Choosing an Airstream Basecamp X
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
In August, I did something I didn’t think I’d ever do; I traded in my T@B 320 S Outback for a 2020 Airstream Basecamp X. The decision wasn’t easy for me, and if you’ve followed my RVing adventures, you know I wasn’t initially happy with my trade. Finally, after six months of owning my BCX, I feel comfortable giving a fair review of my rig.
My Love of the Airstream Basecamp X
I couldn’t give my Airstream a fair shot until I took her out on my own. That’s what I do in my smaller RV; I travel solo. I needed time to organize (and reorganize) all of the new nooks and crannies. I needed to try out the standard features before I added any modifications or determined what would or wouldn’t work for me. While almost all of my trips were solo, I did take the BCX out with my husband a few times to see if the trade made him more comfortable when he wanted to come along.
I solo camped in Silverthorne, Colorado, with a girlfriend who owns a T@G, and she and I extended our trip and boondocked in the San Isabel National Forest completely off-the-grid with our other T@B 400 friends. I boondocked in Leadville with my husband, met up with some girlfriends at another Colorado state park, traveled to Arizona caravan-style behind my husband, who was driving the motorhome, moochdocked in my sister’s backyard, camped in an Arizona state park, and finally, I attended T@Bazona 2020. I’m back moochdocking again before I begin my trek back toward Colorado in a few days. All of those trips gave me plenty of experience in my camper, enough to write what I love and don’t love about the Airstream Basecamp X.
I’ve decided to fashion this post in the same format that I wrote the Choosing a T@B Teardrop Camper post to keep things aligned for those of you who might be considering both the T@B and the Airstream Basecamp. I want to make clear that I didn’t upgrade my rig; I traded it. The word upgrade signifies a significant change in a product or property, and I don’t think the quality of a NüCamp product outweighs the quality of an Airstream product; both companies produce reputable travel trailers.
What I Love About My Airstream Basecamp X
The unique body style of the BCX is a conversation starter. I thought I’d miss out on all of the cute-camper conversations when I traded, but I haven’t.
The dry towing capacity of the Basecamp (with the X package) is 2,635 pounds. Airstream includes the weight of propane and batteries in the base weight, so the weight is still considerably light.
Although the BCX has a higher profile than the T@B 320 S Outback (now called the Boondock), I still find it easy to see around my rig while towing.
It’s easy to maneuver in gas stations and parking lots.
The design of the windows and doors helps me to feel safe at night. No one can crawl in my windows because the side windows pop open, leaving room for airflow, but not enough room to compromise the rig.
The side windows open behind blackout curtains that fold down for privacy, and the pop-out window model gives me airflow and the safety of knowing my dogs won’t push through the screen and chase a bunny or a squirrel.
The blackout curtains make the inside of the camper very dark. If you enjoy sleeping in, you will love this feature.
The tint on the windows makes it hard for people to see inside the rig during the day. I like this feature because, in my T@B, I’d have unwanted visitors peer in my windows trying to see inside when I was in the dang camper! (The hazard of having a cute camper). At night, if the blinds are closed, people can’t see if there are people inside or not.
Two propane bottles mount to the front of the tow frame. When you run out of propane in one container, the second bottle kicks in using an automatic gas regulator. Just make sure you know when you’ve started to use your second bottle. The handy green and red switch help campers know when one bottle is empty.
There is an exterior LPG port located on the hitch frame. You can use the small adapter (mine came with the Basecamp) to connect a little propane stove or fire pit directly to the rig. By using the propane on board, you have more space in your tow vehicle for fun items like bikes or a paddleboard!
I have an air conditioner and Fan-tastic fan vent to help circulate the air and keep my rig cool on hotter days.
I have a Truma Combi, which heats my water and warms the inside of my rig. It operates on electricity, gas, or a combination of both, making staying warm possible, no matter what type of camping I’m doing.
I have a heat pump on the ceiling that helps to circulate warm air from the vents below the benches.
The bed has a few different options for sleeping. I can sleep in a twin bed configuration, a wheel-to-wheel configuration (through an easy modification), or I can fold the benches to make a close-to-king-sized bed. The sleeping choices help me to keep a table up or have access to the under-the-bench storage.
The retractable screen door on the main entry helps to keep my dogs inside and the bugs outside. It’s a little harder for dogs to go through the screen door on the Basecamp than it was on the T@B. If you are a T@B owner with a dog, you know what I am talking about.
My refrigerator runs on electricity or solar. I thought I’d miss the propane 3-way fridge, but I don’t. I don’t have to worry about the pilot light shutting off or running out of gas when I’m not hooked up to electricity.
I don’t have to sit on the floor or a bench to get access to the food in my fridge!
My shoilet (the shitter-shower combo) is a lot bigger in my Basecamp. I can easily fit inside the toilet area, and my knees don’t hit the wall. I can even turn around inside of the shoilet when the door is closed! It’s a win for the wet-bath!
If I want an outdoor shower, I can pass the showerhead through a small hatch and have an outdoor shower option.
I have a black and grey tank combo. That means one tank to dump. I love this feature.
The back hatch/door is one of my favorite features. There is a roll-down screen that snaps over the opening allowing for a cool breeze to pass through my rig while keeping my dogs inside and the bugs outside of the camper. Aside from the breeze, there is nothing prettier than opening your back door to see what’s surrounding you if you are camped surrounded by beautiful scenery. The door also serves as a pass-through to tote along a bike, small kayak, or a paddleboard. I’ve not transported by recreational equipment this way yet, so I’m not sure how I feel about having my gear inside while I drive. It seems like it might be a lot of work to take in and out for one-night-stops.
I have space inside of my rig. Lack of space is one of the reasons for my trade. I’m tall. I can stand up inside, even in the kitchen and the shoilet area. I’m, 5’10”, and I can see out the windows while I cook without hunching to use to stove or sink. When my 6’6” husband comes along with me, he has places where he can stand, too. While his standing space is still limited, he has a lot more room inside of the Basecamp than he did in the T@B. He can fit in the bathroom of the Basecamp. Bonus!
The front windows are my second-favorite feature next to the back door. I have panoramic views while I’m cooking, working, or just spending time inside of my rig. The open feeling of the Basecamp is unmatched.
There is room to move inside even when the bed is set up. If you are traveling with a partner, and you want to make the bed up completely, there is still room for changing (standing up even) at the front part of the rig near the kitchen. This area is also a great place for your dogs to eat or lie on the floor, looking out the front door.
There is a microwave! For me? I LOVE this feature.
For a smaller camper, the kitchen counter and storage space are pretty awesome. There are build-in cargo nets to store food or other items, and at least two storage areas for food, dishes, cleaning supplies, or whatever else you’d like to store near a kitchen.
The Airstream Basecamp has little nooks with bungees, mounted hooks, and small storage racks for small items like spices. I love tucking my shoes in the shoe tray or charging my phone in one of the hidden storage compartments with USB ports.
The kitchen has two USB / standard plug ports that retract underneath the counter.
If you love USB ports, you will be amazed at what you can plugin inside of the Basecamp!
The two tables are easy to store in the bungee cords located along the side of the bench/bed area. The four poles store inside of the bench with storage space, and it is easy to change the height of your tables for eating, working, or sleeping.
The storage nets in the back of the rig over the bed and bench area are wonderful. I use storage cubes to keep my clothing organized in the nets, and while I’m driving, everything stays secure inside of the nets.
I love the X package on my Basecamp. Why?
It’s rugged and sits higher off the ground than the standard Basecamp model, making it easy to camp along varied terrain on BLM land or other out-in-nature camping locations.
If it is cold, I have heated tanks and a sealed underbelly. Using my tanks while boondocking in the winter helps to make camping in the cold comfy.
I can stay off-the-grid longer with the roof-mounted solar, and if I want to tote along my Zamp portable solar panels (purchased for my T@B) to soak up the directional sun, I can. I’ve already got a Zamp connection onboard.
I’ve got rock guards on the front of the rig, protecting both the front window panel and the rounded front of the Airstream.
Things that I’d change about my Airstream Basecamp X
The back door doesn’t stay open in the wind. I’ve fashioned a bungee cord to keep the door open, but if it gets too windy, the bungee won’t hold the door open.
There aren’t any 12-volt ports in the Basecamp. The USB ports are awesome, but I’ve got a lot of equipment that won’t operate on a USB.
I don’t care for the propane storage cover on the front. It’s plastic, and more than once, the rivets have popped on the bungee-style closures, making it impossible to store anything in the tray above the propane.
The storage areas don’t lock. So, the cool little bay by the water and the over-the-propane storage tray really can’t keep hoses and cords like they were intended to. Plus, if the closures break, my electrical cord bounces out while I’m driving, I’m certainly not going to be a happy camper. Do I trust people? Yes. Should I leave something valuable like my power cord in a bay with no locking mechanism? Probably not.
The sewer hose (underbelly storage cylinder) is a great concept in theory. I’ve read about the closure opening during travel, but I chose to ignore people’s warnings. I purchased a new sewer hose set right before my trip to Arizona. Just outside of Albuquerque, someone passes me honking and waving. I look in my side mirrors, and sure as sh*t, my stinky slinky has made its way out the container and was dragging down the road. I pulled over at a rest area a few miles down the road, and the hose was hanging on for dear life, but sadly, road rash and a 20-foot sewer hose don’t play well together.
The visor is hard to employ alone. You will need a stepstool to slide the visor through the keder railing. Like most keder-rail visors, the process of threading the visor is often hindered by a rogue screw or tough corner. The Basecamp’s visor comes with poles to help keep the visor in place with windy conditions, so you can keep your visor up a little easier in the Basecamp than you might have been able to in the T@B.
The weight of the camper is heavier than the T@B, so you will want a tow vehicle with ample capacity to safely tow. SUVs still work, as the Basecamp X has a 3,500 GVWR, which is a little more than my model T@B which was about 2,900.
The Basecamp isn’t a camper that you can unhitch and move into place like the T@B. If you want to maneuver your camper around by hand, think about choosing a T@G camper.
The Basecamp has back stabilizers but not front stabilizers. If I am camping on an uneven surface, or if someone else is inside of the rig with me, it rocks a little more than I’m comfortable with. I tote portable stabilizing jacks with me when I need more support in the front.
The Basecamp won’t fit through most standard garage door openings, even when you drop the hitch low or try a towing valet. We ended up having our contractor raise our garage door opening to 10.5′, so we can back the Airstream right into the garage and keep our camper at home.
If you want a TV or a radio, you won’t find those on the Basecamp. I use my iPad to watch shows, or I spend time looking out of my panoramic windows instead of watching TV. This isn’t a negative thing for me at all, but some people might find the lack of electronics a deal-breaker.
The main storage bench has a lot of space underneath, but it is kind of a pain in the bum to get in and out of, especially if you have the bed modification or any section of the bed made up. I plan on making some custom cushions to help get in and out of the bench easier since it is a giant headache even when the bed isn’t made up, and the standard cushions are set up. I also want to install something to help keep the bench up while I’m rooting around in my storage. While my head works fine, it’s not the best way to keep a bench lid open.
The cushions are not super comfy to sleep on. A few nights of camping won’t be a big deal for you if you don’t mind a little bit of a hard-sleeping surface. If you want to camp for more than a few nights, you might want to consider a mattress pad or something even denser than a foam pad. I’m currently walking a little sideways from more than two weeks sleeping inside of the Basecamp.
The jack isn’t easy to move up and down by hand. It is a tight crank. I upgraded to an electric jack, and it is much easier to get level, and the new jack has more room to extend, making it possible to use fewer leveling blocks. There were times that I’d have to have six blocks on my front jack to be level.
Sometimes, when I am towing, the front windows that I love so much distract me. When I look in the side and rear-view windows, my rock guarded windows reflect the scenery of the mountains, cars, and whatever else we pass. It’s a distraction watching the distorted scenery fly by. I have to try hard to ignore all of the movement.
My Final Thoughts
I LOVE my Airstream Basecamp X. I see longer trips in my future and more boondocking ahead of me. I’m very comfortable inside on my Basecamp, and when I am home, I can’t stop thinking about my next solo adventure. If you are researching either the Basecamp or the T@B, I hope both of my posts will help you to make the decision to buy the trailer that works best for you. Happy camping!