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Tiny Trailer: Airstream Basecamp

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

A little modern classic that hearkens back to the teardrop-trailer boom days

Six years after Wally Byam began production of his iconic shiny aluminum Airstream travel trailers in 1931, there were nearly 400 registered trailer manufacturers across the country seeking a piece of the pie. Of all the RV manufacturers of that period, Airstream is the lone survivor. It was Byam’s constant drive to improve the travel experience that led his company to pioneer innovative RV technology like refrigerators, toilets, screens doors and showers in travel trailers.

Airstream’s founding father would be proud of the tiniest offering among the company’s eight models: the Airstream Basecamp.

Interior of Basecamp showing aluminum walls and bench seating.

A brushed and polished aluminum interior, Italian Lite-Ply cabinetry, vinyl flooring, laminate countertop and marine-grade upholstery give the Basecamp a look unmatched by most other trailers in this class.

Living Area

The 2020 Basecamp is just 16 feet long and weighs in under 2,600 pounds (dry), yet it’s perfect for two. It has heating and air conditioning, and the wraparound tinted front windows give an outstanding view of the surroundings.

The 6.5-foot-wide interior is remarkably roomy with padded benches on both sides that can be set up in multiple configurations. Store the pair of diminutive pedestal dining tables, and the seating converts into a comfy 72-by-72-inch bed.

The Basecamp with a view of the bench seating and another view showing the sleeping configuration.

Left: Padded benches form the Basecamp’s lounge. There’s storage under both bench seats. The two pedestal tables store out of the way against the street-side bench. Right: The benches quickly convert into a 72-by-72-inch bed.

Galley & Storage

Airstream designed the Basecamp so travelers have everything they need to be comfortable on the road, including all the essentials when it comes to mealtime. The galley has a built-in two-burner cookstove in the center of the wraparound laminate countertop at the front of the trailer. A 22-gallon freshwater tank feeds the oval stainless-steel sink. Underneath the spacious food-prep area is a microwave and a 3-cubic-foot two-way (LP-gas/120-volt AC) refrigerator.

The Basecamp also has a compact wet bath, as well as an outside shower. The ceiling and walls are polished aluminum, with curving trim and recessed LED lighting. Fabric is marine grade to resist water, mildew, dirt and spills. Flooring is seamless vinyl, so it cleans up easily.

View of galley and view of wet bath in Basecamp.

Left: The fridge, cooktop, microwave, stainless-steel sink and plenty of storage underneath make maximum use of the available galley space. Right: The same is true of the small wet bath, which combines a shower and toilet.

Storage comes in the form of overhead cabinets, cubbies under the countertop and under-bench compartments. The Basecamp also has a nifty rear door that opens to the interior, allowing storage of bicycles, a kayak, paddleboard, canoe or other bulky gear when traveling.

Special Features

This Airstream is a four-season tiny trailer built like its classic-looking bigger brothers. It is prewired for solar, the underbelly is insulated, tanks have 12-volt DC heaters, and the outdoor shower is fed by the same Truma Combi Eco Plus electric/LP-gas water heater as the sink in the galley. The trailer also comes equipped with a Truma LP-gas heating system and has built-in winterization kit.

The rugged Basecamp X (starting at $40,600) adds a lift kit and larger wheels and tires.

Four people in camp chairs and a dog in front of the Basecamp trailer.

The Airstream Basecamp reflects the classic aluminum look, quality, innovation and styling that have kept the brand a leader in travel trailers for nearly 90 years. It’s a tiny trailer with a ton of class.

Floorplan drawing of Basecamp trailer.Manufacturer’s Specifications

2020 Airstream Basecamp
Exterior Length: 16′ 3″
Exterior Width: 7′
Exterior Height: 8′ 8.75″
Freshwater Cap.: 22 gal.
Gray-and-Black-Water Cap. (combo): 29 gal.
LP-Gas Cap.: 10 gal.
UVW: 2,585 lbs.
Hitch Weight: 410 lbs.
Axle Weight: 3,500 lbs.
GVWR: 3,500 lbs.
MSRP, Base: $37,900


A respected automotive and RV journalist and longtime Trailer Life contributor, Bruce W. Smith has held numerous editorial titles at automotive and boating magazines, and authored more than 1,000 articles, from tech to trailering. He considers his home state of Oregon a paradise for RVing and outdoor adventure.

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