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Old 08-17-2020, 12:44 PM   #1
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2017 19' International
Seattle , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2020
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Help! Caravel or Bambi 19CB - opinions wanted :)

Looking for some help from this community. I am in the process of purchasing a 2021 19CB, either Bambi or Caravel. I'm Seattle based but will be taking it for a few months at a time to work from the road, while exploring the country and all there is to see. I've been in love with airstreams since I was a kid (38 now) and am finally going for it. I can imagine what life on the road will be like - but am looking to this community for some actual feedback based on your experience in doing it!

If you have a good knowledge base of the new bambi and caravel, they have identical floor plans. I am fairly confident on the 19CB - it seems the best option for me with a tacoma. Someday I'd like to go bigger, but that size seems well enough for now, maybe my forever trailer- who knows.

But I cannot decide on which trim level to get - Bambi, or Caravel. It's a jump in price, so I need some help deciding!

My question for you all (Thank you in advance for helping me out!!)
Is the Caravel worth the additional 12k.
The parts that seem appealing to me, but I would love your comments and opinions:

(PROS) as I see it are:
-Ducted AC with digital thermostat (is the AC on the Bambi much louder?)
-Dimmable/recessed LED lights (I assume this will be a nice feature while spending weeks at a time in RV parks)
-An electric side to the water heater (Saving Propane when parked for 1+ months)
-An electric heat pump option (The bambi has a heat strip, unsure if this works well enough long term or not...again, propane savings as long as I'm not worried about keeping the belly heated in sub freezing conditions)
-Wheel bearings that do not need to be serviced (How big of a deal is this, really? I don't have much of a sense for what I'm signing up for here)
-Suspension, versus leaf springs only (Do you really notice the difference when towing between the two?)
-Stainless rock guards up front versus the 3m film only (Does this become an issue? Do the stainless guards help quite a bit?
-Additional awnings (How important is it, while in a sunny location, to shade the windows from the direct sun - or is their tint good enough?)
-Screen protectors on the screen door (worried my 25lb terrier could bust through the screens)


CONS, or unecessary seem to be:
- The glass storage sliders (I like the classic roll ups - they hide things and offer full access when open... the glass looks good when empty, but when my stuff is in there it will probably be a distraction.
***Does anyone know if you can get a Caravel with the Bambi storage type or add/remove features?
-The dark trendy finishes - they are nice, i suppose, but I still want it to feel open and light.
-the porthole windows - they look nice, but they dont open. Not sure how big of a deal that is.
-Rear bumper for additional storage/protection if someone pulls into me
-1000w inverter

Thank you SO much in advance. I appreciate your tips and opinions.
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Old 08-17-2020, 02:21 PM   #2
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2016 16' Sport
Miami , Florida
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If you are spending month at a time then the Caravel for the AC alone. It’s day and night from the Bambi.
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Old 08-17-2020, 02:29 PM   #3
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2019 22' Sport
Port Coquitlam , British Columbia
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Hi Dennis, Welcome aboard!

We looked at these differences as well. We have the base level trim but in a 2019 Sport 22FB so we got the ultra-leather dinette which is nice and easy to care for.

There are a few things that I would like from the Caravel trim.

- The blinds (our trailer has 3 windows with mini blinds) which are really crappy but these can be upgraded to a roll up style.
- Partial operable windows compared to the nice big opening windows on the Caravel.
- Interior lights are too white and bright. The Caravel lights are more natural.
- Stainless Steel rock guards can be added.
- We really like to brightness of our Sport interior and found the Caravel a bit dark.

Some things that didn't matter to us:
- We have only used our AC for 10 minutes (for testing) and found it very loud. We don't use it when we camp but we spend more time camping in the shoulder seasons.
- The inverter that comes with the Caravel might just be replaced if you start to upgrade your power systems.

We were also looking at weight conservation and the current Caravel is heavier than the current Bambi by 25 lbs. at the tongue so that makes a bit of a difference. For a comparison, our 2019 22FB has a tongue weight of 422 lbs and the 2021 Caravel 19CB has a tongue weight of 550 lbs. This should be a big consideration for your Tacoma. You can count on 600 to 650 lbs (or more) on the tongue once you put some stuff in the trailer. The 2021 Bambi will be a bit less.

Not too sure about the suspension but ours seems quite smooth. As far as brake and bearing maintenance, I think it is a give in that you get in there and have a look periodically regardless of what the manufacturer says.

I am currently looking at adding the rock guards, changing the light fixtures and blinds. I have already gone through the power systems and have that part tuned up. I have replaced any stock items with more robust connections and components, The stock solar offering would not do it for me as it is pretty basic.

Hope this helps!
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Old 08-17-2020, 02:41 PM   #4
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2019 22' Sport
Port Coquitlam , British Columbia
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Also, the Tambour roll up storage doors in our Sport are not the greatest. We have 4 compartments and only one roll up door works smoothly. 2 are very tight and hard to get going and the last one is way too tight and has started to separate.

I was considering changing these to sliders like the Caravel.

I have requested new ones under warranty and will see if those work better.
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Old 08-17-2020, 03:05 PM   #5
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2017 19' International
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This is all super helpful! Thank you @pb_NB and @Shiny16 for your feedback. This is such a hard call for me, and the tongue weight comment is a big one. Curious to see how I find out from a reliable source whether or not that's something to worry about for my Tacoma.
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Old 08-17-2020, 04:05 PM   #6
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2016 16' Sport
Miami , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisL View Post
This is all super helpful! Thank you @pb_NB and @Shiny16 for your feedback. This is such a hard call for me, and the tongue weight comment is a big one. Curious to see how I find out from a reliable source whether or not that's something to worry about for my Tacoma.
The difference in tongue weight is 525 verses 550. Granted the actual weight will be more. I don’t know the capability of your Tacoma but If 25 pounds makes a difference you should probably be looking at a different trailer or a different truck.
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Old 08-17-2020, 04:05 PM   #7
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2019 22' Sport
Port Coquitlam , British Columbia
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Tongue weight becomes a big concern when you approach the maximum. If it is 680 lbs. you will be close to that with the Caravel. Keep in mind that this comes off your payload of ~1,500 lbs.

That was one of the key factors for us when considering our trailer. Our Honda has a tongue max of 600 lbs so we are under that but if we put some fresh water in the tank, we will be close to 600 lbs. Airstream has a published weight of 422 lbs. for our trailer. so we have quickly added almost 50% more while being thrifty with the additions.

There is probably a Tacoma website that you can review for towing.

I think it is best to layout the weights and what you expect for cargo and post it back here to get some Airstream with Toyota feedback. There are a lot of similar combos found on this forum.
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Old 08-17-2020, 04:58 PM   #8
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2017 19' International
Seattle , Washington
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Thank you! This is a lot to think about. It will take me some time to figure out just how much weight I'll be hauling with us. But as a base, I have a canopy and a rooftop tent, so right there I bet I have 300lbs... I'll try and run the math and put it back up here.

Such a hard decision. I've wanted an airstream as long as I can remember, and have always had it narrowed down to a bambi 16/19 (back when that just mean single axle). Now that there are two finish levels in the same plan, it really makes it hard to decide. I figured the 19' was the better layout for 3k more than the 16 with a dedicated shower and 3 extra feet of space, but maybe the 16' caravel is the better choice with that great back window at the bedroom and ultimately less strain on the tacoma. Hard to know with a girlfriend and a little dog how much of a difference the 3 feet will make and how important that dedicated shower will be over several months on the road (especially with no inventory on the west coast to get inside for ourselves) but it all comes down to what I can tow safely with my truck, otherwise I get into a whole other conversation about upgrading both my truck and getting the trailer...

This forum is really great - I appreciate peoples feedback and perspective. If anyone has a 2016 or newer 6 cyl Tacoma, with tow package, I'd love to hear your perspective as well!


Quote:
Originally Posted by PB_NB View Post
Tongue weight becomes a big concern when you approach the maximum. If it is 680 lbs. you will be close to that with the Caravel. Keep in mind that this comes off your payload of ~1,500 lbs.

That was one of the key factors for us when considering our trailer. Our Honda has a tongue max of 600 lbs so we are under that but if we put some fresh water in the tank, we will be close to 600 lbs. Airstream has a published weight of 422 lbs. for our trailer. so we have quickly added almost 50% more while being thrifty with the additions.

There is probably a Tacoma website that you can review for towing.

I think it is best to layout the weights and what you expect for cargo and post it back here to get some Airstream with Toyota feedback. There are a lot of similar combos found on this forum.
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Old 08-17-2020, 05:56 PM   #9
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2016 16' Sport
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You really don’t have an extra 3 feet of space with the 19. You do have a separate shower. That’s where the 3 feet goes.
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Old 08-17-2020, 06:13 PM   #10
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Corona , CA
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 15
Hi Dennis: We have a 2006 19 bambi and love the size. It goes anywhere. Many state campgrounds limit the size and we find at 19 feet, we fit. We were thinking of going up in size but noticed that all you get in the next size or two up is a bench seat and center aisle whch is of no use to us. However we are not full timers. But we are looking forward to longer trips when we retire say up to a couple months at a time and feel confident 19ft. is perfect.
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Old 08-17-2020, 06:20 PM   #11
2016 19ft flying cloud
 
Spokane , Washington
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Pay the extra, you won’t be sorry
The first time a rock flies up and hits the front
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Old 08-17-2020, 06:26 PM   #12
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2019 22' Sport
Port Coquitlam , British Columbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisL View Post
Thank you! This is a lot to think about. It will take me some time to figure out just how much weight I'll be hauling with us. But as a base, I have a canopy and a rooftop tent, so right there I bet I have 300lbs... I'll try and run the math and put it back up here.

Such a hard decision. I've wanted an airstream as long as I can remember, and have always had it narrowed down to a bambi 16/19 (back when that just mean single axle). Now that there are two finish levels in the same plan, it really makes it hard to decide. I figured the 19' was the better layout for 3k more than the 16 with a dedicated shower and 3 extra feet of space, but maybe the 16' caravel is the better choice with that great back window at the bedroom and ultimately less strain on the tacoma. Hard to know with a girlfriend and a little dog how much of a difference the 3 feet will make and how important that dedicated shower will be over several months on the road (especially with no inventory on the west coast to get inside for ourselves) but it all comes down to what I can tow safely with my truck, otherwise I get into a whole other conversation about upgrading both my truck and getting the trailer...

This forum is really great - I appreciate peoples feedback and perspective. If anyone has a 2016 or newer 6 cyl Tacoma, with tow package, I'd love to hear your perspective as well!
When you go to the 16, things will definitely get easier for your Tacoma to deal with from the towing capacity but the Caravel 16 is still starting at 490 lbs. Not too sure why it is so heavy on the tongue. The Bambi 16 is 430 lbs.

With the 16, you will have a shared grey/black tank which does make boondocking a bit of a challenge as this will dictate how long you can stay out there, where as separate tanks give you the ability to stay out longer.

Have you looked at the 22 foot models, they seem to have the lowest tongue weight next to the 16 footers.

I can see the Bambi 22FB being reduced to ~430 lbs. of TW by simply changing the batteries to a pair lithiums. This gives a fair bit of headroom to add water and stuff to the trailer and still keep the weight down. You could use the same strategy on any other Bambi's or Caravels and drop ~ 65 lbs off the tongue.

The 19CB and 20FB have higher TW's due to how things are positioned over the axle.

Your Tacoma won't have any issues with the Gross weight of these trailers since they all max out at 5,000 lbs or less for the 16's.

The "3 foot" question is a great one!
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Old 08-17-2020, 07:06 PM   #13
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Kansas City , Missouri
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The airstream dot com website now has a nifty "compare model " feature.
https://www.airstream.com/travel-tra...cb,bambi--19cb

Lots of benefits on the Caravel that make life easier/better/more fun

Range hood
3 burner cooktop
Rear storage bumper
Inverter
heavy duty stabilizers
nicer step

plus the AC being ducted. If you intend to work from the road at all this may be important as it's quieter.
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Old 08-18-2020, 10:18 AM   #14
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2021 20' Caravel
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2015
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This article was really helpful for me in making my decision. https://www.airstream.com/blog/compa...avel-trailers/

Also, the tambor doors limit the size of the bins. You get more space with the sliders.

I think you are making a huge mistake by not having a bumper and rock guards.

The inverter is a nice upgrade too.

All told you can add the other things to a Bambi but the price will end up being the same in the end with the after market items.
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Old 08-18-2020, 11:27 AM   #15
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2009 16' DWR
Palm Springs , California
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Dennis,
You are on an exciting adventure.
I bought a 2009 16rb DWR International. It essentially has many of the 2020 Caravel features for its day in 2009. Rock guards, wrap around windows front and back. A truly lovely device. I put 10000 miles on it last year without a single problem.

I did stop in Jackson Center at the mothership and had them do a 10 year refresh, most everything to a 2020 Caravel option list. It was a long list...LED lighting in and out, new A/C, Inverter, Digital TV, and on and on. It does not want for anything. $11000.00 later I drove away. Most people would never do this, I get it. I bought it for the long hall and want it perfect. The quality io work was only average and 5 items had to be redone by my local Airstream dealer. Ultimately I love my Bambi, its a tank, so durable.

I do wish I had ducted Air. My new A/C is very loud. It tows like a dream. I watched many YouTubes from owners before I found mine. One thing I remember about an owner comments was from s guy downsizing to a 19. He said that there were some 19í with a wet bath verses a walk in shower. His comment was he personally would rather have the wet bath and additional space than the separate shower and toilet. Many women may not agree. I do not know if that is a consideration on the 2020 models. Best of luck.

John
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Old 08-18-2020, 11:56 AM   #16
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2020 19' Caravel
Boise , ID
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We made the same decision in 2020 and went with the Caravel. I think we would have added rock guards. We just preferred some darker accents and the ducted A/C. Cleaner look. It is more but we felt it was worth the extra expense. Enjoy
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Old 08-18-2020, 12:55 PM   #17
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Franklin , TN
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It is a hard choice, but usually it comes down to "you get what you pay for". I have a 2020 Caravelle 20' that I have taken all over the country. It has been great. The rear bumper storage is really nice for stuff you don't mind getting wet or dirty. I don't know about weight, but the tacoma may not be enough truck if you add stuff in the bed as well as in the airstream. Better look at the GVWR and add up all the lbs. of stuff you might have.
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Old 08-18-2020, 01:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Shiny16 View Post
You really donít have an extra 3 feet of space with the 19. You do have a separate shower. Thatís where the 3 feet goes.
yes plus lavatory sink with mirror. more overhead storage and more storage under the bed.

I shopped for 19' and found that the 19' has more storage even though I have yet to fill ALL overhead storage in my 16' Bambi.
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Old 08-18-2020, 01:21 PM   #19
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Tucson , Arizona
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You did not mention the fridges - if you plan to boondock even occasionally you will need a fridge that runs on propane.

Again when boondocking awnings are critical as deployed awnings plus a fan will extend the range of temperatures where you can be comfortable without AC. Even where generators are allowed, they are rarely welcomed by your camping neighbors.

Rock guards - don't leave home without them.

Since we mostly boondock I am not a fan of any additional electronics which will "go bad" at the least convenient moment and least accessible location - I am thinking of electric awnings and such.

Also anything that communicates with your phone - like the AC etc. may not always respond well to software "upgrades" or locations lacking cell phone service.

Think about how you want to use your rig - and where, you plan to use it.
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Old 08-18-2020, 03:32 PM   #20
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If you can afford it, the very long list of upgrades on the Caravel are clearly worth the difference. So many of them make a huge difference in the comfort and usability. Here is a handwritten comparison to my 2019 Sport which is like the Bambi with a few small differences. Click image for larger version

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