Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Airstream, Burro, Casita or Scamp?

In these challenging times, many of us – whom for years have reserved the right to downsize to an Airstream, if all else failed, or just because we like certain shiny metal fetish objects you can live in – are even having to scale down our downsizing dreams....  "Hmm, 25-foot Airstream plus V8 truck for $100,000, versus 16-foot Scamp and V6 for $25,000?"

Recently, I revisited those stalwart bastions of un-silver, yet still delightfully sausage or cloud-shaped and vaguely aerodynamic, trailerdom – the Burro, Casita and Scamp, made in California, Texas and Minnesota, respectively.  All are spartanly to fully-equipped, lightweight, retro-looking white fiberglass travel trailers. 

This is the only one of the three also available as a kit, though, according to Burro's pricing page, you would save relatively little by installing everything yourself – about 10%.  Either way, and with either their 14-footer or 17-footer, the price is under $10,000.  They will also ship the trailer to you for between $495 and $995 (the latter being a truly modest fee for up to 3,000 miles).  These prices are for, as best I can tell from Burro's website, pretty much stripped trailers.  You have to pay more for a fridge, toilet, shower, etc; even for basics like insulation, a heater and front and rear windows.  

The upside is, if you're a designer, or otherwise "able" and motivated, you can have an almost clean slate to work with – though still a viable, brand new trailer – for as little as $8,495 (plus delivery).

You get a lot more with the base model Casita, but nowhere on their website do they give prices.  They are forthcoming with ceiling heights, which on their 13 and 16-footers is a paltry 5'-10", the lowest stated interior height of the three manufacturers (Scamp's is 6'-3" and Burro claims "an extra 3" in height" – though "extra" to what, they do not say).  Casita's 17-footer's ceiling height is slightly better, at 6'-1-1/2".  And Casita does offer a king size bed.  Go figure.

They also seem to have the most modern features and up-to-date design of the three, though I'd take Scamp's retro plaid over Casita's swirly floral upholstery, any day.

Scamp has the friendliest, most informative website, though you do have to fill out a form to get pricing, and you have to give them your phone number, and they will call you (even if you ask them not to in the message section of the form).  However, if you're fortunate enough to have your wife answer the phone when they call, she can just ask them nicely to send you the catalog and price list, which they will then do, in a neatly-scripted hand-addressed envelope and without any further pressure.  They are Minnesotans, after all.  

Scamp offers the largest trailer of all three manufacturers – a 19-foot 5th wheel (pictured above), a type of trailer, which – if you've done your research – you'll know is easier to tow than a standard travel trailer.  Sadly, the 5th wheel isn't as cute as Scamp's other models.  

All Scamps feature quaint retro touches, like torqued steel upper cabinet supports and the aforementioned plaid upholstery.  Scamp also offers "deluxe" wood interiors and their trailers sport the coolest logo of the bunch.  Check out the Scamp video (hang in there through the huntin' 'n' fishin' intro).

So, if you like that aerodynamic "Airstream" shape, but are OK with trading a certain cachet and aluminum styling for a smaller, lighter fiberglass trailer – plus you're OK with saving a few tens of thousands of dollars – then a Burro, Casita or Scamp could work for you.  They're all pretty cool in a humble way, particularly the Burro and Scamp, in my trailer junkie opinion.

Pic from Scamp.


  1. James:
    Thank you for taking the time to share your observations. After giving up the Airstream fantasy, my husband and I are in the same cloud of confusion about Scamp vs Casita. I'm curious...did you ever make up your mind and plonk down the bucks for a trailer of your almost-dreams.
    Lisa Rose, Santa Cruz California

  2. No, not yet. I may have my head in the proverbial clouds, but I'm still holding out for that Airstream Pan American with "artist's studio."