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Old 01-01-2018, 07:42 AM   #1
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Purchasing an Airstream for the first time

We are about ready to pull the trigger and purchase our first airstream (and RV). After some research and looking around on the internet, we have found some used and new to go look at this week. I am looking for some opinions/experiences with the following options for us. We are looking at a year old 16 Sport, 2015 20 Flying Cloud, and 2015 23CB Flying Cloud (nice thing about the 23CB is it has a dual axle, but heavier). Also looking at a new 19CB Flying Cloud. We will make smaller trips in the midwest but intend to eventually venture out to Colorado and east coast. We do have some experience towing a large boat. I am interested in peoples experience and suggestions with these options above. Also with these size RVs any comments on sway bar control. Any comments/opinions are appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:27 AM   #2
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The principal piece of advice I can give is: "bigger is better."

Sure the 16 and 19 footers are "cute" and the thought of fitting into a microscopic campsite on the edge of a river without any neighbors for miles around is appealing. And those smaller units are indeed fine for short weekend-types of trips. But once you start to venture out for weeks and months at a time the lack of space becomes a serious issue.

In my personal opinion (for which I expect to be mercilessly attacked by the "smaller is better crowd" ) a 25 foot model is the minimal size for a couple planning an extended trip. We have a 27 footer in fact and find it just about right and selected this size because we did not like the orientation of the queen bed in the 25. If your eventual plans are to travel extensively, which I define as a month or more, I would consider a 25 or larger. At a minimum, the dual axle 23 you have found could work.

There are plenty of other things to consider when selecting a new (to you) Airstream and I'll let others chime in with their thoughts.
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:49 AM   #3
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I'll never have another single axle trailer after two blowouts on I-70.
For me, not having to convert anything to sleep or eat is mandatory. (No sleeping on the dinette)

Used is fine. As long as it isn't used up and the price reflects savings over new.

Never have a trade in. Sell your old unit outright, then go see the dealer.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:31 AM   #4
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In my 2yr/30K mile AS experience, AnnArborBob speaks the truth.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:41 AM   #5
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I echo the comments of AnnArborBob. Bigger is better so I would recommend the 23' at minimum but think the 25' would be a better option. You didn't mention your TV so that may be a limiting factor.

Best wishes and your new AS (whatever you choose) will make the new year even happier!
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:46 AM   #6
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bigger the better

yup, go big as your budget will allow, I bought a 2017 16' in Feb. 2017, within 4 months I went up to a 23fb. , and still wish I had more room
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Old 01-01-2018, 10:25 AM   #7
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Hans627 - My tow vehicle currently is a Toyota Sequoia. Thx
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:06 AM   #8
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Take a peek at the 23FB. It also has a queen bed, same as the 25FB, but it's only 23' 9" long, and lighter in the tongue than the 25' models. Only a bit longer than the 23CB, but that extra bit of room makes a difference. Also has twin axles, which we prefer over the single axle models.

We have a 27FB as well, which is actually 28' long, and are very happy with it especially for longer trips (e.g. 3 months on the road), but if we could go smaller we would, and the 23FB is at the top of our list for consideration. We may yet make the jump, but remain undecided. Good luck in your hunt!
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:08 AM   #9
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I will second what Bob said. We did a long trip last summer and I don't think we would go with anything less than 25. When it was time to pull the trigger on our Airstream the biggest thing my Wife wanted was the walk around bed. May sound a little silly but it sure beats the midnight gymnastics when someone needs to get up.

The only thing we didn't consider was the shower. For me, its the only thing I don't care for. I had to learn to sit while showering.

My advice is to not be in hurry to get an Airstream. Maybe rent a class C for a week and see how you do with the space. Go to the RV shows and sit it the Airstreams. Stand in the shower and see if you're ok with it. Sit in the bathroom and stand up, turn around and see if there is adequate room. If you get the 25; will you be ok with no night stand on one side. Also consider weight. Our Classic is quite a bit heavier than say a Flying Cloud. This can have a big effect on what type of tow vehicle you use.

If we were looking to buy today, we would probably go with the 26U. Saw one last summer and really liked the layout.

Have fun!
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:08 AM   #10
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

We are fairly experienced in this Airstream thing. In the last twelve years, we have camped for 1.900 nights. and pulled our Airstreams over 170,000 miles.

We started out with a new 25FB in 2005, and went to a used 23FB in 2013. We found the the 23FB a little tight for our camping style, and went back to a new 25FB in 2014.

I would highly recommend that you spend some time at an Airstream Dealer sitting in the various size Airstreams that you are considering. Imagine that you are at a campsite. Move around in the trailer, and see how it feels. Make sure that you do not get in each other's way. Consider the various sleeping arrangements. See how the bathroom feels to you. Also consider the tank capacities of the different models. These are the real considerations if you want to become a serious Airstreamer.

The little single axle trailers are as cute as a puppy, but can be somewhat tight in longer term real life camping situations. Take your time in choosing a floor plan that is right for you. Remember that an Airstream that does not provide a satisfactory camping/living experience is likely to end up being a very expensive piece of yard art.

As far as your tow vehicle is concerned, a late model Sequoia should not have a problem with any Airstream up to a 27FB.

Brian
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
...As far as your tow vehicle is concerned, a late model Sequoia should not have a problem with any Airstream up to a 27FB....
Oh no, Brian, don't get folks started on a TV discussion!

You TV folks (and you know who you are) please use your compression brakes to slow down early and steer clear of this thread so we can stay on the OP's topic.
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:51 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by AnnArborBob View Post
The principal piece of advice I can give is: "bigger is better."
Agree completely. We had considered a 25 for several years of full timing around the continent. At a fall RV show, Can-Am had a 28 on display at a reasonable price. After a night's careful consideration, we decided to go for it and have never regretted our choice. This was also our first RV and the towing/learning curve wasn't painful at all.
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Old 01-01-2018, 02:27 PM   #13
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Hate to be the only descending voice here but I don't believe Bigger is Better in all circumstances. Yes, bigger can be better but before taking such a hard line approach I would ask more questions about the OP, his family, his TV, and his intentions, If he anticipates taking children along then a 19 or 20 would probably not be a good idea. However if it is just 1 or 2 adults with a modest TV who seldom will be out more than a few days then a smaller unit has some advantages.

When my wife and I started our purchase process we were inundated by the Bigger is Better crowd. Don't get me wrong, we love the larger units and if our camping style changes we will trade for a longer unit in a heartbeat. But there are just two of us and about the only time we are in the trailer is when we are sleeping or eating. Our main goal when camping is to spend as much time outdoors as possible. And yes we seek out those quaint tight boon docking spots alongside the river with nobody else around. For us and our camping style the FC19 is a perfect match.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:57 AM   #14
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Things to consider:
1) How long will your trips be?
2) How big is your tow vehicle?
3) What kind of Weight Distribution Hitch should I get.
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:15 AM   #15
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After 160k miles towing and 14 years with Airstream as our first and only RV, agree with:
- get as large as budget allows,
- search beyond Airstream, as there are many excellent, application specific choices you may not have considered, and
- don't be in hurry.

Sounds like you are doing exactly the research you need. Look forward to hearing more about your selection and travels.

73/gus
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:23 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milleras View Post
We are about ready to pull the trigger and purchase our first airstream (and RV). After some research and looking around on the internet, we have found some used and new to go look at this week. I am looking for some opinions/experiences with the following options for us. We are looking at a year old 16 Sport, 2015 20 Flying Cloud, and 2015 23CB Flying Cloud (nice thing about the 23CB is it has a dual axle, but heavier). Also looking at a new 19CB Flying Cloud. We will make smaller trips in the midwest but intend to eventually venture out to Colorado and east coast. We do have some experience towing a large boat. I am interested in peoples experience and suggestions with these options above. Also with these size RVs any comments on sway bar control. Any comments/opinions are appreciated.

Thanks
K&K
Congratulations on making a wise decision no matter which Airstream you purchase. The beauty of an Airstream in that they never go out of style, they retain their value like no other recreational vehicle, and you will be joining a community of the nicest and kindest people you may ever hope to meet.

Most every comment I have read is worthy of your consideration. I am one who likes bigger units. I have owned two Airstreams, a 1969 Sovereign and now a 1993 Excella. The 1969 was 30' and the 1993 is 32'. This far I travel by myself because my wife is not a fan of RV's no matter the make or model. I like being able to invite friends in for a coffee or other beverage. When fishing a couple of times each year with an old Army buddy, who has a fifth wheel, I have him in for breakfast in the morning and a beer or two in the evening.

My bed is permanent and the bathroom. shower, galley, etc. are all large enough for me to utilize them comfortably. Storage is adequate, but not abundant. You really want to consider your style when traveling with your Airstream. How much room for people, storage, etc. will you need. And, what will you do is/when the weather is bad for a day or two.

Please keep us informed and let us know your "final selection."

David Parker
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:40 AM   #17
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I agree more with Kellog.... bigger is not necessarily better... unless your camping group is also bigger i.e., more than two persons.

My wife and I are completely satisified with our single-axle 22' Sport, which has the front queen bed, rear stand-up shower, and toilet across the aisle from the shower. The galley is completely adequate for our use (we do like to BBQ outdoors but breakfast and lunch often indoors sitting on our full-length sofa and eating off TV tables.)

We don't have tire problems with a single axle because we buy premium, properly-rated tires and keep them properly inflated. We don't have a problem with storage because we tow with a crew-cab pickup truck with a hard tonneau cover where we keep the less-used and cumbersome articles (like spare ice cooler and generator and lawn chairs, etc.) The single axle has allowed us to park in some pretty tight places and maneuvering it up/down hills and around obstacles is a breeze. (See the attached where we camped in a site no one else could fit... in a park that otherwise had no vacancies.... "thank you little Bambi!" ) Smaller is also easier on the pocketbook and gas-tank. It also is narrower than the Flying Clouds, etc., so ordinary side-mirrors work just fine ...no need for special "trick" towing mirrors. (A backup camera is also a nice feature to have, as is a rear bumper-storage.) We did also added an axle "lift kit" which gives us another 3" of ground clearance.

The only issue that I might wish were different will be as we age and find a walk-around bed might be more convenient during the night as one gets up for the bathroom. For now, my wife simply remains still and I climb over her without difficulty. (But she sometimes charges me a kiss for the toll.)
It's not an issue that will likely cause us to give up our favorite little Airstream tho'.

Buying a clean unit USED will make your first experience more pleasant as you avoid the steep depreciation of a new one should you decide to change later.

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Old 01-02-2018, 11:11 AM   #18
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We think small is beautiful!

We bought our first RV and Airstream 10 years ago. Normally during the camping season we take two short trips or one longer trip per month. Then we also tend to take a really long trip or two. Next month we'll be spending 4-5 weeks near Death Valley in the Mojave desert.

We'd still have our petite Bambi I if it hadn't been totaled in an accident. When we were ready to buy its replacement we went for a new 19' Flying Cloud, vs. a used (and much cheaper) 23' International.

Why? Although we definitely take the point on dual axels, we like to camp in smaller, older "primitive" USFS, state park, and BLM campgrounds in the West, that were developed ages ago, and where a shorter trailer (not forgetting TV and tongue lengths) gets us into more cool places.

We are old tent campers and didn't think we needed to tow the Taj Mahal down the highway for all the comforts of home, just a small hard-sided RV so we could sleep without rocks in our backs.

We have camped for 6-to-8 weeks at a pop, including with a dog, no problem.

You do need a kind of a drill, for how two people are going to function in a small space. Our "rule" is that if one person is up dressing, cooking, whatever, the other person is seated or outside.

Storage space is a problem inside the little guys. Solution? A pickup truck with a topper (cap, canopy) on the back. We travel with all kinds of camping gear, no problem. We do not lug around a lot of kitchen appliances, relying on perfectly decent low-tech space-saving alternatives. (For example, for drip coffee, boil water on stove, use paper coffee filter on collapsible cone, and brew directly into thermos.)

Our assessment:

16' is fine for 1-2 people who want a small footprint. Wet bath is functional. Limited kitchen

19' has a dry bath and a bit more storage space.

20' FC has a decent kitchen in the rear plus dry bath, but if you have one night owl who likes to watch DVDs and one early bird, there's not much separation between the bed and the dinette.

The one layout we didn't care for is the 22' Sport. Oftentimes your best view in your campsite is out the back. However, on the current Sport models you can get the stone guards and rear storage bumper installed as options. We'd recommend these, as well. (But see Boxite's more favourable experiences.)

The one bed against the wall isn't ideal, but it's a matter of a minute or two to take down and put up the dinette bed.

If you'd like to go bigger, there may be some good used ones that would keep the price down. However, if this means needing a beefier tow vehicle that you wouldn't much want where you live, that would be another big expense consideration. (We towed our 16- Bambi with a Tacoma, now have a Tundra.)

We take sway bar control very seriously.
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Old 01-02-2018, 11:32 AM   #19
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Example of a cool campsite with our own waterfront that is too short for a long trailer plus tow vehicle (just a couple feet to the loop road.) This is the municipal campground in New Denver, BC on Slocan Lake. Even more limited are the nearby campgrounds at Wragge Beach and Silverton, BC; or the Lion's Head CG on Priest Lake in northern Idaho. (This list is suggestive, not inclusive.)

Truck has room for all of our paddling and hiking gear, generator,lawn chairs, &c.
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Old 01-02-2018, 12:00 PM   #20
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We tow a 25 and love the room as 1-3 older children often join us. But...I love hearing about those with 16'-23' trailers as we too most frequently go to National Park, State Park, and Forest Service campgrounds. The smaller the rig the more campsite options here in the west. And yes, I understand that there are always campsites for larger rigs but many of the sites we like are smaller sized. And the larger sites fill up quicker, as well, especially when traveling on the "fly" with no reservations which we like to do when possible.

Lots of good advice on this thread!
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