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  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    TriStar or Western Flyer

    So as some of you may know from other threads I have been mulling over buying a TriStar. I have a bunch of short trips coming up soon, so I need to pull the trigger soon if I do this.

    My main concern is weight. Often when I travel "heavy" I carry my Synapse 25 to hold my laptop and other stuff and a roll-aboard. I often feel exhausted by the end of the travel day because of the weight of the 25 (that is, no doubt, stuffed to the gills. Probably somewhere between 10-12 lbs)

    Now initially I wanted to buy a TriStar because it seemed useful for conference trips or short visits where I would give academic talks. I wouldn't take my laptop-- I only travel with it for research trips and those tend to be trips of 1-2 weeks. Mainly I want to be able to pack:

    nice clothes for three days (this usually entails some combo of pants, shirts, cardigans, and dresses, and probably at least one suit jacket)
    and here's the kicker-- I always travel with a super lightweight hair iron (its small) and hair dryer, along with cosmetics, and toiletries (I'm really girlie.) I tend to hate hotel hair dryers as they do a bad job and my lovely travel dryer is barely bigger than a can of soda. I have to have the hair iron for my bangs (vanity-I know.) At times I have left behind the hair dryer but the hair iron always goes with me. I keep my cosmetics pared down, so that's only a small bag but despite the small size, that hair iron and hair dryer take up room.

    I can totally travel with one pair of shoes (the ones that I wear on the plane.), although I'd like the option to stuff another one in there.

    And I wouldn't one-bag it. I would carry a pilot or Swift with my iPad and purse things.

    So, does that sound more Tri-Star or Western Flyer? I'm a medium sized woman, so my clothes take up the average amount of room. My main concern is the issue of weight. I'm really afraid of it being too heavy. From reading other descriptions, it looks like you can stuff a lot into a TriStar especially if you aren't carrying a laptop, but now I was wondering if a Western Flyer might just do instead. But my concern is that it is not big enough to hold quite everything/

    I know I have bee obsessing over this, but I'm trying to make my mind up soon. Thanks for hearing me out!

    PS- I love my Pilot!!!!!

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Badger State
    To me, it sounds like you're going to be happiest with a TS. First, the middle compartment is great for a packing sleeve and can really help minimize your suit wrinkling. You'd have more room for your hair stuff and a pair of shoes if you want them. There's no doubt that it can get heavy if it's overpacked, but your list doesn't sound that extreme. If you resist throwing in extra stuff or just-in-case items, I think you'll find the weight manageable. Good luck!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Forum Member Fat Crip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    I live a little South of Edinburgh in Scotland's border hills
    Much as my Cardinal Western Flyer is probably my favourite bag, If you are only going to only have one, I'd recommend the Tri-Star simply because you can under-pack it; but you can't add an extra middle pocket in the WF. Lay a TS on a table and put the WF on top of it and you'll see little difference (an inch or so each way); the difference is almost all in the width and the TS works just as well half full.

    I have both plus two Aeronauts, and, in truth, the Aeronauts get the most use as I mostly one bag travel for 10-14 days at a time, but, when ever I can, I take my Western Flyer, and my wife prefers to take the TS.

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  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Honolulu, HI
    I don't discount the weight issue if that is your main concern. I usually travel with the Tri-Star, and I'm an inch shorter than you are. If you can get down to using a Western Flyer, you would notice the lighter weight. But you don't have to fill up the Tri-Star (especially the middle compartment). I'm wondering whether you could fit the travel dryer into the front water bottle pocket of either the WF or the Tri-Star. The problem is that the handle is usually angled. However, you only have to be able to secure it -- you don't have to have the whole dryer zipped in, much as you could have the top of a water bottle protrude from the pocket (even though I fully zip this pocket). (You might take a look at the recent video that Maverick posted in the Side Effect + Water bottle thread to demo carrying the Life Factory Water bottles in the outer pockets of these bags, since those bottles are fairly wide:
    The other question is, can you pack these items (hair iron and/or travel dryer) into, for example, the Pilot, and still carry the other items you need? If yes, then perhaps you can make do with the Western Flyer. I'll just say that it is much easier to use the Western Flyer if all the items you are carrying will "flat pack" (such as clothes). I sometimes need to bring odd-sized items, which is why I find the Tri-Star with its middle compartment useful. It will also hold an empty Swift.

    Also, I've traveled with both the Synapse 19 and the Synapse 25. I generally prefer to use the Synapse 19. Of course, you may need this for the extra amount of papers, but I understand it is to fit your non-retina 15" MacBook. If you can go down in size to a 13" MacBook (whether the Retina MacBook Pro or Air, or even the non-retina Pro), you'll notice that weight savings. However, that's another topic.

    You might take a look at the pictures in taminca's First Trip with Western Flyer thread to get an idea of the way that bag is laid out.

  5. #5
    Forum Member taminca's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    atarango1, your packing list (with the exception of the hair iron and dryer) sounds remarkably like mine. I recently went on a 3-day business trip with JUST the Western Flyer and still had space to pack more. (Thanks, moriond, for pointing to my post!) The jacket did need to be ironed when I got to my hotel, but that was the only "wrinkle" to one-bagging it with the Western Flyer. Since you will also be carrying a Pilot or Swift, I think the WF would definitely work.

    I also went back and forth between the Tri-Star and WF. Since I already have an Aeronaut for longer trips, I chose the WF to limit my packing and I don't regret it. If I did not already have the Aeronaut and was not planning to get one, I would agree with Badger and Fat Crip and go with the Tri-Star for versatility.

    Good luck with your decision, but you really cannot go wrong with TB!
    "Inside everyone is a great shout of joy waiting to be born."
    -- David Whyte

  6. #6
    Forum Member Gumby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    SW Ohio
    I wrestled with the same decision. Ended up buying one of each. No help at all, I know. Sorry...
    Synapse 19 & 25, Co-Pilot, Pilot, Side Effect, Small Cafe Bag, Medium Cafe Bag, Western Flyer, Tri-Star, A45, A30, Travel Tray, Passport Pouch, Small Organizer Wallet (this is the little guy that started it all...), several Shop Bags and Organizer Pouches. More to come, I'm sure...

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Conifer, CO
    I think you can easily fit what you mentioned in a Western Flyer. If you always take a second bag like your Pilot or Synapse 25, then I think the Western Flyer makes since. However, if you truly want to only take one bag period, then a Tristar might be a better choice.

    I own a Western Flyer, Co-pilot, and Synapse 19.
    So of my last 4 day trip I took a Western Flyer and empty co-pilot in the WF. Once I was there, I used the Co-pilot as my bag.
    If I needed to carry more, then I can carry a Western Flyer and co-pilot.
    If I really have a bunch of stuff then I take Western Flyer and Synapse 19.

    Shoes are also a big factor in the decision. I always take one pair on my feet that will work for all occasions. If you need to take more shoes then a Tristar may be best.
    Synapse 19, Travel Tray, PCSB, all in Dyneema, Side Effect and pouchmania

  8. #8
    Forum Member UK-Limey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Lincolnshire (UK)
    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
    I wrestled with the same decision. Ended up buying one of each. No help at all, I know. Sorry...
    I agree that buying both would be the perfect answer !

    But ... the Tri-Star probably gives you more options. If all of your stuff fits in and there is some space to spare, you can always put the Pilot / Swift inside (temporarily) if you need to walk for a longer distance such as to an airport gate. This also provides more security as you only have a single item to manage. I don't feel this would be possible with the Western Flyer.

    I move my Cadet in and out of my Tri-Star. Short trips with less clothes and it goes into the middle section; longer trips with more clothes means 2 separate bags. Great flexibility for me !

  9. #9
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Toronto, Canada (GMT+5)
    If it helps, here is my 2 cents on your main concern – weight.

    IMHO, unless you are going more minimalist, the weight of your stuff does not change and fatigue will happen similarly whether you buy a Western Flyer, Tri-Star or keep the Synapse 25 -unless you go with the lightest versions -Dyneema. If not changing how much you carry, the next thing to look at is how you carry it. I find that if the bag you are carrying is “shaped” properly, does not bounce on your back and has heavy things closer to your body, it is easier to endure the weight for a longer time and is less fatiguing / back hurting.
    TriStar or Western Flyer-tb0111_19b-jpg
    It would be extra "fatiguing" to have something like the pictured fully loaded Synapse 25 on the right bouncing on your back with every step you take on a long trip - perfectly fine for a short trip though. Now, I do not have a Synapse 25 but I do have a Smart Alec and Brain Bag. I find the key to a comfortable carry is to not have it full loaded and distribute the weight so the heavy things are close to your body (even if fully loaded).

    The long and short if it is, if you are thinking of a Western Flyer or Tri-Star, I would recommend a Tri-Star (it has an extra 400 Cu.In. compared to the Synapse 25 or Western Flyer which are about the same volume) and do not fully load it (and order the Dyneema version so it weighs closest to your current Synapse 25 if want even more weight savings - though I prefer the ballistic for the durability). This will give you the optional room to distribute the load better and have it conform to your body if wearing as a backpack or shoulder bag. This will be much more comfortable and less fatiguing even with the extra pound it weighs over a Western Flyer. I agree with UK-Limey that you get an additional benefit of being able to fit your Pilot in your Tri-Star for convenience.

    Hope this helps
    Last edited by tpnl; 02-06-2014 at 12:35 PM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    North East US
    I love my Western Flyer, but my "toiletries" consist of a toothbrush and deodorant (add a beard trimmer for trips 3+ days). Since you are transitioning from a "roller + backpack" setup, it will take a while to settle in on a new travel system that will make you comfortable. The Tri-Star will provide the flexibility you'll need to get there. You don't have to fill it up (and bags work best when filled to 80% capacity, anyway). The Pilot is already in your collection, so I'd suggest checking out UK-Limey's approach (sub Pilot for Cadet). The combo offers lots of flexibility, and provides a range from 'simple laptop bag' to 46 liters of hand-carried packing goodness. Besides, the Tri-Star in Dyneema weighs just about the same as a Western Flyer in ballistic.
    Also, see if you can get your computer in the Tri-Star's "smuggler's pocket" (otherwise known as the pocket that holds the backpack straps). Keep the heaviest stuff closest to your back.
    Good Luck!

    Western Flyer (ballistic backpack), MCB (parapack/dyneema), Pilot (ballistic), Cache (6Z), Travel Tray, Packing Cube (WF large), Pouches (clear, dyneema, cork, padded, large, small, medium, mini, nano), Pocket Pouch, Absolute Strap (curved), Tri-Power Whistle, a bunch of Key Straps (8" and 16")

  11. #11
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Thank you all!!! This is why I just love the message boards-- so many good ideas and advice here.
    I am going to go with the TriStar. Unfortunatly, my dog had a medical mishap yesterday and I can no longer afford to buy it immediately (for the two trips I'll be taking soon) but I will be able to spring for one later in the spring. I'm just going to have to suck it up with one of my roller-boards, which doesn't really matter since these two trips are going to be road trips (which why I wanted to try out the Tri-Star first on these trips, before I would fly with it.) I travel a lot, and have two more airplane trips planned in early summer, plus one possible road trip, and then multiple airplane trips for the fall, so it will be put to use eventually. (Dog is going to be okay, btw. She's just old and a bit decrepit-- but being old tends to be expensive.)
    Again, thank you, you people are awesome!!!

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