The Western Flyer might just be the ultimate overnight bag: classic lines, well-thought-out features, three comfortable carrying methods to choose among, the choice of backpack straps or a zip open (and shut) back pocket for the handle of rolling luggage and, of course, the materials and construction you've come to expect from TOM BIHN.
It's also the smallest of our three travel bags. The Tri-Star is larger than the Western Flyer, and the Aeronaut is larger than the Tri-Star; check out our carry-on Co-Pilot travel bag, too. It meets U.S. and international carry-on sizing requirements and fits in the overhead compartment of CRJ commuter planes.
The Western Flyer has two main compartments of equal size. The front compartment has a vertical divider that zips out of the way if it's not wanted. Available for purchase separately are three sizes of Packing Cubes designed especially for the main compartments of the Western Flyer. Also available are the Packing Cube Backpack (Tri-Star/Western Flyer) and Packing Cube Shoulder Bag. Either half of the divided front compartment can fit a pair of shoes — Tom's (he wears size 12) personal Holy Grail in any travel bag. (You may want to first put your shoes in an All Fabric Packing Cube or a plastic bag.) The back compartment is large and undivided; it has Annex Clips that can either be removed or used to clip our Horizontal or Vertical Brain Cell laptop case securely inside the Western Flyer. Consult our Laptop Bag Fit Guide to determine which size of Brain Cell you need for your laptop.
For access to all things small-and-easily-lost, the front of the Western Flyer features three zippered pockets, all with #8 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zippers (cord pulls are included at no charge). On the right is a subtle-but-clever curved zipper pocket: unzip it partially and it's a useful pocket for a boarding pass. Unzipped entirely, it's an expandable water bottle pocket. The bellows that make the pocket expandable can be snapped up so your water bottle doesn't fall out; unsnap them for greater access to the pocket.
On the left side are two horizontal zippered pockets. The top zippered
pocket spans the full height of the bag; the second goes about halfway.
Both horizontal zippered pockets have
A comfortable, padded handle sits directly above the center of gravity for a more balanced, comfortable carry. Two padded grab handles on the short ends facilitate pulling the bag out from the overhead compartment or a locker, or from under a seat.
The Western Flyer offers you the choice of comfortable hide-away backpack straps or a zippered back pocket for the handle of your rolling luggage. For longer sprints through the airport or across town, the backpack straps (same as those on our Aeronaut and Tri-Star convertible carry-on travel bags) are comfortable and help one carry a heavy load more easily. The padded, contoured shoulder straps feature a removable/adjustable sternum strap and can be tucked away in their own compartment when not in use. (The sternum strap is included. Add a waist strap for $5.) The rolling-luggage-handle carrying option is a unique design that offers two pockets — one for magazines/newspapers and one for your boarding pass or map — as well as a zip-open slot that allows you to slip the bag over the handle of your rolling luggage. Or, you can opt to carry the bag on your shoulder: two D rings accept our Absolute Shoulder Strap (almost anyone else's shoulder strap will work too).
The Western Flyer is made with an exterior of our U.S. made, 1050 denier, high tenacity ballistic nylon: twice the abrasion resistance of 1680 denier fabric. It's lined with our ultralight, super-tough, 200 denier Japanese Dyneema®/nylon ripstop fabric; a #10 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zipper closes the main compartment.
Take a trip: buy this bag and get out of here!
|U.S. high tenacity 1050 denier ballistic nylon — or — ultralight 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop|
|200 denier Dyneema®/nylon ripstop fabric lining|
|#10 YKK coil zipper on main compartment|
|#8 YKK coil zippers on pockets|
|EVAZOTE® foam shoulder straps (if you choose backpack straps)|
|PORON® foam handle|
|Made in USA|
|100% finished seams|
|Dimensions: 18" x 12" x 7" / 455 x 305 x 180 mm|
Backpack Straps, 1050d high tenacity ballistic nylon: 2 lb 10 oz / 1200 grams
|Backpack Straps, 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop: 2 lb 3 oz / 985 grams|
|Rolling Luggage Pocket, 1050d high tenacity ballistic nylon: 2 lb 6 oz / 1075 grams|
|Rolling Luggage Pocket, 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop: 1 lb 13 oz / 835 grams|
1600 cubic inches / 26 liters (ASTM Standard Measure)
|Optional, removable 1" / 25 mm waist strap|
As reviewed by Cool Tools:
"After three weeks of coast-to-coast holiday visits, I am finally unpacking the trusty carry-on bags that have transported two seasons of clothing options and gifts given and received. Yet again, my Tom Bihn Western Flyer has stolen the show. I got this bag a while ago when my fiance and I were searching for maximum carry-on limit luggage (mine is actually one of their mid-sized bags, not MLC) that was attractive, durable, and functional. Since then it has been a go-to weekend bag and was an indispensable component of a four month stint in Southeast Asia." Read the full review.
As reviewed by boingboing:
"So six months ago I asked Tom Bihn if theyíd loan me a Western Flyer, a smaller version of the Aeronaut that shares its bigger brotherís most nifty trick: converting from an over-the-shoulder bag to a backpack using integrated straps. Itís a hell of a bag. Because itís soft-sided, it lets me overstuff it to its absolute maximum capacity, while the plastic zippers are strong enough to let me close it all up, even when itís about to burst. The ballistic nylon has enough give to allow for a little expansion, but never so much that it canít be closed again. And the nylon is toughóIíve skidded it on concrete a couple of times and while the fabric has been gummed up, itís never actually opened up a hole. (I consider battle scars a feature, besides.)" Read the full review.
As reviewed by Practical Hacks:
"If your travel calls for one or two nights away from home, you actually have a lot of options when it comes to luggage. There are smaller wheelies, duffel bags, foldable garment bags, and even backpacks. Sailing smack into the middle of this cluttered landscape is the Tom Bihn Western Flyer, a bag designed expressly with the overnight (or two night) traveler in mind. The Western Flyer distinguishes itself from the crowd, however, through several clever, quintessential Tom Bihn features." Read the full review.
Want to read more reviews? Here's our complete list of external bag reviews.
First Trip with my Western Flyer
"It was just an overnighter for work, so I figured it was a good tryout for the small Western Flyer. I packed my clothes in a large packing cube in the non-divided side. In the other side of the bag I kept the divider zipped into the two compartments. In one, I had a Clear Quarter Packing Cube with non-liquid toiletries on one side and miscellaneous stuff on the other (cords, eye mask, earplugs, etc). On top of that I put my 3D Clear Organizer Cube with liquids. On the compartment I put a pair of shoes and next to them, my iPod, inflatable lumbar pillow and a Ziploc of snacks. In the large zip pocket I had my Kindle, a pen/pencil size Clear Organizer Pouch with lipstick, nail file, pen. In the small zip pocket I put my wallet, sunglasses and cell phone so I didn't need to carry a separate purse. The best part about the Western Flyer is that it fits under the airplane seat! When everyone was jockeying for position to make sure they could get a space in the overheads, I was stress free, knowing I would not be separated from my stuff." — posted by kjole
Western Flyer fan
"I have just returned from a two week trip in Central Vietnam. Protected areas, workshop, and a lot of car time. This was the first time to use my new Western Flyer bag (black, with backpack straps). Clothes, toiletries, fieldbooks, GPS, gong fu tea set, oolong tea, novel, computer cables and dongles, map, Skype headphones, flip-flops, extra camera battery, cell phone, and an inflatable zafu. With enough room to even bring back a few gifts. I am a tropical ecologist and I travel a lot to some weird places (see http://thusihaveseen.squarespace.com/). The Western Flyer is the best, most versatile, and aesthetically appealing bag I've ever used. Period. Thank you Tom Bihn. P.S. I love the zippers." — posted by cpeters
Western Flyer by car for 5 days!
"My thoughts on this bag are that I am so glad that I added it to my collection. It just works and makes so much sense for the type of weekend traveling that I often do. If I had chosen travel specific clothing and packed with the intention to rewear or to do laundry I could have easy have also included a fullsized laptop, knitting and had room to bring home my conference materials. The Western Flyer looks rather small, but holds quite a bit without bulging or being uncomfortable to carry. The grab handles and fact that it stands up on edge made it easy to pick it up no matter how it was placed down, and it was compact enough to fit under my son's seat in the rear of our Ford F150." — posted by dorayme
Western Flyer Review
"I pack as follows. In the front compartment, I put my clothes and toiletries for a three day business trip. I bundle wrap 2 shirts, a tie, a t-shirt and one pair of shorts around a core. The core is comprised of the Convertible Packing Cube/Shoulder Bag (containing my small toiletries bag, a scarf, gloves, and hat) together with a pair of lightweight training shoes, 2 pairs of underpants and 2 pairs of socks. I am quite well built (6í6Ē and weigh 117kg), yet my size 11 (UK) trainers fit perfectly and my extra large clothes emerge with minimal creasing. In the back compartment (the one without the zipped divider), I put my laptop (Dell D620), power cable, small umbrella and my horizontal Freudian Slip. The Freudian Slip contains my A4 sized hardback notebook, work notes (often 0.5Ē thick), magazines, pens, flip chart markers, blue tack, paperclips, post-it notes, the list goes on. I basically need, and the Freudian Slip provides, an organized mobile office." — posted by Sco1t
Western Flyer = AWESOME
"As many have mentioned already, the quality of the materials and construction are peerless. I expected no less, given my previous experience and with Tom Bihn's reputation. The bag is so well-made that I wondered what the crew does with factory seconds. In my imagination, they destroy them immediately and completely - possibly with some vaporization ray purchased at auction from an extinquished evil genius' estate. I hugged it and carried it around the house for a while, and opened all the pockets and imagined what I would pack in them. The two main compartments open completely, which was something of a surprise to me (I'm not sure why, since I examined @dorayme's WF in person a few months ago). It became apparent that I'll need a little help transitioning from my current "throw it all in a big bag" packing method to something more deliberate that makes better use of the WF's design, so I hopped onto the TB website and started looking at packing cubes. "