By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Over the years, the Airstream lineup has picked up a cult-like following. There is something to be said about that clean, shiny exterior. But to keep the whole works going, there’s always got be something “new” to push more of these big bullets out the door. With the younger generation entering the RV world, the emphasis is on smaller, lighter, more “rugged” rigs, and Airstream’s parent company, Thor, is pulling out the stops with their latest Airstream-branded trailer.
The name’s not new. The 2021 model year sees a repeat in the name, Basecamp®. Recent Basecamp models clocked in at a rather minuscule 16 feet. Maybe the word has come back that you can only go so small with a footprint before camping becomes “cramping.” So the new Basecamp unit is the Basecamp 20 and, you guessed it, it’s a 20-footer. Airstream’s promotion group sings, “Perfectly suited for both the novice and experienced Airstreamer due to its functional design and features, and is built especially for adventurers who are seeking a larger, more rugged travel trailer to traverse new terrains further off the beaten path.”
Larger by four feet, but also a bit wider, and a bit taller, the Basecamp 20 is promoted with the idea that even the rugged traveling couple might want to take a couple of friends on a trip. So, now there’s sleeping for four. Of course, if you’re gonna tote four folks out on a wilderness adventure, you’d best add a bit of comfort. Like in the “comfort station.” The shorter Basecamp 16 has a working bathroom, but taking a shower or two, doing a few dishes, and using the toilet could soon add up to a quick return to civilization: The single holding tank, which receives both black and gray water, has a total capacity of 24 gallons. That exceeds the 21-gallon fresh water tank. The big 20-footer has both gray and black tanks, with a total capacity of 49 gallons. A bit easier to stay out a while, without having to take to the woods with your TP in hand to save tank space.
An upgrade for the rugged idealist
There are two versions of the new Basecamp 20 (as there are with the diminutive 16). The Basecamp 20X is designed for the more “adventurous” types who want to leave the blacktop behind and really dig into Mother Nature. The X model jacks the rig up a bit, giving a 20” ground clearance, with larger wheels and upgraded tires. Toss in front stone guards and “tinted window guards,” and the package is nearly complete. The rig is now high enough above the ground to require a two-step entry. But for those interested in details, there is a cost involved in upgrading to the Basecamp 20X, in addition to a $3,000 price addition. The “standard” rig has a cargo carrying capacity of 900 pounds, while the beefing-up of the X model reduces carrying capacity to 800 pounds.
A few “options” will also significantly reduce the weight-carrying capacity. Air conditioning and microwave oven are all “options” on either the X or the more “civilized” trailer. Each does come with a refrigerator: “fully electric” running on either shore power or 12 volts. A solar panel (with lithium batteries) is also an option. If the adventurous Airstream buyer decides to slip off to the woods for an extended camping trip, it looks like they’d best have room in their tow vehicle for a generator, lest their Perrier® water will lose its chill.
A brochure with a “bite”
The interior of this rig is indeed spiffy-looking. This is not your father’s travel trailer. No wood paneling and brass trim-out. It does indeed carry a fully modernistic, sleek feeling, in your choice of three different color schemes. To fully appreciate what the company is offering, one really does need to download the slick, 21-page electronic brochure. It’s chock-full of information and overloaded with superlatives, but you can sift through the chaff to get the information you’ll need.
Ah, but there’s a “bite” with the brochure. If you really want one, you’ll have to provide your name, e-mail address, phone number and city. One imagines this treasure trove of data will soon land on a salesman’s desk near you, and your phone and e-mail will light up with impassioned pleas to come see one on the hoof. And bring your checkbook too, huh? The Basecamp 20 has a starting price of $45,900 and the beefier X model starts at $48,900. Here’s where you can go to surrender your information in exchange for a brochure, if you’re so inclined.