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  1. #1
    Forum Member NYCWriter's Avatar
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    Aeronaut 30 vs 45 vs Western Flyer (for TWO bag travel)

    OK, brand new situation for the Bihn Hive Mind:

    For those not familiar with me, I'm a New Yorker who travels back home to Pittsburgh frequently for 2 weeks at a time. I don't fly - I travel Amtrak (I was renting a car for quite a while when my kitties accompanied me before they crossed over the Rainbow Bridge).

    Because my trips home involve a wide variety of activities (leisure, business meetings, cocktail parties, gym, etc.) I tend to pack a lot of clothes, as well as my laptop, paperwork, and whatever reading material I'm working on at the moment.

    I've been pairing the Aeronaut 45 with a small 1967 Samsonite Silhouette that is exactly 33 litres of raw, unstructured space in a hardshell case:

    Aeronaut 30 vs 45 vs Western Flyer (for TWO bag travel)-img_3638-jpg
    Aeronaut 30 vs 45 vs Western Flyer (for TWO bag travel)-img_3639-jpg
    Aeronaut 30 vs 45 vs Western Flyer (for TWO bag travel)-img_3640-jpg

    Here's the challenge:

    -- I cannot wear anything as a backpack. I appreciate the backpack functionality of the Bihn bags in the cavernous wide-open spaces of airports (and frankly the rest of the world). But large items on one's back are impossible here in New York City -- ESPECIALLY on the subway. For me it's either shoulder straps or handles.

    -- After two years of use, I've discovered the Aeronaut 45 is absurdly impractical for quick and nimble navigation through NYC while slung over the shoulder. Even on my large 5'10" frame, I feel like I'm lugging around a coffin.

    -- The Samsonite is surprisingly light (on its own) but with ONLY a handle, it always keeps one hand occupied.

    I'm now considering getting an Aeronaut 30 to replace the 45, and a Western Flyer to replace the Samsonite.

    My questions:

    -- How much of a space compromise is the Aeronaut 30 over the 45?
    -- Am I just kidding myself because it would still be overkill trying to lug around an A30 + Western Flyer?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    My 2 cents- if you don't like carrying the A45 as a shoulder bag, you will probably feel the same about the A30. I love my A30 but when I briefly carried it instead of using it as a backpack, I realized how awkward it felt. Size difference inside is only about an inch smaller in either direction, which isn't much if the A45 felt that weird for you.

    Maybe a Yeomen Duffel might be a better option?

    Sidenote- I LOVE your old Samsonite. My parents used to have those and used them when I was a kid. I think they still have them somewhere and I admit I'm a little sad they went out of style!

  3. #3
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    I found the A30 to be too awkward and heavy in over the shoulder mode.

    But I love the Road Buddy 36. It doesn't have backpack straps, so it's lighter and flatter when carried sideways. It has shoulder strap attachments on the top AND on the side (so like the Aeronauts). Plus, I find the pockets / interior space in the Road Buddy to be bigger than the A30, and that extra 6 liters makes a huge difference to me.

  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Have you considered a Road Buddy 36? Since it doesn't have the backpack straps (that you don't use anyway) it's lighter than an Aeronaut 45, almost as light as a Halcyon A30. [This post originally said that hanging by your side it would be a little slimmer than either Aeronaut, but as @Amy pointed out below, that's not correct. With that in mind, the Road Buddy might not be as good a fit for your needs as I was thinking.]

    It does seem to me like it would be awkward to sling a bag over each shoulder, but you know best whether it would be awkward for you or if it would be just fine.

    One way to think about capacity: say you move from an A45 to a RB36, and from your 33-liter Samsonite to a WF. That's a nine-liter drop in capacity for one bag and a seven-liter drop for the other bag. That makes a total loss of sixteen liters, which is around half the size of your Samsonite. Are you willing to cut that amount of stuff from your usual packing list?

    Oh, and one additional thought: what about replacing both bags with Road Buddies? The center compartment on a Road Buddy is longer than on an Aeronaut, so your laptop and papers might fit in there. The Road Buddy would also give you ten more liters of space than a Western Flyer, so you wouldn't have to cut your packing list quite so much.

    (I'm sounding like a Road Buddy evangelist in this post, but it's only because it seems like it would fit the needs you described!)

    Edited to add: I didn't see BWeaves' post until after I wrote this! I did think of her while I was writing, though, because I know how much she likes hers.
    Last edited by aedifica; 05-24-2019 at 03:53 PM.
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  5. #5
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    I don't have any of the duffel style bags, so can't provide an opinion on those, but personally, my WF is about as big as I prefer to carry with a shoulder strap. (I also don't use the backpack straps.) In your case, since you don't plan on using the backpack straps, I'd recommend you stay away from them. They'd just be extra bulk/weight you don't need. A YD or a RB might be the better solution. With your current setup, you have a total of 78 litres of volume. Going down to an A30+WF is only 56 litres, a loss of 22 litres, or essentially, almost a second WF. So, either your going to be downsizing the stuff you bring, or you'll be having to look at some of the larger duffels, like the RB60 or medium YD (at 44L) or large TD (at 71L). Any of those three, you're back into the size of the A45.

    Since you don't want to use anything as a backpack, as much as it pains me to suggest it, maybe a roller/spinner? It might not be as nimble as a shoulder/hand carry bag, but it would also fit better in the NY (and other major city) subways than the larger backpacks.

    Or, another alternative, don't bring as much stuff. Smilie I don't necessarily mean to do without, but if you're travelling frequently enough, and especially if you're travelling between home bases, perhaps you can leave a lot of things behind in Pittsburgh? Or maybe establish a second set of stuff to be left there? About a decade ago I used to travel to one client site weekly, where one of my co-workers just always left her main luggage at the hotel we stayed at every week. She used a smaller bag to bring essentials back and forth, but otherwise left toiletries and a 'work week' wardrobe behind at the concierge desk in her main luggage. About once a month she'd take one night to do a load of laundry at the hotel. Being that you're going 'home' to Pittsburgh, you'd probably have a lot safer and more reliable locations to leave such a bag (friends/family) than she did with the hotel. At that point, you might be able to run back and forth with say, just a WF, and can be very liberated in your travels.

  6. #6
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    We have A45 and A30. I have carried the A30 by shoulder strap, when necessary, but I find it bulky, as others have said, and would think a duffel would be preferable for your situation probably -- I mean the problem I usually have with duffels is that they only have handles in one direction whereas I would often stand them on their ends in a crowded train or subway. The TB duffels have multiple handles so eliminate that problem. I wouldn't dare have two bags without a backpack, I'm not that strong, so in your situation I'd be looking for collapsible wheels like this Samsonite collapsible luggage cart: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004B9V1R2/...ecompleatcarry

  7. #7
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Aeronaut 30 vs 45 vs Western Flyer (for TWO bag travel)

    I don't have any great advice for you, but I just wanted to compliment you on that really cool old suitcase. Smilie

    But I will share my thoughts as long as I'm here. I have both an Aeronaut 30 and a Western Flyer. Like you, I pack both work and leisure stuff, but have honed my packing over time so that I can carry less. I think that's the real game changer, even more than the bag you carry. I will typically choose either Aeronaut 30 or Western Flyer (on my back) coupled with a Copilot or Pop Tote. I really don't like carrying a heavy bag any distance by shoulder. If I am in a crowded place, I'll wear it on my back, then when I stop, take it off and hold it by a handle.

    It sounds like a painful slog to carry 2 big bags by shoulder or hand. If it were me, I'd carry the heaviest thing on my back until I got to the crowded subway, then remove it and hold it by hand while I was in transit. Back on the back when I go on the move again. I can't imagine the awkwardness of carrying 2 huge bags by hand.

    Regarding the Road Buddy 36 which everyone loves but I don't have: I don't see how it could be slimmer than the Aeronaut 30 when hanging on its end by a shoulder strap. The A30 is 7.9" in height while the Road Buddy is 9.5", so it seems to me from looking at specs and photos that the A30 is definitely taking up less width when you wear it over your shoulder. So I would think it would be more maneuverable in tight spaces than the boxier, larger Road Buddy. Also, the smaller capacity of the A30 means it can't pack as heavy as the Road Duffel, so wouldn't it be the more comfortable shoulder carry?
    Last edited by Amy; 05-24-2019 at 03:37 PM.
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  8. #8
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    Regarding the Road Buddy 36 which everyone loves but I don't have: I don't see how it could be slimmer than the Aeronaut 30 when hanging on its end by a shoulder strap. The A30 is 7.9" in height while the Road Buddy is 9.5", so it seems to me from looking at specs and photos that the A30 is definitely taking up less width when you wear it over your shoulder.
    You're right, and now I'm very confused because I was looking at the product specs when I wrote my post so I wonder how I made that mistake! I'm glad you caught it.

  9. #9
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    +1 on the retro cool Samsonite
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  10. #10
    Forum Member NYCWriter's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone! Lots to think about!

  11. #11
    Forum Member NYCWriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaadk View Post
    Since you don't want to use anything as a backpack, as much as it pains me to suggest it, maybe a roller/spinner? It might not be as nimble as a shoulder/hand carry bag, but it would also fit better in the NY (and other major city) subways than the larger backpacks.
    I assume you missed my post in another thread freaking out over bags touching surfaces that people walk on. LOL!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaadk View Post
    Or, another alternative, don't bring as much stuff. Smilie I don't necessarily mean to do without, but if you're travelling frequently enough, and especially if you're travelling between home bases, perhaps you can leave a lot of things behind in Pittsburgh? Or maybe establish a second set of stuff to be left there?
    Funny you should suggest this. I've been doing this back-and-forth travel for years, and just this year finally had the "aha!!" moment: as I was planning my Easter trip home (still cold in Pittsburgh!) and was fretting over how just three of my favorite LL Bean sweaters seem to gobble up all the free space in my A45, it finally dawned on me: Just order duplicates and have them delivered back home!

    Why the hell did I not think of that before??!!

    Anyway -- that's what I've been doing just over the past couple of months -- curating a "Pittsburgh" wardrobe for all seasons.

    And now I'm realizing that I don't really need all that luggage space anymore -- and maybe now use that Samsonite as my "big" suitcase, paired with a Western Flyer.

    I still need to get a Tri-Star or Western Flyer because it's starting to look like I'll be needing to use airplanes again, and that Samsonite will probably not work even as a carry-on; I think its 1967 flat and wide/tall shape does not fit 2019 overhead bins designed for short and squat roller bags.
    Last edited by NYCWriter; 05-25-2019 at 01:18 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYCWriter View Post
    I assume you missed my post in another thread freaking out over bags touching surfaces that people walk on. LOL!!!!
    Yep, I did miss it. Though I perfectly understand the sentiment. The whole "Did I just pull my luggage through somebody's pee?" thing was one of the factors in giving up my B&R roller. The other being the weight.

    Quote Originally Posted by NYCWriter View Post
    Funny you should suggest this. I've been doing this back-and-forth travel for years, and just this year finally had the "aha!!" moment: as I was planning my Easter trip home (still cold in Pittsburgh!) and was fretting over how just three of my favorite LL Bean sweaters seem to gobble up all the free space in my A45, it finally dawned on me: Just order duplicates and have them delivered back home!

    Why the hell did I not think of that before??!!

    Anyway -- that's what I've been doing just over the past couple of months -- curating a "Pittsburgh" wardrobe for all seasons.

    And now I'm realizing that I don't really need all that luggage space anymore -- and maybe now use that Samsonite as my "big" suitcase, paired with a Western Flyer.
    Pair it down enough you might not even need the Samsonite. You'll have double of everything but you'll be able to go super light weight. I can't even begin to describe just how liberating it is travelling with just my Pilot. No worries about whether or not there's still overhead bin space, especially no worries about bin space near my seats. It's real easy to slip though the crowds, find space on mass transit, etc... It's something that has to be experienced to really be understood.

    Quote Originally Posted by NYCWriter View Post
    I still need to get a Tri-Star or Western Flyer because it's starting to look like I'll be needing to use airplanes again, and that Samsonite will probably not work even as a carry-on; I think its 1967 flat and wide/tall shape does not fit 2019 overhead bins designed for short and squat roller bags.
    And if you're going back to air travel, then yeah, it's going to be even more important to have bags that will fit. Pretty much now a days, if you don't have some kind of airline status or early boarding rights, you can forget about getting overhead bin space. I remember taking one Delta flight in particular. I was Gold status with them at the time, being most of my work trips were short haul so despite flying 50 weeks out of the year, I still never racked up enough FF points qualify for better. I was #64 on the upgrade list, out of the 68 coach seats on the plane. And there were 2 people on the list behind me, and the flight was fully booked. Meaning, of the entire flight, only 2 people weren't at least Gold status. Probably 2/3rds of the plane boarded prior to them boarding Gold Status members. I managed to have overhead bin space luckily, but at the back of the plane, as I had my B&R roller then. But to do it, I had to resort to being one of those 'gate lice' people crowding the gate to be able to get in the first of the Gold boarding. As I was one-bagging with my B&R I couldn't afford to have it checked, as it had my laptop, tablet, etc... all in it as well. I still feel ashamed of it today, but you do what you've got to do.

    With my switch to TB, and some further light packing trends, I don't have those worries anymore. When I travel with my WF, it'll go in the overhead if I have space near my seat. Otherwise, in a pinch I can get it under the seat. With my Pilot, often I won't even bother with the overhead, except in bulkhead seats or the occasional configuration that has very narrow underseat storage for the window seats. But even then, it'll fit in most of those places that the people with rollers can't fit.
    Last edited by Kaadk; 05-27-2019 at 08:59 AM.

  13. #13
    Forum Member NYCWriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaadk View Post
    And if you're going back to air travel, then yeah, it's going to be even more important to have bags that will fit. Pretty much now a days, if you don't have some kind of airline status or early boarding rights, you can forget about getting overhead bin space.
    At the risk of sounding like a diva, I have no intention of ever flying coach.

    Is there a risk of not getting overhead bin space in business or first class??

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYCWriter View Post
    At the risk of sounding like a diva, I have no intention of ever flying coach.

    Is there a risk of not getting overhead bin space in business or first class??
    If you're in a position to always fly business or coach, you shouldn't *normally* encounter issues with bin space.

    There are some connecting/regional flights that use pretty small planes, so a large 45ish liter bag won't fit no mater what and they'll gate check it.

    If there's something that you MUST have with you, you should always have it in a bag that can fit under the seat in front of you or be very quickly rearrangeable to make that happen... just in case you do have to gate check (small planes, cancelled flights, change in aircraft, etc).
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  15. #15
    Forum Member NYCWriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G42 View Post
    If you're in a position to always fly business or coach, you shouldn't *normally* encounter issues with bin space.

    There are some connecting/regional flights that use pretty small planes, so a large 45ish liter bag won't fit no mater what and they'll gate check it.

    If there's something that you MUST have with you, you should always have it in a bag that can fit under the seat in front of you or be very quickly rearrangeable to make that happen... just in case you do have to gate check (small planes, cancelled flights, change in aircraft, etc).
    OK, now I'm narrowing things down.

    I like the Tri-Star, but I'm leaning towards the Western Flyer for my "one-bag" (ok, plus my co-pilot - who are we kidding here) business travel (less than a week at a time).

    From what I'm reading and seeing, it appears the Western Flyer might be more flexible for international flights. Yes?

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