A weekend in the Airstream Nest

The Nest is the first Airstream travel trailer that’s made out of fiberglass and not aircraft aluminum. You already know the standard, iconic Airstream trailer, with the gleaming, rounded silver bullet-looking exterior. Airstream has been selling those for almost 90 years. Problem is, they cost a lot of money –- the full-boat Airstream Classic starts at $149,900. Other models are less, but the company still was missing out on some of the more entry-level market for these things.

Enter Airstream’s own Basecamp model, a smaller, more turret-shaped but still-aluminum trailer for two aimed at younger, more active-lifestyle adventurers, which starts at just $36,900. The Nest is about the same size as the Basecamp and has its own style but costs…$47,900. That’s a bit of a surprise. It would have seemed like the fiberglass Nest, no matter how stylish, would be cheaper than an aluminum Basecamp.  What do I know about the trailer business?

Airstream acquired a little company in Oregon that was making the highly efficient Nest a few years ago. The Nest -– officially called the Nest by Airstream — has all the energy-efficient comforts of traditional Airstreams packaged in that stylish fiberglass exterior.

I picked mine up from Airstream’s Los Angeles sales office, where the helpful and knowledgeable staff set up my Land Rover Discovery HSE with a tow hitch and then set up the Nest with spring bars, plugged in the seven-pin connector and hooked up a radio-frequency trailer brake controller that plugged into the 12V accessory socket. I hope your Airstream dealer is as good — it should be.

Then I rolled out of the dealership lot like a Good Sam with his first retirement pay stub.

All trailers make sometimes-troubling sounds when you go over a bump or cross a rain gutter. My guess is it’s the spring bars scraping across their mounts. This one, like all trailers, creaked and popped like an ex-football player’s arthritic knee as it went through the rain gutter outside the dealership. But once underway in a straight line the whole rig quieted down.

The 2018 Land Rover Discovery tow vehicle felt up to the task, with a rated towing capacity of 8201 pounds, which is more than enough to haul the 3400-pound trailer. This particular Discovery has a 3.0-liter supercharged gasoline six making 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic with more drive modes than your crazy ex-spouse. Its awd goes through a two-speed transfer case likely able to take on anything, though I wasn’t planning to go off road. Loaded up with luxury, from 22-inch wheels to that ridiculous heated windshield that makes it look like you’re driving through a chain link fence, the British beast stickered at a whoppingly good $80,210. Aye Chihuahua.

I stopped at home, threw in enough T-shirts, breakfast cereal and granola bars to stay alive for the weekend, and headed out. Immediately I pointed the Discovery up Highway 2, Angeles Crest Highway. Not only is this road the best test track in the world for sports cars and sport bikes alike, it also leads to several campgrounds that are so far up in the wilderness you’d never know you were less than an hour from the L.A. freeway system.

On Angeles Crest the Discovery/Nest combination was easily able to exceed the 45-mph speed limit going up the highway’s many twists and turns, and soon I was in line behind the LA commuters on their way over the mountain and home to Palmdale. When the commuters all peeled off to the left at Angeles Forest Highway, I kept straight and soon enough was entering Chillao Flats campground with a few other hearty outdoor Angelenos.

At site 18, after going back and forth about 400 times, I finally had the Nest parked and I got out to crank down the four corner jack stands that keep the trailer stable in the winds and wobbles of trailer park life. Now here I sit typing away under efficient LED lighting from the Nest’s two 12-volt deep-cycle lead-acid trailer batteries. Both batteries had been charging the whole drive up. With a full tank of propane I was ready for any icy temperatures Chillao’s 5200-foot elevation was going to throw at me.

Outside the cold wind howled. Inside, the Nest was a little cocoon of warmth and wind-resistance. I could hear the wind blowing through the trees and whipping around the Nest’s exterior, but inside I was warm and windless. It's a lovely place in which to dwell. The poor slobs in the other sites camping in tents were all laying on their backs, staring up at the seams in their flapping tent fabric and wondering how long their flashlight batteries would last. Ha! Eat wind, suckahs!

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