Airstreams have an aluminum frame, with an aluminum skin riveted on the exterior and interior. They will never delaminate like most RV's. The windows can leak if you don't reseal them every ten years or so. Same with the door. If it DOES leak a little, it doesn't cause much damage. The floors are made of either marine plywood or a composite material. They are desiged to be balanced for towing and are streamlined. Because they are aluminum, they are lighter for their size.
Some complain about lack of storage but most Airstream owners are very content. Less is more. My dad had 2 or 3 of every kind of RV ever made including 4 Airstreams. I have had 2 Airstreams, 3 Class A's and now a 40' DP. I really wish I had gone with a 32 single slide Airstream and a pickup.
They are made to last a long time. Chris Bryant here on the forum (Bryant's RV) has one and I think he said it has over 100K miles on it. Try THAT with a Prowler.
Another observation. I have seen Airstreams after they have rolled over. They roll them back on their tires and tow them away.
When most other RV's roll over, they clean up the mess with a front end loader.
Yes, they are easy to tow - 10 to 12 mpg for me. The truck isn't much better empty.
We have to date averaged 16MPG towing the Airstream with a V6 but the bonus is averaging 26 MPG when not towing (90% of the time)(Note imperial gals). This has saved us about $10,000 in fuel costs over the last 10 years, (compared to if we owned a heavy V8 vehicle). The saving has paid for our Airstream including repairs and upgrades.
Airstreams.... the best towing trailers on the planet!
To the original poster: if you really want to learn about Airstreams, I recco you go over and hang out a while on the air forums site. Those folks are serious about their trailers, and there are many, many threads that are invaluable regarding not only A/S, but great tips for camping in general.
And besides....on this thread, there is a lot of flat out incorrect information being tossed about !
So if you want the straight skinny....go visit with the forum folks that have the trailers, and can tell you all about them.
They are not for everyone, I like the front bedroon 27'er. If the price wasn't so high I'd probably already have one. Doing research on them I noticed that most folks with the bigger trailers use TV's similiar to what the box trailers require. Airstreams are pretty heavy so many use 3/4T. Airstreams are not problem free and you pay a premium for repairs if your not a do it yourselfer.
Bob & Deb
12 F150 HD SCAB EcoBoost LB 4x4
06 Starcraft 18SB
Yes, it is a personal thing like Harley or Honda, MAC or PC? There are those who do it for status as well but I ain't one of them. Yes, they have problems too but not as many as the run of the mill box trailer.
I had a Starcraft hybrid and after only a couple of years there were exterior issues, drawers didn't close and the pipes rattled when the pump was on. All the plumbing fixtures were cheap plastic and the door didn't close without manipulating the handle.
My used Airstream is built much better. The doors open and close (and stay closed), all the faucets are home quality Moens, the cabinets all align and nothing rattles or vibrates after over 12k miles. I get the same mileage towing the Airstream even though it is 4 feet longer and a ton heavier than the box hybrid.
All that said, yes, they are smaller inside and yes, they have less storage. My biggest complaint is that the exterior storage is almost non existent on mine. They certainly are not perfect but when you hear all the stories about floor rot from leaks, they usually involve pre 1990 coaches. How many 20 to 25 year old (or older) box trailers are out there still being used? I can sell mine today for almost the same I paid for it 3 years ago. I purchased used which makes a big difference.
Now, I am comparing mine to a "typical" box trailer. My cousin has a new Arctic Fox and it is an impressive unit. A top of the line trailer will be more expensive but still not as much as an Airstream if you want to buy new. I think it all comes down to what you want. My cousin can sit in a recliner and watch TV. I am not into that when "camping". While we travel on the road I watch a little news on the TV but I don't go to national parks to watch DVDs. Just me.
His trailer is two feet longer than mine. I get 11-12 mpg towing while he gets 7-8. He has to have a 3/4 ton while I tow with my 1/2 ton.
Airstream was the lowest quality trailer of the aerodynamic aluminum trailers marketed after World War II. The others are out of business as prices went up, but American family income did not.
All sorts of used trailer bargains out there of this type.
Trailers of this sort need a re-fresh after about 20-years. They're easily good for forty years or more.
The expensive trailer is the one that must be replaced every few years (note here and on other threads the number of trailers owned by some over a 20-30 year period), requires a fuel-inefficent tow vehicle that is worn down sooner (costs more to operate every mile and must be replaced more often, not to mention the higher cost solo miles), and requires a great deal more work to even start to come close to A/S road performance (which it will never equal).
The arguments about space are flat funny. Are you holding a barn dance indoors? Do you carry a 7500W generator for boondocking on the Gulf Coast, or a 250-lb propane tank to overwinter somewhere to heat/cool that extra air space? 2000 tee shirts to pack? Just what is one giving up? Thousands have full-timed in this trailer type over tens or hundreds of thousands of miles with decades of ownership of just one trailer. Sometimes across all the continents, not just a few Interstate highways near home.
So, when one is indoors one is either sitting or sleeping . . just how fat are you and the spouse that bigger is better?? Gotta have that gigantic black tank, huh? The circus freak arguments are really funny.
So if I want to spend more money, accept inferior design and construction, accept really, truly lousy performance and fuel economy then the "bigger" "cheaper" trailer that is not economical, roadworthy or lasting is somehow the better choice? Buy what you will, but analyzing the numbers reveals a different picture than the usual garbage about "lifestyle" . . and something as dumb as a Harley has in common the mentality which buys on a whim. Not a near-permanent asset to a family as the right aero aluminum trailer can be.
Some will always let appearances fool them. But numbers are for those who will use them. Lifestyle is not at issue . . it's a word for dummies that acts as a "concept" (as it is based on nothing).
You want a box, buy a box. But don't ever believe it to be anything but the far more expensive choice it actually is.