Original designs. Made in the U.S.A.
- First Take on the Tom Bihn Aeronaut at Practical Hacks
- First Take on the Tom Bihn Western Flyer at Practical Hacks
- Going Boldly with the Aeronaut at One Bag One World
- The Tom Bihn Western Flyer at One Bag One World
Both these sites have extensive reviews of other bags in addition to the Tom Bihn reviews that make it easy to make cross-evaluations of how each bag will suit particular users. I did find Doug Dymant's review of interest, but less informative for many purposes than the discussions at the other two sites. I think that Doug simply doesn't review bags that diverge substantially from his design philosophy and it is consequently more difficult (for me, at least) to evaluate some of his statements. A useful review is one that lets me judge how well a bag will work for me -- I don't need to agree with the reviewer's point of view, but I need to be able to get the information I require for a decision from his comments, or the other comments on the site.
I'm not sure about the source of the comment about "That flair for style sometimes — in my view — clashes with functionality, which is why I have not previously recommended his otherwise appealing bags." I suspect it may be based on fundamental beliefs that strict rectangular shapes are most efficient (and the Aeronaut is not a pure rectangle) and that bags should open flat for maximum access (another thing the Aeronaut does not do). One thing that Tom excels at in all his bag designs is making bags that scale well for people of a wide range of builds. I've noticed in a number of forums on other sites that people will recommend other bags, and then I'll read some review from someone who is 5'5" or shorter about how much they wanted to like that bag but it simply didn't work for their frame. Even a bag with a strictly rectangular build needs to be styled for a range of users to carry comfortably.
Just my 2 cents.
Like some others, I didn't think Doug Dyment's review was all that harsh. Obviously he has his likes and dislikes. I know many people seem to like the Red Oxx bags, but frankly, the plastic tubing handles on (whatever) just look ugly to me - but that doesn't mean the bags are not functional and attractive to some people.
I do have to admit that the Western Flyer does seem to meet just about everything he emphasizes.
And yes, he does have a rather entertaining yet slightly off writing style. Hey, he's an engineer, what do you expect? (So am I!)
Besides, the gorgeous Tristar or the unique Aeronaut are much better contenders, size wise, to a fair review against the two other bags.
I'm not so sure Doug will change his mind that much with the Tristar.
It's listed with a volume of 2000 and the Sky Train is at 2340. He already thinks the hybrid types are sacrificing too much and is barely giving the nod to the Sky Train. My guess is he will still say "too small" for the Tristar. But I'm confused now because the Air Boss is listed at 2184 and I thought that carried more than the Sky Train.
The more I read what others had to say the more I think Doug's position is something like "The perfect bag is the Air Boss so let's see how well this bag stacks up to that standard". I suppose he is entitled to his view but it's harder for me to digest information from someone who I know is close minded. It would be one thing if the scope was very limited like evaluating the best hammer for nailing in 2 inch nails on picket fences. But to be so focused on an item that has so many varied uses it hard to relate to.
As someone mentioned earlier, the problem is the other bags are stats and the Western Flyer gets a negative review.
I also chuckle at the "new" offering from Tom Bihn Bags, the company has been there since 1974.
He might have received one the first Western Flyers with the one shoulder strap which users and prospective owners barked against in this forum.
If so, he should have disclosed that.
I don't bundle wrap because I don't want to have to unwrap everything after a long flight just to find my toiletries.
Using the Brain Bag, I roll and plastic bag most things with the ones I will need first or the most wrinkle prone on top.
I need a second bag for longer trips which require dress clothes. I will pack cube items in there.
His review is not helping me or others because his choice are bulky bags, those get heavy really fast so have to be checked and risk being lost, or a stylish slimline Western Flyer that he disses.
He doesn't mention on how the bags wear when they are full and if people without the built of a quarterback can carry them.
Last edited by backpack; 04-29-2009 at 08:32 AM.
Doug Dyment's site has a lot of great information for those wishing to try one-bag travel. However, it does have a certain tone, and that tone is "my way is best, you silly creature, so just receive my pronouncements as though Moses brought them down from the mountain." Doug's way is best for Doug. He helped to design the Air Boss to be a bag that's the best for Doug's way. Therefore, every bag that is not the Air Boss will not be the best for Doug's way, and will receive a lesser review than the Air Boss. It's his site, and it's perfectly okay for him to express his opinions, but people who recommend his site, I think, need to realize that. Doug's way will not necessarily be the best way for everyone else.
And a side rant: what is it with men and ironing? They're studying so hard for a way to transport clothing without wrinkling it, and every business-class hotel either has an iron and board in the room or available with a phone call to the front desk. It won't kill you to iron a shirt, guys. It takes five minutes if you know what you're doing. I can see being concerned about suits, as they are hard to press on one's own, but if worst comes to worst, the hotel can usually send them out for you, and it's all expensed anyway. And if you're on vacation, it only takes a couple of minutes to press a shirt and who cares if you're wrinkled? You're on vacation! I don't get the obsession with completely wrinkle-free travel.
I defy even Doug Dyment with his custom-designed bags to pack full Regency kit (long gown with gathered Empire waist and in my case a petticoat lining, headpiece, fan, reticule, slippers, gloves, and jewelry) along with other clothes needed for a long weekend in one bag, as I do for an annual event, and not have to iron it upon arriving. Those gowns have a LOT of fabric in them. The first time that the friend with whom I usually share a room for this event brought her Regency gown, her mother packed it very carefully with tissue paper in its own suitcase (which was checked, and which Northwest lost for a day, causing a slight panic) and she STILL had to iron it! Last year I one-bagged by rolling my gown loosely around a bag with the accessories in its own packing cube and ironed it when I arrived. The hard part was finding somewhere to hang it with the train free of the ground.
I've evaluated both of their bags and I really see why Doug loves the Airboss. To me it was very easy to pack and the large center pocket allowed me to cram in all my electronics and shoes etc without risk of wrinkling my clothes.
The skytrain on the other hand is much better to carry because of the backpack option, but with only two compartments is less ideal for separating nicknacks from clothing. It ends up looking lumpy. I test packed both bags with the same huge load, but I found the airboss held that load more gracefully.
I'm really really looking forward to the Tristar because for me it looks like it would be the perfect bag. But with a trip coming up on May 4th and me not being able to return the skytrain after that I unfortunately won't ever get a chance to try it.
Doug Dyment's site has its merits. After nearly ten years of carry-on travel, he convinced me to move on from my rollers to a soft case bag. I read all his reviews but despite all his praise, wasn't convinced the Air Boss was for me. From his site I got to the One Bag blog and read more about Tom Bihn... the rest is history.
Some people would rather have a more rectangular bag but the Aeronaut fits my style of packing much better. I really like the side pockets for my shoes and the large middle compartment works fine for my preferred packing method - a mix of bundle wrapping with some tight rolling.
In our household: Black/Steel Aeronaut (with 2 large packing cubes and Absolute shoulder strap), Forest/Steel Aeronaut (1 large and 2 small packing cubes), Olive/Wasabi medium Cafe Bag, Linen/Olive Medium Cafe Bag, Cocoa/Cocoa/Wasabi Imago, Cardinal/Hemp/Steel Imago, Hemp Little Swift, Solar Shop Bag, Plum/Wasabi Side Effect, Black/Steel/Solar Smart Alec, Horizontal and Vertical Freudian Slips, TB Wallet, Hemp Little Swift, FOT pouch, Black/Olive ID
It's true that you can ask for ironing boards and irons, but I remember the startled expressions (on the faces of both men and women) when I asked for these at one of the Ritz Carlton hotels (I think they expect people to use their dry cleaning services). And they never have sleeveboards, so it's hard to do as good a job ironing sleeves. You might not always be staying at a hotel when you travel. I mostly just pack clothing made of fabrics that travel well.
As far as wrinkle free travel, even on vacation I don't want to look like a total bum. I know it's not right to judge a person by their outer appearance but I also think you can tell a bit about a person by how well they care for their appearance. It's kind of like going to breakfast on vacation with a bad case of bed head and telling everyone you just don't care that you look like you just got out of bed. Sure it's probably ok, but it does send a message. Personally, I feel self conscious if I'm over wrinkled even at a very casual vacation spot.
I couldn't iron, either, until my sister (who actually LIKES to iron) showed me how when I was a teenager. That being said, I rarely iron anymore--I try to buy wash and wear stuff that looks good out of the dryer.Originally Posted by pretzelb
To iron a shirt: iron the collar (both sides) flat. Iron one sleeve (lay it out flat on the board; if you don't want a crease in the sleeve, don't iron right to the edge). Iron the cuff (both sides). Iron the other sleeve and cuff. Iron the inside of the button placket, buttonhole side; iron the outside of the placket and the rest of the front panel. Use the pointed tip of the board to provide support for tight areas. Iron the back of the button side of the placket (carefully if they are plastic buttons), iron the front side of the placket, using the tip of the iron to work in between buttons, and then the rest of that panel. Iron the back of the shirt, once again using the tip of the board to support tight spots near the armholes. That's it! You just have to be organized. I like light starch, too, on cotton shirts.
The trick, I think, is learning to work around the tight areas around the collars and armholes and cuffs, for which you use the tip and edges of the board for support, and the tip of the iron. You learn with practice.