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  1. #1
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    First look at the Tristar

    I'm leaving tomorrow morning on a five week, four country European trip--part business, part vacation, with my brand-spankin' new Tristar as my main carryon bag and my medium cafe bag as my "personal item." No checked bags. I will be taking a number of train trips and two internal flights, so traveling light was a priority.

    So today I did a dry run to see what the Tristar can hold. In the largest of the three sections, I used my large sized Western Flyer packing cube, filled with a pair of pants, a cardigan, six short sleeved blouses and tees, an oversized T for a nightie, and a crush down hat. I held it all down with the compression straps and laid a 8x12 folder of work papers over the top. The section zipped with room to spare. In the other outside pocket, I put a pair of sandals and my liquids and gels bag in the smaller of the (optional) zippered sectors, and another smaller WF packing cube containing socks, undies, makeup wipes, a mini umbrella, a folding fan, and a sink stopper. Then in the middle compartment went my bundle of electronic goodies--chargers for cell phone, camera, computer, and a few Euro plug adapters; my small makeup bag (c'mon, cut me a break, I have to look moderately professional part of the time) and my mini-first aid kit. Also in the middle section I put a guide book, three phrase books, my Bluetooth folding keyboard, and a small cloth purse. In the outside pockets, I stashed a couple of books, some papers, and my Tom Bihn wallet, slipped to its tether.

    The Tristar swallowed it all with room to spare. Then for the moment of truth--weighing it. Darn--19 pounds. Too much to carry as much as I will be carrying it. So...back to pare. Out went some of the liquids, some of the makeup, one of the blouses, the fan, the keyboard, and a few other miscellaneous items. This time it weighed in at 15.8 pounds. Much better.

    Hoisting the bag and wearing it around a bit, the straps are surprisingly comfortable. I do recommend getting the waist strap if you plan on packing it fairly full--it does make a difference. (I'll be toting my Absolute Shoulder Strap in my cafe bag, in case I decide that shouldering the bag beats wearing it as a backpack.)

    The verdict? I'll confirm it--for me and the way I travel, it's the best one-bag solution--capacious enough and well enough organized to live out of comfortably. Because it has enough structural integity to stand up on its own, it serves both as bag and "dresser" once you get where you're going. The design would work for either bundle packing or for packing cubes. If you can carry more weight than I can, there's no doubt you can get more into it than I did in my dry runs today.

    I'll report back when I get back with any other observations once I've used it for a few weeks.
    Last edited by flitcraft; 06-13-2009 at 09:42 PM.
    Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.

  2. #2
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    Now I am really excited as I think it will meet my needs

    what did you put in the third compartment?

  3. #3
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    oops never mind (brain freeze)

  4. #4
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    Actually, I should note that if you intended to use the third compartment for bulky items like shoes or even a computer, it would be smart to pack it first, since the other compartments have a tendency to bulge into the third section rather than outward. By packing the inside compartment first, you get maximum usable space there.

    One other thing I forgot--when I drooled over the Tristar at the showroom some weeks ago, I didn't notice the number of handy O rings throughout for clipping pouches and goodies.

    This is one seriously well-engineered bag, kids.
    Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.

  5. #5
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    Nice mini review, thanks!
    There are only 3 kinds of people in this world -- those who can count, and those who can't.

    Proud Owner of: Aeronaut, Empire Builder, PC Flyer, Tri-Star, 3 Absolute shoulder straps, 2 Freudian slips, Braincell, and many various pouches and packing cubes...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by flitcraft View Post
    Actually, I should note that if you intended to use the third compartment for bulky items like shoes or even a computer, it would be smart to pack it first, since the other compartments have a tendency to bulge into the third section rather than outward. By packing the inside compartment first, you get maximum usable space there.
    Very ingenious. That means it's less likely to bulge like some other bags and won't look overly big when taking it to the airport.
    The opinions expressed do, in fact, represent the opinions of the government--its Congress, Supreme Court, and President--as well as the United Nations and its representatives; because, let's face it, I have that kind of power at my disposal.

  7. #7
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    Did I read correctly and that you only packed a single pair of pants? Impressive. I'm getting better with each trip but I don't think I could do that.

    I'd like to know (had you taken it) how you use the bluetooth keyboard. I've toyed with getting one myself but I want to hear how others use it.

  8. #8
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    The Tri-star just arrived in my office. Photos online do not do the color justice. The Indigo is truly the most impressive, vibrant color I have seen in a long time. It is a purple-blue which really goes amazingly well with the solar color. Until you see the color and the bag in person, it's hard to appreciate how nice the bag looks. I look forward to "dry packing" and to traveling with the bag next week. TB, Darcy and everyone there - y'all have outdone yourselves with this bag!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rabergnc View Post
    The Tri-star just arrived in my office. Photos online do not do the color justice. The Indigo is truly the most impressive, vibrant color I have seen in a long time. It is a purple-blue which really goes amazingly well with the solar color. Until you see the color and the bag in person, it's hard to appreciate how nice the bag looks.
    I entirely agree with this comment. None of the photos I've seen online (even the wonderful pictures maverick has been posting) adequately convey the richness of this color. The description flitcraft gave is a good one:
    Quote Originally Posted by flitcraft View Post
    I saw the Tristar in Indigo today, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It is a deep blue with just a touch of royal purple to it. And the solar is the perfect foil to it. I'm now really second guessing my decision to go steel/solar...
    Most of the images I've seen make this look like a deeper blue than sapphire. The closest I've seen is the picture on the Gadling sneak preview article, but it still doesn't convey the very deep blue with the "royal purple" tones. A very striking combination when paired with the solar dyneema of the interior. "Indigo" is a good choice for the name, since it conveys that touch of color.

  10. #10
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    I was just posting that the images Maverick put up had me considering the Indigo color when at first I was avidly against it. It's a pretty hard situation for Tom though. You really don't get a feel for the color until you see different shots in different lights.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelb View Post
    I was just posting that the images Maverick put up had me considering the Indigo color when at first I was avidly against it. It's a pretty hard situation for Tom though. You really don't get a feel for the color until you see different shots in different lights.
    The blog picture of the Tri-Star in the lower right -- the one showing the corner of the bag with the Tom Bihn logo -- comes a little closer to the color. Perhaps another way of giving you a feel for this color if you are familiar with either the sapphire or deep blue cordura (both of which render better in the image colors), is to say that the sapphire dyneema shown in maverick's pictures from the what's in your shop bag? thread complements the indigo of the Tri-Star much better than it would work with either Sapphire or Deep Blue, neither of which has the same depth or richness of blue and lack that "royal" tone.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelb View Post
    I was just posting that the images Maverick put up had me considering the Indigo color when at first I was avidly against it. It's a pretty hard situation for Tom though. You really don't get a feel for the color until you see different shots in different lights.
    i have to say that indigo is the first color that i have gotten as excited about as i was when i first found out about tom bihn and discovered crimson!

    i love the plum/wasabi combination. cayenne is fantastic also, specially with navy. but indigo and crimson are something really special!

    product images are challenging, but i have to give it to the folks at tom bihn - they do a fantastic job with the product pictures! we get to see the bags from several angles; we get to see inside the bags. on top of that, the product descriptions go into great detail about the small but important details about each bag.

    please also keep in mind that with looking at colors on a computer screen, we are at the mercy of imperfect technology. we may reproduce an image of the indigo fabric accurately on one screen. then, if we look at that image on 10 other computers, we will find that unless the screens have all been calibrated the same way, we'll get 10 different shades of blue for that indigo.

    we could send that image that was worked on a calibrated display to 10 different professional photo labs. we will get back 10 different images. they could all be using the same model printers. they could all be printing on the same type of photo paper. but each of those printers has been calibrated slightly differently. so the results on each will be slightly different.

    kudos to tom bihn and to all the customers on the forum for great product images!!

    speaking of customers - darcy has said it before, and i think it is really true. tom bihn has the best customers! forget bag companies - look at companies producing any product: how many companies can you name that have as enthusiastic a following as tom bihn?

    understand this doesn't happen on its own. the uniquely exceptional products that tom bihn produces, using the highest quality materials, with uncompromising attention to the smallest details in design and manufacturing, making environmentally conscious choices, providing unparalleled customer service, that foster this sort of following.

    so tom bihn has the best customers. but that's because tom bihn goes to great efforts to make their customers want to be the best customers.

  13. #13
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    Zipper pull help!

    My Tri-Star arrived today, and it is such a well constructed, intelligently designed bag. Mine is in black and steel... I have just the tiniest bit of indigo/solar color envy, but black suits me. I may just order solar packing cubes in the near future to compensate. :-)

    One tiny anal retentive nitpick... the triangular Tri-Star logo label looks cool, but the sharp points seem to be prone to sticking up. (one especially on mine) With the black fabric, it's more noticeable because you can see the light edge/underside of the label. If the points were rounded slightly, I imagine this wouldn't be an issue, so I may so some minor elective surgery tonight.

    OK, so my one probably stupid question to everyone who has gotten their Tri-Star already is this: How do I put on the plastic zipper pulls? The ones that came with my bag seem to be different than the one with the grooves pictured on the accessories page. These are smooth and consist of the outer plastic part with an inner part than seems to slide into the outer. I can't figure out how the ends of the cord are supposed to be positioned before snapping the two plastic parts into each other.

  14. #14
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    My steel/solar just arrived. First glance, I'm impressed. I'm a fairly big guy yet the backpack, waist belt and sternum strap all fit without a problem.

    I'm going to pack it later to see if I can get everything I want/need into it as I had planned. I'll let you know.

  15. #15
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    Just completed the first part of my trip with the TriStar. Also, it was my first trip in as long as I can remember flying only with one bag - no briefcase, messenger bag, no other bag at all. The TriStar held everything without problem - 4 polo-type shirts, 3 sets underwear, 1 pr shorts, 1 pr sandals, 1 hat, toiletries, razor, netbook, kindle, phone, cables, adapters, power cord/brick, a few snacks (Lara bar variety). It weighed in at about 15 lbs. Best of all, it fit in the overheads on small regional jets (CRJ 50, CRJ 200) - the bag squeezed thru the opening easily. It also would have fit under the seat in front of me.

    I'm not sure I will do the one bag thing again after I head home. I do like having stuff easily reachable in a messenger bag rather than having to think about the things I want to take out of the bag to have with me before I sit. It is however nice to know it can be done easily when it needs to be done.

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