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Old 05-11-2007, 03:46 PM   #1
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On our first trip...

Last night was our first "official night" out with the Basecamp (we towed it to Massachusetts shortly after we bought it, but this is the first camping trip).

A few things we've discovered:

From what we can tell, the folks at Kelty must have never seen the trailer that they made the tent for, otherwise, they would have made it so you can open the doors nice and wide. Either that, or the engineers at Airstream never camped in a tent, or at least never in a Basecamp with tent attached, because if they did, they would have sent the tent back to Kelty with a note saying "Nice try, but not nice enough".

As long time tenters, one thing we've learned to appreciate over ther years is that when a tent has a sewn in floor, you are screened from critter entry - not so with the expensive Kelty that is sold for the Basecamp. Yes, it has a floor, but the underside of the trailer is wide open to the world with about a 6 inch gap the width of the trailer open to the tent. Sure, most bigger critters won't come in, but it sure isn't close to being bug or snake proof. Our work around (when the gate and doors are open (more on that later) is to cram a pair of pillow forms we picked up at Wally-World into the openings on either side of the drop-gate. Not perfect, but it's a work around we're living with for this trip. We had some rain last night, not much, but steady for about an hour, and we took a lot of water on in the tent. There is no effective sealing of the tent to the side of the trailer, so water rolls on in and pools up on the floor. I don't care WHAT Airstream (or Kelty) says, a cinch strap system will NOT secure the tent to any reasonable degree of water-tightness. With the slope on the back of the trailer, water entry was a given.

My other big gripe is the back doors themselves. I don't know how anyone could comfortable close the back doors from the inside. The grab straps that are provided to yank up on will close it, but the gate itself is made of fiberglass and I don't see it surviving that yanking for too long. The latch mechanism for the steps is not very secure (i.e. the steps should be placarded "NO STEP" when in the up position). Putting much more than 50 pound of weight on the steps causes the latch to fail and the steps to crash to the ground. God forbid cargo should slide back and hit the steps, it'll be a big freakin' mess on the highway.

As I said, we had rain last night. The front wrap around windows leaked pretty bad (enough to trip the GFCI because of the electric outlet in the front), so it's back to the dealer when we return to have them re-sealed. The trap in the sink also is defective - leaking into the cabinet below (of course we didn't discover that until it was too late).

Now this is first impression of the first night with a brand new model, so I'm being kinda brutal. Do I still like the trailer, yes, I love the concept, but there are a lot of bugs that need to be worked out - either on my end or at Airstream's end. If I work it out, fine, if Airstream works them out, I hope they offer retrofits to those of us who shelled out $$$ for these early units. Based on our experience thus far, would I buy one again - too early to say, I'll post more later.
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Old 05-11-2007, 04:01 PM   #2
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One of the things I would suggest to all new owners is to try to arrange with your dealer, the ability to camp out either at the dealership or a close by spot. That way you can get any issues out of the way right then and there.

My dealer actually doesn't request that you do any of the final paperwork on your new trailer until you spend a night at his place first. That way you can check out all the new systems to make sure everything is to your satisfaction, before you sign on the dotted line.

My dealer's old place was right at the end of the main runway of the St. Louis airport. Needless to say the first night in our new Safari was an experience with the screaming jets passing overhead and then the vibration caused by passing freight trains on the tracks next to our parking spot.

Needless to say everyone was happy when he relocated to a new site.

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Old 05-11-2007, 04:01 PM   #3
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Hmmmmm. I think you are being far more even about this than I could be if Max and I had shelled out the money for Airstream's widely-touted Base Camp. Much too wet for us, thank you anyway. My impulse would be to deliver it back to the dealer, dripping and soggy, and say: "Make it ALL right or it's yours." Just my response, Good luck, ~G
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Old 05-11-2007, 04:53 PM   #4
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Granted, the issues you present should not exist. However, I must ask: Did you not examine how things went together (tent to hard shell, etc.) before you signed on the dotted line? Caveat Emptor.
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Old 05-11-2007, 04:54 PM   #5
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I dunno, what can you expect for $40K?
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Old 05-11-2007, 05:49 PM   #6
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It sounds like they (Airstream and Kelty) have a number of bugs to work out. That's too bad considering that the BaseCamp is a super high-end camping item, and Airstreams reputation is dependent upon evrything being first class. You are probably correct in your assessment that Kelty knows nothing about attaching a tent to any foreign object, and Airstream knows absolutely nothing about tent camping. Hopefully, they will get their stuff together, and make the necessary corrrections.

If I were handling it, I would take it to Jackson Center and show it to them.
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Old 05-11-2007, 06:31 PM   #7
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I may have sounded a tad harsh in my earlier post. While Liz and I are working out the bugs (yes, we DID see how it all went together before we bought the trailer), we'll be sure to be in touch not only with our dealer, but also with Airstream and Kelty. The concept is very good and I'm sure that with enough feedback, all of the issues will be able to be worked out.

BTW - it wasn't $40k, closer to $27K...
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Old 05-11-2007, 06:53 PM   #8
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I have been following the BC threads out of interest. At first I thought; are you crazy? ~$30 for that?
But the more I pondered it’s intended mission, the more intrigued I became. What a cool way to haul a Harley or ?
To be honest, if I were in a different place right now, I would consider a BC.
I would hope that AS (and their Dealers) will be responsive to the early adopters (and all Customers, this is a premium product). I do believe they have a good customer base riding on this concept.
The dealer in my area (SE Mass/RI) has been great.
Best of luck Bob.
I appreciate the sincerity. Not all would be so open after laying down $$$.
P lease do keep us posted.
Oh yeah-welcome to the AS community!

Bill
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Old 05-11-2007, 09:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobfowler
Last night was our first "official night" out with the Basecamp (we towed it to Massachusetts shortly after we bought it, but this is the first camping trip).

A few things we've discovered:

From what we can tell, the folks at Kelty must have never seen the trailer that they made the tent for, otherwise, they would have made it so you can open the doors nice and wide. Either that, or the engineers at Airstream never camped in a tent, or at least never in a Basecamp with tent attached, because if they did, they would have sent the tent back to Kelty with a note saying "Nice try, but not nice enough".

As long time tenters, one thing we've learned to appreciate over ther years is that when a tent has a sewn in floor, you are screened from critter entry - not so with the expensive Kelty that is sold for the Basecamp. Yes, it has a floor, but the underside of the trailer is wide open to the world with about a 6 inch gap the width of the trailer open to the tent. Sure, most bigger critters won't come in, but it sure isn't close to being bug or snake proof. Our work around (when the gate and doors are open (more on that later) is to cram a pair of pillow forms we picked up at Wally-World into the openings on either side of the drop-gate. Not perfect, but it's a work around we're living with for this trip. We had some rain last night, not much, but steady for about an hour, and we took a lot of water on in the tent. There is no effective sealing of the tent to the side of the trailer, so water rolls on in and pools up on the floor. I don't care WHAT Airstream (or Kelty) says, a cinch strap system will NOT secure the tent to any reasonable degree of water-tightness. With the slope on the back of the trailer, water entry was a given.

My other big gripe is the back doors themselves. I don't know how anyone could comfortable close the back doors from the inside. The grab straps that are provided to yank up on will close it, but the gate itself is made of fiberglass and I don't see it surviving that yanking for too long. The latch mechanism for the steps is not very secure (i.e. the steps should be placarded "NO STEP" when in the up position). Putting much more than 50 pound of weight on the steps causes the latch to fail and the steps to crash to the ground. God forbid cargo should slide back and hit the steps, it'll be a big freakin' mess on the highway.

As I said, we had rain last night. The front wrap around windows leaked pretty bad (enough to trip the GFCI because of the electric outlet in the front), so it's back to the dealer when we return to have them re-sealed. The trap in the sink also is defective - leaking into the cabinet below (of course we didn't discover that until it was too late).

Now this is first impression of the first night with a brand new model, so I'm being kinda brutal. Do I still like the trailer, yes, I love the concept, but there are a lot of bugs that need to be worked out - either on my end or at Airstream's end. If I work it out, fine, if Airstream works them out, I hope they offer retrofits to those of us who shelled out $$$ for these early units. Based on our experience thus far, would I buy one again - too early to say, I'll post more later.
Bob,

I am so glad that we have this forum to share experiences. For you, it was a weekend of water. For us, we were dancing in dust.

Although our experience with rain is yet to come, we have had much experience with tent camping, as you have, and see the drawbacks to the Kelty tent. We added lightweight, indoor/outdoor carpeting (Home Depot) for the inside to cut down on the wear and tear. In regular tent camping, one doesn't usually go in and out alot. But to enter the Base Camp, the tent is the entryway to everything inside. It is bound to wear quickly, even with the rip stop nylon. In addition, we put a ground cloth under. Perhaps this is overkill, but it wasn't hard to do.

We didn't read the directions on how to put up the tent and did a Keystone Cop routine getting it up. We didn't get it into the gutter completely and had a wide gap at the bottom.. I think we can close the gap better than we did that weekend. Now that we have read the directions (finally), we will do a better job next time. And we will pay close attention to how we can better close that gap. Otherwise, I guess I will need to think of it more like a lean-to than a tent.

We have mighty concerns about rain--which your experience bears out--and think that the tent needs a fly. I have been contemplating how one might create an effective fly with a lightweight, water proof tarp. I even got a DVD on how to make a tarp. (I wasn't a Boy Scout and didn't develop that skill!) If you have any ideas, let me know!!! I really like how the tent opens up the space. Makes the Base Camp down right roomy. But I don't do rain or critters!

We camped in an Illinois campground recently which is known for very aggressive and fat raccoons. As first timers to the park, we only found out about them after we arrived. As we sat around the campfire, we watched our resident raccoon, Rocky, easily find the entryway (gap around the door) into the tent. We shooed him away, but our guests who were sleeping in the tent, kept a mallet and other devices to throw at the old fellow if he tried to gain entry during the night. If he did get in, we didn't know about it. We sleep really good in the Base Camp!

Closing the doors from the inside. Forget the strap--it is useless--especially for me with arthritis. I am short, too, and can't pull the strap AND lift the handle at the same time. Can't reach it. We push the steps up from the outside, hop in and close the doors. According to Product Manager at Airstream, the stairs are rated at 300 pounds. There is a way to adjust the steps for a better seal in the up position, and we will be learning about this at the dealer next week as they show us how to adjust them. We shipped much sand and road dirt from the leaky doors in New Mexico and found that the gaskets were not on correctly. (Dancing with Dust) We added some weather-stripping, but are getting a fix next week at the dealer. Our service manager worked with rear van doors in a previous life and has some good ideas on how to seal them better.

I will be making a mosquito net curtain for the doorway next week using some really nice no-seeum netting material and Velcro. I will be putting gathers in the curtains to provide a little privacy when the tent is not attached. Did you get the screens for the windows? They just recently started making them. We got one of the first ones and they need to be improved. I have added Velcro to the screening to get a better seal. The Product Manager is aware of these issues and I expect that they have improved.

We had the same sink drain leak issue and discovered that the hose we had attached to the drain wasn't draining (it needed to be positioned down hill, whoops!) and the water was leaking from under the sink into the cabinets. Once we repositioned the hose, we were fine. We still need to check the tightness of the joints, but since they are not leaking now, it's probably ok.

We have had great response from Airstream and our local dealer with our issues. They seem to want to get it right.

Keep us posted on your progress. By the way, Before we purchased the Base Camp and the tent, I called Kelty about the tent and they absolutely would not speak to me. They referred me back to Airstream. I didn't even get to first base. Airstream, however, did want to know my opinions and concerns.

We love the Base Camp and have been having a great time with it. It is nifty and will be even better when these problems are solved.

Caryl
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Old 05-12-2007, 10:09 AM   #10
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Caryl,

I'll be posting pix of our trip/problems/fixes/temp patches when we get home. Last night was much better (no rain) and I worked out a quick fix to keep the backdoors open with the text attached. It's not perfect, but will do until I can make a proper door securing post.

Screens?!!! Like for the front windows?!!! Woohoo!!! Where you get them and how much do they cost? We haven't addressed THAT issue yet...

Speaking of addressing issues... The pillow forms that we bought at Wally-World to cram into the openings by the steps seems to have worked to keep out at least the insect forms of critters. We've been leaving the steps down at night (the first night we had cheap rag rugs crammed into the openings, last night the pillow forms). We also have a ground cloth under the tent and indoor/outdoor inside (you're absolutely right about how quickly the floor would wear out). Our tent is being used mostly as a "back porch" and non-food storage. When we go out for the day, we close up the steps and doors, so once again, that big 'ole gap is an invitation to furry creatures.

We'll post more later, if the wi-fi keeps up! :-)
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Old 05-12-2007, 10:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobfowler
Caryl,

I'll be posting pix of our trip/problems/fixes/temp patches when we get home. Last night was much better (no rain) and I worked out a quick fix to keep the backdoors open with the text attached. It's not perfect, but will do until I can make a proper door securing post.

Screens?!!! Like for the front windows?!!! Woohoo!!! Where you get them and how much do they cost? We haven't addressed THAT issue yet...

Speaking of addressing issues... The pillow forms that we bought at Wally-World to cram into the openings by the steps seems to have worked to keep out at least the insect forms of critters. We've been leaving the steps down at night (the first night we had cheap rag rugs crammed into the openings, last night the pillow forms). We also have a ground cloth under the tent and indoor/outdoor inside (you're absolutely right about how quickly the floor would wear out). Our tent is being used mostly as a "back porch" and non-food storage. When we go out for the day, we close up the steps and doors, so once again, that big 'ole gap is an invitation to furry creatures.

We'll post more later, if the wi-fi keeps up! :-)
Bob, contact your dealer or Airstream. It should be a retro fit for you. The screens are attached to the curtain. After you get them, trade notes with me. I still have a big gap on the top that I fix with a festive bandana stuffed in there.

Airstream also has a fix on keeping the doors open. They didn't have it last fall, but now they do. It is a bar that attaches to the bottom of the door and inside as well. This should also be a retrofit for you. It holds the doors in a position that the opening is nice and wide and the tops of the doors don't jab through the top of the tent. One potential hazard we noticed is this: if you are sleeping on the floor of the tent, you have to watch the position of the open doors or you will really bang your head.

Caryl
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Old 05-12-2007, 11:02 PM   #12
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Night three

We returned to the campground at about 11:15 this evening, light rain falling, major flood in the tent. We double and triple checked the attachment of the tent BEFORE we left at about 7 pm (pre-rain), everything was according to Hoyle.

In 43 years of camping, I've NEVER seen a tent take on so much water - and with so little rain. I so want this to work out, I just don't have a good feeling at the moment. It's hard to have a "warm & fuzzy" when you're "cold & soggy".
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Old 05-13-2007, 04:18 PM   #13
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Still no leaking from the back windows?? Is it wicking from the contact with the roof of the BC or rolling out of the groove? Maybe it is hard to tell.... bummer

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Old 05-13-2007, 10:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Still no leaking from the back windows?? Is it wicking from the contact with the roof of the BC or rolling out of the groove? Maybe it is hard to tell.... bummer

Caryl
Nope, I think I found the cause of some of the leaks - the fore/aft pole pockets seams don't appear to have been properly sealed as they were dripping this morning when we got up and started breaking camp. I'm sure that wasn't the only area, as the first attached picture will indicate, those seams shouldn't let in THAT much water. I'm thinking that maybe part of the problem was the ground cloth under the tent. What wasn't obvious last night when we got back to camp in the dark was that a not-too-small area at the front driver side had come out from under the tent and may well have been directing water underneath. If that was the case, I'll eat almost everything I wrote about the tent, at least the water tightness of it, but it does still have issues of fit and critter/bug security.

I plan on contacting our dealer this week (tomorrow most likely) to have the front wrap around windows re-sealed and the sink trap fixed.

The second picture shows one of the pillow forms we used (a couple of dollars each at Wally-World) to make the opening at the bottom of the tent by the steps less of a critter and bug entryway. The third picture shows it crammed in place. It seemed to have worked, at least so far.

Wanting to end on a positive note, the last picture is a night shot from across the road of our campsite. It was a 13 second exposure, and my 12-24 Tokina flared quite a bit from the light on the pole by the pavalion (there was a bingo game going on at the time), but it's a nicer way to end this post than the first picture...
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