Airstream Basecamp 20: Freedom machine! (2023)

RV Lifestyle Magazine Road Test Report and photos by Norm Rosen

We had the opportunity to visit Andy Thomson at Can-Am RV Centre in London, Ontario, to do a road test on the new Airstream Basecamp 20 – a lightweight model designed to let you take your adventures just about anywhere you can imagine.

The Basecamp 20 is built by hand at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio, where each trailer is crafted with the same care and attention to detail that we have come to expect from the iconic Airstream brand. Sleek and stylish, the trailer is designed to last a lifetime… and provide the ideal “basecamp” for you to explore the destinations of your dreams.

We first encountered the Basecamp series of Airstream trailers in 2018, when we road tested the model 16, towed by a BMW X1 compact SUV. To read that review, please visit our digital edition archives at https://online.flowpaper.com/77260755/RVLifestyle465/#page=21 if you are prompted for a password, please use RVLFREE2017 .

The model 20 is a longer design, with a versatile front dinette floorplan that accommodates up to four people in comfort. Engineered to be towable by a wide range of family vehicles, including compact SUVs, pickups, sedans – pretty much any vehicle you might have in your

driveway. We towed the Basecamp 20 with a Tesla Model 3, and it was a GREAT combination! The Tesla has excellent weight distribution and low-end torque, so it was a peppy and responsive tow vehicle with more than enough power to cruise at highway speeds with the Basecamp in tow… Andy has been using the Tesla as a tow vehicle for more than a year, and he has hitched more than 20 customer’s Teslas, with no problems at all. To read about the Tesla towing experience, please see Andy’s Hitch Hints columns on our website at www.rvlifemag.com

Search for the word Tesla to see a list of the related Hitch Hints columns.

Basecamp – Designed to Explore Your World…

As Airstream President Bob Wheeler describes the concept, the Basecamp 20 blends form and function, with every component carefully considered to maximize every inch of the design.

The result is a compact travel trailer that can carry all your gear – bikes, kayaks, surfboards – anything that can fit through the rear hatch is “good to go”.

Build Quality and Features

Like every Airstream, the Basecamp 20 is crafted from the highest quality materials, intended to last a lifetime. The familiar sleek exterior aluminum is fluorocarbon treated for UV protection. The riveted aluminum superstructure is strong yet lightweight, easy to maintain. The Spradling interior/outdoor cushions are upholstered with mildew resistant, water resistant, antibacterial, stain-resistant, and flame-retardant marine grade fabric that is easy to clean, durable and comfortable – the ideal choice for your active outdoor lifestyle.

The Basecamp 20 is a freedom machine that adapts to your needs. The rear hatch provides a second entrance, and access to load a wide variety of recreational items – a pair of kayaks, bikes, you name it – if it fits, it goes with you on your trip!

What’s in the Basecamp X-Package?

When you visit the website, there is some information on the optional Basecamp X package, but you have do dig a bit to see the details, so we will summarize the features here.

The Basecamp X-Package is intended to increase the departure angle of the trailer chassis and increase durability for use in all-terrain environments.

The X package includes Goodyear® 235/85R16 Off-Road DuraTrac All-Terrain Tires (balanced), a lift kit that adds three inches or clearance to the suspension, “Black Shadow” wheel rims, solar front window protection, and stainless-steel rock guards.

On The Road

The aerodynamic body and roof profile of the Basecamp 20 slips through the air with minimal drag to increase fuel efficiency.

The axle width and placement give the Basecamp 20 very stable yet highly manoeuvrable road manners. For off-road excursions, the Basecamp is available in a special model designated as the Basecamp 20 X – Airstream describes the chassis of the Basecamp X as having an “aggressive departure angle” that lets you negotiate rough roads. The use of larger wheels and tires on the X model helps the trailer handle rough roads and provides better handling in snow and cold weather, but the higher stance adds a bit of aerodynamic drag, so the standard Basecamp 20 will provide slightly better fuel efficiency. Should you choose the Basecamp 20, or the 20X? It all depends on where you plan to travel… On gravel roads, the Basecamp 20X is well protected from typical road hazard damage by rock guards and wheel flares. The front window is protected from road debris by three swing-out rock guards. The standard Basecamp 20 has 3M® Film front stone guard protection.

At the Campsite

While the Basecamp is perfectly suitable for use at conventional RV campsites, it really excels when you are boondocking in more rustic campsites. The trailer is pre-wired to be fitted with an optional 180w Solar Package with two upgraded AGM Batteries, that can be connected to an interior control / monitor panel.

For greater comfort at the campsite, the Basecamp is equipped with heavy-duty stabilizer jacks, so you won’t be disturbed when family members move around inside the trailer.

Expanding Your Space…

The Basecamp 20 is available with an optional fully enclosed patio tent system that attaches to the roofline curbside railing and features an ingenious “air-tube” technology to inflate the tent’s structural supports.

Interior Appointments

With the front dinette and the wrap-around panoramic front window, the Basecamp 20 interior lets you take in the splendour of your scenic campsite. We really enjoyed the earth-tone décor and way the trailer blends into a natural environment, with smooth and “organic” lines that are very pleasing to the eye.

While this is a relatively compact trailer, it is outfitted with very high-quality components – we were very impressed with the overall elegance of the interior – with handcrafted Italian Lite-Ply® laminated interior cabinetry, seamless vinyl flooring, and laminated countertops. The versatility of the various tables and seat cushions lets you configure the Basecamp 20 to suit your needs and change the arrangements in seconds… the overhead mesh storage areas are brilliant – they adapt to your gear without intruding into your personal space, and the use of hooks and other fixation points lets you attach a wide variety of gear wherever space permits.

Comfort and Convenience

The key to the interior convenience of the Basecamp series of trailers is to utilize every square inch of space for multiple purposes. Bench seats are designed with storage compartments, and the tables that let you convert the dining seating into sleeping areas have robust adjustable legs that stow away when not in use.

Doors and windows are very well designed, with screens to keep the bugs out, and tempered glass to let the sunshine in. For hot weather camping, the Basecamp 20 offers an optional 30 AMP Service Single A/C with Heat Strip rooftop air conditioner with two-speed fan. The unit is surprisingly quiet compared to typical RV A/C models. In colder weather, the Truma Combi™ Eco Plus Heating System warms up the trailer very quickly, and the heating system ducts circulate warm air to the underbelly of the trailer to keep the water tanks from freezing. When you are not running the furnace, a 12V tank heater system can be switched on to protect the plumbing system from freezing.

The EcoBatt™ insulation keeps the trailer cool in the summer, and warm in spring and fall. Hardy campers will use the trailer in the Canadian winter, we prefer to tow the trailer to the sunbelt to avoid the extreme cold.

While the trailer is designed to let you escape the mad rush of modern life, Airstream engineers know how devoted we are to our electronic devices, so they included two pop-up charging stations in the kitchen that have USB ports and 110V outlets, so you can charge all your devices.

Interior Accommodations

While the Basecamp 20 is designed to provide comfortable sleeping accommodation for two adults and two or three children, or four adults, the interior can accommodate more people for dining, entertainment, or shelter from the elements. The two rear benches and the seat that fits across the rear hatch easily accommodate five adults, and the front dinette is spacious enough for two adults and two children to enjoy meals or inside entertainment.

In the Galley

Compact yet fully featured, the Basecamp galley includes a stainless-steel kitchen sink with a “hide away” swivel faucet and a tempered glass cover that folds down to provide additional counter space. There is a two-burner gas stove, also equipped with a tempered glass cover, and a fully electric 4.3 cu. ft. 2-Way 12v/110v highly efficient compressor refrigerator. A microwave oven is optional.

Storage space in the galley is compact, but there is quite enough room for dishes, groceries, pots and pans, and cooking utensils.

In the Bathroom…

The Basecamp 20 features a European style bathroom, designed to get wet, easy to clean. The shower, sink, and toilet are very conveniently designed for a compact trailer. There is an access port so you can use the shower outside the trailer. The Truma Combi™ Eco Plus Electric/LP tankless hot water heater is very efficient, producing hot water on demand for bathroom and galley requirements, and the Fantastic© fan helps clear the moisture and humidity from the shower area.

The Bottom Line

This is truly an Airstream for the 21st Century, ideally suited for outdoor adventures on and off the beaten path. With traditional Airstream quality, and the panache that comes with a luxury level travel trailer, in a compact yet surprisingly adaptable design, this is a trailer that your family will enjoy for generations. Look at the Basecamp 20 as an investment that will hold its value for many years to come.

The Basecamp 20 is covered by a 3-Year Airstream Limited Warranty that is transferable, and 3 year, 24/7 Coach-Net® roadside Assistance.

Looking for more information?

See the Basecamp 20 in Augmented Reality – it’s a fascinating way to experience the Airstream mystique… here’s the link: https://www.airstream.com/blog/experience-basecamp-20-in-augmented-reality/

Watch our Road Test Video at the YouTube channel… On the road with the Basecamp 20 and the Tesla Model 3

Check Out Andy Thomson’s YouTube video on How To Properly Set Up Your Weight Distribution System.

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