How to Open an RV Awning with No Strap? (Find Out!)

How to Open an RV Awning with No Strap

There’s just something romantic about an RV. You have complete and total freedom to move your house anywhere and everywhere you’d want to, sometimes at a moment’s notice – and you get the added benefit of camping outside under an awning on a warm summer night with a beautiful breeze blowing through.

At the same time, though, when something goes sideways with your RV – like an awning strap busting off, for example – your quality of life takes a hit until you get things back to normal. Luckily, you can still open your RV awning without a strap just by using a couple of pieces of rope or bending your own “shepherd’s crook.”

In the rest of this detailed guide, we run through (almost) everything you need to know about getting your awning operating right, even if the straps have busted clean off.

Ready to jump right in?

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(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Opening an RV Awning Without a Strap

Your RV will almost always have one of two types of awnings – a manual awning that opens and closes with nothing more than brute force and mechanical awnings that run off electrical motors.

The fixes we highlight below are designed to work with manual awnings only.

Sure, they might work with awnings hooked up to an electric motor. But you risk stripping the gears, overheating the motor, or “blowing a gasket” somewhere in the mechanism – and that can become a pretty expensive fix in a hurry.

If you have something wrong with a mechanical awning (like the motor has died on you), don’t use either of the two methods we highlight below.

Instead, you need to get a hold of a legitimate RV mechanic (or someone handy with RV awnings) and have them work their magic to get you back up and rolling again.

The last thing you want to worry about is damaging your awning because you pulled and tugged on a mechanized component when you shouldn’t have.

If you’re dealing with a manual awning, these methods below will work like a dream to get your awning out and fully extended (and even work to help ease things back into the “lot” position, too).

The Old Rope Trick

The easiest way to work your awning after your straps have busted off is to slide a piece of rope (ideally two pieces of rope, one on each end) behind the awning with enough slack to get real leverage.

After that, grab both ends of each piece of rope in hand and start tugging downwards toward you (and towards the ground). The spring tension mechanism in automatic awnings should release quickly, allowing you to “walk” the canopy out without holding on to everything with a strap.

You’ll want to be deliberate with this kind of approach.

Don’t yank and don’t jerk on the rope, even if the awning doesn’t feel like it wants to give right out of the gate.

Instead, apply even, and equal pressure (this is a lot easier if you have two people working, one on each end) and just snuck that awning open.

Sometimes you’ll even be able to open your awning by reaching up and grabbing the outer lip without any rope.

That’s only going to be possible with older awnings, though. The spring mechanism needs to be a bit on the looser side of things for you to wrench your awning down without using the leverage these extra pieces of rope bring to the table.

It’s not a bad idea to have a couple of lengths of rope (different sizes of rope, too) stored inside your RV for precisely these kinds of emergencies.

Rope is super helpful, versatile, and can be taken advantage of in many different ways. This is just one of them!

Bend Your Own Shepherd’s Crook

If you don’t have a reliable second set of hands all the time to help you unfurl your awning with a couple of pieces of rope, it’s not a bad idea to build yourself your own “shepherd’s crook” that you can use all on your own to get the job done, too.

You’ll need some reasonably stiff wire (we are talking stiffer than a coat hanger here), a decent length of it (at least a couple of feet long), and probably some tools – a pair of pliers, a clamp, etc. – helping you get the job done from start to finish.

The idea here, though, is to build yourself sort of a shepherd’s crook that you can use to sneak behind the middle of the awning, hook onto the back of the awning, and then use the leverage provided by the long handle to pull that awning out.

Commercial versions of these “shepherd’s crooks” are available online for RV owners. But you’ll spend a lot more (in most circumstances) with those commercial options than if you built this thing on your own.

At the end of the day, though, it’s up to you!

A shepherd’s crook that you’ve cooked up on your own (and one that you can comfortably stow away inside of your RV without taking up a lot of space) can be a helpful multi-tool and the perfect fix for awnings with straps that bust off.

Get More Leverage!

When you get to it, the secret to opening up your awning with a busted strap is gaining more leverage – no matter how you have to do that.

As we highlighted a little earlier, the trouble with just pulling on and awning and opening it up without the strap is that new spring mechanisms responsible for holding these awnings in place are often too tight to unfurl with a little bit of brute force.

Throw a bit of extra leverage into the mix, and suddenly you can move that awning without any headache and hassle.

Longer lengths of rope, the shepherd’s crook we mentioned earlier, or even getting up on top of a chair or a picnic table so that you can use more of your natural leverage when opening the awning all change the equation entirely.

It would help if you remembered that you don’t want to “Hulk” your awning open.

The last thing you want to do is bend out any of the springs or the tension arms that hold your awning together just because you got a bit impatient and started yanking on things that you wanted to unfurl a little more deliberately.

Use leverage but use it smartly. You don’t want to bust anything!

Don’t Force Mechanical Awnings Open.

We mentioned earlier that you also don’t want to brute force open mechanical awnings.

Manually opening awnings (awnings that pull open when you tug on a strap – when the strap is there, anyway) can be opened using rope, shepherd’s crooks, and a bit of leverage without any real headache or hassle.

Automatic or motorized awnings, though, need to have their internal mechanisms repaired and then be opened mechanically when everything is right as rain. You cannot operate these manually – not without likely doing some permanent (and often expensive) damage to the underlying mechanism.

Don’t fool around by trying to brute force mechanical awnings.

You’ll end up regretting the decision for sure!

Replace Your Strap ASAP

Of course, replacing any of the missing straps on your awning just as quickly as possible is not a bad idea.

This fix is simple (we are talking about the kind of sewing project almost anyone can tackle, even without any real experience whatsoever). It’s also a pretty cheap job if you have to farm it out to professionals.

Replacing your straps (maybe with heavier duty options that offer a little more leverage) can be a game changer.

The last thing you want to worry about is fighting your RV when you want to relax in a little bit of shade.

Closing Thoughts

That’s all there is to learning how to open an RV awning with no strap.

Whether you use a couple of pieces of rope, a shepherd’s crook that you’ve been top all yourself specifically for this task, or jump on top of a picnic table or camp chair and use the power of leverage to get the job done is neither here nor there.

The good news is you have a bunch of different options to pick and choose from, options that are sure to work in almost all the situations you find yourself in.

Just remember to get that strap fixed just as soon as you have an opportunity to.

It’s a tiny piece of RV equipment but a major quality of life improvement!

Don’t forget to check out our Recommended RV Equipment list!

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Hi, my name is Andy. I have been camping my whole life. I started camping with my parents as a little kid and remember hanging out around a campfire roasting marshmallows. As I got older, car camping was a regular occurrence. After I got married and started a family, we decided we wanted to share the travel and camping experience with our kids. Out of that experience, this site,, was born.

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