— Eric Ullman (@eullman) September 14, 2013
Paralyzed by indecision, TOM BIHN Forum member erg approached his fellow posters with the following request: “Help me decide on the right bag configuration for business travel with a laptop.”
The primary obstacle was first figuring out which travel bag was going to fit all of erg’s stuff. Would the mid-sized Tri-Star be large enough (his preferred bag) or would he have to get the larger Aeronaut?
Eventually, erg posted his packing list, somewhat unsure as to the possibility of squeezing all that stuff into the Tri-Star:
5 knit short sleeved shirts
5 pairs of socks
1 pair of jeans
laptop + charger
misc. small electronics
2 or 3 granola bars
Owning a Tri-Star himself, forum member Mike kindly tested the packing list for erg, and even posted photos of the results so that everybody could see the results for themselves.
“Just finished a trip to Mt Kilimanjaro and used the Synapse 25 as my day bag.” — Macheezm0
Read Macheezm0’s entire post in the TOM BIHN Forums. See also: the Synapse 25.
She writes of the design and material:
“The Co-Pilot has one main zippered compartment with two interior pockets and one D-ring. It has three front compartments: two on either side (with various pockets) with a D-ring each and a water bottle/umbrella holder in the middle. There’s also a back pocket that can be zipped open so the bag can rest on rolling luggage. First and foremost, I have to comment on the Dyneema. I know everyone comments on this, and I have to as well. I can’t say that I know the ins and outs of Dyneema, because I don’t. What I do know is that, although the material is thinner than ballistic nylon or Cordura, it looks and feels quite strong. As others have mentioned, I appreciate how much give the bag has. Also, the construction of TB is top notch! The interior of my bag is Solar and it is probably the happiest color EVER! Seriously! And it makes finding things in the bag a cinch!”
“I have to comment that Tom Bihn changed the way I pack my EDC. I’m very careless and usually just squeeze things in together as long as they fit. But I love the convenience and organization the organizer pouches and the d-rings provide. It makes my life a whole lot easier. A place for everything and everything in its place.”
“I think that this is the nicest general-purpose backpack that I have ever owned. Although a little larger than I was looking for, it’s still a great size and I’ve found the extra room very handy on a couple of occasions. It’s got the perfect amount of organization; I always know where my stuff is and I love that the main compartment doesn’t steal space from the front pockets.
I have found it to be quite comfortable for daily use. I bike to work 10 miles and back again each day, and even when I loaded the bag up with 25lbs (as a test, of course) it remained stable and comfortable each way.”
Looking to add a patch to your bag, but don’t want the permanence that comes with stitching one on? Check out an awesome thread from forum member Miking that shows you how to add a patch using magnets. No sewing skills necessary!
Thanks to our amazing crews, the following bags are back in stock and ship within one business day:
Ristretto for 13″ MacBook Pro or Air, all colors
Brain Bag, all colors
Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, all colors
Empire Builder, Black/Black/Steel and Black/Steel/Steel (Black/Black/Wasabi ships by the end of this week)
Side Effect, Aubergine/Wasabi and Black/Iberian (other colors are scheduled to ship early next month)
vaterp asked: “My question though is I am a little intimidated by all the accessories and packaging options that exist on this site alone. I’m looking for some best practices/use cases for all of this.”
And moriond responded:
“I suggest that you take a look at the Tri-Star Video page on the Blog, with a list of accessories that are shown in the video. The same video was posted in the forums, and there’s a link to the discussion thread.
In general, I’d suggest that you get the Tri-Star with the Absolute Strap (which you can/will use with other bags), and that at the very minimum you get the medium Tri-Star packing cube among the packing cubes. (I actually recommend the full set of small, medium, and large packing cubes, with a possible alternative of using the convertible packing cube backpack for the Tri-Star/Western Flyer in place of the large packing cube; plus using a 3D Clear organizer cube.)
The packing cubes make organization and packing really efficient, and are sized to the travel bags. The medium size cube for the Tri-Star is sized to the (larger) front zippered pocket. It also works well for a number of other bags, in case you want to convert your Synapse 19 or Synapse 25 for general 1 bag travel with clothes. The 3D Clear Organizer Cubes can be used as your 3-1-1 toiletry bag, but when they first came out, I found I was primarily using theses for laptop power bricks and cables. Now you can get the same size bags with mesh sides instead of clear, or in Dyneema as light weight, general carrying alternatives. They easily transfer to other bags– for example, into pockets in the now sold -out Imago messenger bags, into the side pockets of the Co-Pilot (possibly secured with key straps), into the bottom front zippered pocket of the Synapse 19 (and other places), etc. These are just very multi-purpose and handy, and transfer easily among the various bags.
If you want to use a pack-it folder or sleeve, the 18″ Eagle Creek pack-its will fit nicely into the back pocket (though they’re a bit too large for the Western Flyer). You can also forego the large packing cube if you’re only packing items like slacks that can easily be held in with the straps (as in the video) plus using a pack-it sleeve, although I personally prefer to use the large packing cube.
For a really large number of cables and electronics, you can use the Clear Quarter Packing Cube. That’s large enough to take two laptop sized hard drives side by side in each of the two clear compartments, without even accounting for the extra depth for cables, etc, but that kind of cube volume fits better in an Aeronaut or backpack with a large volume chamber. And an accessory like the Snake Charmer for cables and electronics also works best I settings like the Brain Bag or Smart Alec, or in the bottom front pocket of the Synapse 25. In most other instances I’d find it easier to use the 3D Clear Organizer cubes or their variants in mesh and/or Dyneema instead, especially for easy transfers to other bags.
Use padded pouches if you want the extra protection — for example, for a portable USB DVD or CD drive. One or two small organizer pouches are also generally useful here. A lot of the other accessories are most useful when used with briefcase style bags (e.g. Freudian Slips let you organize papers and other accessories so you can easily transfer them from (for example) a horizontal messenger bag like the ID bag in the case of a Horizontal Freudian Slip, to your Tri-Star. In large backpacks like the Brain Bag or Smart Alec, the Vertical Freudian Slip (which does not fit the Tri-Star) can be even handier at getting to selected papers/folders.
Then, too, some accessories can double up functions. The Packing Cube Shoulder Bag is a general packing cube (about the size of the Aeronaut end pockets), that can also be used at your destination to hold light jackets, guide books, etc. It also fits conveniently into the bottom of the Swift (tote bag), or into the (now-sold out) Imago. In a Tri-Star I’d use this as an additional packing cube in the middle compartment.
I don’t make much use of the Travel Tray, but this is good for quickly organizing loose items from your pockets or other pouches.”