The new Aeronaut and Tri-Star arrived today via UPS.

My first impression is not of the bags, but, as ever of the UPS website and I have to say that yet again, it is dreadful. If you believe their tracker, my box has not only crossed the Atlantic more times than David Frost, but it's also traveled back and forth in time, finding itself in England three days before it was even packed in Seattle! To top it off, however, having expected it today all week, I awoke to find thet, since last night, it had been changed to say that it had been out for delivery yesterday, but, presumably because the depot is 40 miles away and the courier is on foot, it wouldn't get to me till Monday! Now, my next flight isn't till 12 January, so it doesn't really matter, but I was still a bit crest fallen, till, at lunch time, I heard a van pull up outside and, as I stumbled to the door, I found a man in a brown uniform with a huge box under his arm. Even though I had to find a cheque book to pay the duty (how quaint; a cheque!) I was still pleased to see him; so much so that I forgot to whinge about his website! In the end they had delivered the goods on time, as originally promised, but still managed to wind me up by feeding me a week of duff information - the problem would have been avoided by just not telling me anything at all!

So, what next? Dive in, and poke around? No, grab the camera! I opened the box, slitting the tape whilst holding the camera with my paralysed hand. Hm! Not quite to the Maverick standard! Tripod! Set-up! Then I shot a straight, one take 'un-boxing' video - still not a classic, but it's now on the video and pics forum.

Now I could actually look at the stuff, and my first impression is very favourable. What I'd worried about was that they would be to 'soft' and shapeless, but, in actual fact, whilst the new 400d Dyneema fabric is much more compliant, it is also much more substantial than the 200d lining version. I used my 'old' Aeronaut just this week, so I'm familiar with it's feel and this new one feels lighter, yet still substantial. I hate checking luggage, but, if I ever had to, I'd feel quite confident that this would survive the 'throwers' intact! So, as far as the Aeronaut goes, the same brilliant bag, just lighter! The colour/pattern looks great to me, but didn't grab my wife the same way... but this is just a first impression! I'm quite taken with the aesthetic being a result of the pursuit of strength! Form from function is what I see; checks are what she sees!

The Tri-Star is a whole new thing for me. I honestly have no idea how this will turn out! It will require a completely different method of packing for a start. A better method? Who knows? Getting the computer and iPad out should be easier. Not going 50% over the 10Kg (22lb) RyanAir weight limit might be easier as it's a bit smaller than the Aeronaut. I can see my wife liking the water bottle holder and the pockets on the front for purse, tickets, passports etc. Will it be enough to break her habit of 'bag-checking' though?! We'll see.

Other things. There was a bag on cord pulls and a key strap in each bag. The key straps have been a common, and very welcome, inclusion on all three of my previous TB bags, but I've always bought the cord pulls separately. I'm very pleased to have them included this time. I've no idea if this is standard now or whether the Christmas Fairy (Darcy?) knew of my dodgy fingers, but, either way, thank you TB very much!

I also got a travel tray and the new 3d organiser pouch in wasabi, two large steel/clear pouches and two hand loops in the same box. The large pouches are simply additions to the solitary large iberian one I already have, and they will see immediate use carrying A4 documents for my business. I've used the longer key straps doubled over as a hand loop, so I'm going to switch over now I have the 'proper' thing. I bought the 3d pouch just to try it out, but I may use it as a kind of glove box for my disability scooter, suspended below the tiller, between my knees to put my phone, cash etc. when I'm out and about, but we shall see! The travel tray is a whole new thing. If I drop things on the floor I need to use a 'helping-hand' grabber to pick it up, so I'm hoping that this little gadget will save me a lot of hassle on my travels, and double as a stuff sac when I pack. I should say that I love wasabi, both the condiment and the colour- I'd love to see a wasabi 400d Aeronaut or ristretto or just about any TB bag! Steel can't excite me, but it is smart and practical and beats plain old black every time! As a result I have one cocoa ristretto and the rest of my TB bags (4) are all steel, and now I have a full set of Cordura, Ballistic and both weights of Dyneema!

I'll come back when I've had a chance to try these new bags out, but so far, I'm one very, very happy camper!!!!!!!