The pandemic has had us all a bit stir crazy for the last year. So, it’s no surprise that 2020 fast became the “Year of the New Great American Road Trip,” and 2021 shows no sign of slowing down. Camping, road-tripping, and even RV’ing are more popular now than at almost any other time in history. If you’ve been considering the mobile nomad lifestyle and even a swanky Airstream isn’t disco enough for you, Bowlus has something to show you.
At first blush, the Bowlus Terra Firma is a showstopper. The bold design combines the aerodynamics of a vintage fighter plane, the taut riveted aluminum construction of an Airstream, and the overall aesthetic of, well, it’s hard to say. There are clear elements from the worlds of luxury boatbuilding and Jet Age-inspired spacecraft. It’s somehow all of these things and none of them — clearly modern, but with firm roots in early- to mid-20th-century transportation design. It’s enough to turn the heads of even the most hardened Airstream owners.
None of this is surprising when you consider the company’s founder. Hawley Bowlus was a pioneer in the early U.S. aviation industry, with a hand in such projects as Charles Lindbergh’s famed Spirit of St. Louis. Bowlus’ namesake company produced less than 100 campers in its brief run, but they were bold, innovative, and unmistakable for anything else on the road. His designs have been copied and imitated ever since, practically defining the now-iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer segment. Almost nine decades after the first Bowlus rolled off the assembly line, the legend has been reborn as the world’s most luxurious travel trailer brand. The just-released Terra Firma is the company’s flagship model.
Under that vintage skin is a wealth of next-generation mobile technology. The Terra Firma is purposefully designed to live off-grid almost indefinitely. The limited-edition model boasts industry-leading lithium-ion phosphate batteries capable of running every appliance for up to two weeks. An optional 120W solar panel keeps the power bank topped off, while a touchscreen power management system maximizes the camper’s longevity in the wild. An integrated cell signal booster and a mobile router allow you to work from almost anywhere. A two-stage filtration system provides near-endless clean drinking water, and a built-in HEPA filter scrubs the cabin air while on the go. Plus, a factory GPS tracking system ensures strangers can’t take your Terra Firma out for a joy ride.
Like the shiny aluminum shell, the interior is deceptively simple. It’s crisp, clean, and bright, with elements of classic airline and boat design throughout. Panoramic windows and dual skylights bathe the interior in natural light. A great deal of thoughtful design ensures that no detail is too small or overlooked. Standard features in the Terra Firma include a gourmet galley, a radiant heating system, real wood throughout, and heated floors. Pets are well accommodated, too, with remote temperature monitoring, a slide-out food and water bowl drawer, and even a dedicated pet bed.
What further sets Bowlus’ lineup apart from everything else on the road is the price. Airstream catches flak for its sky-high price tags, but Bowlus occupies an altogether different stratum. Even the brand’s entry-level Endless Highways Edition travel trailer starts around $200,000. By contrast, the base price for the ultra-luxurious Terra Firma is $265,000. Sure, you might need to sell your condo to buy one, but can you really put a price tag on driving one of the world’s most beautiful RVs?
If the Bowlus Terra Firma is a little too rich for your blood, check out our picks for the best lightweight travel trailers (that also happen to be a lot more affordable).
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