Table of Contents Show
- What Is Airstream?
- Why Is Airstream So Unique?
- How Much Does an Airstream Cost?
- 5 Airstream Alternatives for a More Affordable Trailer
- Can’t Afford An Airstream? There Are Great Airstream Alternatives
Airstream is one of those brands that you either love or hate. The iconic silver bullet design isn’t for everyone, but Airstream owners adore it. If you love the Airstream brand but know you can’t afford one, don’t fret. You can get a budget-friendly Airstream alternative.
Let’s take a look!
What Is Airstream?
Airstream is a company founded by Wally Byam. In 1929, he built a tent on top of a Model T chassis. He then tweaked the design and made a teardrop-shaped permanent shelter.
Shortly after, his neighbors saw this and asked Byam to make trailers for them, too. So Byam rented a building and started manufacturing small trailers. Thus, Airstream was born.
The Airstream line-up includes five Touring Coaches built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis and one Touring Coach built on a RAM ProMaster chassis.
But the main line of Airstream is its travel trailers. It currently has nine trailer models ranging from 16 to 33 feet.
Because of their superior quality and unique design, Airstreams are more expensive than other travel trailers. They have no slide-outs, so space is limited. But the vintage look and aluminum egg shape lure travelers of all ages to hit the road in one of these well-crafted vehicles.
Why Is Airstream So Unique?
Airstream is as iconic as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s arches. You can spot one of the silver bullets speeding down the interstate from yards away. They’re easily recognizable and loved by their owners.
The company has been in business for almost 100 years. Wally Byam opened a small trailer factory in Culver City, Calif., in 1931.
Since the beginning, Airstream has produced top-quality trailers that last for generations. You can find a vintage Airstream from the 1970s that costs as much as a new trailer made by other brands. But don’t worry, you can find an Airstream alternative.
How Much Does an Airstream Cost?
The cheapest Airstream model is the Basecamp, which starts at $46,000. The 16-foot model sleeps two while the 20-foot model sleeps four, but it also starts at $52,000.
The Classic is Airstream’s most expensive model. The 30-foot 30RB starts at $188,100, while the 33-foot 33FB starts at $206,500.
5 Airstream Alternatives for a More Affordable Trailer
If forking out over $100,000 sounds like a punch in the stomach, you can get Airstream alternatives with a better price tag.
These campers won’t have the iconic silver siding, but they will have a similar shape and offer similar layouts.
Oliver Travel Trailers
Oliver has two travel trailers built with a double-hulled fiberglass shell. These shells offer excellent protection with radiant barrier bubble insulation and tanks, plumbing, and mechanical systems enclosed between the fiberglass shells. The five-year warranty is one of the best in the RV industry.
The Legacy Elite is 18 feet 5 inches with a GVWR of 5,000 pounds. The larger Legacy Elite II measures 23 feet 6 inches with a GVWR of 7,000 pounds.
Although you can’t change up the standard floor plan of the Legacy Elite, you can add upgrades.
It has a large U-shaped dinette that converts to a 74-by-52-inch sleeping area and a smaller dinette that converts to a twin bed. A kitchenette and full bathroom round out the floor plan.
The Legacy Elite II features two floorplans, one with three twin bed options and one with a standard layout like the Legacy Elite. The Legacy Elite II has more space, but the layout is very similar to the Legacy Elite.
The size of the Oliver trailers compares to that of Airstream Bambi and Caravel, which makes them great Airstream alternatives. It doesn’t have as many floorplans, but the trailers start around $57,000. The Airstream Caravel 19CB starts at $77,300, and the Airstream Bambi 22FB begins at $69,200.
Homegrown Travel Trailers
If you want a trailer with a unique design like Airstream, look no further than Homegrown travel trailers.
These trailers don’t have the iconic silver aluminum siding but feature an exterior wood finish. They’re a great Airstream alternative with this show-stopping look.
One of the best features of Homegrown travel trailers is their sustainability. Outside Magazine even claimed that Homegrown Trailers has “the most eco-friendly camper we’ve seen.”
Each trailer gets constructed from recycled plastics, CARB2-certified wood, and sustainably-harvested cork. The company even installs a composting toilet, a 400 to 800-Watt solar panel, and a lithium battery.
Homegrown Travel Trailers has two lines — the Timberline and the Woodland. However, the Timberline is the only one currently in production.
It measures 23 feet in length and comes in a few options: bunk beds, a convertible dinette, or both.
Pricing starts at $75,495. The 23-foot Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB starts at $94,400 and doesn’t offer the standard features that come with a Homegrown travel trailer.
Keep in Mind: If you’re set on purchasing an Airstream, consider buying one used! Here’s Where to Find Used Airstreams for Sale That Aren’t a Scam
Happier Camper Trailers
If you love the compact style of the Airstream Basecamp or REI Special Edition, another great Airstream alternative is a trailer made by Happier Camper.
These trailers use 100% fiberglass double-hull handcrafted shells and a honeycomb fiberglass floor grid. The retro-modern exterior makes the Happier Camper a loved trailer by outdoor enthusiasts.
Plus, the Adaptiv system gives owners multiple options and configurations to suit their needs. This fully customizable system has pieces that will allow for storage, seating, cooking, sleeping, and relaxation.
The HC1 is ultra-lightweight with a GVWR of 3,500 pounds. It measures only 13 feet 5 inches long but can sleep up to five people.
The HC1 Studio features a fully-appointed kitchenette, bathroom, and a queen-sized bed. It still measures 13 feet 5 inches with a GVWR of 3,500 pounds.
Finally, the HC1 Venture is built for commercial use, providing serving bars and concession windows to transport your business easily.
The model most like an Airstream is the Happier Camper Traveler. This all-new model starts at $69,950. It features the Adaptiv system, like the other models, with the ability to turn a living space into an office, dining, sleeping, or lounge space.
It measures 17 feet long and has a GVWR of 3,500 pounds. The 16-foot Airstream Bambi 16RB has a dedicated sleeping space and front dinette, starting at $59,300. However, it doesn’t have the flexibility of the Adaptiv system in the Happier Camper trailers.
Scamp Travel Trailers
Like Oliver and Happier Camper, Scamp manufactures fiberglass-shelled trailers. These trailers are less susceptible to water damage and have excellent insulation for comfortable camping in hot and cold temperatures.
Scamp offers three sizes: 13-foot, 16-foot, and 19-foot. The 13-foot option comes in both standard and deluxe floorplans for a total of five different options.
The 16-foot also comes in both standard and deluxe floorplans with nine options. The 19-foot fifth wheel comes in three floorplans. They all feature a dinette and kitchen, while some models also include a bathroom, an additional dinette, or bunk beds.
Owners love the aerodynamic and lightweight design of Scamp trailers. You can pull them with an SUV, minivan, or small truck.
They’re also adaptable, with optional upgrades and features available to make your camping experience enjoyable. All Scamp trailers are made to order, so they don’t have a starting price. But you can order a 13-foot model for less than $20,000.
Keep in Mind: Are Scamp Campers Any Good? Learn more about Scamp Campers!
Gulf Stream Vintage Cruisers
Finally, another great Airstream alternative is a Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser. Unlike other brands, these trailers don’t have a fiberglass shell.
These trailers have laminated walls like many standard travel trailers but with a vintage look inspired by the 1950s. They have an aluminum frame with Congoleum non-stick vinyl flooring, vacuum-bonded laminated fiberglass with synthetic Azdel substrate, and a one-piece laminated fiberglass roof.
The Vintage Package option includes “Vintage” exterior graphics, a painted bumper, A-frame, rims, and 14-inch radial tires with moon hubcaps. The interior features a vintage drape package with decorative rods, a vintage custom comforter, and vintage logo pillow shams.
Gulf Streams Vintage Cruiser line has 14 different floorplans. They range from 20 feet with a dry weight of 2,567 pounds to 26 feet with a dry weight of 4,218 pounds.
These are the only units on this list of Airstream alternatives that have some models with a slide-out room. Seven models have a slide with a sofa bed or dinette to provide extra interior space. All feature a full bathroom and at least one designated sleeping area.
The Gulf Stream Vintage Cruisers are probably the best Airstream alternative for families and campers looking for the most space.
Because it has so many options, pricing ranges from $30,000 to $40,000 as a base price. The 27-foot Airstream Flying Cloud 27FB starts at $115,500.
Can’t Afford An Airstream? There Are Great Airstream Alternatives
We all love the iconic Airstream travel trailers. But not everyone can afford one. If your dream is to own an Airstream one day, you may have to opt for an alternative if your budget doesn’t allow for a $100,000 to $200,000 travel trailer. It’s certainly a quality, top-of-the-line vehicle, but that price tag is hard to swallow.
So look at an Airstream alternative like the eco-friendly Homegrown Travel Trailer or the vintage Gulf Stream Cruiser.
Oliver, Happier Camper, and Scamp offer you well-built, customizable trailers shaped similarly to an Airstream if you love the egg-shaped look.
Each of these brands offers something unique. You’ll have to decide what’s best for you and your budget.
Which model do you like as the best Airstream alternative for travelers on a budget?