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Old 08-16-2015, 09:59 PM   #1
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2016 30' International
Sewickley , Pennsylvania
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2015 FC 25FB vs. 30' Bunk

Hello all,

I was bitten by the Airstream bug 6-7 years ago but am finally in a position to pull the trigger on one now that the kids are getting a little older (2 girls - 5 and 3). My wife and I are strongly considering six months of full-timing in order to take a trip out West to hit up various national parks before our older daughter starts kindergarten. If we end up doing that (which I'm give a 20% chance), then my questions are pretty much moot. However, given that we most likely won't do the trip, here's my dilemma.

I'm having a really hard time deciding between a 25 ft and 30 ft Flying Cloud. This would be used for weekend camping semi-regularly and ideally the occasional 1-2 week trip a few times per year. Currently, our planned tow vehicle is a 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser - which is a phenomenal vehicle, but I'm gathering not the best TV. It has an 8,200 lb. towing capacity but is hindered by its short wheel base (112") according to previous posts I've found on here. I think it's payload is just under 1,600 lbs. Long story short, it definitely can't tow the 30 and I'm beginning to wonder if it could even do the 25. If anyone has thoughts on that, I'm all ears.

Here are my pros/cons of the 30 vs. 25. I realize it's our decision, but I'd especially love to hear feedback from other young families that have either length and any rationale you used to make your decision on size.

30ft
Pro - if we do the six month trip, I think this is a no brainer
Pro - two nice sized bedrooms which would provide ample space as the kids got older
Pro - The ability to sleep 6-8, meaning we could take friends and/or other family members on trips
Pro - not that much more expensive than the 25
Con - From what I've read, most people suggest a HD truck to tow it. That's a fairly big con since, outside of towing the AS, a big truck would not be very convenient

25ft
Pro - could MAYBE be towed with our existing TV
Pro - a little more nimble. I'm a towing newbie so every foot counts.
Con - I feel like we could potentially grow out of it as the kids got older
Con - We'd have to make up/tear down a bed every day since we'd have to sleep on the lounge

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you all have!

PS - I wasn't sure whether this was the right section within the forum to post this...

Eric
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Old 08-16-2015, 10:34 PM   #2
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Rockingham , North Carolina
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Deja Vu...

Same here, on so many accounts. Click my name, statistics, and threads started. Many will enlighten and confuse you. I've spent two months working on this same issue.

Looking strongly at 30' twin now, which will require a truck for my comfort. Likely Ram Mega Cab 2500 Laramie Limited, new design for 2016.

If buying a 27' as originally planned, I was set on buying new Navigator or Expedition. You have two girls, you might look at FC 26U, soon to be available with twins. Interesting layout with huge dinette.

We like 27' FB twin, but the extra room on Serenity or Signature 30' twin will be valued, so likely going that route. Going Tue to see one in person at dealer here in NC. Good luck. I hope you figure this one out easier than I.


Dan
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Old 08-16-2015, 11:52 PM   #3
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A small data point to help your decision. I wouldn't hesitate to use your 200 series Land Cruiser for a 25ft based on my experience with my '06 100 series LX470 and a 23D. My LX470 has the same wheelbase at 112". Imminently stable having just traversed 400 miles through hilly and windy Pacific Coast Hwy in CA. And this is with my vehicle that has non-ideal up-sized AT 33" tires, which don't traditionally help towing wise. With a simple anderson no-sway hitch.

The Land Cruiser models have the advantage of a wide track, beefy chassis, and overbuilt drive train relative to most 1/2 ton trucks and SUV's.

I would feel comfortable towing a 25 with my older gen model, so it'd be a no brainer for you. Whether it could do a 30 comfortably stock, I can't say. But I suspect it could with some key modifications. Power wise, it won't be an issue. Wheel base limitations could be addressed with a pivot projecting hitch like a propride. This may be controversial, but weight handling can be augmented by air springs. Those in the know understand that the LC is incredibly overbuilt for durability under heavy duty use, that in my mind, it's simply the suspension tuning (for ride comfort and articulation) that limits payload.

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Old 08-17-2015, 06:21 AM   #4
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As a mother who did many weekend and vacation trips when our kids still camped with us ( they're in college now), my recommendation would be the bunkhouse. Everyone would have a better time. Two other comments:

Re your comment that maybe you could tow the 25 with you present vehicle - over the years you'll run into very steep hills and other situations where you'd want to be sure your vehicle is up to the job. Having a vehicle with more than enough power is good for your peace of mind and your families safety.

We had a 34 when our kids were growing up and now have a 27. My husband says while both trailers tow well, he thinks towing the 34 was a little easier.

Just my thoughts. Good luck with your search!
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Old 08-17-2015, 06:44 AM   #5
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2015 30' FB FC Bunk
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We had all but written off Airstream, then the Bunkhouse came out. There is no question with us, we want the kids to have their own space and bed, sleeping on a couch was not an option.

Our trailer serves a purpose, we sleep in it and use the bathroom mainly, we don't live in it like a house. We are into traveling, we even backpack out of it So for us it is all about pure function. The bunkhouse is not as wide open as some I have seen, but it is packed with function. So for us it was no question.

Understand with a bunkhouse you will undoubtedly have much "stuff" like bikes, grills, chairs, etc. I would probably never tow one with anything less than a 3/4 ton truck, we tow with an Excursion and per the scales, its pretty much at capacity.
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Old 08-17-2015, 09:22 AM   #6
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2016 30' International
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danattherock View Post
Deja Vu...

Same here, on so many accounts. Click my name, statistics, and threads started. Many will enlighten and confuse you. I've spent two months working on this same issue.

Looking strongly at 30' twin now, which will require a truck for my comfort. Likely Ram Mega Cab 2500 Laramie Limited, new design for 2016.

If buying a 27' as originally planned, I was set on buying new Navigator or Expedition. You have two girls, you might look at FC 26U, soon to be available with twins. Interesting layout with huge dinette.

We like 27' FB twin, but the extra room on Serenity or Signature 30' twin will be valued, so likely going that route. Going Tue to see one in person at dealer here in NC. Good luck. I hope you figure this one out easier than I.


Dan
Thanks Dan! I've definitely been following your posts because of the similarities. I was particularly intrigued by the recent Navigator one as I'm trying at all costs to avoid a big truck. If I could find an SUV that would safely and easily tow the 30', it'd be a no brainer. Although I guess I'm learning it's more about the other stuff you bring camping that you may not want to store in the SUV's trunk. I'll have to do a more thorough search on some of your other previous posts too!

Eric
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Old 08-17-2015, 09:28 AM   #7
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2016 30' International
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pteck View Post
A small data point to help your decision. I wouldn't hesitate to use your 200 series Land Cruiser for a 25ft based on my experience with my '06 100 series LX470 and a 23D. My LX470 has the same wheelbase at 112". Imminently stable having just traversed 400 miles through hilly and windy Pacific Coast Hwy in CA. And this is with my vehicle that has non-ideal up-sized AT 33" tires, which don't traditionally help towing wise. With a simple anderson no-sway hitch.

The Land Cruiser models have the advantage of a wide track, beefy chassis, and overbuilt drive train relative to most 1/2 ton trucks and SUV's.

I would feel comfortable towing a 25 with my older gen model, so it'd be a no brainer for you. Whether it could do a 30 comfortably stock, I can't say. But I suspect it could with some key modifications. Power wise, it won't be an issue. Wheel base limitations could be addressed with a pivot projecting hitch like a propride. This may be controversial, but weight handling can be augmented by air springs. Those in the know understand that the LC is incredibly overbuilt for durability under heavy duty use, that in my mind, it's simply the suspension tuning (for ride comfort and articulation) that limits payload.

Thanks PTeck... super helpful. I've seen very few discussions on here over the past several years on the Land Cruiser's ability to tow. Most seemed to be by people that weren't "in the know" and who didn't know one. It would be tough for me to part with it, although I'd have a hard time justifying both it and a truck given gas consumption. I also have some slightly larger tires on it. Gas mileage is a killer - my wife uses it during the week and I think she's getting around 11mpg around town... I can't imagine what towing an Airstream (or any TT) would do to those numbers!

This is great though, nice to know that it may be an option. I'm hoping Andy T will see this thread and weigh in on the Land Cruiser as a TV based on his experience.

Eric
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Old 08-17-2015, 09:31 AM   #8
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2016 30' International
Sewickley , Pennsylvania
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Thanks also to Karen and Ted - definitely our thoughts as well. The 30' is hard to not love.

Keep 'em coming guys. I appreciate all points of view and am trying to do this once versus buy the wrong one and then trade up/down in a few years after coming to that realization.

The 26 is an interesting suggestion. I've seen the floorplan but will have to see if I can find a video walkthrough of it.

Eric
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Old 08-17-2015, 09:45 AM   #9
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Yeah man. Sent you PM last night. We could chat for 30 minutes on phone and save you lots of time. I've got great info from the best and brightest here. There are some blowhards and crayon eaters too, but you will identify them quickly. They use words like 'period', 'always', and 'never'. If anyone says 'nuff said', that's the new village idiot dethroning me.

Slowmover and Switz are two folks you should pay attention to. Among many others of course, but these two have the working knowledge that keeps guys like you and I out of ditches. Being smart in some instances is about knowing who to listen to.


Dan
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:51 AM   #10
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Airstreams are expensive long-term campers designed for travel. Think of them as travel conveyances rather than pretty little houses. By their tiny nature they don't perform all house functions well; for the young family go into them with a strong spirit of "make-do". We traveled all over the country with family in a VW Camper van. Simple, economical and it took us everywhere we wanted to go, often places we cannot go with our Airstream and truck.

Choose a tow vehicle that is capable, and you may already have one. Especially if it must perform daily family functions most of the time. You may have to travel light, use the transmission to climb some grades, and descend slower. So what, you'll still get there and have some change in you pocket when you do.

Get a quality hitch and setup. Knowing what I have learned I would start with a Hensley style hitch, you will have the best. It is safer, more comfortable towing in all conditions and makes a shorter wheelbase tow vehicle completely viable.

Reading these endless threads may help, but the solution to your question is to be found only in your own family travel and camping needs and the budget to support it. Look into those needs (not wants); your answer is there.

'nuff said.
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:57 AM   #11
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I tow a 30' with a Tundra.
What is really the difference from a Tundra to a Sequoia to a Land Cruiser? Length maybe? The Tundra is longer. In some instances, the 30' has less tongue weight than a 25' or 27'.
I would get the 30' and try towing with the Land Cruiser before I bought another tow vehicle.
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Old 08-17-2015, 12:00 PM   #12
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^^ I read reports from folks like yourself using smaller tow vehicles with success and wonder if I'm overthinking things. Surely, anything full size in SUV or truck market today is head and shoulders above what folks towed Airstreams with 20-30 years ago.

Makes me wonder how a 2015 extended Escalade with 6.2 L would do towing 30' twin if I had a ProPride or Hensley. That would be my dream car if towing concerns had not been factored in recently.



Thanks Doug.

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Old 08-17-2015, 12:46 PM   #13
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We towed our 16 ' Bambi with a 2002 land Cruiser. It worked, but I am not convinced
The Land cruiser is really a tow vehicle. We currently have a 2015 tundra which has the tow mode and tows like a charm. I realize we r only towing 3500 lbs, but the Tundra is so over built it can probably tow any airstream.
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Old 08-17-2015, 01:36 PM   #14
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is a picture of me moving from a 2013 Int'l 25FB into a 2015 30FB Bunk. My kids are 6 & 9. My guess is you'd have no regrets going with the Bunkhouse.

Click image for larger version

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