Airstream Basecamp Relaunched!

First introduced 10 years ago, the Airstream Basecamp trailer was a collaborative effort by Airstream’s product development team and Nissan Design America (NDA) designers Bryan Thompson and Steve Moneypenny in San Diego, who “envisioned a travel trailer that was a springboard for outdoors adventures rather than a living room on wheels.”  Bryan says, “The relationship with Airstream has been the exchange of ideas. Essentially, two very different companies coming together with two very distinct identities to come up with a new aesthetic.” (See the Nissan & Airstream YouTube video)*  Bryan explains that Airstream wanted to create a trailer that would appeal to the younger market that was not buying their larger trailers, “So we came up with this idea, let’s infuse the [Nissan] Xterra DNA into some of the classic heritage icons of Airstream.”  (See Bryan Thompson on Airstream Basecamp Project)*

According to “The Shape of Things Past: Airstream’s New BaseCamp Enters The Market,” article in the Fall 2005 issue of Airstream Life, page 16, “Airstream called on Nissan Design America to translate a dusty old photo of a 1930s Torpedo into something 20- and 30-something buyers would love.” The article shows a photo of Dr. Norman Holman, Sr., standing next to his 1935 Airstream Torpedo that he built from a set of Wally Byam’s $5.00 plans.  His son, Norman Holman, Jr., MD, inherited this trailer and gave an interview and tour seen in the video, “Oldest Airstream Trailer in the World.”*


Airstream commemorated the retro style, along with its 75th anniversary by releasing 75 Commemorative Edition Travel Trailers designed by David Winick and the first Airstream Basecamp (model year 2007).  See Colonial Airstream’s Patrick Botticelli give a detailed walk-through of his 2007 Basecamp,* the ninth one made.  The original Basecamp had large clamshell rear doors that provided access for loading in a motorcycle, quad, or bike. See Patrick come into his Basecamp out of a cold, snowy New Jersey night and load his mountain bike,* light a Mr. Heater Buddy and proceed to cook a meal.  Unfortunately, the end of 2007 also marked the beginning of the Great Recession in the United States and Airstream had difficulty attracting buyers for the next two years, selling only about 220 Basecamp units, says Patrick, and Basecamp production stopped with the 2009 model.

Bolstered by the improving U.S. economy and increasing consumer confidence, Airstream is now growing and coming out with new models such as the Nest Caravan in Summer 2017 and the greatly improved 2017 Airstream Basecamp, being relaunched now.  See Airstream’s exciting video, “Introducing the new Basecamp,”* and a “Walk-Through 2017 Airstream Basecamp“* by Patrick Botticelli.  Patrick says, “Airstream found out that only a small percentage of their [original Basecamp] owners were actually using the back cargo for motorcycles or quads… you had to open up the rear door and drop the steps every time you wanted to come inside [and pull up the steps every time you wanted to close the door].”  For the new Basecamp, Airstream added a side entrance door for easy entering and exiting the trailer, while keeping a rear utility hatch for loading gear such as backpacks, mountain bikes, and kayaks.

Patrick says this all-new Basecamp is more robust with its buck-riveted aluminum structure on an A-frame, like regular Airstream trailers (original Basecamp had aluminum plating on a fiberglass shell on a center beam), and the many new features such as the Truma Combi heater for water and room heating, SeeLevel II Battery and Tank Monitoring System, optional Zamp Solar System (with two 80-watt solar panels, AGM battery and a Zamp Solar Disconnect Port by the streetside front A-frame for connecting additional portable solar panels), optional Coleman-Mach air conditioner (9200 BTU) and a Fan-Tastic Vent Fan (or 2 Fan-Tastic Vent Fans without the optional air conditioner), bathroom with shower and a China toilet bowl, interior and exterior LED lights, 3 cu. ft. 2-way Dometic refrigerator, folding galley water faucet over a stainless steel sink with folding lid (provides additional counter space), 2-burner recessed cooktop, optional Contoure microwave, pop-up electrical sockets with USB port on galley counter, and  2 movable pedestal tables in a lounge and eating area that converts into a large 76″ by 76″ bed!

The 2017 Airstream Basecamp is a multi-purpose hybrid tent-trailer that comes with two optional PahaQue Wilderness tents and visor (arch wing awning) that attach to Basecamp’s roof/gutter track rail, seen in PahaQue’s September  8 announcement on Facebook and Twitter.  The large side tent could be used as a screened patio for an additional lounging and sleeping area, and the smaller rear tent could provide cover for gear items such as bikes (See 2017 Basecamp walk-through with tent setup).*

The Unit Base Weight (UBW) without options is 2585 lbs.,* Hitch Weight is 410 lbs. (dry, no options), and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 3500 lbs., which means this trailer is easily towed by mid-size SUVs.  The new Basecamp comes with a 22-gallon fresh water tank, a 29-gallon black/gray water tank, two 20-lb. propane tanks, and a Propane Quick Disconnect port just under the curbside front A-frame for connecting a hose to a low pressure portable gas BBQ grill.   See Airstream’s Basecamp webpage for their Overview, Design, Features, Floorplan and Brochure.  See Airstream’s 2017 Basecamp Owner’s Manual (PDF) for additional information.

This Airstream Basecamp “is built for the extreme camper in mind… it’s made for the guys that go up in the mountains backpacking, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking… it’s made to go off the grid,” says Brent Rudd, Airstream Regional Director of Sales, Central Region, during his walk-through at the 2016 Southwest RV Supershow in Dallas, Texas.*

Basecamp has a MSRP of $34,900 and is being shipped to Airstream dealers beginning in October, says Outside Interests‘ article, “Basecamp,” in their September 26, 2016, newsletter.

Whether you’re a fan of mountain biking (such as Patrick),* kayaking,* or just living riveted,* you can be one of the Fans of the Airstream Basecamp and see more information, news, updates and videos of the Airstream Basecamp.

*This is a link to a YouTube video.


Tiki time in the mountains

Temperatures are rising in our nearby deserts with current average highs over 100o, so it was time to catch the mountains before they also become too hot for us.

dsc_0038-flag-day-in-the-mountains.jpg Our F-250 easily towed our 23′ Safari up from the Pacific Coast to our favorite wooded mountain campsite in the Cuyamaca Mountains, near Julian, California, at an elevation of 4200′.

Julian, located in a mixed pine-oak woodland, was the seasonal home to the Native American Kumeyaay people, who were displaced after the American Civil War by displaced Confederate Veterans from Georgia.

We strategically backed the trailer into the sun for the solar panels and parked the unhitched truck near the shade, where we and the Corgis often relaxed and chilled out during the heat of the day.

We raised the American flag high in honor of Flag Day.

We bring a large cooler filled with food and ice on every trip, which we usually take out of the truck and place in a shady area.  But it periodically had to be moved out of the moving sun or protected from night creatures, such as raccoons in this case.  So we found that it is more convenient (and the ice lasts longer) to leave it in the truck cargo area with the Retrax locking cover retracted for ventilation and cover it with a large truck sun shade to keep it cool.


Since we had five nights reserved here, I brought along our REI dome tent that I had brought out here two years ago and set it up to relive the joys of tent camping and being close to nature and the elements, at least for a night or two (this might become an annual event).  The Tiki, which we renamed “Iz“,  also came along to enjoy the elements, especially the sun, which almost always makes him high.


This campground is known for its wild turkeys, and one morning I found one that likes to take a walk in the sun.


Later in the day, jumbo shrimp, bell peppers, onions, and leftover salsa fresca were stir fried on the Volcano 2 stove using the propane attachment.  As the sun set, we sipped Kahlúa in half and half cream in sherry glasses while we were entertained by bats dancing through the sky in search of insects.


Tasha and I spent two nights in a row in the dome tent guarded by Iz.


We listened to the evening breezes rustling through the hillside forest trees, sounding like the ocean surf at times, as the first quarter of the Strawberry Moon slowly descended the western night sky.


We awoke at first light to the chorus of morning bird songs as our midsummer night’s dreams lingered in our minds.

Summer flowers and turkeys…

Or Getting Cereus. So after a strong cup of coffee, I was off to hunt turkeys and flowers in the Cuyamaca Mountains.


With shooting equipment in hand, I quietly approached the direction of turkeys gobbling in the brush. A turkey hen and her poults emerged in the sunlight.


300 of these Rio Grande Turkeys were introduced here in 1993. There are now up to 20,000 or more in the area.

I continued my morning hunt in William Heise County Park for wildlife or at least wild flowers, and was rewarded by the Lavender Monkey-Flower


and the Wild Rose, Rosa virginiana


A festive meal, prepared by Larry, of pork-shrimp bean curd skin rolls, served with beignets rounded off the day. See his cooking page on our web site Dim Sum Safari Express.

We hitched up and returned home in time to see the Queen of the Night, the Night-Blooming Cereus (Cereus greggii) profusely bursting with sweetly fragrant blooms during the night of Summer Solstice.



I then sat back and listened to turkey-in-the straw as I contemplated my next article, “Getting hitched”.

Tent connections and options

Is having a tent a contradiction to the mission of the Airstream? Isn’t that why we got the Airstream trailer? In the old days we enjoyed the adventure of camping, but sometimes it seemed more like work than fun. When we camp with the Airstream, we have just about all of the comforts of home, contained within a double-walled, well-insulated aluminum cocoon that is relatively easy to transport and set up.


In the morning of our departure on our latest camping trip (to Julian, CA.), I read Rich Luhr’s timely and thought provoking Tour of America posting, “Tent economics“. Knowing that our destination, William Heise County Park, has wonderful tent sites established within the non-hook up sites that we reserve for our trailer, I scrambled to locate our 20 year-old REI tent, Therm-a-Rest pads and mummy sleeping bags that were collecting dust in the rafters of our garage.


This silver domed tent looked right at home along with its mother ship in this setting.


It also helped me make a connection with this historical setting in the Cuyamaca Mountains where Native Americas once lived in domed, thatched huts until displaced by the explorers and exploiters. We arrived just as Julian was about to celebrate Julian Gold Rush Days, and it was an apropos time to visit the Eagle-High Peak Gold Mine.

The tent also has a historical connection with our local area in the form of the Tent City in Coronado, which provided less expensive summer quarters for visitors to the world famous Hotel del Coronado and nearby beach between 1900 and 1916.

A bit more austere than the interior of the Coronado tent summer quarters (linked above), our tent has comfortable mummy sleeping bags on Therm-a-Rest pads and a hanging candle lantern.

As Rich pointed out in his article, the tent can be seen as an extension of the mission of the Airstream. Other Tour of America postings show how the tent can open up adventure and fun options. (By the way, our first tent was the REI Mountain Shuttle similar to the tent seen here.)

Beyond merely evoking nostalgic memories, the tent enabled me to be closer to nature and experience the magic of the night, the sounds of the crickets, the smells and sounds of the smoldering campfire, the howls of coyotes, the moon and twinkling stars shining through tree branches rustling in the wind, and the inevitable opening chorus of flitting birds at dawn.


The tent offers variety to our camping experience. At times it could be an economic alternative, a change of pace, a guest bedroom, and a quiet spot for a moment of privacy, among other possibilities. It will be fun to continue to photograph the domed beauty of the tent and Airstream in a variety of settings.


It could also be a place to play the ukulele.


The bottom line is that the tent facilitates connecting with the environment, while providing more options for having fun with the Airstream.