Home »Motorhome & Motorhome» Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB Review: Glamping for Gobblers in Colorado
Turkey hunting in Colorado means unpredictable weather and off-grid camping. So it seemed like a great opportunity to put one of Airstream’s most popular travel trailers, the Flying Cloud 23FB, to the test.
Turkey hunting in Colorado is a special activity. First, there’s the birds, a subspecies called the Merriam turkey, which doesn’t actually behave like a turkey that most American hunters are familiar with. Next up are the mountains, which are very different from most turkey habitats on the continent.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the weather. A Turkey start in Colorado can mean warm, mild days or snowstorms. Flip a coin and that’s your chances for both.
After weathering some really bad spring storms on past turkey hunts, I decided in 2021 to respond to Airstream’s offer to review one of their followers. A flood of emails and a few months later, I dragged a flying cloud in 2021 behind my F-150 towards our hunting target.
In summary: The 2021 Flying Cloud 23FB Admirably done boondocking for 3 days. It kept us warm at night, cool under the hot midday sun and provided a cozy cocoon for nightly socializing and preparing for the hunt before dawn. But the turkeys seemed unimpressed.
Flying cloud 23FB: On the way
I’ll start this review at an important beginning – towing the trailer. Towing is vital as the connection between your tow truck and trailer is hugely important to both your happiness and your safety.
When testing the Flying Cloud 23FB, I stretched mine 2010 Ford F-150 FX4 to its limits in terms of towing capacity and payload. (Note: the weight the trailer puts on your RV – its tongue weight – plus the weight of your occupants and equipment shouldn’t exceed your maximum payload.)
Loaded with a buddy and some of our gear for the weekend (another friend drove down separately), my truck was attached to just below its maximum payload of 1,404 pounds. That was partly because I have both a topper and one DECKED drawer system in my loading areaand added about 350 pounds to the truck.
Given the trailer’s 600 pound tongue weight, some outdoor gear, and 350 pound guys, we didn’t have much wiggle room. In terms of towing capacity, the 6,000 pound trailer was about 1,500 pounds less than my truck’s maximum towing capacity.
In short, my 2010 F-150 with a 5.4-liter Triton V8 towed the 23-foot Flying Cloud well. It was able to accelerate (slowly) even up steep hills, and it comfortably rolled along the freeway at 65 mph.
But was my truck ideal? Definitely not. If I own this trailer and plan on long tow trucks, I would go for a larger tow truck with more capacity. The older F-150 did a fine job in our 3 hour tow, however.
A motorhome for hunting
I started hunting more than 25 years ago. During that time, I’ve spent hundreds of nights in backcountry camps or a tent next to my vehicle. But just last year I spent one night in a RV while hunting and it was an experience that opened my eyes.
For those who don’t hunt, let me paint a picture of the hunt from a tent. Your alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. It’s pitch black and you turn on a headlight. As much as you don’t want to get out of your cozy sleeping bag, the clock is ticking before you shoot a light, usually half an hour before sunrise. You have to move.
So you stumble outside and put on your frozen boots. You quickly light a camping stove to get the coffee going, then organize your gear for the day by the light of your spotlight. Within 15 to 30 minutes you pull everything together, drink your coffee and hike to a starting point or a forest road to get to your hunting area.
It’s a rushed scene that gets far more civilized in an RV. There you can light a heater, turn on lights, get up in your underwear without freezing, and you get the picture. It’s much faster and more comfortable, and the same is true if you return to camp after sunset.
Because when hunting, most of your housework hours are in the dark. After years of doing all of this outside in the wind, rain, cold, and darkness, it feels downright luxurious to have a warm, enclosed space to do these tasks. And on this turkey hunt in Colorado, the Airstream took that luxury to a new level for our crew of three.
Flying cloud 23FB as a hunting base camp
Airstream is known for high quality motorhome trailers. And after using the Flying Cloud for a long weekend, I have to say that the call is valid. Compared to cheaper RVs I’ve stayed in, the Airstream just feels solid.
Unlike many trailers and popups that have the cheapest components like door latches and light switches, everything about the Airstream felt made to last. The door closed with a heavy bang and closed tightly with a key. The light switches flipped up and down loudly. The digital thermostat responded immediately to the input and lit a stove within seconds. And the stereo turned on!
The Airstream, however, had its flaws. First, the windows in the Flying Cloud were remarkably difficult to open. At one point they were so difficult to open that we just gave up and operated the extremely effective electric vents. These kept the camper nice and cool inside, even on a 75-degree day when it was parked in the bright, hot sun.
As a result, we drained the battery a little faster than expected. Although the system was sufficient to withstand 3 days of boondocking, we were surprised when the battery drained on the morning of the third day. In the future, I would be more careful with battery management and expect that we could extend it for a few more days with a little less liberal use of lights, stereo systems, heating and fans.
3 men in a small mobile home
My final review is more of a personal preference, but well worth considering if you are in the market. While the Flying Cloud 23FB is a pretty big trailer when it comes to being towed, the interior space isn’t huge. Compared to my buddy’s cheap pop-up, the Flying Cloud was a little tight with three grown men as they hung out for dinner and beer at the end of the day.
We had a little trouble fitting around the table but we managed to do it by sliding the table around to increase the space as much as possible. While cooking, two of us stayed seated while one cooked, leaving a lot of space in the galley. In the end it was perfectly fine. We could have trapped a fourth person with a little effort.
But we all agreed that we’d rather have more space in the motorhome than the supplied bathroom and indoor shower of the Flying Cloud.
Of course, this is probably not what most Flying Cloud customers want. But for a few people who were used to camping in tents, both a bathroom and indoor shower felt like a waste of space for a long weekend camping. Neither of us used the bathroom as there was a pit toilet at the campsite and showering just wasn’t necessary yet.
But I assume that a lot of consumers want a bathroom on board, and the space in the Flying Cloud has been very nicely decorated.
Flying cloud: for whom?
It was educational a couple of days in the Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB. While I don’t think I’m the ideal customer for this model (I would probably be served better one of those off-road trailers), it’s a very nice motorhome for the right people.
Who is this? I see it as ideal for two people who want to spend a lot of time on the road. Regardless of whether it is a couple of romantic partners or close friends, two people could spend months in a trailer like the Flying Cloud and feel completely at ease.
It would also be very good for a family of three, with plenty of room for two in the comfortable queen size bed in the master bedroom. The kitchen table converted into a bed that we found comfortable for an adult would be fine for a child.
And finally, for those who want to be on the go for many months and want a product that will last for decades, this Airstream is probably worth the high price tag of $ 87,000. In return, you get a house that is self-sufficient from the network and can be towed behind an F-150 (although a larger truck would be better).
It keeps you warm or cool and gives you a comfortable space to deal with the needs of your life – no matter how it is outside.