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Old 10-23-2018, 12:33 PM   #1
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Classic 33 versus 5th wheel

My wife and I have always been intrigued with AS. At the age of 62 we have been discussing an upgrade to a Classic 33FB. and spending three to 4 months a year travel, maybe more. Last year I took advantage of year end rebates and purchase an Ford Super Duty 6.7. Now own a TV that can handle almost anything.

Nicer well built 5th wheels sure do offer many amenities. The nicer ones such as those offered by the Van Leigh company start around 75K going into $130K. Putting them into the realm of AS prices.

Within the next year we need to make a choice.

My question for all you long term Airstreamers . Why an AS over a 5th wheel that tows very well and offers so much more live able space. We feel either will have long term durability and tow equally as well.
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Old 10-23-2018, 01:00 PM   #2
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We'll I'm sort of biased. Although the 5vers have a bit more space, the fact is, when I bought my unit new on 12/03, my unit is 15 years old now. You can ask almost anyone that has seen it. Looks like it just rolled off the factory floor. I may have upward of 20k miles towed with it. I've been in a number of SOBs (some other brand) and you can tell just by walking in an Airstream vs and SOB. Just seems tighter and better assembled.


I look at it this way, if you are going to be somewhat mobile, how much space is necc? That's a question only you can answer, bit if I were full-timing or spending more than 2-3 months, I think a 30, 33 or if you can find a used 30 or 34 with a slide out, you might find it's more than ample.


My take is, regardless which way you go, I would look at a pre-owned unit overall since they do loose a substantial amount of value the first 5 years. If money is no object and you just want new.....
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Old 10-23-2018, 01:04 PM   #3
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In my view it simply boils down to personal preference.
Some folks like a rolling apartment like a big 5er - some like the sleek-sexy AS.

However, it high winds no way a 5er will tow as well as an AS.
I looked hard at a Grand Design Reflection, but ultimately just did not anything that big.



But be careful - just because you have a Super Duty does not mean it should be towing a monster heavy 5'er. For example, my F250 Platinum only has a payload of right at 2000lbs. Therefore no way I can attempt anything as heavy as a Van Leigh. However, if you purchased an F350 Dually Longbed, well that's different.
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Old 10-23-2018, 01:23 PM   #4
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Why a travel trailer (and specifically an Airstream) over a 5th wheel?

I had this discussion with a family member who went from a B class van, to a C class van, to a large 5th wheel (and with a slide in truck bed camper to use on shorter trips).

It came down to style of use. My wife and I are travellers more than stayers. We like moving, exploring, seeing new places. We couldn't imagine staying in one place more than a few days.

My relatives have a habit of heading from BC to southern California every year, for a several month stay. They are stayers, not travellers. They recommended that we not consider anything that doesn't have one or more slideouts, as we would value the space. I couldn't imagine wanting to tow something that heavy.

With a modern Classic, it seems to me that the lighter weight and better towing attributes historically associated with Airtstream trailers are being compromised in the interest of more amenities. Fine for some, but not our choice. A Classic would never be on our wish list, even if it was the same price as a lighter model. YMMV.

Planned use dictates direction here, IMO.
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:15 AM   #5
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I've had both a 5th wheel and an AS. My observation is if you are going to park it and basically live out of it with the amenities of lounge chairs and a lot of room, the fiver is a good choice. If you are going to travel, go with the AS. Keep in mind the value of a fiver will drop like a rock and the AS will retain value. IMHO
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:28 AM   #6
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AS vs 5th wheel

Couple of things here. I don't like to be embarrassed when I pull into a campsite so an Airstream is the preferred trailer of choice. 5th wheelers are not very attractive in my view and could lead to temporary dementia down the line with respect to hooking it up. I watch these folks and wonder if they did any research before purchasing a box with plywood finishes. Now, when choosing a truck to haul my precious AS cargo that holds its value, I prefer a Dodge RAM Laramie Longhorn with the 5.7L Hemi. Folks, if you are going to travel, do it in style with both your trailer and vehicle. I have spoken.
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:38 AM   #7
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JCL and Whbrown nailed it.
5th wheel for staying a few months.
AS for being on the move. Plus I like the folks I have met in the WBCCI if your into the social stuff. I'm sure there are other great clubs for the 5th wheel folks but I am not familiar with them.
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:40 AM   #8
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Honestly, there is no comparison possible. Either you like the room and price of a fifth wheel, or you like the style and mobility of the Airstream. It's a personal decision only you can make between the two.
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:49 AM   #9
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my thoughts
1. I don't have a parking spot at my house that can house a fifth wheel height.

2. You can't haul sea kayaks on the truck with a fifth wheel unless you hang them over the hood. I don't like seeing the world through rack supports.

3. 5th wheels have lots of storage space in "the basement." Airstreams and truck have adequate.

4. I can pull into a rest stop, truck stop, city park and have lunch without putting slides out. Most 5th wheels can't get to the kitchen with the slides in. Most 5th wheels have to put all slides out or none. Most rest and truck stop spaces are so narrow I hesitate to open my swing out windows very far. My daughter's 5th wheel slides have leaked (rain) and failed to extend.

5. It takes more utilities to cool, or heat those big 5th wheels.

6. fancy 5th wheels have automatic leveler systems. My AS has 2x6 and 2x8 lumber. Fifth wheel leveler systems can't be used to start the camp fire.

7. 5th wheels can have onboard generators. My AS has one I can carry in the truck. I have not needed the generator for normal RV operations except during storm recovery. Note the separate generator cost less than the onboard generators.

8. more livable space...… more usually means more maintenance, more cleaning, more cost too.

8a. the dog...a flat coat retriever, 75#.......it doesn't matter how many Sq Ft the house has he's always in the way.
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Old 10-24-2018, 11:02 AM   #10
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In Florida
Most state parks and many national parks were built during CCC times and in the 50s and 60s. Trailers were smaller then. A 25 ft trailer fits in those spaces better than a 30. But there are some 30 ft spaces.

There just aren't many 33 ft and 41 ft spaces in those parks.

Private parks...…….
Older parks have small spaces close together. My 5th wheel friends had to move from a good shady spot because their 14ft tall trailer hit the trees. Some south Florida spots require the slides to be overlapped one trailer to the trailer in the next site.

My AS has none of those problems width or height wise.

Note too my 30 ft trailer is 34 ft hitch to bike rack.
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Old 10-24-2018, 11:10 AM   #11
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The logos on fifth wheels are hideous. I wouldn’t own one.
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Old 10-24-2018, 11:22 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Countryboy59 View Post
The logos on fifth wheels are hideous. I wouldn’t own one.
Amen to that. I have no interest in towing something with ridiculous swirls and flourishes of stuck-on vinyl decals that rapidly deteriorate in the sun, looks like hell eventually, and is a total pain to keep clean. And lets not talk about the ridiculous huge names, mottos, and logos that come plastered all over it.

Shiny aluminum and a simple nameplate make much more sense to me. I'm not that happy about permanent WBCCI red numbers, even. Mine have been carefully removed, and if I do re-join, will not ever be on the skin again. My AS is built like an airplane, so I want it to look like it's airplane-like design. Just being "true to materials", as my high school art teacher used to point out.
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Old 10-24-2018, 11:29 AM   #13
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Not gonna sell you on an Airstream. You have to want one. Fiver will have more space, more storage and maybe more amenities. Fiver will also require more space to park, etc. Go try them both out, pretend to cook in the kitchen, sit a while in the living room, test out the bedroom, etc. and pick the one that speaks to you. Then be sure your tow vehicle can handle whatever you choose and go have fun!
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Old 10-24-2018, 11:52 AM   #14
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Wow, interesting question and one that we wrestled with for over a year. As with all the other posters it gets down to how you plan on using it. We, like many others are travelers and not stayers. We like to find new and interesting places to explore and tend not to stay for more than a week. Money was not an issue (although I prefer to get the best deal, spend the least amount required to get quality and what we need), so really it boiled down to a few things - size - we really didn't like feeling like we were driving around a small apartment. I see the big fifth wheels driving down the road and am amazed at their size, same with some class As. I love the style and "sexiness" of the AS - it's iconic an beautiful. We live in a big house - just the two of us - we love to sit in our AS (parked out back) and just feel cozy and plan our next adventure. It just feels so right for us. I think it is very important for happiness to treat it as a very personal decision!
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