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Western Flyer Review

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  • Maria
    replied
    Hello Dorayme;

    I was thinking of Steel for the Western Flyer....but would love to know if Tom and crew are planning on the new navy or Forest for this bag. As I plan to get a Tri-Star (would love to be able to order both at the same time!) and will get that bag in one of the new shades.

    I like the idea of packing as small as possible, but like to leave room for the inevitable extras to bring home....or books or crafts for the journey too! Hence, I wouldn't mind having the choice of the two bags handy!

    Leave a comment:


  • dorayme
    replied
    Both are nice, which colors are you choosing? I will say that my Western Flyer didn't feel stuffed or hard to get into/out of when packed for 5 days of travel and I over packed by bringing along both tops and bottoms and shoes that I am not going to end up using. I only packed clothes shoes and toiletries though so if I were trying to truly one bag travel and also include my knitting, iPad and other entertainments I would have found it stuffed. Were I in that situaltion however, I would have also paired down what I brought.

    Leave a comment:


  • Maria
    replied
    I want a Western Flyer! (Actually, one shall be included when I place my next order.)

    When I pack, I still like to have room left over - for purchases or what not. Plus I have this aversion to an over-stuffed bag when even if organized - you have to take everything out to get that one item from the bottom. So for these reasons, I'm also thinking I need a Tri-Star too! ;)

    Leave a comment:


  • dorayme
    replied
    This weekend has been my maiden voyage of my Western Flyer. I picked the right bag! It holds a lot more than it looks like it can, yet it never feels bulky or cumbersome. I know I will get years of use in many situations out if this bag!

    Leave a comment:


  • SteveG
    replied
    Scott wrote a great review and the pictures are dead on. A few things. I always tend to have a bigger bag than I want...and this time almost purchased the Tri-Star (also looked at the Patagonia version and a few others I forget). After talking with a salesperson here at length (she gave me all the time I needed and I never felt rushed) and describing my packing habits she recommended the Western Flyer. It works perfectly. BUT you have to know how to pack and be a bit of a minimalist. I get everything I need (I'm 205 lbs, 6') for a week away in it (I roll stuff up and actually don't use any of the packing aids sold here). Granted, it's summer stuff, but sleepwear, Keen sandals, pair of nylon pants, swim suit, 1 Hawaiian shirt, 6 T's Miscellaneous stuff. Electronics, sunglasses and whatever I have a Scottevest for and that works well. After a trip, I purchased the great shoulder strap since having either shoes or sandals in the bag makes it a bit heavy for a long haul.

    Probably the deal breaker for me was when I had the option of not getting the shoulder straps. That adds an extra slip for magazines on the back and I never liked those straps on anything, but of course that's purely personal.

    For comparison I used to be able to go to Mexico for 3-4 days with one of those canvas attache bags...but stuff got rumpled, etc. (I'll see if I can put up a pic for comparison sake.) The Bihn is like a Rolls Royce compared to those and I only wish I had it when I traveled more than I do now. So. Small bag, good for a week in summer and 3-4 days in winter IF you know how to pack, that looks good and holds up. One of the best purchases I've made in a while and though money is always an object for me, this time I certainly got a deal for what I paid.
    Last edited by SteveG; 06-01-2011, 12:17 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sco1t
    replied
    Well it's been over 2 years since my original review, how time flies!

    I thought I would add my observations over that time period to fully complete my review.

    My Western Flyer has been well used. For the first year I was away on business for 3 days / 2 nights and it contained everything I needed. It was not used as extensively during the second year (once a month) but the trips taken were longer (5 days / 4 nights) and international in nature. I travelled very light and managed to get everything I needed into the bag. It was a tight squeeze though. I was never challenged by airport personnel to weigh my "carry-on"; even the hawk eyed people at Ryanair let it pass without comment.
    The bag itself has withstood the daily grind remarkably well and there are no real signs of obvious wear and tear. I can't see any scuff marks on the exterior which I think is remarkable considering the amount of times it has been thrown in a taxi boot or shoved in an overhead compartment. There are no tears in the material, either internally or externally. All the stitching is still as tight as it was on day 1. This fact alone is worthy of high praise as I have had a tendency to really stuff the bag full to have everything I needed for a work week away. The zips are still very solid. The rain covering on the front top external pocket has deteriorated over time though, with a 1mm by 1cm strip missing. Even so it is still small enough to prevent water entering and the quality of the material used seems to prevent the gap from getting bigger.

    The bag still retains its shape very well. The only area where it not as delivered is the outside pocket. Admittedly this was designed for boarding passes etc. but I used it for a flexible Platypus water bottle and the result of this constant pressure on the fabric can be seen (but only when the bag is completely empty).

    My one big issue has been with the mesenger strap. It handles the weight in the bag (often around 10kgs) as there are no signs of fatigue but the unequal force it applies on my shoulders makes carrying it for any extended period a pain. A one mile walk with 10kgs is the limit. Tom has already rectified this by discontinuing this option but I wish the backpack straps had been available when I ordered mine.

    The fabric is still as black as when I first received it. It seems to be able to repel food and drink spilt on it extremely well. It has been out in wet weather and the contents remained as dry as a bone.

    The only area I can think of improving the bag is to give the option of removing the centre divider, it just adds a bit more flexbility for packing larger items or being able to bundle roll a larger amount of clothes. Much the same as there is a divider in the front half, could the centre section be zipped out?

    All in all a fantastic bag, I am truly glad to have purchased it - well worth the money.

    All the best,
    Scott

    Leave a comment:


  • Jenne
    replied
    I have the full-size WF packing cube and a half-size Eagle Creek cube. Since this trip is by van, I have the option to use the WF as a computer bag and another bag for clothes. I'm checking out those links, though. Thanks!

    Leave a comment:


  • moriond
    replied
    Try packing cubes?

    Hi Jenne,

    Have you thought of using packing cubes to organize the contents of your Western Flyer? They work pretty well to help pack down clothing items.
    Originally posted by Jenne View Post
    I'm bringing:

    toiletries
    2 suits
    2 white blouses
    1 twinset
    2 scarves
    swimsuit
    towel
    travel jammies
    travel hat
    Converse high-tops
    horizontal Freudian slip

    So far it seems pretty tight, even though I've seen other people with longer lists.
    Here are links to some posts in other threads that discuss using packing cubes with the Western Flyer:

    Hope this helps.

    moriond
    Last edited by moriond; 01-15-2009, 06:13 PM. Reason: pruned list of links to posts in other threads

    Leave a comment:


  • Jenne
    replied
    Originally posted by Russell View Post
    My thinking of late has been simpler is better and the purchase of the WF is a move in this direction. I have been a packrat since I was a child and my strive for simplicity has pushed me to pack smarter for trips over the past 3 years. I'm using my next trip as my first step into one-bag travel for a flight. I can credit the Tom Bihn bags and community here for inspiring me to work towards this goal.


    My UPS tracking status says that my WF is out for delivery today. Can't wait to check it out and see the Western Flyer up close and in person!
    I got my WF today! She is beautiful! I also got my other TB stuff today as well. I'm doing a test run this week for my trip next week.

    I also tend to be a packrat and I'm also trying to simplify, so I hope this will help me, too.

    I'm bringing:

    toiletries
    2 suits
    2 white blouses
    1 twinset
    2 scarves
    swimsuit
    towel
    travel jammies
    travel hat
    Converse high-tops
    horizontal Freudian slip

    So far it seems pretty tight, even though I've seen other people with longer lists.

    If it works out, I'm also bringing my computer in a brain cell (separate) and my medium cafe bag. After I unpack, I'm going to use the WF/brain cell combo as a briefcase during the days.

    Leave a comment:


  • Russell
    replied
    I haven't had any problem with the Empire Builder as my "personal item" on flights. However, I haven't traveled internationally with the EB only domestic flights.

    Comparing the Empire Builder and Western Flyer the dimensions are very close with the EB slightly larger overall:
    WF: 18" x 12" x 7"
    EB: 18.25" x 12.75" x 7"

    But the volume differs a considerable bit in favor of the WF:
    WF: 1600 cubic inches
    EB: 1375 cubic inches
    I assume this difference is due to more rigidity and padding in the EB as the weight shows that the EB is almost a pound heavier.
    WF: 2.53 lbs.
    EB: 3.30 lbs.


    My Aeronaut has worked as a great companion to my Empire Builder for trips.
    I use the backpack straps on the Aeronaut to carry it in backpack mode and keep my EB at my side and am able to hustle through an airport if need be. I need to state that I'm a 5' 10" tall male in my mid-20s so the weight of the bags and other considerations haven't hindered me as much as it might someone else... In other words I'm using more brawn than brains in deciding how much to pack for trips.

    My thinking of late has been simpler is better and the purchase of the WF is a move in this direction. I have been a packrat since I was a child and my strive for simplicity has pushed me to pack smarter for trips over the past 3 years. I'm using my next trip as my first step into one-bag travel for a flight. I can credit the Tom Bihn bags and community here for inspiring me to work towards this goal.


    My UPS tracking status says that my WF is out for delivery today. Can't wait to check it out and see the Western Flyer up close and in person!

    Leave a comment:


  • timothy
    replied
    "My plan is to use the WF as my ONLY bag on a 5-day trip (2 travel days, 3 business days). This will be a record for me to hold everything in one bag like this, my way before was an Aeronaut (for clothes and what not) and Empire Builder (for computer, business docs and such) for my luggage needs."

    Any problem using the Empire Builder as your "personal item"? Flying international or domestic?

    In a few weeks, I'm heading for Israel for a few weeks. As I read the regulations, I'll be able to carry both a backpack (I have not yet sprung for an Aeronaut, and now have a gleaming for the upcoming slimmer variant / offspring / offshoot instead, so for this trip it's an eBags weekender, about which I am cautiously optimistic) and a personal item, for which I will take a Checkpoint Flyer (of which a review will be forthcoming shortly after that trip).

    If I weren't working in the course of this trip, one bag would be even better :)

    But that's how it goes sometimes, and the Checkpoint Flyer is (as bags go) a sensual delight, a symphony of shape and purpose, a garden among ruins. Fully loaded, it strikes me (not a scientific, volumentric analysis) as seeming roughly the same size as the Zephyr -- which is not in front of me right now, while I'm on the trip-before-the-trip, but visually perhaps a bit bigger, because of the three-compartment stack-of-presents construction. I intend to check beforehand, in person, with the check-in folks at my departure airport (Seattle) as a smoke-test. I want to be told "Sure, you're within our posted limits and all will be well, on each leg of your trip," and ideally I'd like *that* in writing, too.

    timothy

    Leave a comment:


  • Russell
    replied
    I've done the same.

    I ordered a Western Flyer in Steel.
    I thought the Black color looked real sharp but the ship date for the bag and date for my trip are too close for comfort as I really want to use the WF for this upcoming trip.

    I almost went with Crimson as my other TB bags are or contain Crimson in their color schemes, why not keep the color matching?

    However, I want the WF to be usable for business trips as my suitcase and briefcase, but I wanted to balance that with not looking like every other business bag so I thought Steel would be a good compromise. I'm sure you wanted to know all that... :)

    Ordered the WF along with two small WF cubes, one large WF cube, and a Horizontal Freudian Slip. I'm really looking forward to using this bag.

    My plan is to use the WF as my ONLY bag on a 5-day trip (2 travel days, 3 business days). This will be a record for me to hold everything in one bag like this, my way before was an Aeronaut (for clothes and what not) and Empire Builder (for computer, business docs and such) for my luggage needs.

    I'm anxious to attempt going light as I can and being able to move faster through the airport and not schlepping two bags for this short of a trip.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jenne
    replied
    I took the plunge and ordered the WF today for a business trip later this month. I needed something that I could also use as a professional-looking briefcase once I put away my clothes. I can't wait to get it!

    Of course I will take pictures.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sco1t
    replied
    Thanks Climb14er.

    It is difficult to answer you. I am quite large and so my clothes and training shoes take up a lot more room than they would for a smaller person. I would say that you would probably be able to get all you describe in the Western Flyer but it would come out creased if you did not bundle wrap correctly. My gut feeling is that the volume of your intended packing list would push the capacity of the Western Flyer to its limits.

    I do not pack casual 'going out' clothes as I go to most events directly from work and in that case dressing down just involves removing my tie. Not packing casual clothes also gives my shirts more 'room to breathe'.

    As you can see from the photos above, when fully packed the Western Flyer does bulge, but not too much. This means it retains its style and comfort. The back of the bag is padded and if you are using a shoulder strap and not the messenger sling, the sling provides more padding.

    As you can probably tell I am really pleased with this bag. However, each person has their own ideas when it comes to what suits them. I prefer to go very much on the light, minimalistic side and this bag is absolutely perfect in this regard.

    I hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Scott

    Leave a comment:


  • Climb14er
    replied
    Scott,

    That was an excellent review, especially the pictures and detail you presented.

    I've been thinking about a Western Flyer for some time now, mainly for two to three day business trips where I'd have to bring along some 'dress casual' pants like Dockers and button-down pinpoints (cotton), along with a set of workout/running gear (shorts, shoes and shirt), you know...the usuals for a two to three day stay, laptop/charger, personal items such as a small dop kit, underwear/socks and business essentials.

    I tend to pack fairly lightly and even with good packing skills, I'm somewhat 'concerned' that my bag will be a bulging one... and this goes contrary to being comfortable, as the whole point of traveling is trying to stay as comfortable as possible.

    If I did not have to take the laptop/charger, I could easily use the Western Flyer as a carry-on bag with clothes... and I'd carry my current Tumi expandable ballistic briefcase for the business and other essentials.

    Can you please comment on what I'm saying with relation to the Western Flyer being a 'one bag only' business/clothes/essentials alternative to my now carrying an Air Boss, with my laptop tucked inside the middle compartment.

    If the Western Flyer is too little bag for business and clothes for three days, an alternative would be ordering a Brain Cell for my laptop and placing this, again, within the inside third compartment of my Air Boss... but this gets a little on the heavy side.

    Everything has its pros and cons and I'm more than willing to compromise accordingly. ;)

    Thanks for your posting!

    Leave a comment:

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