Why Are Airstreams So Expensive? We Explain Why

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If you are new to the RV and travel trailer world you have likely looked around to find the best brands in the business. While doing your research you probably discovered that Airstream was one of the most popular brands among RV owners. However, you also would have noticed that these trailers are generally more expensive than their competitors. So, why are Airstream RVs so expensive?

The biggest reason for people to pay extra for an Airstream RV is the aluminum body that they are famous for. The outer shell of the vehicle is made from a high quality, aircraft grade aluminum alloy over a steel frame. Additionally, it takes more labor to assemble Airstream RVs than RVs from other brands. As a result, they need to spend more money on labor, and they need to increase the price to compensate. It takes more labor to assemble because they do not use machines to assemble their RVs. Every rivet is put in by hand to ensure that they have a perfect seal and that there is no damage done to the frame.

So, as you can see Airstream RVs are built with more care than your typical RV. That along with the high quality materials they use to build their RVs makes them more expensive than other brands. Although they might be too expensive for some buyers, it is worth it to spend the extra money on Airstream RVs for the high quality construction.

What Is an Airstream?

What is an airstream

Airstream is an American brand of travel trailers and RVs. They are easily distinguishable by their shape and polished aluminum framework. When the average person thinks of an RV or travel trailer, they will be thinking of an Airstream RV. They are the most popular brand in America and for good reason. These RVs are high quality, made with excellent material, and assembled with care. If you are looking to purchase your first RV, you should definitely consider purchasing an Airstream.

Where Are Airstreams Made?

Airstream travel trailers and RVs are manufactured in Jackson Center, Ohio. The company spent its first 30 years out west in the Los Angeles area producing RVs. However, they eventually outgrew their production setup there. To expand the company moved their manufacturing center out east in 1952, eventually settling in Ohio.

Who Owns Airstream?

Airstream is owned by Thor Industries. Thor Industries is an American manufacturer of recreational vehicles. They also sell towable and motorized RVs through its many subsidiary brands, of which Airstream is one. The two most significant people in the company are the Chairman Peter Busch Orthwein, and the CEO Robert Martin.

How Are Airstreams Built?

Typically, an RV takes about 50 hours to construct. However, Airstream RVs take around 350 hours to create on average. That is because Airstream RVs are built to last and the manufacturer takes great care in making each RV.

Airstream Construction workers

The Frame

The construction starts with the frame because Airstream RVs are the only ones with their holding tanks built into the frame. As a result, they need to specifically design their tanks so that they fit their place in the frame. Although this takes more time, the end result is that the RV has a lower center of gravity, better aerodynamics, better weight distribution, and a lower overall weight overall. With the holding tanks built into the frame, more than half of the weight of the RV is below the floor. This makes it so the RV has better balance, stability, and you will have a smoother towing experience.

Aluminum and Rivets

Once the frame is completed it is time for the manufacturer to work on the aluminum shell. This is the part of the trailer that made them famous. On average, 1200 square feet of aluminum is used in every trailer. The aluminum they used is lightweight, but still incredibly strong. They cut, bend, and flex the aluminum into the shape they need. Then they rivet those pieces together to form the outer and inner shells of the RV.

Each RV is built with around 3000 rivets to ensure that everything is held together. They are attached by hand by two riveters. One works on the inside and one on the outside. They work in unison with each other through the hole process even though they cannot hear each other.

Attaching the Structure to the Chassis

Airstream is the only manufacturer that takes the time build the entire structure of the trailer, lift it up, and place it on top of the chassis. They do this because it is the only way to ensure that they have built the strongest and most stable structure possible. There is no other brand of RVs that can be lifted by the roof without falling apart. That should be a good indicator of the structural integrity of these vehicles.


Airstream knows that when you go out in your RV that you will sometimes be spending time in weather that is not the best. As a result, they know that information is incredibly important when it comes to RVs. It is important in the winter to make sure that you can stay warm. However, it is almost important for keeping your trailer nice and cool during the summer.

Once the trailer is placed on the chassis, Airstream starts to work on the plumbing, wiring, and insulation of the vehicle. For their insulation they mostly use sand and recycled glass. Their insulation is called EcoBatt, and it is certified to the tightest indoor air quality certification in the entire industry. In testing the insulation has also passed all industry performance standards. Once everything is wired and insulated, the inner aluminum layer is riveted to the frame. This is what makes up the interior walls of the RV.

The Hurricane Test

Weather is something you will need to deal with when you are out on the road with your RV. So, Airstream puts their RVs through a hurricane test to ensure that their RVs can withstand even the craziest weather.

The test involves spraying the trailer with more than 10,000 gallons of water at a hurricane force for 30 minutes. While the test is being done, there is a specialist inside the trailer looking for leaks. Most of the time the trailers pass the test with flying colors. However, in the rare cases where a leak is found, the leak is fixed, and the trailer is tested again until it passes. No trailer is sold or put on the market without passing the hurricane test.

airstream leak test

Make Sure Everything Fits Through the Door

When you purchase an RV there will be several pieces of furniture that will come with your RV. With that in mind, Airstream wants to make sure that you can take furniture out and bring it in as you choose. So, they make sure that everything that was installed inside at the start can fit through the doorway.

Quality Control Checks

Finally, Airstream does quality control checks before putting the RV on the market. They check the RV thoroughly inside and out to make sure that there are no damages, loose screws, or anything wrong. They have a list of things they need to check before an RV can be sold.

How Long Do Airstreams Last?

The lifespan of an RV or travel trailer is very dependant on the things you do to maintain your trailer. However, that does not mean that certain trailers do not have longer life expectancies than others. One of the reasons that Airstream can afford to sell their trailers at a much higher price than other brands is their longevity and durability.

Airstream RVs can last for 40 years or longer if you take proper care of them. The aluminum that is used to build them makes them incredibly durable and resistant to damage from the weather. So, as long as you perform maintenance, you can have a trailer that can last multiple generations.

Do Airstream Trailers Have Slide Outs and Do They Leak?

2006 airstream classic limited
2006 Airstream Classic Limited 34W with Slide Out Dinette

Most Airstream trailers do not have slide outs. However, there are a few older models of airstream trailers available to consumers with slide outs. For example the 2006 Classic Limited, and the 2004 Safari have slideouts but none of the current Airstream trailers have slideouts.

As we mentioned above, all Airstream RVs are put through a hurricane test to ensure that there are no leaks, and the same is true for the trailers with slide outs. So, Airstream will not release a trailer with leaks. However, that does not mean that a leak cannot develop over time.

Maintenance is more important with slide outs because it is easier for a leak to develop in these areas. However, if you do your maintenance you will not need to worry about leaks.

How Much Is an Airstream?

Airstream has released many types of trailers and RVs over the years. Not all of them are the same price. So, we compiled a list of a few of the most popular trailers from recent years and we have the prices listed below.

Airstream Base Camp

The Airstream Base Camp starts with an MSRP of $36,900. However, there are many packages you can add on to the trailer that will improve your experience, but they are not free. Many of these packages will cost you thousands of extra dollars.

why are airstreams so expensive base camp

Airstream Nest

The Airstream Nest is listed at a base price of $47,234. This is one of the more expensive options that you will find. What makes it so expensive are the beautiful aesthetics inside the trailer. It also provides the consumer with easy towing and comfortable accommodations. It will not be for everyone, but if you have the money to throw around it is a good choice.

why are airstreams so expensive nest

Airstream Bambi

The Airstream Bambi has a base price of $48,900. It is called Bambi because it is the smallest of the Airstream trailers. These small trailers have had this name since the early 1960s. There is enough space in the trailer for two and it is a good option for a starter trailer.

why are airstreams so expensive bambi

Airstream Caravel

The Airstream Caravel is one of the most expensive options at $60,900. The Caravel is another one of the small starter options offered by Airstream. However, this option is more expensive because it has a few features that make it more luxurious.

why are airstreams so expensive caravel

Airstream Flying Cloud

New versions of the Flying Cloud sells for $88,000. These trailers are among the most popular and family friendly options sold by Airstream. There are 16 floor plans for you to choose from, as well as a plethora of luxury features available.

Why are airstreams so expensive flying cloud

Airstream International Serenity

The International Serenity is sold for $83,861. It is a trailer that is built for a lifetime. It might be expensive when you purchase it, but if you do the maintenance, you will never need to buy another trailer again. You will even be able to pass it down to your kids.

why are airstreams so expensive international serenity

Airstream Globetrotter

The Globetrotter is listed at $119,400. It has a sleek design with many luxurious features that will make you feel like you are at home instead of on the road. It is expensive, but it is very durable and has great longevity.

why are airstreams so expensive globetrotter

Airstream Classic

The Airstream Classic is available to be purchased for $156,400. This is by far the most expensive option, but it is also the highest quality. These trailers are 30 to 33 feet in length and sleep up to 5 people. There are also four floor plans for you to choose from.

Why are airstreams so expensive classic

Get on the Road with Your New Airstream RV

After reading, we hope you have all the information you need regarding Airstream RVs and travel trailers. We know that there is a lot of information to absorb, but it should all be helpful to you. It is better to have more knowledge than you need than less.

Airstream RVs are some of the most expensive options on the market. However, they are also some of the highest quality and longest lasting trailers. So, if you take care of your trailer, you can save money in the long term by not needing to purchase another trailer.

If you are looking for a new trailer or your first trailer, you should consider going with Airstream. There trailers are high quality, durable, and long lasting. They also have that iconic trailer look that everyone thinks of when they picture an RV.

Are you a new or experienced RV owner? Are you interested in purchasing an Airstream RV? If you choose to purchase from Airstream, which trailer do you think you will purchase? Let us know in the comments!

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