Towing an Airstream

Towing an Airstream

Airstream travel trailers. As American as hotdogs, baseball and apple pie. This riveted aluminum-shelled icon is hard to mistake for any other travel trailer on the market. They certainly do make a visual impact, but what is it like towing an Airstream? Are Airstreams easy to tow?

Simply put: yes they are!

The aerodynamic design of an Airstream produces less wind friction, or drag, when being towed compared to other more conventional travel trailers. This means not only greater stability and fuel efficiency, but also a more effortless towing experience.

Here’s a fact for you: approximately 65% of every Airstream camper ever purchased is still in use. This is because they are built to last. Sure, they may come with a slightly higher price tag than other campers, but the design and durability of an Airstream makes it a much sought after luxury option. They really are the best option for the camper who wants to set themselves apart from the herd, both in style and functionality.

What towing capacity do you need for an Airstream?

This is where some simple math comes in handy. Essentially, you want to ensure your vehicle’s towing capacity is greater than your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). GVWR is the maximum amount of weight that your vehicle can handle safely, including passengers, cargo, as well as the vehicle itself. Exceeding GVWR is a risky move as it makes your vehicle difficult to control or stop.

The GVWR for selected Airstream campers is as follows:

  • Basecamp: 3,500 pounds
  • Bambi: 5,000 pounds
  • Classic: 10,000 pounds

When assessing whether your vehicle can tow a selected Airstream, it is a good idea to ensure that the GVWR you will be towing is in the middle of your vehicle’s towing capacity. This will ensure that not only has your vehicle got more than enough torque to get your Airstream moving, it will also have sufficient power to control and stop it.

Towing an Airstream: How to

With your newly purchased Airstream in tow, it’s time to set out on the vacation of a lifetime. However, first things first: it’s time to hitch and load your Airstream camper loaded. A good rule of thumb is to place about 15% of your overall load at the front of the Airstream. Space the remainder evenly spaced throughout the rest of the camper. The benefit of this is the weight at the front adds load to your hitch, which will help ensure its correct functionality when driving.

Just like we advised in our Winter Towing Tips article, it’s important to practice towing your Airstream before setting out on any grand adventure. Aim to get familiar with using your vehicle’s brake pedal slowly but consistently. That way you will pull both vehicle and camper to a dead stop at the same time. Parking is another aspect that requires practice. Set up some witches hats and test your ability to tow and park your Airstream without knocking them down!

Another great tip is to hit the highway with an empty Airstream a handful of times before you set off on vacation with your nearest and dearest. This will enable you to get more familiar with the experience of towing an Airstream. You will also have to allow for double the normal following distance between you and the car ahead, because of the fact that you cannot brake as fast. Furthermore, get out on the open highway and experience what how the wind will affect your handling while towing.

The most important thing is to stay focused on driving your vehicle. You should feel confident when it comes to towing an Airstream. And this confidence will only come through correct practice and preparation.