Time-honored Airstreams may look the same on the outside, but step inside the Classic 30 to modern luxury complete with Ultraleather furniture, radiant heating and a welcoming floorplan
Like many Americans, Airstream trailers take me back to my childhood. I can clearly remember piling into the back of the family station wagon with my sisters and our dog, and a 16-foot Aristocrat in tow. As our parents took in the passing scenery, we kids made a game out of who could spot the next Airstream — “Turtles,” as we called them. Turtles were fascinating to us and somewhat of an anomaly (of course, we didn’t know the word “anomaly” back then), so we’d bombard my dad with questions: “Why do they look like that?” “What are they like on the inside?” “Can we get one?” “Are we there yet?”
Whether or not you’re a fan of the Airstream’s iconic all-aluminum finish, there’s no disputing its aerodynamic, wind-cutting design. The company claims that it hasn’t strayed from its original concept of making travel trailers that are fuel-efficient and easy to tow since they first came on the scene 86 years ago. I know I feel a tug of nostalgia when I see an Airstream trailer, so when given an opportunity to review one, I jumped at the chance. Full disclosure: We did not tow this particular trailer, as Airstream had provided a test unit for us that was already placed at Ocean Mesa at El Capitan, a campground with RV hookups on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, California.
I arrived at Ocean Mesa, where the Airstream was set up at an ocean-view site. I carried in supplies, bedding and way too much food. After all, I wanted to be prepared, since my two guests would be checking in at different times. A couple of nights would be spent with my husband, Bill, who would then be replaced by my friend Jill. A 31-foot, 3-inch Classic 30 awaited, glinting in the sun. The Classic series (30 and 33), which Airstream redesigned in 2015 and describes as having “the richest history of any Airstream travel trailer,” is available in two lengths with sleeping accommodations that include a queen bed or two twins.
Setting foot inside the Airstream via the curved entry, we noted the three hooks where you can check your coat by the door, a nice feature. We opened the adjustable pleated day/night shades, which smoothly glided around curved windows, to get a better view of the elegant, homey and now-bright interior. A rich-looking Ultraleather sofa in Chestnut takes up the front wall of the spacious living area, while cabinetry in Cognac Maple complements the Sandalwood Corian galley countertops and aluminum walls.
Rivets grace the Classic’s ceiling (6 feet 71⁄2 inches at center) and all areas of aluminum that aren’t covered by cabinetry and such. One of our favorite features was the master digital panel that controls all the excellent LED lighting (together or individually, interior and exterior), as well as the patio awning, water pump, tank heater and monitors, bed lift, powered dinette table and even the bathroom fan.
The inviting galley with an expanse of countertop between the Dometic three-burner range and large single-basin stainless sink made me want to whip out a chef’s knife and prepare something fun and tasty. With the sink covers in place and the flip-up counter extended, the large continuous countertop is perfect for setting up food buffet-style. There’s a gap behind the counter to accommodate the Alde hydronic heating system (new for 2017), so even though there’s a lip to prevent things from falling over the edge, you still need to take care not to lose smaller items.
Below the range are three drawers, which can be replaced with an oven at no charge, should you decide to forgo the extra storage. Interior lighting automatically comes on
when opening the cabinets, and that saying about an Airstream’s curved cabinets not fitting a cereal box is true! Cabinets are plentiful, however, and there is lots of storage space, including a pullout pantry with wire shelving for cans and another cabinet with a wire rod to keep items in place during travel.
A Cuisinart microwave-convection oven with a grilling feature is mounted below the counter (at kid level), which made it handy to monitor food when sitting at the dinette. Jill arrived ready to bake double-chocolate brownies and eyed the Cuisinart apprehensively, but the convection feature baked them so perfectly that she whipped together another batch the following evening. (Obviously, we weren’t dieting on this trip.) A two-way, 9-cubic-foot refrigerator with a digital display takes up the wall opposite the range.
Another feature we really liked was the Infinity woven-vinyl flooring (with a 10-year warranty). The marine-grade flooring looks like a high-quality indoor/outdoor mat and was easy to sweep clean. A waste bin under the sink keeps trash out of sight.
Over the dinette and grouped by the master panel is the control for the heating system (housed under a dinette bench) and Polk stereo. Since the DVD player and controls for the trailer’s two air conditioners are housed in an overhead cabinet, it might make more sense to swap the stereo and A/C controls so they’re grouped by category, but that’s a nitpick. Beginning with the 2016 travel-trailer line, the air conditioners feature what Airstream calls Quietstream, a ducted climate-control system with integrated ceiling vents for reduced interior noise. The Alde hydronic heating system works off electric and LP-gas for quiet operation, plus it heats the trailer’s water.
The Airstream’s tempered, tinted windows (solar protection on the front window) open outward and have a double-cam latching system. Figuring out the various open-and-close detents took some practice to position in the highest open position, but once in place, a nice cross-breeze cooled the interior considerably, with help from the Fan-Tastic Vent with thermostatic control and a rain sensor.
Turning on the stereo, we relaxed in the living room on the plush Ultraleather sofa and kicked up our feet via powered footrests. USB ports are inset into the power-control buttons for the footrests, and a push-button panel operates the lights (with dimming feature). The lights can also be turned on independently. Speakers are incorporated next to the overhead cabinetry (as they are in the bedroom, as well). The sofa’s center fold-down table safely held our array of snacks and drinks, but the back of the sofa is fixed against the wall so it does not recline. From our tranquil seating, there was a clear view to the 32-inch Samsung smart HDTV over the dinette.
Cushions for transforming the four-place dinette into a bed are stored out of the way in the sofa’s armrests, though getting them out was easier than putting them back in. The best way was to sit on the floor and use my bare feet to stuff the cushions in place. It was worth the work, because the bed was pretty comfy, plus it was a breeze to set up with the telescoping table that moves up and down with the press of a button.
For an even more comfortable sleeping experience, the bedroom has a walk-around pillow-top memory-foam queen bed surrounded by large windows. I loved sitting up in bed in the morning and looking outside.
Controls to raise and lower the head of the bed and for lighting are located under the overhead cabinet for easy reach. There’s lots of headroom, so 6-foot-4-inch Bill didn’t have to worry about knocking his noggin on the cabinet when sitting up.
The Classic’s second HDTV, a 24-incher, is at the foot of the bed, and there’s a USB port and GFCI receptacle on the wall by one of the nightstands. The nightstands have storage and are contoured to match the Airstream. The day/night shades work well to darken the inside during daylight hours, so those who like to catch a quick nap during the day will appreciate them.
Additional storage is provided by drawers underneath the bed or by lifting the mattress platform via hydraulic struts for access. A portion of the underbed storage is also accessible from the outside. Hanging clothes are accommodated by a cedar-lined wardrobe in the galley area that features automatic lighting and a safe in the floor. Also housed here are two camp chairs that come standard with the Classic.
An accordion privacy screen closes off the bathroom and bedroom from the galley, making a good dressing area and offering privacy when going back and forth between the bathroom and shower across the aisle. The roomy bathroom features a large skylight (with shade), plenty of lighting and space to spread out lotions, potions and towels on the countertop. There is good storage here as well, including a tilt-out laundry-hamper, and luxuries such as a heated towel bar and floor, courtesy of the Alde system. Seams and rivets stand out on the aluminum walls, and with a full-size mirror on the door and a large wall mirror, our colorful towels reflected all around.
The bathroom’s curved aluminum wall, combined with a single non-opening elongated window, is how I picture the inside of a space shuttle to look. We made it a habit to wipe down the area around the sink where water splashed up on the aluminum wall and mirror to avoid water spots. The shower, with a heated floor, is a bit tight and has only about 6 feet of headroom, but features an opaque glass door so it doesn’t feel so claustrophobic. An integrated seat and handheld removable Kohler showerhead are pluses.
Evenings were spent outside under the huge powered awning with LED lighting that runs almost the full length of the trailer. The porch light offers an inviting ambience, and the lighted handrail is probably the niftiest one I’ve seen. During the day, manual awnings over the windows, front and rear, and on the driver’s side help keep the interior cooler, and the Classic looks welcoming with all the awnings out.
The test unit had two Zamp Slim Line 80-watt solar panels ($2,200 option). Two 10-gallon LP-gas cylinders are housed on the A-frame under an aluminum cover, forward of the Classic’s stainless-steel rock guards. The trailer has power stabilizing jacks at each corner. Sixteen-inch Michelin tires ride on rubber torsion axles.
All these years later, I finally got to experience a “Turtle” for myself. I admit to being enamored with this Airstream because it reminded me of happy camping adventures with my family. That aside, we were impressed with the Classic’s spacious and inviting living accommodations, room-to-spread-out kitchen and storage aplenty. With just the right mix of charm and elegance, the Airstream Classic 30 has a relaxed and friendly style where you can feel comfortable kicking back and putting your feet up on the furniture.
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