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Travel backpack suggestions? Rethinking my travel kit ...

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    Travel backpack suggestions? Rethinking my travel kit ...

    Hey folks! Y'all have so much experience and so many cool ideas with bags, I thought I'd toss out this think-piece and see if I can get some thoughts from everyone, especially those who've used these bags!

    As I've mentioned, I love love LOVE my Aeronaut 30 for one-bag travel. When I'm doing my two-bag travel for conventions though, I'm starting to rethink things a bit. Currently I pack my A30 with my personal items as usual, and then I have a small (roughly 14x16x8) Samsonite underseat roller bag for my convention materials -- collapsible display panels, banners, signage, supplies, etc. My original plan was to actually use that as, y'know, my underseat "personal" item, but in practice it rarely fits there and I end up stowing that overhead while my A30 goes under the seat.

    Since I end up putting the roller bag in the overhead compartment anyway, I've been considering getting a slightly larger hard-case roller bag for my con supplies, so I have a little extra space for merchandise and stuff. However, I'm a little worried about doing that and still carrying my A30 … both because two larger-size carryons might get a bit unwieldy, AND I'm concerned that if I have a larger, more prominent roller bag, airport staff might give me more of a side-eye about whether my A30 truly is a "personal item" and might force me to check one of my bags.

    So my thought is to get maybe an ever-so-slightly-smaller backpack for my two-bag convention travels. The question is, though … which one? Looking at the site, the most obvious choices would seem to be the Synik or the Synapse. The Synik 30 seems really big, about as big as my A30 with slightly different dimensions, and the Synapse 19 is probably too small for a 5-day trip even with minimalist packing, so probably either the Synik 22 or the Synapse 25. I'm wide open to other suggestions, also.

    My basic A30 packing list is, simplified down, basically this:

    Main compartment:
    - Large TB packing cube with three short-sleeve overshirts, a spare travel-day shirt (cotton, tall, with breast pocket), and maybe a sweater or swimsuit if necessary
    - Small TB packing cube with 5 or so thin Tshirts
    - Small TB packing cube with 5 days worth of underwear and socks, plus my nightshorts
    Right side compartment:
    - My tiny dopp kit (8x4x2"), plus a zip-loc bag with a couple liquids if traveling by air
    - Small TB travel tray with my charger and cables
    - Collapsible travel umbrella
    Inner mesh pocket:
    - Medications, in a small 3.5x2.5x1.5" travel organizer
    - Extension cord
    - Stack of face masks
    - Other small random items

    I often stow my Side Kick in the left side compartment, but in a pinch the only contents of it I really NEED to travel with are my iPad Mini, its keyboard, and my AirPods.

    I love the packing cube system, but if all three won't fit comfortably into a backpack I'm hoping I could just squeeze the socks-and-underwear one into the bottom of the bag and maybe roll all my shirts to pack however they fit. I'm hoping my tiny dopp kit and the rolled-up travel tray would fit into one or two of the various front compartments, as presumably could all the brick-a-brack like the umbrella, my medications, face masks, AirPods, etc. If it's the Synik my iPad Mini and keyboard could probably both slip side-by-side into the laptop compartment, making them more accessible while I'm traveling. I don't need a water bottle pocket or anything like that.

    I dunno tho. Anyone have any suggestions? I'm not usually a big travel backpack guy so this is all new territory for me to ponder. Thanks!
    ---
    My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
    Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
    With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

    #2
    TBH the SN22 is good for all of that unless you wanted to pack a spare pair of shoes - then I'd suggest the SN30. But probabaly without the packing cubes - they don't really make ones (yet) that maximize the size and shape of the SN22's main compartment.

    The SN30, however, uses the same exact size small and large cubes as the Western Flyer.

    What I like most about the Synik is that you can unzip the main compartment three different ways: from one side (top, left, or right) from two sides (top and either left or right), or three sides (left, top, and right).

    And when you get to the destination, you can split the clamshell open and lay everything out flat.

    I love my SN22 and if I made simpler plans (many times a weekend trip requires both athletic shoes for hiking and dress shoes for dinner) I would probably use that backpack more often. It can stash a pair of flip-flops no problem, and probably even a pair of moccasins or slippers inside the big stretch pouch on the lid side of the main compartment.

    FWIW, I think the SN22 is a more vesatile bag you could carry out with you as a town bag or business bag, even, while the A30 is a lot more likely to stay inside the hotel room until it's time to go back home.

    I feel a lot more justified buying new bags when I can figure out a use case for them that's more than just a container to store things during a car trip or plane ride.

    Or just treat yourself!

    It's a neat and versatile bag to own.
    Last edited by Chicagoan; 12-06-2022, 06:50 PM.
    I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I'm using right now:
    Everyday Carry: SK
    Hiking Daypack: Cambiata

    Car Travel: SK, T45, MT
    Plane
    ​Travel: CP, TS, SZTSB

    Comment


      #3
      Based on my personal experience with the S22 and TB’s recommendations here, this is a suggestion on how you can pack it:

      S22 Main compartment:
      - Large TB packing cube with three short-sleeve overshirts, a spare travel-day shirt (cotton, tall, with breast pocket), and maybe a sweater or swimsuit if necessary
      - Small TB packing cube with 5 or so thin Tshirts
      - Small TB packing cube with 5 days worth of underwear and socks, plus my nightshorts

      S22 Water bottle pocket or bottom pocket:
      - My tiny dopp kit (8x4x2"), plus a zip-loc bag with a couple liquids if traveling by air

      S22 Side pockets and small pocket in front of water bottle pocket
      - Small TB travel tray with my charger and cables
      - Collapsible travel umbrella​
      - Medications, in a small 3.5x2.5x1.5" travel organizer
      - Extension cord
      - Stack of face masks
      - Other small random items
      - AirPods

      S22 Laptop compartment:
      - iPad mini
      - Keyboard

      The only thing that may not fit is your sweater unless it’s a thin one. My fine knit small sized cardigan fits comfortably in the bottom pocket.

      I used a Guide’s Edition Ballistic S22 constantly for two years as my everyday carry and gym bag but that thing was heavy. Switched to a Halcyon S22 a couple of months ago and I feel like the slight weight difference does help on days when my grumpy shoulders just aren’t having it. Another plus for me is that halcyon has more give to make packing easier.

      A couple of other considerations:
      - Since you’re travelling with a roller bag, the S22’s luggage pass through provides the convenience for you to place it on the handle and just roll along.
      - You could consider the S25 if you’d like some extra space for your Side Kick/sweater/stuff you pick up along the way. It’s also lighter than the S22 if you’re comparing the same fabric of each bag. A potential con: no luggage pass through.
      - Yes the S30 is huge and may not pass as a personal item. I managed to pack an entire week’s worth of clothing just in the main compartment for travel in winter so I think your entire packing list (including sweater and SK) will be easily swallowed by the main compartment.
      - The S19 is too small. The most you’ll be able to get in there are the two small packing cubes in the main compartment, the dopp kit in the bottom pocket and various small items in the other pockets.

      I don’t have much experience with any of the other backpacks so I’m unable to give any other suggestions but I hope this helps!
      Last edited by latchford; 12-06-2022, 07:37 PM.
      Night Walk Synik 22, Night Walk Daylight Backpack, Night Walk Small Café Bag, everything Acuity and Fjord

      Comment


        #4
        If you think you'll be able to put a roller bag in the overhead bin reliably and not have to check it, then I'd maximize that bag and see how much of your Con stuff and maybe some clothes can fit... Maximize and fill that volume

        The other stuff would go into the backpack/bag under the seat. You can always rearrange at destination.

        If you'd want it to have a luggage pass thru, then what latchford said makes a lot of sense... If you don't need the passthrough then it opens up every other bag that could fit, from a Large Zip Top Shop Bag to any of the backpacks, keeping in mind they can be under packed.

        If you're going for volume and want the electronics sleeve, I'd consider a Shadow Guide or an Addax or Cambiata... If it's just the iPad, then an underpacked Brian Bag, a Smart Alec on the secondary market, or a Zip Top Shop Bag would work well. Depends a lot on how you want to carry it around

        The Synapse/Synik families would depend on what balance of space, organization, and cost you'd want
        Last edited by G42; 12-06-2022, 09:49 PM.
        “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
        “Sir?”
        “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
        “Sir?”
        “That’s practically zen.”
        -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by latchford View Post
          A couple of other considerations:
          - Since you’re travelling with a roller bag, the S22’s luggage pass through provides the convenience for you to place it on the handle and just roll along.
          - You could consider the S25 if you’d like some extra space for your Side Kick/sweater/stuff you pick up along the way. It’s also lighter than the S22 if you’re comparing the same fabric of each bag. A potential con: no luggage pass through.
          - Yes the S30 is huge and may not pass as a personal item. I managed to pack an entire week’s worth of clothing just in the main compartment for travel in winter so I think your entire packing list (including sweater and SK) will be easily swallowed by the main compartment.
          - The S19 is too small. The most you’ll be able to get in there are the two small packing cubes in the main compartment, the dopp kit in the bottom pocket and various small items in the other pockets.

          I don’t have much experience with any of the other backpacks so I’m unable to give any other suggestions but I hope this helps!
          My partner always has a rolling hard-sided suitcase - she travels for work and needs that hard-sided luggage for what she brings, and for the ability to put her backpack on the extended handle and lead meetings on the phone while standing in lines. (She recently switched to an Away bag, the Bigger Carry On model. Past suitcases have lasted an average of 2 years each. We'll see how long this one lasts.) So, I would highly recommend a backpack with that luggage pass-through ability! It's really, really, really useful if you have a rolling bag.

          The Synik 30 won't pass as a personal item on many airlines, but it's usually fine for Southwest/any other airlines with more generous gate agents. If you don't pack it full, it's probably okay. However, that's not an ideal situation for a frequent traveler. I've used both the Synapse 19 and the Synik 22 a lot, and those 3 liters do make the Synik just a bit better for a travel bag. You probably need to shift the umbrella, shoes, anything else that's not soft/squish-able to the suitcase, but you should be able to consolidate your stuff to make the Synik 22 work. You could do the Synapse 25, but the luggage pass-through is important enough with a rolling bag that I would steer clear of any bag without it.

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for all the thoughtful advice, everyone, this is really helpful so far!

            Chicagoan I know from past posts that we have different travel styles. XD I'm actually not one to usually carry something around with me unless I specifically need something (like my iPad Pro for working, etc.) … With a phone in one pocket, wallet in the other, and watch on my wrist I'm usually good. And like I said I do love the A30 for one-bag travel … I don't mind leaving it in my hotel room for a few days. Especially with the judicious use of laundry cubes, I can leave it pretty much full packed as-is if there's no dresser space or if I'm only in town for the night before dashing off to my next destination. If there were an alternate reality where they manufactured an Aeronaut 25 or something I'd probably get one. XD

            That said … the clamshell construction of the SN22 does sound appealing for packing purposes. I'm not a fan of stuffing everything into a vertical bag when packing clothes and stuff …

            latchford It's a VERY thin Merino wool sweater just for when the weather gets a bit chilly, fortunately. Doesn't really take up much more space than a thick Tshirt! Also, very good point about the luggage pass-through … back before my minimalist one-bag packing days I used to use a luggage pass-through all the time and I do miss that. Also, thanks for confirming my suspicions that the S19 would be too small and the S30 would be too large. Good to know!

            G42 Heh, maximizing space is a plus but there is actually a method to my madness … Depending on the trip I'm never sure if I'll get to the hotel first or the convention space first, so I actually like maintaining two completely separate bags … the personal items goes to the hotel where I'll be sleeping, and the rollerbag goes to the convention space where I'll use it to set up at the start and store stuff during the event and then pack everything up Sunday at the end of the day, and I never have to open either bag at the other location. XD I hadn't considered the Cambiatas and others … I'll have to browse their pages a bit more and see what other options there are!

            marbenais Again, good point on the luggage pass-through! Also good to know about the hard-sided cases … I'm not sure if I'm ready to splurge on an Away case just yet but I'll keep in mind I may have to budget a replacement every once in awhile as they get worn out. (Generally I do 4-5 of these conventions per year, currently 3 by air and 2 by car.)

            Thanks again for the input, everyone! This isn't an immediate purchase so I've got some time to think about it. The Synik 22 is looking like a viable option, although it's currently not available in any of my favorite burnt orange or purple type colors … maybe someday.

            ---
            My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
            Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
            With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

            Comment


              #7
              We have traveled with a S30 and T30 as personal items on top of of our roller luggage. I have an AWAY carry-on and hubs has a discontinued Eagle Creek model. We have flown JetBlue and Southwest with this set-up. I keep my T30 slightly under packed to fit under the seat. We flat pack Daylight backpacks to use if on an extended trip which also gives us the ability to check the rollers and carry two packs as carry-ons should we over-shop. Not sure if any of that is helpful. I always wonder about adding a S22 to our collection, but I feel the outside pockets would become less useful for us, and in that case and we have already have a lovely Paragon.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by KellsBells View Post
                Not sure if any of that is helpful.
                Every input is helpful, thank you! It's funny, I've never actually had a problem carrying on my A30 as a personal item and fitting it under the seat; maybe I'm just being paranoid about it. We'll see I guess.

                I have a trip coming up in January that I won't have time to order new bags and reconfigure my kit for; aside from that I have a couple driving trips coming up but no more scheduled flights until July, so I'll have plenty of time to ponder things first half of the new year. XD
                ---
                My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
                Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
                With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

                Comment


                  #9
                  Wait, if you LOVE your A30, then why not get the A45 and use a DLBP or any of the PCBPs that could double as your carry on?
                  Black/Northwest Sky Western Flyer

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by polarium View Post
                    Wait, if you LOVE your A30, then why not get the A45 and use a DLBP or any of the PCBPs that could double as your carry on?
                    Oh, this is SPECIFICALLY for when I travel to conventions and tradeshows. I need a rollerbag for my convention hall setup and supplies and a personal bag for my clothes and toiletries and stuff; I don't like to check luggage so one of them needs to fit under my seat. The rollerbag usually won't fit and an A45 absolutely wouldn't either. XD The A30 will usually fit under the seat, I'm just pondering whether I want to get something slightly smaller, but not TOO small, as I'm usually packing five days worth of stuff.

                    If I'm traveling for recreation the A30 is absolutely plenty for me for a long weekend, a week, two weeks or longer if I can manage a laundry run or two. Maybe my cafe bag or co-pilot as a personal item if I need to carry a few extra things, but usually not necessary.
                    ---
                    My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
                    Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
                    With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Cooner View Post

                      Oh, this is SPECIFICALLY for when I travel to conventions and tradeshows. I need a rollerbag for my convention hall setup and supplies and a personal bag for my clothes and toiletries and stuff; I don't like to check luggage so one of them needs to fit under my seat. The rollerbag usually won't fit and an A45 absolutely wouldn't either. XD The A30 will usually fit under the seat, I'm just pondering whether I want to get something slightly smaller, but not TOO small, as I'm usually packing five days worth of stuff.

                      If I'm traveling for recreation the A30 is absolutely plenty for me for a long weekend, a week, two weeks or longer if I can manage a laundry run or two. Maybe my cafe bag or co-pilot as a personal item if I need to carry a few extra things, but usually not necessary.
                      Sounds like a Western Flyer use case. I loved mine, and packed to the brim - it fit under the seat with slight room to spare.
                      Black/Northwest Sky Western Flyer

                      Comment

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