If you’re the kind of person who likes camping off-grid and off-road for a while, something like an Airstream probably isn’t at the top of your list. Even the nifty Basecamp comes with at most 300 Watts of solar power. Airstream is changing that by taking technology from its futuristic eStream Concept travel trailer and trickling it down into a consumer product. The 2024 Airstream Trade Wind is a 26-foot Airstream with a three-inch lift kit, off-road tires, and a massive 810 Ah battery bank fed from 600 Watts of solar power. The trailers carries enough power that it can run its air-conditioner without shore power. Let’s check it out.
If you’ve read my story about camping at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023, then you know what it’s like trying to boondock in a typical travel trailer. You get one or two deep-cycle batteries that barely power anything and you either have to resort to bringing a generator or sipping off of a morsel of solar power. I’ve talked with other RV owners and journalists and learned that my experience wasn’t really unique, it was just with a crappy trailer. Even folks with brand-new campers struggle with having enough power when not hooked up to the mains.
How can you make it better? Airstream believes you can solve issues like mine by piling up the battery reserves and cranking up the solar power.
Revealed in January 2022, the Airstream eStream Concept demonstrated a revolutionary new way to tow a travel trailer. Located under the eStream’s floor is an 80 kWh battery pack. That pack powers the trailer’s pair of motors making 242 horsepower and 132 lb-ft torque. The idea here is that you could tow the eStream with an EV or with an ICE tow vehicle and the trailer will provide just enough assistance that your fuel range or charge range takes a minimal hit. It’s a clever technology that can change the game for people towing with EVs. No more stopping every 100 miles to charge your EV pickup.
While that technology is still cooking, Airstream has decided to trickle down other features from the eStream. That giant battery pack doesn’t just power the trailer’s motors but provides energy for long-term boondocking. It can power appliances that normal batteries can’t, including the air-conditioner. Helping top up that battery was 900 Watts of aerodynamic and flexible solar panels.
The Airstream Basecamp was one of the first trailers to get technology from the eStream when in the 2023 model year, Airstream bumped the solar power up to 300 Watts, a 120-watt upgrade from the previous model year. The 2024 Trade Wind, a new model, is the latest to get gear inspired by the eStream, and it’s going even further. But at the same time, it also looks back at the past.
The name is a reference to the Airstream Trade Wind, a travel trailer Airstream sold in the late 1950s through the 1960s that boasted “the spaciousness of a larger trailer with the mobility of a smaller unit.” It was a fully-loaded travel trailer that Airstream said was the perfect camper to travel the world with. Today, Airstream believes the old Trade Wind was one of the first campers that worked without shore power. Technically, all campers work without shore power, but I can see what the company is trying to go for there.
Airstream is continuing much of that idea with the new 2024 Trade Wind.
The travel trailer starts with Airstream’s familiar “silver bullet” riveted aluminum body. The 2024 Trade Wind is available in just one length, 26 feet, and just one interior layout, 25FB. Airstream says this layout is one of its most popular in other trailers, so the company is just giving its fans what they want. The exterior of this trailer really doesn’t look any different than you’re used to, at least until you start poking around.
At ground level, you’ll spot the trailer’s standard three-inch lift kit and its 29.3-inch Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse 225/75R16 tires. Airstream says it lifted the trailer so you can go boondocking in places other Airstreams might not be able to reach. It’s not a true off-roading trailer, but it should be able to survive a fire road or something similar to get you to that perfect camping spot.
Moving to the roof, you’ll find 600 Watts of solar panels. Airstream says that Trade Wind doubles the energy harvesting capacity that you’d find in other Airstream models. A monitoring system and an app come with the solar panels so you can better manage your power.
Down below the floor is where you’ll find what the solar panels are charging. Airstream says the 2024 Trade Wind comes equipped with three chassis-integrated 270Ah heated Lithium Battle Born batteries. These add up to the aforementioned 810 Ah battery bank. For a comparison, Airstream says the batteries provide four times the capacity of most other Airstream models. Sadly, Airstream doesn’t say how long it thinks these batteries will keep you going. Airstream also doesn’t say for how long it can run the 15,000 BTU air-conditioner. Still, four times the capacity and the ability to run appliances from the batteries is pretty awesome.
Step inside the trailer and you’ll find Airstream’s typical lavish interior. As I said before, you get one layout, but two décor packages. Both of them net you aluminum and oak laminate walls, and your main choice is between gray cushions and an earthy countertop laminate or orange cushions and a gray countertop. Airstream says these interiors have been reinforced to tackle rough roads and they include extra features to secure cabinets during transit.
Everything in here is what you’d expect from Airstream from a full kitchen to a full bathroom. Airstream says 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. All of the electrical gear routes through a 3000w inverter/charger that Airstream says boasts 1,000 Watts over most other models. It allows both that optional microwave and the air-conditioner to run at the same time.
The 2024 Airstream Trade Wind sleeps five thanks to a queen bed and a convertible dinette. Next year, the company plans on switching things up with double twin beds as an option to replace the queen bed. In terms of holding tanks, you’re getting 39-gallon tanks each for fresh water, gray water, and waste.
Of course, batteries aren’t light and thus, this trailer weighs in at 6,200 pounds before you add water and gear. For comparison, my family’s Thor Adirondack is about seven feet longer and weighs about the same.
Airstream says the 2024 Trade Wind slots between its International and Globetrotter models. It’s available at Airstream dealerships starting today for a base price of $129,400. Of course, you can buy entire houses for that. But if you have the cash, Airstream says you’re getting the most capable travel trailer it’s put on the market in its 92-year history. The company notes that none of the other trailers in its history can come close to the boondocking ability of the Trade Wind. Hopefully, we’ll get to try it out for ourselves and get to let the noisy generator take a break.
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