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Old 01-02-2021, 12:44 PM   #1
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Temecula , California
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16 vs 19 for family weekend trips ?

First time poster. We are looking at getting an AS and our tow vehicle is a BMW X5. Inline 6.

We plan to use for weekend trips mostly - national parks, the beach, and other Southern California sites. We have kids. Would have them sleep in tent outside or on couch - and wife and I will use this on some weekend date getaways without kids . Our kids are getting older and will be with us for a few more years but will soon ďnot want to goĒ as they will be adults - so it needs to fit two comfortably but be capable to fit 4 if necessary. Like n a rainstorm they can come in.

Our tow vehicle is an X5. We are going to add an invisi hitch / stealth hitch. I believe it has a gross vehicle capacity of 7000 poundsz

We are debating between 16 and 19 and between Bambi and caravel. We are planning to keep this for a long time and when the kids get older the wife and I would like to use it to take longer trips. Cross country even. Would a 16 be too small? Would a 19 work.?

I see the 16 has one combined gray/black tank and the 19 has separate tanks. Is this a big deal? As a novice I dot know if this is something I should. Be concerned about for usage longer than a weekend

We may do camps with hookups but will also go to sites with no amenities so we may have to dry camp for a weekend- weíd want something thst coikd allow us to use showers and toilet fir a day or two off the grid. Would both do this

Is there a huge difference I now a 16 vs a 19 will tow? The 19í is heavier but I dint think either would exceed the gross weight we can tow.

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Old 01-02-2021, 01:06 PM   #2

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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Posts: 16,572
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Welcome Aboard👍

Go for 'bigger is better'.
An Airstream truism, the longer the trailer the longer you'll own it.

Don't use the tow vehicle as a limiting factor, the AS, if you do decide to keep it, will outlast most any TV.🤔

"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.Ē
― Molly Ivins

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Old 01-02-2021, 01:10 PM   #3
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2019 25' Flying Cloud
Hendersonville , North Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 702
What size?

A 16' is really small. Good for 1 person and the occasional 2. The 19' would be better. Considerer looking at a Flying Cloud 20'. Great floor plan with one of the best kitchen layouts in a smaller AS and still a single axle. Your TV would be fine for any of them when properly set up.
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:56 PM   #4
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2015 28' Flying Cloud
2012 25' Flying Cloud
2007 20' Safari SE
Fuquay Varina , North Carolina
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 478
Check Out the 20 ft too

We started with a 20 footer. Can't beat the kitchen layout.
Bigger tank capacity for not too much more weight.

Yes, separate tanks are a big deal!
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Old 01-02-2021, 02:50 PM   #5
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2009 25' FB International
2018 27' Globetrotter
Hanover , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,145
Bigger is better. Very, very few people say they bought one too big but there are many who say they bought their first one too small!

I'd go with the 19' if these were the only choices!

Wishing you the best!
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Old 01-02-2021, 03:01 PM   #6
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2015 20' Flying Cloud
Kingsport , Tennessee
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The thing that 'irks' me about the 16' most of all is the wetbath (that the toilet is IN that shower): it's more accepted in Europe, it economizes on space, but it's a non-starter for me.

I like the 20 a lot. But, it is heavy for a single-axle, compared to the other Bambi's. I'm not up on BMW specs, but I would think it could handle any of the single-axle Airstreams.

Bambi vs Caravel: The Caravel (or the Bambi versions of the Flying Cloud line before the became their own family), have the rock guards, the rear bumper, and a next-level-up interior over the Bambi (previously the Sport) versions. If all you cared about was the rock guard or the rear bumper, and not the interior, you could start w/ the Sport/Bambi version, and then just add rock guards and/or the rear bumper to it... but, you might prefer just going ahead and getting the Caravel version instead.

Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2021, 03:06 PM   #7
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2020 23' International
Evergreen , Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 346
It would be best to spend some time in each size and floor plan if possible. It’s also important to prioritize what you want and need in a trailer. My wife and I camp with just our dog (adult kids sleep outside in tents when they join us), so we really wanted a small, maneuverable trailer. Initially, I had my eye on the Caravel 20 because of the large galley and general layout. Once we saw one, we realized that we wanted a bigger bed. This resulted in a bump up to an International 23 FB queen. I’m very pleased with the decision to go slightly bigger.

You’ll be fine for weekend trips dry camping with any Airstream, but one with separate and bigger tanks certainly gives you more flexibility. Our 23-footer has a 30 gallon grey tank, and we find that it is the most limiting factor when camping off the grid. We have become very good at quick showers, and doing things like washing dishes in a bucket to keep from filling up our tank. It works well, but it requires some thought.

Good luck!

2020 International Serenity 23 FB "Sparkle Plenty"
2018 GMC Denali 1500 Crew Cab 4x4
Airstream Club International #2805
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Old 01-02-2021, 03:21 PM   #8
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1956 22' Safari
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Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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If boondocking, the separate tanks is a good thing. With campsite hook-ups not as big of a deal.

I would think 4 people in a 16-footer on a rainy day would be a big challenge...look at the floor space. You don't mention pets - but they take space too...

19 or 20 foot is good for two people and the longer the trip you plan on taking, the more you are going to appreciate that extra space. One other thought it, whether or not making up/down a bed everyday is going to be an issue for you. We had a 19' vintage (I know you are looking at new or new-ish), which we loved - but it did not have a full-time bed - it was a sofa by day/bed by night. For a weekend or so, it was no big deal - but on longer trips it became cumbersome. Same thing with a dinette - if it has to be made-up into bed each night, it is a pain...

I would suggest going to a dealer to check them out - try sitting at the table with four people or image four people in there on a rainy day...even if the kids do sleep in a tent. Once they are adults & married, you may have grandkids in the picture too! How/where would you accommodate them?

Good luck with whatever you decide on!

Vintage Airstream Club - Past President 2007/2008
WBCCI #1824 - DenCO Unit Past President (2005)
AIR #30 - Join Date: 2-25-2002

RMVAC | WBCCI DenCO Unit | BIRDY - our 1956 Safari | 1964 Serro Scotty
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Old 01-02-2021, 03:45 PM   #9
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2016 16' Sport
Miami , Florida
Join Date: Aug 2016
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I’m on my second 16 so I wouldn’t necessarily say that bigger is better is a truism. If it were then you might as well go straight for the 5th wheel.
There are lots of threads comparing 16s and 19s. In my opinion most of it comes down to if your ok with the wet bath. Some folks are just too big to make that work. It’s never been an issue for us. As far as space goes most of the extra space in the 19 goes to the separate shower.
In my opinion the 16 has a much nicer layout but the 19 has a better bathroom. Spend time in both. I really don’t see one as better then the other.
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Old 01-02-2021, 05:28 PM   #10
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2019 22' Sport
High River , Alberta
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Posts: 587
We have the 22FB, and it works well for us. We like the 54Ē bed.

Having said that, I think the 19CB has an excellent layout, as long as you are fine with the 48Ē bed. The galley and dinette area seem very spacious.

I only know of one couple who had a 16í for more than a few years. And even then, when something happened to it they replaced it with a 19.
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Old 01-02-2021, 06:24 PM   #11
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1962 28' Ambassador
1961 19' Globetrotter
1962 26' Overlander
Mesa , Arizona
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I'm with Inside. 4 people inside with their "stuff" could be tight.

We're out in our 19 for the first time and it's cozy. A couple can figure out the "dance" but 4 people getting out if each other's way is more creative.

4 heavy jackets, 4 hiking boots, phones, bedding.....

I also think where there's a will there's a way. It's camping it's togetherness, it's making memories.

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Old 01-02-2021, 06:31 PM   #12
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1977 23' Safari
Niagara on the Lake , Ontario
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Layout is everything on a smaller trailer.

My wife and I started camping in a 13í Trillium. It was too small and had no bathroom. Basically a rolling tent, you could have a table or a bed but not both at the same time.

Then we moved up to the 23Ē Safari. Before we had kids it was way more space than we needed. Now we camp with two kids and itís just right for the way we use it.
We normally cook and eat outside so the trailer is for sleeping and changing in to bathing suits. We can all hide inside if there is bad weather.

Think a lot about how you will use it and if you can, get a trailer where you are not constantly re arranging things or converting a table to a bed and back again.
1977 Safari Land Yacht
2005 Toyota Tundra SR5
2010 Ford Flex Ecoboost
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Old 01-02-2021, 06:48 PM   #13
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2020 16' Basecamp
Louisville , Kentucky
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 30

What about a basecamp? We have a 2020 16x and routinely camp with 2 kids their spouses and 2 pups. They sleep either in a ground tent or roooftop tent. Plenty of room inside to eat and drink and warm up if it is cold. Showers outside, the combined black/gray would never handle all of us showering. Great off road ability and if you need more room a 20x would nail it.
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Old 01-02-2021, 09:37 PM   #14
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2020 23' Flying Cloud
Sebastian , Florida
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 322
That many people, even occasionally? Boondocking? Go bigger, for the extra tank capacity.
Having made this (not cheap) discovery ourselves, I recommend the Caravel over the Bambi because of the ducted air. WAY quieter. Try them side by side, if you need to be convinced. Living in CA, you will find a sleepable A/C is not a luxury.
(That man in that tiny can)
(Same man, Bigger can)
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Old 01-02-2021, 09:43 PM   #15
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Berlin , Maryland
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If you are going to go with that size you will need a tent to provide additional space. anyway the bigger you can go the more you all will enjoy it
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Old 01-03-2021, 12:58 AM   #16
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2021 16' Caravel
Kirkland , Washington
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 103
I went through the same decision making 6 months ago and went with 16' and have not regret it a bit.

I went to dealership and sat in both 16' and 19' - the 19' really didn't feel any bigger, I like the 16' layout *much* better.

Pros of 16:
+ Pano rear window - most of the nice camping sites I have been to have better/much better view in rear, that's the direction you find ocean/beach/lake/river/creek/canyon the front window, usually has the view of your TV, or a big 5th wheel across the road.

+ Better under bed storage, the 16' has a bigger under bed compartment with bigger access door on both exterior and interior side.

Pros of 19'
+ Separate black and grey tank - this in my opinion the true advantage the 19' has. the separate grey tank allow you to manage your holding tank better. As you can transport grey water to a a drain close to your camp site without drag the whole rig to dump station. And to your question on this - it is a big deal for 4 (for my wife and myself it's less important but still is an important factor) because in PNW it's much more difficult to find state parks with sewage hookup, and we don't like RV parks. If you are in same situation, with 4 people you will fill up the combined tank really quick, you might have to go to dump station everyday, unless you manually manage grey water with basin/buckets. This is usually the deciding factor of how long you can stay without hookup (not battery, fresh water)

+ Dry bath - many people doesn't like the wet bath in 16'. I am not one of them.

If you feel small in a 16', it's very unlikely you will find 19' satisfactory. My suggestion is do not rush this decision, you really have to consider how you will be using it, how you are going to store in in off season and so on.
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:45 AM   #17
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Temecula , California
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Lots of great info for me to consider !!

You now have me thinking maybe I should focus on the bigger ones! the original reason why I thought about the 16 is simply because it looks so small and convenient... but the more I research it the more I wonder if perhaps a 16 could be too small and something larger would actually be more what we need. One reason why I was looking at the small trailers is that I thought that was all I could pull but in researching the trailer hitch for my car I realize that my TV itís actually capable of pulling something larger probably up to a 23 foot flying cloud.

Our till vehicle is a in-line six turbo charged to BMW X5. Iím going to have a hitch installed - there is one for our car called a stealth hitch / invisihitch - It installs like a normal trailer hitch but the ball is removable so when you take the ball off everything is concealed on the bumper... according to the literature itís rated to pull a gross vehicle weight of 7700 lbs and a tongue weight if 600 lbs. our car has the optional air suspension in the rear and itís self leveling... Which from what Iíve read is a benefit for towing...

Anyway Iíve been reading about the weights of the various trailers and it looks like from my reading that any of the Bambi or Caravel trailers would fall within the capacity of my tow vehicle and honestly the low and flying cloud would as well.

If I had the ability to tell something larger than a 16 or 19 foot or maybe I would consider it I was initially thinking that my vehicle will only be able to accommodate the small trailers but now Iím thinking I could probably go slightly larger.

Iím wondering if for a beginner there would be a tremendous difference noticeable between pulling something thatís 16 feet versus 19 feet versus even something larger like 22 or 23 I am I going to really notice a big difference or is it going to essentially feel the same or am I missing something and putting a 16 foot trailer will be drastically different than pulling at 22 or 23??

I can see that if I had something slightly larger it might end up being future proved in that as we get more into the lifestyle and want to go on longer trips will have more options available and have a capacity to do longer trips and have more space

I guess for some reason having something little like 16 feet made it seem like it would be easier to just hook up and go compared to something bigger but maybe thatís not really true.

I have thought about the storage aspect and Iím fortunate to have a relative that lives about 20 minutes away who has a several acre property and would allow me to store my trailer there for free. It will be outdoors but it will be within a fenced property and safe.

The wife and I are going to head over to the airstream dealer we actually live a few miles away from a dealership it would be safe and protected and I would not be spending a lot of money on storage fees.

I thought a lot about how we would be using it and the confusing part is thst it kind of depends. I think in the short term most of our trips will be very short - - two or three days - and will probably be spending more time at national parks or small local campsites some of them do have hook ups for RVs and trailers. But they will definitely be places that we would want to go to where we might not have access to all of the amenities and all the hook ups. Having something slightly larger they could stay off the grid for two or three days without worrying about tanks filling up would be nice

Right now our kids are teenagers and so I could see us bringing them with us in the short term but in the long term - all will be in college - one already is - I can foresee that the trailer is going to eventually be something that my wife and I are traveling by ourselves without the kids. If we did go on a longer trip like a couple weeks or even a month it would be nice to have more space.

Is there any reason Iím not aware of we are having something like 16 feet or 19 feet is actually better than a slightly larger unit like 22 or 23 feet? Are there substantial numbers of spots or spaces that will fit a 16 or 19 foot trailer that you canít fit in something bigger and therefore the small trailers have some advantage Iím not aware of or is there some drastic difference in how they tow ??

The wife and I are going to head over to the airstream dealer we actually live a few miles away from a dealership so we can go walk around the inside of them and look at them and get an actual real life perspective of what it would be like to be in one.

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Old 01-03-2021, 01:57 AM   #18
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2007 22' International CCD
Corona , California
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 8,515
Look at them, sit In them, check the sleeping area and bathroom areas are comfortable, check storage and imagine you stuck in it in a rainy day. Take your time investigating what really works for you.

My wife and I have a 2007 22í International CCD that my son gave to us when his family got bigger. We do travel with dogs, but no kids.

IMHO itís just big enough for two people, three in a pinch. Itís unusual in that itís a short dual axle narrow-body Airstream. Nowadays the shortest dual axle is 23í. I prefer the handling and safety of a dual axle setup.

I tow with a 2012 crew cab Toyota Tacoma. It handles well with a ProPride hitch setup, but in the mountains I find myself wishing it was a V-8 Tundra...

Find what fits your style and family.
Rich, KE4GNK/AE, Overkill Engineering Dept.
'The Silver HamShack' ('07 International 22FB CCD 75th Anniversary)
Multiple Yaesu Ham Radios inside and many antennae sprouting from roof, ProPride hitch, Prodigy P2 controller.
2012 shortbed CrewMax 4x4 Toyota Tacoma TV with more antennae on it.
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Old 01-03-2021, 08:55 AM   #19
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2015 20' Flying Cloud
Kingsport , Tennessee
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 123
While your BMW X5 is listed for up to 7700lbs, the two other numbers you need to look at are tongue weight (also called hitch weight) and your payload, ie, all the stuff in the vehicle (people, pets, plus the tongue weight). Your BMW has an allowable tongue weight of 600lbs? Let's look at some weights:
I just grabbed the 22' Caravel, then the 23ft and 25ft Flying Clouds for an example...
The 22ft (which is still a single axle) has a tongue weight of 525lbs, so that's okay, but then the 23ft CB has a tongue weight of 654lbs, which goes over; and the 25ft is 837lbs, and is a lot over, not just a little. (Now, to be accurate, if you switch layouts from the 23CB to the 23FB, the 23FB has a lower tongue weight of 467lbs.... something to keep in mind, that in the same length, a change of floorplans can change the way it rides.)
I don't know what a BMW X5 payload is, but, when you take that 600lbs out of it (or whatever your tongue weight ends up being), and you account for all passengers, you might not have much payload left (if any). Something else to check.

Good luck....
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:15 AM   #20
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2021 20' Caravel
Plaistow , New Hampshire
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 34
For all those who have suggested to sit in, check out or try them, I had found that a hard thing to do considering no one has any stock considering what is going on currently.
Waiting for the A.S.
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