How to Set Up and Take Down A Manual Airstream Awning


If this is your first trip in your Airstream or your first trip in a while, give yourself a manual awning refresher.

Smaller Airstream Travel Trailers come with manual ZipDee® awnings on the entry door side (also known as campsite side) to create shade and extend your living space outdoors. With your awning out, you can set up some chairs, have a cocktail, and enjoy a bright day in comfort. You can even use the awning to shield you from a light rain. 


Why ZipDee Awnings?

We choose ZipDee awnings because they are the strongest, most durable awnings available. Each awning is American-made with Sunbrella™ fabric, which is special because of its woven acrylic fibers that give it brilliant color, make it easy to clean, and last longer than the industry’s standard extruded plastic sheets.

The special weave also allows the material to breathe, which is why it dries so quickly with only air exposure and doesn’t drip on you when the weather is humid. The fabric is treated with a fluorocarbon finish that makes it water-resistant and  needs no upkeep other than normal washing. The vertical seams give it more stability and prevent sag. The sturdy rafter arms are made of aluminum that works perfectly with the aesthetic of your Airstream. 

Setting up and taking down your awning is simple and easy. Watch the video below for a guided walkthrough by TrailerChix’s Toril Milbrath and a ZipDee expert, or scroll down for step-by-step instructions.  


Setting Your Awning Up


Step 1: Grab your awning wand and find your locks

An awning wand comes with your travel trailer. It’s a thin silver rod with a bent red tip at the end. You’ll use this wand to reach the higher up parts of the awning with ease. 

When your travel trailer arrives to you, the awning will be in the locked position. There are three locks: one lock on each pair of rafter arms on either side of the awning (they look like small silver wheels), and one travel lock (near the center of the awning roll). The locks keep the awning in place while you’re in transit and protect it and your travel trailer from damage.


Step 2: Unlock all three locks

Start with one of the rafter arm locks. Use one hand to gently push the rafter arms toward the trailer. At the same time, put the red tip of the wand into the hole in the wheel lock and turn counterclockwise. Swing the lock toward the center of the awning to free the rafter arms. Repeat on the other set of rafter arms.



To unlock the travel lock, insert the red tip of the wand into the hole in the lock and twist it counterclockwise and up. The latch should come right out.



Step 3: Unroll the awning fabric

Grab the awning strap loop with your awning wand and walk straight back holding the wand in place and pulling the awning toward you. When it’s all the way unrolled, the awning will self-lock in place.


Roll up the awning strap and secure it into the loop on the underside of the awning. 



Step 4: Raise, hook, and lock the upper rafter arms

Each side of the awning has two rafter arms. By the time your awning is unrolled, the bottom rafter arm will be more parallel with the ground, while the upper rafter arm is parallel with your travel trailer wall. Starting on one side, stand under the awning and gently lift the upper rafter arm. Swing it upward to hook onto the bar the awning roll is wrapped around. There’s space between the awning and the ZipDee end cap. Repeat on the other side.image7

To lock the upper rafter arms in place on the awning roll, stand facing the trailer on one side of the awning and grab the upper rafter arm with one hand. Pull down and away from the trailer. You’ll hear a click when it locks. Repeat on the other side.



Step 5: Extend and raise the lower rafter arms

To extend and raise the lower rafter arms, stand under the awning and locate the pull-button lock on the outside of the arm, toward the center.


Pull the lock button outward (away from the awning). With the arm extension unlocked, use one hand to push the awning roll upward and one hand to stabilize the arm. 


You can extend the arm to multiple positions. Choose the one you like and repeat on the other side. Be careful not to pinch your fingers.


You’re all set! You can experiment with the awning positions you like the most and within a few rounds of practice, this whole process will be second nature.


Taking your awning down


Step 1: Retract the lower rafter arms

Start on one side, standing under the awning. Pull the lower rafter arm lock with one hand and with the other, gently pull downward on the awning roll until it’s fully retracted. Repeat on the other side.


Step 2: Unlock and retract the upper rafter arms

Just like the pull-button lock on the lower rafter arm, you’ll find a pull-button release on the upper rafter arms, slightly above your head when you’re standing under the awning.


Pull the lock, lift the bar over and off of the awning roll bar, and gently guide the arm toward the trailer.


Hook the arm onto its resting post. Repeat on the other side.


Step 3: Roll the awning up

Push the awning roll toward the trailer and use the strap to guide the awning along. As the awning rolls higher and out of reach, loop the tip of the wand into the strap to guide the awning into its final position.


Step 4: Lock the arms and travel lock

To lock the arms, place your left hand on the arms and push the inner arm closer to the outer arm. Use the wand to flip the arm locks into the upright position and turn clockwise to tighten. Don’t over-tighten.


To lock the travel lock, loop the wand into the hole, pull back gently, and turn so that the latch moves into the lock.


Anytime you’re parked and not using your awning, and anytime you’re in any kind of transit, you should lock your awning in place via these three locks to prevent damage.


Still have questions? 

Your Airstream dealer would be happy to give you a thorough walkthrough.

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