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Thread: Western Flyer Part II: The Conference

  1. #1
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    Western Flyer Part II: The Conference

    My first travel trial for the bag was a 3 day 2 night conference trip to Washington, DC. With a mix of business formality (meeting with Congressmen and aides) and casual (seminars and sightseeing), and the usual obligation to exercise, it’s a great diverse trial. A flight to Baltimore followed by train to DC requiring some substantial flexibility and walking in between events, the modes of transit were equally diverse so one-bagging was important. After a test pack of what I “wanted” to bring, it was bringing the bag nearly to breaking point – I didn’t have the heart to test the Tom Bihn quality to that degree just yet. Realizing that I wasn’t going to be getting any production work done, I nixed my work laptop and behemoth adapter and took the tablet instead (which also means the Snake Charmer stayed behind, to be reviewed in round 3), which got me room for a more comfortable cold weather wardrobe and a much more comfortable profile for everything below:

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    Rear compartment: Backpack Packing Cube with:
    • 2 button down dress shirts
    • 2 ties
    • 2 undershirts
    • 1 pair wool slacks
    • 2 pair athletic socks
    • Exercise shorts
    • T shirt
    • Long sleeve undershirt/exercise shirt
    • 2 pair underwear
    Front Compartment
    • Small Packing Cube
    o Running shoes (size 12)
    o Electric razor
    o Beard trimmer
    o 2 pair dress socks
    •Small Travelon Cube (from my original go-bag kit)
    o First Aid Kit
    o Pain relievers & Zicam
    o Nail clippers
    o Nyquil capsules
    o Spare contacts
    o Plier/screwdriver multitool
    o Passport Photocopy
    •Large Travelon Cube, the original go-bag kit
    oDry toiletries
    •3D Clear organizer Cube
    oWet toiletries
    • Asus Transformer tab-book w/ neoprene sleeve
    • Eyeglasses
    • Inflatable hanger (great for suit coats even when you don’t plan to wash clothes)
    Front Pockets
    • HDMI Cable & adapters
    • Tablet charger
    • Medium Travelon Cube
    o MyCharge Peak 6000 backup battery multicharger
    o Bluetooth headphones
    o MoGo Bluetooth mouse & charging dongle
    • Assorted pocket items and Platypus bottle in bottle pocket

    And some magazines and folders in with the backpack straps. This was about as tight as I was comfortable packing, on the edge of usefulness. I was still able to access the pockets, but couldn’t fit any more into them. I honestly don’t know how I would have handled a Tri-Star under these circumstances, the Western Flyer was not yet unwieldy in weight, but I can’t imagine carrying much more before things got uncomfortable.

    For TSA, I used a small carabineer on a key strap around the tablet case handle, as well as on the 3D cube. I dumped my pockets into the bottle pocket on the WF, and slid right through TSA, both regular and pre-check, no risk of leaving anything behind. Once on the plane (B737), it slipped underneath the seat short side with no issues.

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    Once I was in the air, I pulled it out and set it across the front of my seat to give myself some legroom and give myself access to the pockets, and I could do it without interrupting my neighbors (this is an important feature for tall guys in coach). When I was retrieving the travelon cube with my charger, part of the mesh tore…so much for that…now for a 3D mesh cube!

    There was no such luck getting it to fit under the seat on the Amtrak, had to do the overhead bin. I don’t know if it would have fit even packed as a briefcase, it’s very skimpy.

    When we arrived, the weather was chilly with a light, misty rain, and I left the umbrella at home. In walking the 5 blocks from Union Station to the hotel carrying as backpack, I arrived with plenty of water accumulated on the bag, and no intrusion through the zipper gaskets, or through the ballistic. Excellent.

    Unpacking was fast and easy with all the cubes. While I didn’t get a chance to use the packing cube backpack for sightseeing, it works great as a packing cube. It would have been perfect for walking the congressional offices, I’m not sure why I left it behind.

    The backpack straps were very useful for long hikes around the city, or meandering in tight spaces, I’m definitely glad I got the backpack version. With the Absolute Strap wrapped around the underside of the bag, it’s as convenient and nondescript as any other backpack.

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    Walking from the train, navigating the airport, being the tourist and walking around the city, all were substantially easier to navigate with the straps. On the last day of the conference, when everyone is inevitably hauling their rollerboards around after checking out, I switched to backpack straps to navigate tight spaces between tables. And sitting aside it was unobtrusive.

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    I noticed that while wearing a suit and carrying the bag with the Absolute Strap, it had a tendency to slip off by pulling on the jacket and slipping IT off the shoulder. Without the jacket it stuck like tar and didn’t go anywhere.

    I was attending with a colleague who had a traditional spinner rollerboard with a briefcase. When the conference was over, with several hours left before the train, we decided to walk the mall. We didn’t have time to come back to the hotel to get our stuff, so we took it all with us. It was there that the backpack and sternum strap was exceptional. Over the gravelly dirt of mall path, aggregate sidewalks and muddy shortcuts, I felt pretty suave in comparison. No doubt this bag will make you feel like a professional traveler. Not only had I come with the super convenient backup charger to help his phone stay alive on our long work days, but I lent my key straps out to fasten his classy but inarticulate leather brief to the handle of his spinner while sightseeing. It’s like the MacGyver bag.

    The only thing I didn’t bring was something like the shop bag to buy gifts to bring home. Now that I am one-bagging it, maybe it is time to think about that allowed personal item. Unfortunately, with only 2 days until round 3, there’s no time to re-equip. Just laundry.

  2. #2
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    GREAT review, thanks! Now I want one...

  3. #3
    Registered User Moose's Avatar
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    With the Absolute Strap wrapped around the underside of the bag, it’s as convenient and nondescript as any other backpack.

    imperator, can you expand on this comment. I think a couple of your photos show it but I can't seem to figure out how, or why you did it. When my absolute strap is not in use I stuff it in the backstrap pocket.
    Thanks,
    Moose
    Great review by the way, I love my WF.
    Last edited by Moose; 03-23-2014 at 09:46 AM.
    List exceeds allowed characters. So I'll just say I'm plum and kiwi loving FOT!

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    I hope you don't mind me taking this thread on a side trip....I have a question about your Asus Transformer........I need something lightweight for my travels that will allow me to edit my website online, use a word processor, watch or upload videos from either a USB flash drive or micro SD card, download itunes, and download Chrome among other things. And how's the trackpad?

    I was going to get a Dell Inspiron 11 3000 but I'd like something lighter.

    What do you us to charge the Asus while traveling? Does your backup battery work?
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

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    I also found the backpack straps to be very helpful for my last trip which was my first trip with my WF. I did some walking and bus travel to and from the airport and the backpack straps made all of the difference. So much so, I am not sure I will use my Absolute strap with the WF. Will still use it with my co-pilot.

    -Sue
    Synapse 19, Travel Tray, PCSB, Western Flyer, all in Dyneema, Side Effect and pouchmania

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    imperator, can you expand on this comment. I think a couple of your photos show it but I can't seem to figure out how, or why you did it. When my absolute strap is not in use I stuff it in the backstrap pocket.
    The photos on the Mall show it best, basically just invert the strap and run it across the bottom so it wraps around the backpack perimeter between the zippers of the main pockets. I do this daily when I get into the office to be able to get into both pockets without the strap dangling in the way. Since the only time I use the backpack straps is when I am packed to the brim, this saves a good deal of convenience space in the pockets, and lets me switch back and forth more quickly.

    And as for the Transformer tablet, It's definitely a good balance of weight and power. I have the 64g version w/64g MicroSD card, with a quad-core Atom, it is pretty zippy with ordinary web usage, streaming and Word/Excel. I downloaded a media center software (XMBC) to use with my TV tuner, and it has no trouble playing back those files. The trackpad is OK, nothing to scream about. It supports gestures and multitouch, but the click is a little heavy for my taste. The touchscreen is just so convenient anyway, I usually use that or go to the Bluetooth mouse. The Tablet has all the ports and card slots onboard except USB (3.0), which is in the keyboard section. I like being able to leave the keyboard on the desk at home, connected to the USB hub, so it works like a dock.

    It comes with a 2.1A USB charger, but it will charge off of the 1A MicroUSB on the MyCharge, albeit more slowly (the MyCharge will deliver 2A though the Apple connector if you use a 30-pin to MicroUSB converter). Fortunately, using the thing all day during the conference only took the battery to 44%, so the MyCharge could probably have handled recharging overnight. In any case, I brought the factory adapter with my as it is pretty small, and I have plenty of other MicroUSB gadgets to charge. I once left the wall adapter unplugged for 3 days before I realized it wasn't charging. This thing lasts.

    I was also looking at the Dell and the Lenovo Yoga, but I worried that the attached keyboard would kill it's tablet profile. I do find this to be a comfortable setup.

  7. #7
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    Thanks. I've been looking for the 64g version but everyone is sold out.

    I tried to find your bluetooth mouse but couldn't. Do you have a link?

    I'm about to start traveling full time and have downloaded hundreds of hours of tv shows and audio programs I want to watch/listen to via either USB or MicroSD. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't have a problem doing that.

    I have an Asus Nexus 7 now and like it but it's too small. The adapter that came with it is 2.1 so that's not a problem. I just like to travel with as little as possible. Do you know if the MyCharge can charge other devices while it is being charged?

    Thanks. I'm going to Best Buy tomorrow to look at the Asus.
    Last edited by Frank II; 03-23-2014 at 01:37 PM.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    I tried to find your bluetooth mouse but couldn't. Do you have a link?
    They don't make them anymore but they are all over eBay. They were designed to fit in the PC card slot of laptops, to live there and charge there. Once they slimmed the card profile, the erstwhile $150 super presenter mouse became obsolete and now goes for ~$10 on eBay. Of course you'll need a USB charging dongle that will set you back another $15 (you can see it in the first photo, with the USB tail on it), but as far as I know, there is no other mouse with the featureset this one has. (I have the HP branded version in x54 profile. It has 2 modes with full mouse support incl. scrolling, and a presenter mode for slideshows, complete with laser pointer. I think I paid $12 for it a few years ago.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    I'm about to start traveling full time and have downloaded hundreds of hours of tv shows and audio programs I want to watch/listen to via either USB or MicroSD. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't have a problem doing that.
    This is a full Windows version, so you can run anything on it with the right codecs. The only setback if you are using a TV tuner is Windows Media Center is not included with Windows 8.1, you can upgrade to Pro and buy it, but no longer included, hence the 3rd party software I use. And it does well in a dual monitor config. with HDMI. I think that a 128gb MicroSD card just came to market as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    Do you know if the MyCharge can charge other devices while it is being charged?
    Yes, as long as you are charging it off the mains it delivers plenty of amps to charge everything, including itself in good time (it has fold-out prongs on the back). It will charge from an ordinary USB port in a pinch, but it will drain it's own battery to charge attached devices if it's not getting enough amps from the USB. Just be prepared to wait in that case.
    Last edited by imperator; 03-23-2014 at 03:09 PM.

  9. #9
    Registered User Jeff A's Avatar
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    Awesome reviews! Trying to decide between the Tri-Star and Western Flyer. Leaning more towards the WF because I would probably overpack the Tri-Star, haha!
    Steel-Ultraviolet Western Flyer (rolling-luggage-version) | Black Cordura-Wasabi Synapse 25 | Black Dyneema-Wasabi Side Effect | Aubergine-Wasabi Co-Pilot | Navy-Iberian Co-Pilot | Iberian Travel Tray | Nordic Large Shop Bag | Ultraviolet Travel Stuff Sack Size #2 | Ultraviolet Small Clear Organizer Pouch | Kiwi Q-Kit | Steel Nano Parapack Pouch | Wasabi 3D Organizer Pouch

  10. #10
    Registered User scribe's Avatar
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    Nice review! I'm thinking of getting a WF later this year, in a fairly conservative colour scheme (black/wasabi is calling to me!) so that I can use it for business trips - usually one only night but requiring a laptop - as well as weekends away. I'm in no hurry, though, as my Tri-Star is ideal for the slightly longer trips I'll be taking in the first half of the year.

    * steps away from the "add to cart" checkboxes on my wish-list *

    I have to keep reminding myself that I don't need one right now - I chose the TS because I can "smuggle" my MCB+SE in the centre section, thereby getting around the draconian one-bag policy of a certain budget airline...
    Collections:
    black/aubergine + wasabi (WF, SA + UMP, CP, TT, TSSs, SE, Swift, QK, YSSs & KTPs)
    forest/cork/linen + steel/olive (Imago, Pilot, SCB, COW, QK, OPs)
    olive/plum + steel/UV/wasabi (S19, SE, MCB, TSSs, SSBs, YSSs, LSS, 3DOCs, OPs)
    black/steel + iberian (S25, DLBP, SE, SCB, FJN, TSSs, YSSs, 3DFOC)
    Hoping for: FJN for iPad Mini; more bags in Aubergine; the return of Portable Culture!


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