towing cover which I’ll discuss below. However, the vast majority of our guests do not use towing covers. That could be from a lack of awareness of the use/advantages of towing covers. However, in some instances, I do have guests who used to own and use a caravan towing cover and now choose not to.
As is often the case the arguments for and against caravan towing covers vary and need to be judged in context. For instance, whether someone has a good or bad experience with a caravan towing cover will often depend on the towing cover they chose to purchase. Furthermore, how that cover was maintained and individual circumstances such as available storage space etc. As always I hope you have the time to read the whole of this post to get a full understanding of the points I’m trying to make. Otherwise, please use the Table of Contents below for a particular topic of caravan towing covers you are interested in. 🙂
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Introduction to Caravan Towing Covers
Now, I have spoken to quite a few of our guests over the years who have chosen to go with a caravan towing cover. I sometimes ask them for feedback on how they are getting on with it, how easy is it to fit, is it their first towing cover etc. I will use that feedback to help me to write this post. However, I don’t have any ‘evidence’ to hand of their opinions and feedback. I’m not set up to record videos and interviews on such things. Luckily there are several caravanner ‘YouTubers’ who produce quite a bit of content on their opinions and feedback.
As such I would encourage you to watch the video from Dan Trudgian. Dan expresses his opinions on the Specialised Cover he went for on his caravan. Now, if you are considering a caravan towing cover, Specialised Covers are not your only option, and I’ll discuss more on that below. However, Dan’s video gives a good general round-up of the reasons why you may want to choose a caravan towing cover, how you fit it to your caravan and Dan’s opinions on towing cover detractors.
So as you can see from the video above Dan appears pretty happy with his caravan towing cover from Specialised Covers. However, from the feedback I’ve received from our guests, there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to towing covers. Therefore, below I want to try and summarise those pros and cons to help you consider if a caravan towing cover is right for you.
Advantages of Caravan Towing Covers
So the main benefit of a caravan towing cover should be fairly obvious. It should keep the front of your caravan clean while you’re on the road. Now, while you’re on fast A-roads and motorways that will be general grease, grim and oil washing up off the road surface during wet conditions. However, its often a different story when it comes to the last couple of miles to get to your site. Many caravan sites (including Horton Common) are in rural/semi-rural locations. Therefore, the main industry in the area is farming…you can see where I’m going with this. Therefore, the advantage of a towing cover is it can keep that ‘dirt’ off the front of your caravan. But obviously that benefit comes along with several compromises, more on that below in the disadvantages section.
The other potential advantage is protecting the front of your caravan from stone chips etc while towing. In fact, Dan and his wife in the video above are convinced that their towing cover stopped them from having a dent in their caravan or damaged window from road debris. I personally believe this should be classed as a ‘potential’ benefit or advantage of caravan towing covers.
Don’t expect caravan towing covers to perform miracles. If a large/heavy piece of road debris is bouncing along the road and hits the front of your caravan, even with a towing cover you should still expect some damage. However, the extent of the damage I think will vary depending on the towing cover you choose. Some are much more padded than others, hence they may take out some of that energy on impact. Potentially avoiding damage to the caravan at all, or just reducing the extent of the damage. So I do believe, and several of our guests also believe, that caravan towing covers provide some benefit/protection while towing. The question is, does that benefit outweigh some of the real and perceived disadvantages?
Disadvantages of Caravan Towing Covers
Something which if you even do a quick search online search will come up in the forums etc is claims that caravan tow covers actually cause damage. Now, I’ve actually heard this from several of our guests. Some who have made such comments have never actually owned a caravan towing cover, its been from ‘hearsay’ etc. However, I have had at least one guest in the past who has owned a towing cover and stopped using it because they believed it did scratch the front window on their caravan. Luckily the damage was repairable. I’ve written in a previous post on caravan window scratches that they can be a DIY repair. However, that’s not obviously the point in this case.
Scuffs Opposed To Scratches
Now, it is potentially possible that towing covers themselves could cause scuffs, particularly around the edges of the windows. We used to use a Specialised Covers full cover over my father’s van for winter storage. We actually stopped using it due to damage we noticed caused by movement with the cover due to the wind had caused (window scuffs). Now, our experience with a winter cover is potentially not common, as our location over winter does have above average wind speeds. This is the reason why I close Horton Common over the winter months. However, with a towing cover when you are travelling at 60MPH there is going to be movement. No matter how tight you make those straps, there will be at least some movement. Enough to scuff up the windows? I’m not sure. That obviously depends on the material used to make the cover, duration of the journey etc. But while this scenario may potentially cause scuffs, it shouldn’t cause scratches.
If scatches were to occur it would likely be due to grit/stone which was caught up in the towing cover before it was applied to the front of the caravan. In the video above Dan and his wife reference about not letting the cover touch the floor and even using a vacuum cleaner on the towing cover. If you are going to use a towing cover I think these are good precautions to take. Also, as Dan references, if the front of your caravan is not really clean do not apply the towing cover. As during transit the cover will rub against that dirt potentially causing damage.
So really besides potential scuffs on window edges, I don’t think towing covers cause scratches directly. Its the dirt/debris either already on the caravan or trapped inside the cover which could be the cause of scratches. Therefore though, that adds another layer of maintenance effort to properly prepare before using a towing cover, which brings me onto my next point about keeping the caravan clean.
Clean Caravan, Dirty Towing Cover
While a caravan towing cover will protect the front of you caravan from dirt, the cover its self will obviously get dirty. Again, in this instance, Dan in the video makes a good point. The best method of storage would be to fold the cover outside edge to outside edge. Therefore, the inside of the cover will be kept clean. However, at some point, you are going to have to clean that cover.
With it being a fabric its not going to be as easy to get dirt off the cover as it would be just to clean the front of the caravan its self. Several times when I’ve come to meet our guests when they are setting up, I’ve come across them washing down the front of their caravan. Due to our fully serviced pitches, some guests even use a hosepipe/spray nozzle. In that instance really the only value a towing cover carriers is how much weight you place on the towing covers ability to protect from road debris impacts.
Dealing With a Wet Towing Cover
So let’s presume you have either been towing in the rain or you have had to wash down the cover because it was very dirty. What do you do with a wet towing cover? Well, in the video Dan states he simply folds it up, places it in his car and gets it out to dry at the next available opportunity. The problem with this is leaving a wet towing cover in the car will raise the humidity within the car, leading to potential condensation issues etc. If you had room in the external side locker on you caravan this could be a potential storage option, though again not ideal. If you have erected an awning you could place it folded up in the corner on the groundsheet. That would at least give it some opportunity to dry out.
Some of the towing covers I’ve seen our guests using unzip from one side and fold up on the other. Clips and straps then keep the cover rolled up without it coming undone and getting dirt and debris on the inside of the cover etc. The general point I want to make is, whichever towing cover you choose make sure you have thought about how you are going to deal with it when you arrive on site. It may be wet, dirty or both, so plan ahead how you are going to deal with it in those situations.
Fitting a Towing Cover and Keeping it Tight
I’ve seen several of our guests over the years fitting their caravan towing cover before they left the site. I will say in most cases its definitely a two-man/woman job. Well, that’s presuming you don’t want the cover dragging over the ground, which you obviously shouldn’t. The same goes in most cases for removing the covers, but that does depend on the design. Some covers can be unzipped and folded by one person without getting it dirty/contaminated. Though I would definitely say when fitting it you want to have a second person there to help you. What I would also say is have some awning rail lubricant to hand. It can make feeding the cover into the awning rail a lot easier.
There are a couple of companies that produce awning rail lubricant, Quest just being one example: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Something I do also want to reference before I forget is not all caravans are actually suitable to have a towing cover fitted. You need to have an awning rail on both sides of the caravan, and some models don’t. Now, granted off the top of my head I cannot reference a modern caravan which doesn’t have an awning rail both sides. My point is, don’t presume your caravan does.
Now, something else which you may have ‘fun’ with is keeping the towing cover tight on your caravan. First, you obviously don’t want the wind moving it around too much for the potential scuffs as I referenced above. However, you also don’t want it moving around too much as it would be a distraction while you’re towing the caravan. In the simplest terms, if you have a generic ‘one fits all’ cover you are generally going to find it harder to keep the straps tight enough to avoid movement. However, I’ve even seen ‘fitted’ towing covers appear a bit baggy. But they may just have needed another pull on the adjustment straps.
Caravan Towing Cover Manufacturers
With the above comments in mind if you feel a towing cover will provide you with the additional protection you’re looking for there are a couple of options to choose from. Namely the generic option, Specialised Covers or Pro-Tec Covers. There may be other brands available, but as of this moment its one of these three choices I see our guests using.
The Generic (Cheapest) Option
So if you browse websites such as eBay or Amazon for caravan towing covers you will come across quite a few options. A typical example is the offering below from a company called ‘Eluto’. These same covers are sold under lots of different names.
There appears to be a current trend with towing covers of late to include LED lights. Now personally, I would remove these lights from the cover or purchase one without the lights. For the price of these covers for less than £30, they will be pretty low-quality LED’s that I wouldn’t expect to last long. Secondly, I wouldn’t want that light bouncing up and down against the front of the caravan. I wouldn’t be surprised at all after a long journey and taking off this towing cover to see a dint where the LED light had been. Though looking at the image below of this towing cover, on most caravans they would be above the plastic front windows.
A fairly typical example of a generic towing cover. I think its fair to say has ‘mixed’ reviews: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Are these universal covers worth considering? Maybe, they are apparently made from 4-layers of fabric. However, I’ve not seen this particular generic universal cover in person to make an ‘informed opinion’ on how much impact protection it could provide. Again, if you read the reviews, as I said above they very mixed. A typical example of the love/hate relationship with towing covers.
In terms of price point it appears these generic universal caravan towing covers range between £16 (yes that’s right) and £99. If you were going to choose a generic towing cover I would imagine the old adage carries at least some weight, ‘you get what you pay for’. I cannot imagine the fabric and stitching are particularly great on a £16 towing cover.
ProTec Caravan Towing Covers
If you are thinking of avoiding the universal/generic tow cover options and splashing a bit more cash one of the main brands which appear to be pretty popular is ProTec. I’ve seen a guests ProTec towing cover up close and personal. I will say I do think the fabric is of better quality than you will generally get with a generic/universal towing cover. Though you should expect that for the premium your paying over the cheap towing covers.
‘Guaranteed not to scratch or mark your van’
So when I was reviewing the ProTec website I came across this promise/guarantee. As I’ve stated above, I don’t believe caravan towing covers cause scratches directly. Furthermore, potential scuffs could be controlled through the use of the materials etc. I was curious to see what Terms and Conditions were associated with this guarantee. For instance, as previously discussed, if the user doesn’t have a clean caravan to start with a towing cover indirectly may cause marks/scratches. However, I’ve been unable to find the associated terms for the guarantee on their website. So until you have read the terms for this ‘guarantee’ from ProTec don’t put too much weight into it.
ProTec Caravan Towing Cover Prices
So you shouldn’t be surprised to hear you’re going to be paying more for a Pro-Tec towing cover over a generic cover. A fitted Pro-Tec cover is going to cost you £200+. Now, they do also offer their own generic/universal towing cover for £170+. With their universal towing cover you will be getting an improved fabric over the cheaper/none branded options. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the clips and tensioners are made of better quality plastic etc. However, with the Pro-Tec universal cover your not getting the zips/pockets to provide access to the gas locker or grab handles. Therefore, personally, if I was going to go for one I would go for a fully fitted cover for the price difference. Otherwise, I would probably go for a cheaper universal cover which appears to be of reasonable quality, such as this example from Towsure.
When you first visit the Specialised Covers website you instantly get the impression they are trying to sell quality and sophistication. It’s quite understandable, caravan storage/winter covers and towing covers are only a part of their business. They also provide covers for cars (expensive cars) and motorbikes etc. But with that in mind, you should be surprised to find out Specialised Covers are the most expensive premium option for caravan towing covers currently available. Are they worth their premium price point? Again, I’ve heard arguments on both sides several times.
Specialised Cover Prices
So if providing your caravan with only the best is for you a Tow Pro Elite towing cover is going to set you back £400+. The Pro Elite cover includes an 8mm layer of ‘Body Armour’ foam to protect from road debris impact. From what I’ve seen available on other towing covers that will provide the best impact protection available. Personally though, I think Specialised Covers are laying on the marketing speak a bit think referring to 8mm of foam as ‘Body Armour’, its not exactly Kevlar.
Specialised Covers do also offer more affordable options such as the Tow Pro and Tow Pro+. With these options you won’t get the foam padding, and with the standard Tow Pro you won’t get the central zip section access for the gas locker. Specialised Covers, just like Pro-Tec also offer their own universal towing cover product.
Conclusions on Caravan Towing Covers
So after reading the above hopefully it has provided you with more information for you to decide if you feel a towing cover is for you. I’ve heard feedback from our guests over the years over the full range. Some love their towing cover, and would never tow without it. It provides them with reassurance when they are towing. I have some guests, in the middle. They fit a towing cover but question the benefits over the and cost/effort. I have other guests who hate the ‘idea’ of towing covers. In other words, its not that they have used one and didn’t like it, they are apposed in principle, ‘I’ve been towing for .. years, never had a problem’. Really, my own personal thoughts are the following. If you are only fitting a cover to keep the caravan clean for when you arrive on-site, just take a bucket/cloth with you. If you feel that a towing cover will provide protection from road debris then its worth consideration.
Anyway, that’s it for today, I hope you found this post on caravan towing covers interesting/useful. I also hope you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common in the near future. 🙂
I have had one guest in the past claim that their towing cover caused scratches on the front of their caravan. However, its likely the cause of the scratches were due to small bits of grit stones trapped on the inside of the cover. Therefore, its unlikely to towing cover was directly responsible for the scratches, but its use may have been the reason the scratched occurred. Hence, if your caravan is not very clean its not advisable to place a towing cover on the front.
The main purpose of a towing cover is to keep the caravan clean during towing, that will obviously involve protecting the front of the caravan from certain small debris. Some caravan towing covers are more padded/quilted than others. That additional padding should help to protect the front of the caravan from stone chips. However, larger pieces of debris when say towing at speed on the motorway would potentially still lead to damage. Though a towing cover would potentially reduce the amount of damage caused.