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Old 08-01-2016, 01:39 PM   #1
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Reseda , California
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Posts: 5
Backroads with Airstream trailers?

I'm interested to hear from anyone with experience pulling an airstream trailer on backroads (fire service roads) and what they can handle. I am in the market for a smaller airstream (22 or less) and I live in BC where the backroads are ubiquitous and amazing and the best way to get truly get away.

I realize care and slow speeds are a must but would love to hear stories pro and con about unpaved roads from you folks.


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Old 08-01-2016, 02:11 PM   #2
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Mesa , Arizona
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Tons of people do this. Lots of boondockers here, lot of forest service road users.

Pro's you get to some really gorgeous places with no one around.

Con's sometime you gotta back up a ways to get your self out of a road that doesn't end where or how you thought it would.

We carry wood and leveling blocks for the occasional washed out rut.

Some folks scout ahead with the tow vehicle, motor scooter or bike.

Good luck.


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Old 08-01-2016, 02:16 PM   #3
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If I can't go camping on dirt roads I wouldn't see much point in going. There are some here who would never take their trailer off the pavement, but I don't agree. Take it down dirt roads almost every time out. Not 4wd roads of course. Go slow to keep flying gravel from happening. After the trip wash the dust off. I don't have any extra wear or dings.

If you have an hitch with equalizer bars, make sure you take them off if you get to any spots with big dips otherwise the extra torque can be dangerous to the hitch and the trailer. As many others have said, don't ask me how I know.....
2012 25FB with solar
2012 Toyota Tundra 5.7L V8
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Old 08-01-2016, 02:43 PM   #4
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The only consideration is can you turn around. I've ended up on more than one front lawn at the end of a dirt road that my GPS told me went through.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 08-01-2016, 02:57 PM   #5
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Reseda , California
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Thanks for your reply. I would only mention that some fire service roads are a bit hairy and would probably qualify as 4WD preferred roads.... What's the worst you've encountered and survived? I read one person on here talking of popped rivets... but he admitted he was doing 30mph.
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Old 08-01-2016, 02:59 PM   #6
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Reseda , California
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thanks for your reply. As I say in reply below some of the FSR that I've driven in BC qualify as 4WD preferred roads.... do people add any plating or protection to the under carriage of their airstreams?
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Old 08-01-2016, 03:18 PM   #7
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I met an Airstreamer in Battle Harbor Labrador that had come up through Quebec and through Labrador City on a 1000 mile of dirt road with a new Bambi. All of the interior cabinets were on the floor.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 08-01-2016, 03:27 PM   #8
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I understand folks do it and I understand the places they go are fantastic, but I would not. Too many better options. We saw a Unimog in Canada that looked like the deal for fire road and other unimproved routes.

Travel Safe. Pat
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Old 08-01-2016, 03:32 PM   #9
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There is a Boondocking sub-forum, with lots of threads on various topics FYI:

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Old 08-01-2016, 03:35 PM   #10
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formerly of Tustin, Huntington Beach, Dana Point, and Laguna Beach , California
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The pros & cons have already been stated and both are oh so real. So in order to avoid the cons:
1. Always scout with the TV.
2. Ask a ranger or local about past trailer travel and existence of turn-arounds.
3. Bring a shovel and extra leveling blocks.
4. Watch out for dead trees if camping among them.
5. We try to only drive off the main roads only as far as we can hike out; however, sometimes the payoff is irresistable.
6. Make sure your step is up.
7. Make sure you have a voice of reason in the TV: either your alter ego or spouse or partner; someone who can see and say NO. I'm married to one.

May The Force be with you!
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Old 08-01-2016, 04:43 PM   #11
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Remember when a 9 foot tall Airstream drops a wheel into a rut on one side it can reach a tree that is a couple of feet off the road. Very little spring travel. Weak shocks. High pressure tires. I really avoid washboarded gravel if at all possible when pulling. Yeah, I might do it if there is a good fishing spot at the end and I have scouted it with just the TV ahead of time. Also remember that going down hill on a slick mud surface it is hard to keep the trailer in the back. And the drum brakes make it worse when they lock. We found this out on a temporary "detour" on the Alaska highway. Still have a mental picture of the Airstream motor home that went down ahead of us at about a 20 degree angle to his line of travel.
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Old 08-01-2016, 05:34 PM   #12
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Our 2011 FC23FB has seen hundreds of miles of rough forest service / BLM / washboard roads in her 43K mile life and is none the worse for the wonderful places we've been. The only 'damage' has been the microwave pulling out a mounting screw. Remedied that with 3M VHB mounting tape.

Upsizing to 15" wheels and LTX tires helped with a bit more clearance.

Two weeks ago we towed up steep gravel Hermosa Park Rd to boondock on Hermosa Creek above Purgatory Ski Resort. Went a bit too far and came to a creek crossing with boulders that were just too large to clear. Should have scouted ahead! Had to back down the tight curving road about 1/4 mile until there was just enough space off the shoulder to manage a turnabout. The First Mate had to 'pave' our off the shoulder backup track with the yellow leveling blocks a foot at a time as I eased the Airstream over rocks to gain the inches needed to bring the tongue around. I really appreciated my 4WD Diesel Jeep GC with adjustable height air suspension and tight turning radius! No damage done, and another confidence building adventure for the memory bank.

Is the Airstream an all season all terrain camper? No, but we push the envelope and camp in comfort regardless.

Safe Travels,
Safe Travels,
Joe & Joan Donnaway
Durango, CO
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Old 08-01-2016, 07:11 PM   #13
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I just got back from a camping trip where we drove 10 miles down a National Forest gravel road. It was the worst road I've been on with my Airstream. I did not like it. A rivet buster for sure. These types of roads can cause overhead storage lockers to break loose, cabinet doors to swing open and bounce hard on the hinges, and other not so neat events inside the trailer. And I had dust everywhere. What a mess.

I prefer to use the Airstream as the "base camp" and take day trips to the trail head with the pickup only, or even backpack if an overnight in the woods is desired. The truck is more robust than the Airstream in my view.

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Old 08-01-2016, 07:13 PM   #14
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Wimberley , Texas
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All the time. Go slow. Scout ahead. Always let someone know where you're going and approximately when they should hear back from you, cell service not being available everywhere and all. A tall 3/4 ton 4x4 TV helps make off-roading with your AS almost easy. Bring: Chainsaw, fuel, & bar oil. Bow-saw. Shovels x 2, one that can be a pick when needed. Blocking. 2 x 4'+ pieces of Marsden Mat (aka instant runway), preferably 4 pieces. Snow chains (also used for mud a/o sand) for all 4 TV tires. 20'+ logging chain. Stout 20'+ tow-strap w/ extra stout shackles. 12v air compressor. Bottle jacks x 2. Farm/Ranch Jack. Front receiver on the TV for maneuvering the occasional extra EXTRA tight spots. Power winch (receiver mounted is best) *and* stout come-along (better: 2 stout come-alongs) *and* one 10'+ length of 3 to 4 inch diameter steel pipe to skid, or even spin your AS 180 (but only when really, really required ). Extra LED flashlights and fresh batteries. Personal survival & critter protection gear. And of course, all your comfort gear and food and bevs too! Have fun! You'll love having nature all to yourselves! p.s. NEVER go on any forest/logging trail without at least one good bow-saw and one tow chain/strap, because if you don't encounter tree deadfall on your way in, you *will* eventually encounter such that "decided" to fall right after you passed it and it's now blocking your same trail out.

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