With its new premium fiberglass brand, Airstream’s latest venture into the small-trailer market is its biggest yet
A brand is a precious thing.
New companies spend years cultivating one. Older companies must constantly nurture theirs to maintain relevance in a rapidly changing world. Where reputation was once a large enough throne to rest one’s corporate laurels on, a constant influx of new ideas, often spurred by younger minds who neither know nor care about the glory days, can rise to steal your thunder. Conversely, radical change can dilute the message, confusing the audience and weakening any hold on the market. Indeed, maintaining brand identity has become, perhaps, the single most important aspect of surviving the new millennium.
Few could argue that the Airstream brand is as recognizable as the product’s gleaming aluminum skin, but the demographic that drove it to legendary status, the Baby Boomer, is giving way to the Millennial. This younger generation has reverence for what is old, cool and classic, but won’t abide by stagnant ideals, and will certainly ignore anything that doesn’t resonate with their lifestyle. Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen Airstream gradually migrate to younger, affluent audiences with products like the smaller Sport and Basecamp products. But its new Nest travel trailer may be the company’s biggest gamble yet.
First and foremost, the Nest’s exterior is completely devoid of aluminum and rivets, which makes it unrecognizable as an Airstream. As of its launch, the Nest offers only two floorplans, sleeps only two, and carries a price tag north of $45,000. But for the right consumer, namely a well-heeled couple who appreciates a clean design aesthetic and clever use of space, there are few products like it.
You enter the Nest through the rear, like most truck campers, which makes perfect sense, considering the compact interior dimensions. A side-entry door, while certainly more traditional, eats into valuable floor space. A strikingly modern design greets you like a breath of fresh air, with contemporary styling and tasteful flourishes of stainless steel that pay homage to the brand’s heritage.
The floorplan we sampled was the 16U Dinette, which centers around a surprisingly large front dinette and gathering area adorned with playful teal upholstery that stood in welcome contrast to the gray, white and metallic tones elsewhere. The convertible dinette has plenty of room for four adults, and the removable table offers leaf extensions for more space at mealtime. It’s also a great spot to chill, with a large window up front, one on each side, plus a skylight with a retractable shade. There are storage cubbies above with elastic bands to keep items like extra blankets and pillows in place, plus all-important USB ports at either end. Underneath the seat cushions are removable panels that allow access to more storage.
The galley is a model of efficiency, featuring a large stainless-steel sink with a white cutting-board cover and a two-burner Dometic stove with an electronic ignition and a smoked-glass cover. We liked clever touches like the gray simulated-woodgrain countertops, pop-up 120-volt AC receptacle with two outlets and recessed spice rack in the adjacent wall. There is an abundance of storage space here as well, with overhead cabinets featuring frosted-plastic panels, a large cabinet beneath the sink, plus two drawers and a small lower cabinet. Directly across is another countertop with more food prep and serving space, and identical cabinets and drawers. Television prep, with two coaxial outlets, two 120-volt AC outlets and four USB ports, is standard, but you’ll have to supply the flat-screen.
You probably wouldn’t expect much more than a cassette toilet in a trailer this size, but the Nest actually has a generously proportioned wet bath with stainless-steel fixtures, plus a gasketed cabinet with a waterproof TP dispenser and even some shelf space. There is more than enough room for 6-footers to take care of business.
Opposite the bathroom is a 3.5-cubic-foot refrigerator and a microwave. All the way to the rear on the street side is a large cedar-lined closet with room for hanging clothes and shelves for shoes or other items.
The exterior offers a full-size awning with LED strip lighting, an aluminum step, illuminated handle and a sliding screen door. Exterior storage is limited but is sufficient for necessities like tools and other supplies. In all, we found the Nest to be a nicely built, very well-equipped trailer that will hit the mark with its intended audience. In other words, it’s an Airstream.
Airstream | www.airstream.com/nest
Special thanks to Portland Airstream Adventures Northwest, an Airstream dealer in Gladstone, Oregon. www.portlandairstream.com