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Another A30 vs. Western Flyer thread: Which to use in combo w/ my Pilot?

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    Another A30 vs. Western Flyer thread: Which to use in combo w/ my Pilot?

    I'm a 50+ guy who has recently discovered the joys of giving up wheels and packing less. My Pilot has become my must-have for business and personal travel because it has a clear purpose: Stuff that cannot leave my side. It's just so darned practical and well-engineered that I find myself wanting to only travel with Bihn bags. Know that feeling?

    I'm torn between the A30 and the WF, and have read every thread. Both have pros and cons, but I can only buy one right now. I'm hoping members of this forum can help, because I'd prefer not to pay $20 in shipping charges to order both and return one:
    • I take about 6 business trips a year and 2-3 personal leisure trips
    • My Pilot comes with me no matter what, so no need to put a laptop or electronics in my other bag
    • My business trips are 1-2 nights max
    • I've had the original Patagonia MLC for over 20 years, and haven't once used the backpack function.
    • I don't care about which looks "more professional." (I know that's probably the WF)

    I do care about which of the two handles better when underpacked. My halcyon Pilot tends to sag and flop around when underpacked, but it's not an issue because the Pilot is compact and I seldom underpack it. But I'm wondering if either the A30 or the WF looks and feels awkward when underpacked. I'll be going with cordura regardless.

    Insights from anyone who has tried both would be appreciated!

    Are you currently using the Patagonia MLC (and Pilot) for travel? I'd think about what size bag you need. For me, there is a big practical difference in what I can get in the 26 liter WF vs the 30 liter Aeronaut. There is also, IMO, more flexibility in fitting odd-sized items in the A30. I think it is the more versatile bag. However it isn't quite as slim as the WF if you need to fit it under the seat in front of you, if that is ever a consideration.

    In ballistic, I think they both are OK when underpacked. With the A30, you can just leave one or both of the end pockets empty.
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke


      Are you currently using the Patagonia MLC (and Pilot) for travel?
      No, I don't use the MLC much at all because it's too big for a 2-day trip and it looks ridiculous when underpacked. I am currently using one of my two Briggs & Riley rollers. They have served me well over the years, but wheeled luggage is just too heavy and awkward for my advancing body. Most of my business trips are 1-2 nighters in NYC: All of the curbs, stairs, and escalators are beastly when lugging rollerboards around.

      I was a huge Briggs fan for many years. But even their non-wheeled bags are heavy and awkward to handle.


        I agree - though they are coming out with wheeled bags that are much lighter, which you can consider if you decide you still want to hold on to one. But it is great to zip past all the people lugging rollers, and not have to wait for escalators, etc.

        I was just trying to get a sense of what volume bag you have now. You probably want to find something about the same size (though maybe a bit smaller if you can do it).

        And that's a good point about underpacking. The way TB compartmentalizes the WF and A30 with interior dividers means that you can fill one section and leave another empty, without the entire bag sagging.
        All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
        Edmund Burke


          I have both the WF and the A30. I use the WF when I want to pack flat and use my Eagle Creek Specter Medium packing folder in the back, shoes and toiletries in the front. I use the A30 when I want to pack lumpy stuff, and odd sized items and use packing cubes, shoes in the end compartment, cubes in the middle. So pick the packing style you like best and then go for the bag that works for that style of packing.


            I really like the A30, and I think it's good under-packed, especially with a packing cube, which I've used each time. On a short trip to Denver recently, I was able to include my Daylight Briefcase inside the main compartment. More often I'll put my laptop in there to lighten my shoulder bag if I'm not going to use the laptop while at the airport or in the air (not that I couldn't get it out easily if necessary).

            That being said, I think I could do the same with the WF or TS using the daylight BC. You didn't mention if you might be interested in carrying the pilot in the larger case, but I find that's a great benefit when possible. Usually that goes along with using the backpack straps. The Pilot might fit in the WF, but seems like it would be tight in the A30. Others can comment on this better I'm sure.

            As many have said the A30 is more flexible packing odd shaped items. I would clarify it's good packing thicker items, but not longer items. Although long-thin items can use the entire width, they have to be thin or the end-pockets have to be nearly empty - I brought some drumsticks back from a seminar to my son who is in the band and they slotted in perfectly. when someone gave me a gift box of teas and cookies in Taiwan they fit in the main compartment perfectly intact, whereas I would have had to disassemble the individual items and leave the box behind with a flat packing bag like the WF.

            I had a maximum carry-on sized bag like the WF/TS before I started collecting TB bags, so I picked the A30 to try something different, and I couldn't be happier. I fold my shirts and pants into the packing cube and have been able to pack a folded suit jacket into the main compartment when I didn't want to wear it. An extra pair of shoes fit perfectly in one end pocket, and some smaller odd-shaped items fit in the other end pocket. That's not to say I don't wish I had a TS for some business trips, because when you only have flat stuff it does pack the slightest bit more efficiently with fewer folds.


              I also have and LOVE both bags and take both sometimes on the same trip as the WF can get by as a personal item when not packed full (and sometimes even packed full)

              I would recommend the A30 because it gives you more versatility. I would also recommend using ballistic as it will hold better empty or less than full. The weight savings for a bag this size (Halcyon vs Ballistic) is not even worth consideration.

              Here is why:

              1) 4 precious more available liters of volume.
              2) when you don't need additional volume you can pack the middle section and leave one or both sides empty and the bag looks just as good as if everything was full. The only time it does not look good is when the middle section is empty. That causes the sides to collapse in on the mid section.
              3) The A30 can accommodate both flat packing and non flat items (example; a CPAP machine) without showing weird bulges. Its design allows you to be able to fit things in better than a briefcase style bag.
              4) There are only 2 advantages for the WF. One is that it is smaller. But this doesn't stand out when compared to an A30 since an A30 can get on ANY plane and 4 liters more is not enough of a packed weight differential to make any difference in your comfort. The other is that the WF looks more business like and can even get by as a briefcase. (One that is sometimes touted but is not true is that the WF allows for more organization. If you count the # of pockets and separate places to put things you will find that the A30 actually has more options not less. (7 vs 6) But the WF does have a nice water bottle pocket.)
              Previous owned: A45 ballistic, NFTD
              Own:A45 Black Halcyon, A30 black ballistic, WF black ballistic, DLBC black Halcyon, DLBP original black dyneema, various packing cubes


                What are your bringing with you and how do you prefer to pack? That, as others have said, is pretty much the difference between the two bags. For work, I'll travel with a couple of button-down shirts and a pair of pants in an Eagle Creek medium packing folder (which is basically the exact size of the WF back compartment), and slip my iPad in next to it. Toiletries, chargers, etc go in the front compartment, and I'm all set. The A30 doesn't work as well for me, as button down shirts need to get folded up more to fit in the main compartment.

                Can't really comment to under packing, since my bag is fairly full when I travel, but the WF holds its shape quite well when I put it (and the empty packing folder) back in the closet, and it doesn't look that weird with only one compartment full.


                  Beyond the profressional (WF) vs casual (A30) looks and size differences, I think the primary issues to think about are what and how you pack. For more formal/professional dress (shirts, slacks, jackets), the flatter packing style of the WF is probably better. For more casual/relaxed dress, the A30 is probably fine. The WF has larger packing areas which generally mean less folding and less creases plus the ability to separate items better as you are not packing stuff on top of each other. The A30 is more flexible for bulkier items which can be problematic in a WF. If you already have an Pilot for gear and stuff, the WF front pockets are less useful especially compared to the end pockets of the A30 IMHO.

                  For the WF, I would definitely recommend the ballistic over the halcyon (I have halcyon WF and ballistic TS) as it seems to behave better when underpacked.