So you thumbed through the IG news feed and developed a intense and passionate wanderlust based around #Vanlife.
You were willing to overlook the whole contrived Mexican blanket / succulents in mini terracotta pots look for the lure of the open road; the giant redwoods, the High Cascades, resin tinted single fin quivers and beautiful, empty lineups.
You bought Home Is Where You Park It by Foster Huntington... you bought a van.
In my case, a long wheelbase VW T5 Caravelle with plenty of room. Well, plenty of room for a lone van lifer and his trusty quiver.
Galli II Inflatable DriveAway Awning
Pack size: 78cm x 39cm x 44cm
Pitching time: 15mins
Warranty: 2 years
But factor in the full family pack (wife plus three boys) dog (English Setter named Alfie) and a quiver including inflatable SUP, Gracey log, singlefin egg and Skunkworks foamie... plus enough kit and kaboodle for 6 weeks on the road, and the van was never really going to fit.
Enter the driveaway awning, Vango's Galli II Inflatable Driveaway 2018 model.
Is It Easy To Put Up?
Heidi left for Spain a week ahead of me, so had to pitch the Galli II on her own. Well, on her own with three kids under 6, having just done a four hour drive from France.
Because of the inflatable AirAway system, it's a doddle to put up.
I mean Heidi does have her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award of course, but even a less decorated outdoorsperson would breeze through the pitching, using the double action pump (with pressure gauge) provided. Three inflatable arches make up the structure, meaning there are no poles whatsoever to deal with.
"Because of the inflatable Airaway system, it's a doddle to put up"
Heidi even put it down and moved to a better spot on the campsite within that first week, full quota of kids in tow, so unfazed was she by the pitching process. The 15 minute pitching claim was pretty much spot on.
Is It Weatherproof?
While Britain was undergoing the longest heatwave ever, northern Spain wasn't. This part of the Iberia is known as the Costa Verde (green coast) and it rains all the time.
One night in particular, about ten hours of torrential rain, thunder and lightning was enough to cause a minor landslide at the campsite, with part of a grassy embankment above the cliff completely disappearing. Fellow campers with lesser equipment found their holidays seriously compromised.
Meanwhile, the Galli II kept everyone safe and dry throughout. Having the awning attach to the van means there's no mud or weather issues going from van to tent. With two doors (one at each end) of the connecting section, there's even the perfect extra storage area.
Is It Roomy?
Generously sized at 4m x 3.2m, with a dedicated living space at the back (interior bedroom linings sold separately), there's plenty of room inside.
Even enough room to unblock the chakras and salute the sun. Inspired by Occy's recent Gerry Lopez interview, which Gerry states he does headstands every day, I indulged in morning Sirsananas (headstands) just because.
Plenty of room to get yogic, then, as well as set up the mobile office from which to produce great digital surf content all summer, even if I say so myself.
"Pre-angled beams achieve greater internal space than with a standard curve"
SE's Billy Wilson, lured by the promise of uncrowded surf and verdant landscapes paid a visit and found himself a cosy corner.
Richard 'Dog' Marsh, super coach to WSL CT stars booted down from France with his lad Dylan and despite having brought their own tent, decided to partake in the Galli II vibes instead.
We had a few fun surfs, cooked (me) some epic whole food plant based world cuisine (Mexican, Indian), even went inland up to the Picos de Europa National Park and swam and snorkelled in fast flowing, crystal clear, trout teeming with mountain rivers. Good times.
Sometimes you need to take the van for a spin, of course. Searching out other surf spots, searching for ripe avocados. The Galli II offers a choice of using the kador system to slide into a roof rail on your van, or, as we did, simply use the throw over straps. Either way it's a matter of seconds to detach/reattach.
The front porch area provides enough room for your bar-b, small table & chairs, etc. However, if you don't want to use it, it folds away flush to the front door of the awning neatly.
New for this year's model are the skylights, which are epic for night time celestial wows. We had pretty epic views of July's meteor showers and even a cheeky glimpse of the eclipse from the comfort of our beds.
If you're a fan of bat watching, you can even watch the flying mammals take out mosquitos just above your tent, delighting in each confirmed kill (you'll have to kinda guesstimate here). I likened it to my Nan watching the RAF and the Lutfwaffe dogfighting from her flat over East London during the Blitz.
Double layer windows mean there's plenty of light inside when unzipped, but can be closed for campers not electing for the dawn patrol, preferring to opt for the lie in.
Ventilation is well-provisioned with mesh panels at the top of the front and back, and side panels that open and fix along the bottom of the side walls. Plus of course, the double lined doors that'll keep insects out, but allow fresh air in on hot days.
Cliff top perches on this part of the coast can also get pretty windy as storms whip in off Biscay, and the Galli II was as sturdy as you like thanks to its smart design and construction.
Pre-angled beams achieve greater internal space than with a standard curve, giving excellent bracing against winds. The SuperBeams™ themselves are larger diameter giving additional structure and stability to the awning.
Combined with Vango's TBS®II Tension Band System, the awning performs superbly in adverse conditions. When tensioned, the bands brace the pole at 3 points, preventing sideways movement.
In summary, the Galli II is an epic piece of camping kit. At £900, it's a reasonably sizey investment of course, more than almost every surfboard reviewed in our 2018 Surf 100 feature, but give the quality of the product and the years of use you'll get out of it, it's a reasonable outlay for an exceptional awning.
You'll need a van of course too, which, if a VW, may represent less value, depending on your stance on the price of Transporters in today's used car market.
As for your copy of Home Is Where You Park It, at $65 plus postage for a collection of photos of campervans, perhaps that represents somewhat lesser value for money.