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Thread: First Trip with my Western Flyer

  1. #1
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    Red face First Trip with my Western Flyer

    It was just an overnighter for work, so I figured it was a good tryout for the small Western Flyer. I packed my clothes in a large packing cube in the non-divided side. In the other side of the bag I kept the divider zipped into the two compartments. In one, I had a Clear Quarter Packing Cube with non-liquid toiletries on one side and miscellaneous stuff on the other (cords, eye mask, earplugs, etc). On top of that I put my 3D Clear Organizer Cube with liquids. On the compartment I put a pair of shoes and next to them, my iPod, inflatable lumbar pillow and a Ziploc of snacks. In the large zip pocket I had my Kindle, a pen/pencil size Clear Organizer Pouch with lipstick, nail file, pen. In the small zip pocket I put my wallet, sunglasses and cell phone so I didn't need to carry a separate purse.

    The best part about the Western Flyer is that it fits under the airplane seat! When everyone was jockeying for position to make sure they could get a space in the overheads, I was stress free, knowing I would not be separated from my stuff.

    The backpack straps were great during my 3 hour layovers in the Minneapolis airport. The Absolute Strap was pretty comfortable, but I’m kinda short and not very muscle-y, so it wouldn’t have been comfortable for long periods.

    This is a great bag for short trips. I usually travel with a rollaboard and travel bag so it was tempting to get the Aeronaut, but I was afraid that it would get too bulky and heavy for me to carry. The Western Flyer is the perfect size for me to carry around, but I don’t know if I can get more than a couple days worth of clothes in it. Maybe a Tri-Star is on my horizon. Do they fit under the seat?

    While waiting to board one of my flights, a guy next to me was looking at my bag and asked, “Who’s Tom Bihn?” Well, let me tell you…
    Just, Lani and dorayme like this.

  2. #2
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    On the under-the-seat friendliness of the Tristar versus the Western Flyer: I have traveled with both, and I would say it depends on two things: which seat you have on which plane, and how much you stuff your bags.

    Unfortunately, under seat space on a lot of aircraft has been reduced severely--especially those international flights with 'on demand' entertainment for each seat. Check out the seatguru website to see which seats have had their under-seat stowing area taken up by AV boxes. (My experience has been that the window seats are most likely the losers in that configuration.) Even in more 'standard' domestic flight configurations, the aisle seat generally has the narrowest seat stowage, then the window, with the middle seat having the most generous stowage. (I suppose it's only fair, given all the disadvantages of the middle seats...)

    The second factor is whether you overstuff your bag. They have a slight tendency to bulge width-wise if you pack them out to the max, as I plead guilty to doing. One of the downsides to the superior construction of both the Tristar and the Western Flyer is that they tolerate a degree of over-packing that would be zipper-busting for most bags. (OK, I'm just kidding about it being a downside. It's definitely a feature, not a bug...) I admit that I have packed my Tristar and Western Flyer to a point where I could not have wedged it under the seat and it had to be stashed in the overhead.

    On your last point: Can you get more than a couple of days worth of clothing into the WF? Absolutely, depending on how you pack, what your clothing needs are when you get there, how much other non-clothing stuff you need, etc. Frank II , Lani, and Just on this board all maintain wonderful blogs dedicated to light packing ideas--check them out and you'll see how to maximize the space in a Western Flyer. I've traveled on week long trips comfortably with one, thanks in part to the advice and ideas I've gotten from folks here.

    But don't let me discourage you from buying a Tristar. I love, love, love mine. Its three compartment design makes it incredibly versatile for all kinds of trips, but it particularly shines when you're going to be bringing along a laptop or other electronica, which are safely and snuggly at home in the middle compartment. Because the middle compartment is the most narrow width-wise of the three, it keeps things like the 3-1-1 baggie, snack baggies, and comfort items like inflatable pillows from slipping down to the bottom of the compartment, so they're easy to retrieve when you need them.

    Welcome to the wonderful, addictive world of Tom Bihn bags!
    Last edited by flitcraft; 09-18-2011 at 10:51 AM. Reason: typos typos typos
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    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.

  3. #3
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    First off, yay for your brand new Western Flyer!!! Let me let you in on a little secret. For us height-challenged ladies, the Western Flyer is much better sized than the Tri-Star.

    Oh, don't get me wrong. I also have a Tri-Star that I love, but these days I save it for heavy duty traveling, like when I HAVE to carry a laptop, or I'm combining two different types of destinations in one trip (for example, a few years ago, my husband and I spent a week on a Disney cruise ship [that included fancy dinners], and then we flew from Florida to Costa Rica for a week out in some national wildlife areas where we got to see sea turtles hatch!!).

    The main thing you lose when you downsize from the Tri-Star to the Western Flyer is that flat zippered center compartment, which is perfect for storing electronics. If you don't need to travel with a laptop, though, that's your first hurdle out of the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjole View Post
    It was just an overnighter for work, so I figured it was a good tryout for the small Western Flyer. I packed my clothes in a large packing cube in the non-divided side. In the other side of the bag I kept the divider zipped into the two compartments. In one, I had a Clear Quarter Packing Cube with non-liquid toiletries on one side and miscellaneous stuff on the other (cords, eye mask, earplugs, etc). On top of that I put my 3D Clear Organizer Cube with liquids. On the compartment I put a pair of shoes and next to them, my iPod, inflatable lumbar pillow and a Ziploc of snacks. In the large zip pocket I had my Kindle, a pen/pencil size Clear Organizer Pouch with lipstick, nail file, pen. In the small zip pocket I put my wallet, sunglasses and cell phone so I didn't need to carry a separate purse.
    In my experience, the more organizers you can use with your Western Flyer, the more versatile you can be. These days, I will stuff smaller items (socks, underwear) into the TB Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, which I then stuff in the TB Packing Cube Backpack before it goes into the undivided section of the Western Flyer (I'll explain why in a second).

    In one of the front divided sections, I'll stuff a spare pair of shoes (if I'm taking any). The other divided half sees my 3-1-1 3D organizer, a Kit for all my cables, and either another organizer or a medium pouch for what make-up I take.

    I use the front tall zippered pocket to slip my iPad into.

    Now, oftentimes I'll take a purse with this. In my upcoming trip, I plan on using a Large Cafe Bag as my "purse" so I should be able to take a ton of stuff with me.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjole View Post
    The Western Flyer is the perfect size for me to carry around, but I don’t know if I can get more than a couple days worth of clothes in it.
    You know that motto for recycling: "Reduce, reuse, recycle"? Well, the concept of traveling light is very similar to that. The whole goal is to take as little as possible, and get as much use out of what you do take. To that end, I'd say the motto is more like "Reduce, reuse, repurpose." So that TB Packing Cube Shoulder Bag that I stuff my underwear in? I often convert that into a day bag/purse when I'm traveling.

    And if you can pack "a couple days worth of clothes," you are basically set for an entire trip (and there are people who can travel for months with that!). The basic premise is that every single item of clothing has to match everything you are wearing. Different tops should work together if it gets chilly and you want to layer. You don't want to take a striped top and a polka-dotted skirt because those won't go together. You can wear a T-shirt, an overshirt, a jacket, and a pair of pants/slacks on your flight, and pack in your bag a second shirt, a wool underlayer shirt (that you can wear as a T), a skirt, a nicer button shirt... you will be able to mix and match so you can go casual, go to a nicer restaurant, etc. all with no more than say 7 pieces of clothing.

    Periodically, you can send your clothes to get washed at your hotel, or use their laundry room. You can then hand rinse your lingerie and hang them to dry overnight.

    If you still can't manage with just a Western Flyer, you might consider toting a purse, like the Large Cafe Bag that I'm planning on using. You can toss your electronics, toiletry bag, and make-up bag in there and create a lot of room in your Western Flyer.

    Quote Originally Posted by flitcraft View Post
    On the under-the-seat friendliness of the Tristar versus the Western Flyer: I have traveled with both, and I would say it depends on two things: which seat you have on which plane, and how much you stuff your bags.
    In general, aisle seats tend to have considerably less underseat room as well.

    I'm also with flitcraft; The Tri-Star is really awesome, as well. And I think TB considers it their benchmark bag, since it comes in way more colors than the WF.
    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
    Publisher, The Travelite FAQ: Don't get saddled with baggage—free yourself & your mind by packing lightly!
    Editor, MousePlanet: Detailed park guides, daily news & stories from all over the Disney kingdom | Technical writer | Marathoner


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