We're glad you are here. This is the place to ask for bag advice, help other people out, post reviews, and share photos and videos.

TOM BIHN Forums Statistics


Topics: 14,993   Posts: 193,709   Members: 6,890   Active Members: 239
Welcome to our newest member, savagedetective.


No announcement yet.

Comfort in backpack mode (tristar/WF/aeronaut)

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Comfort in backpack mode (tristar/WF/aeronaut)

    How comfortable are the stowaway style backpack straps on the travel bags?

    I'm will be traveling in Europe for approx 6wks in Oct/Nov and would love to take a TB bag. I was thinking WF but am rather taken by the navy/iberian Tristar..

    Are they comfortable enough to carry for significant distances/time? Or mainly handy for the airport dash between gates?

    I'm not generally a big user of backpacks at all but carrying the weight on one shoulder throws my back out of whack.
    List under construction ....

    I carried my WF with backpack straps quite a bit this weekend with the hotel changes, etc. I found it comfortable, loading it slightly differently can help that. Had I chosen the sternum and waist straps it also would have been better. It was very balanced and didn't make me feel like I was going to fall backwards or anything. I can't speak to how it would feel carrying it almost all day though if that is what you are asking.
    I really, really like TB Bags!


      Originally posted by dorayme View Post
      I can't speak to how it would feel carrying it almost all day though if that is what you are asking.
      Thanks Dorayme,

      we'll be staying in hotels, traveling mainly by train within Europe - so I guess the carrying will be just getting between hotels and trains and up poky staircases etc. I'd normally be happy doing a 20-30 min walk to get to the station but the bags may be enough to mean we take buses/taxis.

      I think I'm past taking up backpacking ! although I really don't want to be dragging a wheelie all over europe. I remember dragging a wheeled samsonite from the station in Dijon to our rented barge many moons ago. Ungood.
      List under construction ....


        hi daisy!

        i've carried the aeronaut backpack style on a number of trips by air, rail and car. the backpack straps are extremely comfortable and allow you to spread the load across your back. the aeronaut has been great whether i'm running through the airport with sternum strap on to make a flight, whether i decide to go into a city while on layover between flights, and whether i'm having to climb stairs or walk on cobblestone streets. i've walked for an hour or two with ease with the aeronaut on my back.

        the story is similar with the western flyer and tri-star, which share the backpack straps found on the aeronaut.

        my only word of caution is that you be sensitive to the amount of weight you can comfortably carry for a period of time on your back. while i could load 30 lb of stuff in my aeronaut, my back would probably not appreciate that!


          I've used the Aeronaut fully loaded (25 pounds or so) with the sternum and waist straps, plus carried a Synapse or larger on my front on trains, buses, and planes. (It's a sexy set-up, hush.) Getting both straps adjusted adequately helps a *lot*, and I wouldn't have a huge problem carrying my stuff for 20-30 minutes. I'd be really ready to be done at that point, and think the ability to go hands-free with the backpack straps is worth some extra schlepping. As maverick said, it's the weight more than the general comfort of the straps. Since the TS and WF are smaller than the Aeronaut, the weight would probably be less and the ease of longer walks: even easier! The one time I really notice a heavy bag on my back is going up or down stairs. Seems like my balance is off just enough that I'm extra cautious with the handrail.

          (I'm 5'3" if that helps at all.)


            Hi... I am a relative newcomer to the TB bags but I have now carried my Aeronaut on a 1-week personal trip and on a 1-week business trip..l was reasonably loaded with about 20 pound loads on both occasions. I have a long history of back issues and had abandoned carrying anything not on wheels. But I was drawn to the TB/one-bag idea so decided to give these bags a shot.

            First let me say that everything people say about the Absolute Strap is true. I would not have believed that simply creating a non-slip, modestly-elastic shoulder strap would make any difference in comfort but it really does! I would still not like to carry my bag in this way for more than 30 mins or so, but even with my Checkpoint Flyer on the other shoulder it's pretty comfortable.

            On my last trip to Chicago, I shlepped from the gate to the L gate in shoulder strap mode with about a 22 pound load, then was quickly able to transition to the full shoulder harness while on the train for the hike from the downtown station to our hotel. My friend with his roll aboard type bag was stuck wheeling it around the awkward train, platforms, turnstiles, etc. The Aeronaut was amazingly adaptable and comfortable!

            Again, I put up with a fair bit of back pain on a daily basis, but while the Aeronaut didn't miraculously heal me it was surprisingly comfortable.
            Black/Iberian Aeronaut, Steel/Wasabi Synapse25, Black/UV Synapse19, Black/Steel Western Flyer, Black Checkpoint Flyer, Steel/Wasabi Side Effect, Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, Travel Tray, numerous packing cubes, organizer pouches


              The TriStar is perfect for travelling when you have lots of connections to make via public transportation. I've worn it fully loaded and walking around for at least an hour and it was comfortable but I was tiring. Actually, the longest I've worn it was in the US line at immigration/customs at LAX. That was about 90 minutes of baby steps in those switchback lines. I survived. I'm the upper end of "middle aged" and not very athletic, but I love the freedom you get travelling with this backpack. It doesn't seem to put extra strain on my neck or shoulders when fully loaded.

              Another nice thing about wearing the TriStar via the backpack straps is you've got space in that strap pocket to shove in a light sweater or coat, or even your extra flip flops if you run out of room.


                I definitely find my Tri-Star more comfortable as a backpack than over the shoulder, for anything more than a couple of minutes at a time and up to about 1/2 hour. The weight is evenly distributed over both shoulders and the padding of the straps is more than adequate. If my laptop is in the center compartment then backpack is my normal carry mode - with charger and other accessories that's another 6-7lbs over and above the weight of the bag and clothes.

                The Aeronaut is equally comfortable in backpack mode, although I tend to carry my laptop separately. The laptop doesn't fit as well in the main compartment, and if it's packed on top of clothing (for easy access through security), it puts the weight as far away from my spine as it can be. That's not a good thing for stability or comfort. I find the Aeronaut a little more comfortable over the shoulder than the Tri-Star, as the bag's shape tends to conform to my hips and back better. Again, though, that's probably a function of not having the laptop in the Aeronaut.

                Would I use either bag for a backcountry expedition? No, but that's not what they are designed for. For hauling around airports and across town, they are absolutely fit for purpose. Heading into wilderness areas in the Rockies, I'll take one of my Osprey packs instead (good Colorado company, just wish they didn't offshore the manufacturing).
                Last edited by lotuseater; 06-30-2011, 10:39 AM.
                Enlightened traveller since 2009


                  The backpack straps on the Aeronaut/Tri-Star/Western Flyer are extremely comfortable. The straps themselves have never caused me any discomfort whatsoever. The only "problem" lies in how heavy the things packed in the bags are


                    I'll echo everyone else's comments about the comfort of the backpack straps. This is particularly true if you also use the sternum and waist straps to distribute weight when carrying backpack style for long periods of time. For boarding on airlines, and short carry distances, I tend to use the Absolute Strap with the Tri-Star and Aeronaut, because it's faster to shrug off the bag and quickly load it into the overhead compartment in one smooth gesture. While I've never tried putting a coat into the pocket that holds the backpack straps, as Kinsale suggested, I've often used this pocket as a quick way to stash reading material or even an iPad for a short amount of time, even if I don't have the backpack straps out, if I don't want to unzip the other compartments of the bag. (This is also handy when you've just pulled the bag out of the overhead compartment and are about to disembark.)



                      I love the backpack straps on my Aeronaut. It only got better when I was able to add a waist strap. I've carried a fully loaded (25lb) Aeronaut for a three mile hike from the train station using the backpack straps.

                      I've actually stopped taking my absolute strap with me when I travel to save the weight since I hardly ever use it.


                        My TriStar is my go-to travel bag on trips of less than a week. (On longer trips I take my Osprey Porter 46.) I'm 5'4", 125 lb., and female and do not find messenger-style bags comfortable if they're any bigger than my Medium Cafe Bag. As long as I don't have to take a backpack for my laptop, I carry the TriStar as a backpack. I don't use the waist strap and I still find it to be very comfortable, even when walking for 30 to 60 minutes. If I do have to drag along the laptop (in a Smart Alec), I find carrying the TriStar by its main handles to be much more comfortable than with an Absolute Strap. Sure, I have to change hands frequently, but I'm not sore afterward.


                          Originally posted by Tzporah View Post
                          I've actually stopped taking my absolute strap with me when I travel to save the weight since I hardly ever use it.
                          My Absolute Strap is on my Imago, I got the hardware so that I could move it around, but I too don't foresee carrying my Western Flyer with the Absolute strap any time soon. The backpack straps work so much better for me. My one-shoulderness must be fairly weak. My back is weak too, but my ability to carry things crossbody or over a shoulder are just weaker I guess.
                          For me, I guess because I'm relatively short (see the picture of me below, significantly shorter than Tom) and weak, the more contact I can put with the bag to my body/core, the easier it is for me to carry. Backpack straps, plus sternum and waist equals 4 attachments plus the distribution across my entire back. It's pretty comfy for me with how I have stuffed it, and it was decently stuffed.
                          I really, really like TB Bags!


                            Moving right along in backpack mode with my Aeroanut is just faster and less cumbersome than using the shoulder strap. However I find that I still like to have it available to vary the parts of my body that are being strained.


                              Carrying the Aeronaut on my back is the most comfortable way for me. I tried it with an Absolute strap a couple of times but it always seems lighter on the back.