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Old 08-08-2017, 06:55 PM   #1
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2011 22' Sport
Portland , Oregon
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Weighing the Bambi options - Sport 16, 22FB, FC19, FC20

I went through several pages in the topic area seeking anything along these lines and didn't see anything, I wanted to keep the discussion here and not in the more general categories as I don't want the "go bigger" to be the dominant voice. We live in a city, so there is no Classic 33 or Ford F650 in our future

I hope this post isn't too scattered, there is a lot to compare between the various models and I am trying to distill it down to the ones that stand out as being most impactful. We don't plan to live in the AS, it will be our weekend getaway. We are mostly looking at Bambis for their weight and overall proportions. I grew up with SBO TTs and have towed trailers of larger and far far heavier than any AS we could justify (farm boy), but my wife hasn't ever towed a thing in her life (city girl).

In the more recent line up for Bambis it seems the options are:
  • Sport 16
  • Sport 22FB
  • Flying Cloud 19 (or higher trim models)
  • Flying Cloud 20 (or higher trim models)

I am trying to decide between the various trade-offs in these models, or perhaps even a used FC23FB (not a Bambi, obviously). Our use case is going to be long weekends traveling around the NW US for my wife, myself, our 2.5yo daughter and our 60lb lab mix.

The key differences other than price and "space" that I see it are:
  • Bed size
  • Bath arrangement
  • Sizes of tanks
  • Weight
  • "Oven"
  • Refrigerator size
  • Propane tank size (Sport vs FC)

If I look at the Sport lineup, the pros are they are lighter and narrow which make them easier to tow (all things relative, of course).

Out of these the 22FB has the largest bed, you have to go to Flying Cloud 23FB to get a larger bed.

The Sport 16 has a wet bath, while the rest have showers. I find the wet bath completely unappealing as I can't imagine trying to bath my daughter in a wet bath. The FC 19 and FC 20 both have a "lavy", which my wife found "odd" and thought it was a waste of space (but perhaps there is unseen upside of it?).

The Sport 16 has combined gray/black tanks, where the rest (22FB, FC19, FC20) may as well have the same tank sizes as they are close enough that it likely doesn't matter that much and again the 23FB is the first step that increases tank capacity measurably.

The Sport 16 comes with a microwave, the Sport 22FB has the convection microwave, and the FCs have propane ovens with the option of upgrading to the convection space oven. I realize the advantage of the propane oven (when it works?) is that it doesn't require a generator or campsite with power.

The Flying Clouds add width and more "luxury" which adds weight, and thus its a pretty big jump in GVWR and tongue weight when you go from any of the Sport models to any of the FC models.

The 16 has a tiny fridge at 3 cu ft, the 22FB has a 4.2 cu ft, while the FC 19 and FC 20 both have 4 cu ft.

The FC trimming adds ducted A/C (heat pump), 30# propane tanks vs 20# on the Sport and includes segment protectors and rock guards. The 30# tanks are nice for longer trips, but I don't think it is as critical for our planned use...it would really come down to how often we need the furnace or the generator.

The ducted A/C would be nice, as it has got to be quieter than the central vent A/C that is in place on most TTs. I am pretty concerned about the bed, and I feel like the 22FB is the best option there without stepping up to the 23FB. I am 6'2, my wife is 5' and both of "fit" proportions...but I have broad shoulders and am a bit worried about these beds that are barely larger than a twin with 2 adults.

The Sport 22FB would also be much easier on our TV. We don't expect to live in the trailer, we expect to use it as a way open up the opportunity to see and explore the NW. We could do it by tent camping, but that proves to be challenging...in a normal weekend to do it I spend a lot of time packing everything into the car and then unpacking everything afterward to transform back to "normal" use. The thought is that the AS would be more "plug and play", add food and clothes.

The issue we are facing is the challenge of finding a good used Sport 22FB, they seem to be far less common than the other models...and I am afraid that 23FB would be extending the limits of our TV. Additionally, we have plans of "renting" the AS out (I know, I know...calm down, we can leave that for a different thread ) and are looking for the most "towable" option, and the 22FB seems to be the best balance in that regard. You really have to step up to the 23FB to get increase in any of the key features called out above.

My current thinking is that regardless of which option we go with we would add a soft-start to the A/C and use a 2000W generator that is converted to run on propane. I have zero desire to have gasoline in the AS and it cannot go in the TV. The generator would be to charge the batteries (short runs) and to possibly allow for running the A/C when necessary or the science oven.

I am sure there is some critical comparison item I am missing that would make the 22FB look less favorable, but so far it seems that it is the best choice without stepping up to the tandem axles on the FC 23FB which seems to be only slightly easier to find used. While I like the idea of the FC 23FB, it would pretty much kill the option of renting it out as it puts a much more strict limit on TV, so please don't just push that path to keep me front renting it :P
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:01 PM   #2
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Find a used 23. Two axels are way better to tow, Safer and carries weight better. Used will allow you to get more for less. Maybe I am bias as I own a 23, but you get narrow body with two axels.
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Old 08-08-2017, 09:33 PM   #3
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2017 22' Sport
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we love out new 2017 sport 22FB

only issue besides poor build and workmanship is the size of the grey water tank

two short showers and one load of breakfast dishes fills our grey tank.
we even use the on off shower hear control.

we would like to add an extension to our grey tank if possible

we looked at the FC, but too heavy for just visual changes, no real substance .

the sport 22FB is also only 7.5' wide vs 8' for the FC and the 16' sport, thus the 22fb sport is an easier tow than even the light sport 16
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:07 PM   #4
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2017 22' Sport
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About a year ago went thru the same analyst you stated in your post. Bought the 22FB and have not looked back. Meets all our needs for up to 3 weeks out at a time. Bed is fine, shower works well, oven has been used in both modes, storage is adequate and it tows like a dream with a Hyundai Santa Fe.

Negatives are small holding tanks, (must dump every 2-3 days), no walk around bed, 1 battery and loud AC. (Can't add a second battery with the power tongue jack, because of the propane port and solar plug limits frame space,)

Added the power tongue jack and rear camera. you really need both.

We travel as just a couple, so no kids or pets which may impact your decision.

Only the 22FB has the 3 way fridge, we have not used the 12 volt option, we tow with the propane on but the fact that it is available is a nice safety/emergency factor.

Recommend that you hitch with a W/D and anti-sway set-up.

Last point we get 13 to 14.5 MPG @ 63 MPH in rolling terrain with our TV and are within the 5000 LB tow rating, 500 LB tongue rating and 1300 LB payload.

Edited to add the 20 LB vs. 30 LB propane tanks is a non-factor. 20's are easy to switch out, last a really long time and can be filled/exchanged anyplace. 30's are a much bigger issue, heavier, exchange is difficult and harder to handle.
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Old 08-09-2017, 10:49 AM   #5
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As an (older, '08) 22' Sport owner... I can also vote for the Sport. My wife, my 8 yr old granddaughter and I took a 3 week vacation in ours and found the tanks of a suitable size. (we dumped every 3 days).

When only my wife and I dry camped/boondocked, we went 4-5 days and never had a full grey or black tank. We did "navy" showers.**

The 22' Sport does not need a WD hitch with our half-ton PU at all. YMMV. Try it first.

The best mods we did was order custom foam mattress and added a rear bumper for storage and a rear view camera.

Oven? How much actual "baking" do you intend while vacationing? VS how many bakeries/groceries will you pass-by? Keep your wife's chores at a minimum if you intend to keep her happy on camping trips.

foambymail (dot) com is from whom we custom ordered the mattress. We like a firm mattress but their firm is too much so. I suggest one of the lesser firmnesses...or order a firm and place a WalMart egg-carton-foam on top.

**Navy shower: Place a 2-gallon plastic bucket in the shower and run the water into the bucket until it's sufficiently warm to shower. (We found an oval-shaped bucket at the dollar-store.) Leave it in the floor of the shower while showering,...the small amount of soapy-water which additionally collects will not be harmful and may be useful as you will soon see. Using the ON/OFF button on the shower-wand, wet yourself, lather up, rinse off.

SAVE the bucket of water. (You can leave it in the shower pan.) Use it to replenish the toilet for flushing or for standing-water. (Always keep a minor amount of water in your toilet to save the valve-seal. Learn that if you plan to "poop"... several inches in the bowl before using it will keep the bowl cleaner. (the mildly-soapy water may be helpful in this regard and is good for the black tank as well.) Only an inch is necessary to preserve the seal or for urination.) This bucket-water will 1- reduce your grey-tank needlessly filling, 2- save fresh-water normally wasted and therefore extend your dry-camping days, 3- good for washing the dog, bbq grill utensils, other?, etc. Use the outside shower to rinse the dog.

I do not believe the "two axles better than one" theory. Two axles place a lot of stress on tires when maneuvering, while the single axle does not and is more maneuverable in small places. Two axles typically have smaller wheels and lighter-duty tires. Two axles is poor planning for blowouts. The damage if any, will likely still occur, and the load is immediately transferred to a single wheel/axle which is now under-rated. (Two axles are helpful when changing a flat, however...all you need is a board.)
It's best to inspect tires before any trip and check tire pressures/condition daily, and a walk-around at every stop regardless of which trailer you select. (I did experience a tire failure, at night, in the rain, travelling at 65 mph in my 22' Sport. It was a tread separation in the off-brand tires which the previous owners had no idea of the age, etc., on one of our first trips. The only indication I had was a slight "swaying" motion which suddenly occurred. I pulled over and put on the spare. No damage. YMMV. I replaced them with high-quality ST tires which are warrantied by Discount Tire. Nothing further to report in 12K miles.
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:27 AM   #6
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I have no experience/thorough knowledge of the finer points of sport models, but love my 20ft FC. The working space on the galley is (relatively speaking) huge and, more important, functional. You get a perfectly good bath with a shower that even I at now 6'5' (shrank an inch with age) can stand in and move around in, and a bed that I and the wife can stretch out in. You also get a much beefier frame in case you....against most people's advice here... want to attach a bike rack/hitch hauler etc. Like you, I travel with wife, 9 year old, and a yellow lab. Do yourself a favor and at least look at one. Re pullability...they pull easier than a multi-axle camper (no matter what was claimed above), and with good tires you'll be safe. Good luck. jon
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:40 AM   #7
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Of those choices...
Maybe 22'...
Otherwise go for a tandem axle 23' or 25' or longer.
Longer is most always better for storage, layout/floor plan, and walk around room.
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:41 AM   #8
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I have been reading the forum for about two weeks now educating myself like yourself and today gave a deposit on a Flying Cloud 20. Hooray!

The decision to purchase the FC20 could not be made until my wife and I physically viewed, inspected, and sat in each of the units you're thinking about.

Once you do that and talk about it with your wife - what you like and don't like with each model you will be able to make a good decision based on your likes/dislikes.

Good luck!
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:00 PM   #9
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Woodinville , Washington
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Dear Xipper,

Welcome to the AS community.

Your note is silent about any realtime experience you & your wife have had with ASs. For goodness sakes, before you commit with any $$$, go to your local AS dealer, Airstream Adventures NW, and sit in each of the trailers for at least 10-15 minutes & just experience them. Your realtime experience will be much more valuable than reading AS brochures, or internet pages, or any conclusions resulting from them

Our experience was that we went to the Seattle RV show several years ago, & my sweetie "fell in love" with the AS Bambis. Several weekends later, we went to AS Adventures NW in the Seattle area & sat in them. My reading AS brochures in the interim suggested to me that we should get the 23. After sitting in the Bambis, my sweetie declined and asked to see "the next one up," which was the 23. We did, she was impressed, and the salesperson said, "Let me show you our most popular model, the 25." Whoooo! Big Difference. We went back home to think about it. In the interim, I called various other AS dealers, who led me to believe that if we wanted the double bed (and not the twin), which we did, the 27 would be a better choice. We went back to see the 25 again & then the 27. Upon spending one minute in the 27, she said, "This is it." We bought a 27 from Toscano, in CA, at a much lower price than AS NW gave us, and it has been the right one for us (not to say it would be the best one for you).

Bottom line: Whatever your thoughts & conclusions, spend a morning sitting in those that you think you & your wife might be interested in.''

Attributed to Werner von Braun: "One good experiment is worth a thousand ... opinions." Do the experiment --- experience for yourself the ASs you & your wife think you're interested in. You might be surprised with the difference between the brochure & realtime.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:09 PM   #10
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Weighing the Bambi options - Sport 16, 22FB, FC19, FC20

Spend time in each trailer pretending to do various everyday activities like meal preparation, taking a bath, watching television, sleeping, etc.
This will point you in the right direction.
Imagine where clothes, shoes, dishes, towels, groceries will go and if there is sufficient room for everything.
Imagine living with the decor 20 years or more.
This process pointed me toward a Classic 30.
Wife's thoughts are a tremendous influence as well.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:41 PM   #11
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2011 22' Sport
Portland , Oregon
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I had typed up a lengthy reply that was lost due to an accidental closing of my browser , so sadly I won't like catch everything I had said in the original draft...and unfortunately typing it a second time I feel like I am repeating myself

I appreciate all of the feedback, pro and counter points are all appreciated. I grew up camping in a SOB, it was 4 kids and my parents...and it wasn't a "big" trailer, and it was anything but luxurious. I don't remember much about the TT, but I remember the trips we took. We've never slept in an AS, as that is hard to do without buying one unfortunately. You can test drive cars, but RVs are a bit harder to actually get a feel for...so I appreciate that we have such a community as this to help get some second hand wisdom.

We happen to live in Portland OR and after we went hiking a couple of weekends ago I suggested to my wife that we make a spontaneous stop at the AS dealer (Adventures Northwest). I had stopped by a few years ago to look at them, but my wife hadn't ever seen them in person (other than at camp ground while we were in a tent). We were fortunate that the day we stopped by they had every model on the lot, they rarely have the 22FB but happened to have one fresh off the truck that was going through customer prep so we did get to see it. Our immediate concerns on the 16 was the wet bath, and the 16, 19, 20 was the smaller corner bed. We are accustomed to sleeping in a CA king bed at home, obviously we are going to accept compromise for "camping".

To be fair, it wasn't an ideal day to visit. We had our daughter and dog in tow and it was *hot* that day, thankfully they let us put our dog in the showroom while we browsed. We went in the Basecamp, Sport 16 and 22FB, the FC 19, 20 and 25FB, some Internationals...and even a Classic 30 just for fun, though I am not sure we looked at a 23FB. We likely didn't spend enough time in any single trailer though, and the sales rep was following us around...we didn't feel comfortable laying on the bed and disturbing the dozens of pillows that seemed to be carefully placed.

Last night we found one of our area rugs to be nearly the same size as the beds in the 16, 19, 20...so we are going to do a mockup "sleep" on it to try to get an idea of the space. Thankfully our dog does *not* sleep with us, she is relegated to her own bed on the floor. Our daughter also never sleeps with us, though who knows how that will unfold as she transitions to a bed that she can get out of on her own.

Part of the issue is two fold, price obviously matters too. It isn't the primary factor, but it is likely close. One additional element is that we intend to actually rent the AS when we aren't using it, as we wish we could dip our toes into this before jumping head first. The Sport series will be far easier to rent due to GVWR and overall size...we can all hope that it is popular enough that we stop using it personally and buy a second AS

Now that we know more of what to look at and things to consider, I am going to try to talk my wife into making another stop by the dealer. I agree a little experimentation is really valuable, the biggest savings is the purchase (upgrade) you avoid. Will the roll up doors on the Sport be annoying? Unfortunately I doubt we will get to compare the ducted vs center A/C, they'd didn't have any of them plugged in with the A/C on when we were there. Very sound advice to actually "play house" in the narrowed list of AS options, I'm sure my daughter will be perfectly OK with that. I do wish that we could get temperatures below the mid-90s so that the AS would be more comfortable to spend time in.

One reason that we do want just buy a used one is we won't feel badly changing the interior. I see the threads of people doing huge renovations to a 2017, that just seems absurd to me. I get it, people buy houses and renovate the recent renovations all the time...but that isn't our style (our residence is over 110 years old and mostly original). If we are going to rip out and replace the cabinets, or change the floor plan...I don't want to inflict that upon a brand new AS which could actually diminish its immediate value of finances changed. Updating an older model seems more practical though, and avoiding the depreciation of brand new. We don't have the time (I mentioned having a 2.5yo) to do a full restoration of an actual vintage model. I guess if we find a brand new model that is *perfect* than it isn't an issue, other than the upfront cost and immediate depreciation. (Our TV was bought certified-pre-owned for similar reasons, that and being too impatient to be on a wait list for a new one...and it only had 5k miles on it)

A larger and more "ideal" TV just isn't a very good option for us, maybe if we were expecting to full time it...but that isn't in the cards for a very long time. So the TV has to do primary duty as something that we can drive and park in a city.

I really do appreciate *all* feedback, I am not trying to be dismissive to any of it. I like the counterpoints, especially when they are accompanied with obvious explanation of the logic behind them. I appreciate the wisdom of those that have gone down this path, either loving the 22FB or other models and what makes them love the one they chose. In the perfect world the number of variables wouldn't be an issue, but alas some items are predetermined (e.g. TV, viability of maneuvering it in the city to my address with a walk score of 87 and bike score of 99).
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Old 08-09-2017, 02:07 PM   #12
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2016 19' International
encinitas , California
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we have a 19 ft international (for just over 6 months and six 2-5 day trips). It's just 2 of us and we love it. My only complaint is the bed. It's a PIA to make and not easy to get in and out of. (and we aren't tall people). The 19 gallons tanks (grey, black and fresh) are good for 3 days dry camping. Fresh water and grey are the limiting ones. We cook most food at home and pack for the trip. We don't have or even want a generator so the gas oven and stove is fine with us. No need for a microwave or convection. We used to tow with a Tacoma but upgraded to an F150. It is a much more enjoyable ride as the truck has so many cool towing features. I would love a slightly longer AS to get a better bed and more counter space and storage when we want to take longer trips. I agree with other comments as you have to sit in the and go through the motions. Lastly, you can't go wrong and with any size as it is always better than tent camping!!
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Old 08-09-2017, 03:02 PM   #13
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Depending on how 'big' you and your wife are, you will probably want to go with the 23' FB.

I can totally empathize with you. I started out about a month ago and have put in about 150 hrs of reading and viewing videos; additionally I have gone to the AS dealer 3 times. Each time thinking I knew exactly what I wanted...

I was interested in the FC 20, so I went to see it. The next week I went with my wife who isn't a 'camper type' and she pointed out the size of the bed. I had to agree it wasn't equivalent to our King size at home.

So I sniffed around and decided we would go with the 23 because it has the Queen size. After that, I decided why not go big and get the 30'... Well after reading a bunch of forums comments about certain camp sites and specifically National Parks not being able to accommodate certain size TT, I settled on the 25' FC...right up until I read some more Forums that talked about how inconvenient the east/west bed configuration was...

I thought, I need to stop reading these AS forums and just get what I like, but then realized the sagacious wisdom of experience (slight sarcasm).

I have since gone back to the AS dealer and took a really good look at the bed configuration and have decided to go with the 27 FBQ - I think that decision will be final, right up until I read the next forum thread...
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Old 08-09-2017, 03:21 PM   #14
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Swedesboro , New Jersey
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22FB Bambi

We have a 2016 Bambi 22FB, ( two of us and a Sheltie) we tow with a Jeep GC and selected the Bambi for towing ease. Your concerns are well thought out and I suspect you will be happy with whichever model you select. We have traveled 5000 miles in less than two years. Some local trips ( 50 miles with friends) and Two / Three week stays in the Adirondacks, Appalachians, and the Catskills. The propane tanks are adequate, you will learn how to budget your black / grey tank space ( we use quality paper plates, bowls and only wash utensils). Micro wave / Convection Oven is nice addition, but not a deal breaker ( a bit of a chore to use so low, but keeps weight distribution) Towing is a breeze and great to back into tight spaces, especially national and State parks, with their smaller spaces. We love the large mattress and ( I ) have learned the climb over is not that bad. Nice shower and you get accustomed to the AC noise. 3 way fridge is great and has surprising space if you pack sensibly.

I am not qualified to comment on two axle vs one, this is our only experience. We have a TPS monitor and I check pressure each day...Good luck and safe travels
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