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First Tom Bihn bag - Aeronaut 30 or Western Flyer?

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    First Tom Bihn bag - Aeronaut 30 or Western Flyer?

    Hi there Tom Bihn experts - been lurking on the forum for a few months now and finally ready to pull the trigger and get my first TB bag! I'm pretty torn between the Aeronaut 30 and the Western Flyer and would love your very knowledgeable opinion!

    I currently have an MEI Voyageur (The MEI Voyageur Back-Pack - First choice of the seasoned world traveler) which I love, but at 42 liters is a bit too big and I'm in the market for a smaller bag better suited for the 3-5 day trips I take w/ regular frequency. I'm looking for a bag that looks small and professional. Aesthetically I prefer the Western Flyer. I really like the organizational compartments of the Western Flyer and how clean it looks and how it retains its shape even when half packed but wonder if 26 liters is too small for those trips that are at the 5 day end of my travel spectrum. On the Aeronaut 30 side, I feel like those extra 4 liters might be useful but worry that such a big main compartment would mean stuff shifts to the bottom of the pack when carried as a backpack and leads to that sloppy bottom-heavy look (I get this a lot w/ the MEI despite utilizing both sets of compression straps). Concerned that the A30 would appear too big and not look as neat as the WF!

    Could someone with both, or extensive experience with one or the other weigh in and let me know which they prefer and maybe pros and cons of each? I'm so conflicted!

    Oh and a little about myself - I'm 5'5, travel pretty much every month, 50% of the time for work (so would need to bring along my 14" laptop). I'm a pretty minimal packer, however do have a penchant for packing that extra (and some would say unnecessary) pair of shoes .

    #2
    I just went through this exact dilemma. I ended up with my default answe of "both" when I lucked into an Aubergine/Steel WFin the store after pre-ordering a steel/UV A30.

    I used the WF this past weekend, and while I didn't pack an extra pair of shoes, I packed a few extra things and still had enough space that a couple extra days would fit. I definitely prefer the WF for packing a laptop, it slides in the back compartment nicely. The option to split the center pocket is also nice. I was a little surprised at how much space was inside the WF and how much fit in there. The slightly smaller, squarer shape was also a little easier to carry on my 5'1" frame.

    The A30, on the other hand, I'm looking forward to stuffing with cold weather gear when I visit family this winter. It really is basically a single gaming hole that you can do whatever with, and works wonderfully with or without packing cubes. I test packed an A45 during a brief moment of insanity and the ability to stack and stuff and tuck is wonderful. The extra 4 liters of an A30 vs a WF isn't much, but it's an extra day or two depending on what you're packing. On the other hand, that deep hole means a laptop just has to stack with everything else, and the rounded shape looks a little like you're carrying a duffel on your back (not necessarily a bad thing, just maybe not great for a work trip.)

    If 26L is enough space, the WF sounds more like what you're looking for, and to be honest I prefer it a tiny bit over the A30 due to the organization and style.

    Edit: I should mention I have the backpack version of the WF.
    Last edited by Meglet; 10-08-2014, 09:51 PM.
    Rambling On. . . . .

    Comment


      #3
      I think that the choice between WF and A30 really depends on whether you prefer the 'organised' packing method or the 'duffel' packing method.

      A while back I bought both an A45 and a Tri-Star, the bigger brothers of the A30 and WF respectively. The Tri-Star is fractionally larger in capacity than the A30, but while it should be ideal for me for shortish trips and I've trial packed both, I found that I so preferred the Aeronaut duffel-type flexibility that I've never used the Tri-Star in anger. When the A30 was launched I got one as soon as cashflow allowed and it suits me down to the ground - Aeronaut style packing experience, but about Tri-Star capacity. Although I use packing cubes and whatnot to organise the space in the Aeronaut, its flexibility of layout is what attracts me. My laptop is an old macbook 13", which fits neatly in its cache in the A30 atop everything else in the centre compartment - see my thread http://forums.tombihn.com/photos-vid...a30-hotel.html in which I unpack my A30 and list out its contents for a 3 day work trip. Bear in mind I'm male and 6'2" so clothing sizes may vary!

      Meglet clearly prefers the organisation of the WF over her A30, which is an equally valid position. Given that your current bag is an MEI Voyageur, which is very much in the Aeronaut 'duffle' style, I suspect you might find the A30 a better bet. Of course you could always order both, trial pack them both and then return the one you decide against...
      Last edited by PaulT00; 10-09-2014, 04:47 AM.
      A45CC K CQPC 3DCCGES25 SK SCBQKTTMCBLSB TT TSS4 PCSBSCBTT CQPC PQBPQK LT SETT 3DCCQKS19 TT P3DCCTS PP BBLCBCP TTRi QK NFTD A30DLBC

      Comment


        #4
        @teaelleyou

        Welcome to the forum!

        I agree completely with @Meglet and @PaulT00

        To add to the characteristics of the Western Flyer, I think the WF is small and professional and can double as a briefcase and a backpack (if you get this option - there is also a roller handle pass-through option as well though not in stock at the moment). What finally convinced me to get the WF even though I already have a TS and A45 is that the WS can actually pass as a personal item if not packed heavily. I think that this adds great flexibility when travelling and gives you the option to use another bag as carry-on (like your MEI bag) if really packing a lot.

        To your questions, though I have not taken my WF on its maiden flight, I can see myself traveling 2-3 days with it given my 5'11" height and not as minimal packing needs! If you can envision what you have fitting in 26L, the WF is a perfect for what you need IMHO – perhaps virtually test pack your cloths in a 18” x 12” rectangular area, see how tall things get and see if it is too thick for the 7 inches that the WF is. If you can provide a packing list, some of the forum members may be able to better help you estimate. Given your comment that you are a minimal packer and your height, I suspect it would work for a 3-5 day trip for you - note that you can overfill the WF a bit if you need a few more litres of space. Also note that you might be able to fit your laptop in the backpack pocket depending on the size to gain more room in the 2 main compartments and some tablets will fit in the front pockets as well.

        To your concern that the A30 might get a bottom-heavy look when wearing as a backpack, I think the design of the A30 helps prevent this. Note that I have an A45 and not an A30 (yet) so I am basing my comments on the A45 - others can chime in if I am incorrect. By design, I mean the 2 end pockets provide some structure to prevent the bottom-heavy look. In addition, if you use packing cubes, that should help the middle section from sagging. Finally, getting the 1050d ballistic nylon version will add more stiffness and structure to the bag. That being said, the WF is still more professional-looking IMHO – especially for those times you need to walk off the flight and go directly to a business meeting. But, I would imagine that the A30 is ok in a business meeting environment if not fully packed - not fooling anyone that it is a briefcase like you could with the WF though (IMHO, mainly due to the half moon middle zipper and the slight "duffle" look).

        Hope this helps

        Cheers!
        Last edited by tpnl; 10-09-2014, 08:23 AM.
        TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

        Comment


          #5
          Welcome! I think you've gotten good advice so far, so forgive me for throwing in my 2c. I've made it well known in the past that my A30 is my bff. One reason I particularly like it is because it is so freaking easy to carry extra shoes. While I generally had no problems getting 3-5 days' worth of clothes into my WF, shoes were often an issue unless they were easily smashable like Vibram FiveFingers or SoftStars or something like that. The A30's end pocket can hold some pretty bulky shoes, such as leather dress shoes, which would take up half of the WF's divided front compartment.

          So, this may come as a surprise to you, but I think that the WF is probably a better choice for the type of travel you're doing. One, you've got a dedicated laptop compartment, and two (as others have said), the WF has a plane-to-conference-room versatility that is not quite as true of the A30. I traveled by car and plane with the WF quite a bit and here are some tips that can help you make the most of your space in the WF:
          • Use a Cache for your laptop rather than a Brain Cell. It's still great protection and it takes up less interior real estate.
          • Don't leave the laptop all alone in that compartment. I've found that an Eagle Creek 15" sleeve fits great in a WF compartment: you can pack a few shirts or some dress pants and stuff in the sleeve and free up space in the front. If you don't already own an EC sleeve, the Specter line is particularly thin and lightweight.
          • If your feet are small enough, you can use the WF's front water bottle pocket to hold shoes. I think ballet flats would go in with no problem.
          • Try to shrink your toiletries so that they're exactly the size you need for your trip. This thread, which describes how forumite jppreston shrank his travel toiletries, could be useful.


          Overall, I think that the WF is really a sharp bag. It isn't as prone to the barrel effect that can occur with the Tri-Star, and it really is at home in business situations. The A30 is pretty much the bee's knees for everything else, though. Just saying.

          Comment


            #6
            You guys are making me want a WF. I would love to steal @Meglet's Aubergine/Steel one. Though I think they might have a few black dyneema/UV ones still in the shop.

            Comment


              #7
              Wow guys, so much great advice and I appreciate all the links which are super helpful (and make me want ALL the TB things)! Thanks so much. You guys have convinced me to go w/ the WF (but perhaps will revisit the A30 at a later date!). I'll def be using Badger's suggestion of sticking my ballet flats in the water bottle compartment- genius!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Pokilani View Post
                You guys are making me want a WF. I would love to steal @Meglet's Aubergine/Steel one. Though I think they might have a few black dyneema/UV ones still in the shop.
                Been looking at pics of black dyneema and it looks awesome! Might prefer it to the navy ballistic which is sadly the only color listed on the site right now. Have you seen it IRL? Is there a way to special order the black dyneema without going in store? Or do I need to bribe my friend in Seattle with copious amounts of booze/cupcakes to bring it down for me on his next visit?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by teaelleyou View Post
                  Been looking at pics of black dyneema and it looks awesome! Might prefer it to the navy ballistic which is sadly the only color listed on the site right now. Have you seen it IRL? Is there a way to special order the black dyneema without going in store? Or do I need to bribe my friend in Seattle with copious amounts of booze/cupcakes to bring it down for me on his next visit?
                  Call the 800 number now and ask Hannah about the availability of the Western Flyer in Black Dyneema/UV. (1-800-729-9607)

                  HTH moriond.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by teaelleyou View Post
                    Have you seen it IRL?
                    Yes, call like moriond says. There could still be some in the store. When stock gets low they take it off the website and see it in the store.

                    Black dyneema is my favorite. It is super rich, elegant, and fun all at the same time. I have it in the DLBP, S19 (with UV), and SA (with Iberian). And I just ordered it in the SE with UV. UV is definitely my favorite pairing. Oh, I also have small shop bags in black and UW dyneema. They look so great together. Actually, it looks fantastic with Iberian too, but I digress. Let's just say I love black dyneema so much that I want it in a trench coat (I can't remember who came up with that brilliant idea-monkeylady, maybe?). I haven't seen the WF in person, but this post has pictures.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I check on WFs the other day
                      Unfortunately we still are out of stock of the Western Flyer with the rolling luggage slip. We do plan on making more sometime in the future, but the production hasn't been set in stone quite yet. Sorry about that!
                      Might have backpack ones though.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by hachkc View Post
                        I check on WFs the other day


                        Might have backpack ones though.
                        Yes, they do/did have the Western Flyer backpack model in Black Dyneema/UV available yesterday in the store. @Pokilani saw my post about this yesterday in reply to @adalangdon in the Now Available/Back in Stock thread. But I think there were only two, and I know another forum member was planning to call in for one this morning, so I can't be more emphatic about my advice to call the 800 number now,

                        HTH moriond

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by moriond View Post
                          Yes, they do/did have the Western Flyer backpack model in Black Dyneema/UV available yesterday in the store. @Pokilani saw my post about this yesterday in reply to @adalangdon in the Now Available/Back in Stock thread. But I think there were only two, and I know another forum member was planning to call in for one this morning, so I can't be more emphatic about my advice to call the 800 number now,

                          HTH moriond
                          Yes, call now before I beat you to it. Just kidding (kinda). We will want pictures of your packing when you do get it.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Pokilani View Post
                            Yes, call now before I beat you to it. Just kidding (kinda). We will want pictures of your packing when you do get it.
                            Dyneema has been pretty popular lately in the travel bags, so my best guess is that they will refresh the Western Flyer line again before Christmas, and the refresh will include a Dyneema version of the bag. But, in the current production schedule, that refresh might only become available very close to Christmas (like mid-December), and there are no guarantees of what color combination will be available. And while I think there has been renewed interest in the Western Flyer, especially with the stricter enforcement of carryon size limits, especially for U.S. airlines in recent times, I'm betting that the Aeronaut 30 will get a lot more production capacity, both as a new bag, and because most people, especially those not practiced with minimalist packing, will want more carrying capacity. Again, as a guess, when the WF line refreshes near Christmas, there will likely be a rolling luggage version offered, but it might only be available in Black Ballistic Nylon.

                            FWIW, I think the Western Flyer and the A30 are the two most comfortable carries for people of @teaelleyou's height and shorter. I didn't comment earlier, because I haven't traveled yet with my new A30, which may replace my Tri-Star, but @Badger's suggestions are spot on, and I can definitely use the front water bottle pocket of the WF or Tri-Star for shoes (usually I have a windbreaker or down vest there in winter time). I also think the Tri-Star and the Western Flyer look the most professional of the travel luggage, and the place where the Tri-Star shines is access to the center section (not necessarily just for laptops) while traveling, but the extra organization makes this bag a bit heavier relative to its carrying capacity compared to the A30. Also, I think the possible "barrel" bulge is less in Ballistic Nylon models of the Tri-Star compared to the Dyneema version @Badger has.

                            Navy Ballistic Nylon looks very good, so if the Black Dyneema/UV option for the Western Flyer is not available, that's still a good option.

                            HTH moriond

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Just called and they sold out of their last one just yesterday! NOOOOOOOOOO!! (dramatic much ) Now that I've seen how amazing the black dyneema/UV WF is I don't think I can settle for another color! I guess I'll have to wait and be Tom Bihn-less for another few months *sigh*.

                              Comment

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