The Airs

Airstream Living Part 1: The Nissan Titan

Richard Charpentier Airstream Blogs 2 Comments

This morning I found a request in the comments of a recent post regarding trailer living.  J.M. was looking for a FAQ or something of the sort regarding living in the Airstream.

I did one of those years ago on the old site.  You know, the one that got hacked?  Yeah.  It’s about time I did put something like that together again.  So I thought I’d start with my tow vehicle this morning.  I’ll follow up later with the Airstream, and then the gear that had traveled with me so long (and still lives with me to this day).

My Nissan Titan

In November of 2004 I purchased an 04′ Nissan Titan.  My initial tow vehicle was a bit of a nightmare, and after 11 months of ownership, breakdowns, etc., I found the Titan.  It’s been an amazing tow vehicle.

There’s a lot of debate over at regarding tow vehicles.  Some advocate the biggest disel you can get.  Others select something a little “tamer”.  In my case I knew that my Airstream came in at about 6,500 lbs loaded.  That’s with my gear in it.  The Titan can do 9,000 lbs, so I felt pretty secure in the tow capacity. is a great resource by the way.  Lot’s of members with lots of information.  If you’re an Airstream owner the site is nothing but a great resource full of people who are already Airstreaming!

Do I think the Titan was a good choice for tow vehicle after using it for years while towing?  More than 30,000 miles of towing.  Driving over Teton Pass with the trailer in tow (10% grade for miles).  Ability to pass easily in heavy traffic conditions.  4 Wheel drive, so I can go off roading when not hitched up to the trailer.  A definite bonus.

Whatever tow vehicle you get, make sure the tow capacity goes beyond what you’re towing.  Getting something that’s “right up to the wire” isn’t advisable.  Remember, you’ll probably carry lots of extra junk, you’ll probably have extra stuff in the bed of your truck, etc.  Seriously, you’re not sitting around weighing your gear before a trip, right?

What’s in the bed of the truck?

Lots of my gear doesn’t ride in the Airstream.  There’s a lot in the back of the Titan.  Seriously, you want to carry a generator in the Airstream?  It’ll smell like gas pretty quick!  That’s what the truck bed is for.  In my case I have a locked ARE cap to protect the stuff that rides in the Titan.

  • Yamaha 2800 Generator:  For those moments when boondocking and I need some airconditioning or I need to recharge my batteries.  My 2800 runs pretty quiet, can power my AC, powers the microwave, and allows me to stay in unpowered places.
  • 5 Gallon Gas Can:  Goes with the generator, and it’s nice to have a little extra gas “just in case.”  Some places I’ve traveled have left me worried I’d run out of gas.  Ever travel West Texas?
  • Canon Mtn Bike:  Totally about recreation.
  • Stanley Tool Kit:  Just about everything I need for tools while on the road.  Ratchet set, screwdriver set, allen wrench set and more.  Been an extremely handy tool kit over the years.
  • 4 Way:  4 way tool for changing tires on both the Titan and the Airstream.  Yes, it’s been used several times in my travels.
  • Several Tarps:  The tarps cover gear in the back, you can use them for road side picnics, you can cover your mountain bike when it’s exposed to the elements.
  • Small Tool Box:  I keep hitch grease, a hammer, duct tape, measuring tape, and a few other odds and ends I’ve accumulated over the years.  It’s a random tool box that’s pretty deep so I can always fit those extras I learn about when on the road.
  • North Face Packs:  My climbing gear, hiking gear, water purifiers, tents, etc live in 2 heavy duty North Face gear bags.  Basically they’re super large duffel bags that fit all of my outdoor stuff and keeps the gear dry.

That’s about everything in the back of the truck.  Pickup trucks are great for trailer travel.  The odds and ends can always land in the bed if need be.  In my case, you can also pop a few rubber maid containers in it and fill them with books if that’s your collecting junk along the way.

What’s in the truck?

Well, first and foremost, I go in the truck.  I drive it.  🙂

There’s a good deal more that rides up front with me when I’m destination hopping.  Some gear is for comfort and entertainment, some is for personal security, and some is just junk.  🙂

  • Garmin 2610 GPS:  I’ve had this GPS forever and I love it.  GPS units are reasonably priced.  For those who say they like to travel by the seat of their pants I say get to 1/4 tank of gas in the middle of nowhere and you’ll realize a GPS is wonderful for finding gas stations.
  • XM Radio:  Totally about my entertainment and information.  I don’t have satellite TV, I barely watch TV, but I do love my XM.
  • 4 Bottles of water:  I have so many Nalgene water bottles.  The Titan has two door bottle holders and 2 slots in the center console for big bottles.  I prefer water to soda and such while traveling.  Plus plain old water is good for you!  🙂
  • Yaesu Ham Radio:  Entertainment, information, security.  I’ve been a HAM radio operator since 1997.  Not every place you travel has cell phone coverage.  Heck, the more interesting places normall don’t have cell phone coverage.  But I’ve always been able to reach a repeater where I travel.
  • IPod:  Audio books and music.  Great entertainment package, and it takes no space.
  • Camera:  You’re traveling, you’re seeing new things, have a camera handy in the truck.  Leaving it in your trailer might cost you an interesting photo!
  • Leatherman Tool:  I’ve got these things everywhere.  In the truck, in the Airstream, at my gallery.  They’re useful and people bought me many over the years for holidays and birthdays.
  • Travel books:  BLM Land guide, US Atlas, recreation books, maps, etc.  At least keep a U.S. Atlas with you.  I’d suggest a few campground guides too.  You’ve got the room unless you collect as many books as I do.
  • Paper work:  Insurance cards, registrations, emergency contact info.  All in the glove box at the ready if something comes up.

That’s about it inside the truck.  When I think of more I’ll add it.  And these posts on the Airstream and the rest will be turned into pages on this site as well.  So, I’ll be adding to this over time when I add new things or remember things I forgot.

I skipped the subject of tow hitches by the way.  I suggest you do your research.  I use an Equalizer hitch and it’s worked well for me.  There are many other brands, many reasons for them, and too many points of view.  Search the Airforums and you’ll see what I mean.

Comments 2

  1. I’m with you about Airforums… so much info to be gleaned. Love that place! That’s my first place to go for all things airstream.

    We pull a 27 International with our Dodge 2500 diesel. We don’t have the generator yet but your truck bed sounded kinda like ours — add fishing gear and a propane tank (DOT approved, of course).

    As of last week we put over 10K miles on our unit since we purchased it in September 2007. How cool is that?

  2. Wow that was FAST!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond and write this… will post more soon…

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