Home » I Toured Airstream’s New Off-Grid Camper And It’s Cool, But Perhaps Not $129,400 Awesome

I Toured Airstream’s New Off-Grid Camper And It’s Cool, But Perhaps Not $129,400 Awesome

Airstream Tradewinds Ts1
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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.

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According to the company, the 2024 Trade Wind has double the solar power of its other models and four times the energy storage capacity.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Here’s what the trailer’s underbody looks like. Directly in front of your eyes are two of the trailer’s holding tanks:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Tour

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cool, But $129,400 Cool?

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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.

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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.

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(Photos: Author, unless otherwise noted.)

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Jake Harsha
Jake Harsha
22 days ago

I guess this is for people with more money than sense. At that price, why not just get a lightly-used pusher diesel RV and be done with it?

Major Malfunction
Major Malfunction
23 days ago

No cover over the air vent on the roof? In trailers, it’s not IF the air vent is going to come off, it’s WHEN. Or you open it and forget to close it. Either way, by the time you figure out it is open to sky, it’s because you can’t figure out where the water is coming from, lol. Just blown away a $130K trailer doesn’t come standard with a $30 Maxx Air cover over the vent. That seems be across the industry with the manufacturers being cheap where it counts. Regardless, I have owned a lot of travel trailers in my life and I couldnt see paying $130k if it wasn’t a 5th wheel and did not have slide outs.

3WiperB
3WiperB
23 days ago

Our 2007 Airstream is holding up really well, and I do expect to be able to enjoy it for many years to come. If you are happy with the smaller size, willing to pay the prices, and are handy enough to take on maintenance and repairs yourself, the 10-15 year old airstream market is a decent place to be on the depreciation curve. Ours still feels modern and the only thing I wish I had vs a newer one was ducted AC. I might appreciate the batteries if I was a full timer, but I’d rather just grab an inverter generator if I needed to go off grid for a bit. It’s a lot cheaper than all that solar and batteries.

Millermatic
Millermatic
23 days ago

Yes… they are expensive as hell. But they seem to last. I can see buying one of these for “life.” With most other vendors I suspect my purchase would be rotting and falling apart in 10-15 years.

Is Travis
Is Travis
23 days ago

These things hold value though, so they are damn near worth it if you have the money. Apparently though the build quality is down, I am not an expert.

Last edited 23 days ago by Is Travis
Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
23 days ago

I like Airstreams, and the capabilities of this are cool, but that price is truly eye-watering. For that amount, I could go through with my purchase and fix-up plans for yesterday’s Barris-blister Caddy-wagon and purchase this literal Land Yacht to tow behind that land yacht.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
23 days ago

Once you notice, it’ll grate you every time you look at it, but the door never closes properly once you drive it down the road. That lovely curved shape that carries into the main entry door seems to be a nightmare to get to line up and seal.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
23 days ago

The wheels ruin the look of an otherwise smooth design. Someone should be fired.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
23 days ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

Someone probably wanted wheels to match what they put on their Jeep.

Not saying I agree with the choice on either end.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
24 days ago

I like the boondocking idea, but would love to see the market research that indicates people inclined to boondock want something 26-feet long requiring a full-sized pickup or similar SUV to move this beast around. That length strikes me as something one would drag from one Good Sam to another, and not through forest trails.

Can someone with recent experience using flexible solar panels comment on their longevity? My experience with flexible panels is not good.

I see exposed hoses going to/from the holding tanks, so this is not appropriate for winter use.

Twin beds? What, is this a set for a 1950s television show?

Last edited 24 days ago by OverlandingSprinter
Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
23 days ago

The Airstream FB trailers are available with a Queen sized bed also.

Canyonero
Canyonero
23 days ago

I used to boondock in a 32′ Airstream being pulled by a 3/4 ton truck. I now frequently (as in more than once a month) boondock in a 26′ non-Airstream being pulled by a 3/4 ton. We drag it down pretty rough forest roads with no problem. There are of course some places I can’t get in to, but I’ve not found one yet that I’d take a smaller trailer into either.

As someone who does solar installs on RVs and overland rigs part-time I’ll confirm that flexible solar panels are still just as much garbage as they’ve always been. Low efficiency, short lifespan, and they frequently damage the surface below them.

Those hoses you’re seeing near the holding tanks are propane lines. There are no exposed water pipes on any Airstreams aside from the dump valves on a few models.

Last edited 23 days ago by Canyonero
OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
23 days ago
Reply to  Canyonero

Good intel. Thank you for your reply.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
15 days ago

For flexible solar panels, the better ones now use ETFE instead of PET for the top lamination, which helps with their ability to withstand heat. The aluminum might help conduct some of the heat away from them better than fiberglass does, too. Lack of airflow beneath them is still a problem, though.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
24 days ago

Maybe I am just nuts but I am thinking another market for these would be off grid housing and or camps. Build a better/reusable under carriage for transport then deliver it to someone’s camp with a pre-built to spec foundation and you have a nice vacation home or retirement off the grid home wherever you want. And with the reusable delivery under carriage I bet you save $20,000 or so. Allow purchase with bare minimum let buyer furnish it cheaper still. Just cabinets, bathroom, wiring, plumbing and appliances.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
24 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I think you just described a small mobile home, or maybe a shipping container.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
24 days ago

In the old days but now people pay big money for good locations and as the article said don’t want to build on their own. Not that an economical or handy DIYer couldn’t make it work.

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
24 days ago

That much Li battery storage could justify more solar panel capacity. Is roof area a limiting factor? A big trailer, but even with flexible panels, the roof curvature, AC, vents, etc, might not easily allow more, at least to me Airstream’s guidelines.

Canyonero
Canyonero
23 days ago
Reply to  Gary Lynch

You can fit 1000W of glass solar panels on a 25FB Airstream. I agree, 600 isn’t enough.

Miles Long
Miles Long
24 days ago

The quality of the aluminum panelling looks atrocious. Certainly not high-quality work! On a very related note, check out today’s video from Steve Lehto.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xElhTNS_xn8

Last edited 24 days ago by Miles Long
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
23 days ago
Reply to  Miles Long

Thanks for posting that: those underlined in bold disclaimers definitely mean Steve is right.

and, if I’m not mistaken, I live just a few miles from the dealer involved.

Greensoul
Greensoul
23 days ago
Reply to  Miles Long

You are not kidding about that dimpled siding. I swear with every model year the siding on these gets a little bit thinner. At this rate by the time the 2030 model year trailers come out they’ll be wrapped in a sheet of Reynolds wrap .I remember when an Airstream was top of the line quality wise. Sadly those days are long gone and I doubt this thing will be around in 50 years like a lot of its predecessors still are.

Canyonero
Canyonero
23 days ago
Reply to  Greensoul

The aluminum on any riveted trailer will look like that in certain temperatures. It’s called “oil-canning”. If the trailer is built in relatively cold temperatures then when it warms up and the panels expand you get ripples. Its better than the opposite where you get a trailer put together in high heat and cold temperatures make rivets pop.

Greensoul
Greensoul
23 days ago
Reply to  Canyonero

Makes sense. Not a good look on an 100k+ rv though. I have noticed over the past several years the Airstreams body panels are a lot thinner than they used to be and have more give to them when I check them out at the RV shows.

Canyonero
Canyonero
23 days ago
Reply to  Greensoul

Airstream actually uses thicker skin “now” than they used to. Originally it was all .032″, but in 1994 they switched to .040″. It’s been the same ever since.

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