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Piggy Bank 05-24-2014 06:07 PM

4 Bambi Models-feature differences
I have a question on everyone's opinions of the different features that may not be apparent to someone who has not owned a trailer before on the 4 Bambi layouts, as well as the differences of the FC vs International on the 19 and 20s.

Please don't be shy! I am asking:)

Basically, I am asking for insight on how they differ, and the meaning or importances of those differences.

There are 2 of us, won't be traveling with pets, empty nesters, would camp at most for 7-10 days at once. We are very interested in National Park and NF campgrounds, so dry camping capacity is a factor.

Some back ground. We have no dealer in our town. Saw a 16 and 20 a few weeks ago at a dealer about 3 hours away. As far as enough "space", the 16 would meet our needs. But the combined 21 gallon waste capacity makes me nervous if we would be dry camping for a week. We are pale Irish, and must wear a lot of sunscreen. So a shower before bed would be a necessity.

Tow weight not a factor as we just purchased a Toyota Tundra 5.8 L V-8.

Specific things I have noticed and would like opinions regarding are:
Inverters not on the sports--what does that mean? We would plan on getting a generator (or 2)
1 battery vs 2.
Propane tank capacity.
Having the outdoor shower on the 16 by the door and under the awning seating area, vs on the back area on the other layouts.
Awning size.
Window on the door.
Oven vs microwave.
Fantastic fan position.
How/where the windows open, and cross ventilation.
Underbed storage.
Getting in and out of bed logistics for a couple. (size of the bed is not a problem, we are more interested in if the trapped-in person can get out of the bed without awakening the other sleeper.)
Privacy while dressing.
Bathroom sink and is it large enough to shave or do makeup
Tank capacity.
Anything else you know that I might need to know.

Thanks in advance for your helpful insight!!

Piggy Bank
"saving my pennies in my Piggy Bank"

Airrogant 05-25-2014 12:46 AM

I don't think you would be happy with the 16' models given your requirements. Even if the two of you don't shower at all, you're unlikely to have the available capacities for week-long dry-camping adventures. I would scratch them off of my list unless your requirements change.

Foiled Again 05-25-2014 01:39 AM

I realize you didn't ask, but with your truck you could easily get a 25 footer so you don't need to restrict yourself to a tiny trailer.

One thing that frequently happens to newbies (including Moi) is that we buy a nice Airstream and want to get a bigger one a year or two later. So - in the "if I had it to do over" file, I recommend that your first one be one that is very gently used. I'd also seriously suggest that you look at 23 footers. Much bigger tanks, and they're still small enough to get into state and Federal parks.

Plus twin axle trailers have the advantage of being able to run with one flat tire. And if you search recent threads you'll see that within the last week or so an owner was heading to the Florida keys and lost a whole wheel and didn't even know it was gone.

If you really want a 16 footer I'd suggest you start right here on the classifieds - there are a LOT of very nice 16's and 19's that get sold or traded in after a year or two.


Piggy Bank 05-25-2014 06:41 AM

That is pretty much the conclusion we have come to also. Once you get beyond appearances to the functionality, the 16 foot just doesn't seem to cut it. So thank you for confirming our thought process there.

One consideration is our home situation. We live in a home we moved to last year that has a 2 car attached garage on front and the driveway isn't very long. Our HOA is not going to allow us to have a trailer on the street overnight. (but we would be able to have vehicles on the street overnight). If we get longer than a Bambi, don't think we will be able to have the trailer on the driveway at all. Which would mean we would have to leave from the storage facility instead of being able to leave from the driveway. We think the convenience of leaving from home outweighs the advantages of going up in size. But hey, this is why I am asking. What do other people think regarding this?

Thanks and keep the info coming!

renderit 05-25-2014 07:35 AM

You say you have never owned a trailer before. Have you camped using a tent? I ask because if you are used to tent camping staying out a week to 10 days in a 16 foot is no problem. We use the camp facilities for all but night liquid stops and if you have access to water you can dispose of it the same way you do in a tent, like the disposal stations, utility tubs etc. Washing dishes in the sink with a plastic pan allows you to avoid using the combined tank, dump it in a slop bucket and walk it to the john.

If you are used to tent camping, the size is only much of a consideration as it affects layout. Hopping over somebody in the middle of the night for a bathroom visit is a problem for some. But in the smaller sizes there are not many ways around this.

All this said, some would not like to rough it this much when you paid that much for a trailer. I certainly understand that angle as well. Just saying that the small one works well for us as we tent camped for so long this new 16 footer is like a luxury weekend at a hotel.

Piggy Bank 05-25-2014 08:08 AM

I grew up camping in a bare bones (beds/table) pop up.

Hubs and I have tent camped a bit 20 years ago in our youth. So we though we have done this, I would not say we are tent campers or particularly enjoy the more primitive outdoor experience.

Hubs gets hot easily and can't sleep if he is too hot. I get cold easily and can't sleep if I am too cold. So tents were never a good fit for us.

I am more the type who like the actual luxury hotel! LOL. So having to stress about using the water, toilet, or shower and not having enough capacity is a definite issue. So the unit size of the 16 would work for us, but not the tank size, if that makes sense.

I definitely want a trailer where I feel I can use its features and not worry too much about it. I want to shower in privacy and use my bathroom. But I do get the appeal for some who like the more natural experience of the outdoors for cooking and dish washing, and using the shower and bath at the campsite.

What we really want is to get away. We love national parks and want to be able to go where there is no internet for a week.

We get that the marginal cost of 19 to 23 to 25 isn't that large of a jump for each step. But also know that the larger we get, the more restrictive our options are for small campsites, and that there is an real cost of more trailer and more gas.

Thanks for all of the opinions. Back to Paula's post, what is the opinion on 19 vs 23 also?

tinbender 05-25-2014 10:19 AM

I agree with Paula's thoughts. I have a 16' and a 23'. My 16 is great and I have stayed in it for as long as 3 months but it is not a Sport so has 2 waste tanks, a bumper, window in the door, etc. When I decided to go bigger, I didn't shop 19's in hopes of avoiding the "2 more feet syndrome" and only looked at 23's and 25's. Ended up with a 23 and am happy with it. It's a great size, not too much to maintain, I can stop for fuel almost anywhere, double axle, no harder to park than my Bambi and I seriously doubt that I will have any problems with it being too long for parks that have length restrictions. Look at both the front bedroom and rear bed models. I prefer the rear bed 23D, due to the extra seating and sleeping arrangment. Check all the stats on tank sizes in relationship to the front vs rear bed in any model. There are some differences. Above all take your time and check out the different models in person if at all possible.

Look in your area for units of WBCCI and go to a rally. Great place to look at trailers if no dealer around.

Phoenix 05-25-2014 12:56 PM

Re: Questions on Bambi Models
See comments in BLUE TEXT:

* Inverters not on the sports--what does that mean? -- Sorry, don't know what this means.

* We would plan on getting a generator (or 2) -- 16, 19 and 20 foot Airstreams do not have roof space for enough solar panels for boondocking. You will need at least one generator. Plus, you will need a larger model (e.g., "3000") or two "2000" models, if you intend to use the air conditioner in extreme heat. (Note: References are to Honda, but many other manufacturers make fine generators, similarly sized.)

* 1 battery vs 2. -- Two are a must for boondocking. Not sure why some models even come with only one battery.

* Propane tank capacity. -- Two 30-pound propane tanks are a must for boondocking in cold weather. In sub- and near-freezing weather, one 30-pound tank will only run the furnace for 3-4 days.

* Having the outdoor shower on the 16 by the door and under the awning seating area, vs on the back area on the other layouts. -- Sorry, we do not have, and have not needed, an outdoor shower.

* Awning size. -- Standard Zip-Dee awning is sufficient for most owners. However, additional awnings can be added by dealer at any time, if you decide you need more shade. We actually don't use our awning very often.

* Window on the door. -- Window in the door is mostly for light during the day, when door is closed. It is permanently etched/coated, and you cannot see through it. BTW, has anyone installed a clear window? I would like details, if they have.

* Oven vs microwave. -- While some use their ovens, ours is used exclusively as a pantry. Assuming you buy a generator, I'd get the microwave. If you decide to get the regular oven for occasional use, small microwaves are less than $50 at most stores (e.g., WalMart, Costco, etc.).

* Fantastic fan position. -- Buy at least one, preferably two. With two, you can run the one farthest from the bed at night, to reduce noise. Also, in warm weather, two will double the airflow.

* How/where the windows open, and cross ventilation. -- We use FantasticFans for primary ventilation, and windows are used to control flow and reduce hot spots. In warm weather, most find that using windows exclusively is inadequate for comfort. Also, if you boondock in bear country, my wife wants to add that we use FantasticFans at night, and keep the windows closed. (Note: If a bear really wants in, it doesn't matter whether the windows are open or closed, he'll just rip the door off! See bear videos at Yellowstone, where Airsteam campers are referred to as "Spam in a can".)

* Underbed storage. -- We use underbed storage for bulk items that we do not need to access frequently (e.g., extra toilet paper, tissue boxes, paper towels, extra clothes, etc.). Access is awkward and inconvenient.

* Getting in and out of bed logistics for a couple. (size of the bed is not a problem, we are more interested in if the trapped-in person can get out of the bed without awakening the other sleeper.) -- NO! The person on the outside gets trampled and swished EVERY TIME! (Again, my wife wants to add that it makes for opportunistic cuddle moments; besides, you'll probably need to use the bathroom, too.)

* Privacy while dressing. -- What? Are you kidding? How much privacy do you get in your walk-in closet? If you want privacy, one of you is going to have to go outside (hope it's not raining or snowing, or there are bears!). (Sorry, didn't mean to be so sarcastic; but my wife is still laughing!) Actually, you can get a little privacy by pulling the screen divider across, between the closet and refrigerator.

* Bathroom sink and is it large enough to shave or do makeup -- Yes, it's a little tight compared to home, but you'll get used to it.

* Tank capacity. -- We have a 2005, 19-foot Bambi. The 23-gallon freshwater tank will last a week with frugal use and no showers, or 2-3 days with four "Navy" showers (total). We carry an extra 7 gallons of fresh water, and add it when the freshwater runs out; e.g., when we take our two teenage granddaughters with us. In a pinch, the 21-gallon gray water tank will usually hold six "Navy" showers. The 18-gallon black water tank will last 5-7 days with frugal flushes. However, we use spray bottles with homemade "windex" for flushing to extend that time, and usually have to add water before dumping. (Recipe for "homemade windex": 1 pint of isopropyl alcohol, 1/2 cup of sudsy ammonia, a few drops of dish detergent like New Dawn, and enough water to make one-gallon of liquid.)

idroba 05-25-2014 02:40 PM

Single here, so the crawl over each other sleeping is not an issue with me, but my 20' FC would have it if I had a partner. But then, most trailers have that same issue, someone is always trapped behind another.

The tank sizes are marginal on all of the <20' Bambi's. I dislike the 23 gal fresh water tank especially. I cary two 7 gal additional tanks of water. I virtually always boondocks. Black and gray water tanks are OK in size on my 20'.

The bathroom and kitchen area on the 20' are much different than the 16's or 19's. They are much larger and have a lot more counter space. That alone sold me on the 20'. The 16' wet bath shower arrangement is not to my liking at all.

I like a regular oven, and specified it. My FC has 2 batteries as original, and even then I upgraded to a pair of 6 volt golf cart batteries. I don't think one battery is enough, ever. I added 200 watts of solar panels. I have the inverter option. There are better inverters out there than the AS supplied one, but i wanted the pre installed inverter outlets.

The FC has two 30# propane tanks as standard. That is plenty. The 16's have 20# tanks, slightly less convenient. Awning is standard on the FC series 20'. Two Fantastic Vents are standard on the FC series, and are very nice.

More windows is always better, my FC 20 has a window in the door. I HATE the dark tinted glass which is all you can get on the AS now. I live in the north, it is dark a lot, the tinted glass makes it dark inside even on semi bright days outside. The dark tinted front window cover makes the light from the Pano front windows even less. Airstream needs a clear window option, but none is available.

Consider the FC series if you want most things standard, few options. The sport series are less well equipped. The 20' has a bigger bathroom, and much nicer kitchen with usable counter space, than the 19's, but space is always at a premium in all small trailers.

Nothing will be perfect.

Piggy Bank 05-25-2014 04:10 PM

Oh thanks this information is very helpful.

Phoenix--As to privacy, in my childhood small popup, literally you would have to send people outside if you wanted to change clothes standing up in privacy. The "curtain" even in the 16 would meet my needs for having a bit of that. Mostly what I think is really needed is for one person to have space to be showering/grooming and not be in the way of someone in the lounge/kitchen. (one of the things I disliked about the 20). I would think that often we might have 1 person get showered and dress first and then start a meal while the second person was showering and dressing.

Glad to hear that your opinion on the underbed storage is the same as mine.

Sounds like you feel that the open bottom at the 19 bed is no easier essentially than the open side like on the 16, 20, and 22.

I heard that the outdoor shower is an easy way to wash up when cooking outdoors. Would not be showering outside that I can imagine. But on the 16 it is right by the door which I think would be problematic if you wanted the entrance not to be muddy.

And I like the idea of running the fantastic fan away from the bed to keep it quieter. Thanks.

idroba--I think we would also bring along extra water. I am also leaning toward the gas oven just to have that option. Figure a microwave is an inexpensive $50 if I want one.

tinbender and Paula--will definitely consider the 23 as well. I will see if there is a rally around. We are also traveling over July4th and may be able to hit a dealer on the way.

What about prepping for travel at home vs at the storage facility. Would this be a consideration enough to make you select a smaller trailer over a larger one?

Airrogant 05-25-2014 04:58 PM

One of our deciding factors when we purchased the 16' was whether we could fit it into our garage. We have a homeowner's association that frowns on leaving the trailer in the driveway for more than a couple of days. So we modified our garage by raising the door opening, installing a new opener, and buying a new door to make it work. No larger model would fit with adequate four-sided access because of the depth of our garage.

Having the trailer at home really is great. You can fiddle with it all you want, anytime you want. You can load it and unload it at your own pace and at the time of your choosing. You can keep your trailer safe from "bad guys." You can wash it whenever you want. You also can get the fridge cooled down, the trailer cooled down or heated up, fill it with water, charge the batteries, etc. Plus you will save big time on storage fees.

We probably wouldn't have bought a trailer if we hadn't been able to keep it at home. We did investigate outdoor off-site storage however. We decided that the hassle of dragging everything to and from the trailer, not knowing if the battery was charged or not, inclement weather, the outrageous costs, etc. was more than we wanted to deal with.

We would have considered a larger trailer if we had the indoor space for it on our property.

Piggy Bank 05-25-2014 05:11 PM

That sounds really nice. I wish our setup would allow for that. Our garage is not able to be modified to make even a 16 work without some major structural changes that we would be reluctant to get into, even if the HOA would approve.

We have a few decent and one very good option for offsite storage within 10-15 minutes of where we live. So that will just be a factor in the budget. What I would hope to be able to do would be to grab the trailer on a Thursday night, and park overnight in our driveway that night when we load it and possibly even charge if we can work out adding a 30amp service. Then leave right from home Friday right after work. And then be able to park Sunday night again in the driveway, and clean and unpack Mondays after work and take the trailer back to the storage yard then. I don't think I would enjoy the whole experience as much if I had to pack to pack the trailer, and if I had to clean out the trailer at the storage yard. But our driveway is not very deep, and our street access is on a curve. So not possible to get much bigger than a 19 or 20 in there and hooked up to the vehicle.

So if we went larger, we would have to depart and return from the storage facility, not our driveway.

Who else does this, and what is your experience?

Thank you!!!!!

renderit 05-26-2014 06:32 AM

If you plan on USING the bathroom for anything other than a "there is nothing else that's an option" option, skip, the 16. Trust me, you won't like it. The 20 is my favorite by far if it is within budget look hard at that one, but the bed is the same problem as the 16 (same size as well) with the crawling over. (Though it does not have a floor to ceiling wall in the face of the inside sleeper). With counter space galore it is a fantastic setup. Problem may be no privacy partition that I am aware of.

We keep ours locked up at a completely enclosed storage facility very close to home. As we had the 12 X 30 room anyway, I built a loft in it (12' ceiling) so I can stuff the trailer in it as well. Works good, but that storage space is very expensive. We figure the lack of sun beating it to death will probably extend it many years. Storage really needs to be a consideration. It will degrade much faster left out. On the positive side, 16 to 20 is not much of a difference to us, I could modify my storage space easily.

Airrogant 05-26-2014 07:15 AM


Originally Posted by Piggy Bank (Post 1460112)
and possibly even charge if we can work out adding a 30amp service.

Unless you need to be able to run the AC you could buy an electrical adapter to convert your 3-prong 30 A cord to work with a normal household 15 A receptacle. That's what I did. I've been lucky that my AC and frig. will both run in addition to a minimum of inside lighting without tripping the breaker. I start the AC first, and then I add the other loads to give the AC unit plenty of starting current.

Here are some examples of what the adapter that you could use looks like (note that having a lighted cord somewhere near the trailer is REALLY handy so that you can determine whether you have power at the trailer):

Coleman Cable 09542 14/3 STW 15 to 30-Amp RV Adapter Extension Cord with Lighted End, 18-Inch, Black - Power Strips And Multi Outlets - Camco 55165 15M/30F 12" PowerGrip Dogbone Electrical Adapter with Handle: Automotive Conntek Locking Adapter with 15 Amp 125 Volt Male Plug To 30 Amp Female Connector: Sports & Outdoors

Being able to move your trailer into the driveway for a night or two is all you really need. In your situation I might strongly consider the largest size trailer that I could comfortably back up into the driveway.

If your driveway access is really tough to handle with your tow vehicle, you might look into a powered trailer dolly. They allow you to move a trailer around in VERY tight quarters. There is another active thread on these here (there are also many others):

Piggy Bank 05-26-2014 07:40 AM

Thanks, that is good info. That would be easier and better use of electrician time than putting in a 30 amp. (although we may have a circuit already available from previous owner's electric oven and dryer. We added gas.)

So we just reviewed more closely the HOA lingo. We would be permitted to have the trailer on the street in front of the house for up to 24 hours when loading and unloading. Of course not sure how the neighbors would take to this. The driveway still may be the better answer. There is not much frontage space on the street in front of our house. More on the other side, but then we couldn't plug in since the cord would be crossing the street.

How much time is recommended to plug in and get the refrigerator cool? Or if that is the only thing needed to be cool, can we just use propane for that? How long does it take to charge up the batteries? Could you add solar to charge the batteries and not worry about plugging in before departing? This is all a lot of detail to process. I think that we are still very much confused about would we rather have a 19 or 20, or a 23 or 25. 16 is out. 22 is out due to Sport level of trim. Hubs is rather on the fence. So speak out if you have opinions regarding this please!!

Renderit, you have nailed it exactly. Don't want the bathroom only for emergency backup plan. So the 16 is out due to 21 gallon waste capacity just not being enough.

Airrogant 05-26-2014 08:03 AM

Be very careful NOT to plug your trailer into a dryer outlet. The plugs will unfortunately make this seem like a good idea, but it is not. The voltage at the dryer outlet is 240 VAC whereas your trailer needs 120 VAC. I've read that very bad things can happen to your trailer if you inadvertently plug your cord into the dryer outlet.

I've read that some people cool their frig. overnight before their trip. It seemed like it took closer to a day for me. Some load it up with pre-chilled food and/or ice to assist with the cooling and to shorten the cool-down time. You could do this with propane if you want to use up some of your tanks' fuel capacity before your trip. If you want to keep the frig. running when you're traveling you'll need to be running it on propane. That is a topic of fierce debate. It may not be legal in the States that you would be traveling thru. You will find all kinds of info. on the propane debates here on the forums.

I don't have a solar system, but from what I've read many solar users are able to keep their batteries fully-charged. It sounds like a well-designed solar system (which may not be the factory one) really can extend the boondocking experience.

xrvr 05-26-2014 08:15 AM

Inexpensive microwaves sometimes do not stand up to the bouncing of an rv. Of course you can buy more than one cheapo for what an rv micro sells for. I think it is a wash, I use the cheapo ones. Jim

Piggy Bank 05-26-2014 08:21 AM

Gotcha Airrogant. Good reminder that the dryer would be 220. Mostly I meant that my breaker box would have the open slot for adding a 30 amp circuit by a qualified electrician.

ZigZagguzzi, good point on the bouncing. We moved our daughter home from her college rental cross town on Saturday. Rented a U haul enclosed trailer since it was raining a bit. There is definitely going to be some motion to consider, even if things are "secured" as well as can be.

Ahab 05-26-2014 09:32 AM

We started out looking at the 16', then 17', 20', and ended up with the 22'. Purchased the then new '08 model Sept '07. Have over 20k on it now with no regrets. Trim level was not a concern for us as it has every thing one could ask for. The large bathroom was the clincher. They come with a GR24 battery which would last 3 or 4 days boondocking. We now use a GR29 and charge with a Honda 2000i genny and lasts as long as the gas holds out. If we're doing hook-ups we don't take the genny along. Our unit came with a larger fresh water tank and the Canadian running gear with larger tires. :):):)

aftermath 05-26-2014 09:58 AM

You are doing the right thing by asking all of the questions and you are getting some very good responses from those who know/own 19,20 and 22 footers.

We have a 25 FB and purchased it for many reasons but one of the big ones was we did not like the corner beds where someone has to crawl over the other. We are now retired in our early 60s and we knew this would be an issue. The larger bathroom is also a big plus even though is it still small.

We have camped for a week or more on many occasions so I do have a few hints. Get the solar if you can. I don't have it and have to rely on my generator to charge things up. Do not get a trailer with a combined gray and black tank. It will fill fast and then you are stuck. Someone mentioned that you can follow many of the same procedures you used when tent camping to manage the water issue. Well, I agree but I am in the minority when I say what I will say next. When you were camping you washed the dishes and then most likely dumped the dish water at the base of the nearest shrub. When it is appropriate, I have been known to drain the gray tank in a similar manner. A hose from the outlet to some bushes well away from the parking pad is a great way to solve the problem while helping the bushes in our dry climate at the same time.

We park our trailer at a yard about 15 miles from our house. I bring it home the day before we leave, wash it and pack it. I turn on the fridge and mine cools down easily within 6 hours. Use the PROPANE, it is more efficient than the electricity. The amount of gas you use is very small as the burner is more like a pilot light than a big flame. You could run your fridge on propane for weeks and weeks and still have plenty left. Not so with the water heater and furnace.

Lastly, we prefer the oven to the microwave. With an oven you can always use it. With the microwave, you have to have a running generator. If you are in a NF campground you probably will not have hookups. We do coffee cake in the morning and baked potatoes for dinner and lots of stuff in between.

If your HOA allows the 24 hour setup time you can manage this with a little practice. Tell your neighbors ahead of time and just do it. We will leave ours in front of our house for a few days at a time but I don't like putting the neighbors out nor do I want to take the chance of something happening to the Airstream while parked in the "hood".

Best wishes in your hunt. The search is part of the fun.

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