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  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Tom Bihn System for mixed Business travel

    Hi guys. I am just about to start a new job (based in the UK), which will require travel, within the UK and overseas. The duration of trip will vary from one day to a couple of weeks and mode of transport will range from public transport (potentially including a folding bike), car and flying.

    I am thinking of basing my "system" around Aeronuat, Tristar, Brain Bag and Synapse 25.

    Business kit that will be taken always will be a 15" laptop, power supply, wireless mouse, notebook (A5 and or A4). Personal kit would usually include iPad, chargers. Then there will be the usual wash kit. Prolly looking to set these item up as "kits" that can easily be changed between bags.

    Additionally, I would obviously use the bags for non-work travel, and potentially when cycling / running.

    I would appreciate peoples thoughts / experience of of trying to put together a group of items that when used and interchanged work well.

    Thanks for looking.

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Costa Rica
    Derbian, I've the same main bags, except a Synapse 19 instead of the 25. I started with the Brainbag, added an Aeronaut and Synapse, then just recently added the Tristar. For a while my travel was about 90% business trips, all international, and I was traveling 40% of the time. Work took me to some rural areas without many amenities, and I did field work, so at first I really didn't use the Aeronaut just because of carry weight. I did use the Brainbag as a carry on for a large laptop, work papers and other gear.

    Now I've changed jobs and travel less, and in general for shorter periods to more urban environs. I'm using the Aeronaut with the Synapse on longer trips, and have just tried--one trip--the Tristar. I'll need to modify my packing and organizing habits for the Tristar, which packs differently from the Aeronaut. I'm a one-big-compartment fan, and the Tristar requires a more compartmentalized approach.

    So, I can say from experience that the four bag system you mention, pivoting on the Aeronaut and Tristar, does work. I even used the Aeronaut and Brainbag for a two-week, five hotel trip to the UK two years ago in which I used trains, the Tube, taxis and a fair amount of walking. The Brainbag-Aeronaut combo limited the Aeronaut to shoulder strap carry. Not a problem, although I did overpack the Aeronaut a bit which made it a bit awkward at times, but manageable. I just did a similar one-week UK-Miami trip with the Aeronaut and Synapse 19 (no laptop; iPad and keyboard), and I seem to be getting the knack.

    The Brainbag is a big bag, three liters more volume than a Tristar, although the side straps allow it to be compressed. It is a great bag and very functional, and fits an enormous amount of stuff. I understand that the Synapse 25 can handle larger laptops--the 19 is a bit small for that-- so you may want to think about how and how often you would use the Brainbag. Unless you have a specific use, and need the room, it and the Synapse 25 might be a bit redundant.
    Last edited by tdivcr; 06-20-2014 at 05:43 PM.

  3. #3
    Forum Member scribe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Cambridge, UK
    I agree with @tdivcr - having both the Brain Bag and S25 does seem a bit redundant, especially if you only have one laptop.

    Also, you don't have any kind of briefcase listed, and the TriStar is really a bit big for use in this role - it's doable but not optimal. Is your job the kind where using a backpack to carry your laptop would be considered perfectly normal? If so, you're set with the S25, but otherwise I'd look into a briefcase or maybe a messenger bag - the latter could double up nicely as a minimal overnight bag and is more secure than a backpack, e.g. on the Tube.

    A final thought - will your flying include regular trips with EasyJet? You might get away with using the TriStar as your one carry-on bag with them, but my experience was that a well-loaded Western Flyer was quite a snug fit in their smaller sizer, as both bags tend to bulge quite a bit beyond their published dimensions. Either way, I'd strongly recommend getting some packing cubes to reduce bulging and make sure you conform to the latest carry-on limits.
    Work EDC: SE + S19/CP/MB
    Leisure: SCBs, MCBs, FJN, Swift, lots of YSSs
    Travel: WF + Pilot or SA, with SE/SCB
    General organisation: More pouches, stuff sacks and cubes than you can shake a keystrap at!
    Favourite TB colours: aubergine, forest (sniff!), linen, wasabi, UV
    Hoping for: A new dyneema colour for YSSs; a Linen Side Effect; the return of Portable Culture!

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Thanks guys. I work in engineering, and it is quite normal to carry a laptop in a rucksack.

    The main thinking for including either / and / or a Brainbag / Synapse, is for one / two day trips from home base.

  5. #5
    Forum Member Perseffect's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Its a great idea to try and mix and match a set of items which cover multiple travel options.

    I have the Aeronaut, Tri-Star, Synpase 25 that you mention considering but not the Brain Bag. For me, the Brain Bag overlaps the Synpase 25 too far to justify having both although I can see great uses for it, just not for me at this time.

    Firstly, for business, I don't use the Aeronaut. I have it in Steel Ballistic which would look professional but at 45l, could get quite heavy and bulky. Not a look I want when working. I only use the Aeronaut for personal travel (at which it excels for sure).

    For business, the Tri-Star and Synpase 25 work for 100% of the variety of business travel I do. In fact, most of my travel is on EasyJet (I'm also UK based) so the Synapse doesn't even feature then due to their strict one bag rule. In those cases, its Tri-Star alone but I use a Backpack packing cube which serves as a day bag on location (although I've heard of others using a cadet which slips in the centre section of the Tri-Star). I have a 14inch laptop and accessories which fit perfectly in to the Tri-Star, Synpase 25 or the Backpack Packing Cube as required. See my post here on a recent trip with this setup.

    I would imagine a Western Flyer could also work for most of my travel in place of a Tri-Star but I like that extra flexibility of the bigger bag, just as long as I don't overstuff it. The Tri-Star will fit EasyJet's smaller guaranteed size of 50x40x20cm as long as not overstuffed (see the photos in the above hyperlinked post) and would therefore easily fit the larger 56x45x25 acceptable size (and that of other airlines).

    What you should also definitely consider is a set of packing cubes for the Tri-Star and the backpack packing cube. Also, essential in my mind is a Side Effect. The side effects keeps al your personal items required for use when on the train/plane/car is an easily accessible and usable place. On flights, I simply take it out of my Tristar or Synapse and have it clipped just under the tray table with 2 Tom Bihn double carabiners. Super convenient.

    I'd recommend going with the Tri-Star and Synapse with the accessories mentioned for a killer flexible travel setup. As for material specs, I'd recommend the Ballistic in the Tri-Star and the Cordura in the Synapse as both look very professional in any environment. Good luck with your travels.
    A vote for "Portable Culture"
    Aeronaut 45 ([Black/Steel), Aeronaut 30 (Navy/Iberian), Western Flyer (Navy/UV), Pilot (Navy/Solar), Synapse 25 (Grey/UV), Ristretto (Navy/UV), Medium Cafe Bag (Grey/Olive), Daylight Backpack (Burnt Orange), Daylight Briefcase (Grey) PLUS more 'bits' than you can shake a stick at!

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    I spent a couple of years living out of TB bags commuting from the West Country to the City by bus, train and tube and spending 2-4 days in hotels and the City office. I used an Aeronaut predominantly with a small Cafe Bag as the day bag, both in black cordura which was unobtrusive in the City. The small cafe bag is unstructured so will fit into the Aeronaut if necessary. I also used a Western Flyer (black cordura again) for shorter trips and a Co-pilot (I forget which colour, oh, black again) for some long-haul flights. The Aeronaut was and is my go-to bag.

    A difference for me is that I didn't need to use a laptop as I could log on through secure encryption from any desktop so carried an iPad mini for personal use and for basic documentation and work email off-site.

    Needless to say, I have used all of the above extensively for non-business use although I have added a Synapse 19 for more extended day travel. Whatever you use, I would recommend packing cubes as they make the whole travel business much easier.

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