View Full Version : Western Flyer

09-27-2016, 03:56 PM
How do you pack the Western Flyer? After a year, I've not found this bag ideal during test packing. The backpack or shoulder or hand carry options appeal very much, so I really don't want to give up my Western Flyer. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! elisa

09-27-2016, 06:14 PM
I've felt the same way. The WF was my initial purchase when I discovered TB and I've gotten an old Nordic/Solar A45 (love, love, love old Nordic!) since then. The open barrel shape of the A45 is easier for me to pack in a much more random way. The WF seems to require more thoughtful placement of my stuff.

I use packing cubes which helps to keep clothes compressed and easier to place in the narrow compartments. I use one large PC (have also used two smaller ones side by side) in the back section for main clothes. For the other middle compartment, I put shoes on one side of the fabric divider and a smaller PC (like for underthings/socks) stacked with a 3-1-1 bag on the other side. I put my hairbrush in the water bottle section (brush part down) so that other small items could be placed on top in a Q-kit. I struggle to find enough space in the flat horizontal sections for things to fit or not impinge on the middle compartment.

For me, I like the WF for short trips where I don't want to haul in the A45 to a friend's home like I'm staying for two weeks when it's only a quick jaunt for a night or two. For a week long trip to the beach by car, it never even crossed my mind to use the WF and I packed the A45 and a SA too. Those open bucket type bags are so forgiving of my haphazard style of packing.

09-27-2016, 08:31 PM
AlaskaGirl, the WF is my go to bag for travel, especially when it involves planes. I recently went on a week long cruise to Alaska and posted my packing on Ravelry (http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/tom-bihn-knitting-bags/3443387/1-25). If you are unable to view this, let me know and I will try to post it here.

The way I pack it is very similar to threeteez

09-27-2016, 09:20 PM
I can easily pack for 5 days with a WF and I am 6"2 200lbs. I use the eagle creek packing cubes. I can stay double that if I stay somewhere like a VRBO or Air b&b where I can do my laundry.

09-28-2016, 03:03 AM
I don't know if @moriond can use her excellent search skills to find it, but someone recently made an excellent post on how to pack the WF effectively, with a diagram of how to fill to the corners. There is also a great video the @travelmanager posted recently, I think?

Update: Here is the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvIWA_f4YSM). For some reason, the forum searches don't work for me at all.

09-28-2016, 06:16 AM
I have an Eagle Creek Specter medium packing folder that fits perfectly in the large back pocket. When I'm folding clothes to go in the folder, I put socks or underwear in the folds. This prevents creases in pants and shirts, and also bulks up the edges of the folder so it is perfectly rectangular and fills the space completely.

I put a pair of shoes in shoe socks in one of the front halves of the WF. Socks or underwear gets stuffed in the shoes to help them hold their shape. A molded bra (twisted in half so the cups nest) usually drapes nicely over the toe of one of the enclosed shoes. The other front section gets a 3-D organizer cube with my wet toiletries. Another cube or two will also fit in that same section. An Eagle Creek clean dirty half cube fits in here perfectly as well. The front pockets get the flat things like itinerary and boarding passes and keys. I keep an Eagle Creek Specter 1/4 cube in the water pocket in case I need to stash something in there and the cube makes it easier to get it into the water bottle pocket. A TB stuff sack would work well there, too.

I've also cut out the backstraps of my WF and I use an Absolute Shoulder strap. So, that leaves the backstrap compartment available for flat storage. An small EC Specter garment folder fits in here well.

I've traveled for a full week to a hot climate and then a cold climate in the same trip using only my WF and no special travel clothes. I don't bring PJs if I have my own room.

P.S. As a woman with a short haircut, I don't use a brush or a hairdryer. Saves a ton of space. And I can live without most of my facial and hair products for a week. I use the hotel shampoo, or just water (as I have dry hair and it doesn't need to be washed every day). I get toothpaste and soap, etc. from the hotel. I don't bring workout clothes. I'll either workout in my room in the nude, or go for a walk around and climb the stairs.

09-28-2016, 08:16 AM
The Western Flyer is my go-to bag for any travel of up to five days. To maximize its effectiveness, I purchased both the Western Flyer Packing Cube Backpack and two Packing Cube Shoulder Bags. I use a non-TB (eBags) flat toiletry bag if I need anything more substantial than a 3-1-1 bag.

By using the packing cubes, I can maximize the space by packing squishable items into the corners of the bags. I keep one pair of shoes in one of the Shoulder Bag cubes if I need an extra pair. That is where I put socks, underwear, and my non-underwire bras. Tiny things like medicines, chap sticks, or mints go into a Size 1 TSS which also goes into that bag.

The other Shoulder Bag holds electronics and knitting. The main Packing Cube Backpack holds my clothing.

It may help a little that I have a Nordic (old style)/UV Western Flyer. I think the Halcyon makes these bags a little more flexible so that I can add "just a bit more" when I need to. I always wear my WF in backpack orientation, so I frequently will slip my iPad (in its case) in the open zipper section while I'm walking. It is padded with my back on one side and all my clothing on the other.

The Packing Cubes work fabulously well for all my EDC needs when I reach my destination. I also don't use a hair dryer, but I do use a brush since I have long hair. A travel brush works just fine. I eliminated makeup years ago and have had a natural face for almost twenty years. That saves a ton of toiletry space. I just wear sunscreen/face lotion.

09-29-2016, 11:29 AM
I love my WF it is my go to bag for travelling. I probably will be using it for my month long trip to Australia in November, that or my Synapse25, along with my pilot and DLBP. That being said it is not a bag that takes kindly to willy nilly packing (in my opinion). To get the most out of this clever little bag, as others have previously stated, packing cubes are a must. You have to think long and lean. Don't push the sides out but fill all the nooks and crannies.

For example my husband has an Aeronaut 45 and when he packs he just tosses things into its open mouth centre compartment and the Aeronaut just happily swallows it up. The WF will not tolerate that kind of behaviour, again my opinion. The Aeronaut loves travel stuff sacks and their round chunky shapes. The laundry sack works beautifully in his Aeronaut. I find the travel stuff sacks except possibly the smallest make my WF bulge and look uncomfortable. I use the TS aether packing cubes and for small odds and sods, I use the small 3D fabric organizational cubes since they remain flatter even when packed.

Its just a question of packing style, I gave my husband a WF for his shorter trips because of my love of mine but he was not impressed by it. Looking back I should have bought him the smaller Aeronaut since it conforms more to his current Aeronaut and to his love of chaos in his packing method. After he had packed his WF, it looked swollen and bloated. I rearranged the bag but he didn't want to be bothered with all that trouble on his own.

I don't own a Smart Alec , but own a Synapse 25 and see them sort of like the Aeronaut vs the WF. The Synapse takes time and planning to have it work well but I can see the Smart Alec being able to take tonnes of stuff sacks and a laundry bag and just overall being "stuffed" with little or no complaint. The Synapse can, in my opinion, look odd if not packed properly. I approach packing my Synapse like I pack my WF.. fill the nooks avoid bulging..hmm maybe its just my compulsive personality??

Don't give up on the WF it will surprise you at how much it holds and yet look so small and compact. I love how it slips under the seat in front of me on airplanes. Its comfortable to carry in all of its carry modes and I have used them all at various times. I should mention that I own my bags in the original black Halcyon so maybe that material is a bit more forgiving. Also I know everyone has a different packing style and opinion on what looks "odd" and "bloated" so take my comments with a grain of salt.

09-29-2016, 03:20 PM
I have to admit, my Western Flyer is more of a "want to love" than "love" for me. My Aubergine/Steel WF was one of my first TB bags, and I used it for my first few non-suitcase road trips shortly after receiving it. But I found it just never quite was easy to live out of at my destination, and I ended up with a giant mess strewn everywhere. Plus it was uncomfortable to carry for long distances using any of the 3 available methods. In the end, I switched to a Smart Alec recently, and after 3 trips (plus using it as "everyday" carry) I am still absolutely in love with the way it works for me due to the barrel packing and comfortable carrying straps.

That said, I am still holding onto my WF and am determined that someday I will find it to be the exactly perfect bag for some yet-unknown trip, so it hangs in my bag closet waiting its return to travel.

09-29-2016, 10:40 PM
I have an Eagle Creek Specter medium packing folder that fits perfectly in the large back pocket. When I'm folding clothes to go in the folder, I put socks or underwear in the folds.

I just got back from a coast-to-coast 4 day trip, also 6'2 200, and the WF is my go-to bag. I pack it just like @BWeaves recommends with the EC medium folder. My laptop in a cache also goes into the back pocket as well. In the front section I put a snake charmer, dopp kit, shoes, and this time food. The very front pocket hold various items, this time a huge extra battery, and I wear it like a backpack for cruising through the airport.

I also carry the Pilot with a PCSB clipped on the front @Tpnl style, which, on the plane I de-clip and clip to the seat pocket:


Inside the PCSB are fullsize noise-cancelling headphones, a 7" tablet for movies, and a ditty bag with battery and kleenex & such


10-01-2016, 11:52 AM
I thought I would post some pictures of how I am going to pack my WF for my Australian trip to show how I get the most out of my WF. And who doesn't love test packing!! First I am 5'8" and medium build and wear North American ladies size 10 shoes...just to give you an idea of the size of clothes I will be packing. Also we will be doing a combination of cycling trips and city touring so my need for both types of clothing. I try and find merino clothing wherever possible because of its light weight and I am planning to be doing hand laundry along the way.

The first picture shows my already packed cubes beside my WF. There is one medium TS aether cube with my non-cycling clothes, one small TS aether cube with two pairs of shoes, light weight sneakers for cycling (I don't clip into my pedals) and a pair of flat sandals. The other small TS cube contains my cycling tops, sports bras and bathing suit. The Steel packing cube is an Aeronaut end pocket packing cube and it contains my cycling bottoms. The small 3D cubes contains underwear and non liquid toiletries.


This second photo shows how I organize the above cubes in my WF. The two 3D cubes are stacked.


Now this is how the WF looks in shoulder bag mode, no real visible bulges.


And now in Backpack mode, which is how I like to carry my WF when dashing through airports, train stations.


Overall the bag weighs about 10.5lbs, I can handle that besides the WF, I will bring along my pilot and a DLBP folded into the outside pocket so that if I wanted to, I could carry the WF in shoulder strap mode and slip the Pilot into the DLBP and carry it on my back. The DLBP will be my day bag and for city touring days I will have a PCSB and a SE packed inside the pilot when I want a purse instead of a backpack i.e. for museums, going out at night.

Oh yes, I last picture if I may, sorry I am not a photographer unlike many on this forum. But here is my original Black Halcyon cat, Poirot, admiring the WF.


I hope this helps in showing how versatile the WF is and with a little effort can carry a tonne of stuff...its the little engine that could!

10-01-2016, 06:18 PM
I love my WF. I posted what I pack in this thread (https://forums.tombihn.com/packing-lists-and-travel-tips/11463-trying-perfect-packing-my-western-flyer.html)

I've adjusted it slightly since that post. In the back, I have a large TB packing cube that fits all my clothing. I have a Macbook pro in a cache and that goes on top of the packing cube. I zip up the front divider and have a Eagle Creek Clean/Dirty cube for socks and undies placed sideways and my toiletry kit fits on top (Toiletry kit is Innate Gear Small Caravan). The other side of the divider I have a pair of shoes, a pouch with electronics cables, side effect and a little stuffed animal.

Then I have a large and small q-kit clipped to the 2 o-rings. The large q-kit has my airplane kit (see the thread I linked above for all the details on what's in it) and the small one has my earbuds and mp3 player with all my audiobooks. Those q-kits are placed right on top of the partitioned section.

In the zip pockets I have a kindle, wallet, travel docs, keys, Platypus collapsible bottle, snacks....

I just got back from a 2.5 week trip and the WF was all I brought. I love my WF because it fits everything I need...but I'm still playing around with different pouches and cubes that may fit my stuff better. When you are traveling light it's important to be space efficient so finding the perfect pouches and cubes and organization for your stuff really make a difference. Since everyone packs different stuff, you just have to keep trying different things. It's such a great feeling when you find a set up that works. <--Yes, I'm geeky.

10-04-2016, 06:50 PM
It definitely requires more careful consideration for packing, which is great for developing a routine for travel. It gets hairy when you have to switch it up form a business formal trip overseas to a long domestic vacation. But you can't beat the efficiency of that rectangular shape, like it was made for under-seat travel.

I imagine soft-packing easier with the aeronaut series, but I don't usually live out of the bag, so I don't find it necessary.

10-05-2016, 03:56 AM
Hi GoChicken,
Sorry but I couldn't get thru to the post using the link. could you try and attach it (or something technical), so I could see it

05-26-2017, 07:41 AM
I only travel with the WF, business or pleasure. I find the profile highly conducive to folding, which take a little longer to pack, but is a super-efficient use of the rectangular profile. This was my one-bag inflight setup for a long weekend in Madrid last January:


WF goes fully under seat, and a small mesh packing cube for my in-flight accoutrements attached to the bellowed sides of the seatback pocket with 2 short key straps (snap key straps together to make a carry handle, and goes in front pocket of WF on arrival). Water bottle hangs from carabineer.

I'm 6'3" 200# in coach on a 9 hour international flight; if I can do it, anyone can :D

05-26-2017, 02:20 PM
@Kendle98, those are great!

I used to travel with the Western Flyer and kept trying to make it work for me before I realized that I do better with an open pit like the Smart Alec backpack or the Aeronaut. However, I love how neat and compact the WF looks, and the different ways it can be carried, and seeing your pictures reminded me of that again. Every time someone does a post like this it makes me think I should give it another try.