One of the most recognizable travel trailers — or American icons, for that matter — is an Airstream camper. With its bullet shape and shiny aluminum skin, it’s hard to mistake an Airstream for anything else on the road. We had the opportunity to test one model in the newest line of trailers to come from this beloved American company — the all-new Bambi. Due to travel restrictions borne of the COVID-19 pandemic, we didn’t get to fully enjoy the new unit at a campground — this time around we experienced Bambi from the wilds of the driveway.
What Is Bambi?
Bambi has been the nickname for all single-axle Airstream trailers since the 1960s, but this year the company created an official Bambi line of travel trailers. The Bambi is designed as a family of lightweight, space-maximizing trailers that are easy to tow, making them a great place for consumers to join the Airstream family. With a starting price of $49,600, the Bambi lineup is available in four floor plans that range from a 16-foot model to the largest 22-foot offering. Every version comes with a dedicated sleeping space, convertible dinette space, kitchen and all-important bathroom.
The Bambi isn’t the lowest-priced entry in the Airstream line — that would be the teardrop-inspired Basecamp or fiberglass Nest; however, Bambi is the entry model into the classically-styled Airstream.
Our Test Bambi
Airstream provided us with the Bambi 20FB, which is 20 feet long (the FB stands for front bedroom). With a long list of standard equipment, the Bambi 20FB has a base retail price of $55,600. Yes, this is a high price for a relatively small camper; however, with a long list of standard features in addition to its well-built structure and durable exterior skin, it’s easy to see the Airstream as a good value.
With a limited amount of space, the layout of a travel trailer is extremely important. Airstream has done a stellar job of carving out Bambi’s separate kitchen, bathroom, living area and bedroom. In addition, there’s plenty of storage room — for items that require easy access as well long-term storage. Although the Bambi is designed for up to four campers, we think it works better for two. The Bambi has significant space inside, although four people over numerous days would make it feel a bit cramped.
A major reason why an Airstream gets priced higher than many of its similar-sized competitors is the build quality. In addition to the durable aluminum body, all materials inside have a high-quality feel. Doors and counters are all solid material, carrying the expectation that they will hold up for a long time.
The rear area of the Bambi is a full kitchen layout. A double sink makes cooking and cleaning much easier, and we appreciate the window over the sink for additional natural light. Storage below the sink is easy to access while remaining out of the way.
The Bambi comes with a two-burner propane stove as well as a microwave oven. When not in use, the stove can be covered for additional counter space; that said, even when cooking there is a surprising amount of workspace around the sink and stove. Cooks will appreciate Bambi’s built-in spice rack.
The Nova Kool refrigerator is fully electric and can operate via the batteries or external power. This means it can be stocked up before heading out and everything will still be cold upon arrival at the campground. The fridge offers 4.3 cubic feet of space — a decent amount, and there is a small freezer section as well.
We were impressed by all the cabinet space in the kitchen, including a small pullout pantry as well as storage cabinets above.
Perhaps most impressive in the Bambi is its full bathroom. The unit has a separate step-in shower with a sliding door, as well as a toilet, sink and mirrored medicine cabinet. The window lets in plenty of light, and of course it can be used for ventilation when necessary.
Dinette / Lounge
The dinette is quite comfortable, with easy seating for four around the table. This works great for meals as well as for games or as a workspace. There’s plenty of light from two large windows, and power is available from a standard 110-volt wall outlet as well as USB ports to keep devices charged and running.
The four-top dinette easily folds down into a bed, which is quite comfortable thanks to thick cushions. Airstream says this sleeping space is for two, but we think it might be a bit tight for two adults.
The dedicated sleeping space at the front of the Airstream Bambi 20FB makes a great bedroom. With multiple lights as well as wraparound windows, the space is great for both relaxing or spending the night. The memory-foam mattress is extremely comfortable — it definitely beats an air mattress on the ground! Additional power and USB ports keep devices running or charging, and a curtain separating the bedroom from the rest of the trailer makes for a nice, private space.
Even though we think of camping as a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors, sometimes the weather or nosy neighbors crowding your fire pit prompt you to relax and watch some TV. The Bambi comes with an LED HDTV with built-in DVD player. The Bambi has an HD antenna that lets the TV find local channels or — depending on campsite amenities — there is an external cable input. The TV is mounted on a swing arm so it can be viewed from different areas of the trailer.
The Bambi has a built in JVC audio system that plays through speakers integrated in the ceiling. The system can play CDs, AM/FM, or can be paired to a Bluetooth device for streaming audio.
Heating and Cooling
The Bambi also has standard air-conditioning and a furnace. Given the typical cold and rainy weather of the Pacific Northwest in March, we were only concerned with the heat. It took only five minutes for the furnace to make the Bambi interior nice and toasty.
Having an awning makes camping much more livable in hot sun or rain. The Bambi has a standard awning that can be easily lowered or raised by one person, neatly folding up and securing for travel.
Our 20-foot Bambi required a tow vehicle with a 5,000-pound towing capacity — for this task we chose the 2020 Ram 1500. Our test truck was equipped with the all-new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that produces a plentiful 480 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm. With a maximum towing capacity of more than 12,500 pounds, this truck has more than enough capability to pull the Bambi.
The Ram is properly set up for towing with the optional Trailer-Tow and Brake Group, which includes an integrated trailer brake controller, trailer-tow mirrors and a class IV hitch receiver. Changing the trailer brake bias is easily performed via a switch on the dashboard. The blind-spot monitor automatically detects the length of a trailer and extends the range to provide a warning if vehicles are in the blind spots alongside the trailer.
Rearview cameras are a great innovation — especially when it comes to towing — since it is no longer a two-person job. The Ram 1500’s rearview camera view features an overlay that allows the driver to perfectly line the vehicle up with the trailer hitch. As the truck gets closer to the trailer, the camera can be changed to look directly down at the hitch, making it easy to get the ball under the hitch perfectly every time.
As great as the rearview cameras are on the Ram, it’s hard to see directly behind the trailer when reversing. Airstream has the solution — the Bambi has a standard Bluetooth camera mounted on the rear of the trailer. The receiver display gets attached to the windshield in the tow vehicle and pairs with the camera, providing a full view behind the trailer.
On the Road
Although a Ram 1500 diesel is overqualified for towing a 20-foot Bambi, ours performed well on the road. Acceleration was smooth and strong while the ride felt quite stable, even at high speeds or on bumpy roads. We averaged about 15 mpg while towing the Airstream — not bad.
There are many small camper trailers on the market, but there’s nothing like an Airstream. From its unique exterior styling to the solid interior construction, the Airstream really is in a class of its own. And even though the Bambi sits at the lower end of the company’s lineup, it offers all the features and comforts to make any camping trip relaxing, enjoyable and memorable.