Email: “Help? Which model to buy?”

Posted In: Airstream, Blog, Choosing an RV, Towing

From time to time I post email queries in this space. Here’s an excerpt from an email we recently received.

Hi Sean and Kristy! Before I introduce myself let me say “thank you” for a wonderful amount of info you guys have provided. My fiance and I have enjoyed watching your videos and reading about your adventures. We are in our 30’s and early 40’s and this will be our 1st RV purchase. We have been looking and educating ourselves over the past three years. Finally we are ready to purchase.

We started out with the idea we just wanted something basic and cheap to use for weekend getaways and small trips during the summer. As we soon learned, cheap looked cheap. We decided that if we were going to invest in an RV we wanted something that would last. So here we are looking at Airstreams! We have both loved the classic and retro look of the Airstream along with the idea of owning an American icon.

Now for our concerns. We are hoping maybe you guys can give some helpful advice.

1) We are currently looking at the 25FB and 27FB Ocean Breeze models of Airstream. We have heard that the 25ft would be better because of size issues in some state/national parks. Have you ever encountered any problems finding a spot?

We’ve never had problems finding a spot with respect to the size of our RV. Our Airstream is a 25-footer — I agree that it’s a good size for the state and national parks. We’ve stayed in the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Grand Canyon, etc. without issue. The only problem we’ve had in national parks is the frequent need for a reservation because they are so popular.

I might add that there have been several times we’ve squeezed our Airstream into a parking space and exclaimed, “Whew – we couldn’t have done that with a 34-footer!” This is the persistent trade-off with regard to RV size. At times, inevitably, you will long for more space. But at other times you’ll appreciate having a more nimble rig. The 25-footer is a good compromise.

2) We’ve been reading about filiform corrosion? Have you heard of this or experienced this with your unit?

For the uninitiated, filiform corrosion is corrosion of the aluminum skin of the Airstream. We have a little filiform corrosion on our Airstream. It’s mildly annoying, but ours is a pretty mild case. Personally I think this issue is a little bit overblown on Internet forums. Maybe I just have that perspective because ours is a mild case (only noticeable in minor areas), but I don’t think it’s a big deal.

If you are particularly worried about it, Google the issue, do a little homework, and steer clear of certain model years. If you are looking at a new Airstream, I think they have the issue under control. But by all means, ask the salesman and make certain.

3) We really like to explore when traveling. Have you guys ever had issues such as trying to find a place park your Airstream? Do you guys always plan ahead and make reservations at parks or do you wing it? Do you do a lot of boondocking? We would enjoy boondocking more as we do it now with our SUV and tent. We are just concerned with the length of a truck trailer combo vs a small motorhome. We have been told by a couple of salesmen that if we enjoy moving around more that a motorhome would probably be a better way to go. Expense wise, we would be spending about the same amount of money because if we go the Airstream route, like you, I need a new diesel truck.

We typically “wing it” with regard to our agenda, but if we want a campsite we also call ahead for same day reservations. Our typical plan is to find a site (whether it’s boondocking or paid) and unhitch, then we do the exploring in our truck. We do a lot of exploring when Airstream camping…but not with the trailer hitched.

The truck & Airstream combo is a lot of rig to handle. I mean, our truck & trailer have a combined length of around 45-feet. You won’t be taking it through the local Starbucks drive-thru. When you tow it demands your undivided concentration. And the hitching/unhitching process takes some time. After two years, I can do it blindfolded with the speed of a NASCAR pit crew — but that doesn’t mean I want to do it any more often than necessary.

Since you already do the SUV & tent thing, maybe a camper van like a VW Westfalia (or an Airstream Interstate) would be right for you. That’s a matter of personal preference and your intended uses of the RV. When you think about the ways people RV, there’s a huge range of usage — from weekend camping trips to full-time living. Some people park their RV for months at a time; others are constantly on the go.

Choosing an RV can be tough. For us, an Airstream was perfect. But after doing it for a while, I realize there are valid reasons the manufacturers make all those different models. You gotta pick what works best for you and your needs. Each has advantages & disadvantages.

Consider the smaller Class B motorhomes, for example. A small motorhome has its own drawbacks as well as advantages. In theory you are “more mobile” in a motorhome, right? But at the same time, what if you are settled into a campsite and have your electricity, water, & sewer attached? What if your stabilizer jacks are down? Your motorhome is literally tethered to the campsite. You will need to detach the water & electricity & sewer before leaving. With an Airstream you set it up once when you arrive, and then you are finished until you depart. You “explore” in your tow vehicle.

And by the way, I love love love having a diesel pickup truck. Yes, I was forced to buy SEEMORE for our Airstream travels, but now we use the truck daily whether we’re camping or not. We often wonder how we got along without it. If you’ve never owned a pickup, I suspect you will feel the same way.

For the extent of time we’ve spent with our RV, I’m glad we chose an Airstream travel trailer. The 25-foot length has served us well, being both mobile and reasonably spacious. And with a little luck, it’ll last forever. But people have traveled around the world in far less. In the end, only you can decide what works best for you.

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