When you think of off-road campers, an Airstream isn’t likely even close to the first trailer that comes into your mind. Airstreams are known for their gorgeous riveted aluminum and luxurious interiors, but not really campers you’d take when the road disappears. Well, Airstream, in its latest collaboration with REI, has a new variation of the Basecamp. The 2024 REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X takes what Airstream says is its most popular travel trailer and turns it into an off-road camper with knobby tires, a three-inch lift, and an interior spruced up by REI.
This camper is the second collaboration between Airstream and outdoor retailer REI. The first was the REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 16X, which was announced last year with a similarly clunky name. That trailer was based on the Basecamp 16, a compact adventure and utility trailer for two. Airstream says its most popular travel trailer floorplan is the Basecamp 20-footer, which can sleep four. Now, families can get it with the REI bits as well.
Not Your Average Airstream
I feel like we should start with what the Basecamp is in the first place. Airstream has a history of trying out new ideas to see what sticks with its fans. For example, the Airstream Argosy was the painted Airstream with experimental features. Perhaps lesser known is Airstream’s short-lived Nest, a fiberglass Airstream that was sold between 2018 and 2020.
The original Basecamp (above) launched for the 2007 model year and was inspired by founder Wally Byam’s Torpedo plywood teardrop camper from the 1930s (below), the very first Airstream product. Airstream’s idea for the 2007 Basecamp was to build a compact, lightweight camper that still had every amenity and plenty of space. In other words, the Basecamp is more or less Airstream’s take on a teardrop trailer. That camper was discontinued in 2008 right before the Great Recession hit.
Airstream says that over time, it refined the Basecamp concept to include an onboard bathroom, more kitchen space, and upgraded appliances. This work resulted in the 2016 release of the Basecamp 2.0. It weighed in at just 2,585 lbs and still featured that riveted semi-monocoque aluminum structure that Airstream still is known for. That’s an Airstream that could be towed by many of today’s crossovers!
Back in 2016, Airstream said it designed the Basecamp to “rekindle the desire to explore nature and get outdoors.” While the Basecamp was the most outdoor-friendly Airstream, the company saw potential in it going off-road, too. In 2019, Airstream announced the X-Package, which adds a three-inch lift kit and Goodyear all-terrain tires. As of 2022, the Basecamp isn’t just one of the smallest Airstreams, but it’s also what Airstream says is its most popular model. And the most popular Basecamp is the 20-foot floorplan.
The REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp models that off-roading and outdoors theme even further and the REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X brings the family along for the ride.
The 2024 Airstream REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X
On July 31st, Airstream unveiled its latest collaboration with Recreational Equipment, Inc., aka REI. The retailer is known for its camping and outdoor gear and given Airstream’s intent to connect its customers with the outdoors, it seems like the perfect match-up.
The 2024 Airstream REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X starts off as an Airstream Basecamp 20, a 20-foot single axle travel trailer with a base weight of 3,400 pounds and sleeps four for $54,400. Airstream then slaps on the X-Package with its lift kit and knobbies, which add another $3,000 to the tab.
Adding REI to the mix nets you a handful of goodies. Normally, a Basecamp has an interior featuring cabinetry of Lite-Ply Italian poplar plywood. Here, Airstream says the interior gets fabrics and laminates made from post-consumer recycled materials. The cutting board sink cover is made from recycled paper and the cabinetry is made from sustainably-grown birch. REI also tacks on spruce green accents.
One exclusive change to the REI special edition of the Basecamp is an L-track system on the floor and walls designed to secure anything from bicycles to kayaks and any other outdoor gear you want to bring with you on a trip. Another interesting change is to the storage compartment directly in front of the entrance door. Normally, you’d toss in power cables or similar in there, but in the Airstream REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X, Airstream wants you to use it as a drink cooler and it comes with a drain for the task.
In terms of equipment, you’re getting a fully functional small camper for four people. The dinette transforms into a bed, as does the lounge up front. There’s a sink with running water as well as a propane-fed two-burner cooktop. Across from that is a wet bath with a shower and a toilet.
For comfort, you also get a furnace, a UV water purification system, a recirculating on-demand water heater, air-conditioner, and even tank heaters so you can use the trailer in the cold without the tanks freezing up. If you need even more room, Airstream sells the Basecamp with a tent that attaches to the side and features an inflatable support structure. The Special Edition also comes with a 25-piece REI Co-Op + Airstream Basecamp kit with dishware, flatware, storage cubes, and more.
Taking The Basecamp Off-Grid
For off-grid living, you have a 23-gallon fresh water tank, a 28-gallon gray tank, and a 21-gallon black tank. Since it has the X-Package, the three-inch lift and Goodyear Wranglers net you 12 inches of ground clearance, up from the 9 inches found in a regular Basecamp 20. Airstream makes a pretty big deal out of the improved departure angle but doesn’t provide the actual angles to compare with. For protection, the trailer has stainless-steel front stone guards. The addition of the off-road gear seems to add just 100 pounds to the empty weight, giving the Special Edition trailer an empty weight of 3,500 pounds. Airstream says you get 800 pounds of payload to play with.
All of this adds up to a trailer that Airstream says will make off-road travel seamless. Though, it should be said that this is probably not something you’ll want to take overlanding or through tough trails. It may be taller than a regular Basecamp 20, but the undercarriage still has plenty of bits you can rip off. There are also plenty more trailers better for the task of going off-road for a lot less money. I see this more as a trailer that can comfortably navigate a fire road or similar.
Should you decide to take this Airstream where there are no roads, I’d probably recommend picking up the optional 360-watt solar package and the 200Ah lithium battery. Airstream will also swap out the flushing toilet for a composting one if you really want to save water.
The price of this collaboration? the 2024 Airstream REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X can be ordered at a dealer and it will set you back $62,400 before options. That is a lot to pay for an adorable trailer, though, I’m not surprised. Airstream is a luxury brand and REI is also known for its pricy goods. Still, if you’re the kind of person who cannot get enough Airstream or you just have to get something with that riveted aluminum construction, this seems like a pretty neat unit.
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