Ten years ago, Airstream introduced the Basecamp, a small, nimble pull-behind camper that was meant to resonate with the growing young-adventurer set. More of a toy hauler than a den of comfort, the trailer lacked a bathroom and hit the market just as the recession did. Only 200 were built before Airstream shut down production of the model.
So I was more than a little surprised when, while towing the second edition—a new-for-2017 Basecamp—behind my truck this summer, a gentleman in his 60s approached me at a gas station and started studying the silver spaceship and its eight tinted windows. “Do you mind if I look inside?” he asked without taking his eye off the camper. Not at all, I told him. “Great. I remember when they came out with the first one in 2007. It didn’t do so well.”
He poked his head inside, probably ran a mental inventory as only an Airstream devotee could, then emerged beaming, clearly in approval of the upgrades.
The new model includes a shower and flush toilet, a two-burner propane cooktop (and propane water heater), a refrigerator and stainless steel sink, a sliding screen door on the passenger side and a swinging rear door at the head of the bed, ample living space, tableside bench seating (which turns into the bed), a 23-gallon freshwater tank, heat, and AC. All that in a camper that measures 16 feet long, seven feet wide, and weighs 2,585 pounds—light enough to tow with a Subaru Outback.
Like any Airstream, the Basecamp isn’t cheap. Its MSRP is $34,900, and extra options abound, including a 160-watt solar package and enclosed patio and rear tents.
When my family of three took the standard model for a two-night test spin in Colorado’s lower Blue River valley in July, I was expecting to like it. And I did. We found a perfect creekside parking spot the first night, but the nook wasn’t very long. I drive a crew-cab pickup with a full-length bed, so I worried we’d fit with a camper. No need. It nestled right in, thanks to the Basecamp’s modest length. We made a fire outside on the creek and gabbed and snacked until the mosquitoes launched a hellacious attack. Then we stepped inside the well-lit camper and ate at the table like models of civilization (save for the wailing 1-year-old, who wanted to go back outside).
The following night, after a drive up Ute Pass and a long day hike, we parked next to the Blue River at a site with views of the Gore Range. We made fish tacos for dinner and braved the chilly air for as long as we could, sitting next to the fire. Then, with our son asleep in a portable crib that fit perfectly between the bed and kitchen counter, I opened the rear hatch door and climbed into the warm camper without a sound. I don’t think I’ve ever slept that well away from home.
Dealers will begin receiving Basecamp inventory in October. Until then, they’re taking reservations. Find out more at Airstream.com.