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TS/WF or SA as your carryon?

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    TS/WF or SA as your carryon?

    I realize this sounds like a real beginner question, but what I'm really curious to learn is how everyone else feels about this.

    Typically for a shorter trip or one in which I don't have to pack a lot of extras, I can go with a Western Flyer. If I'm going on a longer trip or I need to take extra things, I'll switch up to a Tri-Star.

    We're looking at a 10-day trip to Europe (Paris for the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon but thinking of also taking the train to somewhere else, like Venice) that will involve a fair bit of walking with our carryons. And by "carryons" I mean, we don't ever check in luggage, so the carryon WOULD be our main bag.

    I also have a Smart Alec. I love how comfy it is, but it requires slightly better organizing inside since it's so cavenous and easy to lose things towards the bottom.

    So... what is your personal preference? Capacity is identical for the WF and SA.

    I never check a bag either. I use either my Western Flyer or my Synapse 25. My final decision is based on the following: 1) if I know I will be carrying my bag a lot over great distances for example in cities, then I choose my Synapse 25 or 2) am I going somewhere hot, again I would choose my Synapse 25. My thinking is if I am going to be using my bag in "back pack" mode most of the times i will be carrying it I would rather use a bag that is designed for that mode of carrying. Especially if its hot I then appreciate the airflow padding (not sure if thats the correct term) on my Synapse 25.

    For my personal bag its either my pilot or possibly my synapse 19. But with those four bags and their associated combinations I have been able to travel for overnight trips to trips lasting over 2 weeks in winter and summer conditions and have not had to check a bag.


      Greetings Lani,
      I have a WF, but have not yet figured out how to pack it. I now travel with a very minimal amount of clothing. The Synapse25 works very well. I do not own the Smart Alec, but NWhikergal did bring hers last year, I agree it is cavernous.

      For long camping trips in Alaska, a large duffle bag works very well. They also tend to loose things because they are big and lack any organization. This is where packing cubes and organizer pouches shine. I'd load up your Smart Alec with TB organization, if you decide to take the SA.

      I really can't comment on the WF or TS, as I have yet to use either bag. In the end, comfort does sway my final decision. All three bags will work. Consider comfort, convenience, lightweight, and ease of use. Good luck! elisa


        My only Bihn bag is a SA, which I've used for basically all my travel over the past decade. I tend not to bring much in the way of electronics - I can generally get by accomplishing any emergency work task from my phone with a minimum of grumbling and swearing - so it's basically just carrying clothes (which I pack like a heathen: rolled up and stuffed into the bag, then unpacked at my destination(s)), a ziplock of toiletries, and an iPhone charger.

        But, that said, it works amazingly well, and I can't come up with any reason to buy another bag, despite the fact that I've fancied getting an S25 and/or A30 for a long time. It's been stuffed with a suit, dress shoes, and a weekend's worth of clothes; packed to capacity in the winter with sweaters and long-sleeve shirts; or, as I prefer to travel, half full with shorts, t-shirts, and a swimsuit in the warm months.

        So I guess that's my two cents - the bag is so comfortable to wear, even fully loaded, and if you have the luxury of having some space to fully unpack, it's a dream. It's a little tricker to live out of the bag, but I've definitely done that too and I'm still alive to tell the tale.
        Last edited by afsheen; 06-20-2016, 01:46 PM.


          Hey Lani,

          I'm "Castle to Chateau"ing myself this September!

          Of your options, I'd go with the Tri-Star. My reason is pretty simple: "Race Crap."

          This may not be you, but whenever I head out of town for a race I pack lots of options. Warm layers, cool layers, short sleeves, long sleeves, Gu, a visor, my waist pack, and on and on and on. (I run at least one race at WDW every year in January. Carry on only? Forget it.) I'm planning on an A45/Pilot combo for September, but I know I'm going to need every bit of room.
          A45: Burnt Orange/Steel; LCB: Black Dyneema/Wasabi Dyneema; DLBP: Coyote; PCBP: Iberian, Sitka; 3DCOC: Iberian, Linen; SSK: Iberian; TSS: Solar & Island (4), Wasabi & Zest (3), Ultraviolet & Northwest Sky (2), Iberian (1); Travel Tray: Steel; Fjord, Sitka, Monarch; Q-kit; Various Dyneema organizer pouches,

          Halcneema Addiction is a dangerous thing. #buyallthecolors

          Still refining my system


            Oh, I hadn't even considered a Synapse! Decisions decisions!


              I prefer my Smart Alec for comfort of carrying and my Western Flyer for ease of retrieving items and repacking. So for me, it would probably depend on how far I expect to walk wearing the bag and whether I'll be living out of the bag or able to unpack at my destination(s). I also have a Tri-Star that I rarely use because it's a bit too large to wear comfortably and I find the three compartments less useful.


                The Tristar works very well for plane/taxi, bus, tram, city train/hotel or car/hotel trips. But, as much as I love my Tristar, I think a Synapse or Smart Alex or Brain Bag is much, much better for trips with lots of walking and public transport.

                But, Yugyag79, has also a racer perspective which I lack.


                  Thanks for sharing your experience! I have some more thinking to do now.


                    Originally posted by backpack View Post
                    The Tristar works very well for plane/taxi, bus, tram, city train/hotel or car/hotel trips. But, as much as I love my Tristar, I think a Synapse or Smart Alex or Brain Bag is much, much better for trips with lots of walking and public transport.
                    Why are S, SA, and BB better for trips with lots of walking??
                    Happy owner of Original copilot, Nordic Original small cafe bag, Nordic Halcyon Synapse 25, Nordic Halcyon medium cafe bag, black Halcyon Sidekick. Gave son The Maker's Bag and he LOVES it. Gave Hubby a Pilot for Christmas!


                      My Smart Alec plus UMP is my preferred travel bag....BUT I always use a combination of Eagle Creek and Tom Bihn organizer cubes inside it. And I am always surprised how much I can fit. Most of my travel is work related, and it fits a small packit folder and several other cubes easily, so for fun travel, I think you could easily accommodate 10 days of gear. One of my favorite features is the bungee on the bag for when I am adding or removing a layer, or to hold random objects.

                      I keep trying to adopt a Aeronaut, but invariably, whenever I start to pack for travel, I load up my Smart Alec, and since it is simply so comfortable to wear, and such a manageable size, that is what I end up taking.

                      Note: One thing I have started doing when I know I may be sightseeing with the Smart Alec is take a secondary bag (MCB, SE, or PCSB) for smaller items I want to easily access. Especially with an SE, it is a super streamlined and easy way to manage small items.
                      Last edited by NWhikergal; 06-28-2016, 06:52 PM.
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