View Full Version : Aeronaut as a Backpack?

11-04-2008, 02:16 PM

I'm considering an Aeronaut as my carry-on bag. I've been one-bagging (+ personal item) for a while, previously using a generic duffel bag and daypack. The duffel bag is closer to 3200 cu. in., but I've never been questioned (both overseas and domestic) since the material is very light and it looks unassuming. However, on my last trip to rome, I got a large rashes on my shoulders from carrying the duffel to/from bus stations and hotels. Thus, I'm looking for a bag to replace it. My travel is generally a mix of business (EE conferences) and pleasure.

Is the aeronaut intended for mile or two walks around towns while fully loaded? It looks tops aesthetically, but I noticed it lacked a waist-belt and compression straps. Also it didn't look like the zippers could lock adequately.

I've tried out two other pack's so far: Rick Steve's Convertible Carry-on and Osprey Porter 46. Despite the great reviews for rick steve's bag, I thought it carried horribly. It tended to flop around, bulge, did not transfer load adequately to waste belt, looked large when packed, lots of outside pockets for thieves to be curious about, and zipper didn't lock. (You could use a lock but it was easy to pull open)

I've spent a lot of time testing the Osprey Porter 46 and have been impressed so far. It is priced the same as Rick Steve's ($100) and weighs about the same (~ 3lbs), but it's suspension system was comfortable at 25 lbs. The framesheet stays stiff with the help of the compression system, so loads are transfered to the hip belt. Even though the hip belt is unpadded, it seemed comfortable. It also has load lifters, something I haven't seen on any other travel pack. There are only two external pockets, in addition to main compartment: a magazine pocket on the very back and a pouch pocket on the top. Both seem somewhat difficult for thieves to get to if it's on your back. The main compartment locks and I wasn't able to force the zipper open. On the inside of the main compartment are two flat mesh pockets, one across the side and one on the zippered flap.

However, some concern with the Porter: It looks like a cross between an oversized school backpack and a duffel bag. Has only one main compartment, which might make packing difficult (or easier, it'll fit an 18" eagle creek pack-it folder). Ends are tapered, which might reduce volume a little. Unsure about Osprey's travel pack quality (I know their outdoor backpacks are quite good). Does anyone have any comments about how this would compare to an Aeronaut? Is the Aeronaut's suspension optimized for around an airport, but not so much across town?

11-05-2008, 07:43 AM
Not sure if this will help but here are some random thoughts after reading your post.

It sounds as if you are torn between comfort and looks. While it's probably a proven fact that to get the best comfort you need traditional backpack features like a waist strap and what not, I'm not sure you can call a traditional backpack a professional look. I have read good things on the MEI Voyager regarding comfort but with the giant waist straps it seems like it's a favorite with the younger crowd going on round the world trips to far away places. Could you use this for business? Sure but if you're worried about the looks then I'm not sure you can really consider anything with waist straps. But that's all opinion really and up to each person to decide what looks best.

I have used the Aeronaut for long walks but not sure if I've gone a mile or two. So far there has been no comfort problems with it on my back. I was surprised on one trip where it didn't bother me on my shoulder with the TB comfort strap either, and I hate having stuff on my shoulder.

But one thing you need to consider is weight. I try to limit my bag weight because I know that nothing short of a real backpack will hurt if I don't keep the weight to the 20 lb range. If your typical load is in the 25 lb range then I'm not sure that anything less than a full backpack system is going to comfortable. This of course varies by the size of the person and their pain threshold.

Oh, and do NOT worry about the zippers. The only way they don't lock well if you don't zip them well. They are strong and create a very tight seam. I would think it was nearly impossible for even water to get into the bag through the zipper.

You might want to consider a comfortable backpack as your smaller bag and the Aeronaut as a shoulder bag with the absolute strap. As I said I hate having stuff on my shoulder but mine did really well on my last trip. If I got slightly tired it was easy to just grab the handle to hold in my hand for a while and shift back and forth while still walking. Then again, I do keep mine light as I said.

Good luck.

11-05-2008, 03:14 PM
Thanks for the reply. I'm okay with using the Porter for business; I don't generally have to dress very formal. I'm more curious if anyone has found lack of a hipbelt on the Aeronaut as a major con, and if there were any opinions of packing efficiency with the Aeronaut vs. one large compartment for business and pleasure.

11-06-2008, 01:55 AM
I have an osprey bag with lots of compartments that I love. It's my current perfect notebook/backback. I'm waiting for a Tom Bihn smaller backpack than the Brainbag to replace it.

I don't think the Aeronaut works well for a short jaunt as a backpack but it's not really designed to be one and isn't comfortable for long distances. Or at least that was my experience.

11-06-2008, 10:05 AM
Thanks for the reply. I'm okay with using the Porter for business; I don't generally have to dress very formal. I'm more curious if anyone has found lack of a hipbelt on the Aeronaut as a major con, and if there were any opinions of packing efficiency with the Aeronaut vs. one large compartment for business and pleasure.

As far as the Aeronaut vs the one large compartment goes, I'm not a fan of the one large compartment idea. I like to have at least one other area for packing. My typical use of this second area would be to store my running shoes or dirty clothes. If a bag has too many compartments it would be inefficient but I think the 1 main plust 2 side compartments with the Aeronaut works decent enough. For me it's shoes on one side any things I need handy (magazines, travel documents, liquids for security check) on the other.

This does bring up one possible issue and that is wrinkles. If you want to keep wrinkles down you need to consider the bundle packing method and even though others do this with the Aeronaut I'm not sure it works out efficiently in the Aeronaut. Then again, the Air Boss is highly recommended by Doug Dymet for the bundle method and it has 3 compartments IIRC so the number of compartments isn't a huge concern for bundling either. The bundle method is more about size and straps and less about number of compartments.

I use a Brain Bag for work and it's pretty heavy with my laptop and coffee and water. It's not as big as the Aeronaut but it is big imo. The Brain Bag comes with waist straps but I don't use them and thus far it hasn't been an issue. If I were going on a hike I would use them but for the short walks I normally take it's not worth it to me.

FWIW, Tom Bihn does have a good return policy. But be sure to read it fully prior to giving it a try so there is no misunderstanding.