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Want to buy my first Tom Bihn Bag, help me decide!

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    Want to buy my first Tom Bihn Bag, help me decide!

    Hi everyone,

    I'm a student who studies abroad frequently and am looking for a bag. I recently found out Tom Bihn, and now I'm hooked BILF (Buy-It-For-Life) bags. Now, what I am debating is between:

    Western Flyer
    Pros:
    • Professional Look (I dress business casual when travelling, so it fits my style)
    • Compact Design (looks real sleek)
    • Easy to carry/fit into the overhead
    • Forces me to only pack what I really need

    Cons:
    • Small (In case I need to bring something, it wouldn't fit)
    • I'm worried about bringing shoes. My previous carry-on struggles with fitting shoes



    Tri-Star
    Pros:
    • Large so I could fit some things just in case
    • Looks Professional


    Cons:
    • Awkward Backpack Form
    • Bloats up like crazy (have seen pictures, not a fan of bloating up)
    • Tends to get heavy when overpacked
    • Could not stand up straight
    • Allows overpacking, which tempts me to do it



    Aeronaut 30
    Pros:
    • Best form to pack as it has a shoe compartment
    • Able to fit a lot of stuff - just in case (souveniers, etc.)


    Cons:
    • Awkward backpack form
    • hideous to look at when used as a backpack - sorry
    • Means can only be used as a heavy sling bag, which I'm not a fan of
    • Unappealing design



    Now a little bit about me: I travel about 4-5 times every 6 months. I either go to a friend's place in Boston or some other place in the states (they are very spread out), or go to Canada/UK to visit more friends, or go back home to Southeast Asia (24 hour trip, go back and forth from SEA to US annually). So as you can see, I travel a lot, not counting family trips around the world (West Europe, East Asia, other SEA nations). Thus, I travel a lot by plane and train. I value portability and style - where the bag looks great but is portable enough so I don't loathe to carry it around. Clothes wise I am flexible, but one thing I have to bring is my Surface Pro 4 (a tablet hybrid from Microsoft).

    Short trips for me last about 3-5 days. Long trips are 2 weeks.

    Tom Bihn owners, help me in my plight!
    Black/Northwest Sky Western Flyer

    #2
    I know there are plenty on this forum who can provide better direction than I can, but here are my thoughts. First, a few questions:

    1. Are you wanting to one-bag it?

    2. When you travel for extended trips (2 weeks), do you have access to laundry?

    3. Do you have large feet?

    4. What sorts of "comfort" items do you like to travel with?

    Depending upon those answers I could direct you perhaps a little better.

    Out of all those bags you listed, I own the Western Flyer and the TriStar. I am 5'6", a female, with largish feet (10.5). By far I prefer to carry the Western Flyer. One reason is the "barrel" effect that you already cited. Both of the bags I own are Dyneema. I prefer this fabric because it is lighter and flexes. Of course, that flexability can get in the way of the structure if you over pack it.

    Additionally, I almost never bring a laptop when I travel, preferring to carry my iPad plus a keyboard instead. If I do need to bring a laptop I usually will take the TriStar because of the center compartment. If you carry a laptop, this is a very good bag to keep it safe.

    Finally, I don't typically one-bag it. I usually pair my Pilot with my Western Flyer when I travel. This allows me to keep my electronics, water bottle, knitting and ID comfortably with me. Try as I might, I have only been able to one-bag it with my Western Flyer once. I think my knitting is just too important to me to leave behind, and that is the deal breaker for a one-bag experience with my Western Flyer. This isn't annoying to me at all, as I can still keep both bags tucked underneath my airplane seat (barring an electronic component not being stuck in my way).

    I can't provide any direction regarding the Aeronauts as I don't own one (yet). I'm crossing my fingers that one will find its way to me eventually, but it is a pricey bag. In the meantime, my WF and I are best buds when it comes to short (up to about 5-6 day) trips. For any trip that exceeds that, I would need to be sure I would have access to laundry. Then I could live out of it indefinitely.

    Comment


      #3
      Hi @polarium and welcome to the Forum! I've never owned a Western Flyer, so I cannot offer much in the way of advice on that bag, although I do like how it looks. I did own a Tri-Star for about a year, and I agree with some of your concerns with this bag - it did "bloat up" when I packed it full, and I also found it difficult to pack in a hurry. What I mean is that things must be placed in the bag carefully to maximize use of the space; the Tri-Star packing cubes helped with this. I never had a problem with the bag standing up straight though. Eventually I sold it because I just didn't use it that much.

      I have owned an Aeronaut 45 for almost 5 years now, and this has been my go-to travel bag. I fly 10-12 times a year, plus ~6 trips by train and countless long-weekends by car. I have USED this bag, and it really still looks like new. There is a reason I grab this bag first. It just works for me. I like that it can be stuffed, and I like that it still works well when it's not stuffed. I love the extra room if I need it, and I love how it has fit in every. single. plane. I have ever flown on (from small regional jets up to 747s), without so much as a second glance from any airline employee. Because it is less structured that the Tri-Star, it is easier to smoosh into tight spaces. It works well with or without packing cubes, and I've always found room in the bag for my personal item as well, which lately has been either a small or medium cafe bag. The Aeronaut 30 is (obviously) smaller, but I am certain it would be just as versatile.

      I admit I didn't love the boxy look of the bag when I first got it, but I soon got over myself and learned to love the versatility of the bag. And the backpack form has not been awkward at all for me, in fact it's one of the reasons I love this bag - not having to sling it over my shoulder or roll it through airports has been invaluable, especially when trying to make a tight connection. It sounds like style is really one of your primary factors, but I would hope you might consider this bag's fantastic versatility just as much. If you can afford to (and I know this isn't an option for everyone, especially if you're not in the States), get all 3 bags, test pack them, etc., then send back the ones that don't work for you. The down side to this (as many Forum members can attest) is that often we end up keeping them all :-)

      No matter what you ultimately end up with, I know you'll be happy.
      Last edited by nukediver; 12-06-2015, 06:35 AM.
      Eat well, travel often.

      Comment


        #4
        I have owned an Aeronaut, and I agree that it is the most versatile in terms of packing. I did end up selling mine, however, as it was just too heavy. I'm 5'5, size 6. Carrying that bag through international airports was too much for my back. I then got a Western Flyer (I probably would have purchased an Aeronaut 30, but this was before they existed). The Western Flyer is perfect for my domestic travel. I do, however, bring either my iPad Ristretto for my electronics, travel documents, and a small knitting project, or my Swift with my side effect tucked inside if I am working on a regular sized knitting project. I find that either of these two options work for 3-4 night trips. For longer international trips, I find that I still need to check a bag, and in that circumstance, I prefer wheeled luggage. While the Yoemans Duffel, Aeronaut 45 or TriStar maybe large enough to accommodate me for 2 weeks traveling abroad, I still have to be able to carry it.

        What area do you currently reside in? It's possible that if one of us forum members live near you, a meet up could be arranged so you could see the bags in person....?
        Last edited by Melissa; 12-06-2015, 07:16 AM.
        🐝➰

        Comment


          #5
          @Mausermama
          1. Yes and no. I actually don't mind two-bagging it, so long as it is comfortable to carry around.

          2. That I don't rightly know. When I stay in hotels overseas (EU, SEA), I don't have access to laundry (my family usually just brings huge 30" checked-in luggages so they don't have to change, which I don't like). However, when I stay over with my friends (around the states, the UK and Canada), they always have access to laundry.

          3. I'm a Male 5'9" with 10.5 US shoes.

          4. The only comfort items I need to bring are probably my Kindle Paperwhite and Surface Pro 4 (It's a 12.3" tablet, not that thick too).

          Hmm the WF + Pilot combo is not bad, I'll check it later.


          @nukediver
          Thank you. Could you provide a full list of what could fit the Aeronaut 45 to use comfortably, and what it looks like? Yeah the versatility is great, and that's what's keeping me confused if I should get a more streamlined WF/TS or the Aeronaut styles.

          @Melissa
          I live in the Richmond, VA area. Hmm, why would you say the Aeronaut 30 is preferred over the WF?
          Black/Northwest Sky Western Flyer

          Comment


            #6
            Sounds to me like you've already made up your mind... That said, can you give us an idea of your typical packing list? Will you have a second bag to carry the surface or other personal items? How big are you? What kind of shoes do you want to pack? What size are your shoes? How do you like to pack? Do you use packing cubes or do you like to stuff your bag with things loose? Are you considering the Dyneema or ballistic nylon?

            I have both the Western Flyer (Dyneema) and two A30s (ballistic and Dyneema -- I started with ballistic, but switched to Dyneema and the ballistic one is now my partner's). They are both superb bags. I was the opposite as you. At first I was not attracted to the structure of the WF until I got my hands on one. It's a gorgeous bag and I love the sleek profile. But, I also think the A30 is beautiful and I believe it wears on the back incredibly well.

            The WF can also get buldgy if you overpack it. The A30, on the other hand, never seems to get that overpacked look, particularly in ballistic.

            I find the A30 more versatile, especially since I have taken up running and pack running shoes. I prefer the WF when I am bringing my laptop. I've one-bagged it successfully with both bags. I find the WF a slight better fit under the seat in front of me, plus, I can fit a second bag (e.g. Daylight Briefcase) with it. The A30 can also work under the seat, especially if not overstuffed.

            Comfort level, the WF wins for me (petite female with narrow shoulders). The WF also wins for me as a hand carry (small hands and the poron handle is very comfortable).


            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

            Comment


              #7
              @polarium, welcome to the forums!

              For what it is worth, I travel with my TriStar (TS) mostly and one other bag (an S25 or a Ristretto) for my 4-5 day trips. The TS is designed to carry thinner items than the Aeronaut (papers, folders, etc) and following that rule thumb (thinner items) should minimize the bulging. For reference, here is my Tristar loaded up for a 5 day trip. IMHO, it does not look bulgy - just big. I also have never had an issue with it tipping - always very solid as the picture on a stool perched vertically shows:

              Click image for larger version

Name:	TB TriStar Airport.jpg
Views:	2
Size:	234.2 KB
ID:	297960

              Here is what was inside it:

              Click image for larger version

Name:	LV 5Day_TSContents.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	204.2 KB
ID:	297961

              Basically 6 days of undershirts, socks, underwear, dress/casual shirts, 1 pair of pants, shorts, 1 extra pair of size 11.5 shoes, laptop (15.6"), and blue dry bag (to do laundry myself if needed - I believe I need to thank @bchaplin for introducing me to this neat idea - no need to pay for hotel cleaning). I also did "Ranger Rolling" to maximize space and make sure the corners were used - limiting the bulge factor. You will need to watch out for overpacking. However, IMHO, that is the case with any bag and more an issue with myself than anything else . I would use my Western Flyer more often but I cannot fit everything in - hence the TS ... but I am trying - possible New Year's resolution.

              Ironically, though the TS is bigger, the Western Flyer (WF) is better at holding large shoes (mine are size 11.5) because each WF compartments are deeper (thicker) than the TS. I posted a few pictures for someone with my size shoes in a Western Flyer:



              There are a few more pictures in the thread:
              What is my perfect setup?

              Now, if you are going to carry more bulky items, an Aeronaut is better - especially if you are going to be near the max. carry-on allowed. The TS and WF were designed more for business travel. Please also note that some people have been able to get away with the WF being a personal item (the dyneema version was shown) but YMMV.

              Hope this helps

              Cheers!
              Last edited by tpnl; 12-06-2015, 05:32 PM.
              TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Mausermama View Post
                I know there are plenty on this forum who can provide better direction than I can, but here are my thoughts. First, a few questions:

                1. Are you wanting to one-bag it?

                2. When you travel for extended trips (2 weeks), do you have access to laundry?

                3. Do you have large feet?

                4. What sorts of "comfort" items do you like to travel with?

                Depending upon those answers I could direct you perhaps a little better.

                Out of all those bags you listed, I own the Western Flyer and the TriStar. I am 5'6", a female, with largish feet (10.5). By far I prefer to carry the Western Flyer. One reason is the "barrel" effect that you already cited. Both of the bags I own are Dyneema. I prefer this fabric because it is lighter and flexes. Of course, that flexability can get in the way of the structure if you over pack it.

                Additionally, I almost never bring a laptop when I travel, preferring to carry my iPad plus a keyboard instead. If I do need to bring a laptop I usually will take the TriStar because of the center compartment. If you carry a laptop, this is a very good bag to keep it safe.

                Finally, I don't typically one-bag it. I usually pair my Pilot with my Western Flyer when I travel. This allows me to keep my electronics, water bottle, knitting and ID comfortably with me. Try as I might, I have only been able to one-bag it with my Western Flyer once. I think my knitting is just too important to me to leave behind, and that is the deal breaker for a one-bag experience with my Western Flyer. This isn't annoying to me at all, as I can still keep both bags tucked underneath my airplane seat (barring an electronic component not being stuck in my way).

                I can't provide any direction regarding the Aeronauts as I don't own one (yet). I'm crossing my fingers that one will find its way to me eventually, but it is a pricey bag. In the meantime, my WF and I are best buds when it comes to short (up to about 5-6 day) trips. For any trip that exceeds that, I would need to be sure I would have access to laundry. Then I could live out of it indefinitely.
                1. Yes I would want to try to one-bag it, but two-bagging it if needed is fine.

                2. That depends, though most probably no.

                3. I am M 5'9" with shoe size of 10.5 US

                4. My comfort item would be my kindle and my tablet (Surface Pro 4).

                Huh same here. I try to one-bag it, and it worked once on a 4 day trip to DC. I've never done laundry in any of my trips though, so it's something new for me.

                Originally posted by nukediver View Post
                Hi @polarium and welcome to the Forum! I've never owned a Western Flyer, so I cannot offer much in the way of advice on that bag, although I do like how it looks. I did own a Tri-Star for about a year, and I agree with some of your concerns with this bag - it did "bloat up" when I packed it full, and I also found it difficult to pack in a hurry. What I mean is that things must be placed in the bag carefully to maximize use of the space; the Tri-Star packing cubes helped with this. I never had a problem with the bag standing up straight though. Eventually I sold it because I just didn't use it that much.

                I have owned an Aeronaut 45 for almost 5 years now, and this has been my go-to travel bag. I fly 10-12 times a year, plus ~6 trips by train and countless long-weekends by car. I have USED this bag, and it really still looks like new. There is a reason I grab this bag first. It just works for me. I like that it can be stuffed, and I like that it still works well when it's not stuffed. I love the extra room if I need it, and I love how it has fit in every. single. plane. I have ever flown on (from small regional jets up to 747s), without so much as a second glance from any airline employee. Because it is less structured that the Tri-Star, it is easier to smoosh into tight spaces. It works well with or without packing cubes, and I've always found room in the bag for my personal item as well, which lately has been either a small or medium cafe bag. The Aeronaut 30 is (obviously) smaller, but I am certain it would be just as versatile.

                I admit I didn't love the boxy look of the bag when I first got it, but I soon got over myself and learned to love the versatility of the bag. And the backpack form has not been awkward at all for me, in fact it's one of the reasons I love this bag - not having to sling it over my shoulder or roll it through airports has been invaluable, especially when trying to make a tight connection. It sounds like style is really one of your primary factors, but I would hope you might consider this bag's fantastic versatility just as much. If you can afford to (and I know this isn't an option for everyone, especially if you're not in the States), get all 3 bags, test pack them, etc., then send back the ones that don't work for you. The down side to this (as many Forum members can attest) is that often we end up keeping them all :-)

                No matter what you ultimately end up with, I know you'll be happy.
                A lot of people have said that the Aeronaut is the best for packing, but how about laptops/tablets (Surface Pro 4)? Also, could you show me pictures so I could get an estimate of how big an Aeronaut 45 is fully packed?

                Now you made me more confused with adding the Aeronaut 45 to the list.


                Originally posted by Melissa View Post
                I have owned an Aeronaut, and I agree that it is the most versatile in terms of packing. I did end up selling mine, however, as it was just too heavy. I'm 5'5, size 6. Carrying that bag through international airports was too much for my back. I then got a Western Flyer (I probably would have purchased an Aeronaut 30, but this was before they existed). The Western Flyer is perfect for my domestic travel. I do, however, bring either my iPad Ristretto for my electronics, travel documents, and a small knitting project, or my Swift with my side effect tucked inside if I am working on a regular sized knitting project. I find that either of these two options work for 3-4 night trips. For longer international trips, I find that I still need to check a bag, and in that circumstance, I prefer wheeled luggage. While the Yoemans Duffel, Aeronaut 45 or TriStar maybe large enough to accommodate me for 2 weeks traveling abroad, I still have to be able to carry it.

                What area do you currently reside in? It's possible that if one of us forum members live near you, a meet up could be arranged so you could see the bags in person....?
                I currently reside in Richmond, VA. Say from the Aeronaut to the Western Flyer, how much did you have to compromise?

                Hahahah weight wise I don't really care, as I've carried really heavy bags around the airport before (made me sweaty walking from end to end of the airport).

                Originally posted by Pokilani View Post
                Sounds to me like you've already made up your mind... That said, can you give us an idea of your typical packing list? Will you have a second bag to carry the surface or other personal items? How big are you? What kind of shoes do you want to pack? What size are your shoes? How do you like to pack? Do you use packing cubes or do you like to stuff your bag with things loose? Are you considering the Dyneema or ballistic nylon?

                I have both the Western Flyer (Dyneema) and two A30s (ballistic and Dyneema -- I started with ballistic, but switched to Dyneema and the ballistic one is now my partner's). They are both superb bags. I was the opposite as you. At first I was not attracted to the structure of the WF until I got my hands on one. It's a gorgeous bag and I love the sleek profile. But, I also think the A30 is beautiful and I believe it wears on the back incredibly well.

                The WF can also get buldgy if you overpack it. The A30, on the other hand, never seems to get that overpacked look, particularly in ballistic.

                I find the A30 more versatile, especially since I have taken up running and pack running shoes. I prefer the WF when I am bringing my laptop. I've one-bagged it successfully with both bags. I find the WF a slight better fit under the seat in front of me, plus, I can fit a second bag (e.g. Daylight Briefcase) with it. The A30 can also work under the seat, especially if not overstuffed.

                Comfort level, the WF wins for me (petite female with narrow shoulders). The WF also wins for me as a hand carry (small hands and the poron handle is very comfortable).


                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                Ah sorry for the lack of info. I'm a 5'9" male with broad shoulders (never could find a good fit for clothes in Asian countries), with 10.5 US shoes. I typically bring two shoes, one in the bag and one worn.

                My typical packing list would be:
                - Clothes for everyday (depends on the amount of days)
                - Underwear 1/2 days (depending on the amount of days)
                - 1 khaki/chino
                - 1 shorts
                - 1 singlet
                - 1 running shorts
                - 1 Running shoe/sneaker
                - Laptop (thin one)
                - Socks for my shoes (again depends on the days)
                - Papers and pen for work
                - Kindle

                That would be it for my packing list. I love using packing cubes, as it is easy for me to organize them. On the other hand, due to packing cubes I don't have a preference for which way to pack. My Surface would have a separate bag for it from WF design, but I would like to put it in the bag if possible.

                Originally posted by tpnl View Post
                @polarium, welcome to the forums!

                For what it is worth, I travel with my TriStar (TS) mostly and one other bag (an S25 or a Ristretto) for my 4-5 day trips. The TS is designed to carry thinner items than the Aeronaut (papers, folders, etc) and following that rule thumb (thinner items) should minimize the bulging. For reference, here is my Tristar loaded up for a 5 day trip. IMHO, it does not look bulgy - just big. I also have never had an issue with it tipping - always very solid as the picture on a stool perched vertically shows:

                [ATTACH=CONFIG]14059[/ATTACH]

                Here is what was inside it:

                [ATTACH=CONFIG]14060[/ATTACH]

                Basically 6 days of undershirts, socks, underwear, dress/casual shirts, 1 pair of pants, shorts, 1 extra pair of size 11.5 shoes, laptop (15.6"), and blue dry bag (to do laundry myself if needed - I believe I need to thank @bchaplin for introducing me to this neat idea - no need to pay for hotel cleaning). I also did "Ranger Rolling" to maximize space and make sure the corners were used - limiting the bulge factor. You will need to watch out for overpacking. However, IMHO, that is the case with any bag and more an issue with myself than anything else . I would use my Western Flyer more often but I cannot fit everything in - hence the TS ... but I am trying - possible New Year's resolution.

                Ironically, though the TS is bigger, the Western Flyer (WF) is better at holding large shoes (mine are size 11.5) because each WF compartments are deeper (thicker) than the TS. I posted a few pictures for someone with my size shoes in a Western Flyer:



                There are a few more pictures in the thread:
                What is my perfect setup?

                Now, if you are going to carry more bulky items, an Aeronaut is better - especially if you are going to be near the max. carry-on allowed. The TS and WF were designed more for business travel. Please also note that some people have been able to get away with the WF being a personal item (the dyneema version was shown) but YMMV.

                Hope this helps

                Cheers!
                Well it seems I was wrong, the Tri-Star could still look good! How do you exactly pack like that? That would be really great. Backpack wise, in that bulk, is it comfortable? I don't really have bulky items asides from a sleeping bag, which I could clip to the outside of the bag. For the blue dry bag, is it necessary to onebag?
                Black/Northwest Sky Western Flyer

                Comment


                  #9
                  I had the same questions prior to purchase of my first TB bag. I was fortunate that I had a trip to Seattle scheduled about that time, so I was able to stop by the TB store and actually look at the products first-hand. My criteria at the time was a bag for domestic travel and "one bag, carry-on only".

                  After looking at the Western Flyer, Tri-Star and Aeronaut 45, I spend some time speaking with the sales person and considerably more time examining the products and pondering which one to buy. I eventually chose the Tri-Star as I felt it provided the best flexibility and size for the type of trips I usually take. The size provided me with enough room to pack a bit more for longer trips and allows some room to bring back a few souvenirs if necessary. Now that I've tried it out on a few trips, I felt I made the right decision. Using it as a backpack was very comfortable, which was surprising as I expected to have sore shoulders using a product that had no provision for torso range adjustment.

                  I felt the Western Star was too small, and didn't provide enough room. It would have been more difficult to pack and wouldn't have allowed any flexibility. Some people may be able to pack lighter to fit a WF, but I haven't achieved that level of proficiency yet. At that time, the Aeronaut 30 hadn't been introduced and I felt the Aeronaut 45 was simply too large. I have other Backpacks that I use for longer distance trips so the A45 was simply not a good "fit" for my needs.

                  I may use the TriStar on a month long trip to Europe in future, although I'll probably have to add a second bag for a trip of that length. So far I'm very pleased with my purchase and felt that I made the right choice for my travel style.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Welcome polarium! I have had an A30 in Dyneema for about 8 months now, and I really like it for the reasons that Pokilani and nukediver mentioned above. I do struggle when traveling for business with finding a good place to put my computer--the two places I've put it (neither of which is super accessible once you are on a plane) are in the slot on the back of the bag that holds the backpack straps (guessing that the Surface might fit in there even with the straps still in the compartment?) or in the bottom of the bag's main compartment, potentially with one of the side zippers unzipped depending on the size of your device.

                    I sometimes wish I had just a tad more space and/or a dedicated place for my computer, but for me, the fully packed A30 with a computer is plenty heavy--I don't want to be adding any more weight to it. So I am trying to just be more disciplined. My previous bag was a 40 L REI backpack, so I am doing some retooling of my gear to get things more compact. So far I've done both one bag and two bag (mostly with a Small Cafe Bag) travel.

                    Since I like carrying the A30 as a backpack I am thinking it might be nice to have a slightly bigger non-backpack bag to go with it (like the Pilot, so I have something small to carry my computer in when I get to my destination). Someday I'd like a to have a WF dedicated for business travel though!
                    A30 Black Dyneema/Wasabi, PCSB Iberian, S19 Black Dyneema/Wasabi, SE Forest/UV, SCB Orange 152/Navy , A30 End Pocket PC Steel Dyneema, TSS in various sizes: Solar, Iberian, Wasabi, Steel, and Zest. 3D COC Orange 152, COP Cayenne, Small OP Solar, COW Wasabi, LSB Wasabi, SSB Zest, PCBP Steel, TT Zest,

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Ah yes I've narrowed it down to the Tri-Star or A30. How much could you fit into the Tri-Star for a "one-bagging" experience?

                      Originally posted by Duster View Post
                      I had the same questions prior to purchase of my first TB bag. I was fortunate that I had a trip to Seattle scheduled about that time, so I was able to stop by the TB store and actually look at the products first-hand. My criteria at the time was a bag for domestic travel and "one bag, carry-on only".

                      After looking at the Western Flyer, Tri-Star and Aeronaut 45, I spend some time speaking with the sales person and considerably more time examining the products and pondering which one to buy. I eventually chose the Tri-Star as I felt it provided the best flexibility and size for the type of trips I usually take. The size provided me with enough room to pack a bit more for longer trips and allows some room to bring back a few souvenirs if necessary. Now that I've tried it out on a few trips, I felt I made the right decision. Using it as a backpack was very comfortable, which was surprising as I expected to have sore shoulders using a product that had no provision for torso range adjustment.

                      I felt the Western Star was too small, and didn't provide enough room. It would have been more difficult to pack and wouldn't have allowed any flexibility. Some people may be able to pack lighter to fit a WF, but I haven't achieved that level of proficiency yet. At that time, the Aeronaut 30 hadn't been introduced and I felt the Aeronaut 45 was simply too large. I have other Backpacks that I use for longer distance trips so the A45 was simply not a good "fit" for my needs.

                      I may use the TriStar on a month long trip to Europe in future, although I'll probably have to add a second bag for a trip of that length. So far I'm very pleased with my purchase and felt that I made the right choice for my travel style.


                      Thank you.

                      May I know the size of your laptop? Yeah my only concern is the difficulty of placing a laptop in the A30, but other than that I like the A30 for everything else. Glad you liked the A30, and I am also aiming for the Dyneema one. Thanks for the input though, but leaning now more towards the Tri-Star as it is better in terms of laptop bringability.

                      Originally posted by trailrunner View Post
                      Welcome polarium! I have had an A30 in Dyneema for about 8 months now, and I really like it for the reasons that Pokilani and nukediver mentioned above. I do struggle when traveling for business with finding a good place to put my computer--the two places I've put it (neither of which is super accessible once you are on a plane) are in the slot on the back of the bag that holds the backpack straps (guessing that the Surface might fit in there even with the straps still in the compartment?) or in the bottom of the bag's main compartment, potentially with one of the side zippers unzipped depending on the size of your device.

                      I sometimes wish I had just a tad more space and/or a dedicated place for my computer, but for me, the fully packed A30 with a computer is plenty heavy--I don't want to be adding any more weight to it. So I am trying to just be more disciplined. My previous bag was a 40 L REI backpack, so I am doing some retooling of my gear to get things more compact. So far I've done both one bag and two bag (mostly with a Small Cafe Bag) travel.

                      Since I like carrying the A30 as a backpack I am thinking it might be nice to have a slightly bigger non-backpack bag to go with it (like the Pilot, so I have something small to carry my computer in when I get to my destination). Someday I'd like a to have a WF dedicated for business travel though!
                      Black/Northwest Sky Western Flyer

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                        #12
                        I can fit a MBA 13 in right on top of everything in my A30. It's just a bit bigger than the Surface Pro. I'll pack up a few things to show you tonight. I have it in Dyneema so I you can see how it would look. I know @PaulT00 has posted pictures and you can find a comparison here. You'll also find pictures of my comparing the WF and A30.

                        I think one thing to consider is how you plan to carry the surface pro around with you while at your destination. Do you have a bag/packpack you will pack along as well?

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