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Old 10-13-2019, 02:23 PM   #1
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Mooresville , NC
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More Newby Questions

Hi folks...
Next newby question...
We’ve just purchased our first Airstream, a 22 foot Bambi and are waiting to bring her home. We’re trying to decide between an SUV (our preference) and a pick-up truck as tow vehicle. My question is much STUFF are we going to need room for hauling in the TV? We’ll be weekend camping Sept-April, but pretty much living in our AS during the summer months. I know we’ll have chairs, outdoor rug, folding table, etc, but what other things will we need room for that I haven’t thought about? Help!!

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Old 10-13-2019, 03:48 PM   #2
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Lexington , Kentucky
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If you're planning on staying in one spot for any length of time, like more than a week, you'll need what's referred to as a "blue boy". It's a portable waste tank so you don't have to move your AS. You empty your gray/black water into the blue boy (various different brands and sizes), hook it to the hitch ball and go to the dump station with disposable gloves. If you don't stay long at a CG then you just visit the dump station on the way out each time.

As for the SUV or pickup, that's a choice only you can make. We had our SUV when we purchased our AS so we looked for one that was within our safe towing capacity. Most SUVs can't tow much more than 23-25', but there are a few. Pickups are needed for longer ASs.


Rich & Yvonne
2006 Safari SE -Dora-
2004 4Runner SE

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Old 10-13-2019, 04:05 PM   #3
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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There are tradeoffs. What YOU need depends on your camping style, and that WILL evolve due to the Airstream.

Best answer is probably "go cheap, but safe" for the first tow vehicle. That way you can upgrade without huge dollars.

You have a small trailer. Even so, the SUV choices? Suburban or Expedition top the list... both are gas hogs, but can carry the big loads and tow with ease. On imports, I don't have the knowledge to comment. The best thing about SUVs and vans is that you don't have to add a bed slide, a topper, etc. The cargo area is lockedmore securely too. And you don't need to be six feet tall to get in and out comfortably. And it will haul 7 to 9 people if you get 3rd row seats.

All of the 1/2 ton trucks with a tow package are quite capable. Again, look for used but not used up. And NEVER trust a sales person to know what is equipped for towing and what is just a pretty truck. (They aren't all evil, but they are only trained to SELL.) Get a gearhead to teach you to read the manufacturer's plate(s) on the door pillers.

Consider full size vans too. Advantages? Anyone who eats three helpings of five bean chili can be sent to sleep in the van!

Oh, and join WBCCI for support.
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Old 10-13-2019, 05:50 PM   #4
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
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Only you can work out how much you will have along. We don't really know much about your situation. We are only guessing about a lot of things.

Are there two of you or eight of you? If it's eight, are four of those dogs? If so how big? How many bikes will you bring along and what type? Do you fish and need a boat? Do you cook out a lot and need to bring the smoker? ..... lots of very specific details that might apply to me but not to you.

If "living in it in the summer months" means taking off June 1st and returning home September 1st that's a bit over 12 weeks on the road. Will you be urban camping ( and eating in restaurants / grocery shopping multiple times a week) or will you be boon docking in the middle of nowhere? ( and hauling a couple weeks food / water /clothing along). You can fill a lot of space with a couple weeks supplies.

If you will be camping off grid, where will that be? The Gulf Coast in July will be a bit crazy without A/C. To do that off grid you will need a pretty big generator (maybe 100 pounds worth), fuel, and other bits and pieces.

How cozy do you like to be? A 22' is not all that large. Spending time outdoors is a fine way to deal with this. If there's a lot of sun or rain or bugs, some sort of tent like structure is probably a really good idea. If you have a bunch of outdoor gear (bikes ....), a second tent-ish thing might also be a good idea for storing that stuff. Those tents need to ride somewhere. If they are wet when its time to go, they still need to ride somewhere ( I have a *lot* of experience with that part).

The weight of all this matters as much as the volume. There are an unfortunately large number of SUV's out there (and indeed some trucks) that just about max out on weight when you put a full set of passengers in them. They put stickers on the door post these days telling you what the real capacity of *that* vehicle is. Trust only that sticker. The Internet will not help you here ( = the Internet numbers never include all the details and will be higher than the real ones).

Regardless of SUV vs truck, you want it set up for towing. That includes mirrors, brake controller, hitch, and suspension upgrades. Getting all that on a truck is pretty easy. With some SUV's the only way to get the full set is to do some customization. There's nothing wrong with that, it just means a bit more work.

If you are out and about for the day and it's a rainy day (stuff happens), you will come back with a bunch of wet clothing. That needs to hang someplace to dry. Same with muddy boots. However you set things up, you need to allow for this to happen and *still* be able to survive in the trailer.

Depending on region, you will need a range of clothing. There are parts of the country where a parka is not a crazy thing to have along in July. Hiking boots make a *lot* of sense in some areas and no sense at all at the beach. We travel with one set of "fancy cloths" ( = coat and tie / dress). An unexpected family event while out traveling showed us the need to do so.

If you are away from home base (or out a lot), stuff breaks. That means spare parts and tools. At the very least you need to have a torque wrench for the lug nuts on the wheels *and* an extension *and* a racket handle for the same nuts. Do you need a torque wrench that will handle the bolts on your hitch? How about a rivet gun and rivets? Towing straps? Multimeter? Tire pressure gauge? Spare batteries? Study up on each and decide.

You will need some way to chock the trailer when it's parked. You may use multiple methods. (We use X-Chocks and wedges). It is a good bet that leveling blocks will come in handy (possibly several sets).

Water hookup / sewer hookup / electrical hookup can range from "easy" to "who designed this place?????". We carry multiple sewer hoses, a couple hundred feet of water hose, and almost a hundred feet of power cable. All have been used at multiple campgrounds over the last couple years.

So lots of twists and turns. Even if you had a fleet of trucks, you can't carry *everything* with you. You will pack what you think you need. When you get back the question of "why in the world did I bring this?" will pop up. After a few trips things will begin to settle down.

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Old 10-13-2019, 08:10 PM   #5
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2017 16' Sport
Canyon Country , California
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 285
SUV would be an expedition with factory installed tow package with 3.5L and 10 speed transmission. I’m buying it when I move up to larger AS. Good as commute vehicle as well.

Virtually all campgrounds have tables - get a table cover instead of folding table.

As for the mat, don’t get the fake grass kind. Hard to clean it.

No need to get a lot of unneeded things but only necessary stuff that you will USE
2014 Ford Explorer XLT with factory installed Tow Package.

2017 M16 Bambi
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:52 PM   #6
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Another great option is a big Van. With your size AS a Van would easily do the trick. And you have plenty of storage area.

The one downside is no 4 wheel drive.
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Old 10-13-2019, 10:15 PM   #7
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Welcome to the forum!

This concurrent thread might be an informative read:
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Old 10-13-2019, 11:21 PM   #8
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Hocking Hills , Ohio
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Bob and others have covered a lot of ground here. Our first AS was a 19' Bambi Safari SE (still have it) which has some extra features that put it very close to the weight of your 22 ft. We towed it with a 2001 Chevy Tahoe because that is what we had at the time. The 5.7L 8 cyl wheezed a bit on the bigger inclines in WV, NC and TN but was serviceable and gave us 297 K miles before conking out. We loved the Tahoe for its passenger ability, comfort and large enclosed cargo area (but not for the mpg!). It was a heavy rig though and did not leave much room for carrying capacity, and the brakes did not hold up well to towing. The new full-size pick-ups have great tow packages in several engine capacities, 8-10 speed trannys and their inherently lighter weight (unless you go crazy with bells & whistles) leave considerably more of room weightwise for towing & cargo than an SUV. Most of the trucks these days are 4-door crews that provide reasonable comfort for backseat passengers or dry interior cargo space. We now tow with a 2016 Dodge ram 1500 with a 5.7L Hemi and it is a much improved tow vehicle over the old Tahoe.

We also use our pick-up as a daily driver/hauler in our business and on our farm, so it fit for us as a TV. We boondock and routinely go to unpaved remote places where a 4x4 comes in handy at times. There is just two of us, so we can use the rear of the cab for cargo and use snap-lid plastic bins for extra gear in the truck bed. We cover the bed with an elastic spider web. Works for us, but we travel pretty light. If you have kids and lots of gear you may need a cap on the truck or more power on the SUV. If you plan on traveling the mountains in the western states, I would strongly recommend vehicles with better tow packages with beefed up brakes, suspensions, axles and add a weight distribution hitch with sway control.

Bottom line is I think the truck gives you more/better options as a TV and the SUV gives you more comfort/interior space. Some of these new pick-ups though are really nice....and unless you load 'em up with options, they run 10-15k less than a similar engined SUV.
Think about your likely camping destinations, what you would take with you and your passenger load to narrow down your options.
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Old 10-14-2019, 12:47 AM   #9
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2008 19' Safari SE
Hocking Hills , Ohio
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Sorry OP, guess I didn't really answer your question in my previous post

Our first few outings we learned a lot about what we would really use on our camping trips. We went from bringing everything but the kitchen sink (probably why our Tahoe wheezed a bit!) to dumping ballast. Our typical cargo load now includes leveling kit, lightweight camp chairs, table and rug for under the awning, a tool kit for troubleshooting and maintenance (there are plenty of threads on the forum for what should be in your tool bag), and the clothes, toiletries and kitchen items we prefer. Most of the rest of our gear centers around our hobbies we enjoy on the road (fishing gear, cameras, telescope).
You will figure out what you need and want after a couple of outings. Taking a couple of easy trips to a nearby park or even camping in your own driveway will help you figure out the basics. Walmart has proven a useful ally on the road for those things we forgot or suddenly need
Some items we have found useful:

(1) when we boondock, we pack a fold-up 4 step stool in the bed of the truck to reach the top of the AS for maintenace or to clear leaves and branches from the roof/air conditioner/awning

(2) a small electric ceramic heater for chilly nights...much quieter than the built-in on the 19' AS

(3) a coleman two burner portable propane camp stove that we use (a lot) for outdoor cooking...many folks bring along a grill of some kind

(4) folding camp saw for cutting firewood and clearing road of woody debris. I have been known to pack a small lithium battery chainsaw when we travel in the northwoods for clearing downed trees. I know...overkill, real men carry axes etc. but we have been glad to have it on several occasions with larger trees in our path. Depends on where you camp.

We have weighed all of our everyday every trip in-the-camper gear (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom items) to establish a base carrying weight. Subtract that from the net carrying capacity of the AS as determined by the sticker on the ouside of the trailer , then we know how much extra weight we can safely pack in the trailer. We also pay attention to the hitch weight and towing capacity with the tow vehicle. There are many threads on this forum to help you define these and obtain the figures for your own trailer & TV. This may sound like a lot of work and complicated, but it's not and will add to the safety and peace of mind in your travels.
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Old 10-14-2019, 01:05 AM   #10
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Are you planning to camp only where there are hookups or will you occasionally be "off the grid"? If the latter, then you may want to allocate room for a generator and fuel for same. The fresh water tank on a 22' Bambi is 27 gallons so you may also want to carry along a couple of 5 gallon containers to supplement what's on board and have a way to carry water to fill the trailer tank.

My personal preference would be for a crew cab pickup over an SUV. A 1/2 ton truck, properly equipped, will be as comfortable as an SUV on the road. And with a folding tonneau cover you won't impact your payload capacity by much and have a lot more covered cargo room than you would have with an SUV. Just my $.02.
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Old 10-14-2019, 09:45 AM   #11
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We all seem to be heading off in various directions. It would be nice to get some feedback from the OP so we could focus a bit better.


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