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Tri Star - review and thoughts compared to the Aeronaut

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    Originally posted by AVService View Post
    Can you give a little description of the "Yotel" I have an undying curiosity about these?
    Sure - check out comment #22 on this thread, where I talked a bit about my Yotel experience:


      I've been wanting either an : aeronaut, tristar, or western flyer for awhile now. I can't justify more than one, but i've gone back and forth on all three. Thanks for your thoughts on the aeronaut vs tristar. Looks like you prefer the openness / added space of the aeronaut. It's hard because I can imagine also using this bag for stuff around town when I need more than my messenger. On the other end, sometimes I think I still pack too much and if I got a western flyer, i'd force myself to pack lighter and still have all I need. Also, as a fairly short/small person, the western flyer doesn't look like it takes over my back if i wear it with the shoulder straps.

      Have you any thoughts on the western flyer?


        Welcome to the forum, ultramaroo. Hang aroung here long enough and you'll find plenty of reasons to justify more than one Tom Bihn bag!

        As for a comparison among the Aeronaut, Tristar, and Western Flyer, here are a few thoughts. I am 5 foot one, female, and closing in on Medicare age, so overpacking is not my idea of fun. That's probably why I use the Aeronaut the least often--it's just too easy for me to pack it more heavily than is good for me. Where it shines is in flexibility--you can pack odd sized items easily, especially those that aren't flattish in shape. So, when I went to Santa Fe and thought I might buy something like a native basket, I toted the Aeronaut. The Tristar is my general go-to bag whenever I'm on the road for a week or more or when it's cold and I'm bringing heavier clothing. I really like having the flexibility of the backpack straps, though I tend to use it as a suitcase with the Absolute Strap most of the time unless I'm going to be toting it a long way through one of those long linear ariports like Denver. The Western Flyer was my very first TB travel bag. I love its compactness and it is perfectly right-sized for short trips for me. Unfortunately for me, I got it with the slingstrap instead of backpack straps--its one of the original ones that came that way--and the slingstrap doesn't work for me. Based on how well I love the backpack straps on the Tristar, I know I'd love the Western Flyer even more how it is configured today. One downside of the Western Flyer is that it isn't practical to tote a computer in it. The Tristar's middle section is perfect for a computer and miscellaneous cords, with room for the 3-1-1 bag too. Very handy for wrangling stuff through the TSA checkpoint. So when I go with the Western Flyer and need my computer, my personal item is a Ristretto, the most perfect way to carry a 13 inch laptop. (See what I mean about the seductive temptations of Tom Bihn bags?)
        Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.


          I have to make a second vote for the Tristar if you are only going to get one TB bag (stop fooling your self by the way!)...to start with.

          As long as clothes, shoes and electronics are your main kit it is exceptional. The big open section of the Aeronaut makes it superior for "OH KRAP!" kind of applications like being given a toaster for Christmas or flitcraft's basket example above.

          I can overpack my Tristar (20+ pounds) so I can only imagine how much you could overpack an Aeronaut, although I do think it holds it shape better when overpacked.

          No experience directly with the WF, but I think flitcraft nailed its potential upsides and downsides...


            Ha! I do plan to get more than one tom bihn bag. I already have a bag problem and I don't even own any Bihn bags yet! Both my roommates have Aeronauts and I've purchased a pair of his and hers Western Flyers as a wedding gift. (I haven't asked them how they liked them, yet, though). I'm just too darn indecisive! Plus I thought I wouldn't be traveling anytime soon but actually I've been traveling quite a bit lately and any of them would've come in real handy. Well! I'm fed up, i'm getting one soon!
            Thanks all for the comments.

            Also is there any way to change my username, i meant to write ultramaroon but i somehow forgot the n...


              Hi all!

              This is my first post to the site-- although I have been obsessively reading posts and doing research over the last week or so. I am looking to purchase my first Tom Bihn bag, to replace a roller that was lost, found, gate-checked and then broken by the airlines! After all that, I swore I would never go the checked bag route again, nor have the bulk of a roller bag...

              I am trying to decide between the Aeronaut and the Tristar, and currently leaning heavily towards the Aeronaut. I travel for 4-10 days at a time, maybe 6 times a year for work, with an additional 3 or so personal trips of up to 7 days in the mix. Some domestic flights, but mainly international flights to Europe and Latin America. My work attire is basically business casual, although I will usually need to bring at least a blazer and maybe a full suit on a given trip. This would be a sample work packing list:

              -1 Blazer
              -2 dress pants
              -1 pair jeans
              -3 dress shirts
              -1 short sleeved t-shirt
              -1 long sleeved t-shirt
              -3 pairs undershirts, underwear, socks
              -1 pair exercise shorts and exercise shirt
              -1 pair dress shoes
              -1 sweater
              -somewhat bulky IBM laptop from work
              -slim portfolio with work papers
              -chargers, plug converter, ear bud headphones
              -slim cloth day bag
              -Book for personal reading

              I'll then wear on the plane a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, sweater, and sneakers, with a light jacket.

              I would love to hear your thoughts on which of the two bags you would recommend given these particular needs? I am currently leaning towards the aeronaut, out of a feeling that it will be easier to pack for the longer trips, and that all of this may not fit in the tristar. However I also am somewhat nervous that the aeronaut may be more likely to be gate-checked or easy to overpack (too heavy) vs the tristar. The tristar also seems to look a little more "business-like". Any guidance you have would be great! I am excited to be joining the Tom Bihn family very shortly!


                Hi, I have a Tri Star and went through a similar decision process to yours when I bought it. Here's why I chose it over the Aeronaut.

                1. I live in Australia so I have to be mindful of much smaller size and weight restrictions for carry on baggage than people in the US. This is also an issue for travel in Europe. I thought that the Aeronaut would be too easy to overpack in terms of weight limits.

                2. I like packing cubes and bags with sensible compartments, so the Tri Star internal layout suits me better. It is very convenient for storing a laptop and other work items and is easier to access them without revealing the other contents of your bag if you need to have it with you in a business meeting - you just open the centre pocket and slide out whatever you need.

                3. I thought the Tri Star had a more "professional" appearance than the Aeronaut, which to me is more of a leisure bag in appearance.

                4. I can pack for up to about 8 days in the Tri Star (i am female, and 5'6"). I think you would be able to accommodate your sample packing list in a Tri Star, but depending on your build you might have some difficulty with the blazer (and the suit, if you needed to bring one). I would deal with that by wearing the blazer on the plane and packing your jacket if it's more unstructured/lightweight and "packable" than the blazer. I am not sure whether the centre compartment of the Aeronaut would be better able to take a suit or blazer without crushing them, but I'm sure others will be able to help out with that!


                  I have an Aeronaut, but I don't have a Tri-Star, so I really can't compare the bags for you. The best I can do is tell you of my experiences traveling with the Aeronaut.

                  For a 5-day, 3-city work trip, I used it to hold 1 spring-weight wool blazer, 1 lightweight pullover sweater, 3 pair dress slacks, 5 dress shirts, 1 long-sleeve t-shirt, 1 short-sleeve t-shirt, 1 pair of knit long lounging pants, 1 night shirt, 7 sets of undies/socks (I had one day I knew I'd need to change for an evening event and I always take a spare set), 1 leather belt, 1 jewelry roll-style pouch, toiletries in a Tom Bihn clear 3-1-1 bag, and a Tom Bihn large clear organizer pouch with work files that didn't fit in my personal bag. All of the shirts were packed into an Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder (the 15", I think, which I bought after reading suggestions on this forum). I made due with a single pair of dress shoes, since I didn't want to carry the weight. The Aeronaut was full, but not crammed or bulging. I even added a few small souvenirs to my load as the trip progressed.

                  On that trip, all US domestic flights, mostly on regional/commuter size aircraft, of the 6 flights I took, I only was gate-checked once.

                  On the 5th flight, the flight attendant tried to take it my bag from me at my seat because the overheads were full; however, I was pretty tired and kind of pitched a mini-fit about the 3 people ahead of me who had oversized bags and 3 other putting their briefcases (2nd bags) in the overhead instead of under their seat. So two of the briefcase guys moved them and made space in the overhead for me muttering about crazy %ithces. I was a bit embarrassed, but glad to have my bag in the passenger compartment, not the belly of the plane. On the 6th and final leg of that trip, my Aeronaut was gate checked. The flight was over an hour late leaving, I was exhausted, and I didn't argue. It was the only time I stood in line carrying the bag the Aeronaut by the backpack straps rather than the carry handle. I've wondered if the bag looked bigger on my back than in my hands, since I'm only 5'4" and fairly short-bodied.

                  As far as packing a blazer goes, I've packed a spring-weight wool blazer in my Aeronaut a few times. Once bundle wrapped around the Eagle Creek Pack-It folder containing shirts, once folded small enough to fit inside the Pack-It, and once folded fairly wide to just fit in the bottom of the center section of the bag with everything else on top to hold it in place. The blazer didn't survive wrinkle-free with any of the methods; however, after placing the blazer on a hanger while I showered, the majority of the wrinkles smoothed out and I looked pretty professional. I think the way that work best for me was the last; folded wide and under everything else.

                  Sorry I got long-winded (a bad habit of mine). Hope it helped a little.
                  Aeronaut in Black/Iberian, Synapse in Black/Iberian, Small Cafe Bag in Linen/Steel, 4Z Horizontal Cache in Black, iPad Vertical Cache in Black, 3D Organizer Cube in Steel, Large Clear Organizer in Pouch Iberian, Medium Clear Organizer Pouch in Iberian, Mini Padded Organizer Pouch in Black, Mini Organizer Pouch in Iberian, 16" Key Strap in Sapphire, 8" Key Strap in Storm


                    I've had a Tri-Star and it's been great for 2-3 day business trips. I usually travel with a laptop, an iPad and often a stack of papers in addition to my work clothing; this does make the bag rather full. I've never had to gate check the bag on a regional jet.

                    The main problem is packing a jacket with shoulder pads without damaging them: stuffing rolled-up T-shirts into the shoulder pads does protect them well. Other than that, while wrinkles are unavoidable, the shower trick does work.