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Old 01-06-2015, 11:00 AM   #1
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The ULTIMATE AIRSTREAM for Boondocking

There is an Airstream that can handle Boondocking and what I consider Rockdocking alternatives to established RV Parks and Commercial camping options for our use of a trailer.

The 23 foot Airstream with double axles. It is six inches narrower than a 25 foot Airstream which also can manage most Forest Service roads in the western USA. These two Airstreams offer the maximum in living accommodations off the grid camping.

The most versatile Airstreams are the 16 foot to 22 foot. The single axle 22 foot of this group was a major deciding issue of choosing the 23 foot model. The smaller the trailer, the more camp site options. Deciding in 2006 between the 22 foot single axle and the 23 foot double axle was the most important of options for use. Four tires on the ground other than two.

Someone with a 22 foot might want to make comment if they have felt that the single versus double axle have any difference in your experienced opinion.

My experience is with a 2006 Safari 23 foot with 14 inch wheels and C rated tires were always positive, other than the tire option. If the axles came standard with 15 inch wheels and "D" rated tires, this trailer would be my first choice for non traditional Airstream travel. Loosing a tire on a double axle does not create the same situation a single axle trailer cannot avoid, once using the spare with no alternatives.

After eight years towing our 23 footer, it was time to go to a wider, taller and roomier 25 foot Airstream for convenience. Although the length presents additional care in handling turnouts to dry camping areas, I decided that it was time to use the larger trailer as a base camp and complete our experiences with our tow vehicle. It was unnecessary to travel into areas that gave us access to areas by walking, or short trips radiating from the trailer. The last two years working with the 23 footer and easier accessed camp sites finally justified that the 25 foot trailer would finally be the last size increase in trailer length.

The features we found attractive of the 25 foot were the larger, more convenient bed placement and increased refrigerator volume. The rest has less "dramatic" improvements over the 23 foot Safari.

Our break in trip with the 2014 25 foot has worked out well for our preference for exploring, although more thought is put into where to camp and avoid getting too far into the back country.

An Airstream has proven to me its durability and endurance. Both the 23 and 25 foot models tow very well in cross winds on Interstate travel. Fully loaded or not. The trailer tracks well behind the tow vehicle on back road switchbacks with... experience. A 5.7L gasoline 4x4 tow vehicle has no hardship at high elevation travel. Even the 4.7L power train pulls the 23 foot or smaller trailer with ease.

You might prefer your trailer to stay off of dirt and gravel roads service roads. That is a choice. But let it be known that the alternative uses are not hindered by the Airstream's modern vision of luxury trailer traveling. An Airstream can and will not disappoint anyone, anywhere or for any reason other than a personal preference of camping options.

What is your experience? If you are among the less than 5% who understand what I have been preaching for 8 years... what advantages or disadvantages has you to offer?
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Old 01-06-2015, 11:22 AM   #2
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I would look at the frame size too. My current 2014 20' FC has a full 5" box frame. I have seen 19' Airstreams with 3" C channel frames! My '74 Argosy 20' has a 4" frame.

As far as I know, the 20' FC with the 5" frame is the heaviest frame for the length made.

I have had single axle and double axle Airstreams up to 25'. I have no problems whatsoever with the single axle trailers I have owned. With the 16' wheel option we have now and good Michelin tires, I am comfortable towing anywhere, anytime.

I would love it if Airstream would make a "boondock special" with a heavy frame, extra water capacity, and large holding tanks, larger refrigerator with no fan, heavy duty electrical system with decent solar charging, golf cart type batteries and good 3 stage converter/charger and no entertainment system, just pre wire for one if you wanted it later. I also would like the option of clear glass windows. Not everyone lives in blinding sun areas and the dark tinted AS windows are annoying to me.
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Old 01-06-2015, 11:31 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
I would love it if Airstream would make a "boondock special" with a heavy frame, extra water capacity, and large holding tanks, larger refrigerator with no fan, heavy duty electrical system with decent solar charging, golf cart type batteries and good 3 stage converter/charger and no entertainment system, just pre wire for one if you wanted it later. I also would like the option of clear glass windows. Not everyone lives in blinding sun areas and the dark tinted AS windows are annoying to me.
Add in super light weight cabinetry like our vintage trailers have, and a composting toilet (or at least room for one as an option) and I'd be on board for upgrading!

Why no fridge fan though? I added a fan to help my fridge cool off in hot climates.
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Old 01-06-2015, 11:49 AM   #4
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I would think the 23fb would be as good as the 25fb. What I like is the 2 wardrobes look to be wider than the 25. The bed is the same size. The rear bathroom is very spacious. The 5 cu/ft fridge seems to only loose the large freezer of the 25. The side dinette of the 23 looks to be just as comfortable and useable as the 25FB. With the 23fb TV in the bedroom two people would be more comfortable watching TV in the 23 than trying to mess with the dinette in the 25fb. While the waste holding tanks are smaller than the 25fb the 23fb still has a 30 gal gray. Only 18g black but that should last a week for two.

I wish AS would put exposed kitchen drawers instead of behind cabinet doors in the 23fb. The two basin sink in the Flying Cloud uses up too much counter space, the International uses a round sink with more counter space.

My only concern is the ground clearance of the Airstream over rough roads. I'd be afraid of a rock that can clear my tow vehicle wouldn't clear the fresh water tank enclosure. The enclosure is Rotocast but it would still be damaged. Also wondering if forest roads cause popped rivets.

I haven't towed my AS down any forest roads yet but many have so maybe its not too much of a problem except on the roughest roads.

Kelvin
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Old 01-06-2015, 12:54 PM   #5
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1969 23' Safari
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1964 24' Tradewind
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I prefer my '72 double axle Argosy 22' for the real backwoods boondocking. I like the security of a second tire on each side to limp to civilization if I ever have the misfortune of a blowout plus I'd save my self big bucks of getting a tow truck into the woods if I can get out on my own. But my advice to everyone is securely stow away your burners from your stove. Mine all bounced off somewhere along the logging roads and all of them shattered, had done these kind of trips many times before no problem, but one time in one shot I killed them all :-(
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:59 PM   #6
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We also chose the 23' for boondocking largely because it was the smallest (length and width) model with twin axles. We upgraded the wheels to 15", upgraded the tires to Michelins, and added a 200W solar system with 6volt batteries. Now, for the two of us, this is an ideal boondocking trailer.
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Old 01-06-2015, 02:04 PM   #7
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Heresy

Scratching and dinging Aluminum is expensive. Lower roadside rear segment - whacked by a hit skip driver, plus bumper bumped. Repaired at the factory with bucked rivets $4K.

I go without hookups into a nice field, but for true boondocking I'd get a little Casita or the new small Oliver. Fiberglass is much less expensive to fix.

Minimalism for the woods, Airstream for glamping.

Paula
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Old 01-06-2015, 02:36 PM   #8
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Even though I changed the axle and use larger tires to gain clearance I still cannot use my '61 22' Safari for my kind of boondocking, single axle or not. Just when I get to within 4 or 5 hours of where I want to be I come to a grinding halt. Seems I still don't have the necessary clearance. When I walk back to see what the problem is I find the trailer tires still spinning and the back bumper on the Safari firmly on the ground.

When I know where I will be going will be like this I take my '49 12' Boles Aero. It will follow my pickup without complaint. I have changed axles on both trailers to match my pickup wheels. When I go I take 3 spares that match anything I have meeting the ground.

When I know I will be out for more than 2 weeks I take along an extra propane refrigerator to set up on an outside table by the trailer. Good to make ice for drinks, preserving room for ice cream, keeping beer cold, and preventing leftovers from turning to poison.

All this along with a solar panel on my pickup canopy, because I have yet to find a 120 volt outlet in the sagebrush, gets me to and keeps me where I want to be.

Sam
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Old 01-06-2015, 03:12 PM   #9
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One could not beat our FC20 for boondocking ... but somehow we manage with the 25EB ...wife is quite happy!
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by samb View Post
All this along with a solar panel on my pickup canopy, because I have yet to find a 120 volt outlet in the sagebrush, gets me to and keeps me where I want to be.

Sam
You have to look carefully for a Voltaweed plant. The 12 volt ones are quite rare, and the 120 volt ones are even more scarce. I read somewhere they may soon have federal protection. With the advent of relatively inexpensive solar components, there is good reason to leave them where you found them anyway.
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:57 PM   #11
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Why no fridge fan though? I added a fan to help my fridge cool off in hot climates.
The older Airstreams had a floor vent and a roof vent and the chimney effect cooled the refrigerators quite well. The new ones such as the FC 20 I have only have sidewall air inlets and outlets and require a fan to cool properly, which takes 12 volt power all the time. I want gravity ventilation of the refrigerator to eliminate one more 12 volt load.
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Old 01-06-2015, 07:44 PM   #12
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Hi Sam,

You need to look for a current bush, or for an AC pine. Sagebrush just doesn't work.

Quote:
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<stuff clipped>
All this along with a solar panel on my pickup canopy, because I have yet to find a 120 volt outlet in the sagebrush, gets me to and keeps me where I want to be.

Sam
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:14 PM   #13
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I almost always windup taking the '77' Minuet places no AS should be asked to go. But I sure do enjoy the quiet when I get there. To be fair, I sometimes walk in before driving in and I have been very lucky.
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:54 AM   #14
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1966 24' Tradewind
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We chose our 05 model two axle 22 ft Safari , as it was the shortest one built with two axles . Lowered the axles by one inch and replaced the little 14 inch tires and wheels with 235/75R 15 inch Michelins . It gets around quite well .
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