Airstream Forums

Airstream Forums (
-   Trailer Values (
-   -   Thoughts about Airstream 20' (

Belbein 01-21-2014 03:05 PM

Thoughts about Airstream 20'
My wife and I have settled (at least for now) on an Airstream 20 Flying Cloud ... if we can find one. I'm just curious what y'alls thoughts are if you (1) currently own one, (2) used to own one, (3) have some knowledge of them.

I know that a lot of folks are going to be tempted to tell me that they're too big or too small or that I ought to think of this, that or the other thing. Trust me: given other considerations, the 20 is the only one that fits our needs.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Landrum 01-21-2014 03:20 PM

Sounds like you've made up your mind.

Belbein 01-21-2014 04:49 PM

Well, yes, but ...
If we buy an Airstream, it will be the FC 20. But people experience could tell us things we haven't thought of. Or wave us off. Or any number of things.

Or, better than all of that--confirm us in our decision. Which is all anybody really wants, right?

Landrum 01-21-2014 05:10 PM

We agonized over our decision to get the 23fb, and although we love it we now wish we had the 25fb. We are pretty flexible since we only camp in ours (we are not full timers) except I wanted a twin axle and we did not want a wet bath (really only a potential on smaller AS).

mutcth 01-21-2014 05:54 PM

I guess if you want true feedback (not just confirmation, which is nice all the same), you need to let us know those "considerations" that led you to pick a 20'.

We looked at them often in our hunt. Love the big galley with lots of countertop. Bathroom rather roomy. Troubled by the lack of "lounging" space - you either had the dinette or front bed. Also wanted a more open feel inside. We gave up the galley/bathroom space for the open feel of our 23'.


handn 01-21-2014 06:08 PM

My 2 cents worth is unless you are constricted by a small tow vehicle, a better choice is a 25 with a stall shower and a real bed.
Our 25 is maneuverable, and gets into most forest service campgrounds. What are you getting with a smaller trailer?
I also like the safety factor of a tandem axle and 4 tires particularly if you are going to run on stock ST tires.

subfan1 01-21-2014 06:47 PM

We also thought about a longer model but, we ended up with our 20 foot. As you may already know the galley is large enough for us, the bath room is the right size. The door can be closed when in use. The bed for two up front is a bit small so if you are large people that may be something to consider. My wife and I are not big however, we changed our sleeping direction. Our heads are on the street side, we didn't like the closed end feel with the closet there. It is the right size as well because we like vacationing in old national parks like Yosemite where sites are small and hard to get into. Choices are limited. We tow it with our 2008 Tahoe and we get 13 MPG
Good luck with your choice. Ours is perfect for us.

GeocamperAS 01-21-2014 06:50 PM

We have two. A 1974 28' Argosy and a 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 (20').
The first one we bought was the 28'. We were not looking for one that big, but the price was right. I gutted the inside and changed the layout to include a queen bed, a sofa, and a dinette. Then because we wanted a smaller one from the beginning, we kept our eyes open for a 20'. A couple years later a 20' in our price range came up for sale.
We thought we would use the 20' for short weekends when it's just the two of us, and the 28' for the longer times or when the kids and grand kids join us.
Towing-very little difference. Both have WD hitch w/sway control. The 28' (double axle) has no noticeable sway. The 20' (single axle) has a ever so slightly noticeable sway. I personally find backing into a space easier with the 28'.
Gas mileage-maybe 1-2 mpg better with the lighter 20'
The interior of our 20' does not have a bed. The lounge makes a bed or the dinette makes a bed. Pain in the butt to make the bed every night and unmake it in the morning. I may chance the layout some day to a current Bambi layout to include a permanent bed.
Any longer than a weekend in the 20' we seem to feel a bit cramped.
Smaller refrigerator in the 20' but for a weekend we don't need larger.
Some campgrounds, although I believe very few, the 28' might be a tight fit or not fit at all.

Stefrobrts 01-21-2014 06:56 PM

When we bought our Caravel everyone said it would just be a starter trailer, and we would get tired of making and unmaking the bed every day and upgrade to something bigger. That was ten years ago, and we still love our little trailer. There have been many times it just fit in the spot we wanted to put it in, either camping, or even it's storage spot behind the house. I like having a little trailer just fine.

Tell us why you think the little FC 20 is perfect for you :)

Silverbee 01-21-2014 07:20 PM

20' Flying Cloud
Our first Airstream was a 2007 Safari SE 20ft. It served us well. The only things we didn't like were the bed (I am 6'4' and my wife is 5'9") and it made for a tight sleeping area. Also didn't like that the best place to sit to watch TV was on the bed. Loved the spacious galley and double sink. Kitchen storage space was a big plus also. It would fit nicely into some tight spots in State Parks and our Tahoe towed it with no problems. Overall this is a great floor plan. It is amazing how much space one more foot gets you compared to the 19'.
We traded it for a 2012 25' Flying Cloud rear bedroom with a queen size bed two years ago. We also got a Ford F250 diesel for our tow vehicle. The trades were done in anticipation of our retirement in March. We will be taking it on longer trips and just needed more room.

dkottum 01-21-2014 09:36 PM

We were convinced we had made the best possible choice for us when we bought a new 2007 FC 20 SE (in 2009). Big kitchen, we can make do with the rest.

After two 6 month trips with it we realized our mistake and were anxious for an Airstream that was spacious, had large liquid storage tanks, two axles, decent load capacity, and a real bed to sleep in. The 20 living space was away from the pano windows, dark and confining. The dinette was good for eating but very, very uncomfortable for lounging. The high tv mount can cause a crick in your neck, and we like movies.

We would rate the 20 a good weekender and vacation traveler. For extended travel you won't like it. We took a loss after two years and bought a 25', the smallest of the big trailers. Only 3 1/2 feet longer and 6 inches wider than the 20, there was virtually no difference in towing feel but a wonderful improvement in space.

A search for the popular 25 will yield lots of good Airstreams to see, a solution to the search for a rare model.

idroba 01-21-2014 10:12 PM

As you may see from my trailer listing, I have a 20' Argosy and a 20 Airstream FC. The size is perfect for me, but I am single.

I specifically renovated the Argosy to fit me perfectly and it is a great trailer for one person. I have a reclining easy chair and a couch/bed which is super easy to make up. The only real problem is the very small gray and black water tanks.

The new 20' Airstream FC is very very nice in many ways too. I love the kitchen and counter top space, and the bathroom is also great with lots of room. As others have mentioned the dinette is good for eating, not much good as a sitting space. The front bed is not all that big for one, and for two may or may not work real well. The bed entry/exit is confining, even for one to get in and out of bed. A second person would have to get over the person by the entry, which would be difficult. The water tank is too small, at 23 gal only and I have to carry extra water in the tow vehicle when I boondock.

I have had larger Airstreams, and up to a 31' 310 motorhome, but the 20' single axle is simply the best size for me.

There is no such thing as a perfect trailer, but my old Argosy 20', modified, comes close for me. The new 20' FC is a pretty damn good unit too, all things considered.

Belbein 01-22-2014 04:39 PM

Thanks for all of your answers. I learned a thing or two. I didn't ever even consider the possibility that the water tank or gray and blackwater tank could be small.

Tow vehicle size was a consideration, but I don't want to get into the "trailers are forever, tow vehicles aren't" debate. We're not buying a bigger tow vehicle. And my wife can't drive anything bigger than our Tacoma.

Price is also a consideration.

And frankly, that rear quarter berth on the 19, 22, 23--with the bathroom right next to your head (oh, wait ... that's my wife's side!)--is just awful.

So, we gots more thinkin' to do, we does.

idroba 01-22-2014 07:54 PM


Originally Posted by Belbein (Post 1406878)
Thanks for all of your answers. I learned a thing or two. I didn't ever even consider the possibility that the water tank or gray and blackwater tank could be small.

The gray and black water tanks on the new 20' FC Bambi are fine for size, it is the fresh water tank which is too small. It is only 23 gal.

The gray and black tanks on my old Argosy were what I think are small. But the new 20's have decent sized gray and black tanks.

subfan1 01-22-2014 08:33 PM

While the fresh tank is only 23 gallons, I carry a flat 50 ft hose so I can hook up to water at a campground without having to move the trailer. Along with my fresh water hose, which is 25 ft, total 75. We have dry camped for 10 days last summer using water wisely. We use the facilities for showers and restroom.
We have to save water living in so calif where we haven't had rain in a long time. We extend our usage when we camp as well.

akarakos 01-29-2014 08:38 PM

I bought a 2013 Flying Cloud 20ft. My wife preferred the kitchen having a good layout and this was having something we could enjoy for a few years. If we both really enjoy it we can always get a larger one down the road. Consider your tow vehicle though regardless of your trailer length. My previous truck had an 18 gal tank. The small tank results in short rides before refueling and that gets old.

SilverPal 01-29-2014 10:54 PM

In my short years of 'Streaming and owning a few Airstreams, I've never heard, "I bought too big" but rather, "I wish I bought bigger." Only you can take into consideration how often you'll be out in your Airstream, how long your trips will be, any family pets coming along and allow for room, where you'll be hanging your hat (state parks, resorts, boon docking), and, of course, your pocket book. On the plus side you are picking the best trailer brand, IMHO. Good luck with your decision and post photos when you can!

mefly2 01-29-2014 11:59 PM

Best bang for the $$ ! However, they are one of the hardest models to find on the used market ... I miss our FC20; wife prefers queen size bed ... and access to it is easier in what we now have.

Andrew T 01-30-2014 03:26 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Hi Belbein

Just a couple of thoughts for you, your Tachoma will tow a 23' better than it tows a 20' the power demands are the same and the 23D is more stable just becasue the balance is better. The length difference is not very much.

My wife and I took a 23D to Texas for 3 weeks and quite enjoyed using it which is something considering we usually use a 30 or 34. The Bathroom layout did not cause any issues. On a rainy day the liveabilty is much better than the 20. The window layout is much nicer as well which makes the 23D feel much larger than it is.

Andrew T

jpons 01-30-2014 05:36 AM


I upgraded to my 2008 20' safari SE from a 19' Bambi and the difference is just amazing. I think the 20' is perfect if you prefer to spend time outside rather than inside. We much prefer to sit on our chairs outside soaking in the location we are at than lounge in the airstream. If all you are going to do is lounge inside the airstream why not stay home?

For us the large galley, roomy bathroom and bed size work perfectly. We can fit it just about anywhere, even in most sites designated for tents only.

One axle means less maintenance, and the 5,000 weight rating means we can tow with most SUVs without having to get a large truck. My only wish was that it had bigger tanks that would allow for longer boon docking. However, what I do is carry a couple of 7 gallon tanks of water and with the garden hose cap adapter for the dump valves we are able to empty our grey water tank in the woods easily when the location allows it.

Enjoy it!


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:00 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.