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Is Airstream an Overrated RV Manufacturer?

Is Airstream an Overrated RV Manufacturer?

Is Airstream an Overrated RV Manufacturer?

There are many things to love about Airstreams, but are they overrated?

One of the most recognizable RV brands is the Airstream. Their iconic “Silver Twinkie” look is unlike any other.

However, today we’ll take a closer look to see if they’re truly as good as everyone says.

Let’s jump in!

Who Is Airstream RV?

Airstream is an iconic RV company started by Wally Byam after building his first travel trailer in 1929. In 1980, Wade Thompson and Peter Orthwein purchased Airstream and created the THOR Industries brand still popular in the RV community today.

You’ve likely seen these iconic RVs in films, at a local campground, or rolling down the highway. They’re the quintessential RV for a road trip across America. The quality craftsmanship and attention to detail are why the RV community knows these luxury RVs.

Their hefty price tag also will likely alert you to their luxury status.

Airstream parked next to a cabin at sunset.
Take a “silver twinkie” for a spin on your next adventure.

What Types of RVs Does Airstream Manufacture?

They’re mostly known for their eye-catching travel trailers. There are travel trailers from 16 to 33 feet. You’re sure to find one of these luxury RVs to fit your travel needs. While their travel trailers are top-of-the-line, did you know that they also make luxury touring coaches? 

You get the same outstanding engineering and luxury that Airstream touts elsewhere in these motorized units but in a class B or class B+ RV.

These units are the result of a partnership with Mercedes-Benz to create comfortable and luxurious motorized RVs.

Pro Tip: Considering an Airstream, but don’t know which one to go for? Check out these 5 Best Airstream RVs In 2021 (with YouTube Video Tours)

How Much Does an Airstream Cost?

Price is one reason people might think Airstream is an overrated RV brand. If you’re shopping for a new Airstream, you better brace yourself because they’re not cheap. Prices start at $41,100 for the Basecamp and $169,900 for the Classic. However, it’s important to remember that these are the starting prices, and upgrades could dramatically increase costs.

When it comes to the motorized Airstreams, the prices start at $176,098 for the Interstate 19 model and 260,260 for the Atlas model. Again, keep in mind upgrades will drastically alter the price.

These premium prices don’t keep Airstreams from being in high demand.

In recent years demand has far exceeded Airstream’s production ability and resulted in exceptionally long wait times. 

Woman posing in grass in front of an airstream.
Airstreams are known for their incredible construction and eye-catching looks.

Why Are Airstreams So Expensive?

The hefty price tag of an Airstream is mainly due to the materials used during construction. The aluminum body that makes them so popular is aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. By using these materials, each unit isn’t just beautiful to look at but also incredibly sturdy.

Typical RV manufacturers use cheap wood materials that come apart while traveling down the road.

Another reason that Airstreams are so expensive is that the manufacturer builds them by hand. Each of the 3,000 or more rivets is done by hand. This helps protect the frame during construction and ensures each seal goes on correctly. 

What takes other manufacturers 50 hours to construct, Airstream spends approximately 350 on. It’s easy to see why Airstream owners don’t have the same issues other RVers experience from lower-quality RVs.

Pro Tip: Airstreams are worth a pretty penny, so before you invest make sure to read up on Are Airstreams Worth The Price?

If you have the cash, Airstreams are one of the highest quality RVs on the market. The incredible quality of each unit is largely what makes them so popular in the RVing community.

It’s hard for other manufacturers to compete with Airstream when they’re not spending nearly as much time on each unit.

The reputation they’ve developed is largely due to their incredible construction and eye-catching looks. They stand out in a campground for all the right reasons.

It seems that RV manufacturers all stick to a handful of color schemes, but you’ll notice when any of these iconic aluminum RVs pull into your campground.

Airstream driving down a highway.
While Airstreams can be quite expensive, the investment provides you supreme quality.

Airstream Pros

The attention to detail and high-quality parts are two of the largest benefits of choosing Airstream. You won’t feel like you’re in a cheaply made RV. These units will last for years and retain their value.

When Airstream celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2006, they estimated that 65% of the Airstreams built since Wally Byam’s initial trailer were still on the road.

This can give you the assurance that you’re investing in an RV made to last.

Airstream Cons

There are a couple of things to consider before getting an Airstream, despite the good design and construction. The easiest con to spot is the massive cost of these units. Even a mid-size Airstream can cost well over $100,000. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly RV, Airstreams aren’t likely going to be it.

Another con that many people overlook is that Airstreams aren’t currently making any units with slideouts.

Slideouts can help make the unit feel roomier and provide additional living space, but you won’t find them in any unit currently in production. So what you see is what you get.

Is Owning an Airstream Overrated or Worth It?

If an Airstream is within your budget, they’re a tremendous RV. The quality craftsmanship and materials, plus their ability to retain their value, make these units an excellent investment when it comes to RVs.

If you choose an Airstream for your home on wheels, you’ll enjoy watching others drool over your RV in the campground.

Do you dream of towing an Airstream into a campground or do you think they’re overrated?

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Jalani Joyce

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

So the answer is... YES! Airstreams are overrated. You could find a comparable luxury RV for the same price if not a little less money and be just as happy.

William Ambrogio

Sunday 17th of October 2021

I've been bodyman for a long time, so I understand vehicle construction, another bodyman I worked with bought 2 AIRSTREAM. Trailers used, one to live in and one for storage. The ROUND design makes them way strong compared to the box square design, also. the elimination of the square corners approach, making them last way longer, and the seams stay tight so consequently they don't leak when it rains. If you notice most travel trailers after 20 years the corners start to get loose and the ALUMINUM skin starts to develop gaps then leak when it rains. Warping and rotting the interior and the wooden framing. Imo. The AIRSTREAM design is among the best. 😃


Saturday 16th of October 2021

I think that Airstreams are overrated in today’s market. Granted they do have the very best quality material, and lightweight design but they certainly lack in the interior design and flexibility. No toy haulers here, no high ceilings, and I find the seating uncomfortable and just plain bland. Not much for primary accessible storage space, and of course no pull outs. It all depends on what you need and like though. However I do like the exterior look whether it’s rambling down the road or parked anywhere, and when you go to sell it, you get what you paid for it all back as long as you maintained it. Now go find that anywhere!


Saturday 16th of October 2021

Another disadvantage of the Airstream design is that you give up space in compartments that that are reduced in size (and the efficiency of "squareness" ) caused by the rounded corners inherent in the body style. I'm all for the durability and aesthetics, but the above storage issue and lack of a slide out would keep me from buying one, even if the cost were acceptable.

These two issues are likely less important to those who use them for short trips, but we go out for 3-4 months at a time. If you use one a few times a year, for a weekend or the occasional week, the cost per use factor goes way up.

Obviously, many feel differently, since they are selling all they can build!

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