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Old 04-21-2014, 09:48 PM   #1
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2008 16' International
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getting small 25' --> 16'

Ok after much discussion and hand wringing, we are going smaller. We sold (pending close later this week) our EB 25' to a terrific couple on Bainbridge Island. And we’ve bought a '08 DWR 16' which is in route to Seattle.

Why?

a) kids off to college / fewer campers in the house b) easier to park in front of our house in the city for loading c) more weekending than full-timing d) better storage options e) smaller life.

And for what it is worth, we are big fans of the Eddie Bauer 25’ edition. Love and used the hatch all the time. It is our favorite decor of any of the Airstreams and feels the most like “camping” to us. Sleeps 4 adults no problem. It is a great, great trailer. Towed great with our Ford F-150.

How painful will downsizing be? Will we survive the thimble sized combo grey/black water tank? Will the single axle trailer sway and bounce all over the road? Will we have to use doll house sized dishes? Can I fit an extra pair of underwear in the limited storage? How will my wife's bud-light-limes all fit in the small fridge? Is the 16’ merely an interlude and we’ll just end up back at the 25’? I don't know any of these answers but time will tell and I’m sure it will be an adventure.

I remind myself that one of my favorite trips ever was motorcycle camping around Iceland... a 16' Airstream is a palace by comparison.

I have greatly appreciated the forums as a source of wisdom. Thank you all. A couple of questions especially for those with actual experience with the 16’:

- Clearly our F-150 is plenty of tow vehicle. Would love to hear hitch experiences from those that have towed the 16’ with and without a WD hitch. Have read a bunch of the forums on this. My current plan is a) keep our ProPride Hitch b) try some driving with no hitch, see how it feels and c) based on our experience, either install the PP Hitch or if we’re good with “naked” then sell the hitch. Was also considering moving to a lighter weight hitch. Appreciate your thoughts.

- Solar. Our “new” 2008 apparently is wired for solar. Any experiences adding solar to a 16’? Use the local dealer or a local solar expert (several advertise RV expertise)?

- Other tips on the 16? Would love to hear from anyone else that “went smaller” as this seems to be the anti-pattern for Airstream ownership.

Thank you all! See you out there!

BC and MC
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:59 PM   #2
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Many have down-sized for their own reasons and like you say, the little 16 is luxury compared to motorcycle camping. Great weekender for a couple.

Towing with our ProPride is wonderful. You ought to keep yours and get smaller weight distribution bars to match the lighter tongue weight. So if you continue to downsize by using a smaller tow vehicle some day, you will never have to be concerned about stability while towing.
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for posting

BC,
Thanks so much for posting.

I saw your ad in the classifieds, and was very curious what trailer you would select.

You see, we are going to be empty nesters in 3 ½ weeks ourselves, and are starting to look.

We have camped as a couple very seldom, really before the kids were here. That was tent camping.

Growing up my family camped in a bare-bones tent trailer (2 beds and a table--that's it. So small you didn't need tow mirrors behind the sedan.) So small seems OK, but we don't want to feel like we should have nudged up a bit to a 19, 20 or 23. Probably wouldn't go to a 25 just because of the jump in TV required.

We will be working for close to 20 more years, so the trips sadly will be limited to long weekends and probably one week-long trip. Will likely be MO and AR state parks, and long trips to Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain NP. So tank capacity is something we think about. But having never had a sink in a camper, it is hard for me to evaluate what is really needed.


We don't want to make the whole deal more complicated than it needs to be, but want to be happy with our choice over the years.

I will be eagerly awaiting any reports on the experience with the Bambi. So please post back and let us know what it's like.

Julie

Piggy Bank (saving up for the Bambi, that will look like my full Piggy Bank)
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Old 04-22-2014, 09:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bc_seattle View Post
We sold (pending close later this week) our EB 25' to a terrific couple on Bainbridge Island. And we’ve bought a '08 DWR 16' which is in route to Seattle.
...
How painful will downsizing be? Will we survive the thimble sized combo grey/black water tank? Will the single axle trailer sway and bounce all over the road? Will we have to use doll house sized dishes? Can I fit an extra pair of underwear in the limited storage? How will my wife's bud-light-limes all fit in the small fridge? Is the 16’ merely an interlude and we’ll just end up back at the 25’?
I had a 25' for 2-3 years, towed with a Cummins Ram 2500, great setup. Family of 4, but usually just me and the 2 boys doing local overnights. Sold the 25' to help fund a small addition to the house. Loved that trailer but didn't use it nearly enough - partly because of the size. Now towing a 16' Bambi Int'l with a Jeep Wrangler and using it a lot more. Very easy to hook up and go. Using a weight distributing hitch, absolutely not problems towing. Personally I think the downsizing works well with the I'm-getting-older thing. Less weight, less to manage, cheaper to run, etc. Honestly I feel the love for this 16' more than I did the 25'. I appreciate the 2 burners instead of 3, the half-height fridge instead of full-height, the gray tank instead of separate gray & black tanks, etc. One thing about the 16' is that because of the limited space, it's designed in a highly efficient manner. It has to be, due to the size. You can do a couple things to make it a little more roomy - I've removed the cabinet over the galley and will be replacing it with a smaller wireframe shelf - seems to much roomier. I'll be replacing the rear bed with a smaller, narrower setup (look under the mattress - you can remove a long, 1-foot deep piece of plywood and gain some floor space, without any cutting or hacking) - in a small trailer, this makes a big difference.

Obviously everyone's different, and whether or not you'll regret downsizing depends mostly on your lifestyle, but for what it's worth I'm happy with doing the 25' to 16' swap. Not 100% happy (still would be nice to have the original setup), and while I'm probably the last to embrace the "living small" thing (love a big cab in a big pickup, acres of land, etc.) but I'm warming up to it. Maybe think of it as living simple, not living small. For me, it clears my head.

Your '08 DWR has the panoramic rear window, right? They don't make that anymore. Hang onto that. The pano rear window is such a great feature. Lots of light, in a great location. There's nothing like lying down on the rear bed surrounded by the view that panoramic window offers, and the great amount of light it lets in.

Regarding towing with or without the weight-distributing hitch: When I bought my 16', I towed it from Colonial in NJ back to Maine, without a WD hitch, on the highway, speeds probably averaging 55 mph but much slower on the uphills. It was a bit of a struggle with a 3.8L V6 4-door 6-speed manual JKU Wrangler even with 4.10:1 axle gear ratio. For that tow vehicle, the WD hitch (which I subsequently installed) makes a big difference (3.8L V6 Wrangler still not great for towing the Bambi IMHO. The newer 3.6L V6 Pentastar Wranglers are better, more HP and torque). But your F-150 may be able to handle it just fine without WD. I really can't comment on that as we're talking about two very different vehicles. If you've already got a WD hitch, consider just using it, but make sure it's matched to your new trailer's tongue weight. A WD hitch matched for your 25' may not be well suited for the lighter tongue weight of your 16'. Check the specs and get a WD hitch that works for the TW range you're in (Bambi, typically 459# unloaded, plus a little more for cargo? I think mine is rated about 600 to 650# or so)

I was actually torn between 16' and 19' but the tow vehicle I had at the time wouldn't handle the 19', and I'd lose the pano rear window and lose some other efficiencies (for my typical trailer outing) in the process. Again, extremely subjective here.

Feel free to PM me or post if you have more questions about the 25' to 16' downsize. Been there, done that, in the end no regrets. The 19' would be my ideal size, but my TV won't handle it well (and I don't want to change my TV), and you lose that pano rear window. Bottom line, F-150 and 16' (especially DWR edition) sounds pretty sweet. Give it a chance, you might find it just right.
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Old 04-22-2014, 09:34 PM   #5
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We have a 19 foot flying cloud ,Bambi single axle , this is the best trailer I have ever towed even with no wd bars ,no sway,I have my 19 up for sale and I'm downsizing to a 16 footer also!
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Old 04-22-2014, 11:30 PM   #6
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2008 16' International
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... more

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piggy Bank View Post
BC,

... I will be eagerly awaiting any reports on the experience with the Bambi. So please post back and let us know what it's like.

Julie

Piggy Bank (saving up for the Bambi, that will look like my full Piggy Bank)
Yes, choosing is the difficult part. We took a long time shopping for an airstream. Maybe 10 years. Maybe 15. Maybe longer. Very few regrets in life but it would have been fun to have when the kids were little.

We are former (and still occasionally) tent campers and backpackers and here's what we noticed has really transformed camping for us:

- Actual bed / good nights sleep.
- Toilet (including if needed during the drive).
- Water. Especially hot water. Cleaning dishes with hot water when camping feels decadent to me.
- Heat. More of an issue for Maureen than me but hey if she's happy I'm happy.
- Dry Shelter. Especially in the Pacific Northwest.

Everything else is gravy in my opinion. And we get all of these with the 16'. As weekenders.

In our usage, we didn't often use the shower in the 25' EB. Mostly because our favorite spots don't have full hook ups and even with the larger tank capacities of the 25' the gray tank fills up with a few showers.

In the "downsizing" discussion we bounced around between the 16', 19', and the various 23's. For us it depended on which side of the brain we used. Compare specs in a spreadsheet or list and the "logic" brain takes over. "How can we go from 76 combined black / gray gallons of the 25' to, gulp, <nervous laughter> 21 gallons in the single black / gray tank of the 16'? Are we nuts?" Logic. But we voted with our "heart" we leaned the other way. Consistently. Every time we've seen a 16' or been in a one or even just seen pictures of it we are completely silly over it. We got pulled away from the 16' and towards the 25' because of our teenage sized kids, the hatch (great for loading surfboards or simply enjoying the view), and the EB decor which in my opinion Airstream should offer with every size. So we said tanks-be-damned, let's get the one we want. Here we are.

Stay tuned... We'll keep you updated. Just got a call from the driver. The 16'er is due at 6:15am tomorrow!

BC
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Old 04-22-2014, 11:48 PM   #7
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... and more

amm3824 – you’ve clearly been down the road we’re headed… a huge thank you for your comments. Really enjoyed hearing about your experience.
Yes the DWR has the “pano” windows on both ends.
Like your comments on living simple not living small. My living “small” involves me keeping the F-150 which I’ve come to love and find millions of uses for. Agree with your comments on land.

scamp – awesome! Wow super curious to hear the why on your pending swap. (Maybe you and amm3824 can work out something... sounds like he's thinking about a 19'.)

Re: WD/sway. I checked with Sean at ProPride on the hitch and about swapping the bars from 1000lbs to 600lbs. He basically said don’t bother keep the (heavier) 1000lb bars. So to simplify things I asked the new owners if they would like to buy the used PP hitch which is already installed vs. going a getting a new one installed and they said yes. I also talked to the delivery driver of the 16’ who’s now logged 800+ freeway miles pulling it behind an SUV. He said it is very well behaved with no special hitch. We’ll give it a test run this weekend and see for ourselves.

Love this place.

BC
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bc_seattle View Post
amm3824 – you’ve clearly been down the road we’re headed… a huge thank you for your comments. Really enjoyed hearing about your experience.
Yes the DWR has the “pano” windows on both ends.
Like your comments on living simple not living small. My living “small” involves me keeping the F-150 which I’ve come to love and find millions of uses for. Agree with your comments on land.

scamp – awesome! Wow super curious to hear the why on your pending swap. (Maybe you and amm3824 can work out something... sounds like he's thinking about a 19'.)

Re: WD/sway. I checked with Sean at ProPride on the hitch and about swapping the bars from 1000lbs to 600lbs. He basically said don’t bother keep the (heavier) 1000lb bars. So to simplify things I asked the new owners if they would like to buy the used PP hitch which is already installed vs. going a getting a new one installed and they said yes. I also talked to the delivery driver of the 16’ who’s now logged 800+ freeway miles pulling it behind an SUV. He said it is very well behaved with no special hitch. We’ll give it a test run this weekend and see for ourselves.

Love this place.

BC
I want to try a 16 foot airstream ,because we only go for a week or two or weekends ,I'm retired but my wife is not ,my wife and I still do a lot more ultra lite tent camping on our motorbike,(scooter) but love the 19 foot airstream size ( my wife and I think it's a perfect size for us were both thin built)we just feel it's a waste of money sitting there most of the time ,last summer we went out 3-4 times ,we also have a cottage out east ( Prince Edward Island) and go there for a 6 weeks, and we still want a airstream but with less money tide up in it ,and can do some touring ,camping later into the year,with less invested into a trailer,less to wash and wax less for insurance less for fuel ( in canada we pay on average $1.60 more per USA gallon! We also had a 16 foot scamp trailer a while back and it's less wide then a airstream 16 and it worked for us .
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:21 AM   #9
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If anybody is looking at selling a larger 25' trailer, to downsize or otherwise, a friend of mine is currently looking to buy.
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:26 AM   #10
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might be a good time to try the Anderson hitch.
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:00 PM   #11
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Living Small

bc seattle,

We purchased our 2013 Bambi Sport new and just got back from our 8th trip to Zion / Bryce.

Our AS dealer set up the tin can with the Equalizer brand combo sway / equalizer system. We tow with a Jeep Liberty and so far have had zero issues with bumps, dips, cross winds etc.

You will love the huge storage located under the rear bed, being able to park it in sites larger trailers can't fit and with you're truck and the Bambi's light weight you won't know it's behind you (well, almost).

Yes the bathroom is tight, the combo black/ grey is a challenge and the fridge is small but you will enjoy the "cute" factor the 16's seem to have.

Enjoy,

Jack Dog in
So Cal
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:26 PM   #12
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Hi everyone! I have some thoughts on this thread.

I have 2013 sport 16 with a 2011 ecobost F150. I don't use WD and could not ask for a better ride. We've driven over 6k mikes in rain, snow, wind in the Rocky Mountains and plains without tracking issues or swaying. I can easily pull at 70+ mph. I thought the interstate between Denver and Vail might be an issue, but we passed cars on the accent.

Whoever designed the window system from airstream was a genius. On warm nights, we crack the small window next to the bed, turn on the fantastic fan and enjoy the sweet breeze that crosses our bodies. I too desired a full panoramic window over the bed, but this is wonderful.

I attached a picture of the F150 and Bambi at lake sylvan in Colorado last summer.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:39 PM   #13
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- Clearly our F-150 is plenty of tow vehicle. Would love to hear hitch experiences from those that have towed the 16’ with and without a WD hitch. Have read a bunch of the forums on this. My current plan is a) keep our ProPride Hitch b) try some driving with no hitch, see how it feels and c) based on our experience, either install the PP Hitch or if we’re good with “naked” then sell the hitch. Was also considering moving to a lighter weight hitch. Appreciate your thoughts.BC and MC
Might want to get a call out to Sean at ProPride to see what he thinks about the idea of using it or not?
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Old 04-24-2014, 06:17 AM   #14
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Not to be rude, but at the price of a Fastway WD hitch, why would anybody not put one on? Why even chance a problem when it solves most. And I'm sure there are others in the same price range. It just seems silly to me to risk safety over $300 bucks. We tow ours with a very tall, very short wheelbase FJ Cruiser. Absolutely no wiggle yet even in hard crosswinds.

That said, we love our 2014 16 Sport. We pop-uped for years, then went back to tent camping after the kids grew up. Now that the old tent is starting to leak and we are getting older, the Airstream sure seems like a luxury to us. I don't think of it as even getting simpler. I think of it as being a lot fancier camping than we ever have been, but we are camping. And in answer to the most common question, no, most of out trips will be long ones. And better equipped than we ever were.

My biggest complaint with the design is the total lack of air circulation around my head on the bed. I sleep to the camper side, my wife to the window side. I have not slept well since we got it. I just purchased a couple of fans I hope will remedy that. When your head is stuck behind the wardrobe and the ventilation is in the center of the trailer you will see what I mean. I wake up gasping. I just figured out why the last trip. Should be easy to fix.
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