View Full Version : The Hero's Journey

03-20-2017, 11:18 AM
Hey TB Family,

I'm presently (patiently? :rolleyes:) waiting to take delivery of our new HsJ! I looked around the forums a bit and have yet to find a dedicated HsJ thread, so here goes!

I ended up purchasing:

2 HsJ Side Pockets
2 - Small Mesh Packing Cube (A45)
1 - Large Mesh Packing Cube (A45)
A few assorted keystraps
A mini padded organizer pouch (That I HOPE will fit my GoPro Hero5)

I also have both size SCs and a 3DMOC and a few stuff sacks.

I'll continue to update this thread as my packing comes together, but my wife and I hope to take everything we'll need for a 2+ week trip to Italy (our son will be ~ 4 months old by then) in the HsJ and our SA and/or S25 and/or PU.

Would love any suggestions (would hate to have to order more... ;) ) or tips for organizing the HsJ.

Thanks everyone,

03-20-2017, 02:06 PM
Caveat: I have never taken the HsJ on any serious hiking trips. I only take one big backcountry adventure a year, and I'm not sure if I will take the HsJ on that one, given it's such a pretty bag, but we'll see. So I'm going to mostly be talking about its use as a business/personal traveler. I travel on a plane at least a dozen times a year for fun little trips and/or visiting my mom on the east coast, plus 4-6x a year for work.

I have the HJ and one aether HJ packing cube, plus assorted stuff sacks, some TB, some other brands, and here's how I pack mine:

main bag -bottom pocket (ostensibly the sleeping bag pocket): primarily shoes or boots. I have size 12 feet, and a set of boots takes up that entire compartment almost, with extra socks stuffed into the shoes to make the best use of space, plus there's usually about a fist-sized amount of extra room, which I either put in a couple rolled up shorts, or some more socks, or some random doodad/gift I'm travelling with (last time I used it, I had a new android phone in box in there)

main compartment
- I use one of the packing cubes, filled with clothes, mostly up shirts, shorts, etc, drop it on the bottom of the bag.
- (optionally, on top of that, any collared shirts or pants which I didn't want to put in the packing cube)
- I don't use a second packing cube, instead I use a medium stuff sack, but only half full, to make a grapefruit sized bundle which is mostly more socks (on longer trips), boxers, rolled up under armour shirts, and then compressed. That stuff sack gets emptied out on arrival, becomes my laundry isolation bag while I'm there. In addition, I put some layer like a light jacket, or hoodie, next to it, as easy-access gear if I get cold on the plane, etc.
- For my trip through TSA, on the top I put both my 13" macbook and my little clear plastic baggie of liquids. Later on the other side of the x-ray, the laptop goes under the top layer, as do the toiletries (I don't use my laptop on the plane) - There's usually a variety of other things I put in, like my laptop charger, camera charger, that could probably use a small packing cube but I use IKEA 2.5L ziploc bags to collect them together instead.

Top Pocket
I haven't gone on a trip long enough to necessitate completely filling this up yet. Because it's better for loading to fill the main HSJ as much as possible (so when wearing it as a backpack, stuff doesn't move around) - my top pocket is mostly used at my destination as a day bag. When I'm going to the airport, what is usually in there is my ipad mini (my primary on-plane entertainment), a 'hard drive' sized USB battery pack, my digital interchangeable lens camera, various cables, and headphones, and that doesn't even use the 10L of the main part, much less the extra 5L I have (though I use that compartment mainly for separation).
In the tiny little compartment of that same bag goes keys and my chewing gum.

Getting Around
One important thing to note is that it is very difficult to zip the top pocket onto the HsJ if it's anywhere near its 10L capacity. But it's super convenient to zip it on when going through the airport, I put it through the xray, and walk through my very large airport (Denver) Sometimes that means unloading the top pocket a bit, then zipping it on, then re-packing it.

When I get to the gate, I detach the top pocket, and snap on the included lightweight shoulderstrap, use it a a briefcase-style (sort of like a differently shaped copilot) and also makes it so they don't hassle me when I board (the main bag fits in the sizer box exactly, but it looks intimidating with the extra pocket on top)

^ Hope that helps

Obvious A
03-20-2017, 02:42 PM
I hope I'm not thread crapping but this is called the HsJ thread so I'll add my thoughts.

I never paid any attention to this bag because I'm not really a backpacker. I was bored a few weeks ago though and started looking deeper into it. As soon as I realized the main bag was the size of the A45 I got interested and a few hours of research later I bought one.

It's a great bag and it just replaced my Aeronauts (30 and 45). I love the versatility and how well thought out it is. I just finished a long weekend (cold weather) road trip and, while there were a few things to get used to coming from the Aeronaut, the bag was close to perfect for my needs. I didn't need the top for this trip but brought it anyway to get a feel for the bag. I don't like packing cubes but I really do prefer having the right size bag to keep stuff from shifting around. I think with the external cinch straps this bag can accommodate just about any reasonable load very well.

The big selling point for me is versatility-
On airplane trips I would pack all my clothes in main bag, toiletries, cables and other stuff in the bottom and use the removable top section as a personal item. It's probably a lot bigger than I need for an iPad, headphones and a bottle of water, but the way it consolidates into the bigger bag is exactly my style. On long road trips I'd pack all my clothes into the expanded main section and use the top for toiletries on other stuff. For short cold weather trips I'd probably leave the top at home and for short summer trips I'd cinch it up or just take the SA or S25. If I ever find I need more storage I can also add the side pockets- pretty cool.

There are a few things I don't like.

I will never use the the top section as a daypack and really wish the backpack straps were removable or had a sleeve to stow in. Right now I have them zip tied up into the sides of the bag but they will always be in my way. I'd cut them off but I'm reluctant to do that on a $500 bag. i don't need a lot of the other accessories either, but they are all removable so they aren't an issue.

I wish it had handles in all the locations the aeronauts do. It's probably just going to take a little time to get used to their locations. Actually, if TB sold the side handle separately I'd buy another and attach one to each side.

Not a big deal but I prefer the way the main compartment of the aeronaut is oriented- horizontal rather than vertical. I'm not backpacker though, so this might be a better orientation for that market. Its something I am already getting used to.

Other than that I really like the bag. I could actually see some the ideas here evolving onto a better Aeronaut. Could it be made so the top and bottom zip off leaving a single compartment A30 bag that is expandable to double it's size? Maybe thats a step too far.

On a side note I also love the new black halcyon. I never liked the stark look of dyneema. The gray was tolerable on small bags but I could never get into it on full size bags. The new halcyon is much more subdued. Rather than a style it looks like the nature of the material and I like it a lot.

BTW- other stuff we use. I have a large "commercial grade" laundry bag that I purchased from Amazon. I fold it up and stuff into the backpack strap slot on the bag and pull it out at my destination. For road trips we just fill it until we find someplace to wash clothes. If traveling on an airline we stuff the full laundry bag into one of our bags on the return home.

For road trips we also have two Yeoman duffles- one for inside stuff and one for outside stuff/ work clothes. They work great for bulky winter clothing or pillows and blankets the kids and wife like to bring with.

As mentioned above, I also have a S25 and a SA. The SA is my new smaller alternative to the HsJ. It's nice if you like packing into a large cavernous pack with a little extra organization. The S25 is far more organized and works great when I need to pack very light for a single over night or as a lazy man's day pack with a few odds and ends in it. The S25 looks fine even when packing it extremely light while the SA is overkill. I tried the S19 but it's too small for my frame.

07-23-2017, 01:23 PM
Thanks for you initial thoughts. I'd love to hear if you have any further comments about what it's like to actually use the bag now that you've had it for a couple months (and assuming you've used it in a couple different ways on different trips).

I recently went on a two-week trip to Italy and Greece, and I took a Tortuga Outbreaker (their newest model) with me. Although it is certainly a very good bag, I actually found that it didn't work great for me in many ways. For one, it's really heavy! It's about 2 pounds heavier than most other bags of similar size (45 liters), and while that doesn't seem like a lot when the whole bag weighs 20+ pounds, that couple pound difference ended-up being the difference between being able to carry the bag on and being forced to check it. In this newest bag, Tortuga also removed the cover over the shoulder straps, so when I was forced to check it, I had to tighten the straps as much as possible and pray they didn't get caught on something!

Additionally, while I thought I would like all of the organization options of the Outbreaker, I didn't really end up using most of them, and therefore, found the excess of pockets and organizational slots to be unnecessary. I am not a "digital nomad" in that I don't usually travel with a laptop, external hard drive, etc., and I'm usually not "working" while traveling. At most, I might bring my iPad and a travel keyboard, but on this past trip, I only brought my phone and the keyboard. With the Outbreaker, I actually ended up using the "laptop compartment" to store the CamelBak I brought for a day pack, which seemed to be a really inefficient use of space. (In general, the CamelBak as a day pack was a really bad idea, but that's a different issue.) With the Outbreaker, I felt like a lot of the extra organization took up a lot of space within the bag, and really limited my ability to pack efficiently (and, of course, all that extra stuff contributes to the increased weight).

So, with another trip coming up in a couple months, I decided to rethink my options and packing strategy, which has led me to the Hero's Journey. I have a couple of other bags from Tom Bihn, and so I'm familiar with the quality vs price relationship. I have no problem spending the large amount of money for the Hero's Journey provided it actually works. I like the apparent functionality of the zip-off top bag; my use of the CamelBak on my last trip convinced me that a shoulder bag would be much more useful than a backpack (backpack = very sweaty back, and in crowded places, I ended up using only one of the straps so I could keep the bag a bit more in front of me). I guess what I'd most like to hear is whether or not the Hero's Journey is actually comfortable to carry (primarily as a backpack - not all day; just through the airport, to the hotel, etc.), and is it actually easy to use. Compared to the Outbreaker, the straps, padding, and such look pretty pathetic, but I realize that looks can be deceiving.