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.