Over the last couple of years, the idea of taking a travel trailer out into the wilderness has become appealing to an increasing number of people. Campgrounds are fine, but you know what’s better? Finding that perfect camping spot out where there’s nobody else to bother you. Airstream now has its own trailer that it says is for these types of people. The 2024 Airstream Trade Wind is Airstream’s most capable factory-built trailer yet with 600 watts of solar power and 810 Ah of lithium battery storage. I got to take a tour of the new unit and while there’s a lot to love, there are also a few misses.
One of Airstream’s biggest developments in its recent history is the eStream, an all-electric travel trailer that helps tow itself while also providing oodles of energy for off-grid camping stays. That trailer is still in development, but Airstream has decided to trickle some of the ideas of the eStream into its production trailers right now. We’ll still have to wait for an Airstream that can help tow itself, but the Trade Wind is your gateway to what Airstream says is the most off-grid capable trailer it has ever sold.
According to the company, the 2024 Trade Wind has double the solar power of its other models and four times the energy storage capacity.
A Quick History Lesson
Airstream picked a fitting name for this new trailer. The original Airstream debuted in 1958 and Airstream advertised two main selling points. It was just 24 feet long but featured an interior layout that made it feel bigger. More importantly, Airstream believes that this camper, along with the 1958 International, was one of the first truly self-contained trailers. In other words, the Trade Wind had some off-grid capability.
Remember, RV history does get a bit fuzzy in the early 20th century, so it’s always possible someone beat Wally Byam to the idea of an independent travel trailer. With that said, Byam was working on the idea of the self-contained travel trailer as early as 1954 when he joined forces with the Bowen Water Heater Company to create dedicated trailer water heaters. The Trade Wind featured a pressurized water system, a septic tank, gas-powered appliances, and more. All of these ensured the trailer didn’t need to be hooked up to a campground to work.
The original Trade Wind sold into the 1960s. It was a successful model that helped inspire Airstream to continue building more trailers with some off-shore capability and roomy layouts. Now, the Trade Wind is back.
The New Trade Wind
While Airstream isn’t making such grand historical claims with this trailer, it does feel like Airstream didn’t just pull an old name from its catalogs to trade on nostalgia. This trailer is trying to be a step forward as the old Trade Wind did. When I wrote my introductory article on this travel trailer, I was working with an embargoed press release that was thin on details. Now we know a lot more about this unit.
The major highlight of the trailer is its power system. Under a Trade Wind, you’ll find three chassis-integrated 270 Ah LiFePO4 Battle Born batteries. These batteries are heated and given some protection. They’re 12-volt packs and give you 9.72 kWh. An Airstream representative told me this trailer gives you some of the biggest capacity you’ll find in a mass-produced trailer today.
Here’s what the trailer’s underbody looks like. Directly in front of your eyes are two of the trailer’s holding tanks:
I suppose the question then becomes how do you define “mass-produced?” The all-electric Bowlus Volterra offers up 17 kWh of lithium iron phosphate power. Though, Bowlus tries to market itself as more luxurious than an Airstream. Thus, the Bowlus Volterra costs a stunning $180,000 more than the Trade Wind before possible tax credits. The Lightship L1 and Pebble Flow also blow the Airstream out of the water, but neither of those are in production just yet. There was also the Colorado Teardrops Boulder and its 75 kWh battery. However, I say “was” because that company went out of business back in November.
What I’m getting at here is that Airstream doesn’t offer the most power you can get, and you can build your own rig with more energy storage. However, the vast majority of trailers you’ll find at a place like Camping World won’t have juice like this.
Adding some charge back into those batteries is 600 watts of flexible roof-mounted solar panels and you get to monitor all of these systems through a Victron GX Touch 50 touchscreen interface in the trailer. Victron also handles the 3,000-watt inverter as well as the charger.
Airstream says these batteries can power the trailer’s systems for “days.” Sadly, I was not able to get a number estimate there. The 15,000 BTU air-conditioner/heat pump runs on 120 volts when the trailer is plugged in. Contained in the owner’s manual but not in Airstream’s press releases is the fact that while the air-conditioner and other appliances can run on battery power, the Victron inverter is kicking 12 VDC power up to 120 VAC.
As readers noted in our previous entry, Airstream’s setup here works but could be inefficient. Some also pointed out that 600 watts of solar just isn’t going to be enough. Perhaps that’s why I’m not able to get a clear answer about off-grid time.
Outside of the battery system, the other major highlight of the Trade Wind is the addition of Dexter three-inch lift blocks plus 29.3-inch Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse 225/75R16 tires. It should be noted that you can lift other Airstreams, so while it’s a highlight feature, it’s not unique. Airstream says it also reinforced the interior to be better capable of taking the bumps of off-roading, including adjustments to cabinet and drawer latches. You won’t be taking this trailer on the kinds of hardcore terrain you see some Australians do, but if there’s a bumpy unpaved road between you and your favorite lake, the trailer should be able to handle it.
At the 2024 Florida RV SuperShow there was a Trade Wind on display for tours.
Airstream says it’s selling the Trade Wind in just a single layout, the company’s 25FB. Inside, your decoration choices are minimal and you can choose between Fieldstone, which features gray fabrics and a brown counter, or Terracotta, which nets you clay-colored fabrics and a gray countertop. Airstream had a Terracotta-equipped Trade Wind on hand.
Stepping inside, you’re greeted to an environment that feels warm and familiar as an Airstream experience. I did notice that our readers are correct in that Airstream is using one of its lower trim levels in this trailer. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even a cheaper Airstream has a nicer interior with better quality than many other brands. Again, the bar really has gotten oh so low. But the trailer has everything you need for a nice time away from home. The kitchen and dinette are right there, plus a bathroom and sleeping for up to five.
However, don’t expect a top-end Airstream experience here. Many readers and Airstream forum users have compared the Trade Wind to the Flying Cloud. One Flying Cloud owner even claims to have upgraded their trailer to a spec close to the Trade Wind. So, in a way, you could view the Trade Wind as Airstream taking the Flying Cloud-like trailer and doing the mods Airstream owners already do.
Material quality felt fine in this trailer. There wasn’t anything that blew me away, but also nothing that made me shake my head. I’d say this interior is probably pretty close to what the baseline of the industry should be. Cabinets did have some heft and it does seem that if you took this down a dirt road it wouldn’t fling your pots across the trailer.
I also love testing shower size. I am a bigger person, of course, and some RV showers make me feel like I’m getting into a fight just to get clean. The Trade Wind’s shower wasn’t spacious, but it also wasn’t a nightmare either.
The 2024 Airstream Trade Wind measures 26′ 2″ and has a dry weight of 6,200 pounds. Loaded, you’re looking at 7,300 pounds. In terms of holding tanks, all three tanks, fresh, grey, and waste, are 39 gallons each.
Optional equipment includes a composting toilet, a convection microwave with an air fryer, awning packages, and a rear hatch door with a sliding screen. Should you choose the microwave, it will replace the oven that sits under the three-burner stove. Everything else, from the LED lighting to the lift kit and the battery system comes standard.
My favorite parts about the trailer included, of course, the riveted aluminum construction, but I also loved the optional rear hatch. This feature isn’t unique to the Trade Wind, but I still dig it.
Cool, But $129,400 Cool?
After touching and feeling up the interior, I stuck around to listen to what current Airstream owners had to say. Some Airstream owners loved the idea of being able to stay off shore power a little longer. Others weren’t sold on what you got for the $129,400 price tag.
Many compared this trailer to the Flying Cloud. That trailer, which starts at $96,400, is the same size right down to the inch and is available in that popular 25FB floor plan. It is more or less the same trailer, but without the batteries and solar panels. The question I saw many at the Florida RV SuperShow try to answer was whether a price jump of more than $30,000 is worth it for what you got.
For some, the answer was no. Those people said they could buy something like the $111,400 Airstream International, do these mods themselves, and probably come out cheaper. I could see it. Three 270 Ah LiFePO4 batteries from Battle Born Batteries will set you back about $7,500. You can also get a set of 600-watt Renogy solar panels for $1,200. Boom, you’re already most of the way to the Trade Wind for under $10,000.
However, I noticed that a lot of people don’t want to go through the process of modding their trailer or even paying someone to do the upgrades for them. They just want to buy what they feel is the perfect trailer right from the factory. For those people, the Trade Wind’s $129,400 starting price probably makes a lot of sense. I’ve already heard some people talking about trading in a Flying Cloud for this.
Personally, I’m left conflicted. On one hand, I do wish the solar was better and that the electrical system was better optimized. On the other hand, this trailer is also a step in the right direction, especially for the Airstream fan who just wants to buy a decent trailer as-is.
Either way, I do think the 2024 Airstream Trade Wind is still a pretty cool trailer. It’s more or less everything you love about an Airstream, but now with bigger batteries right from the factory. It’s also still a step above some of the junk that gets sold in the RV world. Perhaps one day this concept can be expanded further into something even better.
(Photos: Author, unless otherwise noted.)
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