Although I’ve never camped in an Airstream, trust me, I have the credentials to review one. I live full-time in a 31-foot Airstream, with my partner and his son. My partner bought his 1983 model used a while back and fixed her up; I moved in a few years ago, and although we had to eventually build a shed and deck for a little extra storage space, we all love living small.

We’re also out on the road a lot — for my job testing and reviewing outdoor products for this site, and also because we just love to camp. Normally we roll out in a 2004 Ford F-350 Super Duty with a GoFast Camper Shell and Tent, but when I recently got the opportunity to test out Airstream’s special-edition Basecamp Collab with REI, I jumped at the chance: not only would it be a luxurious upgrade from what we normally camp in, but it would feel just like taking home on the road, only a little smaller.

We planned a trip up to the Eastern Sierras (specifically Mammoth and June for some birthday snowboarding) and were set to go when a week before the trip, our truck went on the fritz. In a stroke of luck, our friends at Front Runner Outfitters had their last demo vehicle in the lot, recently outfitted with all of its latest racks and accessories. So, we stuffed snowboarding gear, camping equipment, two adults and an eight-year-old into my Toyota Corolla, drove up to L.A. to pick up the Jeep Gladiator from Front Runner, hitched up the Airstream after loading all our gear into it and the truck and we were on our way into the wild.

After five days on the road living out of the REI Basecamp, here’s what I thought.

Airstream x REI Co-Op Special Edition Basecamp: The Specs

Scott Seiver

2023 REI Co-Op Special Edition Basecamp

airstream.com
$52,900.00

  • Says it sleeps 2, but comfortably fits 3
  • Plenty of storage and well-organized layout

  • Special edition is much pricier for the original, without many serious upgrades
  • Unit Base Weight: (with LP and batteries): 2,700 pounds
  • Exterior Length: 16 ft. 2 in.
  • Exterior Width: 6 ft. 4.5 in.
  • Sleeping Capacity: 2 (we slept 3 comfortably)
  • Bathroom: Composting Toilet

    The Airstream x REI Co-Op Special Edition Basecamp: What We Think

    The special edition, REI-ified Airstream Basecamp is an ergonomic, comfortable compact camping trailer with plenty of useful features and classic Airstream style...just with an outdoors twist. In my mind, the subtle touches from the giant outdoor retailer don't justify the additional dollar signs — but for anyone who loves the outdoors, loves Airstream and has the extra cash, this thing is pretty badass. If you're used to tent camping or sleeping in your rooftop tent, spending a couple of nights in this cozy little trailer feels like the Ritz.

    airstream rei basecamp kitchen view
    The REI version of the Airstream Basecamp features netting covers rather than traditional cabinet doors in the kitchen. This brings a casual, homey feel to the very modern interior.
    Scott Seiver

    It's well-designed and functional

    Setting foot in the REI Co-Op Special Edition Basecamp is how I'd imagine it would feel setting foot into a small spaceship — just camp-ified. The iconic silver metal sheeting sort of acts like putting a big mirror in a small room: it makes the space feel bigger.

    The kitchen manages to pack in a mini fridge, two-burner stove, counter space and plenty of cabinet storage without dominating the entire space. The wet bathroom has nifty features like a spooling clothesline that can be strung out to hang wet snowboard gear, and although it's a tight fit, it has enough space to shower without bumping your elbows on anything and everything.

    airstream rei basecamp special edition
    Scott Seiver
    airstream rei basecamp special edition trailer
    Scott Seiver

    The convertible dinette and lounge can be transformed into a 76-inch x 76-inch bed — which came in handy at bedtime when all three of us could fit on the bed with shoulder room to spare. There's even a little locking cabinet that can act as a safe for valuables, which features a cable pass-through for your phone, so you can charge up without having dangling cords all over the place.

    The REI edition of the Basecamp also comes with strings of carabiners, packing cubes for gear and miscellaneous items, and netting over the cabinets as opposed to traditional doors, which come together to create the effect of feeling like you're both in a tent and a home.

    airstream rei basecamp special edition
    At the upper left hand corner of the trailer, you can see the REI special edition decal. You can also spot the solar panel on the ground between the truck and trailer, which we used to power the fridge when in use.
    Scott Seiver

    The price is far from approachable

    The 2023 REI Co-Op Special Edition Basecamp starts at $52,900 — not exactly chump change for most of us. Let's say you're in a position to be able to finance that kind of product, but do you also have a truck or SUV capable of towing it?

    For comparison, a Scamp 16' Deluxe Layout camping trailer will run you around $25,000 — almost half the price of the Airstream, and admittedly without a few of the nicer features — but still, that's a pretty wide margin. Don't get me wrong: I loved this thing, and if I had the dough, we'd be adding it to our fleet, but it's a hefty price tag you don't have to spend to get outdoors. With Airstream, you're paying not just for the unit itself, but for the design, ethos and prestige that come with it, and those will cost you.

    airstream rei co op special edition basecamp
    There’s a hidden phone charger in this small storage area: you can plug the USB end of your charger in below, and snake the cord up through the small hole on the left. No dangling cords makes for a happy camper. You can also lock valuables into this storage area using the same key that locks the doors.
    Scott Seiver

    The REI Co-Op Special Edition Basecamp ups the ante on sustainability

    The Basecamp was already one of the more adventurous, and, dare I say, rugged options in Airstream's lineup (after all, how rugged can luxury get?), but the special edition collab version with REI takes the off-grid mentality of this little trailer and brings it to the next level with a few notable features that focus on lessening your impact.

    My family and I ran the fridge and heater off the integrated battery, which provides 12-volt power for the entire unit. When we were driving, the refrigerator was turned off, and the battery was being recharged by the system so that when we decided to camp for the night, we had power ready to roll. The standard Basecamp comes with two 100-watt, high-performance flexible solar panels on top of the trailer, and Airstream and REI outfitted this edition of the Basecamp 360 watts of flexible rooftop solar panels and a 200Ah lithium battery bank for even more off-grid power, which we enjoyed to its fullest extent.

    In addition to the clever battery recharging capabilities, another sustainable feather in the special edition Basecamp's chrome cap was the optional composting toilet, which cuts down on chemical use and eventually turns your waste into usable compost. (I should clarify here that we already have a composting toilet in the Airstream we live in full-time and are used to the process; first-time users, there will be a learning curve.) Alongside the composting toilet, the kitchen sink features an additional faucet outfitted with an advanced UV-LED Smart Drinking Faucet, which reduces bacteria and microorganisms in the potable water, transforming it into drinking water.

    airstream rei basecamp special edition
    Pre-dawn packing: We towed the Airstream REI Basecamp Edition from Los Angeles up to Mammoth Mountain in the Eastern Sierras, all the way to San Diego without missing a beat.
    Scott Seiver

    After spending a week with this trailer, I fully admit I didn't want to return it to Airstream. It's easy to tow, fun to camp in and will draw a crowd of curious-minded adventurers everywhere you park it. If you've done your time tent camping and are ready for an upgrade, I'd go all the way and go with this special-edition superstar. It'll cost you, sure, but can you really put a price on happiness and joy of the open road?

    Scott Seiver

    2023 REI Co-Op Special Edition Basecamp

    airstream.com
    $52,900.00

    • Says it sleeps 2, but comfortably fits 3
    • Plenty of storage and well-organized layout

    • Special edition is much pricier for the original, without many serious upgrades