I have a 5 day work trip to DC scheduled where I will need 3 days of business attire, plus I will be doing a bit of sightseeing, and I need to fit in some running as I am training for a half marathon. So it seems like the perfect opportunity to try out my beloved Smart Alec in combination with my lovely new Pilot to try to travel efficiently, since I will be using the metro extensively and I have a hotel transfer during the trip. While I am normally a fairly efficient packer, the combination of clothes for 3 types of environments/activities means that I am bringing a bit more than I normally would. However, once I got out my stash of packing cubes, it actually is possible to bring all I need in an organized manner with this combination. I took a couple of packed photos, and then I laid out my packing cubes to get an idea of what I think is going to work well.
The last time I traveled with my Smart Alec, I ended up clipping my clear organizer cube filled with liquids to a long keystrap and putting it in the top modular pocket, and that worked great for airport security, so I will repeat that. I am using a small Eagle Creek pack-it folder to pack a suit, 3 dress shirts, and 2 pairs of dress slacks. The white cube holds several short sleeved shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 2 running shirts, 1 pair of running shorts, and running and dress socks. The mid-sized cube that zips in the middle has sport sandals and 1 pair of dress shoes. The small organizer has sleepwear and underwear. I was able to fit all of that in the SA by putting the pack-it folder and white cube in horizontally on the bottom of the SA, then I stacked the shoes bag on top followed by the small bag and hat on top, and the SA fit it all, no problem. While I will wear a light jacket while traveling through the airport, I know that if I get too hot, I can stash it on the front of the SA and confidently know it is secure.
What I am really amazed with though is how much the Pilot can hold! I was able to fit a Side Effect in the front pocket (thank you for that excellent suggestion from the Tom Bihn staff while I was in the store), and it is going to function as a purse that contains normal EDC stuff as needed, plus an Adventure Medical Kits travel medic kit fits perfectly in the suede pocket of the Pilot. In the other front pocket I fit pens, a travel umbrella, and snacks plus Emergen-C. I will definitely be using a water bottle in the middle front pocket. The main back compartment holds way more than I would have envisioned, and I am in love with the two built in pockets on the inner wall. In one pocket I fit my iPad mini with STM hardcase AND my Kindle paperwhite in a Timbuk2 case, and in the other pocket I fit a 6" X 9" spiral notebook. In the main area I fit my Bose headphones, a file folder, travel tray, and another small organizer bag. Wow! I am really amazed with all this can hold.
I cannot wait to try this combination out and see how things go. While I have packed the SA like a chunky monkey for this trip, if I had a trip where I was taking slightly less, I think I might be able to fit one of my bigger organizers in the Pilot and store the Pilot in the SA to streamline things for sightseeing and other travel. Definitely something to consider.
I thought I would list some of the things I fit in the Pilot, since I really had trouble visualizing exactly what would fit where until I had the opportunity to see how the things I generally carry work. While I love my Smart Alec in dyneema, I really appreciate the more structured feel of the ballistic nylon for the Pilot, particularly if I am going to have folders in the back section. When I tried on the dyneema Pilot, the bag tended to fold a bit in the back as it wrapped around my body (I like to wear it cross body) with the less rigid dyneema. Since this is going to serve cross duty as a business, travel, and general purpose bag, the added structure made better sense for me, though I still love the black dyneema so, so much visually.