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Old 06-17-2020, 04:27 PM   #1
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5th Wheel vs Airstream

First let me say I understand the cache and beauty of Airstreams. I have lusted after one for many years.

I am getting down to a decision and I have a question. Having looked at many rv's and as much as I would like an AS, I can buy a 31 ft quality fifth wheel that night and day has much more room and liveability with the inherent towability of a fifth wheel. This for quite a bit less than the AS.

I could understand somewhat better if a new AS was bullitproof in quality, inside and out, which for it's price it should be. But as we have all seen that is not the case.

So I guess the question is how do you justify spending substantially more for the AS...I know I am missing something here.

Thanks
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Old 06-17-2020, 04:44 PM   #2
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Look at the prices of 25 year old box trailers and look at the same age Airstream. There is your answer!!
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Old 06-17-2020, 04:45 PM   #3
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Tough decisions as there are many great trailers for sure. For me it was aesthetics.

There are very few trailers that have the attention to detail, finishes, and naturally lit ambiance that Airstream offers. I like the metal and riveted walls far more than the dark faux paneling and furniture in other trailers. Sure it’s smaller, but I enjoy spending time in an AS more than other trailers. If size and storage were my primary goals I would have taken up another trailer but it came down to design preferences. Good luck.
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Old 06-17-2020, 05:23 PM   #4
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Welcome! We love helping people spend their money. <grin>


First of all, are we comparing apples and apples? Both trailers brand new? Airstream and DRV? If you are looking at, say, a Montana and an Airstream you aren't comparing apples to apples. Look at a DRV Mobile Suites to compare to an Airstream.


The Suites has lots more room - and lots more weight. Most Airstreams can easily be towed by a truck in the F250 class, and if you are looking at new pickups, quite a few by a properly-speced F150. The Suites will require at least an F350, and maybe an F450.


Today I drove nearly 300 miles in 30 mph winds. My motor home is just under 12' tall, and has an airbag suspension. It also weighs 30,000 pounds. I had no troubles with the winds. I saw a few Airstreams going the other way, and they didn't seem to have any problems, either. One fifth wheel seemed to be having some trouble. May have been a moment of inattention or a sudden wind gust, who knows.


Remember that NO RV is perfect when it leaves the factory, and very few are when they leave the dealer's lot. Airstream is no exception. If you are buying new, the dealer's service department's reputation should be the deciding factor.


I just went back and checked your location. Are you, by any chance, considering an Arctic Fox? They aren't in the same class as an Airstream, but are generally considered a pretty good trailer for the price. They are made up in the NW, so you can easily visit the factory.
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Old 06-17-2020, 05:47 PM   #5
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If you are looking at it logically 5th wheel wins. In most catagories the typical 5th wheel has much more to offer, insulation, tankage, carrying capacity, electrical capacity, interior storage, exterior storage, off road ability. People always bring up depreciation on SOBs as justification for Airsteams initial purchase price but unless you spend a great deal of time and money on upkeep you will take it in the back pocket just as bad with an Airstream as a SOB.


My first love when I wanted to travel was an Airstream 25. After much research and contemplation I ended up with a 30' 5th wheel and it suited my needs quite well. Over time my style of travel changed and I just don't need very much. I like to travel far and light. A 25' Airstream is now my preferred mode of RVing but I hardly think, it's right for everyone, or most even. Corrosion, next to no insulation, low capacity tankage, poor wiring and battery storage, minimal storage interior and exterior. But it tows like there's nothing back there. I get excellent mileage. I pull in and I'm set up. I personally find the interior much more warm and inviting. And I like to work on them and they take a lot of work.


Different strokes for different folks. Some like the camaraderie. Some like the snob appeal. Figure out works for you and go for it.
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Old 06-17-2020, 06:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBWELL View Post
Look at the prices of 25 year old box trailers and look at the same age Airstream. There is your answer!!
Are you sure there's 25 year old livable non-Airstream trailers out there?
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Old 06-17-2020, 06:50 PM   #7
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Get the Artic Fox.
It is a 4 season trailer.
A$ is a 2 season unit.
Use the money you save on a really nice tow vehicle.
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Old 06-17-2020, 08:27 PM   #8
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If I had it to do over again I would go with a 5th wheel. I have had two Airstreams and the build quality is absolutely horrible. The wiring is no more than a bunch of rat nests and there is almost no storage. The only plus they have is they do pull good. That's one thing they didn't screw up on mine. Knock on Wood.
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Old 06-18-2020, 02:48 AM   #9
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How ya going to use it?

If you're going to put on lots of road miles? "Airstream"

If you're going to be sitting in the same place for a long time? "5th-Wheel"

I own an Airstream, my sister a 5th-wheel. She sits at one campground 98% of the time, I'm putting more miles on the Airstream in one year than she has over 10 years with her 5th-wheel. She wouldn't own an Airstream, I wouldn't own a 5th-wheel.

Enjoy,
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
Get the Artic Fox.
It is a 4 season trailer.
A$ is a 2 season unit.
Use the money you save on a really nice tow vehicle.
And in 8-10 years repeat the process
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rideair View Post
How ya going to use it?

If you're going to put on lots of road miles? "Airstream"

If you're going to be sitting in the same place for a long time? "5th-Wheel"

I own an Airstream, my sister a 5th-wheel. She sits at one campground 98% of the time, I'm putting more miles on the Airstream in one year than she has over 10 years with her 5th-wheel. She wouldn't own an Airstream, I wouldn't own a 5th-wheel.

Enjoy,
And the best answer to the OPs question goes too........this guy /\
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Old 06-18-2020, 09:27 AM   #12
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Well IMHO different strokes for different folks - we have tented, T@Bed and Airstreamed i have enjoyed the journey. There is NO perfect trailer only well maintained trailers - our AS is 18 years old and looks like new.
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Old 06-18-2020, 09:37 AM   #13
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And the best answer to the OPs question goes too........this guy /\
Great answer

In the end, what do you need? For us, a 5th wheel was more than what we really needed, so we focused on quality, mechanical strength, mobility, tow-ability.

To me, a 5th wheel is more. More moving parts, slides, weight, complexity.

We've learned quickly that in RVing, optimization is key. If you can buy, carry, maintain only what you need, and eliminate things you don't, you win.
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Old 06-18-2020, 09:38 AM   #14
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Have looked at Outdoors RV, also in Oregon. Very well made.
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Old 06-18-2020, 09:40 AM   #15
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Thanks for the input

Your input has been very helpful...thanks all. Will let you know what we decide.
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:06 AM   #16
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5th Wheel or AS

If it has a "Slideout" I want nothing to do with it. No "Power Awnings" either.
Both of those items are wonderful when they work correctly. Nightmares when they do not.

Pretty much narrows it down for me. 2 Airstreams, 2017 and 2019, so far so good.
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Old 06-18-2020, 03:15 PM   #17
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My daughter in-law, owned another quality THOR product. When she first looked at the Airstream she said, "This makes our's look like it was made out of cardboard." Enough said.
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Old 06-18-2020, 07:02 PM   #18
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Don't forget the step climbing you'll do with a 5th wheel. Not a big deal for some, huge for others.
3-5 steps to get in the door and more to get up front.
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Old 06-18-2020, 07:15 PM   #19
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We love our AS, warts and all!. It is somewhat minimalistic as compared to a 5th wheel. But it unique, timeless, beautiful and enjoyable.

Just wish I would have gotten one sooner!
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Old 06-18-2020, 07:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBWELL View Post
Look at the prices of 25 year old box trailers and look at the same age Airstream. There is your answer!!
I don’t agree. By the RV at half or more of the price of an AS and you’ll be way happier.
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