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  1. #1
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    Doug Dyment "One Bag" Review of the Western Flyer

    Scroll down to read it. What do you think?
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  2. #2
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    First, he helps design bags for a company, I consider, your biggest competitor.

    Second, he criticizes things on what "he" likes expecting that everyone else wants the same. That's not how to do a review.

    I respect his opinion, and he offers a lot of good information, but I disagree with a lot of what he preaches.
    Last edited by Frank II; 04-27-2009 at 06:32 PM.

  3. #3
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    I think he raises a couple of questions that should be answered.

    * Yes, the brain cell is not in the proper orientation when the WF is in backpack mode, but it's in a padded section so it's OK

    * Your boarding pass won't fall out in backpack mode because .... (???)

    I never wear a backpack without a sternum and waist strap - I wish I'd looked at it when I was in the store in January now! With the new waist strap I could be very, very tempted by this. The size looks very similar to the Zephyr (which I have) and the size of that is excellent.

    Ah, well, shall have to wait and see what the Synapse comes out looking like!

    Audrey

  4. #4
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    I'm not sure about the comparison between the Sky Train and Western Flyer. I considered the Sky Train before buying the Aeronaut, and I think those are the two comparable bags.

    BAN

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by fbrown627 View Post
    First, he helps design bags for a company, I consider, your biggest competitor.

    Second, he criticizes things on what "he" likes expecting that everyone else wants the same. That's not how to do a review.

    I respect his opinion, and he offers a lot of good information, but I disagree with a lot of what he preaches.

    I didn't know the fact that he helps design bags so, I think his "I don't sell anything" line is dishonest.
    Not wonder he is lyrical about the middle bag, he provided "free" consulting and got a free bag.
    My feelings is that he hopes that his consulting will be permanent and compensated. Can it be called favoritism?


    One of the line about the Western Flyer that makes me really unhappy, (seeing his lyrical prose about the other bag, I change the word to... mad) is this one:"That flair for style sometimes — in my view — clashes with functionality, which is why I have not previously recommended his otherwise appealing bags."


    Sorry, but the other examples are just plain ugly.
    The two other kind of bags in the One Bag review remind me of the ones I used to own.
    I have seen those extremely thin and uncomfortable backpack straps too many times.
    I give the review an F.

    He was clever not to show the far superior backpack straps of the Western Flyer.


    I am younger that this guy, but during my lifetime, I have traveled almost as much as he did, on two continents with a multitude of modes of transportation, except motorcycles.

    I have used ugly bags, I have used badly made bags and I have bought, in Europe and the U.S, some heavy, bulky and expensive pieces of luggage.


    Tom Bihn stylish designs AND functionality AND durability really cannot be beat.
    Who can say in this forum or elsewhere I got x bag when I was in high school or college and it still looks new? Very few people, the ones who own a Tom Bihn bag.


    I need stylish bags, especially in the day and age of carry-on or lose it luggage and draconian size restriction for carry-on items.

    Since I have used Tom Bihn bags for trips, for the first time in my traveling life, I am not worried about luggage failure or the lost in cramped space snack, bottle of water or much needed medicine.


    I know that I will find everything in a jiffy in crowded airports or dark hotel rooms. I can bring two laptops and take them out at security while concentrating on my other stuff so it doesn't get stolen.
    My backpack won't open suddenly in an overstuffed metro car.
    I carry all I need and don't look like a pack mule, a very big plus, if you ask me.

    My Large Cafe Bag had been the greatest of second carry-on for short stateside trips, the Western Flyer or its big brother the Tristar will replace it for longer or overseas trips.


    Unlike the reviewer, I am not a consultant with Tom Bihn Bags Inc.
    I am not shy about sharing my opinion on this forum and sometimes throw good or wacky ideas up in cyberspace to see where they land.

    Sometimes, I think of something I need to organize my things and next thing I know, Tom Bihn comes up with a solution, like the 3D Clear Organizer Cube.
    Last edited by backpack; 04-28-2009 at 06:50 PM.

  6. #6
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    i don't have the western flyer, but reading the product description, i see that it "has annex clips that can either be removed or clip a Horizontal or Vertical Brain Cell laptop case securely."

    so if i understand correctly - if you usually carry the western flyer as a backpack, you could use a vertical brain cell.

    if you usually carry the western flyer with the shoulder strap or the handle, you could use the horizontal brain cell.

    that way, your brain cell is in the correct orientation most of the time.

    and as you mentioned, the padding still protects your laptop that is inside for the few times that it is oriented the other way.

    Quote Originally Posted by falconea View Post
    I think he raises a couple of questions that should be answered.

    * Yes, the brain cell is not in the proper orientation when the WF is in backpack mode, but it's in a padded section so it's OK
    i'd also like to comment on the observation in the review that questions the usefulness of the open top pocket when the western flyer is carried vertically as a backpack. if you look at this picture on the product page, you will notice that the opening of the open pocket curves around so that this pocket remains very usable for tickets and such when the bag is in the vertical position. at least, that's how i see it.

  7. #7
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    Hello,

    Three things strike me upon reading his review:

    1. I get the feeling he is getting too big for his boots.

    2. I do not think he has actually used the bag for any period of time. For instance, you can bundle wrap clothes and put them in the main compartment whilst using the divider in the other compartment to separate a pair of shoes and a packing cube. Also the outer unzipped pocket will hold a 1.5L water pouch without fear of it falling out, you just fold over the end part of the pouch and it 'locks' itself in there.

    3. He lacks the imagination to put all the design features to effective use. I just get the feeling that he thinks his way is the best way of travelling and that any bag that falls foul of his requirements is therefore somehow inferior.

    That being said, it was in reading Doug's website that I realised that 'one-bagging' was the way to go. He has some truly fantastic advice and is worth paying attention too. I guess for that reason his review is so important to a company such as Tom Bihn. It could have been more thoughtful.

    All the best,
    Scott

  8. #8
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    I don't think the review is as harsh as several others seem to; not everyone will have the same opinion of any given product (whether it's a car, a bag, or a meal).

    Small bags have trade-offs in organization and division, and Dyment doesn't like all of the WF's trade-offs, but note that this is without doubt still a positive review of the bag.

    My thought on the ticket pocket: I wouldn't mind if it had a zipper or a snap, so that a ticket etc. might be folded and carried in there semi-securely when carrying it in backpack mode. But it is what it is; I see that sort of pocket as a modal bonus feature (it adds to ease of use while carrying it over the shoulder or by the briefcase handle). It's sort of like a roof-rack mount on a car; hard to complain that the mount alone won't help you carry stuff when the rack's not attached. Secure or not against the forces of gravity (I suspect that friction & tension would keep things in this pocket in there pretty well), I doubt I'd keep anything valuable in this pocket while carrying the bag as a backpack anyhow -- it would be visible to others, easy to grab, and out of both sight and easy reach of me as the wearer. Aren't you glad that airplane tickets nowadays tend to be of low value in / of themselves? Still, I wouldn't want someone to take my boarding passes. Upshot: I find this an odd complaint, but people are turned on / off by different things.

  9. #9
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    I did not get an exactly unfriendly vibe from the review. He does write, "A surprising but welcome recent offering ..." It seems a bit more like he would not likely use the WF himself, but figured he ought to (had to?) include it because it does meet the specs of what he is doing with his web site.

    I thought two bits were funny (to me): "The main compartment lacks tie-downs. ... And finally, the larger of the two main compartments is not very deep: four inches will not allow for much in the way of a bundle wrap ..."

    When I considered taking my WF on my trip I put my bundle for the main compartment in and got the zipper shut. There was no way I needed tie-downs, lol! At he notes, it is "not very deep."

    Now that I am trying to write a "review" of his review, I am confused. To start out with a note of the dimensions and then complain about sizing? And to complain about the two compartment design when he did not do so for the Sky Train?

    Eh, it is a review, and while not very positive, it is not negative, exactly, either. Anyone making the leap of considering a purchase will be reading many, many reviews (at least, I did).

  10. #10
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    i'm glad others have picked up on the same vibe i did reading that review. i thought it was just me :-o.

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    I have to disagree on the take most of you got from the review. Sure the review was not glowing... but I don't think that is because of his relationship with Red Oxx.

    If you read his reviews of other bags, including the skytrian, none of them are written in a very excited way. It seems like he only features bags on his site that he recommends, so the fact the western flyer is even on the site is a recommendation.

    The other thing about the lack of tiedown straps... your opinion may differ on it, but if you read his whole site you can see that clamshell opening and tiedown straps are two of his major criteria for judging a bag. He does not seem to be a huge backpack fan.

    FBBrown: Of course he criticizes what HE likes. He can't very well review the product from MY perspective or from yours. All reviews are subjective opinions.

    Bnet: He never compared the Skytrain and western flyer. In fact if you look at the text and the page formatting you see that there is a clear separation between the bags he is comparing and the "alternative." The only reason the western flyer is on the same page as the skytrain is because they are both convertable bags.

    Backpack: There is no such thing as a completely impartial review. That being said, if he had intentions of being dishonest he would not have to disclose his involvement with Red Oxx.

    To me the all of his reviews are kindof basic introductions to suitable products. But these are far from being complete reviews. I prefer the reviewing style of "Brad" from 1bag1world.

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    I never felt that Doug realized his own bias and it shows in his emails and reviews. I know that I'm biased, and I am a fan of both Red Oxx and Tom Bihn, so it's easy for me to rate both companies and know that I like both. But I really don't think Doug has good vision into himself and has a hard time separating his bias from being objective. Or I don't think he sees the need to be objective. To me, this reads as someone who does has a bad vibe against TB. Here are some thoughts:

    • The first two items are reviewed basically with just stats save for one comment on a suggested improvement. The WF however is less about stats and more about the good/bad.
    • At the top Doug states "They lose the sophistication and comfort of a full suspension system (with padded hip belt, sternum strap, supporting struts, etc.) in order to provide more compartmentalization. They will never be as optimal as bags designed for one or the other specific purpose." This implies style is important but his favorite bag the Air Boss is hardly stylish at all.
    • In the past Doug has praised should bags for the business traveller I have yet to hear how he thinks anyone can use the Air Boss with the claw strap on a suit or shirt and not have it wrinkle you to death. Yet a backpack strap is going to lose "sophistication".
    • Doesn't the partition come out in the WF? So the argument over weight is moot? Plus this means the bag suits those who like to use pouches and those who do not. Instead of wording this as a plus it's a minus because of his preference. It's not worded as his preference but instead a knock against the WF.
    • He seems obsessed with the fact that the WF CAN be used as a backpack and instead views it as MUST. Sure the side pocket might be an issue then but it's not the only way to use the bag. He repeats this theme a few times as if there was no option for a shoulder strap or handles on the top. You might as well knock all 3 bags for having extra weight for their should strap options because all 3 are designed to be backpacks using this logic.
    • Regarding the pocket sleeve, I have to say I don't like open pockets. I never trust that things will stay in or get stolen. Put my boarding pass in that? Not me. So, in this case I will admit I also do not like an open pocket for anything but a water bottle.
    • Why exactly is he knocking the size over and over again? If it's too small for a specific purpose then that's fine but he isn't reviewing it for a specific purpose. It's almost like he knocks it for being smaller than the others without trying to review it's merit on whether or not it's good for a 3 day trip (for example).
    • He opened with how you lose stuff like the sternum strap in these hybrids then goes on to say the sternum strap for the WF really isn't needed on a bag so small. Seems like a contradication to me. Also, I think Doug must be a physical tank because he thinks the Air Boss on the shoulder is a breeze. Either that or he has a crazy ability to ignore pain and discomfort. I'm pretty fit and the Air Boss annoyed me to no end.


    I'm sorry, but if you start where he says
    There are elements of this bag that are less than ideal.
    it all reads like a review to me. Then I go back and read the other products and it's all stats. It's an entire parargraph of what he doesn't like about the bag while the other two didn't get much of anything. In fact, he lumps a "review" in the summary paragraph and basically just re-iterates the stats to let the reader pick their own favorite.

    For example he says one has 2 compartments and the other 3 but doesn't offer which HE thinks is better. But when it came to the WF he was quick to inject his preference to a feature.

    Just a strange negative vibe if you ask me.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    I have to disagree on the take most of you got from the review. Sure the review was not glowing... but I don't think that is because of his relationship with Red Oxx.

    If you read his reviews of other bags, including the SkyTrain, none of them are written in a very excited way. It seems like he only features bags on his site that he recommends, so the fact the Western Flyer is even on the site is a recommendation.
    I'll agree with you. In the context of who he is and what he represents (one-bag, wheel-less travel, and employing packing cubes and bundle packing), any product he reviews will more than likely be weighed heavily on that criteria unless he says otherwise. And I think it's specific enough a task to force a certain amount of objectivity on his part.

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    What's amusing is that nearly all of his issues are nicely addressed in the Tristar.

    Audrey

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by falconea View Post
    What's amusing is that nearly all of his issues are nicely addressed in the Tristar.

    Audrey
    You know... you may be right! Interesting!

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