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  1. #1
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    Thoughts on the Aeronaut 30, Daylight Backpack, and Pilot

    Thought I'd give some initial feedback after finally trying out these bags on an almost-two-week trip to Israel.

    As background:
    I traveled solo and independently and, by design, visited four cities in Israel, taking buses or trains to get from one to another. Whenever possible I avoided taxis, both to save money and because I thought it would be an interesting experience to try getting around on city transport. This trip was all about self-reliance. I had an iPhone 6 with a working local SIM card and a generous data allowance, and this was my savior, since I could pull up Google Maps with transit directions at any point. I should note that almost everyone I encountered spoke English, but asking directions gets tedious. So doing some pre-planning, and having the phone with an internet connection, made all the difference for me. I had two long layovers in Zurich, where I had no working cell phone, but didn't feel like bothering with the expense for this relatively short time.

    I airbnb'd all my accommodations, and this was wonderful. I liked all the places I stayed, and got useful tips (and had nice conversations with my hosts), everywhere.

    Aeronaut 30:

    This was my first trip with my aubergine/wasabi ballistic Aeronaut 30. It was GREAT. Fitting everything inside was a challenge for me, since I am not a super-light packer. However, I found this much easier to handle than the larger Aeronaut 45.

    It held:
    • Flattened daylight backpack
    • Large A30 cube with most of my clothes, including a merino top :)
    • PCSB with sleeping clothes/items, in one side compartment
    • Stuff sack with underwear and socks
    • Stuff sack with Ziploc 3-1-1 bag
    • Empty laundry bag
    • Quick dry towel
    • Cube with snacks
    • Lots of miscellaneous cubes, (TB, Eagle Creek or Northface) with various other items
    • One real (paper) guidebook to supplement my digital one, and a small phrasebook


    I also had a sweater and jacket that I almost always carried or wore, along with my sneakers. That time of year, Boston (where I left from), Zurich (which I transited through) and Israel were on the coolish side most of the time. The sweater was a very light, drapey thing that could be used for dressing up a tiny bit, and for covering myself in religious areas. It was actually from REI, and one of my favorite clothes items.

    Let me be honest: The packed A30 was still heavy. Usually this was fine, but in certain circumstances, like walking around the Zurich Airport after hours of flying, I was tired and really wishing I'd brought a roller. There were no circumstances on this particular trip where roller bags got checked but having a soft bag was a plus, but that's specific to the airline and route I was flying. I could see circumstances being different on U.S. domestic flights or European economy airlines, and think the A30 will be invaluable then. On the Israeli trains or long-distance buses, there were advantages to having a soft-sided bag. I could slide it in the areas between the seats or, on the bus, slip it in front of me in a vertical position. I could also have placed it underneath in the bus, but chose to keep it with me. So I did like having this capability, whereas a roller bag doesn't 'squeeze' into a small space as easily.

    While traveling, the A30 was a dream for unpacking and repacking. Using lots of organizers of different colors and shapes was key for me, as I could quickly grab what I wanted and remember where everything belonged.

    I prefer it to the Western Flyer-style bags in its open compartment design. I found it much easier to pack quickly.

    Daylight Backpack, in black dyneema:

    Also my first time using this bag. I really liked it. Every day I was touring, I packed it up and left the Pilot. It held my Side Effect, a jacket, keys, coins in the Q-kit, iPhone, hand sanitizer, Jackery charger and cord, maps or parts of guidebooks, and anything else I needed. It was so light that it felt like nothing and was easy to access. Because of the flat shape I generally didn't have any trouble navigating crowded buses with it on.

    In a few museums I was asked to check it, which was annoying. When this first happened, I rolled it up (so it didn't look like a backpack) and held it in my arms, and no one bothered me. After that happened I packed the packing cube shoulder bag [edit] in the bottom, and placed all my belongings into that if I was asked to check the backpack.

    I kept important items, like cash and cards, in my Side Effect, which I think is important for security. In a few places like open marketplaces and the Mount of Olives, I was pre-warned about pickpockets, and then I swung it around to my front and kept a hand lightly on the point at which the zippers met. I had taken some small locking carabiners with me, but somehow didn't have them on hand for these days -- something to be more conscious of next time. In a more challenging security environment, I might have worn a money belt and kept only non-valuables in the backpack.

    Pilot:

    So, my plan was to take my new dyneema Pilot. This bag would hold my Side Effect, chargers, Kindle, iPhone, camera, glass case and spare glasses, passport, and other items I consider important and want to be sure to keep with me on planes, trains and buses (i.e., during transport from one place to another). I have used this bag successfully for commuting. However, when packed with everything I needed for the trip, it sagged and bulged out in a way that was unwieldy. I know that forum members have found tricks to solve this problem, but it was the day I was leaving and didn't really have time to work on it. So everything went into my ballistic Pilot, which was heavier but held its shape.

    I like the Pilot's organization and think it makes a great underseat bag, but regretted the extra weight. Though it's fine for commuting, as a secondary bag, it was a little much. I almost fit everything I needed in the Co-Pilot, and really wish I could have made that work.

    Final thoughts:

    I think this style of packing all comes down to traveling really light. There isn't much I regret taking, but do see that I could have left a few items of clothing out. On the other hand, it wasn't always possible to do laundry and have everything dry in time, so I wouldn't want to pare down too much. I really appreciated the clothing when I had done a lot of walking and wanted a fresh outfit.

    I was constantly adding layers and then peeling them off throughout the day, since temps fluctuated a lot, particularly in mountainous cities. Doing it all over again, I would have taken only tops that blended together well. Most of my items did, but there were a few outliers.

    The A30 does impose a certain self-discipline. As the trip went on I cut down the guidebook and carried only the remaining chapters I needed, stapling the pages together. I bought one book of poetry I had wanted, but got almost no other souvenirs beyond a few postcards and a bag of spices. I was kind of refreshing to know that shopping wasn't an option. Two gifts were purchased and shipped directly to the recipients.

    A final note: the Jackery charging bar was really important. Using my iPhone for navigation all day makes the battery wear down quickly. It never failed me!
    Last edited by bchaplin; 11-15-2014 at 05:53 AM.
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator
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    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review, bchaplin! Thank you!

    What is the Daylight Packing Cube you mentioned?
    -m

  3. #3
    Forum Member Pokilani's Avatar
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    Awesome review, @bchaplin.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    Thanks, Maverick. Edited. I meant to say, packing cube shoulder bag.
    Beth

    Quote Originally Posted by maverick View Post
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review, bchaplin! Thank you!

    What is the Daylight Packing Cube you mentioned?
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  5. #5
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    Which sim card did you get?
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  6. #6
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    Which sim card did you get?
    It was Israel-specific. I purchased it via eBay from a seller who has consistently good reviews on a travel forum I frequent. It was mailed to me in the United States and set up to start working the day I arrived in Israel, and it performed flawlessly. The seller was available for any tech help as well, but beyond checking on my data usage I didn't require any assistance. If anyone is interested in the seller's user name I'm happy to PM you.

    It is also possible to purchase a SIM card from a shop, of course, but this happened to be a better deal, and was available to start working from my 3am arrival. It actually came in handy because I needed to message my airbnb host to get in the building :)
    Last edited by bchaplin; 11-15-2014 at 06:12 AM.
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  7. #7
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    Would you PM me the info on the sim card. I'm planning a trip there next year.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  8. #8
    Forum Member Orangeboys's Avatar
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    Thank you @bchaplin, great review! Will be very helpful in future planning!

  9. #9
    Forum Member kkintea's Avatar
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    @bchaplin, did you carry the A30 as a backpack, or with a shoulder strap? When I took your WF on an int'l trip, I also thought it got too heavy at times in backpack mode on public transit.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Favorite: Steel/Steel Little Swift * Latest: nNordic/NWS Smart Alec *

  10. #10
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    I DID wear it in my back most of the time. I didn't want to bother bringing the shoulder strap, though maybe I will try that next time!
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  11. #11
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    do you think the DLBC is better for light going and the pilot for traveling (esp without checking anything). I am thinking this way as I took both with me the other day and thought them VERY similar. both are dyneema and light but yes, bulgy when not using artificial stiffeners. I use a cardboard piece for pilot (not elegant, but it works).

  12. #12
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    I don't have the daylight briefcase, so can't comment about that, but I definitely prefer something other than the Pilot for a day of sightseeing, though it will do in a pinch. Somehow I was more comfortable with the daylight backpack. However, I do feel that the Pilot is an excellent airplane/bus/train bag, and for me, it was worth taking it even though I didn't use it for daily carry. Both 'daylight' products seem to be designed to fit in a larger bag when empty and take up minimal space, so I think you could bring along whichever one you prefer, in addition to your travel bags, without sacrificing valuable space or weight.

    Thanks for the tip about the cardboard -- I may try that next time!

    On a side note, I don't know exactly what marks someone as a tourist, but with the daylight backpack and my choice of clothes, people generally started speaking to me in Hebrew rather than English, and someone even asked me directions, so I assume I blended in a little, which was nice. It wasn't exactly what everyone else was wearing, but it also wasn't the typical "tourist bag".

    Quote Originally Posted by meekasmom View Post
    do you think the DLBC is better for light going and the pilot for traveling (esp without checking anything). I am thinking this way as I took both with me the other day and thought them VERY similar. both are dyneema and light but yes, bulgy when not using artificial stiffeners. I use a cardboard piece for pilot (not elegant, but it works).
    Last edited by bchaplin; 11-15-2014 at 01:03 PM.
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  13. #13
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    i also have the same

  14. #14
    Forum Member Ca1i's Avatar
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    I'd like to echo bchaplin's comments about the Aeronaut 30. I just returned from three weeks in Central Asia using it plus a small sportsac. This was my first trip with the A30 (dyneema). I've previously traveled with the TriStar and A45.

    My packing list was similar to hers but I brought the SE instead of the packing cube shoulder bag. I also packed electronics (two smart phones, kindle, camera and all the cables), an extra pair of shoes and an eagle creek packable bag to use on the way back as I planned on a quite a bit of holiday shopping.

    The Aeronaut was full but easy to handle. Traversing borders in Central Asia can mean a *lot* of security and opening of bags. Being able to place "suspect" items in the end zippered pockets worked well for getting through security relatively unscathed.

    I was with a group and most people not only had a huge roller bag (sometimes two) but large backpacks/other bags as well. These had to be constantly wrangled up stairs, lifted onto X-ray machines, etc. They couldn't believe I could get all my things in such a "small" bag.

    But here is what *I* couldn't believe: Somehow all my purchases fit into the A30 on the way home. Embroideries, scarves, yurt decorations (doesn't everyone need these?), 12 pairs of scissors, jewelry, several miniature paintings, loads of candies...can't even remember what else. It all fit!

    As others have said, it is a Mary Poppins bag. I've found my go-to travel bag.
    Last edited by Ca1i; 12-18-2014 at 03:01 PM.

  15. #15
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ca1i View Post
    The Aeronaut was full but easy to handle. Traversing borders in Central Asia can mean a *lot* of security and opening of bags. Being able to place "suspect" items in the end zippered pockets worked well for getting through security relatively unscathed.
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! This is a very good point - I hadn't thought about it, but the horizontal layout of the A30, with the three compartments, does make it easy to manage.

    I hope that you find a good purpose for your yurt decorations!
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

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