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Shadow Guide 33 for travel

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    Shadow Guide 33 for travel

    Hi, I’m looking for a new travel bag (big carry-on). Im considering the Shadow Guide 33 or the Aeronaut 45.

    I’m curious if anyone has experience with both bags and how they’ve found them for travel?


    Personally I'd go with the Aeronaut or Techonaut over the Shadow Guide. The SG is a top loader, so if you needed something at the bottom you'd have to pull everything out to get to it (or struggle to rummage around and get it without removing things). Not something I'd want to do in the middle of the airport, for example.

    The AN/TN are much better suited for the kind of accessibility you might need while traveling.


      Originally posted by aroc View Post
      Hi, I’m looking for a new travel bag (big carry-on). Im considering the Shadow Guide 33 or the Aeronaut 45.

      I’m curious if anyone has experience with both bags and how they’ve found them for travel?

      Welcome to the forums, aroc

      Most of the comparisons between the Shadow Guide 33 (SG33) and the Aeronaut have been made with the Aeronaut 30, because the volume capacity of the 30 liter Aeronaut is a better match to the 33 liter Shadow Guide capacity than the 45 liter capacity of the Aeronaut 45.

      Here are a couple of video reviews that discuss both the SG33 and Aeronaut 30, and make some comparisons.
      Andy Modell’s Tom Bihn Shadow Guide v2 33 review:

      This spent a lot of time introducing the design features of the Shadow Guide, but the last section also repacks the SG33 contents into the Aeronaut 30 to show the comparability of the volumes (and where items would be packed in each)

      This review is more of a comparison of the different design philosophies behind the the Shadow Guide and the Aeronaut:
      Tom Bihn Shadow Guide 33 vs Aeronaut 30

      Apart from differences in the organization scheme, and the fact that the Aeronauts can be laid out for easy access even in places that are not set up to provide you with surfaces for laying out your luggage, whereas the duffel style of the top loading Shadow Guide has more of a stuff it in style, it goes into factors like the backpack strap design — are you going to be carrying the bag for extensive distances in backpack style? as opposed to, say, using an Absolute Shoulder strap. If so, you will notice the difference in comfort using a bag that is optimized for backpack carry, like the SG33, if you will be routinely walking a few miles with the bag on your back.

      Other factors are whether you will benefit from frame sheet support for the amount of stuff you are carrying, since the Aeronauts offer the option of adding a separate framesheet, but it’s an add-on to the bag (as is a padded hip belt option).

      Finally, there’s a new, very recent option as an alternative to the Aeronauts called the Techonaut — available in both T30 and T45 size. These bags incorporate built-in frame sheets, and a laptop compartment, along with a pass-through so the bag can be used with a rolling luggage handle passed through the back. The Techonauts also use the new backpack strap designs for a more comfortable backpack carry, but come at a higher price.

      Hope this helps to get you started. (I’ve linked you to the Techonaut first look blog post, but there are more reviews and discussion threads if you have specific questions).

      Last edited by moriond; 09-26-2021, 12:26 PM.


        Hi! Just to give a different opinion - I purchased an SG23 after using an A30 for several years and now prefer to use the Shadow Guide as both an everyday bag and a travel bag. It does require some planning - I use packing cubes and stuff sacks in a variety of colors and fabrics so I can quickly locate things by eye and by feel - but it's way more comfortable as a backpack and I've found that, while en route, I prefer digging through my bag in the upright position. This means it can be sitting on my lap while I dig through it, which comes in handy, say, when you're riding a crowded bus. Sometimes having to find a surface on which to lay the Aeronaut (or having to put it on the ground - and then putting that "dirty" surface back against my back) - was a bit of a nuisance.

        I also really like having a dedicated laptop compartment (which, of course, you could have with the Techonaut) and the fact that the Shadow Guide is even better than the already-excellent Aeronaut at swallowing unconventionally-sized objects. It's also worth noting that the Shadow Guide works well for me because I like to unpack my things when I'm at my destination - if I was going somewhere where I needed to keep things relatively contained, I might choose to use the Aeronaut because the divided bag does work really well for "living out of."


          Wow, great answers! These are really helpful. Some really good thoughts on some key nuances that I didn't fully consider. I also didn't know about the upcoming Technonaut! Great looking bag.

          I like clamshell bags because of ease of access, especially when traveling, but I'm also highly organized and love using packing cubes and "designing my own system", so it made this decision tough. Plus the additional organizational features of the Aeronaut/Technonaut seems helpful.

          moriond these videos are super helpful! They give me a good visual of the real world physical use of the packs for the same gear and overall approaches to using each. Your comment about "hiking a few miles with the pack" seems particularly important. I often get to destinations and walk around a good bit with my pack on. Usually because I'm bouncing around between different accommodations during a trip. I also love to hike and often try to get some one or more big day hikes in at many places I visit. I would image the SG 33 is much better suited to the walking I do while also able to be the pack I use for my hikes, which would be pretty convenient!

          caitirilt Very helpful to hear your experience given you've used both for travel and made the switch. It never occurred to me that the top loader could actually be *better* than the clamshell depending on the type of travel you do. I currently have a Tortuga clamshell that I use for travel. Thinking about it now, I actually do find it a bit painful to dig through when en-route. The lack of bag structure when digging "top down" makes it feel somewhat sloppy. The zipper slowly opens as you dig and things start to spill out. So this means I have to lay the bag with back down on the ground, row of chairs, etc. A top down loader (that's well organized, mind you) I can dig through easily while it's on the ground and I'm sitting or standing.


            Along those lines, has anyone who used a Western Flyer compared it to the Shadow Guide 23? I have to admit I'm curious now, because it's possible that the SG23 might be a better in-flight carry? For whenever I start flying again... it's hard to imagine.
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