New ideas in Louisville

As promised, I’m reporting from the annual industry trade show in Louisville.

rvia-eddie-bauer-airstream-closed.jpgWe had a chance to check out the new Eddie Bauer edition Airstream.  The official press conference is tomorrow, where we will learn more details, but here’s what I can tell you now.  It’s basically a 25FB (Front Bedroom) floorplan with a “sport hatch” at the rear.  The dinette seats and side couch fold up to go flat against the walls, and the table is easily removed, to allow full access through the hatch. You can store a kayak inside, although it will get in the way of foot traffic.

The hatch is similar to the one used on the Pan American trailer, but smaller.  A sliding screen comes down from the top to “let the outside in”when the hatch is open. A patch no-skid material covers the standard bumper cover, since it acts as an entry step.

The trailer features Eddie Bauer branding, fabrics, and other details.  Notably, it rides on a set of Michelin LTX Rib 16″ tires.   There are lot of other small touches as well — all of which will be documented in an article in the Spring 2011 issue of Airstream Life.

Airstream is also showing a 16-foot Sport series trailer, which is basically identical to the other 16-footers in floorplan; a 30-foot Flying Cloud; the new Chevy-based “Avenue” Class B motorhome in three floorplans; and several new decors in various existing models.  All of them look good.  I’ll get a few more pics tomorrow.

We had a little break in the middle of the day, so we decided to skip the usual fare and head out to something local.  We ended up at Mark’s Feed Store in their “old town” location.  Despite the name that sounds like it oriented to feeding livestock, it’s actually a decent barbecue place.  An IBC Root Beer in a frosty mug was the highlight for me, though.  I’m often pleased by simple things.

The trade show really ramps up tomorrow, so I can’t say much about the product on display yet, except that I’m noticing a definite trend toward innovation. The manufacturers who are surviving the recession are also the ones thinking ahead and investing in new ideas.  I’ll be prowling more carefully tomorrow to see what great new ideas have popped up, both in Airstream and other brands.

The show is still smaller than it was a few years ago, but I see plenty of strength and lots of optimism, which bodes well for the RV industry overall. And that [insert big sigh of relief] bodes well for those of us who depend on the health of the RV industry for our little businesses.


  1. John Irwin says

    Looks like that “Sport Hatch” is admirably placed to open someone’s scalp. Is that as high as the door opens?

  2. Tom says

    Rich, since you mentioned innovation, I’d love to know what else is going on in the small lightweight trailer market. (As much as I love my Argosy, if Earthbound came out with a trailer smaller than 26-feet…)


  3. Gene S. says

    I hope you will do a piece on the new Evergreen Element. The styling and structure look incredible. I wonder how it will compare to an Airstream?

  4. says

    John, the sport hatch opens much higher. Brett was off-camera holding it down for illustrative purposes.

    Tom, sorry to say I didn’t get a chance to browse many other brands during this trip. But I saw an Earthbound at Padre Island a couple of weeks ago and it was not bad. Very light weight, too.