View Full Version : Tom Bihn Meets Best American Duffel (10 Days in Europe with a Carry On)

12-20-2016, 06:01 PM
Hi all,

This forum was so helpful both when I was preparing to travel in Europe for 10 days with just a carry-on, and when it came time to buy packing cubes that I wanted to share my success! The base bag I had to use was the Best American Duffel #3, which while not a Tom Bihn bag, is another quality, American made (Seattle!) product. Personally I prefer the versatility of a an open duffel vs. the compartmentalized set up of a A45, and I also didnít learn about Tom Bihn until after I had purchased the BAD :).


The overall dimensions of the bag are 21x13x10, and just like the A45, you can get it with backpack straps. I ended up with a A45 large cube, A45 small cube, and A45 end packing cube. Since Iíve been traveling to a lot of weddings, I also purchased an Eagle Creek garment folder (medium). For this particular trip, I did the small packing cube with boxers & socks (4-5 each), and a white t-shirt. The large cube has 4 t-shirts, button down, sweater, polo, long sleeve shirt and sleeping clothes. The end cube has a pair of shoes. I originally was going to use the EC garment folder for pants and long sleeve shirts, but since so much fit in the large cube, I ended up folding the 3 pairs of pants in half and putting them in the bottom of the bag.


On top youíll see a softshell jacket, a Topo Designs (also USA made) dopp kit, and a collapsible daypack for taking on the plane and for day trips. A pullover, winter hat, gloves and stuff sack for laundry (from my backpacking equipment) are stuffed along the sides. In the plane bag/day pack I have a couple books, camera, tablet, electronic cords and gum/snacks.


When I travel for a wedding, itís generally with a suit so the set up easily adapts to: suit jacket rolled up (based on the YouTube videos linked on this forum), and put in the small packing cube. Dress shirt and suit pants in the EC folder, dress shoes in the end pocket packing cube, and all other clothes in the large packing cube. EC folder goes on bottom, then large cube alongside other two cubes turned on side.

I donít have any photos of this set up, but expect both of these layouts would work in an A45 with one or both end pockets unzipped. Iím new to cubes, but since using them have been wondering what I was doing before! So, thanks to all of you for your guidance (I didnít even need to ask any new questions, just search the archives!) Every time I travel now Iím impressed at how simple and efficient things have become.

Thanks again!

03-15-2017, 09:12 AM
I love my BAD. Obviously a big TB fan, but there are times when only a duffel will do, and I bought my BAD before the Yeoman existed.

03-16-2017, 07:44 AM
I really like the build quality and shape of my BAD #3 (https://forums.tombihn.com/usertag.php?do=list&action=hash&hash=3) Duffel. It's a really well-built bag. I also appreciate the small details on it: the big YKK zippers, the comfortable folded seatbelt webbing handles, all the long flat external pockets, the big U-shaped opening, and the tough 1000D Cordura exterior.

On the other hand, I don't really cherish carrying it. When it is full it is pretty darn heavy, and fairly awkward to carry with a single strap. I think that the TB Absolute Strap would make it a lot less uncomfortable to shoulder carry, but it doesn't change the fact that it's tough to lug around on a single shoulder. I prefer backpack straps on any bag that's more than about 15 pounds, but the (optional) backpack strap arrangement on the new BAD Bags isn't ideal. BAD Bags' design has your back against the floor-facing side of the duffel, which makes your clothes filthy.

Carry comfort is the biggest reason that I want to upgrade to an Aeronaut 45. I also think that the end pockets on the Tom Bihn Aeronaut would prove a lot more useful for me than the flat pockets on the inside and outside of the BAD Bags Duffel.

Conversely, if I have to carry a LOT, the huge Patagonia Black Hole duffels are simple, well-made, lightweight and comfortable to carry. They have awesome backpack straps but seriously lack in organization. Great for adventure gear, so-so for the well-dressed traveler.

As a side note: that Topo Designs Dopp kit is a nice one, simple and tidily made. I have one too!