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TriStar or Aeronaut?? The decision is making me crazy!!!

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    TriStar or Aeronaut?? The decision is making me crazy!!!

    This is killing me.... I've been researching and reading reviews now for WEEKS trying to decide on a new bag. My #1 requirement is the bag needs to be born & bred in the good ol' USA (Tom Bihn -- CHECK! ) #2 is I really want a convertible bag (w/backpack straps) so I have as many carry options as possible. #3 is I don't want to ever check a bag on a flight - no matter what.

    I'm a tech/business traveler so I need business casual clothes and a good bit of tech gear. That includes, not only a laptop, power brick and various cables, but also sometimes the need for a screwdriver, a cable labeler, cable ties, velcro and other such things. I'm not opposed to carrying a 2nd bag as a "personal" item for tech stuff, but I'd rather not whenever I can help it. My typical trip is 2-4 days, I'm rarely away from home for a week or more. I drive a lot, and fly maybe 2 or 3 times a month.

    Having said all that, I REALLY REALLY love the Aeronaut, but it doesn't seem like it would be as flexible/versatile for my needs. For instance, looking at the TriStar, it seems like I could just carry that into a customer site with me, and nobody would think I was just carrying my luggage around with me (especially if it was black or steel). Or, I could check into my hotel, hang up my clothes in the closet, and then carry the TriStar as my computer briefcase. With the Aeronaut, it seems like I would need some other means of carrying my laptop and tech gear with me after I've checked into the hotel. I don't think the Aeronaut seems like a good "briefcase"/tech bag to lug into a business casual situation with a customer.

    I really wish I could justify spending the money on BOTH bags right now , but I can't. And I just read the TB blog post yesterday about the Aeronauts selling out, and being on back-order! C'mon folks, I'm dyin' over here!!!

    So, for all you folks out there with experience using both bags, can you help me make this crazy tough decision?? Am I wrong on my thoughts about the Aeronaut?? Can it double as a tech/computer bag in a pinch? I really like the style and extra space of the Aeronaut, and I worry that I won't be able to get everything I need in the TriStar.

    I never thought buying a new bag would be such a hard decision.....

    Welcome and it sounds like we are in the same boat workwise?

    I have/had exactly the same requirements and choices to make but I already had and used a Brain Bag for a while.
    I also have a Super Ego and an Empire Builder that I will usually carry one of with whatever bag I use for my clothes.

    I ended up with the TriStar for exactly the reasons you suggest.
    I can have 2 computers and an iPad in there and enough other stuff to last 3 or 4 days but it can get heavy and puffed out if I do.
    I have really been carrying an additional bag too and the combination is about perfect depending on what I decide to leave home. I always wish I had packed something that I decided not to take which is why I prefer driving to flying most of the time.
    Well that and I hate flying!

    What is more practical for me though depending on the nature of my trip is a Pelican case and the TriStar.

    If I bring a Pelican 1510 which is their maximum carry on then I don't worry if I end up being forced to check it as luggage.
    It will hold standard Tool Pallets(Platt,Jensen,etc.)and is truly indestructable and when locked very secure being checked too.It is wheeled and has a handle but is very manageable as a carry on.

    If I don't plan on trying to carry tools on then I use a Pelican 1610 because it is bigger than the 1510 but still has wheels and handle and is not too huge still.

    So then I need something to carry my more fragile items and the TriStar is great for that. I find the built in organization makes all the difference and the bag will retain its shape and proportions all of the time where the Aeronaut seems like it will conform more easily to odd shaped stuff inside and beg me to overpack it too?

    If I don't need the TriStar's space I bring the Super Ego and if that is too much the Synapse is ideal.

    I have a feeling this may not help clear it up for you?
    I will say that every Bihn Bag I own holds a LOT more than it looks like it would.



      You may have seen this thread already, but I'll link it because it involves many of the same Tri-Star for business travel considerations: http://forums.tombihn.com/bag-review...-aeronaut.html I don't have both bags, but I can attest to the versatility of the Tri-Star if you need to carry tech stuff and clothes, shoes, etc. It's almost too organized for my taste, but that's because I do mostly leisure travel and never carry a laptop.


        Thanks AVService, your response is definitely helpful. What blows my mind is how much people say the TriStar will actually hold... I have a North Face Surge backpack, which is basically the same dimensions as the TS (both are 33 liters), but there is NO WAY I could ever pack 3-4 days worth of clothes and my laptop & tech crap in the Surge. Why do you think that is? Is it just the design and shape differences between the bags? I've tried to use the Surge as my "one bag" on a couple trips, and it just didn't work out. It was so totally overstuffed, and I couldn't even slide my laptop down into the laptop sleeve without feeling like I was going to damage it.


          Thanks kmcg -- very interesting thread! I'm still paranoid that I will buy the TS and then find out it doesn't hold everything I need. Of course, then I would be forced to purchase the Aeronaut too!


            You might find this review helpful. I link it because, like you, this is a tech guy and he carries electronic equipment as well, and has devised a creative way to organzie it all. Check it out.

            The Best Carry-on Luggage is from Tom Bihn - YouTube


              Originally posted by dmauder View Post
              Thanks AVService, your response is definitely helpful. What blows my mind is how much people say the TriStar will actually hold... Why do you think that is?
              It is because all TB bags have a built-in Tardis function as standard!


                Regarding this statement: I don't think the Aeronaut seems like a good "briefcase"/tech bag to lug into a business casual situation with a customer.

                I don't have the Tri-Star, but do have an Aeronaut. When not completely full, the Aeronaut can look a little floppy, if you will. I agree that the Tri-Star appears to be better for on-site business stuff. I feel like the Tri-Star really just looks like a bigger briefcase, but that the Aeronaut (which I love) will look like luggage no matter how you slice it.


                  Originally posted by JLE View Post
                  It is because all TB bags have a built-in Tardis function as standard!
                  Hmmm, I even googled that and I'm still not sure what it is.


                    Doctor Who! I am surprised Google didn't know. At the risk of sounding like a sci-fi junkie (which I am definitely not, although I don't mind the odd William Gibson novel from time to time), Dr Who is an English sci-fi character who, as one of the Time Lords, travels through time and space in a time machine called a TARDIS. It has chameleon like features that enable it to blend in with its surroundings (in the TV series it appeared as a small old fashioned English police box - think something like a telephone box with no windows) but for present purposes its key feature was that it was much larger on the inside than it appeared from the outside. . Check out the original BBC series - it is delightfully eccentric and clunky (and loved by its fans for being so)!
                    Last edited by JLE; 03-24-2012, 02:21 PM.


                      Back on topic, I have a Tri-Star and I would say that it is well suited to your needs in a client environment (especially in black). When it is not overpacked it maintains a neat rectilinear shape. Although it is larger than a laptop bag I think most clients would assume that was what it was without giving it a second glance.


                        Originally posted by JLE View Post
                        Doctor Who! I am surprised Google didn't know.
                        Too funny! I totally didn't make that connection.

                        Thanks for the advice in your other response, I really do appreciate it. Despite the assurance that a TriStar would probably be fine, I'm still leaning more toward the Aeronaut. I REALLY like that bag... And the more I think about it, I'd be fine carrying a 2nd laptop/tech bag as needed -- maybe a messenger style or briefcase. Was even thinking, when I fly I might be able to fit that in the Aeronaut so I only have to lug one bag through the airport. It would be even more encouragement & reason to pack as light as possible. I drive way more often than I fly, and it's no biggie to throw a separate laptop bag in the car.


                          I think you've worked your way to a good place: an Aeronaut with, if necessary, a computer bag that fits in the Aeronaut. Sounds like a plan.


                            dmauder, now that you've made your decision for Aeronaut, I'll chime in about my Tristar. ;-) Took it for a 3-day trip this weekend, and I just LOVE the organization of this bag.

                            I used the back section (by the backpack straps) for clothing. I'm tall and "well-upholstered," so my clothing is not small. I took enough for 4 days--pants and sweater strapped on left, and 2 Eagle Creek packing cubes (1/3 and 2/3 size) on the right. Bihn packing cubes are on the shopping list, but I'm using what I have for now. I took 2 pairs of sandals (women's size 12) in the front section, and personal items. The middle section was my "office," with room for magazines (on the right, set vertically) and a book, and my Breve on the left (also vertical) with my Ipad 2. The small front pockets are terrific for organizing small stuff and TB pouches.

                            I think I'd prefer the extra capacity of the Aeronaut, but I just love the organization of the Tristar. It stands up on its own, and I can unzip it completely on that third section when I want to see all my clothes at once. The sections are wider on Tristar than the Aeronaut, and that works better for how I like to pack. I can't believe how much I can get in this bag. The three sections just work so well.

                            I have a steel/UV Tristar, and I think it looks very professional. The steel is a rich, classy color. I love the pop of purple on the interior (life is fun on the inside, even on business trips). I think the steel would look great in an office setting, as well as the black. Solar would make everything very easy to see.


                              I love the pop of purple on the interior (life is fun on the inside, even on business trips).
                              Reminds me of a mullet. Business in the front, rock n roll in the back