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: 15,029   Posts: 194,212   Members: 6,939   Active Members: 206
Welcome to our newest member, aubreyand.


No announcement yet.

I need some advice

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    I need some advice

    So, I was thinking............

    <famous last words, usually leads to cash expenditures>

    I'm rethinking my luggage/travel strategy now that I'm learning about The Tom Bihn stuff. I've got a trip coming up in August. It will be our return as guest instructors at one of the most interesting and fabulous places I've visited, Rancho La Puerta. It's ranked as one of the top health/fitness resorts in the world. My wife and I were guest instructors there last year teaching a class on Egoscue and postural therapy, and we were blessed to be invited back to do it again. Side note: if you're looking for a VERY cool place to visit and decompress, I cannot recommend "the ranch" highly enough.

    I was thinking I'd take my Brain Bag and then a carry on, but then realized I also need to take my tennis bag (which will hopefully be able to be carried on (flying Southwest), so now I'm looking at whether I can use the Tri-Star instead of the Brain Bag. I've actually got two choices here, take the tennis bag and the Brain Bag, or take the tennis bag and the Tri-Star. The Brain Bag actually has a slightly larger capacity than the Tri-Star, but I'm not sure it's the best tool for this task. I'd like opinions on that, too.

    It's a 7-night trip. You fly into San Diego and then a luxury coach takes you to the resort about 90 minutes away, just across the Mexican border. I need the normal 'stuff' for a 7 night stay, but then, I need to have at least a small backpack of some kind so that when I walk from our suite to the room where we do the class, I can take my 15" Macbook Pro with me along with a notepad, couple of pens, and a bottle of water. I don't need to haul a bunch of stuff around, but I do need a bit and because the ranch is intentionally spread out to encourage walking, I want the stuff on my back, not over a shoulder or carried in my hand.

    So, if I go with the TriStar, how do I carry the laptop once I'm there? Could I get the packing cube backpack and then fit a sized 4Z horizontal brain cell in there? That would be perfect. If not, would a 4Z cache fit? If so, would it be acceptable to use the 4Z cache in the tri star for the laptop instead of the brain cell? Don't want to haul both around.

    I can actually fit a decent amount of stuff into my tennis bag, but I don't want to overpack it, I want it to appear as slim as possible so they let me carry it on. From reading tennis message boards, that seems to be a crapshoot. Some do, some don't, and it varies even on the same carrier.

    So I guess I have a couple basic concerns, in summary:

    1. If I use the Brain Bag instead of the Tri-Star, would that be suitable for this purpose? Given the vertical orientation of the Brain Bag, I'm thinking the Tri-Star would be more appropriate for packing this kind of stuff for this length of trip.

    2. If I use the Tri-Star, how do I haul around my laptop on my back once I get to my destination?

    I appreciate any suggestions, thanks!

    And a follow up....has anyone flown Southwest with the Tri-Star and been able to fit a reasonably packed one under the seat in front of you? If I can do that and put the tennis bag in the overhead compartment, I think my chance of getting the tennis bag on goes up as the Tri-Star is viewed as a personal item.


      Rancho La Puerta sounds divine! I'm so glad you all are getting to go back to a place you love so much. I'll definitely check it out!

      I don't own a Tri-Star or Brain Bag, but I had an idea for you. I own a Western Flyer, and can tell you it fits under the seat with no problem at all, even when packed pretty full. It also looks like a large briefcase, so it's more easily accepted as a personal item than the Tri-Star. So my thought is that you would take a Western Flyer with a packing cube backpack (for your use while there), and put any extras that might not fit in the WF in your tennis bag. I've been able to pack for a week in the WF with no problem, but I'm a very petite woman and my clothes and shoes don't take up much space! However, as you probably know, several people on this forum, including guys, have packed in a WF for a week with no problem. I checked the dimensions of a 4Z cache, and it would fit in the packing cube backpack. I hope this helps!

      We'd love to see your packing list, pictures, and especially a report on your trip when you return!


        Thanks dwright17!

        I'm thinking about that, but what I like about the Tri-Star is it looks like it's just better situated to hold and protect my precious laptop. Also, I've got size 12 feet so if I end up needing to put any shoes into the WF, that could be a tight fit, while the TS is sized to accommodate them.

        But I'll chew on that one a bit.


          When researching the TriStar, I did read comments from people who comfortably carry a laptop in the bag without any case at all; someone mentioned putting a strip of closed-cell foam in the bottom of the middle compartment to cushion the bottom. So I'm sure you'd be fine with a cache in the middle compartment. A brain cell would be perfect, of course, because the TriStar has the clips made for that purpose. I don't know if the brain cell would fit in the PCBP, but you could probably get the TB folks to check for you.

          It seems to me that you can work the TS tennis bag combo if you don't overpack the TS. Underpacked, it will look more like a small backpack (if on your back) or a large-ish briefcase (if in your hand). This would also make it more likely the bag could fit under your seat.



            I have a Brain Bag.Tri-Star,Big Feet and have flown with the TS on Southwest.
            And you know what they say about Big Feet.......Big Shoes!

            I did this last year basically but had more stops and much consternation went into the whole adventure.

            I Drove from STL to Palm Beach Florida,worked there for a week then Flew Southwest to Albany,NY and picked up a clients SUV and drove it to Cape Cod where I worked for a week and then drove the SUV back to STL.
            Then a week later drove the SUV back to Palm Beach where my truck was waiting having been through Hurricane Irene by then!

            Like I said,it was an Adventure!

            I took the Tri-Star.Super Ego and Synapse in a super secret custom arrangement.
            The trick of course was the 2 bag carry on with Southwest.
            I stuck an empty Synapse inside the S.E for the flight with my 17" MBP in the Tri-Star.
            I also had 2 iPad's and an 11" MacBook Air in the S.E. along with the Synapse.

            It was a little crazy for sure,the worst part being the plane delayed for 10 hours for some reason and the bags got rather heavy sitting in the Tampa Airport waiting and walking around all day.
            Then I was 10 hours late to drive from Albany to the Cape where I had an early appointment the next morning.

            Anyway,why not just carry the computer in the Tri-Star at the resort? It is not all that huge or out of place to me and it will just be not too full for once.
            It seems the BB and TS would carry all you need en route?

            Another idea is the Brain Cell for the MBP with the shoulder strap which seems obvious but maybe was overlooked?That stretchy pocket on the Brain Cell can hold some stuff too. You could also clip a pouch or 2 on it if needed.

            Either that or just get it over with and buy more bags until you arrive at the "Magic Number",thats what I would do!



              Avservice.....i thought about just carrying around the tri-star. I guess I'll have to see it to get a feel for exactly what it is I'd be lugging around the resort on my back. Just seems like it would be too big and out of place. But then again, I'd have no problem putting on the brain bag, and it has a bigger capacity. I just don't want to be that "hey, there goes a dude with his luggage on his back" guy in such a casual setting.

              Re just using the brain cell with a shoulder strap, not a fan of shoulder straps for longer distances. You always end up distorting the way you carry yourself and your gait to accommodate the assymetric weight. Plus, I need to carry a few things (like a water bottle) that this solution would not accommodate.

              And while the BB and the TS would indeed carry all I need, I can't take both if I'm also taking my tennis bag and wanting to carry everything on.

              By the way, would LOVE a Tom Bihn tennis bag! I like my current one a lot, but it's no Tom Bihn.


                This is a tricky one because of the multitude of potential purchase options - a happy conundrum! A couple of thoughts.

                1) the no purchase option I would probably suggest you go with the Brain Bag subject to any views/experience from BB owners about whether it will fit under the seat on the plane. From what I have read it can certainly accommodate your needs for the trip. But since this thread is really looking for support for your next purchase ....

                2) The one purchase option: You could use the TS as a backpack at the resort, but it will look more luggage-ey than the Brain Bag (really just because of its rectilinear shape). And it would definitely be much bigger than you need. The centre compartment works well for a laptop but I would want to have extra protection for it in there to be safe. Also when it is fully or over-packed (very likely, for a seven day trip where you are working and presumably need to present the right image for your profession) the TS has a fat profile (it bulges a lot, especially with big shoes in it ), so I would worry about whether you would get away with it as a personal item. If not overpacked it would fit under most seats though (not if there was a strut or entertainment unit under there, however).

                3) the "two plus" purchase option - what do you need to carry in the tennis bag - just one racquet or several? If it's just one, what about getting an Aeronaut to carry clothes for the week plus the extras you would otherwise have in the tennis bag, and carrying the racquet separately (if it can be taken on board like that?). You could then get a smaller backpack - PCBP if it's big enough for the laptop in the cache or even a Smart Alec to match your wife's, and carry that empty inside the Aeronaut. No issues with big shoes in the Aeronaut!


                  JLE....great post.

                  I'm going to search the forum for archived threads discussing using the Brain Bag as the sole or primary bag for travel. While a part of me would absolutely love to indulge my budding Tom Bihn addiction, I'd also love to be able to get the job accomplished spending no to as little additional money as possible.

                  My guess with the Brain Bag is because of its shape and design, while it has a lot of raw space, it's not structured in such a way as to use it as efficiently as the Tri-Star would. I'm just guessing, but it would seem like I could 'make it work' but that the Tri-Star would be the better tool for the job.

                  Re the tennis bag, it has 2 compartments. Each is designed to be able to hold 3 racquets with ease, and it also has a shoe compartment and a misc compartment. It's a really nice bag. I'll travel with two freshly strung racquets, my tennis shoes in the shoe compartment, and then in the second main compartment I can actually fit a good amount of stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if it could fit a couple of small packing cubes or possibly a medium and a small one. So it has some very usable capacity over and above my tennis gear. I'll need to have a few cans of balls in there, but I won't have to pack a towel or misc stuff like that.

                  So, I'm guessing that with making judicious use of space in the tennis bag I'll be able to keep from absolutely stuffing the Tri-Star.

                  I was also thinking. I've got another trip coming up in May. This one is much simpler, just our annual Egoscue corporate get together where all the clinic owners spend a few days together. It'll be a 4 night trip and I had been planning on taking my Brain Bag to hold my laptop, tech stuff, papers and a few other items, and then using a wheeled carry on I have for the rest. But now I'm thinking if I had the Tri-Star, I'd just take that as it could safely hold my laptop and and files and would leave the Brain Bag at home.

                  So, it really comes down to a question of traveling with the Tri-Star versus the Brain Bag, and packing one versus the other and what the travel experience is like one versus another. I'm going to poke around the forum and see if anyone has discussed this topic. I figure it's out there somewhere.


                    To address your question 1:

                    I've used the Brain Bag for cross-country travel and have had either no problem at all or a bit of a problem fitting it in the seat in front of me. I flew Jet Blue and the difference was the aisle seat vs. middle seat. The compression straps help it get a little smaller (and contain your stuff). I think it would very safely hold your laptop in the Brain Cell and also provide the backpack option. I use packing cubes to better contain the stuff, which addresses some of the Tri-Star comparison issue. The BB can hold A LOT of stuff and it gets pretty thick if it is packed full.


                      tCook.....thanks for chiming in.

                      I found another thread discussing this issue to some degree. Some people were saying that one issue is that when the BB is fully loaded, it bulges outward, becomes thick, and in some cases may have to be gate checked, but the design with the straps doesn't really lend itself to that.

                      I would absolutely use packing cubes either with the Tri Star or with the BB, but I'm wondering how efficiently the space would be utilized in the BB. With the TS, the cubes are custom designed to maximize space there.


                        My Western Flyer large packing cube works really well and the smaller ones (different brands) help wrangle my things well enough. I'll admit to not perfectly maximizing the space and eventually just cramming a few things in any leftover nooks and crannies.


                          So basically you're limited to one bag plus the tennis bag. The Aeronaut packing cubes fit the Brain Bag. So: Brain Bag plus at least one packing cube—the backpack model with a cache. (Call TB to check sizing.)


                            I'm taking a hard look at my Brain Bag, how I'd pack it if I were to try to make this the bag I use for this purpose. For the trip I have coming up in May (not the one to the resort in August), I'm only taking one bag. It would be the Brain Bag or the Tri-Star. I could move the freudian slip into the same compartment as the brain cell, then put a couple of smaller packing cubes in there, though now to access the freudian slip I have to remove packing cubes to get at that stuff.

                            But in the main compartment, I'd have to put the extra pair of shoes I'd bring, and once that's in, I'm not sure how well larger packing cubes are going to fit. I'd love to make this work and save the money I'd be spending on the Tri Star and packing cubes, but seems like once the shoes are in that main empty compartment, everything else is going to fit a bit weird.

                            I think maybe I gotta lay out all my stuff and do a test pack without the cubes, just roll stuff up and basically cram it in there and see how things fit. It's one thing that's attractive about the Tri Star, there's a place for the shoes. And I've got size 12 shoes, so they take up a meaningful amount of space.


                              Sounds as if you want the Tri-Star. But keep in mind that just because you have a large packing cube doesn't mean you have to fill it up, especially as you roll your clothes; you can put in your shoes and then a partially filled packing cube.