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  1. #1
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    Ode to the Aeronaut

    I traveled for about a year with my Synapse 25, and although it's a well-made backpack I quickly came to realize it was far better suited for everyday backpack-type stuff rather than travel. Given that I didn't need all that capacity for everyday stuff, I sold the S25 and bought a black Halcyon Aeronaut 30. I just took my first trip with the A30 and can say definitively that it is an absolute dream of a bag and far superior, in my opinion, than the S25 for travel.

    I liked having the extra 5L of space without having a significantly larger bag--the dimensions of the S25 and the A30 are actually nearly identical, but the A30's shape makes it far more accommodating. I also prefer the large pocket where I can organize myself rather than trying to fit things into the different pockets of the S25. Additionally, the duffel-style opening was much easier for accessing my stuff.

    But the most significant change for me was how it felt on my back. I had more stuff than I packed in the S25, but it was significantly more comfortable. The S25 when packed tightly felt cumbersome and rounded against my back and was difficult to get on and off. The A30, on the other hand, had more even weight distribution, laid flat against my back and felt lighter than the S25 even with more things. Amazing! The backpack straps are incredibly comfortable. I also love the side handles which have some stretchiness to them and feel great.

    I fit the A30 under the seat in front of me to avoid Spirit Airlines' ridiculous overhead bag fee. Side note: never fly Spirit. They are a total scam and try to trick you with their slightly lower fares.

    I only have 2 quibbles. The most minor is that it would be really nice if one of the side handles ran vertically rather than horizontally, so I could carry the bag by my side in the natural orientation of my wrist. There is a top handle for that, but it is not nearly as comfortable. The second is that, because the heavy duty zippers take some real force to open, I found myself looking for a small fabric tab to hold with my left hand as I pulled the zipper with my right. Sometimes trying to open the bag was frustrating because the force needed to open the zipper was often larger than the force needed to drag the bag.

    I'm glad I tried the Synapse, but the Aeronaut is an absolute delight for light travelers. Highly recommended. (I also pack a Side Kick to put in the plane seat pocket for those times when I can actually put a bag in the overhead.)

  2. #2
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    Good to know. I've been having a love-hate relationship with my S25 for the same reasons.
    S19, Pilot, S25, SE, NFTD, SCB, LCB, LS- in that order, all in Halcyon. Newest: Brain Bag. Oh, and some Shop Bags and Travel Cubelets. And some pouches. And a couple of Organizer Wallets. And a SSK. And some stuff sacks. And a laundry sack. But I'm not hooked on TB.

  3. #3
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    I love my original halcyon A30 too. It has been on weekend trips away and longer trips to Japan, China and Australia. Regarding the zip problem, zipper pulls seem to make this easier.
    A30 in original halcyon/wasabi. Side Kick in verde/northwest sky and cloud/viridian, Pop Tote in Mars Red and Nebulous Grey, Travel Cubelet in Mars Red, Viridian and Grass, A30 packing cube backpack in northwest sky, large travel tray in sitka, packing cubes, pouches and cubelets

  4. #4
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    I only have 2 quibbles. The most minor is that it would be really nice if one of the side handles ran vertically rather than horizontally, so I could carry the bag by my side in the natural orientation of my wrist. There is a top handle for that, but it is not nearly as comfortable. The second is that, because the heavy duty zippers take some real force to open, I found myself looking for a small fabric tab to hold with my left hand as I pulled the zipper with my right. Sometimes trying to open the bag was frustrating because the force needed to open the zipper was often larger than the force needed to drag the bag.
    Well, there is the handle inside the backpack compartment. I don't think it really works for well for carrying, but maybe if you padded it a bit, it might help.

    When I bought my D36 (Doggienaut36, aka Medium Road Duffle), I was pleased that there were small fabric tabs to hold when you pulled the zipper with the other hand.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by evbro View Post
    The second is that, because the heavy duty zippers take some real force to open, I found myself looking for a small fabric tab to hold with my left hand as I pulled the zipper with my right. Sometimes trying to open the bag was frustrating because the force needed to open the zipper was often larger than the force needed to drag the bag.
    i've had similar issues with the zipper, but putting monkey fist zipper pulls on the tabs really helped (in addition to quashing the "i'm being trailed by a pack of golden retrievers," jingling tabs effect), so i have something to grab ahold of on the left when my right hand is unzipping. it's a relatively simple & inexpensive solution, might be worth a shot?

  6. #6
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    I like the handles as they are, but I agree with you about zipper tabs to pull against!

  7. #7
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    I recently traded in my A45 for an A30 and it's just the perfect bag- it brings me joy.
    (plus it's seriously surprising how much luggage it just gobbles up)

  8. #8
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    I had the exact same epiphany with my S25 and A30! :)

    I did 10 days in Argentina with the S25, but got my A30 before my next vacation trip (similar length, but in Europe), and the difference was amazing. It's not the the S25 didn't work, but it was more awkward to carry, load, and unpack. I *love* my A30 so much, and consider it my perfect vacation travel one-bag solution. Especially with a PCSB and DLBP tucked inside--that way I have a bag for every scenario.

    I did keep the S25 as my business travel computer bag, and usually use it with a carry-on sized wheelie bag. I'm thinking that the S19 would actually be better sized for me for this use, but I'm not concerned enough about it to swap sizes.
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  9. #9
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    Glad to know others have shared my experiences! I'm putting the TB zipper pulls on the zips today hoping that helps a little bit with the torque issue though it couldn't possibly completely solve it. Also, @BWeaves that backpack handle is what I meant by the "top" handle, though I suppose the main double handle should cover me for carrying it at my side. I just really like the feel of those stretchy side handles!

  10. #10
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    I find it very interesting that some of y'all prefer the A30 over the S25 for toting on your back. My wife and I used the A30 for a trip to Europe, and we were very tired and sore from carrying so much weight, and we felt it was due to the A30 not being a proper backpack. kathryn and evbro, do you have the latest version of the A30 from within the last two months, or is it a previous edition?

  11. #11
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    @ThomGault I bought my A30 in March of 2015, so definitely not the latest version. I can't remember if they changed the strap placement recently or not--I'm sure one of our amazing mods can answer that. :)

    The S25 I was comparing was bought in 2013. I re-homed that with my dad, and bought a new one in black halcyon, and again, not sure if there's a difference in the fit between the two.

    Tbh, the S25 is perfect for work stuff (laptop, notebooks, etc.) or an overnight. When it gets more full, the shape changes and it's not as comfortable for me.
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomGault View Post
    I find it very interesting that some of y'all prefer the A30 over the S25 for toting on your back. My wife and I used the A30 for a trip to Europe, and we were very tired and sore from carrying so much weight, and we felt it was due to the A30 not being a proper backpack. kathryn and evbro, do you have the latest version of the A30 from within the last two months, or is it a previous edition?
    I bought the Aeronaut just before they updated it. The problem for me was that when the synapse gets packed full, it widens and the back rounds out--it is a naturally round shape. The Aeronaut is naturally flatter against the back as the contents tend to fill out vertically rathern than in thickness. I didn't have the A30 fully packed, but it was pretty close. It felt like I was carrying less and it was much easier to get on and off, which was sometimes a struggle with a packed Synapse.

    But, of course, all this is subjective, and if the S25 feels more comfortable to you, then it is the bag for you!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathryn View Post
    @ThomGault I bought my A30 in March of 2015, so definitely not the latest version. I can't remember if they changed the strap placement recently or not--I'm sure one of our amazing mods can answer that. :)

    The S25 I was comparing was bought in 2013. I re-homed that with my dad, and bought a new one in black halcyon, and again, not sure if there's a difference in the fit between the two.

    Tbh, the S25 is perfect for work stuff (laptop, notebooks, etc.) or an overnight. When it gets more full, the shape changes and it's not as comfortable for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by evbro View Post
    I bought the Aeronaut just before they updated it. The problem for me was that when the synapse gets packed full, it widens and the back rounds out--it is a naturally round shape. The Aeronaut is naturally flatter against the back as the contents tend to fill out vertically rathern than in thickness. I didn't have the A30 fully packed, but it was pretty close. It felt like I was carrying less and it was much easier to get on and off, which was sometimes a struggle with a packed Synapse.

    But, of course, all this is subjective, and if the S25 feels more comfortable to you, then it is the bag for you!
    Thanks for the updates! I haven't tried an S25 yet; based on my pains from using the A30, I thought a full backpack style might be more comfortable, or, as I own the previous iteration of the A30, maybe switching to the latest version would be better. But if you two both have the previous A30, and find it to not be uncomfortable, perhaps it was just my packing method which caused discomfort; without experience packing a backpack, I simply focused on cramming everything inside.

  14. #14
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    I can give a sample of my A30 packing technique, if it's helpful:

    • I put my shoes in the end pocket that will be the bottom in backpack mode (this pocket usually also has a few other things like a towel, hair flat-iron, etc.)
    • In the main pocket, I lay my DLBP empty in the bottom, and then add a packing cube or packing folder with most of my clothing (it's about 11" x 14") before cinching that all down with the compression straps.
    • If I am taking a bulkier fleece or jacket, I fold that on top of the packing cube and cinch it in as well; ditto for a small laptop or tablet (in a Cache)
    • Around the "edges" of that bundle, I put smaller packing cubes or stuff sacks, basically trying to fill the space as well as possible to keep stuff from shifting
    • The "top" pocket has my toiletries, like 3-1-1 baggie, etc.


    For me, this has worked to keep things from floating around too much, and making the load shift.
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  15. #15
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    How many people unzip the dividers on the A30?

    If you only unzip one of them, do you unzip the "top" one or the "bottom" one? I think this would only matter when carried as a backpack.

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