Need Help Deciding Which Bag I Need
First off, long time lurker here. I love these forums and the Tom Bihn company as a whole! I am the proud owner of a Co-Pilot, a Brain Bag, a Camera I-O, 2 travel trays, 2 organizer cubes, and several organizer pouches and key straps. So I am well aware of the quality and craftsmanship that comes with the Tom Bihn brand.
What I currently need is what I would call a "weekend trip duffle" bag. Not necessarily for flying, but definitely for road trips, weekends at the lake house, camping, and any other random excursion I need to pack for.
Now I realize the users here may be biased towards TB, but I haven't ruled out a couple of bags from another company. So I'm going to mention those as well. Please don't tell me to ask about those bags elsewhere. If you don't know anything about them, then that's fine. I'm not expecting a full comparison from you guys. But I figure it can't hurt to explain my thoughts. And anything you care to share would be greatly appreciated!
My predicament is simple, but killing me because I don't know what to choose. I have narrowed my choices down to 3 great bags:
First up is Tom's own Aeronaut. I love everything about this bag, except the price. It seems very versatile and more than functional enough for my current needs. This is the roomiest bag of the 3, and has cool features like backpack straps and optional packing cubes. This thing is fully loaded.
That said, I have also been admiring a couple "duffle" style bags from Red Oxx for quite some time (in fact, longer than I have even known of TB).
The first bag from Red Oxx is the Safari-Beanos PR5, which won Outside magazine's Gear of the Year 2004 award. This thing comes with a lifetime warranty, monkey-fist pulls, great metal hardware, a handy top that has 2 rows of zippers, and is pretty darn rugged looking. As much as I love the Aeronaut, something about this bag keeps stopping me from making a final decision.
The second bag from Red Oxx is the Flying Boxcar. This bag's only advantage over the PR5 is the padded bottom. I still don't think I'd choose this over the PR5, but if anyone has experience with them I am all ears.
The Red Oxx bags are $185 + shipping, while the Aeronaut is $250 ($280 w/ Absolute) + shipping. While price is important (I just landed a job out of college), it's not the final say. I need a bag that will meet my needs more than anything.
So please let me know what you think, and what you would choose if you were in this dilemma.
While I do own a few Tom Bihn bags my exposure to Red Oxx is limited to on-line reviews and of course their WEB site.
Anyway, from an appearance standpoint the Red Oxx stuff just seems too “busy” for me. I suspect both would perform well from a quality standpoint, but you’ll have to decide which would meet your specific needs.
One cautionary note don’t let price be the primary factor in your decision. While one may be a little less expensive than the other they are both higher end bags. If finances are an issue simply save another month or two and get the bag you really want.
I own an Aeronaut as well as a Red Oxx Sun Chaser and use both extensively. For me, the sun chaser tends to word better for shorter road trips. The aeronaut seems to require a bit more planning to pack where as I seem to just throw things in the sun chaser and go. I chose the sun chaser over the the other duffles due to its size and padded bottom as well as the pocket configuration. For longer trips, especially by air, the aeronaut is my bag of choice. Its flexibility for carrying, size, and space configuration works better for the type of clothing (business/casual) I tend to need when flying. As noted bags from either company will last forever with minimal care.
I have one TB bag and one RO bag, but I have spent way too much time analyzing product catalogs of both...In general, TB bags are lighter and better designed for someone who is actually going to carry the bags for longer distances. RO bags are tougher, perhaps even overbuilt and as such this makes them heavier.
That said, for things like road trips and camping (where you are not hiking with the bags), RO bags are ideal. Plus their warranty means that you can pretty much do anything to them and they will repair it. However, if you plan on flying or one-bagging it, TB bags are lighter and will be easier to get around with (especially the Dyneema/nylon ones), and still have excellent durability.
Since you already have a Co-Pilot and Brain Bag that would be useful for flying/that kind of traveling, it sounds like an RO duffle could fill a different niche for you.
Last edited by Yam; 08-21-2013 at 07:33 AM.
When I was looking at carryon bags I had also narrowed my choices to the Aeronaut and one of the Red Oxx bags. I ultimately chose the Aeronaut. There were several factors that went into that decision, but the 2 big ones were the backpack straps and the ease of adding a pair or two of shoes in one of the end pockets. I thought I would probably switch between the backpack straps and the absolute strap, but I use the backpack straps exclusively - they are more comfortable and make a heavier bag more manageable. If you tend to take shoes with you, it's worth considering where and how they will pack in your bag. I don't find the aeronaut to require more planning than any other bag. It's managed everything I've thrown at it in a variety of situations - business travel, camping, overnight stays, two week vacations. Partially filled or completely stuffed it has always just worked.
Both companies have a reputation for quality and customer service, so I don't think you could go wrong there. The aesthetics of the bags is a personal thing... if that is a big factor, then go with the one that will make you happy. I do find the Red Oxx bags appealing and I keep going back to look at them; but, I've been so happy with the aeronaut that I just don't have an excuse to buy one.
I also have the Co-Pilot, the Brain Bag, and a few pouches and leashes from TB. Additionally, I also have from RedOxx--their SkyTrain, AirBoss, Rucksack, and a few pouches, Shave Kit, Briefcase(which is not used as a briefcase in my case).
Both manufacturers have great products in my opinion, each having strengths and weaknesses depending on how your choose to use a given product, and what organization options you require. Generally speaking, I find TB excels at organization abilities....both TB and RedOxx are built to last. Personally, I would focus on what organization attributes you need and what is available in the bag you are looking for. Whatever manufacturer you end up with will meet/exceed your expectations on build quality and customer service, in my opinion. I have been happy all products from both manufacturers.
I own quite a few Tom Bihn and Red Oxx bags and I tend to obsess over the details. What I find most interesting is that, no matter how much research I do, I can never really predict which bag will work best until I handle it and test pack it.
I have a TriStar, a Dyneema Western Flyer and a couple Smart Alecs. I find that when I need elaborate organization, I tend to use my WF packing cubes inside my Smart Alec for shorter trips and my TriStar for longer trips or if I need to bring my computer. On the Red Oxx side of the fence, I have a Safari Beanos PR5, a Sun Chaser and a few Aviator Kit bags.
What I have discovered, is that when I don't need the compartmentalization of a TriStar, I tend to reach for my Red Oxx Small Aviator Kit bag (which is similar in size to the PR5), and I tend to prefer it to both my Sun Chaser and my PR5. The reason...weight. The PR5 weighs almost 5 pounds and the Aviator Kit is less than 2 pounds, not to mention, the bag is only $40. Granted, the Aviator Kit bags are pure minimalism and they do lack a shoulder strap, but I still find them to be very comfortable to carry. Sure, you are giving up all of the pockets and the more importantly, the shoulder strap, but those things do add quite a bit of weight to the bag.
The lack of a shoulder strap on the Aviator Kit bags is a deal breaker for a lot of people, so if you decide that you want the extra features of the more expensive models, I would say that the PR5 > Flying Box Car because the padding on the bottom of the Box Car adds more weight and I also prefer the better balance (when carrying) of having the pockets along the axis of the bag, as opposed to hanging off the side.
If you want a true duffel, I would also highly recommend the BAD Bags #3 and the GoRuck 32L Kit Bag.
Thank you for your response. Can you tell me a little more about the padded bottom? Why was that important to you, and do you think it has been a useful feature? If you could order again, would you still choose the padded bottom over the safari beanos line?
Originally Posted by rabergnc
Oh, and thank you to everyone that has posted so far! I am still deliberating on which bag to get, and really appreciate everyone's point of view. So please keep posting.
I'd say it really does depend on what you're planning on doing with the bag. My RO Gator is a wonderful range bag, but I wouldn't want to bring it on a vacation involving public transportation and walking in heavy rain. My Dyneema Synapse is a wonderful bag for ultralight travel and EDC, but I wouldn't want to abusively overload it with ammunition and drag it around on a dirty bench.
If you're going to be doing a bunch of walking around while carrying the bag? I'd say get the Aeronaut.
If you're going to be throwing the bag into the back of a dirty vehicle with a dog that may or may not try to eat it? The RO might be better suited (or at least less expensive).
@rabergnc - can you tell me a little more about why you wanted the padded bottom? Is that a feature that you have enjoyed having? Now that you have used your bag for a while, would the padding still influence your decision? Because that's the 1 thing keeping the Flying Boxcar in the running. If the PR5 had a padded bottom, my decision would be slightly easier. I posted this question last night, but I don't see it here on the boards.
@Ms. Ferret - you make some great points. At this point in time, I'm not expecting to use the bag in a way that would require me to carry it extensively. If that was the case, the Aeronaut would win hands down.
I can say that I am currently leaning towards the PR5, with an Aeronaut purchase sometime in the future when/if the need for that bag arises. Of course, I will probably feel different at the end of the day lol.
Thanks again for everyone that is providing input!
I'm not sure why my responses never actually posted But I was asking the posted that mentioned the Sun Chaser...what made you choose the padded bottom? Do you actually find it beneficial? I'm really curious because it sounds like a nice feature, even though I'm not sure how it would help me.
Also, I have decided to get the PR5. Cost was not an issue on this matter, but the functionality of the bag seems to be more along the lines of what I need right now. I do have a trip to see my friend in Japan sometime in the future, and I think that might very well be my excuse to go for the Aeronaut!
Thanks to everyone that posted a response! And if others want to chime in, I'd love to hear more viewpoints.