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flitcraft
06-13-2009, 11:52 AM
I'm leaving tomorrow morning on a five week, four country European trip--part business, part vacation, with my brand-spankin' new Tristar as my main carryon bag and my medium cafe bag as my "personal item." No checked bags. I will be taking a number of train trips and two internal flights, so traveling light was a priority.

So today I did a dry run to see what the Tristar can hold. In the largest of the three sections, I used my large sized Western Flyer packing cube, filled with a pair of pants, a cardigan, six short sleeved blouses and tees, an oversized T for a nightie, and a crush down hat. I held it all down with the compression straps and laid a 8x12 folder of work papers over the top. The section zipped with room to spare. In the other outside pocket, I put a pair of sandals and my liquids and gels bag in the smaller of the (optional) zippered sectors, and another smaller WF packing cube containing socks, undies, makeup wipes, a mini umbrella, a folding fan, and a sink stopper. Then in the middle compartment went my bundle of electronic goodies--chargers for cell phone, camera, computer, and a few Euro plug adapters; my small makeup bag (c'mon, cut me a break, I have to look moderately professional part of the time) and my mini-first aid kit. Also in the middle section I put a guide book, three phrase books, my Bluetooth folding keyboard, and a small cloth purse. In the outside pockets, I stashed a couple of books, some papers, and my Tom Bihn wallet, slipped to its tether.

The Tristar swallowed it all with room to spare. Then for the moment of truth--weighing it. Darn--19 pounds. Too much to carry as much as I will be carrying it. So...back to pare. Out went some of the liquids, some of the makeup, one of the blouses, the fan, the keyboard, and a few other miscellaneous items. This time it weighed in at 15.8 pounds. Much better.

Hoisting the bag and wearing it around a bit, the straps are surprisingly comfortable. I do recommend getting the waist strap if you plan on packing it fairly full--it does make a difference. (I'll be toting my Absolute Shoulder Strap in my cafe bag, in case I decide that shouldering the bag beats wearing it as a backpack.)

The verdict? I'll confirm it--for me and the way I travel, it's the best one-bag solution--capacious enough and well enough organized to live out of comfortably. Because it has enough structural integity to stand up on its own, it serves both as bag and "dresser" once you get where you're going. The design would work for either bundle packing or for packing cubes. If you can carry more weight than I can, there's no doubt you can get more into it than I did in my dry runs today.

I'll report back when I get back with any other observations once I've used it for a few weeks.

bluedenim
06-13-2009, 12:20 PM
Now I am really excited as I think it will meet my needs

what did you put in the third compartment?

bluedenim
06-13-2009, 12:28 PM
oops never mind (brain freeze)

flitcraft
06-13-2009, 12:44 PM
Actually, I should note that if you intended to use the third compartment for bulky items like shoes or even a computer, it would be smart to pack it first, since the other compartments have a tendency to bulge into the third section rather than outward. By packing the inside compartment first, you get maximum usable space there.

One other thing I forgot--when I drooled over the Tristar at the showroom some weeks ago, I didn't notice the number of handy O rings throughout for clipping pouches and goodies.

This is one seriously well-engineered bag, kids.

mruseless
06-15-2009, 02:12 PM
Nice mini review, thanks!

eastercat
06-16-2009, 07:53 AM
Actually, I should note that if you intended to use the third compartment for bulky items like shoes or even a computer, it would be smart to pack it first, since the other compartments have a tendency to bulge into the third section rather than outward. By packing the inside compartment first, you get maximum usable space there.
Very ingenious. That means it's less likely to bulge like some other bags and won't look overly big when taking it to the airport.

pretzelb
06-16-2009, 09:00 AM
Did I read correctly and that you only packed a single pair of pants? Impressive. I'm getting better with each trip but I don't think I could do that.

I'd like to know (had you taken it) how you use the bluetooth keyboard. I've toyed with getting one myself but I want to hear how others use it.

rabergnc
06-16-2009, 11:01 AM
The Tri-star just arrived in my office. Photos online do not do the color justice. The Indigo is truly the most impressive, vibrant color I have seen in a long time. It is a purple-blue which really goes amazingly well with the solar color. Until you see the color and the bag in person, it's hard to appreciate how nice the bag looks. I look forward to "dry packing" and to traveling with the bag next week. TB, Darcy and everyone there - y'all have outdone yourselves with this bag!

moriond
06-16-2009, 12:37 PM
The Tri-star just arrived in my office. Photos online do not do the color justice. The Indigo is truly the most impressive, vibrant color I have seen in a long time. It is a purple-blue which really goes amazingly well with the solar color. Until you see the color and the bag in person, it's hard to appreciate how nice the bag looks.
I entirely agree with this comment. None of the photos I've seen online (even the wonderful pictures maverick has been posting) adequately convey the richness of this color. The description flitcraft gave is a good one:

I saw the Tristar in Indigo today, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It is a deep blue with just a touch of royal purple to it. And the solar is the perfect foil to it. I'm now really second guessing my decision to go steel/solar...
Most of the images I've seen make this look like a deeper blue than sapphire. The closest I've seen is the picture on the Gadling sneak preview (http://www.gadling.com/2009/06/04/gadling-gear-sneak-preview/) article, but it still doesn't convey the very deep blue with the "royal purple" tones. A very striking combination when paired with the solar dyneema of the interior. "Indigo" is a good choice for the name, since it conveys that touch of color.

pretzelb
06-16-2009, 01:35 PM
I was just posting that the images Maverick put up had me considering the Indigo color when at first I was avidly against it. It's a pretty hard situation for Tom though. You really don't get a feel for the color until you see different shots in different lights.

moriond
06-16-2009, 01:46 PM
I was just posting that the images Maverick put up had me considering the Indigo color when at first I was avidly against it. It's a pretty hard situation for Tom though. You really don't get a feel for the color until you see different shots in different lights.
The blog picture (http://www.tombihn.com/blog/node/923) of the Tri-Star in the lower right -- the one showing the corner of the bag with the Tom Bihn logo -- comes a little closer to the color. Perhaps another way of giving you a feel for this color if you are familiar with either the sapphire or deep blue cordura (both of which render better in the image colors), is to say that the sapphire dyneema shown in maverick's pictures (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?p=12690&highlight=#post11903) from the what's in your shop bag? (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=1617) thread complements the indigo of the Tri-Star much better than it would work with either Sapphire or Deep Blue, neither of which has the same depth or richness of blue and lack that "royal" tone.

maverick
06-16-2009, 02:10 PM
I was just posting that the images Maverick put up had me considering the Indigo color when at first I was avidly against it. It's a pretty hard situation for Tom though. You really don't get a feel for the color until you see different shots in different lights.

i have to say that indigo is the first color that i have gotten as excited about as i was when i first found out about tom bihn and discovered crimson!

i love the plum/wasabi combination. cayenne is fantastic also, specially with navy. but indigo and crimson are something really special!

product images are challenging, but i have to give it to the folks at tom bihn - they do a fantastic job with the product pictures! we get to see the bags from several angles; we get to see inside the bags. on top of that, the product descriptions go into great detail about the small but important details about each bag.

please also keep in mind that with looking at colors on a computer screen, we are at the mercy of imperfect technology. we may reproduce an image of the indigo fabric accurately on one screen. then, if we look at that image on 10 other computers, we will find that unless the screens have all been calibrated the same way, we'll get 10 different shades of blue for that indigo.

we could send that image that was worked on a calibrated display to 10 different professional photo labs. we will get back 10 different images. they could all be using the same model printers. they could all be printing on the same type of photo paper. but each of those printers has been calibrated slightly differently. so the results on each will be slightly different.

kudos to tom bihn and to all the customers on the forum for great product images!!

speaking of customers - darcy has said it before, and i think it is really true. tom bihn has the best customers! forget bag companies - look at companies producing any product: how many companies can you name that have as enthusiastic a following as tom bihn?

understand this doesn't happen on its own. the uniquely exceptional products that tom bihn produces, using the highest quality materials, with uncompromising attention to the smallest details in design and manufacturing, making environmentally conscious choices, providing unparalleled customer service, that foster this sort of following.

so tom bihn has the best customers. but that's because tom bihn goes to great efforts to make their customers want to be the best customers.

PanicKing
06-16-2009, 03:53 PM
My Tri-Star arrived today, and it is such a well constructed, intelligently designed bag. Mine is in black and steel... I have just the tiniest bit of indigo/solar color envy, but black suits me. I may just order solar packing cubes in the near future to compensate. :-)

One tiny anal retentive nitpick... the triangular Tri-Star logo label looks cool, but the sharp points seem to be prone to sticking up. (one especially on mine) With the black fabric, it's more noticeable because you can see the light edge/underside of the label. If the points were rounded slightly, I imagine this wouldn't be an issue, so I may so some minor elective surgery tonight.

OK, so my one probably stupid question to everyone who has gotten their Tri-Star already is this: How do I put on the plastic zipper pulls? The ones that came with my bag seem to be different than the one with the grooves pictured on the accessories page. These are smooth and consist of the outer plastic part with an inner part than seems to slide into the outer. I can't figure out how the ends of the cord are supposed to be positioned before snapping the two plastic parts into each other.

Frank II
06-19-2009, 07:42 AM
My steel/solar just arrived. First glance, I'm impressed. I'm a fairly big guy yet the backpack, waist belt and sternum strap all fit without a problem.

I'm going to pack it later to see if I can get everything I want/need into it as I had planned. I'll let you know.

rabergnc
06-27-2009, 11:28 AM
Just completed the first part of my trip with the TriStar. Also, it was my first trip in as long as I can remember flying only with one bag - no briefcase, messenger bag, no other bag at all. The TriStar held everything without problem - 4 polo-type shirts, 3 sets underwear, 1 pr shorts, 1 pr sandals, 1 hat, toiletries, razor, netbook, kindle, phone, cables, adapters, power cord/brick, a few snacks (Lara bar variety). It weighed in at about 15 lbs. Best of all, it fit in the overheads on small regional jets (CRJ 50, CRJ 200) - the bag squeezed thru the opening easily. It also would have fit under the seat in front of me.

I'm not sure I will do the one bag thing again after I head home. I do like having stuff easily reachable in a messenger bag rather than having to think about the things I want to take out of the bag to have with me before I sit. It is however nice to know it can be done easily when it needs to be done.

timothy
06-27-2009, 12:47 PM
"I'm not sure I will do the one bag thing again after I head home. I do like having stuff easily reachable in a messenger bag rather than having to think about the things I want to take out of the bag to have with me before I sit. It is however nice to know it can be done easily when it needs to be done."

Amen!

I like the idea of one bag travel, but even on rather short flights I like to be able to have handy enough small things (snack, book, pen / notepaper at the least) that a 2d, smaller bag is hard to give up. It's also convenient to have a bag I can keep in front of me / in sight / sometimes locked up by itself with the most valuable things in it.

timothy

TdeF
06-27-2009, 01:13 PM
I have two problems with one bag. First is similar to what timothy said above. I like to have a bag close by for tickets, books, etc.
My major problem occurs when I have no one to watch my bag, and I have to lug a heavy bag around to the restroom, the gift shop, etc.

Frank II
06-27-2009, 07:30 PM
I love having just one bag on travel days....only have to watch one thing.

I also like to have certain things with me during my trip that are within easy reach.

What I do is put those things--books, ipods, notepads, snacks, whatever-- in my messenger bag that fits in the Tri-Star. When I get to my seat, the messenger bag comes out, the Tri-Star then goes into the overhead luggage bin.

No hassles, everything I want at my fingertips. The messenger bag hardly takes up any room since it is a vehicle for the items I want during my flight or traiin trip.

If I have to leave the Tri-Star, it's zippers are locked and then it is locked to a stationary object (say to a train's overhead.) My messenger bag, with all my valuable things, goes with me.

One bag travel means traveling with one bag. It doesn't mean you can't take a second smaller day bag with you INSIDE the "one bag."

chris.y
07-01-2009, 09:52 AM
I just finished a 6 day, 5 night 1 bag trip with my new Tri-Star. Because everyone else's thoughts have been so helpful to me, I thought I'd add a few comments on areas others haven't covered so far.

In my bag I carried: pair of jeans, pair of long pants, shorts, 6 t-shirts, windbreaker, underwear, socks, large toiletries case, MacBook Pro in 4Z Braincell (+power adapter), a couple of clear organizer pouches, paperback book, pair of chaco z/1s and a bunch of food - I'd say that the bag weighed over 20 pounds (not ideal, but ok for me).

The 4Z Braincell takes up most of the middle section of the bag. If you clip it into the annex clips, there's no room on either side for much else. I ended up not clipping it in so that there was room on one side for a power adapter. The Braincell might be overkill for this bag if you have clothes on either side - a thinner laptop sleeve is probably enough.

I walked 1.2 miles to the train station using the backpack straps. The straps are pretty comfortable but they're on the thin side. Also, the bag doesn't have stays so it doesn't carry particularly well on the hips. That being said, I'd recommend the waist strap to distribute some weight to the hips. And I'd recommend that you pack less weight than I did. :-) For shorter jaunts, using one backpack strap was pretty comfortable - at least as much as using the Absolute Strap I had attached.

The Indigo/Solar combo looks awesome. But if I were purely using the Tri-Star for business, I might consider Black or Steel. On the other hand, the whole business travel thing is more casual these days it seems. With the backpack straps tucked away, the Tri-Star looks professional regardless of color.

The bottle holder is really ingenious. With the front compartment packed, the fabric flexes out to hold a bottle outside of the bag.

The carry handles are really comfortable and I ended up using the end-handles a lot more than I thought I would.

The Tri-Star fit under the seat in front of me for both my longer-haul 737 and 767 flights (I was in United Economy Plus). And it fit (barely) in the overhead compartment of a small regional jet I was on.

Finally, I can't say enough about Tom Bihn's customer service. I called the customer service line and Tom picked up the phone! We chatted for a while about this new bag. Then I put in a late order and specified a near-term travel date and the Tom Bihn team still got me the bag I wanted in time for my travel date. I'm a really happy customer - thanks guys!

rabergnc
07-05-2009, 11:11 AM
At the risk of being a "me too", I just finished my first trip with the TriStar and I have to say I am impressed with this bag. It's capacity is great. The organization possible with the bag and 3 compartments makes it a breeze to pack for both business and casual wear. I like the compression straps in the back compartment. On this trip I had both business and casual clothing. I was able to separate the clothing while packing so I could get one type of clothing choice without disturbing the other - especially nice for the brief hotel stay where you really don't want to completely unpack if you can avoid it.

The bag is very comfortable to carry both with the main carry handle and using an absolute strap. I was able to move quickly from the ends of Atlanta airport concourses to the train to the end of a different concourse (why do they always park the planes as far as possible from the concourse entrance when you have the least amount of time to get from one flight to the next?) As I noted in an earlier post, the bag (about 3/4 full) easily slid into the overhead bins on small regional jets - if stuffed, it would take a bit of effort to get the bag in, but it would fit as long as there is a bit of give in whatever you have packed.

After having said earlier that I doubted I would ever use just one bag much, I may be changing my mind after the full trip with the bag. It was so nice just to have just the one bag to manage - although I may try the suggestions of those who talk about packing a bag in the TriStar to pull out when boarding - since I just emptied out a portion of my bag collection, what better time to fill it up again!! I think the TriStar will become a permanent replacement for my Western Flyer as the TriStar will work nicely as a WF-type bag. Alas, my WF will be seeking a new home I suspect.

Overall, the TriStar is a winner and if, like me, you find the Aeronaut to have just too much carry capacity, the TriStar may be an ideal size and bag.

flitcraft
07-19-2009, 12:21 PM
Back in Seattle now after five weeks living out of the Tristar along with a medium cafe bag. I can unequivocally say that this is a perfect bag for the way I travel. It turned out to get a bit heavier over the course of the trip--collecting conference materials and a few souvenirs added a couple of pounds to the total weight. So, I would estimate that I was packing close to 20 pounds by the end. I ended up stashing the backpack straps for the last few days and just using the Absolute shoulder strap since I was in and out of busses, metro, and trains for those days and found it easier not to get it on and off my back repetitively.

The bag swallows up a remarkable amount of stuff, as attested by my packing list earlier in this thread. It looks neat enough with the backpack straps stowed to blend in when staying at a business hotel but is compact enough to be convenient to live out of in tiny European B and B rooms, too. Being tidy and compact had some other advantages, too. My husband and I were staying at one small hotel and wanted to stash our bags for a few hours after checkout. The owner was just explaining to another couple why they didn't have room for bag storage when we came down to ask for the same favor. Looking at our Tristars, he said it would be no problem. Sweet...

The organization of the bag--which I emphasized by using two packing cubes in two of the compartments--meant that it was easy to find what I wanted and return the rest for storage into the Tristar. When we were staying several days in one place, I tended to unpack it, but when we were in a town only for a day or two, it was nice to have the option to leave the bag packed and use it as a "dresser."

I noticed that the outside zippered pockets turned out to be useless for anything thicker than a thin calendar as a result of my penchant for stuffing the main compartments. If I had less stuff in the compartment facing the zippered pockets, they would have been more versatile. As it was, I used them primarily for keeping track of train/plane tickets while traveling and for organizing receipts into reimburseable business ones and non-reimburseable vacation ones. The bottle holder is not just a gimmick--I used it a lot while waiting for trains and planes.

Is it waterproof? I can't say for sure, but I walked about twenty miserable minutes from a train station in a torrential thunderstorm and everything inside was perfectly dry when I finally arrived at my hotel looking like a drowned rat.

Like all Tom Bihn bags, it's built to last forever, with attention to all the little details that you don't notice at first till you start to put the bag through its paces.

One final note--both the Tristar and my cafe bag are in steel, but the colors of the two fabrics are quite different. The Tristar's steel is a cool, medium charcoal color whereas the cafe bag's take on steel is a greenish tinged warmer grey. Both are attractive, but they don't match. If you care about coordinating your bags, you'd be better off picking a contrasting color than thinking that the two bags will match. I think the navy-cayenne cafe bag looks particularly nice with the steel Tristar and I bet plum-wasabi would rock, too. And speaking of rocking, the Indigo Tristar that I got my husband for this trip turned quite a few heads. I just may borrow it sometimes when traveling by myself...

helder_jb
07-28-2009, 06:34 AM
flitcraft: Hi! You said in your first post "The Tristar swallowed it all with room to spare" about your first attempt at packing (before trimming to about 15-lbs). Do you think your Wester Flyer could've made it?

I've got an Aeronaut, but was looking for something smaller. Not only for shorter trips, but also for flying in size-limited airlines. And I'm torn between the Western Flyer and the Tri-Star..

Also, I remember reading a while back that Tom is designing another duffel bag, smaller than the Aeronaut. If so, that'll become my third option (oh, geez :D)

Thanks! :)

flitcraft
07-28-2009, 07:20 AM
It's possible that the Western Flyer could have taken the load that I packed, but I don't think so. Having the third, central compartment also makes a big difference in how the bag works logistically. It's nice to be able to have a dedicated place for electronics and the hated liquids-and-gels bag when going through airports.

I'm planning a short ten day trip in September to China. I was planning on using the Western Flyer but I think the organizational superiority of the Tristar might be worth its extra weight, even though it holds only a marginal amount more stuff.

MtnMan
09-14-2010, 09:06 AM
I love having just one bag on travel days....only have to watch one thing.

I also like to have certain things with me during my trip that are within easy reach.

What I do is put those things--books, ipods, notepads, snacks, whatever-- in my messenger bag that fits in the Tri-Star. When I get to my seat, the messenger bag comes out, the Tri-Star then goes into the overhead luggage bin.

No hassles, everything I want at my fingertips. The messenger bag hardly takes up any room since it is a vehicle for the items I want during my flight or traiin trip.

If I have to leave the Tri-Star, it's zippers are locked and then it is locked to a stationary object (say to a train's overhead.) My messenger bag, with all my valuable things, goes with me.

One bag travel means traveling with one bag. It doesn't mean you can't take a second smaller day bag with you INSIDE the "one bag."



Interesting...

Where do you stash the messenger bag in the Tri-Star so you can pull it out easily?

And which messenger bag do you use on trips?