The Airstream travel trailer is most certainly drool-worthy, with its sleek retro-modern look and Fifth Avenue on Wheels amenities, but "Land Yacht" doesn’t exactly scream “spontaneous road trip!” Cue the Basecamp, Airstream’s newest and lightest addition to its iconic fleet of silver bullets that started rolling down highways in the 1930s.
Sporting a modern day, futuristic look with an aluminum skin of its own, the Basecamp is less moveable apartment and more swanky, no-nonsense, well, base camp. Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler says it “was designed for the person who’s unsure about owning a larger travel trailer because it either wouldn’t fit their lifestyle or in their driveway.” Created with both weekend jaunts and simplified journeys for both the novice and experienced long-haul traveler in mind, this trailer is by no means primitive. Amenities up front include a fridge, two-burner stove, stainless steel sink, and laminate countertops. The centrally located wet bathroom includes a pass-through showerhead you can use both inside and out – perfect for hosing down surfboards or muddy legs. There’s even a built-in wireless Bose Soundlink color speaker to fill your camp with tunes.
The rear section cleverly transforms between a dining area, lounge, and bedroom with convertible bench seating and two adjustable tables. It also serves as storage space with a separate back door that allows easy loading for boards, bikes, and other gear. Options include an attachable outdoor patio and rear tent creating more space when you’re not on the go.
Originally launched in 2006, production on that version stopped in 2008, and the Basecamp didn’t survive the recession that followed. A decade later, the company applied founder Wally Byam’s motto of “let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements,” continuing to innovate more than 80 years after Byam's very first plywood, teardrop-shaped Torpedo Car Cruiser came off the production line. Says Wheeler, “We have an obligation to continue to innovate and stretch the boundaries of where the Airstream brand can go.”
As the company’s lightest towable, Basecamp was designed “to be unintimidating and easy to tow with simple systems” according to Wheeler. “All you need to do is head out and decide whether to go right or left at the end of your driveway.” As a result you don’t need a massive vehicle to pull the Basecamp; small SUVs and crossovers can handle the 16-footer’s 2,585 pounds along with its maximum capacity (GVWR) of 3,500 pounds. The $34,990 price tag is also easier to handle.
Where the traditional Airstream line appeals to people who are more committed to the lifestyle and plan to spend more time hitting the road (“less for days and more for months” Wheeler says), the simplified Basecamp rekindles the desire to explore nature and get outdoors, while sticking to Wally Byam’s vision for the goal of trailering: “To place the great wide world at your doorstep for you who yearn to travel with all the comforts of home.”
The first Airstream Basecamps will be hitting the road October 2016.