Camper enthusiasts are no stranger to aluminum trailers; the iconic “silver bullet” Airstream trailers can be found everywhere from campsites in Yosemite to hipster vacation rentals. But another aluminum trailer—the Bowlus Road Chief—is also making a name for itself in the American market, this time with a new model. Love campers and trailers? Come join our new community group.
We’ve covered the Bowlus Road Chief previously, and it’s important to note the historic similarities between Airstreams and the Bowlus Road Chief. First designed and built by engineer Hawley Bowlus in 1934, the Bowlus Road Chief was inspired by the curving forms and long horizontal lines of the Art Moderne period. With a lightweight design, low center of gravity, and efficient interior spaces, Bowlus employee Wally Byam eventually took these same features and built the first Airstream Clipper in 1936.
But whereas only about 80 Bowlus Road Chiefs were produced in the mid-1930s, Airstream went on to become a household name. In 2014, Geneva Long and her father, John, decided to relaunch the Bowlus brand, combining a love for their own vintage Bowlus trailer with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Now, the Bowlus Road Chief is available in a new, longer model. The new Road Chief 26 has room for four campers to sleep thanks to an extra two feet of length. An awning can be added to either side of the trailer and the company has also added a larger en-suite bath with continuous hot water. The bathroom also includes separate toilet and shower rooms—not a tiny wet bath—with teak flooring, seating, and a shower head that can be used outside if you pull it through the window (we’ve asked for more photos of the bathroom, stay tuned).
Like the previous models, the bedroom is set in the tapered rear of the trailer, sleeping two people on two twin beds that convert into a single king. Small, porthole-style windows in the bedroom have a boating feel—as do the interior walls—but larger windows in the living room allow plenty of light when entertaining. The dining area has two places for seating, and both areas convert into beds in order to sleep a family.
A spacious kitchen with stainless steel countertops and plenty of storage offers more room than some small apartments. On one side is a gas dual-burner cooktop and large fridge, while on the other side you have a sink and microwave. The set-up is powered by 4kWh of lithium power, meaning you can go a week off-grid and run your AC (up to 4 hours) and microwave with all electrical outlets live. There’s also a cellular booster, cell-enabled router, and private wifi network for those who work on the road.
Priced at $185,000, the On The Road 26 Edition sits right in between (cost-wise) the other two Bowlus Road Chief models. It has a base weight of 3,300 pounds and a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,000 pounds, so it can be towed by SUVs and mid-size trucks. While the Bowlus Road Chief is a pricey investment compared to teardrop trailers or even many Class B adventure vans, it’s on par with many of Airstream’s more expensive models. And it’s also cool to see a vintage brand rejuvenated into a thriving new camper company.