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Thread: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

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    Default Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Getting pretty serious about securing a small RV setup going into spring and how others have weighed the relative merits of a small towable vs. a Class B all-in-one?

    For a towable, I'd probably look at an Airstream Bambi or similar smallish-format, basic two-person setup. For a Class B, most likely a new Thor Sequence or Tellaro, or Winnie Solis. The main things I'm after are a bathroom and a basic kitchen, plus a place to sleep. My goal is being able to drive down to CA, NV, UT, etc. to set up basecamp for solo exploring classic climbs and road routes over long weekends, as well as some coastal trips with my better half.

    Towable Pros:
    - can park it and drive the truck/SUV away
    - when stored, have the truck/SUV as a second car
    - less expensive overall depending on cost of truck/SUV

    Towable Cons:
    - have to store it somewhere (at least w current rental home)
    - can't stealth camp as easily

    Class B Pros:
    - stealth camping almost anywhere
    - can park in driveway at home
    - easier parking in general on trips

    Class B Cons:
    - probably $20-30K more expensive
    - driveable part may degrade faster than liveable part, or vice-versa
    - seems more complex
    - design/storage may be better on towable

    So, anybody else weighed the merits here or have other thoughts to help inform my decision?
    Dan in Oregon

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    The wheel is round. The hill lasts as long as it lasts. That's a fact. Everything else is pure theory.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    We have an escape 21ft fiberglass trailer, these are very high quality and much less expensive than an airstream, made in BC.
    I really like being able to park at camp and use the vehicle to get around. The tow vehicle is also my wife's primary car so one less thing to maintain and is a modern safe vehicle compared to vans and way better than a class A.

    Towing driving is harder than a small class B but likely comparable to a larger RV. Towing in the snow is sketchy so that is a downside.
    I am curious why you can park a class B but not a trailer at your rental they are similar in size.

    You might also consider a pickup and side in if you want a single vehicle but some flexibility.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    I would look at Scamp and Casita also. As much as I love AS they are just some much money. I will restore one someday once I find one reasonable priced.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Class B seemed interesting to me until I really talked to some folks. They are fine for one person.

    I'm in the towable camp. It is a very posh place to hang out, take a shower, cook a meal or sit at the table and doomscroll. There are really decent quality towables which also have high ground clearance so you can get in and out of rough roads.

    FWIIW we have a 26' Airstream. Axe me anything.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by sailor View Post
    I am curious why you can park a class B but not a trailer at your rental they are similar in size.
    We have two 21' parking spots in front of a shallow two-car garage. If we get a towable, we'd have to park one car somewhere else, or the towable somewhere else, or fit the towable in the garage, or ?? All options involve trade-offs. The Sprinter van Class B would just barely fit in the driveway and replace one car.

    I'm definitely open to a trailer that isn't an Airstream - but design and materials are important to me, as-is resale. A used Airstream strikes me as the equivalent of a Pegoretti or Sachs in the used bike market - you pay more up front, but you don't really lose value more than wear-n-tear (i.e., they don't depreciate unused, atmo).
    Dan in Oregon

    ---------------

    The wheel is round. The hill lasts as long as it lasts. That's a fact. Everything else is pure theory.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    I researched the hell out of this before buying our first towable trailer. Pluses and minuses to both, and what works for me might not be right for you.

    To me the big downside of the class b is needing to drive it everywhere when you are camping. We like to set up "base camp" in an area for a few days and use our tow vehicle to explore the area. This leaves all utilities hooked up, awning out, chairs, grills... all setup to use upon return. If you plan to mainly boondock this is not as much of an issue.

    Spend a weeks vacation in your choice of RV with bad weather that keeps you inside, and you quickly realize how small it is. With two people, the furthest you can get away from each other is the length of the RV.

    Also consider where and how you will store your bikes. A class B has limited storage. Some newer units actually have pass through storage built in that is big enough to fit a bike in. Going that route keeps your bike inside, but eats up the majority of your storage space. If you are ok with your bike outside the vehicle on a rack, that simplifies things.

    As mentioned above Casita and Scamp make small, quality trailers. I would add Bigfoot to that list as well. I would encourage anyone to buy an Airstream, as we love ours. Be warned though, even at Airstream quality and price level, stuffs going to break. You're basically taking your mobile house through an earthquake every time you drive it down the road.

    Unfortunately the RV industry is going through an unprecedented boom right now, and price and availability reflects that. A new Airstream order placed now, probably wouldn't be delivered till late summer at best.

    Keep us posted on your decision and continue to ask questions that are relevant to your wants and desires in an RV.
    Dan Bare

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Clean39T View Post
    We have two 21' parking spots in front of a shallow two-car garage. If we get a towable, we'd have to park one car somewhere else, or the towable somewhere else, or fit the towable in the garage, or ?? All options involve trade-offs. The Sprinter van Class B would just barely fit in the driveway and replace one car.

    I'm definitely open to a trailer that isn't an Airstream - but design and materials are important to me, as-is resale. A used Airstream strikes me as the equivalent of a Pegoretti or Sachs in the used bike market - you pay more up front, but you don't really lose value more than wear-n-tear (i.e., they don't depreciate unused, atmo).
    Well if you feel that way about it. They can be had used for a significant savings. Fair warning, I've helped pals find them before and myself have been beat out on deals that go poof same day. Have a stack of Benjamins and ready to deal. Most AS owners are good owners.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Update: My better half is staunchly against the trailer idea, at least for the next couple of years.. she wants self-contained and stealth camping ability. I can't say she's wrong. Plus in this instance, going along means I get what I'm really after that much quicker. With any luck we'll be checking out a Thor Sequence shortly.
    Dan in Oregon

    ---------------

    The wheel is round. The hill lasts as long as it lasts. That's a fact. Everything else is pure theory.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Clean39T View Post
    Update: My better half is staunchly against the trailer idea, at least for the next couple of years.. she wants self-contained and stealth camping ability. I can't say she's wrong. Plus in this instance, going along means I get what I'm really after that much quicker. With any luck we'll be checking out a Thor Sequence shortly.
    Quigley and build it out yourself. If I was in the market that is where I'd start. Infact, that is likely our next tow vehicle for the trailer.
    Last edited by Too Tall; 02-17-2021 at 08:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Tall View Post
    Quigley and build it out yourself. If I was in the market that is where I'd start. Infact, that is likely our next tow vehicle for the trailer.
    I don't have the time, skills, tools, or space to do that. When I see all of the van buildouts on IG and even ones for sale, none of them measure up to what I can get complete from Thor or Winnie at similar prices, and with a warranty. Some cool designs, but I'd like to have a bathroom to avoid covid interactions, and I'd like a solar and battery system that isn't kluged.
    Dan in Oregon

    ---------------

    The wheel is round. The hill lasts as long as it lasts. That's a fact. Everything else is pure theory.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Clean39T View Post
    I don't have the time, skills, tools, or space to do that. When I see all of the van buildouts on IG and even ones for sale, none of them measure up to what I can get complete from Thor or Winnie at similar prices, and with a warranty. Some cool designs, but I'd like to have a bathroom to avoid covid interactions, and I'd like a solar and battery system that isn't kluged.
    Covid interactions aren't going to last forever. I've made a few road trips since Covid began and my time in and out of rest areas on the highway have been short and easy. Nothing wrong with having a built-in lav but plan beyond that.

    As to the van as a tow vehicle, because I'm following this I did a quick check. The Chevrolet van when properly equipped has a tow rating up to 10,000 lbs. Not bad. This looks like a surprisingly good tow option that's far less obvious than a huge and hugely expensive pickup truck.
    La Cheeserie!

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Clean39T View Post
    I don't have the time, skills, tools, or space to do that. When I see all of the van buildouts on IG and even ones for sale, none of them measure up to what I can get complete from Thor or Winnie at similar prices, and with a warranty. Some cool designs, but I'd like to have a bathroom to avoid covid interactions, and I'd like a solar and battery system that isn't kluged.
    I agree with time, skills, tools, and space taking this option off the table for the majority of the population. If you do have those resources the savings over buying a pre built is huge. T
    Dan Bare

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Saab2000 View Post
    Covid interactions aren't going to last forever. I've made a few road trips since Covid began and my time in and out of rest areas on the highway have been short and easy. Nothing wrong with having a built-in lav but plan beyond that.

    As to the van as a tow vehicle, because I'm following this I did a quick check. The Chevrolet van when properly equipped has a tow rating up to 10,000 lbs. Not bad. This looks like a surprisingly good tow option that's far less obvious than a huge and hugely expensive pickup truck.
    With the Class B, I've thought about being able to rent or buy a small trailer that could house the bikes and outdoor equipment to save room on the inside. I'd think it'd be fine to pull something like that. You are right though on a full-size van being adequate to pull a pint-size RV like the Airstream or others I mentioned. That is definitely the direction I'd go since the van would be more useful to me standalone than a full-size truck (I don't do truck things - I'm a roadie, through and through).
    Dan in Oregon

    ---------------

    The wheel is round. The hill lasts as long as it lasts. That's a fact. Everything else is pure theory.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Saab2000 View Post
    Covid interactions aren't going to last forever. I've made a few road trips since Covid began and my time in and out of rest areas on the highway have been short and easy. Nothing wrong with having a built-in lav but plan beyond that.

    As to the van as a tow vehicle, because I'm following this I did a quick check. The Chevrolet van when properly equipped has a tow rating up to 10,000 lbs. Not bad. This looks like a surprisingly good tow option that's far less obvious than a huge and hugely expensive pickup truck.
    My van is a 1 ton with the 6.0 gas motor. Following Josh in his Toyota Tundra, pulling similar sized Airstreams through the blue ridge mountains, I would say the vehicles are pretty evenly matched. As a non tow vehicle the Tundra is a more comfortable easier to drive vehicle. Everything has it's tradeoffs. FWIW, towing mpg runs in the 9-11 mpg range, and non towing is 14-16 mpg. If I had to replace the van today I would buy the same thing with the new 6.6 gas motor.
    Dan Bare

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by PaMtbRider View Post
    My van is a 1 ton with the 6.0 gas motor. Following Josh in his Toyota Tundra, pulling similar sized Airstreams through the blue ridge mountains, I would say the vehicles are pretty evenly matched. As a non tow vehicle the Tundra is a more comfortable easier to drive vehicle. Everything has it's tradeoffs. FWIW, towing mpg runs in the 9-11 mpg range, and non towing is 14-16 mpg. If I had to replace the van today I would buy the same thing with the new 6.6 gas motor.
    The immediate and clear advantage of the van is having space for the bikes, tools, toys, chairs, etc. in a secure and dry area. They're all going to drink gasoline or diesel when pulling a large trailer. No getting away from that.

    If other truck duty or image isn't important, it would seem the van has clear and large advantages as a tow vehicle. And you can line the interior with shag carpet and put funky shaped windows in it and pretend it's the 1970s still.
    La Cheeserie!

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by Saab2000 View Post
    The immediate and clear advantage of the van is having space for the bikes, tools, toys, chairs, etc. in a secure and dry area. They're all going to drink gasoline or diesel when pulling a large trailer. No getting away from that.

    If other truck duty or image isn't important, it would seem the van has clear and large advantages as a tow vehicle. And you can line the interior with shag carpet and put funky shaped windows in it and pretend it's the 1970s still.
    Two years ago I saw a Sprinter Van pulling a small Airstream in Moab. Not sure if the trailer exceeded the towing capacity, but it was a cool setup with the bikes inside.
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    Two years ago I saw a Sprinter Van pulling a small Airstream in Moab. Not sure if the trailer exceeded the towing capacity, but it was a cool setup with the bikes inside.
    I don't know the towing capacity of the Sprinter but the small Airstreams are well within any reasonable towing capability. The 10,000 lb van from Chevy exceeds the maximum weight of even the largest Airstream AFAIK.

    But yeah, I hadn't even thought of a van as a tow vehicle until looking at these threads, including that Nice Package thread. I'm envious of PaMTBRider's setup!
    La Cheeserie!

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Who remembers the make/brand of trailer showing at last Philly Bike Expo? That is a great rig, it had everything you are asking for including a wash setup for bicycles. The price was very reasonable.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    First off, don't kid yourself that any pre-built camper van that is big enough to have a bathroom can successfully "stealth camp" anywhere that people might care. The people who take notice of that type of thing and raise a stink about it arent just going to think a nice big van is parked on their dirt road overnight.

    I own a small microcamper that i made myself and it's great, but....

    Towing anything, especially if your towing skills are marginal (mine are) and you're not super comfortable towing regularly, adds stress and logistical problems. Oh, you just went down a sweet looking dirt road that quickly got too narrow and you need to turn around or back out a windy road - nope, you're screwed. you also want a tow vehicle that exceeds your needs, it's a real drag (ha!) to tow with an underpowered or under-suspended vehicle. ask me how i know? I finally got a new truck, so i'm set for a while. A good tow vehicle may not be the most practical daily driver, depending on your needs there.

    I'm likely going to build out a camper van in the next 18 months or so once i get my actual housing situation sorted, but i wont put a bathroom in it. too many compromises for a very small, maneuverable vehicle. Me, bears and the pope all shit in the woods. it's fine :)

    it's a fun project to geek out on, and smart to prioritize your wants and needs before buying anything. it's too bad covid is ruining everything. RV shows can be a fun way to spend a day and get a better feel for what works.

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    Default Re: Airstream Bambi vs. Class B Thor

    Quote Originally Posted by AngryScientist View Post
    First off, don't kid yourself that any pre-built camper van that is big enough to have a bathroom can successfully "stealth camp" anywhere that people might care. The people who take notice of that type of thing and raise a stink about it arent just going to think a nice big van is parked on their dirt road overnight.

    I own a small microcamper that i made myself and it's great, but....

    Towing anything, especially if your towing skills are marginal (mine are) and you're not super comfortable towing regularly, adds stress and logistical problems. Oh, you just went down a sweet looking dirt road that quickly got too narrow and you need to turn around or back out a windy road - nope, you're screwed. you also want a tow vehicle that exceeds your needs, it's a real drag (ha!) to tow with an underpowered or under-suspended vehicle. ask me how i know? I finally got a new truck, so i'm set for a while. A good tow vehicle may not be the most practical daily driver, depending on your needs there.

    I'm likely going to build out a camper van in the next 18 months or so once i get my actual housing situation sorted, but i wont put a bathroom in it. too many compromises for a very small, maneuverable vehicle. Me, bears and the pope all shit in the woods. it's fine :)

    it's a fun project to geek out on, and smart to prioritize your wants and needs before buying anything. it's too bad covid is ruining everything. RV shows can be a fun way to spend a day and get a better feel for what works.
    Good thoughts all around. By "stealth" I mean, anyone may know you are sleeping in your vehicle, but they may not care all that much - overnight in a parking lot, overnight on the 101, spend a few hours at a rest stop, whatever. My goal with this is really simple: I want to load up 4-5 days worth of food and chamois, drive south to an area with great climbs, and spend a few days riding until my legs fall off before returning home, maybe after a day or two of working remotely. That's it. When it's me and wifey, it'd be just driving out to the coast and spending the weekend walking the beach while having our own food with us and no need to burden small-town societies with our particles or ourselves with theirs. Yes, Covid won't be with us forever, but I still think there is merit in the lifestyle and would at some point be substituting driving to solo adventures with driving to BWR, other events, meetups, etc.

    Of course all of this may go out the window when I go stick my head in one tomorrow. I'm not one to take the butcher's word for it.
    Dan in Oregon

    ---------------

    The wheel is round. The hill lasts as long as it lasts. That's a fact. Everything else is pure theory.

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