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Pilot or Co-Pilot right for me? (warning: many words)

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    Pilot or Co-Pilot right for me? (warning: many words)

    I'm having a heck of a time figuring out if the Co-Pilot or Pilot is right for me. What that boils down to is I have a lot of questions about how it would fit in for my uses! (Skip to the bottom for a list of my questions if you hate words. Carry on if you do.

    Some background: I do a fair bit of adventure travel; it usually means that I am flying or driving with a pretty big backpack or backpack duffel to hold clothes and gear, but as you know the bigger the bag the more badly you need organization. I feel like the (Co-)Pilot would fit a dual purpose role: I can carry things I want to keep with me while I'm in transit or for errands at my trip destination; and I can also use it like a packing cube for keeping smaller items organized inside my bag when I need to consolidate into one single large bag.

    As a proud new owner of an S19 and S25 I am now spoiled by TB-style organization, but that second desire for the bag to easily be slipped into the first, larger bag, leads me to the flatter and more rectilinear Pilot or Co-Pilot. Am I right that the Pilot would make a great bag-in-bag organizer packing cube?

    Here are the things I may wish to carry in my personal item bag:
    - light jacket (Patagonia Down Sweater or Nano Puff or similar)
    - packable rain shell
    - beanie cap
    - two or three USB battery pack about the size of a portable hard drive
    - a bunch of USB cables that enjoy being tangled
    - USB AC adapter
    - misc very small but overpriced pieces of consumer electronics (bike computer?)
    - keys, wallet, 5" smart phone
    - headlamp and spare batteries
    - water bottle
    - small umbrella
    - a couple snack bars and/or sandwich and/or bananas

    Would I be close to maximum capacity in the Co-Pilot at this point? I tend to end up with some extra detritus so I'm leaning towards a Pilot, but I don't want to go overkill. I would also potentially like to carry an iPad Air or Pro, or a laptop up to the size of the new MacBook Pro 13, none of which I currently own but wouldn't rule out for near future ownership, which is another reason I'm feeling Pilot-prone. I basically never carry a laptop but a change in job situation that unchained me from a desk might change that rather quickly.

    The other sticking point for me right now is that I've been reading the Pilot in Halcyon is pretty floppy when under-packed, which is something I'm not particularly keen about as I hate when bags look especially slouchy. But the Ballistic Pilot is a full 13oz heavier, which sounds like a ridiculous trade off for me to have some added stiffness. On the flip side the Co-Pilot seems ideal to have in Halcyon due to its smaller size but there are no Black Halcyon options available (also, the weight penalty for Ballistic is merely 5oz).

    Also, how important is the Absolute Shoulder Strap vs. the standard strap? And how many TB bags before I reach nirvana?

    TL;DR for people who hate words but like questions:
    - Does the (Co-)Pilot make a great "organized packing cube" in larger luggage, or is it excessively bulky?
    - Will the Co-Pilot fit the mega-sized iPad Pro or the 2016 (Touchbar) MacBook Pro 13?
    - Does the Pilot in Halcyon (or Ballistic) get sad and slouchy if it's fairly under-filled? What about if those few items are dense and heavy like a battery pack and water bottle?
    - Do I want the Absolute Shoulder Strap?
    - How many TB bags am I going to wind up owning? Am I being ridiculous for potentially having 3 new TB bags in an equal number of months?
    - If not the Pilot or Co-Pilot, what should I get?

    TL;DR for people who hate words and also hate questions:
    - I need your help, Bihnions, I'm flip-flopping on this purchase like a fish.

    I have the Pilot in ballistic. It fits in my WF for storage purposes, but I would never use it as a packing cube. There's too much fabric due to all the organization and heavy duty zippers, etc., and it doesn't quite fill the area I'm storing it in. It would not be an economical use of packing space.

    I flip flopped between the Pilot and Co-Pilot and went with the Pilot because it fit my 13" MacBook Pro perfectly with the appropriate sized Cache. And a Side Effect fits in the front pocket perfectly. And a 3-D cube fits in the pockets in the back perfectly, and in the front.

    You can always order both, test pack them, and then send back the one that doesn't feel right for you.

    I got the Absolute Shoulder Strap for it, which might be overkill for it, but it sure is comfy. Plus I can use the strap on other bags.

    My understanding from photos I've seen posted here, is that the halcyon version can get slouchy and droopy especially if computers are in the back area. I have not experienced any droop with the ballistic version.

    - How many TB bags am I going to wind up owning? Am I being ridiculous for potentially having 3 new TB bags in an equal number of months?

    Um, I just bought 3 TB bags in less than 3 months, and now I just bought a 4th. That's not counting the immense number of shop bags and packing cubes and stuff sacks and key straps and travel trays, and OMG THEY CAME OUT WITH MORE COLORS, MUST OWN MORE.

    A couple years ago, I needed new luggage, and decided to buy a better quality, so I went with Briggs and Riley. As nice as the B&R bags are, I'm always disappointed when I pack them. They roll great. The quality is excellent. They were expensive as hell. But the organizational features don't work for me, and they don't hold very much because of the wheels and handles taking up so much space. I kept going back to the TB website and eyeing all the carry on bags. I finally splurged this year and I'm hooked on TB now.
    Last edited by BWeaves; 12-01-2016, 05:07 AM.


      I don't have much to add to BWeaves' good advice. I have a 13" MBP and it won't go in the ballistic Co-Pilot though I can squeeze it in the Halcyon version (no cover or cache though), but I wouldn't commute with it that way. The product page for the CP mentions looking at the Pilot for laptops of 13 inches. The dimensions for the 12" iPad Pro are 5mm larger than the CP (again, no case). I think for your list of items, the Pilot is the better choice, even without the potential larger ipad/laptop addition.

      I wouldn't use either the CP or Pilot as a packing cube (I have the Pilot in ballistic) as they seem too bulky for that purpose. I think an Absolute Strap is a great addition to many TB bags particularly if your use involves travel or commuting via public transportation-it makes a heavy load much more bearable.

      Test packing both is an good option. You might take a look at the Maker's Bag as an alternative though that is not as compartmentalized as the CP/Pilot or S19/S25 type bags.


        Ive been a Ballistic A45 + Pilot carrier for 2 years. Great combination in my book. All the stuff mentioned will fit in a pilot easily with some space left over for other small thigns if they are the right size/shape. Ive recently stopped using my pilot and converted to a WF as my second bag. I like the WF because it "hangs" and so doesn't droop when underfilled. The problem with the WF though is lack of organisation. SO i got a heap of organizer pouches for it. Will see how they work.

        I dont think using the pilot as a packing cube is a good use of space as previously stated. I have also been looking at a halcyon co-pilot... but haven't pulled the trigger on it cos i don't REALLY need it at this point...I think this stuff will be reaching the capacity of the Co-pilot though.


          I'd second everything said, and I've had the same exact experience as @Bweaves and have the same pack as @LordAnubis: A45 or WF + pilot, with the pilot being my carry around bag and personal item (all in black halcyon). I also have the DLBP in nordic halcyon which does make a great packing cube that fits perfect in the WF or A45 and also, of course, a great day bag.

          BTW, to the Pilot I add a PCSB clipped onto the front which I de-clip on the plane and clip to the back of the seat pocket to hold my batteries, full-size headphones, and other in-flight stuff and the PCSB could obviously be a packing cube or day bag as well (but since I'm a dude who's purse phobic, I'd have to wear it in sling mode full of hammers or ammo or something).

          I think the pilot in black halcyon, if way under-packed, does get a little sad and slouchy but I don't find it annoying ... oddly that used to be a big thing with me so I bought Booq bags which are very structured with foam-reinforced ballistic, but it turns out that, in use, I hate that so I've seen the light on halcyon (new black stuff, the old is not my style)
          Last edited by GrussGott; 12-01-2016, 11:53 AM.


            Thank you very much Bweaves, threeteez, LordAnubis, and GrussGott for your insights. I really appreciate everything that forum members here share as it makes it easier to understand how these bags can fit into my life without having to have them in hand.

            I have had many a floppy messenger bag so I am not too worried about bag droop but being a sharp, more structured bag I am hoping that the Halcyon Pilot holds its shape well enough when underpacked to still look pretty great and not flop around.

            I read somewhere that the Halcyon Pilot can be difficult to zip and unzip because it is floppier than its Ballistic counterpart, which sounds like it could be annoying, and that's one thing I am more concerned about.

            As for the size of the Pilot or Co-Pilot as a packing cube, if I am traveling with a 90- or 120- liter duffel with camping equipment, I usually am a bit underpacked so the space might not be a big issue? But maybe I am underestimating the space that these bags take up with all their fabric included.

            Bweaves, your suggestion to order both and try them out is sound, but as my family has been bugging me for a wishlist I would like to not have to ask such contortions of them.

            I am still leaning towards the Pilot as it is always nice to have a little more space to cram a jacket or change of clothes or something, but for my primary intended use as a personal item bag it may not be necessary to have all that extra space? GrussGott, when you travel with the Pilot, do you find yourself needing the PCSB for extra space, or for convenience of access? I envision using the Pilot or Co-Pilot to allow easy access for similar such things that I might want during a flight or bus or car trip.



              Get 'em both. It's a losing effort to try to only get one bag. I tried that for months. Now I have three of them, with a fourth on the way. God help me.

              I looked at both the Halcyon and Ballistic Pilot - for some reason the Halcyon was easier to open but I went with the Ballistic.


                Originally posted by carrot View Post
                GrussGott, when you travel with the Pilot, do you find yourself needing the PCSB for extra space, or for convenience of access? I envision using the Pilot or Co-Pilot to allow easy access for similar such things that I might want during a flight or bus or car trip.
                I use the PCSB for both since I like to clip it to the seat back pocket. Inside are my full size over-ear bowers & wilkins headphones, a 10kmAh battery and cables (including amp for the headphones), snacks, and a ditty kit of stuff like kleenex, my 6" cell phone, and a 7" tablet. That leaves me TONS of space in the Pilot so in there I keep a bunch of other stuff in the front pockets (5" phones, cables, batteries, water, food, etc) and in the back I have a 20KmAh battery and I keep a full size travel pillow in a stuff sack. In the pictures that's what in the pilot under the seat, but you could easily have jacket in there, etc

                So basically for carry-on items I travel heavy and well although I could easily ditch the pillow and do for shorter flights - in that case I keep the PCSB inside the Pilot and then pull it out for the flight. it would also fit my 13" MBP but I usually have that in my overhead luggage with another laptop as I don't use it on flights.

                In short, I think the Pilot is plenty big for a personal item, but I'd still like a ~20L bag with a backpack option ... like an S25 with a shoulder carry option or a "pilot plus" with a backpack option, but like I said, I do carry on heavy.

                OH! BTW, the pilot fits perfectly into the DLBP with some room left over.


                  "Bweaves, your suggestion to order both and try them out is sound, but as my family has been bugging me for a wishlist I would like to not have to ask such contortions of them."

                  Screw the wish list. Order both. See what you like. Send back what you don't like (or keep both). Hand the one you like to whoever is supposed to be getting you the gift and say, "This is what you're getting me. It'll be my favorite gift."

                  I come from a family where we buy what we like when we want it. It saves agonizing over what to get someone.