The iconic Airstream trailer, despite its age, features amenities to keep the modern traveler entertained and comfortable.
Wayne CunninghamManaging Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
The iconic silvery shell of the Airstream trailer evokes the 1950s, but the company goes back further, producing its first trailers in 1932 from a factory in Southern California. Since 1952, Airstream has been building its trailers in Ohio, and now produces eight different models ranging in length from 16 to 31 feet.
However, Airstream has kept its trailers suited for the modern traveler, whether its the always-connected vacationing tech company executive, the glamper, or the pampered Burner.
Bill Benck, Service Manager of Bay Area Airstream Adventures, gave CNET a tour of one of the latest models, an Airstream International Signature Series, with interior design by Christopher C. Deam. At 31 feet long, this model allowed for a front seating area, dinette, galley, bathroom and separate shower, and bedroom.
Modern convenience in an Airstream travel trailer (pictures)
Mounted on the wall over the dinette was a Samsung LCD television, while a smaller television hung in the bedroom. Video sources included a digital television antenna mounted on the trailer's roof and a Blu-ray player in a cabinet. A Clarion stereo controlled output to surround sound speakers mounted around the trailer.
USB ports in the bedroom and living area made charging devices convenient.
The stove top in the gallery runs on propane, and the refrigerator, which normally uses electricity, can also be powered by propane when you get too far afield for an electrical hook-up. Of course, you will want that electricity to power the two air conditioning units that sit on top of the trailer.
Airstream turns to LEDs for all lighting in its trailers. Not only do LEDs use less electricity, they are much more durable than incandescent lamps, a key feature for a trailer that will cover thousands of highway miles.
As auxiliary power, this trailer comes with two lead-acid car batteries. Benck pointed out that many owners install 200W solar panels, which keep those batteries charged.
The aluminum shell helps keep Airstream trailers light, but the material offers many other benefits. It cleans easily and maintains a fresh look over many years. It also contributes significantly to the amount of recyclable materials used in the trailer.
Airstream trailers don't come cheap. The smallest available, the 16 foot Sport, goes for a base price of $41,705. Benck mentioned the International model CNET toured runs around $100,000.