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The Night Flight in flight

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    The Night Flight in flight

    First trip (well, first by air) with the Night Flight is in progress; here's a snapshot on the good (nearly everything) and a few thoughts for improvement, after making it to San Francisco.

    1) I'm using the Night Flight to carry a video recorder and some other video gear (wireless mic, wired mic, several batteries, etc). It's not a real production bag style case as you might get from Petrol. Kata, Porta-Brace, etc, I realize, and I wouldn't carry this gear in it other than as carry-on. (The bits are mostly stashed either in zip-up cases (the ones that aren't fragile) or in padded cases originally sold to hold SLR lenses, etc.

    2) Also in the bag, some food: I don't want to fly without food. I can cook better (within the bounds of my taste) than the airlines, and cheaper, which is satisfying. So, I had a tupperware-style container of pasta, another one with 5-6 snack bars, a meal-replacement hockey puck of chocolate and coconut, a few other bits. (The extra bits filled chinks created by the lens-cases.)

    3) housekey, earbuds, flashlight, in the mesh pocket inside the flap.

    4) Kindle Paperwhite and Nexus 7 tablet, both in cases, in one end pocket. Same end pocket held a (20 ounce? 16 ounce?) plastic water bottle quite well, with just the cap sticking out of the zipper, looked like it was intentional. I stuck my phone in this pocket as well going through the security theater devices. (Actually, since I opt in to a free massage in nearly all cases, I skipped the metal detector as well.)

    5) Lightweight raincoat in the other end pocket.

    6) Pens, pencils, oddments, etc. A few airport snacks rounded it out, since I was hungry before I had a good chance to break out my pasta, which became my late-night snack instead.

    7) wallet and small organizer pouch, one in each end pouch, each secured by a keystrap.

    8) gum in one outmost (slim) pocket, the other used for boarding passes.

    Above is as best I can recall, neither exhaustive nor guaranteed to be accurate.

    The suggestions I'd have for NF Mark II are the same as I listed in an earlier thread -- I am stubborn like that Would like a slim zippered pocket on (and the same length as) the same panel as the logo, for instance. Also, I'd like an eyelet for keys in the outermost (slim) pocket, rather than only on the larger ones. The outermost one is where I'd like to put my keys, or a wallet secured with a keystrap, or maybe -- also on a strap -- just a thin wallet-thing with bus-pass or similar.

    Thoughts: I liked it "on paper" as soon as I heard about it, and it's the first bag I've ordered from Olde Seattle in a long time; now I like it even more. It's purpose built for being a good under-seat fit, and it worked perfectly for that. Slid right under, on one smallish jet and one smaller (CRJ900) regional jet.

    Another great characteristic: it's got structure, I think the most of any non-briefcase Bihn bag. (For instance, the Tri-Star has structure, but has nothing on the Night Flight.) That, the strongly defined pockets, and the boxy shape of the main compartment, all mean this is a bag that will actually sit on your lap if necessary for re-ordering or digging for that thing that dropped in there. I did some re-packing on my bus-ride to the airport, hyper aware that it would have been much harder to do if I was digging around the cavern inside my SuperEgo.

    Stuffability: Low on the scale, but that's the flipside of having a spec-based structure. I believe a bag that can be zipped and broken by being zipped because the zipper is out of tune with the volume and the materials strength is flawed. Happy to say that my ill-considered attempts to close the zipper on this one failed when I tried to jam in one too many atoms -- it out-lasted my attempts. The bag is the shape of the bag. You can either shut it, or not -- and I say that as a bag-and-zipper stretcher.

    Some people think the absolute strap is overkill on a bag this small; I was beginning to think so, too (a couple of keystraps, organizer pouches, and an Absolute strap, on a bag that *looks* a lot like a duffell I might find for --ahem -- a bit less in SF's Chinatown, and pretty soon you're talking real money), but now am convinced it was the right move. (Absolute strap also on the Tri-Star, though once landed I like to put that into backpack mode.)

    A definite winner, portable art / portable culture. Keystrap locations in the end pockets, one *big* outer pockets for maps or postcards, and maybe a few more tweaks, and it could get all five stars instead of four and three quarters

    Thought I was packed to the limit on the way *out* (and had resigned myself to checking the Tri-Star on return). Turns out, I was able to re-pack such that even conference swag and worn clothing (always takes up more room than clean), bits of paper picked up to return, etc, some additional snacks, even a small (but padded / substantial) conference *slingack* fit into the Tri-Star and Night Flight combination. However, that made the Tri-Star fatter than I prefer. So, when they asked for gate-checking volunteers at SFO, I took them up on the offer, re-configured a bit, and checked the Tri-Star, with a monopod lashed to it as well as I could -- monopod with its own luggage tag, just in case, though it arrived fine. Used the conference slingpack -- already some falling apart seems, after 3 days that were normal for city walking, and no serious abuse -- as my overhead big bag, though it was smaller than the Night Flight. (Mostly because it has a laptop sleeve built in, and that's a job that had been for the Tri-Star instead.)

    A few more "Mark II" suggestions that struck yesterday:

    1) I may find some lightweight bungies to use in combination with the strap holding bracket thingie (what do you call the piece into which the shoulder strap clips?) and any other attachment points I can figure out -- for hopping on a plane, I always have a few items that end up jammed in my pockets instead, even if -- stressing this -- I'm carrying a well-designed bag for slipping underseat. For all the planes I've been on with it so far (OK, only 4, but three of them were smallish), the Night flight has been a great and easy fit, and would have had some clearance for optional bungied-on bits (pillow, just-purchased snack), tiny-folding jacket if I'd needed it. One of of those planes, that extra stuff wouldn't have fit under the seat, but that's not really an issue: the pillow's for behind my head, the jacket stuffs to the side of the bag or the passenger, the snack goes in the seat-back pocket ... the ability to tack on an extra item with a bungie, or for that matter an additional external anchor point for something that can attach with a caribiner, would be useful on road / bus trips / using as an around-town bag on a bike jaunt, as an impromptu climb-this-hill-with-picnic bag, etc. Think "baguette," picnic cloth, or "miniature tripod."

    2) I wish the wrap-around grip connector (the one that snaps) was either slightly longer or had slightly more give. It's not a jaw-clenching effort, but another quarter inch, third of an inch, half inch (would have to test the exact meeasure, and freely volunteer my services ) would make this easier, esp. in cold weather.

    3) somewhere in the bag (I like symmetry, so I'd say "one on each inside corner of the large side pockets), I'd like an indestructable pen/pencil pocket, or a pair, or a quad. One fat enough for a Sharpie or even a standard Marks-a-Lot marker, and of a material so durable that not even ink can escape. (And strong enough that it can't be worn away at the bottom by the pointy tip of some mechanical pencils I could name.) I could see this also as an external pocket, just a slit really, on the topmost panel (in other words, the panel you see if looking from above, whether parallel or perpendicular to the handles), with some kind of wonder-material on each end to prevent damage by poking. Dynema's strong, but I have proof (not on this bag, knock on wood) that it can be punctured getting poked under travel jostling / pressure by a pointy steel pencil.

    4) Fanciful? I think practical: On the panel of the bag there the label is, I'd like a strip akin to the one on the Super Ego, where a colorful reflective strip could be inserted. Makes for easy identification, and a safety feature while walking / biking. Make it reversable, for spy use.

    More generally -- Tri-Star + Night Flight: Great traveling combination, esp. in current-and-expected-to-get-worse luggage-space reality. The above suggestions do not constitute complaints other than of the mildest variety.

    Aeronaut or other overhead pack would have been great, too: I like the Tri-Star slightly better for traveling with laptop, because the center slot makes it easy to remove for the theatrical display portion of the festivities. (Tthough I'm thinking about cobbling together with duct tape and gum a carrying pouch for my laptop to which the baggie -- or in my case plastic box -- of liquids would attach as well. Most airports, anyhow enough to matter, I have to take out the laptop even from the ones the TSA says I shouldn't have to, like the Checkpoint Flyer. With a supplementary protective pack that is just laptops-and-liquids, I could reduce zipping / unzipping hassles at the useless checkpoint itself. Maybe a Daylight backpack, holding a padded sleeve, to be removed pre-security farce, with enough room for belt and liquids, and then replaced with little fuss right after, and serving as a packing cube as well. Hmm, tempting.)