As promised, here's a review and some pictures from my recent cross-country train trip using my new Empire Builder and Aeronaut.
My daughter and I rode Amtrak's California Zephyr from Emeryville, CA (across the Bay from San Francisco) to Omaha, NE. Well, technically we rode it past Omaha to Creston, IA because the Omaha station was closed due to the flooding on the Missouri River.
I received my new bags a few days before the trip. The EB is my new EDC bag for work, but the Aeronaut was pretty much purchased because of this trip.
Bags packed and ready to go at the Emeryville station
For those who haven't traveled by rail before, room on-board is pretty limited. This was my first trip more than a couple hours, but I did a fair amount of research on what to expect. Amtrak's website is actually pretty good, with virtual tours of the different room types, as well as other travel tips.
I ended up packing all of my daughter's and my clothes in the Aeronaut for use on-board, with various other things (electronics, snacks, etc.) in the EB. We also checked-through a large bag for my daughter as she'll be spending 3 weeks with her grandparents in Indiana.
As you can see, I used the backpack straps on the Aeronaut. This allowed me to more easily navigate the narrow sleeper car halls and keep a hand free to help my daughter.
Because it was just the two of us, we reserved one of the sleeper car roomettes. These are the smallest of the three different sleeper car bedrooms, and are essentially a 3'6" by 6'6" compartment with two seats facing each other. The seats fold down into a bed, and there's a drop-down bed above as well. Especially in the sleeping configuration, there is very little room. The picture above shows the full-width of the room, and you can see the EB next to my daughter's seat.
EB next to my daughter's seat
The EB sat next to my daughter's seat on the stairs for the upper bunk. All the rail travel sites recommend this as the best place for luggage in the roomettes. Surprisingly, the roomettes on Superliner trains have no designated in-room luggage storage. There is a communal luggage storage area on the first floor of the sleeper cars, but since we were on the second level, we'd have had to run down every time we wanted something. Putting the EB on the step worked well. At night, I was able to set it at the end of my daughter's bunk since she didn't take up the whole length, though it would have been more problematic with another adult (it could sit on the steps, but would have to be moved for accessing the upper bunk).
Aeronaut next to my seat
I sat in the rear-facing seat, which has a small clothes-hanging area with a narrow pocket beneath. Due to the narrowness of this, it made a decent shelf for the Aeronaut. In fact, it was the perfect width. I was able to leave the bag there pretty much the entire trip without it tipping over at all, and it added a bit of padding for me to lean against. It even stayed in place at night when the seats were folded down.
My daughter and me
All in all, we had a great time, and the new bags definitely made the travel process easier. I was very impressed with the Aeronaut as a travel bag. Since I flew home after leaving my daughter with her grandparents, I was able to test them out via air as well, though I don't have any pictures. Both my flights home were on Canadair regional jets, and the Aeronaut fit perfectly in the overhead bin, with the EB under the seat. I tried the Aeronaut with both the backpack straps and the shoulder strap. By itself, the shoulder strap was a comfortable and easy way to carry the bag, but with the second bag, it was hard to balance one on each shoulder and the backpack straps were definitely the way to go. On future trips, I'll hopefully be able to just take the Aeronaut and not worry about a second bag, but it's a good option to have.