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An Airstream travel trailer is among the top travel trailer brands and have a long history. They have a huge loyal customer base.
Though it’s pretty fun to own and neat, it can be quite costly. As an RV enthusiast, it’s important to decide whether the trailer is worth the price.
Airstream trailers do have flaws that you may find in other RVs. They do boast aerodynamic properties, solidity, and longer-lasting value. Here’s why Airstream trailers are not worth buying.
Cons of Airstream Trailers
Airstream trailers have an impressive following due to their classy retro feel and vintage design. However, they do come with flaws, which are important to consider when buying an RV.
Airstream trailers are expensive and yet, they are narrow, have no slide outs to expand the space and have limited external storage as well. Their sleeping capacity is also limited. Though they have high quality build, their maintenance, storage and repair is also costly than average travel trailer.
You should go for airstream only if you are looking for a high quality built, long lasting RV and don’t mind spending higher on the initial cost. Many people buy airstream due to their brand legacy and long presence in the RV industry.
For many owning an airstream is also a thing of pride.
Airstream community has a lot of love for this brand and they have their own loyal customers who look nothing beyond Airstream. Even then these RV’s do have some flaws, you will find airstream owners complain about various things.
There are issues and problems in airstream that you need to be aware of before handing over that check.
Here are 16 points that should guide you on why you shouldn’t own an airstream.
1. High Purchase Price
It will cost you between $39,000 to $161,900 to get a new Airstream depending on the quality, size, and seller. This cost is relatively higher for an average RV enthusiast to afford. Since there are more affordable, trendy, and feature-packed RVs on the market, it wouldn’t be wise to settle for an Airstream trailer.
Below is starting price for different airstream models.
|Airstream Model||Starting Price||Sleeps|
|Flying Cloud||$81,200||upto 8|
Just like personal cars, motorhomes need a separate insurance cover. Insuring your Airstream will help you seek compensation in case of an injury or accident.
The insurance cover will also cater for damages on amenities such as wardrobes, aluminum ceilings, skylights, big windows, oversized showers, and galley kitchen. Average insurance costs range from $125 to $25,000.
2. Limited sleeping capacity
Airstream’s have limited sleeping capacity. Most of their models sleep upto only 6 people. 6 people isn’t very low but at a price that you pay for this RV, this is less. You can get higher sleeping capacity trailers at much lower price.
We already saw in sleeping capacity for different models in table above.
3. Prone to Denting
Airstream trailers come with an aluminum shell that is highly prone to denting. They feature rounded edges that can easily get dents when they ran into static objects such as trees. The exteriors boast shiny sleekness, which is less appealing when the RV has dents.
Since airstream made up of metal there are also chances of corrosion. The shiny looking airstream can get corroded if it comes in contact with magnesium. Magnesium by the way is used to treat roads, so there are chances of corrosion.
4. They are Narrow and have no slide outs
Most people who once used an Airstream trailer acknowledge that the RV has a very narrow space on the inside. Only two people can comfortably move around in the trailer.
Furthermore, the trailer inhibits tall people from moving in and out of it conveniently. Airstream responding to this concern by adding more space on the newer models.
The trailer features significantly less space for maneuvering than its other RV competitors and travel trailers.
Airstream RVs also have a smaller interior height. Most RVs have six inches lower than the average travel trailer. In this case, tall people will have to lower their heads or body through the doorways when moving in or getting out.
5. Uneven Weight Distribution
Misdistribution of the weight in your trailer will put more pressure on your car engine. The lower COG (center of gravity, makes the trailer relatively more stable and easier to tow than other trailers. However, the COG doesn’t have its weight evenly distributed on the trailer.
It’s advisable to lower down the stabilizer jacks to avoid feeling the enter trailer tip on one side. This simple procedure will help solve the misdistribution problem in minutes.
You’ll only encounter this problem when your Airstream trailer stays unhitched. It’s therefore important to put the stabilizer jacks down immediately.
6. Requires a lot of Care and Maintenance
Buying the Airstream trailer comes with a specific responsibility. You have to look after and take good care of your RV. The care and maintenance should include regular waxing and cleaning to prevent degradation.
You’ll also need to caulks some seams to minimize leakage. The process is quite limiting due to the shape of the hull. You should prepare your truck or SUV to do the towing. When using a pickup truck, drill a fifth-wheel adapter into the truck’s bed. Some pickup trucks come with a fifth-wheel adapter installed onto them.
Your SUV or truck must have a towing capacity within the weight range of the Airstream RV. Note that personal vehicles have limitations when it comes to towing motorhomes. Upgrading them to meet the towing needs of an Airstream trailer may be pricy.
Though Airstreams are pretty high in built quality they can still leak. The aluminum material used in them has tendency to contract and expand, this can result in leaks near seal of windows, doors and vents. Poor maintenance and repairs on older models can result in leaks too. So, just to give you heads up, airstreams aren’t fully leak proof.
Airstream are metal made but their floor is still wooden which means it can rot with time if proper care and maintenance is not done. Since airstream are uniquely made and the aluminum shell goes over the top it can become hard to do such floor repairs.
7. Parking Issues
Owning an Airstream trailer becomes unpleasant when you don’t know where to park it. Most homeowners’ associations won’t allow you to park fifth-wheelers or travel trailers by your home. Some only permit you to park the trailer only for 36 hours.
You’ll have to find a nearby parking or storage facility to house your RV. Constructing a special garage for your Airstream trailer may also work. Either way, you’ll incur some money. Most people opt not to buy this trailer because of the parking issues.
8. Airstream Groups Tend to be Cliquey
It’s common for Airstream enthusiasts to form exclusive groups and events that only allow people who own the trailer to join or attend.
Several Airstream-only events and rallies take place each year to enable Airstream die-hards to come together. There are also campgrounds across the country designated for these people.
The cult-like appeal of these events and rallies makes Airstream trailers undesirable. Most members tend to have a purist mentality and are very judgmental to people who don’t own the trailer. This factor may make it unappealing for anyone who wants to buy the RV.
9. Difficult to Control Temperatures
Airstreams feature relatively big windows that make it difficult to control the room temperatures.
Though these windows give you an incredible view of the outside areas, they increase heat retention in the trailer. You may need to buy a separate insulation kit for the trailer to control the room temperatures.
10. Limited Exterior Storage
If you prefer having exterior storage on your trailer, an Airstream trailer may not be ideal for your RVing needs.
Most Airstreams only come with exterior doors for accessing hard-to-reach areas such as the water heater knobs and the back of the fridge. You won’t find extra storage for keeping your RVing essentials or gears in an Airstream.
11. Take Time to Cool off
It can be uncomfortable to use an Airstream trailer in an open campground during summer. The aluminum shell gets hot to an untouchable degree, making it unbearable to occupy the trailer during the day. You may avoid this challenge by parking your RV in a spot with partial shade.
12. It’s Challenging to Find Replacement Parts for Vintage Models
While it may be a good idea to buy a retro Airstream trailer, finding its replacement parts is quite challenging. The process is also time-consuming and tiresome since there aren’t many replacement parts in auto shops. You have to put in a great deal of time and work to find the correct replacement part for a specific Airstream model.
It is also costly to restore an old Airstream trailer to its normal, shiny appearance. These costs tend to recur over time as the aluminum shell degrades in quality. If you prefer hiring a professional to maintain your RV’s exterior, the costs will depend on the trailer’s level of deterioration and size.
13. Small Counter Space and Sink
Since Airstream trailers are narrow in shape, most of their amenities are small and limited in functionality. The limited counter space and shallow sink may be a challenge for people who like to cook. Navigability in the kitchen is also a problem.
14. Small Refrigerator
Though a small refrigerator is ideal for short-term camping, it won’t help if you have family members or friends on your trip. The little compartments are also inconvenient for large perishable food items. You’ll have to get a larger apartment-size refrigerator for this particular use.
15. Difficult to Access While on the Road
Unlike motorhomes, Airstream trailers are inaccessible while driving. You’ll have to step out of your truck or car and park across the road to access the trailer. The narrow design also proves challenging when you want to pick something from the RV hurriedly.
If you prefer boondocking and going off-road then most airstream models are not suited for that. Their length is mostly on the higher side and you will have to camp at a campground or an RV park. Some models like Bambi and basecamp are short though which can be towed on narrow and twisty roads.
16. Not Ideal for Off-road Trails
Most campgrounds lie in off-road locations, hence the need to use a motorhome or travel trailer adapted to off-road trails.
Though Airstream trailers are lightweight and relatively small, they are unsuitable for intense off-road trails. Slide-in campers or small teardrop trailers perform better on off-road locations than Airstream trailers.
How Long Does Airstream Last?
The original Airstream models hit the market in the 1920s. Close to 65 percent of them are still in pretty good shape. Some used Airstream trailers look newer and have better qualities than most Class A RVs on the market. Note that your Airstream RV won’t retain its appealing looks miraculously. It requires good care and maintenance.
One good thing about Airstream trailers is that you can sell them at a reasonable price once you want to move on to another RV. It’s a common trend among Airstream users to buy used trailers or sell their trailers. For your Airstream to remain in good shape, you need to replace the electrical and plumbing systems.
The gaskets and floors will also require repair and replacement. Since the aluminum cover lasts for long, you’ll only need to scrub it and repaint it when required. At times, an old Airstream trailer may leak water from the rivets. Since leaks don’t pass through the aluminum shell, they may originate from the exterior skin seam.
Why Do People Buy Airstream?
Airstream RVs or trailers boast a streamlined shape, and a silver bullet feel. This shape helps reduce drag when towing the trailer behind your truck or car. The double aluminum shell wrapped around a sturdy steel frame gives the trailer incredible durability.
Airstream trailers are popular for their durable subfloors. They also hold their value for longer than their competitors. Their depreciation is lower than most other brands mostly due to their quality built which makes them last very long.
The “pop culture” reputation surrounding Airstream trailers makes them appealing to consumers. These trailers featured in many popular movies and television productions such as Armageddon (1998) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). The company’s reputation is likely the reason the trailers are so pricey.
Airstream does all the carpentry and finish work using high-quality materials that fit each trailer’s shape. The company also fits luxury appliances in the trailers to increase their appeal. These trailers come at a high price tag, partly due to the luxurious amenities.
Airstream are good for winter cold seasons as well. They have good insulation and can keep you warm when it is chilly cold outside. Even for towing they have better grip on icy, slippery roads during winter.
All in all they are better suited winter as long as its not very harsh weather conditions. Their manufacturing quality is pretty high which makes them stand tall against high winds, and moderate to bad weather conditions.
Factory made Airstream trailers aren’t really 4 season RVs as you would need additional protection for very high winter conditions. Also, you would be using a good amount of propane to stay warm in winter.
Other Better Options
Due to the disadvantages discussed above, Airstream trailers don’t offer RV enthusiasts great value for their money. There are number of other travel trailers(Scamp, casita, Avion, Escape, Oliver) against which airstreams are compared. Here is a detailed guide on the comparison.
Consider the following alternatives when looking to buy an RV or a trailer:
If you prefer retro-styled RVs, the Riverside RV may suit your tastes. The trailer features old-fashioned interiors with a touch of modern interior design.
They also boast a sleek lined exterior and various floor plans to fit your unique camping needs. With a price tag of $10,000, Riverside RVs are cheaper than Airstream trailers.
2. Homegrown Trailers
Homegrown is reputable for making classy, self-sufficient, and sustainable trailers. Their trailers combine the lifestyle and beauty of tiny houses with the mobility of motorhomes. If you prefer an eco-friendly camper, you may consider getting a Homegrown trailer.
Their most popular model, known as Woodland, costs $35,495. This trailer features energy-efficient appliances, a composting toilet, and solar panels. It also comes in two layouts and boasts a wood-paneled teardrop shape.
3. Forest River Flagstaff E-Pro Travel Trailer
With a price tag of $10,000, the Forest River Flagstaff E-Pro trailer is an ideal option when looking for a relatively lightweight and affordable travel trailer.
It weighs under 3,000 pounds and comes in seven layouts to fit your needs. The travel trailer features a 20,000 BTU furnace, ground and roof solar prewire, tinted bonded frameless windows, vacuum laminated walls and ceiling, and a Wi-Fi ranger.
4. Dutchmen Aspen Trail Travel Trailer
The Dutchmen Aspen Trail trailer comes in different sleeping capacities and weights and 36 floor plans. Its friendly price tag of $10,000 makes it ideal for an RV enthusiast looking for an affordable travel trailer.
Its outstanding amenities include a large refrigerator, a shower and tub combo, and high output furnace (with auto-ignition). Other amenities include tinted safety glass windows, hardwood cabinet doors, seamless one-piece walk-on roof, and radius overhead cabinets.
Though Airstream trailers have their cons, it all depends on what you need or want for your camping endeavors. You may want the most rugged and toughest camper to tow behind your truck for an off-road trip. Consequently, you may prefer one with a luxurious feel regardless of its price tag. Either way, it’s wise to compare the features in different travel trailers to find one that suits your preferences.