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Techonaut 45: One Month Travel Review

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    Techonaut 45: One Month Travel Review

    Hey all - I've just returned from a 30+ day trip with a coyote 1050d techonaut 45, and I have thoughts!

    For quick background, this was all car travel but hotel to hotel and with a lot of carry between cars & rooms so, overall, I'd put it at 95% of air travel with the exception of knowing how the bag fits in the overheards ... which I'm assuming is similar to the A45, meaning it'll fit even in the RJ overheads

    Full A45 pic in the tiny RJ Overhead compartments:

    I was thinking of doing a pros & cons, but - really - this is a great bag so it's more about considerations & tradeoffs, thus here's my list:

    (1.) Material Choice
    Obviously there are tons of personal factors here: aesthetics, weight, durability, overall feel & feeling ... so there's no right answer, just what's right for you.

    With a note that my A45 is halcyon, for me there's only one choice for the T45: 1050D. My reasons being:
    (1.a.) Structure - This is a big bag with a big space and, for me & how & what I pack, it needs the structure that 1050D has
    (1.b.) Durability - I've found that I tend to chuck these bags around, and load them up to 50lbs, plus I want it to be checkable just in case; especially given this is a backpack carry bag (see below). Also, IME, 525D scuffs easily, & holds the scuffs (for a large bag I'd only consider 525 for the BB).
    (1.c.) Preference - I simply prefer the look of 1050d to just about any other fabric available on the market. XPAC can look quite techy-swank, but even there it doesn't beat 1050D's luxurious look & feel to me. 1050D looks expensive & badass and, to my eye, other materials look plain comparatively.

    (2.) Carry Modes
    My recommendation is pretty simple: don't buy a T45 if you don't plan on carrying primarily backpack style.

    For notes & pics on comfort under heavy loads over long hauls see my post here - nothing was different during my travels & the T45 is a great backpack carry that falls just short of something with a full-on harness system & full hip belt. If you read my post you can see why I'd prefer flatter wider shoulder straps with less padding, but that's not to say the straps aren't comfortable - quite the opposite - simply that it could be better, but it's a knit-pick.

    Shoulder carry - The T45 is as good at shoulder carry as the A45 is at backpack carry, which is to say, best avoided. It's passable, but it has problems like the backpack back fabric rubbing your clothes and an overall awkwardness I don't get with the A45. I think part of this is I tend to overstuff my A45 and its design is such that, when stuffed, it makes 2 natural indentations on the top face which then fit perfectly into my hip so I can rest my elbow & forearm on the top of the bag and hold one of the straps for maneuverability. On the T45 it should theoretically be similar but, for me, it just wasn't / isn't. It's very awkward and I mostly abandoned that as a T45 carry style.

    Hand Carry - This isn't bad, but the strap-foam handle is weird & awkward. I wanna love it, but I can't because it's not ergonomic, hard to grab right, and ultimately doesn't perform any better than any of the other Bihn bag handles which I prefer more. I did do a LOT of hand carry and it never got more familiar - every time it was kind of a weird adjustment that I've never gotten used to.

    Top Handle - I wouldn't call this a carry mode, but it's a genius handle with all of the qualities the side handle lacks: discreet, easy to grab, super ergonomic, always just what you need. I used that handle a lot and I love it!

    (3.) Side Pockets

    First a note about the side/top pocket zipper orientation - it's backwards! At least to me ... I kinda understand why they may have done it this way, but when the bag is on its back, like it is 90% of the time for packing/unpacking, I wanna zip down to open and up to close, but it works the opposite way which isn't convenient for packing. I love it when bag is zip,zip,zip, but this one with its backwards and closes/opens more zip here like this, then zip there that way, then back over here this other way, etc. E.g., on the Tristar all zips pull open to the left, closed to the right and/or down to open, up to close. It's a knit-pick, but it is slightly annoying.

    As for the pockets themselves, I honestly had low expectations, but they turned out to be super useful!
    The "water bottle" pocket is great for an umbrella or flip-flops that you wanna have handy for quick access.
    The top pockets are fabulous for laptop powerbrick & cables; makes it SUPER handy to flop down, pull out your laptop, pull out the brick & cords, and for quick stash of cell, wallet, keys, etc. Definitely will be my go-tos for TSA & most importantly quick-stash & cables is a feature the A45 doesn't have!!
    The Side pocket is great for sundries: tissues, lip balm, wipes, keys, pen, etc

    (4.) The RC Zippers
    My instinct is to say 'I hate them!', throw a mild to moderate hissy fit, and move on to the next topic. While that would be emotionally luxurious, it wouldn't be fair- or open-minded because the truth is I did find a time to appreciate them: when you've gotten to your room after a long journey and you slap down your bag and want to quickly get unpacked, then the smooth & easy RC zips are nice ... also when packing up. I do appreciate them there ...

    That said, I still greatly prefer old zips and, if I'm honest, these new RC zips will be a serious consideration pause before I buy more large Bihn bags. I'm sure I"m in the minority here, but the feel just isn't a quality feel to me, and their ease of open on such a big bag with such a large opening just doesn't seem right.

    It'd be great if Bihn would add a small perpendicular zipper fabric loop that the zipper pull could be threaded under to "lock" them closed. Seems like a super easy & cheap add that wouldn't get in the way of those who don't want to use it. (locks are not an option for me)

    (5.) Main Compartments
    The ability to use full-size Tristar cubes is awesome. I primarily used two large EC cubes, one for shirts, undies, socks & one for shorts, pants, & jackets. In the lower pocket I alternated between shoes & quick grab coats, shorts, & pants. Nothing to say here other than it's a fantastically fast & easy bag to pack & unpack, maybe the best TB makes for me in that respect.

    Final notes are I see no reason for a frame sheet or hip belt so I'll be skipping those annnndddd, yeah, it's a great bag!

    If you wanna primarily back-pack carry and don't mind the greased-lightening zips I'd give it an 8 out of 10.

    Hi GrussGott great review with thorough testing! I totally agree: the Techonaut is certainly primarily a backpack. I also struggled with the strap handle for hand carry, it is too soft for my taste, I would prefer a sturdier material. While I love the soft material for shoulder straps it is different for the carry handle.
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood (and not Corona!)
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces