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Old 08-10-2008, 07:56 PM   #1
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2008 19' Safari SE
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16 Ft Bambi Questions - About to pull the trigger

First of all I must say I'm excited.. We are about to purchase a 2007 16Ft Bambi and we just need some input prior to making the "Big decision".. BTW this will be our first RV.. so we are Bambi Virgins & RV newbies.. a double wammy!

Ok Fear #1..

Since the Bambi only has a combined Black/Grey tank, has actual 16ft Bambi owners had a problem when Boondocking.. I've read were some say they would never consider it, but they don't own one.. I also know that it's based on how one does the Boondocking and for how long.. Our guess the longest dry camping we will probably do is 5-6 days.. After that time my wife will kill me..and the dog will eat my carcass..

We can be resolute by having pan in the sink to capture the dish water and toss it outside and be mindful of the showering.. But the idea is to "have fun" and not worry that the black water will back-up into the trailer..

Fear #2..

Our tow vehicle which is a 2008 Highlander capable of towing 5000#, and I have read articles/reviews on it towing a 4020# boat w/tongue of 380# with basically no problems.. So are we thinking too "small" and the 19ft with a GVWR of 4500# & Dry of 3680# might be Ok?

We live outside SF Bay Area and always go to Yosemite & Tahoe. Some elevations to 8,000 ft.. Of course we want to go everywhere with the Bambi.. and we will name it!

Otherwise we are absolutely good to go.. and just hearing so real comments on the 16ft Bambi users would go a long way...

Thanks so much for any help as we have to make a decision by Tuesday!!

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Old 08-10-2008, 08:01 PM   #2
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I just had a customer return from Alaska with his Highlander Hybrid and 25' Airstream. He was very pleased with the performance and the 16 MPG average for the trip.


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Old 08-10-2008, 08:55 PM   #3
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Are you sure 25ft .. doesn't that have a UBW of approx 5000# GWVR 7000#..

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Old 08-10-2008, 09:08 PM   #4
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2008 19' International CCD
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Hi Zimode,

We've PM'ed a bit, so some of this may be a "replay" but I figured I would write some of this "publicly" so others could comment.

This past Spring my wife and I became owners of a 19ft Bambi International CCD. We looked at the 16ft and decided that the bathroom was just too small and my wife was convinced that the difference between a "wet" bathroom and a "dry" bathroom would make a huge difference in her desire to actually use the Airstream.

At the time we owned a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (with a tow capacity of 3500#) so we knew there would be a change in TV. No problem, since there were other vehicle changes that were needed in the household. So, a new 2008 Highlander became our TV. It came with the tow package. I had an aftermarket hitch and brake controller installed to couple with the dealer-provided Equilizer weight distribution system.

Over the past few months we've towed the Airstream three times with the Highlander. It pulls "fine." We're not speed demons, but the power of the engine seems to pull it without much trouble and we could brake/slow without trouble. We can get up to freeway speeds, we drove over the "hills" from San Jose to Santa Cruz without too much worry. We didn't need to do any crazy maneuvers or anything, but it seemed fine.

One of the "wonders" I always had was the hitch weight. The weight limit of the hitch is 500#. If you load the 19ft AS with some water, some/all LP gas, pots, pans, etc, my guess is that you're over that limit.

Recently another life change necessitated another slight vehicle change in the household so I took the opportunity to "do things right." We bought a used 2003 Chevy Express 2500 conversion van. It has a 6L V8 with a big beefy class IV/V hitch. It's rated to tow about 8200#. We now feel much more comfortable to travel with this setup. We can "upgrade" to a larger AS someday, load the van (not having to worry about payload limits, within reason of course) and the longer chassis, suspension and engine of the 2500 can work its magic.

My sense is that if you're set on only having the 16ft Bambi, you'll be fine. But others on this forum will suggest that someday you'll probably want to upgrade to a longer, heavier AS trailer and then you'll need a bigger tow vehicle.

Will the 2008 Highlander work with the 16ft Bambi? Yes. And probably quite well. And it will "work" with the 19ft Bambi too. You'll be fine with short trips, etc. But, I'm not sure I recommend pulling the 19ft Airstream with the Highlander in the mountains about 5000-7000ft.

Finally, my hunch is that you'll enjoy the 19ft much more than the 16ft trailer unless you only sleep in the AS. The 16ft AS is tight for more than a couple of days. Even the 19ft that we have is tight for more than 5-6 days. But, in that sense, different strokes for different folks.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide.

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Old 08-10-2008, 09:08 PM   #5
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a newer 25 with a highlander is a great example...

of totally wacky towing combos.


the reason many vehicle towing capacity/limit/guides are slightly higher when pulling a boat are...

1. frontal air resistance.

2. tongue mass and axle postioning on boat trailers.

3. distance travels might be part of the issue too but not explicitly.

'stream are more airflow friendly than boxes, but frontal resistance is still an issue.

on the combined tank issue, that would be a TOTAL deal breaker 4me...

one might get by with a LARGER combined tank (which some 28s have) because of capacity....

but the tank is SO small on the 16s....

also 16s only have ONE battery right?

so realistically boondocking is very limited, unless accomidations are made for these issues..

like solar or extra batteries or carrying an auxillary blue tote for water (or not bathing or using electric) ...

but ALL of these issues will add significant weight (or odors) to the hihy/bambi equation.

best of luck sorting this out, stay safe, remember where u live and understand what liability u are willing to accept...

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 08-10-2008, 09:31 PM   #6
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I have an 08 19 ft Bambi. I pulled it thru the mountains of Colorado to about 8500ft with a Jeep Grand Chrokee with the 4.7L V8. I averaged 13.6 MPG. I get 16.5 to 17 MPG when I'm not towing. I looked at the 16 was cool but small. I have a Black tank and Grey tank and both are small. I dry camped for 2 nights and used 1/2 of my fresh water. 20gl tank. I was by myself and yes I did shower! Dude, go with a 19 footer! Hard to believe but that 3 feet makes all the difference in the world. I slept in an executive suite in the middle of nowhere plus caught a whole mess of rainbow trout. Whatever you decide, remember AS trailers the awesome and everyone digs them!
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Old 08-10-2008, 09:41 PM   #7
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You, can always get a portable tank... I have one for mine, since it is so old it doesn't have a grey tank... It's 18 gal. and I just put grey water in it so It can be dumped in the woods... "if it is just water and no food" You could even use one with the 19 footer to extend your stay....

May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

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Old 08-10-2008, 11:37 PM   #8
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First, welcome to the're going to have a blast with your new Bambi, no matter which size you get...they are awesome...a lot of coolness and unexpected comfort packed into a compact space. One of the biggest advantages of the smaller units is just that—they are small! That means good mileage, easy towing and the ability to go anywhere you want...all with your own little house of wheels.

Re #1: If the 16' better fits your wants/needs, don't over-worry about the grey/black water can learn to get around that with creative and mindful use of water, and possibly the use of a tote for longer stays...grey water will be the biggest issue in filling up the common tank before you're ready to go home.

Our experience with the 19'er is that we don't use the shower that much...we use showers in campground that have them if we don't have water and sewer hookups...we do use the toilet, however, and have been out as long as a week with the 2 of us. We also carry extra water if we don't have water hookups...or we use a 5 gallon collapsable water jug to refill the fresh water tank if we need it (and water is available in the park...just not as hookups)... When we are without hookups we conserve water by using paper plates, we wash dishes only once a day...and we use the wash water to drown the campfire or water a tree instead of putting it into the tanks...and we take spit baths rather than showers...even when we do take a shower, they are Navy showers...

RE #2: Frankly, my opinion (and this is just my opinion) is that the 16' is better suited to your might be getting pretty close to your full tow capacity with the 19'er...check out threads here on towing...the discussions can be heated and overwhelming for sure, so don't get bogged down in all that...just go by the numbers... You'll see reference to the 80% rule of thumb, which is just means not towing more than 80% of your total capacity, giving you a reasonable cushion in actual weight...weight adds up more quickly than one would imagine. You probably could tow the 19' with a Highlander, but I don't think it would be a comfrotable tow.

Don't let all this bewilder you...before long you will be an old pro at it and you'll have your own opnions about everything based on your personal experiece. We know those who have 16'ers and love them and we know those who love thier 19'ers (including us!) much of it is a personal thing that you are best off to follow your gut.

Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide!

Maybe we'll see you down the road in our Bambis!
TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:52 PM   #9
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I'd look at it this way: Get the Airstream you want and you will be happy with for a long while. The TV is the tool to pull it with. Your trailer will become an emotional investment, and the Highlander...well... maybe not so much. We've got a 19' and it's great for us two and the 45# dog. If your Highlander is rated for the 19', that's what I'd get. Try it out, then upgrade the TV later.

We go thru the fresh water long before the gray and black tanks are full, which is nice, since it's easier to refill the water than it is to dump the wastewater.

FWIW, I had a Tundra, and felt that the truck was over-rated for it's stated capacitys. I never pulled Bambi with the Tundra, but pulled other trailers and used it for work (construction). I always felt that the Tundra had to work too hard, and the suspension wasn't beefy enough. My point is, that maybe the Highlander isn't destined to be your TV anyway, for either the 16' or 19'. I feel Toyota has a tendency to over-state their vehicles ability.
TT: 2007 Bambi 19' 75th Anniversary Special Edition, David Winick
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:00 AM   #10
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I hope that by now you are enjoying your new 16' Bambi. I own a 2007 16' and been out at least once a month since we purchased it 16 months ago. I love it!

The combined tank has never been a problem for us. We just got back from 4 days at Burning Man and had no problems. We did setup an outside shower and refilled the fresh water tank but never needed to dump the waste tanks. In general we take shorter trips and on the longer ones we usually stay at a RV park at least one night and unload the tanks.

I have pulled the Bambi with a 1995 Ford Ranger 4.0L V6 since day one with no problems. I did upgrade the air intake and exhaust system for some added HP. Granted we are not going very fast over donner summit (50mph max) but for all of our trips its been fine and I average 12 mph while towing.

I did make some modifications to our bambi to make it more enjoyable:

1) replaced the refrigerator fan with dual quite fans - it was always kicking on and was nearly 45 decibels dual quite fans are totally unnoticeable
2) Added 3" memory foam on the main bed - we are used to a Temperpedic at home so this made us much more comfortable
3) Installed a Mac Mini with a 20" LCD entertainment system - movies, music and Internet - what more could you want? - I couldn't get myself to pay $2000 for the Video upgrade - the trailer is pre wired in the back for AV and thanks to Airforums I easily found the wires and hooked it up.
4) Added Sirius Sat Radio
5) Welded a receiver hitch on the back bumper so we could easily tow bikes and or supplies - worked great for burning man. If you go down this path, try and find a friend with a metal shop - retail they wanted $700 it cost me $40 for the hitch and a nice bottle of scotch for a friend.


6) Purchased a Yamaha 2400 generator - it runs the AC no problem -again field tested for 16 hrs at burning man in a dust storm and blistering heat with no problems.

All in all I have had a blast modifying the trailer to meet our needs and have had only minor issues (only one warranty repair).
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Old 09-02-2008, 05:50 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post
a newer 25 with a highlander is a great example... of totally wacky towing combos.

Actually this is just another example of why a rabbit in an armchair shouldn't be trying to evaluate how a TV/Airstream combo would perform. LOL!

The same comments were made to me when I started towing a 23' Airstream with a 150 HP. v6, Nissan Mini Van. The reality was that is was an exceptional combination for many years that handled great and was very reliable. YOU GOTS TO DRIVE IT TO UNDERSTAND.
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 09-02-2008, 06:56 AM   #12
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Hi and welcome to the Forums,,, mountains will be your nemesis with a small tow vehicle,,, live in Montana and own a 16 foot Bambi,,, all roads out of Dodge require going over passes,,, if you are planning lots of mountain trips,,, you may reconsider,,,, boon docking outside of a campground for five days or more may depend on your choice of the levels of no showers,,,good luck ,,, it is how it is,,,, best,,, donna
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Old 09-02-2008, 07:07 AM   #13
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I believe your Highlander is able to tow a 19 foot and I though there is a cute factor to the 16' unit, the 19', though only marginally larger is a lot more functional and only carries about 1000lbs more in weight than the 16 foot and you get two tanks.

I would take a long hard look at the 19. Having been down the it's cute and can hands down be towed by my current tow vehicle, led me later to realize that I needed to get and RV that really fit and worked well with the lifestyle (wife, pooch and myself) and the 19' was even a bit cramped. I could not even imagine 16'. Again, I think the Highlander will do fine with a 19' unit and just be careful not to overload the SUV or the trailer.

On other fronts:

Doug, welding a hitch to the frame is NOT best practices. We had a long, long discussion on this subject a month or so ago and I finally called the factory. The tech on the phone clearly and very directly stated
"The unit is not designed for this additional weight" "Anyone adding weight to the rear exterior of and Airstream, will eventually see frame separation from the's not a matter of if, it is a matter of when" "anyone doing this is just asking for problems" Again, all these statements were from Airstream tech support on a live phone call.

Second, I have to agree with 2Air on towing a 25er with a Highlander. It is reckless and something you mainly see being done by our Canadian counterparts. I mean seriously, 109" wheelbase, a clearly stated max tow rating of 5000lbs and someone is going to tow a unit weighing in at between 6300 and 7300lbs (depending on axle configs)...I know, I know, but it has a 270hp engine! This coming from the same folks towing 34' Airstream with a Dodge Intrepid. You just have to grin, but to each their own. Just hope I never am in close proximity to one of these rigs on the road. Think about it, next trend we'll see in Canada are semis as a thing of the past and huge 18 wheelers with the truck part replaced with a Yugo. Don't get me wrong, there are still some questionable, yet still safe combos....a Highlander and a 25er would IMHO, not be one of them.
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Old 09-02-2008, 07:20 AM   #14
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Ok, so take this with a grain of salt. I have about 700 miles and 5 nights in my just-purchased used 2007 19 foot Safari SE that I tow with a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4.7L High Output engine. I'd shut-up because of my lack of experience, but your questions are so fresh to my mind cuz I just asked them myself.

I could have bought the 16 footer, but the wet bath and the combined tank deterred me. The 20 footer had too much space for the kitchen and the panoramic window was devoted to the bedroom, which didn't make sense to me.

I towed the 19 footer on the way home from the purchase through a 6000 foot pass near Mount Rainier. I went at the speed limit and had the overdrive off. I used the engine to brake most of the time. On the way down, the check engine light came on and I pulled over and found that my ATF fluid was low (it had probably been that way for a while and I should have checked it before I started towing). I topped it up, the engine light went off and I was on my way.

I just returned from Labor Day weekend, the shakedown tour of the new AS. Another 400 miles and 4 nights in the AS. I was at a state campground with no hookups. Water use was: 2 persons taking a shower each at night (wet down, stop water, soap up, rinse off), washing dishes, brushing teeth, flushing toilet. Ran out of fresh water on the night of day #3. I noted that we could have conserved by: using the campground water spigot to fill the dish pan, saved toilet flushes for #2, used the campground toilet facilities (which were clean BTW), used the shower at the campground or showered less frequently, used less soap to make the soap easier to shower off, etc.

The sewage tank never got anywhere near full, maybe 1/4 for the 4 days.

The gray water tank got to 5/8 or so.

Battery lasted the entire 4 days without a problem. That was with pump going, fan going from time to time, lights used sparingly. I did start up the generator to charge the battery just to see how it would do, and it worked fine... I just wouldn't want to generate if I didn't have to. I could have got a 20 footer with solar panels, but it wouldn't have charged at all in the CG because it was all shaded. I am thinking about converting the interior lights to LED's to save battery life.

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