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  1. #1
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    Double-use Western Flyer

    I'm seriously looking at the Western Flyer for two possible uses in my life, and wondering how well it would work in these situations.

    First, I've been playing around for a good "personal item" to carry on planes, and this is especially key now that Basic Economy fares sometimes don't give you access to the overhead bins. Even when I do have something for the overhead bin, my normal suitcase is a RedOxx AirBoss so having my personal item be convertible to a backpack would be a plus.

    Second, I recently started a new job that involves a significant walk to and from the Metro station (about 3/4 mile each way, and another half mile if my wife can't pick me up on our end of the line in the evening). I've been managing with a leather messenger bag or a simple stowaway daypack, but now that it's summer and I've been having back problems, a more structured backpack with room to stash my suit jacket (along with lunch, swim gear for the gym, some magazines and occasional book, and my Surface Pro).

    I presently have both a RedOxx CPA briefcase and an eBags Professional Slim Laptop backpack, but the CPA is really too big for daily carry and lacks the backpack option (plus the fact that it does not look terribly professional), while the eBags one is incredibly awkward when not full. Both are also on the heavy side for the length of walk I have. I've thought about a traditional backpack, but I really prefer something that has a little more organizational possibility.

    Oh, and one last thing: if anyone has a hack for a bottle holder while the WF is in backpack mode, that would probably put me over the edge. I usually carry a Yeti tumbler full of hot tea to work, and the lack of a vertical bottle holder would be the one major downside of the WF that I anticipate so far.

    I'm very thankful for any thoughts!

  2. #2
    Forum Member melminimalist's Avatar
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    The western flyer may be a bit "meaty" for that much walking, especially in summer. In Backpack mode there is no mesh breathable back to it. I could be wrong on this, I don't own a WF myself. Perhaps the others may know better.

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  3. #3
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    +1 that clean lines of the WF beat RedOxx offerings in general. I wouldn't call it structured though. It appears that the eBags laptop backpack is a similar profile on the back, so I don't imagine the WF would exacerbate any back problems, or improve the awkwardness much when carried empty (if it isn't packed heavy, shoulder carry with the Absolute strap is best). I cart a Surface Book, with lunch in a Mr. Bento, a rain jacket, umbrella, cafe-bag size Freudean Slip, Monopod and chickenfoot tripod, and a few small knickknacks daily (as a shoulder bag).

    No hacks on the water bottle pocket, unfortunately. Good news is, even if there was one, it would be a pain to get at it without taking the bag off, so probably shouldn't be a dealbreaker. Aside from having a bottle small/flat enough to be zipped into the pocket, I have clipped a bottle with a carabiner to the top grip handle when the bag was too full to accommodate it, but it flops around and gets caught on things.

    Instead of packing the Absolute Strap away while in backpack mode, I wrap it around the bag backwards to save space. A suit jacket can be pulled between the strap and the side of the bag, more convenient than stuffing it into the bag or having to carry it. the rubberized pad on the strap keeps it from falling out. Only works when the bag is fairly tightly packed and your shoulder strap isn't too long.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by melminimalist View Post
    The western flyer may be a bit "meaty" for that much walking, especially in summer. In Backpack mode there is no mesh breathable back to it. I could be wrong on this, I don't own a WF myself. Perhaps the others may know better.

    Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
    WF definitely gets sweaty. But you're not likely to find a business-y convertible briefcase that is better. I've walked the WF in a few DC summers, but I can't say I ever really noticed it. Pretty much like any other backpack I have used.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Costanza View Post
    I'm seriously looking at the Western Flyer for two possible uses in my life ...

    Oh, and one last thing: if anyone has a hack for a bottle holder while the WF is in backpack mode, that would probably put me over the edge. I usually carry a Yeti tumbler full of hot tea to work, and the lack of a vertical bottle holder would be the one major downside of the WF that I anticipate so far.

    I'm very thankful for any thoughts!
    Welcome to the forum @Costanza !

    On the question of how to hold a water bottle when your WF is in backpack mode, what about getting a water bottle holder (there are many out there - I use a Sealine one that they seem to no longer make)? If you get one with a loop for a carabiner, you could use a carabiner to hook the waterbottle holder to the webbing straps on the WF shoulder strap (the webbing straps that the sternum strap attaches to).
    You could also hook the carabiner/water bottle holder combo to the WF handle.

    Now, if you used the waist strap to help with your back, you could attach a water bottle holder there too.

    I am sure you could get one of those methods to work.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 05-09-2018 at 08:15 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Welcome!

    For my part, I think the Western Flyer is the best travel bag on the planet, but (as per poster above) I am not convinced it will solve your two particular problems together -- it's great for traveling but not really great for walking long distances except in an airport where it's air conditioned (...most airports).

    Have you looked at a Stowaway or a Synapse 25 (in halcyon, with an internal frame)? I think either of those would be better to fit under the seat-in-front and/or pack away a suit jacket whilst walking, though I would lean towards the Synapse 25. You can easily use a packing cube for the suit jacket and a cache or a Freudian Slip to tuck up the Surface Pro, and the halcyon fabric will really cut down on the weight (and the black halcyon will look professional for work travel). The back panel on the S25 is not ... really ... incredibly breathable in the heat but the pack is light enough that you can sling it on one shoulder to let your back breathe for a couple of minutes and then sling it back to two-shoulder carry.

    The Stowaway is super-interesting to me for all kinds of professional-travel reasons but I'm just not sure I'm tall enough to let the backpack-mode sit comfortably on me: your mileage may vary. It's a very tempting alternative. I think there are several reviews in the Forums! Good luck!

    Edited to add: there is a water-bottle pocket in the S25 (as you will see) and it is not at ALL awkward to get to; the Stowaway has easier water bottle access than the Western Flyer; I carry the WF with a cross-body bag that itself has the water bottle so that's a wash.
    Last edited by Misplaced; 05-11-2018 at 02:02 PM.

  7. #7
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    Do a search for Nomatic backpacks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misplaced View Post
    Welcome!

    For my part, I think the Western Flyer is the best travel bag on the planet, but (as per poster above) I am not convinced it will solve your two particular problems together -- it's great for traveling but not really great for walking long distances except in an airport where it's air conditioned (...most airports).
    I'd agree with this and also add its lack of organization limits its EDC use. For 1-2 night trips, its a great combo bag. I wish the front was more like the Cadet which would make it a better EDC bag also.

  9. #9
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    Greetings,
    Have you considered the Pilot? It makes a great personal item and fits under airline seats. For the occasional times that I need a briefcase, the Pilot is most acceptable. Since it doesn't have backpack straps, I tuck a Halcyon backpack in the Pilot. Tom Bihn makes two Halcyon backpacks that the Pilot fits inside.

    The Pilot fits in the Tri-Star/Western Flyer Packing Cube Backpack with room to spare.

    The Pilot also fits in the Daylight Backpack. It comes in Halcyon or 525 Ballistic Nylon, which both fold flat to tuck into the Pilot.

    Depending on how much stuff you carry, the Pilot might be a viable solution with a backpack tucked inside. elisa

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaGirl View Post
    Greetings,
    Have you considered the Pilot?
    Given that the OP stipulated the carry of "my suit jacket (along with lunch, swim gear for the gym, some magazines and occasional book, and my Surface Pro)", there is no way the Pilot would even come close for consideration.

  11. #11
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    Have you considered other means of carrying water or drinks?

    Here are some solutions:

    1) soft bottles like Platypus or Hydropak Soft Flask. These pack down super-small when empty, but the best part is that certain models are easy to hang off of a belt or bag with a carabiner. Probably not a good idea for hot tea, though. I have used the Platypus bottle with hot (but not boiling hot) drinks, but you need the outer nylon pouch they sell for it to make it comfortable to hold.

    2) a hard (glass, steel, etc.) water bottle with a carabiner attachment point built-in (could be used for hot drinks)

    3) there are holders that are designed for use with regular store-bought water bottles that snap onto the neck and allow for easy hanging with a carabiner (Bottle Bandit is one, but it is not the only design).

    As for a hack to the bag itself, a short run of paracord can be tied to the O-rings inside and looped around the neck or handle of the bottle to hold it in the pocket. I have done this on my Tri-Star. But I don't like this solution because I prefer to have the bottle hanging from my belt where I can reach it without having to take my Tri-Star off my back. I am not sure if the Western Flyer's water bottle pocket has an O-ring inside, though.

    If you are using the Yeti steel tumbler that does not have any handle to loop paracord through, I would suggest using one of those rubber handles that looks like two D-shaped loops together. You put one loop around the Yeti tumbler, and the other loop becomes a handle to which you can tie your paracord or attach a carabiner. Not sure what these rubber handles are called.

    BTW, your idea of dual-use for the Western Flyer is a good one. That's how I use the Tri-Star. I've brought it to business meetings as a briefcase and nobody knew that it was a travel bag or that it could be used as a backpack.
    Last edited by dchang0; 05-25-2018 at 11:05 PM.

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