The Jackson Center, Ohio, manufacturer of iconic travel trailers has introduced a larger version of its award-winning RV designed especially for adventurers.
By Pamela Kay, Director of Communications, Publishing
Building on the popularity of its Basecamp model — first introduced in 2007 as a toy hauler of sorts and then reimagined for 2016 — Airstream recently unveiled Basecamp 20 and Basecamp 20X. The original Basecamp has been badged Basecamp 16 to distinguish it from the new models. As the names indicate, the 2021 Basecamp 20 is 4 feet longer than the original. Not only that, but it also is taller and wider, all of which allowed Airstream designers to create a new floor plan with room for more travelers.
Since its inception, the Basecamp has ranked as one of the best-selling models in the Airstream lineup. The Basecamp shares many of the qualities of the company’s iconic travel trailers. It boasts the well-known aluminum superstructure, with thousands of rivets that connect the exterior skin and interior walls to the ribs.
The Basecamp — which Airstream officials note can be towed by most midsized SUVs and half-ton pickup trucks — is intended to take RV owners off the beaten path and into the wilds for hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and exploring. So, it’s not average travel trailer. The X model extends these capabilities even further. It comes with a lift kit that gives the trailer 3 inches of additional ground clearance, plus it sports more aggressive off-road tires, front stainless-steel rock guards, front window protection, and (on the 20X) a steel double entry step.
The Basecamp shares the silver-sided appearance of its more conventional Airstream siblings and incorporates semimonocoque construction. Thermal barrier protection is sandwiched between the exterior and interior walls. The aluminum used for the exterior structure and the interior walls is pretreated to resist ultraviolet rays, mold, discoloration, cracking, flaking, and oxidation.
The Basecamp boasts a distinctive aerodynamic shape. The rear incorporates an aggressive departure angle to help with all-terrain adventuring. Skid protectors on the underside guard against damage as well.
The holding tanks are built into the frame. Airstream designers note that this results in a lower center of gravity, lower overall weight, and better weight distribution; plus, the tanks don’t infringe on interior space. The aluminum underbelly is enclosed and heated. The tanks also are equipped with 12-volt blanket heaters to prevent freezing. The Basecamp 16 has a combined gray- and black-water tank, whereas the 20 has separate tanks and a black-tank flush.
Furniture inside the Basecamp is handcrafted using solid wood. Since it is custom fitted, it is installed after the floors and walls have been attached to the frame.
Beyond its readiness for adventure in off-the-beaten-path places, the Basecamp 20 boasts a number of handy exterior features. Up front, a custom-molded plastic cover conceals two 20-pound propane tanks and provides storage space for cords or tools on top.
Other features near the hitch include a manual jack, a breakaway switch, two safety chains, and a seven-pin connector. A D-ring on the hitch provides dog owners a place to hook up their pooch so it can spend time with the family outdoors. The Basecamp 20 comes equipped with four heavy-duty stabilizers.
New to the Basecamp 20 is a true exterior shower with hot and cold water for cleaning people or gear after outdoor activities. (The Basecamp 16 has a pass-through shower.) A storage container for the waste-water hose is provided. A spare tire nestles under the front of the trailer. A condensation tube for the optional A/C unit exits to the ground via a wheel well at the front of the RV, preventing streaks down the side.
A port on the side of the Basecamp makes it possible to use a portable solar array. Or buyers can opt for two roof-mounted 90-watt panels that come with two AGM batteries.
The front of the Basecamp 20 is dedicated to a convertible U-shaped dinette that seats at least four people comfortably. The contoured tabletop pivots in such a way that the radius stays the same for occupants, so those seated can leave the area without asking others to move.
Panoramic windows adjacent to the dinette make this a great place to spend time. The windows can be covered using the heavy-duty blackout shades that attach at the bottom and roll up into place. The dinette converts quickly into a sleeping space for an adult or a couple of kids.
The dinette seats — and the rear lounge cushions — are covered with marine fabric that is resistant to mildew and stains and is flame retardant. The cushions can be taken outside, cleaned, and hosed off and then allowed to dry before being returned to the interior.
Two pop-up chargers in this area have USB ports and 120-volt-AC outlets for keeping devices ready for action. Additional USB ports and electrical outlets are available in the rear of the vehicle.
The 4.3-cubic-foot two-way refrigerator (AC/DC electric) stands adjacent to the dinette, making it handy for grabbing a snack or when serving dinner. An optional microwave oven stacks on top of the refrigerator. If buyers do not choose to add a microwave, this becomes storage space and is covered by a smoked-black acrylic door like the ones beneath the refrigerator and throughout the unit.
On the opposite side of the RV, across from the European-style wet bath, is a two-burner propane stove and a stainless-steel sink. Both come with tempered-glass covers. The laminated cabinetry and countertops and the seamless vinyl flooring that runs throughout the unit make for easy cleanup. Four décor packages are offered: Glacier Lake, Red Rock, River Rock, and Forest Ridge.
The wet bath in the Basecamp 20 has a taller ceiling than the bath in the 16 because of the 20’s overall interior height of 6 feet 7 inches. The bath comes equipped with a marine toilet, a sink, a hand-held showerhead, towel bars, hooks, and a shower caddy. Everything in this space is designed so that it can get wet. A retractable clothesline is available in the shower. A roof vent fan provides air circulation for the bath.
The rear of the unit is quite versatile. By day, it’s a lounge area, with two bench seating areas and two tables that can be set up between them. The furnace and water heater rest under the street-side bench. The opposite bench opens to reveal storage space for the table pedestals and more. The table pedestals install in the floor via a quick connection, and then the laminate tops for the tables click into place. The tables pivot and can be adjusted to the comfort of the user, whether for work or for eating space. Two shorter legs click into place and serve as supports when making up the bed.
Occupants have the option of folding out one bench as a half bed and leaving the other open for seating or creating one full bed that extends across the entire rear of the vehicle. The full bed measures 82 inches by 72 inches. With the seating area up front — new with the Basecamp 20 — the bed in the rear could stay in place.
When the rear lounge area is not in use for sleeping, it accommodates bicycles, kayaks, or other gear the active family might want to bring along. The rear hatch measures 26 inches by 46 inches and provides access to an unobstructed 126-inch cargo depth, from the hatch to the galley cabinets.
Three storage spots with nets are built into the hatch door. A removable roll-down screen can be used to cover the open hatch for ventilation, without inviting in bugs. The main entry door features a hidden retractable screen.
One unusual feature of the Basecamp is storage above the windows. Cargo bars with nets attached make use of available space overhead in the dinette area, the galley, and in the rear lounge.
The rugged yet comfy Basecamp 20 may be the perfect solution for families looking to do some backcountry camping in a time of social distancing. Those who need a little extra living space will want to ask the dealer about the fully enclosed patio tents that slide into a channel at the top of the RV and inflate via air tube technology. The Airstream Basecamp 20 is ready for adventure.
Specs | Airstream Basecamp 20
Airstream Inc., 419 W. Pike St., Jackson Center, OH 45334; (937) 596-6111; www.airstream.com
16-inch DuraTrac all-season, all-terrain
Dexter Nev-R-Adjust, electric
Interstate SRM-24, standard; Lifeline AGM GPL-24 if equipped with solar panel
9 feet 1.5 inches (with A/C)
6 feet 7 inches (with A/C, entry area)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
3,400 pounds (with LP and batteries)
500 pounds (with LP and batteries)
NET CARRYING CAPACITY
EcoBatt fiberglass batt
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 28 gallons; black water — 21 gallons
tankless, on demand
(1) 11,500-Btu with heat strip (optional)
4.3 cubic feet, 2-way (AC/DC electric)
MANUFACTURER’S SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
Basecamp 20: $45,900; Basecamp 20X: $48,900