Airstream trailers are instantly recognizable as an icon of American camping. Sleek, stylish, and durable, these trailers upgrade your tent to a full-fledged house on wheels. They’re pricey, but they hold their value really well, and they’re everywhere because people love them.
However, if you’re having a hard time justifying the cost, but you really want something similar, you’re in luck. There are plenty of Airstream alternatives out there from lookalikes to the modern retro interior, you’ll find the perfect knock-off that’s right for you.
And for the record, these knock-offs are just as good, so calling them knock-offs is doing them a great disservice. Check them out for yourself.
As a high-level summary…
Best Airstream Alternatives:
- Living Vehicle Trailers
- Bowlus Road Chief
- Oliver Travel Trailers
- Homegrown Trailers
- Happier Camper
- Dub Box Trailer
Living Vehicle Trailers
These lookalikes are pretty pricey, too. You’re not escaping the price tag of an Airstream, but you may enjoy the modern architectural touches of the interior more. It’s a luxury upgrade from the Airstream, featuring an interior that feels like an upscale city apartment loft.
There’s something about Airstream that screams vintage, but the Living Vehicle trailers use straight lines and boxy design for a modern take to the steel sided idea.
The modern interior features bright white cabinetry with a healthy dose of real wood for a clean industrial look. Effective use of space makes this small travel trailer the perfect size for two people, and maybe even a couple of children or guests.
The downside here is that there’s only a one-floor plan, so if you don’t like it, you’re out of luck. However, there’s a lot of possibilities for upgrades and customizations. In fact, you may find used models on the Living Vehicle website or elsewhere.
- Modern design
- Sleek architecture
- No variety
Bowlus Road Chief
This Airstream twin rings up at a shockingly similar price point, which isn’t necessarily cheap, but you might like the aerodynamic, bullet-like appearance better. Some people even mistake these for Airstream models.
The Bowlus Road Chief comes in two different floor plans:
- On the Road;
- The Endless Highways;
On the Road’s floor plan features a king bed that can be converted to two twins, a full bathroom, a living area with a sofa and a dinette, and a kitchen. It’s also pre-wired for solar panels so you can truly go off the grid.
The Endless highways floor plan features enough backup power to run the air conditioning for up to four hours without power, a full-length bathroom mirror, two-bathroom vents instead of one, and continuous hot water.
These are truly some of the most lightweight and aerodynamic travel trailers ever made, and a small crossover can pull it easily. With a low hitch weight, even a small adult can hook it up in minutes.
The modern features included in the Bowlus Road Chief travel trailers make it a worthy contender for the top Airstream alternative.
- Easy to pull with a small vehicle
- Plenty of amenities in a small space
Oliver Travel Trailers
These cute little guys are a bit more affordable and they offer a compact living solution that makes effective use of the space inside. They don’t look quite as modern on the outside, but they’re built from more affordable materials, which helps keep the price down.
The molded vanities provide an upscale interior, with amenities like a full bathroom. The extra durable fiberglass interior means you’ll experience less visible wear and tear and a sleek, modern look.
You can customize things like your awning color, graphics colors, interior upholstery, and flooring. There are three awning colors to choose from, 25 graphics colors, 8 upholstery options, and 7 flooring options.
There are dealers all over the United States, so finding an Ollie to tour in person is easy and convenient. There are referral programs, you can tour their plant, and make your entire experience more personal.
- Durable construction
- Hard to find used models
Further Read: Oliver vs Airstream Comparison
When it comes to camping, living minimally and sustainably may be top of mind. While the Homegrown Trailers don’t immediately spark an Airstream alternative feel, they should be added to our list because of the way they exude a natural, camping feel.
They’re the perfect mix of class and self-sufficiency. Outdoor Magazine rated them the most eco-friendly trailers on the market. They’ve tried to make environmentally friendly decisions whenever they can.
It looks almost as if IKEA made a travel trailer. The interior is basic but beautiful. Clean lines and natural wood makes you feel like you’re camping among the trees. And with wood paneling providing a log cabin look on the outside, you’ll truly have a mountain home on wheels.
There are two models available. The Timberline is the largest model with upscale design and a more sleek exterior. It sleeps 3-6 and has optional solar panels. You can also choose between bunk beds, a dinette, or both.
The Woodland model is a bit smaller. It only sleeps 2-4 but it comes with solar panels as a standard feature. A 12-gallon freshwater tank is more than you get with large fifth wheels, so you can truly go off the grid here.
- Highly attractive rustic design
- Large water tank
- Hard to find used models
Other than a cute name, the Happier Camper travelers are a fun and exciting tribute to the old Winnebago-style campers. They’re retro and proud of it. Flare sides, 70s turquoise, and rounded corners all throwback to a time when flower children were the norm.
Embrace nature with a camper that helps you get closer to it. Designs include the HC1 and the Traveler. The HC1 is small and mighty while the Traveler gives you a bit more space in a versatile package.
Both floor plans feature the Aptiv System, which is a trademarked interior allowing versatility, flexibility, and efficient use of space. Just design your Aptive interior with the features you need from sleeping to storage.
Each Aptiv cube is interchangeable so you can mix and match, switch in and out, and set up your camper how you need it right now.
The Aptiv System is even available for van installation, just in case you want to turn your current vehicle into a Happier Camper.
Happier Campers are lightweight enough to pull with a standard car, so your entire life doesn’t have to change to experience a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The possibilities are truly endless.
- Aptiv System
- Charmingly retro
- Very small
- No bathroom
Dub Box Trailer
Here’s another adorable take on the retro feel. It’s slightly more expensive than the Happier Camper, but it’s also slightly larger. They’re marketed as great food trucks and retail trailers, so if you’re looking for a cute way to take your business on the road, look no further.
With the two-tone vintage colors, you’ll be tickled at first glance, and every glance thereafter. The fiberglass construction means it’s ultra-light and durable, too. You’ll experience a spacious interior, thanks to an efficient design.
Make your Dub Box to order for exactly what you want, or choose one of their many existing floor plans. They have a wide range of sizes and configurations to choose from. In fact, much more than anything else on our list.
While you can’t cram a family in here, you and your spouse could have a very meaningful vacation, giving you a chance to share some close quarters and reconnect with one another. It also comes with a portable toilet and a portable outdoor shower, so you can enjoy some of the comforts of home.
This is a fabulous way to be one with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.
What Makes These Airstream Alternatives?
Airstream is known for its quality campers. They have always retained their value well, and owning an Airstream is a bit of a status symbol among die-hard camping enthusiasts. They’re well-built, durable, and attractive.
Modern Airstream trailers have a touch of retro and plenty of modern amenities, so when it comes to finding worthy alternatives, there are a lot of things to consider.
Airstreams are highly recognizable. You know exactly what an Airstream is when you see one. Some of the alternatives on our list qualify as close seconds because they look similar. In fact, you might even mistake them for Airstreams if you don’t know the difference.
While they look similar, there are some subtle differences. Each one has its own unique shape, and you’ll quickly be able to decide which you like best.
Often, it’s not about how the camper looks, but how it feels. Some of our alternatives give you a feeling of superiority. They’re quality homes with modern features that surpass the competition.
Clean interiors give way to gorgeous views, and you won’t be too busy to enjoy nature because they’re open, accessible, and lend themselves well to being parked just about anywhere.
Most modern trailers have everything you need for a long weekend in the woods. Airstreams come in all sizes, as do our list of alternatives. If you’re looking for something a little bigger that can sleep your whole family, you’ll find it here.
If you’re looking for something that is more comfortable than a tent on the ground, but that doesn’t include all of the conveniences you have at home, we have that, too.
Really, the amenities are as vast as you want them to be. Some don’t have bathrooms at all, while others have full bathrooms, full kitchens, extra beds, huge water tanks, and solar panels.
The unfortunate business of luxury trailers is that they come at a price. Some of our contenders are Airstream alternatives simply because they offer similar amenities at a similar price point.
However, we’ve included plenty of more affordable options for you, too. Not everyone can afford to break the bank for a small weekend or vacation vehicle.
Camper Buying Guide
How do you decide which is best for you? First-time campers may have some difficulty, but there are a few factors to consider, and the decision will become clearer the more research you do.
Size is critical. Are you towing your camper with your existing vehicle or are you going to purchase something larger? There are plenty of small travel trailers that are lightweight enough to tow with a car or a small crossover.
However, if you have a large family and you need the extra sleeping space, you may want to consider something a bit larger. You’ll also need extra storage for your clothes.
Keep in mind that most trailers make the most effective use of space that they can, and for a long weekend, you can get by with something a bit on the small side. However, if you’re taking extended vacations in your trailer, consider long-term comfort as well.
Can you rough it? Some people would rather glamp than camp. If you can’t stand the thought of going more than 24 hours without a shower, you might need a camper with a full bathroom and a big water tank, so you can still have your scalding hot ‘me’ time.
On the other hand, if you love to be one with nature, and you have no problem ditching the luxury, you’ll be content in something that makes it easier for you to get a good night’s rest and cook a meal over the fire to recharge for tomorrow’s hike.
No camper is going to work for you if it doesn’t fit in the budget. Luxury trailers (even small ones) cost a lot of money. This isn’t a flippant expense. It requires thought and planning. Don’t commit to a big price tag just yet. Do some more shopping.
There are so many other options out there that come with just as many amenities, and a lot of them are very affordable. Make sure you get what you want at a price you can afford, or you won’t be happy with your decision.
Need a few more answers? Here are some frequently asked questions from the world of travel trailers.
Airstream really is a luxury brand, and our list of alternatives reflects that. However, there are a lot of other RV brands that don’t tout luxury. Instead, they offer affordability. Common affordable RV brands include Coachman, Forest River, Gulfstream, and Grand Design.
When shopping for RVs, consider comparable floor plans from these manufacturers and compare pricing. What you find may surprise you.
A lot of RVs aren’t built to last. Most people take them vacationing and only use them a few weeks out of the year. A manufacturer offering a one year warranty is counting on you using it only a handful of times.
They use cheap materials and inferior building practices that will get you by for the first few times you use it. Then they wipe their hands of it after the first year, and the rest is your responsibility.
Manufacturers who dedicate themselves to building quality include Airstream, Grand Design, Oliver, Escape, New Horizons, Northwood, Outdoors, and DRV.
Any of the Airstream alternatives we’ve included on this list would be a cinch to drive. They’re small, and towing them behind your car is really not much different than driving your car through town.
If you’re looking for something a bit bigger, Class B RVs are much like driving a big van. Once you get into Class A motorhomes and large fifth wheels, driving complexity goes way up.
Sales are notoriously slow during the fall months because people know that heading into winter, they are going to camp a lot less. The salesmen know this, too. They’re all about offering discounts to get the remaining inventory off the lot.
October and November are great months to buy but aim for any time in the fall to get extra attention and perhaps extra discounts on dealer stock.
RVs are a lot like cars. They depreciate a lot almost immediately. A lot of people say you should never buy a new model either. New RVs come with warranties, so if something goes wrong, you can hopefully count on them to fix it.
However, used RVs are much cheaper, and chances are if something were going to go wrong, it already has, and the previous owner has addressed it. So not only are you paying less, you’re a lot less likely to experience problems.
There’s always a happy medium. Buying a ten-year-old RV is probably a bad idea. But if you’re buying a two-year-old RV, you’re in the safe zone for another few years. If you really don’t want to miss out on that new scent and you can afford it, buy new to your heart’s content.
Airstreams have an aluminum body. That’s what makes them so famous. You know an Airstream when you see it. This aluminum body is lightweight and insulated, so Airstreams are generally more aerodynamic and eco-friendly.
The material is much more expensive and assembly requires quite a bit more labor, so you’re paying for something that’s higher quality than a lot of the other trailer manufacturers produce.
The Verdict on Airstream Competitors
If you have your heart set on an Airstream and you’re willing to pay the price, who am I to stop you? They’re quality trailers with an iconic design, and you really can’t go wrong.
However, if you’re looking for something a little less recognizable with a little more character, perhaps one of these alternatives suits your fancy.
They’re not all cheaper than an Airstream, so keep cost in mind, but they are all unique. This is a fun list of unconventional campers you don’t see every day.
In fact, most of them offer a lot of customization options and they have found unique ways to conserve space and still include all of the amenities you might want.
Whether you’re looking for something small for a weekend in the woods or something that sleeps a larger family, you’ll find it all here.
Further Reading on RV and Camper Models: