PDA

View Full Version : WESTERN FLYER VS A30: DO I NEED THEM BOTH?



anna2222
10-14-2017, 01:33 PM
I had some time this rainy Saturday afternoon to hone my TB bag packing skills and decided to do a PHOTO-VISUAL comparison between the Western Flyer and the A30.

The purpose? To answer a question: Do I need them both? Do they, separately, serve a unique purpose? I am not going to list everything I packed, as the goal was more to stuff them both with the same amount of necessities for a 5-7 day trip and see if one comes out ahead.

MY PACKING TOOLS:
Ballistic WF, Ballistic A30, 4 A30 SMALL Packing cubes (clothing, shoes), 1 3DOC(toiletries), 1 Cubelet (computer cords), my SK(EDC), a WF packing cube backpack (just in case), and an empty Large shop bag(just in case).

MY DEVICES:
MACBOOK, IPAD PRO 10.5"


WESTERN FLYER


19099
I put 3 of the packing cubes inside the Iberian WF PCBP

19100
Great way to store a MACBOOK without needing a cache, in the back side of the WF, between the flaps

19101
Everything fits so far, unzipped...

19102
FRONT VIEW: Tight fit, NO room to spare

19103
TOP VIEW

19104
SIDE VIEW

19105

19106


AERONAUT 30


19107

19108
My MACBOOK is under the top 2 packing cubes. I could also put it in backpack strap pocket on the A30's back side

19109
Not stuffed full, could fit a few more items. After all, it is a bigger bag than the WF

19110

19111

19113


WHAT I LEARNED:

1. EASE OF USE/PACKABILITY:
Winner: A30
3 pockets/A30 vs 5-6 pockets/WF. I use the WF in stand-up mode, I do not unzip the sides to pack, otherwise things fall out everywhere.

2. COMFORT:
Winner: A30
The A30 carries more comfortably in backpack mode. The WF feels like a board, while the A30 contours more to my back

3. ACCESSIBILITY OF CONTENTS:
Winner: WF
The WF gives me a dedicated pocket for many things, especially a water bottle, and my SK fits easily in one of the 1/2 pockets. Also, when used the way I use it, in stand-up mode, it is easy to pull out several things that I might need. The A30, I need to root around more to find my stuff, as there are only 3 pockets so things are usually stacked on top of one another.

4. LOOKS:
Winner: WF
It looks more professional, like a briefcase. The A30 is more tube-like

5. UNIVERSAL USE or ONE BAG:
Winner WF
While I can carry the A30 more comfortably, I would not want to bring it to my job. The WF is designed for both

5. IF I COULD ONLY HAVE ONE BAG?
Winner: A30
Because I value comfort and ease of packability the most

6. Will I be keeping the WF?
Winner: ME!
Of course I will, I think there is a valuable use for each. The A30 I would use for travel, but I would not want to carry it to my job. The WF could double as a work bag for those times I need to go straight from my job, and onto a plane or train

Perseffect
10-14-2017, 03:26 PM
Iíve debated the same thing many times but also with a Tristar thrown into the debate. Well debated.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Artdime
10-14-2017, 04:45 PM
Very interesting comparison. Thanks for taking the time to photograph and post!

BWeaves
10-15-2017, 04:15 AM
Thank you for your review of both bags. I started out with an A30 and WF and came to the same conclusions that you did. Except, that I found the small pockets on both bags to be a bit useless for me, and the larger pockets to be just a hair too small for my packing cubes.

My all time favorite bag is the D36 (Medium Road Duffle 36, aka the Doggienaut 36). It has no backstraps, but the pockets are the perfect size for my Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes. And the small pockets are much more useful.

I recently swapped my A30 for an A45, which I haven't had a chance to travel with yet, but it actually feels better to me than the A30 in backpack mode. I don't think I'll ever stuff it full, but it fits the way I pack my clothing better than the A30. There's more 2-D acreage and the small pockets are actually big enough for me to put stuff in.

bchaplin
10-15-2017, 05:36 AM
What an interesting post - thank you.

A few thoughts:

You packed the same load in both bags. Given that the Western Flyer holds 26 liters and the Aeronaut 30 holds 30, do you think the WF was overstuffed? If it is packed more proportionally to its volume, do you find it more comfortable to carry?

Is your A30 the new one with the improved foam back? I'm curious if that's what makes it the more comfortable of the two bags for you.

In terms of deciding which bag to carry, flying a budget airline where the WF might be more assured of fitting under the seat or in a sizer, might be a consideration. I've even flown legacy airlines where the overhead space gets really tight, and I'm always confident that a thinly packed WF will find a slot at the end of a bin somewhere. For this reason, I hope the WF stays in the Tom Bihn lineup! I have one now in black ballistic. I have used it as my carryon bag for work travel; i.e., when I'm flying to Africa and I want to carry all my necessities in case the checked bag gets lost. My ballistic WF is heavy, though. I have owned previous versions in Halcyon, but I'm really hoping that it will eventually be made in the new 525 fabric, which would be slightly lighter but still hold its shape.

anna2222
10-15-2017, 02:32 PM
@bchaplin,

Yes, the A30 is the newer one, with the thicker, more contoured back padding. The WF was full to capacity, but looking at it from the side and top, I don't think it was overstuffed. The good thing is that normally I would be carrying my Sidekick (in my Luminary, probably), and I would only need one device, either the ipad pro OR the computer. However, the goal was to see if I could put EVERYTHING I needed in there, including my EDC, to see if it would fit. I think you are right though, had the WF not been so fully packed, it would have been less rigid and probably would have more give.

@BWeaves,

I agree, the side pockets on the A30 I never use, because once the bag is packed, it is a challenge to put anything in those pockets unless it is thin and rigid. With the Western Flyer though, I was able to put the LSB in the top pocket and the Absolute Shoulder Strap, my Hero Clip, and a couple of web dominators in the bottom and it remained relatively flat.

A question about the Medium Road Duffel D36: Can you wear it as a backpack using the duffel straps or are they too tight to do that?

BWeaves
10-15-2017, 04:03 PM
I've seen photos of people using the duffle straps as backpack straps, but I wouldn't do it. It's not what they were designed for and so there's no comfort there. The bag carries just fine by its own shoulder strap or an absolute shoulder strap.

I think of the D36 as a cross between a Yeoman duffle and an Aeronaut, for when you want all the packing organization of the Aeronaut, but in a Yeoman type duffle. But for me, the D36 is just that little bit bigger than the A30 that I love. And it's longer and flatter, so it fits under an airline seat perfectly. And because there's no backpack straps or padded bottom, you get a lot of extra room and less weight.

GrussGott
10-16-2017, 11:58 AM
With the Western Flyer though, I was able to put the LSB in the top pocket and the Absolute Shoulder Strap, my Hero Clip, and a couple of web dominators in the bottom and it remained relatively flat.

Wow, my WF pockets are heavily used. The half circle one gets shopping bags and other foldable bags like the DLBP and sunglasses / spare glasses (in a hard case). For leisure I've also put a pair of shorts/underwear there for changing into after a flight. The bottom pocket gets my qclip and spare 20k battery, 10k battery, cords and such and top pocket gets my travel tray and usually just that. This is because if I have to camp out somewhere it's easy to get out the travel tray and put glasses, dongles, and other stuff in there while I work, then when I pack up I be sure not to forget anything.

I've had multiple people watch me set up and take down a mini-office in 20 seconds and comment on how I must travel a lot because I've got it down to a science. No, it just looks that way, but I don't tell them that : )

Traveltech
10-16-2017, 01:12 PM
Thanks, @anna2222. I have neither bag and have been going back and forth on which would work best for me. How do the bags look on your back if they’re underpacked? Does the WF have compression straps?

Appreciate the work you put into the analysis.

anna2222
10-16-2017, 03:50 PM
@Traveltech,

The WF does not have compression straps. Will try to post a pic of an underpacked WF soon!

BWeaves
10-17-2017, 05:10 AM
The WF does not have compression straps, but an Eagle Creek Specter medium packing folder fits snugly in either section. I usually put it in the back section. Since the packing folder compresses, it's easy to slip it into the back section and have a nice rectangular package that fills the entire compartment.

Lodd
10-22-2017, 02:12 PM
I had some time this rainy Saturday afternoon to hone my TB bag packing skills and decided to do a PHOTO-VISUAL comparison between the Western Flyer and the A30.

Thank you so much! That was a great photo review of 2 great bags. It's posts like these that make it easier for new Bihnites like me to figure out if a bag is right for them.


The WF does not have compression straps, but an Eagle Creek Specter medium packing folder fits snugly in either section. I usually put it in the back section. Since the packing folder compresses, it's easy to slip it into the back section and have a nice rectangular package that fills the entire compartment.

I've read quite a bit in some forum posts about the use of the Eagle Creek Specter medium packing folder" in both the WF and tristar. How would you compare its utility/convenience versus packing cubes and/or compression cubes?

I imagine 2 smaller packing cubes might have better organization but introduce more wrinkles compared to the folder. The cubes might also be lighter? It gets more interesting when also wondering if compression cubes could fit in even more clothes than a folder or packing cube. (Sorry if i'm starting to ramble :p )

G42
10-22-2017, 03:26 PM
the side pockets on the A30 I never use, because once the bag is packed, it is a challenge to put anything in those pockets unless it is thin and rigid.



FWIW, I just used the A30 for the first time for a 2 week trip and found the end pockets were good for strange things that I stood up on edge like books, such as a the (larger) Q-kit, Eagle Creek Quarter Cube, battery pack, camera in hard case, razor in case, etc... Over the course of my trip, things migrated around all 3 compartments.... I also used the EC Half Cubes in the end pockets, depending on what I was doing

Thanks for the great bag review!

GrussGott
10-22-2017, 09:18 PM
I've read quite a bit in some forum posts about the use of the Eagle Creek Specter medium packing folder" in both the WF and tristar. How would you compare its utility/convenience versus packing cubes and/or compression cubes?

I imagine 2 smaller packing cubes might have better organization but introduce more wrinkles compared to the folder. The cubes might also be lighter? It gets more interesting when also wondering if compression cubes could fit in even more clothes than a folder or packing cube. (Sorry if i'm starting to ramble :p )

My 2 cents having tried all of the above: The folder is the only way to go for business travel, and I have the spectre version, so I don't know the weight difference between it and cubes but if it's noticeable I'd say go with a roller. I don't use cubes if I use the WF as all the clothes go in the folder.

If I travel casual, then I use cubes in my A45, but just two spectre compression cubes. overall I'd say compression is a bit over-rated for most things other than, say, a down coat or a pillow. the cubes help you plan and organize and that's the primary benefit. With the A45 most of my larger things like jeans and such get the tie-down treatment, but underwear, t-shirts, etc go into 2 spectre cubes. Things like shoes go into the end pockets in old resort newspaper bags (I didn't steal them! the manager of the grand hyatt in florida somewhere gave them to me)

BWeaves
10-23-2017, 04:48 AM
I think clothing is less wrinkled in a EC Specter packing folder, than in a packing cube. The folder comes with a folding board, so you smooth your clothing and fold it around the folding board to the exact size of the packing folder. Then the packing folder closes like an envelope, so you fold over the two side flaps and they close with Velcro, and then you flap over the top and bottom flaps and they close with Velcro. So the whole folder is EXACTLY the size of your clothing. There's no room for your clothing to shift, so it won't ever wrinkle. And because of the Velcro, you can close the folder very tightly and make it a compression folder if you want.

anna2222
10-23-2017, 12:58 PM
I personally roll my clothes and that is why I like the packing cubes. I do not have too much trouble with wrinkling, most of my clothing is wrinkle-free or I just smooth them out before rolling.

I tried the EC Specter packing folder, did not care for that type of packing. Probably depends on the individual and how they like to pack.

GrussGott
10-23-2017, 08:43 PM
I personally roll my clothes and that is why I like the packing cubes. I do not have too much trouble with wrinkling, most of my clothing is wrinkle-free or I just smooth them out before rolling. I tried the EC Specter packing folder, did not care for that type of packing. Probably depends on the individual and how they like to pack.

Ha, I do both; I use the packing folder for my rolled clothes!

If I carry suits then usually fold the coats and roll the pants (they go in-between the shoulder pads of the suit coats). I used to roll the coats too but I found with the right technique I can just fold them over. If I'm really industrious (or have a wrinkle-sensitive shirt) then I also bundle in the folder: shirts go flat on the bottom, then suit coats (one with pads to the left, one to the right), rolled pants and t-shirts go in-between, then the shirt flaps and sleeves are folded over the bundle. ties I sometimes roll and sometimes bundle.

For casual clothes I mostly roll and tie-down or put in cubes.

Lodd
10-23-2017, 11:59 PM
Ha, I do both; I use the packing folder for my rolled clothes!

If I carry suits then usually fold the coats and roll the pants (they go in-between the shoulder pads of the suit coats). I used to roll the coats too but I found with the right technique I can just fold them over. If I'm really industrious (or have a wrinkle-sensitive shirt) then I also bundle in the folder: shirts go flat on the bottom, then suit coats (one with pads to the left, one to the right), rolled pants and t-shirts go in-between, then the shirt flaps and sleeves are folded over the bundle. ties I sometimes roll and sometimes bundle.

For casual clothes I mostly roll and tie-down or put in cubes.

Hahaha. This might be the ultimate packing technique! You could put the folder into a PCBP to fully utilize all (bundle, roll, cube, folder) packing methods.

Honestly though, your method actually sounds really good. I already roll my tshirts before stuffing them into a packing cube, so rolling them and stuffing into the folder (along with shirts & pants) would reduce the number of cubes I have. Perhaps I could cut it down to 1 medium folder (all clothes), 1 cube (socks/underwear), 1 more cube (electronics/cables), 1 toiletry/3-1-1 bag. I would be really happy if I could consolidate my tshirt rolling style with a garment folder.

I could stuff the folder + laptop into the rear compartment (WF), and everything else into one side of the front compartment. That would leave one side compartment completely free. It'll probably end up being filled with toys and/or nappies...

anna2222
10-24-2017, 06:14 AM
@GrussGott,

"I use the packing folder for my rolled clothes!"

Thats brilliant!

GrussGott
10-24-2017, 05:12 PM
I could stuff the folder + laptop into the rear compartment (WF), and everything else into one side of the front compartment. That would leave one side compartment completely free.

That's my exact pack.

If I have dress shoes that I'm not wearing one goes into each side of the front of the WF (and you can stuff socks in there) still leaving half of each pocket for a dopp kit and tons of electronics. And you still have the front pockets!

I also always carry a second bag, either a Pilot or an S25 with the Pilot folded in the bottom (it's my on-site work briefcase). If I do the the full WF+S25+outside PCSB (in-flight kit) I can do 4 suits and wear biz casual for the 5th day and flights. I've never had to step up to the TS.

Lodd
10-25-2017, 12:56 AM
I personally roll my clothes and that is why I like the packing cubes. I do not have too much trouble with wrinkling, most of my clothing is wrinkle-free or I just smooth them out before rolling.

I love wrinkle-free clothing. I try to avoid ironing as much as possible. I'll spend hours and hours researching and trying to find wrinkle-free shirts to avoid 5 minutes of ironing. Yes, I have a problem. :D


That's my exact pack.

It's great to know that someone else has done it and proved it works!

I'll most probably be onebagging it. Partly because I aim to travel SEasia and/or NZ/Australia in the future where carryon limits are 7kg. Partly because I just don't like handling more than one bag if at all possible. And partly because when travelling with family I'd need my hands free for other things.

But the WF rear compartment is huge to me. If I can compress clothes (in packing folder) and make use of all the available space, I could easily fit clothes for 10 days there I think. For comparison, I managed to fit 5 rolled tshirts, 3 socks, 4 underwear and 1 pair of pants, in a packing cube that fit the left front compartment. And that was only lightly compressed. So the rear compartment should hold all my clothing needs easily for most of my trips, especially if I can use all that space efficiently.

Similarly, I try to travel with only one pair of shoes (worn) so that won't be an issue. Thanks again for the info.

Pokilani
10-27-2017, 08:54 AM
I use the TB large cube in the back of the WF with the plastic sheet from the Eagle Creek folder. I pack slacks around the plastic sheet, then roll the rest of my stuff in the cube and zip it up! Sometimes I add a half specter compression cube for undies and such to keep things a little more organized.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Izzy
12-01-2017, 11:42 AM
Which one is easier to get your laptop OUT of (without disturbing anything else)? That might be a game-changer...

GrussGott
12-03-2017, 09:55 PM
Which one is easier to get your laptop OUT of (without disturbing anything else)? That might be a game-changer...

I use the WF and put my laptop in a cache in the large rear pocket - it very easy to get to and put back that way, either for security or for working before the flight.

BWeaves
12-04-2017, 05:04 AM
Which one is easier to get your laptop OUT of (without disturbing anything else)? That might be a game-changer...

Definitely the WF. It's the more briefcase like bag. The A30 is a duffle. Although, if you put the laptop in the backpack sleeve compartment, it's easy to get out. It's just not secure because you can't zip it shut with the backpack straps out.