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  1. #1
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    Question How do you carry a laptop in your A45 and other A45 questions.

    Hey folks,

    I am off to Japan later this year and was on the hunt for a 40-45L backpack to last me three weeks.

    Anyways, I am pretty reliant on my electronic gadgets (15in MBP, iPad, headphones, camera and a couple of prime lenses etc etc) and it seems like the A45 is everything I could want, but I am stuck wondering why it doesn't seem to work well with technology.

    Don't get me wrong, it seems like a great bag but I am a little apprehensive that a 'one bag' carryon doesn't even have a laptop compartment in 2016? I've looked at alternatives from Tortuga, Patagonia, Crumpler etc but keep coming back to Tom Bihn for their reputation for quality and craftmanship. I am this *holds thumb and index finger a couple of cm apart* close to hitting buy now and having it shipped to the other side of the planet, but was hoping to get this forum's input.

    1. Sooo, how do you guys travel with laptops in the Aeronaut series? Do you slip it into a sleeve and pop it in the main compartment and hope for the best? I am also picking up the daylight backpack and I was hoping my 15in could fit in that and I could lay it flat in the main compartment (with one end pocket retracted) for some additional padding.

    2. For my camera gear, I use a Crumpler Haven (HAVEN (M) - Camera Pouch / Tech Organiser | Crumpler) and on my backpacks, it usually is the last thing I add so it is up by the top. How do you guys see something like this fitting in the main or end compartment of the A45?

    3. How is Japan? Most places I've been to (USA, Australia, UK, NZ) have all had predominantly English speakers or at least signs and directions in English and I think getting around in Japan, plus the fact that I'm a pretty big guy, will be a heck of a challenge Confused I'm reading stories online but I've never been this nervous-excited about going somewhere before

    Thanks in advance for the help!

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Alumni Badger's Avatar
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    Welcome! I'll try to answer to the best of my ability.

    I am a little apprehensive that a 'one bag' carryon doesn't even have a laptop compartment in 2016?
    The A45 is a duffel-style convertible bag, not a backpack, and doesn't open in the same way a backpack would. A laptop compartment would have to be built into the interior of the bag to offer sufficient protection. This would be a problem because the laptop would then be underneath all of your stuff, and a bear to remove at security. More generally, with very few exceptions, TB bags don't have built-in compartments and this is a good thing given that not everyone's machine is the same size and that laptop sizes in general are ever-changing. Plus, not everyone does carry a laptop and for them, a compartment would be wasted space and unnecessary added weight.

    When I fly with an A45 and my laptop, I put the laptop in a cache and pack it at the top of the load so all I have to do is open the flap to get the laptop out. YMMV with this one, but I (and others) have also taken the backpack straps out of the stow-away pocket, and stuck the laptop in there. It's not a totally comfortable solution but it does work.

    These videos are a couple of years old, but can give you an idea of how packing the A45 works; if you haven't seen the packing video, you might find it helpful (and be sure to watch the accompanying video, shot in Japan).

    I've looked at alternatives from Tortuga, Patagonia, Crumpler etc
    I'm not sure about Tortuga or Crumpler, but if you're looking at the Patagonia MLC, that's an entirely different beast than the A45. The MLC is analogous to the TB Tri-Star, a three-compartment convertible bag that does have a compartment you can dedicate to a laptop or other electronics. A better Patagonia analogy to the A45 is the 45L Black Hole Bag (which does not have a laptop compartment).

    I am also picking up the daylight backpack and I was hoping my 15in could fit in that
    It should, provided you're using a low-profile sleeve such as a Cache.

    How do you guys see something like [the Crumpler Haven] fitting in the main or end compartment of the A45?
    There are people here who actually use this item so their opinion matters more than mine, but from looking at the specs, the fit may not be great in the end compartment because the Haven is large and square and the compartment is rectangular. To give you an idea: a regular iPad fits width-wise in the end compartment. Your Haven is slightly larger width-wise than the iPad, so it's possible that it would be difficult to zip the compartment closed (but get confirmation on this because I'm only extrapolating). There wouldn't be a problem fitting it in the main compartment, but it will jockey for space with the laptop.

    In my opinion, the A45 excels at carrying clothing, shoes, toiletries, and other travel necessities, but it wouldn't be my first choice for carrying a ton of electronics, especially day in and day out for weeks. I also have to emphasize that while I find it very comfortable to carry, it is not a dedicated backpack and won't have the same ergonomic features you would find in a backpack.

    Have you considered the Brain Bag? This is the bag I tend to choose when I must carry a number of electronics as well as clothes. Even though it's 9L less in volume than the A45, I can get almost as much in the BB using packing cubes. The BB has two compartments, so you could put your clothes in one and use the other for your laptop and camera bag. You can get a padded hip belt for the BB, which will make carrying it for long periods more comfortable if the bag is very heavy. It is a huge backpack, so you might still want a Daylight. I tend to use mine as a packing cube inside the BB and then as a daypack when I'm at my destination.

    If you have your heart set on the A45, we'd be able to give you the most help if you post your packing list. Include clothing/shoe sizes, type of camera, etc.—basically any details that will give us a sense of the shape and size of all your items. Be prepared for people to advise making revisions to your list.

    As far as Japan: if you are traveling by rail, all of the station stops will be labeled in Roman characters as well as in Japanese. If you're on foot and have nothing but an address, make sure it's written in both kanji and romaji and if you need to stop someone to ask, they can help. People get lost all the time because buildings aren't well-marked, but there are police boxes everywhere and the police are very helpful with directions. Tourist attractions are also labeled in Roman script, and will have some sort of information kiosk.

    If you are a huge western guy, no one is going to expect you to be able to speak any Japanese. Anything you do say will be greeted with much surprise and appreciation, so learn a few phrases like good morning/day/evening and thank you—that sort of thing goes a long way. Also: watch your head. Sometimes doorways will be shorter than you're used to.

  3. #3
    Forum Member adalangdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badger View Post
    As far as Japan: if you are traveling by rail, all of the station stops will be labeled in Roman characters as well as in Japanese. If you're on foot and have nothing but an address, make sure it's written in both kanji and romaji and if you need to stop someone to ask, they can help. People get lost all the time because buildings aren't well-marked, but there are police boxes everywhere and the police are very helpful with directions. Tourist attractions are also labeled in Roman script, and will have some sort of information kiosk.

    If you are a huge western guy, no one is going to expect you to be able to speak any Japanese. Anything you do say will be greeted with much surprise and appreciation, so learn a few phrases like good morning/day/evening and thank you—that sort of thing goes a long way. Also: watch your head. Sometimes doorways will be shorter than you're used to.
    I agree with the above. Where are you headed to? If you are headed to Tokyo, I should warn you that the standard of English there may be lower than what you'd expect of a major city with lots of tourists and expats. I visited Tokyo a couple of years back and found myself having to use my rusty conversational Japanese skills to get around-- I was hoping to be lazy at first and use English but that didn't work out very well.

    If you are headed to any other place than Tokyo... well, good luck asking most locals. Your best bet may be to rely on virtual or paper maps (I highly recommend big paper maps from the tourist centres) when lost instead of asking people for directions, because those will have some English and romanised place names. The good news is that what Badger said of place names being in romaji is true even of less urbanised cities (like Kanazawa and Nara), though I don't know what the situation is like in the boonies. For example, I noticed that even the electronic sign boards inside the buses in Kanazawa displayed romanised place names.

    Have a good trip!

  4. #4
    Forum Member PaulT00's Avatar
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    Like Badger, when I have occasion to carry a laptop in an Aeronaut, I put the laptop in a suitable cache and it sits on top of the load in the main compartment. I've never carried a laptop bigger than 14" (the work boat anchor Lenovo T440p) in either of my Aeronauts - that was snug in the A30, but fitted OK, and not a problem at all in the larger A45; so I would suggest that a 15" MBP in a cache should fit just fine on top of the load in the A45 main compartment.

    Unfortunately I'm not a camera kind of person so can't offer any advice on the camera bits!
    A45CC K CQPC 3DCCGES25 SK SCBQKTTMCBLSB TT TSS4 PCSBSCBTT CQPC PQBPQK LT SETT 3DCCQKS19 TT P3DCCTS PP BBLCBCP TTRi QK NFTD A30DLBC

  5. #5
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    My son just got back from China. He took the Aeronaut 45 and a Daylight Backpack. Because he thought he might have to check the A45 at some point, he kept his laptop in the DLBP in a sleeve he already had. (As it happens, he never had to check the A45 - even on internal flights within China and even when it wildly exceeded weight limits.) When he brought back large and fragile souvenirs, he wrapped them in clothes/scarves and centered them in the A45, which is what we would do if we had a laptop in there.

    He did take a side-trip to Korea, where he doesn't know the language. He said there were some challenges, but the trip was well worth it. He found the trickiest part was ordering food, but pictures on menus helps a lot. He also recommends getting a good dictionary/translation app for your phone.
    Last edited by vkigus; 07-24-2016 at 12:28 PM.
    Navy/Iberian: A30, A45, Swift, SE Linen/Navy: SCB Olive/Burnt Orange: SCB Navy: DLBP Coyote/Navy: MF Verde/Ultraviolet: SE

  6. #6
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    re: 15" MBP laptop fit in A45

    See the video below for the A45 showing a 15" MBP (about 6 min in):

    The Tom Bihn Aeronaut Maximum Carry-On Travel Bag

    The MBP is 2009 vintage in case that makes a difference in dimensions. The cache is a 4Z. The video looks to be another fantastic @maverick production.

    For me, I have a 15.6" Lenovo that I put in a semi-hard Vyper Sleevecase (17" version) and slip on top of my clothes as shown in the video - not perfect but acceptable and easy to remove (unless over stuffed - then nothing is easy to get out Wink).

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  7. #7
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    I carry a Chromebook in a cache and slip it it the pocket that holds the shoulder straps. Granted it's a thin computer but it's comfortable and well protected. It's very quick to access at airport security as well.

    Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    Thanks a lot for all the input. Maybe I was a bit too critical of the Aeronaut. I really really want to like it, but as someone pointed out, it's a duffel bag first and backpack second. So probably not what I really need. As I am all about the right tool for the right job, I'll have a look at the Western Flyer (if only it came in a 40L!) and a few other offerings from Tom Bihn!

    Badger and TPNL, those are some great videos! If I am going the Aeronaut route, it looks like I really don't have to worry about a dedicated laptop container. I've got a pretty good slim sleeve lying around which should do fine for my MBP as long as the bag itself as well isn't overpacked and pushing the laptop up against the opening.

    Thanks again, this forum is super helpful! It's amazing to see so many people passionate about bags and travel Smilie

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreckman View Post
    I carry a Chromebook in a cache and slip it it the pocket that holds the shoulder straps. Granted it's a thin computer but it's comfortable and well protected. It's very quick to access at airport security as well.

    Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk
    Thats how I pack my XPS13 and VP13 before that as well and its perfect, even with should straps out (or in). It works even when the A45 is absolutely over packed with no problem whatsoever. Heck Im just back from a 12h flight where i did just that (something ive done many times before ;-) I estimate anything up to a MBP15 is totally fine. Over that size, probably not as fine/depends on model, etc.

    Also I often use it as a backpack when its heavily loaded because it kills me on a single shoulder, and while, yes, its more of a duffel bag than a backpack its actually reaaaally convenient as a backpack (though if you *just* want a backpack, you should go get that instead). What I particularly like is that its only a backpack when its inconvenient not to be one.

  10. #10
    Forum Member polarium's Avatar
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    @chubbyunicorn While I couldn't give you help on the A45, I could give you tips on going to places where you don't know the language, especially Japan

    1. For the first one, this might sound racist but it works: Use simple English.

    For example, when you want to ask for the directions to the toilet, don't say "Where is the toilet?", instead just say "Toilet?"

    2. Rely on Google maps, and thus I urge you to get a sim card for your phone.


    Sent from my D5833 using Tapatalk
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