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Thread: Synapse 25 - Not the bag for me

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    Registered User RobNC's Avatar
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    Synapse 25 - Not the bag for me

    It's been a day of highs and lows.

    My Monday started out great, with the notification that my Synapse 25 would arrive a day early. Then the fun of receiving the package, getting all of my packing system laid out, and planning for my upcoming trip on Thursday.

    Then, the joy of loading such a great bag! When would it reach capacity? I stuffed a Thinkpad T420 and a MBA 11", along with my minimalist clothing and accessory setup into the bag, and didn't even use the side pockets. Plenty of room to go!

    Then the lows. I actually tried on the loaded bag.

    Just a bit of background: I've been a wilderness backpacker for over 20 years, and apply many of the same principles (and equipment!) to my business travel. I am quite experienced in loading and fitting bags, and this one just does not fit me.

    I am 6'1", ~205lbs, and have a long torso (30" inseam...woohoo, hobbit legs!). I find the Synapse to be woefully short for me, and the straps are set far too narrowly to be comfortable at any degree of load in the bag. In order to use the waist belt, I had to extend the straps quite far, and the bag was sitting way too low. Waist belt usage was never really part of my plan for this bag, but it makes an excellent way of measuring where the bag would need to be positioned to make use of it.

    I (not surprisingly) have plenty of other bags/backpacks to try out around the household. Sadly, my S25 was the worst fit of the lot for me.

    There was no convincing myself, or thinking "it would break in". It was really clear, despite my love for the bag itself and the wonderful design and craftsmanship that went into it, it was not meant to be.

    I'll get it packed up and sent back. I think Badger sold me an A30 with the great write-up today, so I know what I'll be putting on backorder.
    Last edited by RobNC; 07-14-2014 at 05:21 PM. Reason: grammar
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    My story is exactly yours. Received mine last Thursday, and I'm returning it this week, for all the same reasons.

    I have an S19, and I would suggest trying it, if that's something that might fit your needs. I really love it, but I think it's great exactly because it's smaller and forces you to carry less than the 25. It's my weekend bag (a diaper bag these days), and will make a perfect travel bag for an upcoming vacation in the Caribbean. The organization is really fantastic, I'm completely addicted to the o rings and key traps!!!

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    PS: I'm curious, how much does your pack weigh loaded? Mine is about 14+ lbs, before my lunch and 1l of water.

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    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Bummer! I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. Thanks for posting a description of your body type and your packing list. I'm sure that will help others make informed decisions.

    FWIW, I'm 5'5", short of torso, round of shoulder, and laden with pudge. The S25 fits me like Tom measured me in my sleep and snuck back to Seattle to make a backpack designed just for me. I'm having trouble adjusting to my S19. I wore it for a while at home then took it on vacation, but I pined for my S25. When I got back home I put all my stuff back in the S25. When I slipped my arms through the straps, I actually said, "Aaaaaaah!"

    There's no One Bag To Rule Them All, but rather a whole range of Awesome Bags To Rock Your World - and you can find them on the product pages. ;-) Are you going to exchange your S25 for something else? Maybe a Smart Alec?
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    Registered User RobNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl0 View Post
    PS: I'm curious, how much does your pack weigh loaded? Mine is about 14+ lbs, before my lunch and 1l of water.
    Thanks for the response carl0. I figured I wouldn't be the only one. I did plenty of research on this very topic before my purchase, but I think I only found one review that ran into issues like ours.

    I have 14-16 lbs of gear in the loadout I have been testing with. I'm not sure if it would be comfortable on me, even lightly loaded. Sadly, the S25 is a no-go.


    I had my wife try it as well (6' tall and longer legs than my little stumps), and it was not comfortable to her either. The straps would have been a serious issue, despite fitting her torso length better.

    After I packed the Synapse back up in it's comfy box, I started taking a look at the other bags with backpack straps. I've been looking at an A30, but now I really am starting to question on whether the strap system Tom uses fit me very well. The strap placement looked very narrow.

    Just for full disclosure, I tested the same load, with the same packing cubes, etc in:
    my wife's Goruck GR1
    my Patagonia MLC
    my son's Everki Flight


    Can anyone else comment on the strap systems on the Aeronauts vs. the Synapse bags?

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    Registered User RobNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Bummer! I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. Thanks for posting a description of your body type and your packing list. I'm sure that will help others make informed decisions.

    FWIW, I'm 5'5", short of torso, round of shoulder, and laden with pudge. The S25 fits me like Tom measured me in my sleep and snuck back to Seattle to make a backpack designed just for me. I'm having trouble adjusting to my S19. I wore it for a while at home then took it on vacation, but I pined for my S25. When I got back home I put all my stuff back in the S25. When I slipped my arms through the straps, I actually said, "Aaaaaaah!"

    There's no One Bag To Rule Them All, but rather a whole range of Awesome Bags To Rock Your World - and you can find them on the product pages. ;-) Are you going to exchange your S25 for something else? Maybe a Smart Alec?
    I really am sad to see the Synapse go...It's such an incredible piece of gear I went through the Smart Alec/Brain Bag/Synapse analysis paralysis the first go-'round. I will have to take another look at the selection.

    Right now, my bag-lust is fixated on an A30, but I need some long-torso'ed Bhinions to chime in before I decide.

    I'm not giving up, just regrouping! Plus, as my son reminded me just a few minutes ago; "It's ok, dad. Now you get to go back to bag analysis."

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    Registered User blackbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobNC View Post
    I really am sad to see the Synapse go...It's such an incredible piece of gear I went through the Smart Alec/Brain Bag/Synapse analysis paralysis the first go-'round. I will have to take another look at the selection.

    Right now, my bag-lust is fixated on an A30, but I need some long-torso'ed Bhinions to chime in before I decide.

    I'm not giving up, just regrouping! Plus, as my son reminded me just a few minutes ago; "It's ok, dad. Now you get to go back to bag analysis."
    Have you thought about The Guide's Pack?

    Of all the backpacks, it seems to be the longest. It's not much longer than the S25, but perhaps even that much can make it a better fit for you. Also, it might seem even longer once the bag is stuffed, along with the top flap pocket, too.

    I don't know if this pack style is what you're looking for, or if you'd prefer something with a more "business-friendly" look to it, but it could be a good solution. Anyway, here are the bag dimensions of the main TB backpacks lined up, for comparison's sake:

    Aeronaut 45 Dimensions: 22" x 14" x 9" / 555 x 355 x 230 mm
    Guide's Pack Dimensions: 21.5" x 12.5" x 9.5" / 550 x 320 x 240 mm
    Synapse 25 Dimensions: 20" x 13.4" x 9" / 508 x 340 x 230 mm
    Aeronaut 30 Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.6 x 7.9" / 500 x 320 x 201mm
    Tri Star Dimensions: 19" x 13" x 8" / 480 x 330 x 205 mm
    Smart Alec Dimensions: 18.5" x 11.75" x 7.75" / 470 x 300 x 200 mm
    Brain Bag Dimensions: 18" x 14" x 9" / 460 x 355 x 230 mm
    Western Flyer Dimensions: 18" x 12" x 7" / 455 x 305 x 180 mm
    Last edited by blackbird; 07-14-2014 at 07:00 PM.
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    TB Gear: Synapse 25: Black Dyneema/Wasabi, Side Effect: Black/UV, 3D Clear Organizer Cube: Conifer, Double Organizer Pouches (S+M): Black

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    Registered User RobNC's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions, blackbird. I like the guide's pack, but I need something a little more business-oriented.

    I sadly sent the Synapse back today, and am continuing to shop. I'm leaning towards an Aeronaut, but I'd like some feedback on how they handle in backpack mode. I'm not expecting the same performance/handling as a dedicated backpack, but the feel/sizing is still important.

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    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobNC View Post
    I sadly sent the Synapse back today, and am continuing to shop. I'm leaning towards an Aeronaut, but I'd like some feedback on how they handle in backpack mode. I'm not expecting the same performance/handling as a dedicated backpack, but the feel/sizing is still important.
    Are you looking at the Aeronaut as a direct functional replacement to the Synapse (as an EDC?), or are you going to use it for a different purpose (i.e. travel bag)?

    I'm 5'10", just under 200 lbs, 30-31" inseam, standard to athletic(ish) build, and wear a 40R jacket off the rack if that helps you picture my general build in comparison to yours. I don't have a TB backpack other than a PCBP, so I can't comment on any differences there may be in backpack straps between the travel bags and the true backpacks. In my experience though, the A45 straps have felt fine in my travels. The last time I weighed my A45 packed up for a trip it was about 20-22 lbs. I can carry it on my back and walk several kms pretty easily (though my back will get pretty f'n hot; how I miss ventilated back panels, despite the wasted weight), but it is quite a relief when I can take the bag off. I don't find that they pinch my neck/shoulders at the top like I have found in some other bags (most notably the Timbuk2 Wingman I had before coming my senses and upgrading to the Aeronaut). They get the job done, but I would not mistake them for a more fully padded backpack shoulder strap as I would think to find on a dedicated backpack. Thankfully, since it is a convertible bag, at least I have the option of switching it to a shoulder bag very easily (and with the Absolute Strap, sometimes this is more comfortable, even for walking moderately long distances).

    From a practicality standpoint, I don't find the Aeronaut to be all that practical for carrying a laptop. Since that is typically the single heaviest item you have, it should be the closest to your spine if you plan on wearing it as a backpack. You can lash it down with the compression straps, but then it makes the laptop completely inaccessible under anything else you are carrying, which is particularly challenging if you are going through an airport and need to take it out. Depending on your laptop, I suppose you could try sliding it into the backpack strap pocket while you have the straps deployed, but I would only do that if you had some other kind of protection on your laptop (sleeve or something).
    RobNC likes this.
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    Rob

    Have yo looked at the Tri Star?
    It is much more of a business oriented bag I think than an Aeronaut,at least it resembles a briefcase much more and has some similar organization features as well.

    I have carried mine many trips with multiple computers and using the B.P. straps and it is pretty nice for me.
    We have similar torso length pretty much while I have longer legs and the T.S. is a great multi-use bag. I can load it for a week easily along with an 11" MBA and small Windows machine and be pretty happy usually too.
    I really only wear casual attire,jeans and Polo style shirts but they are fairly large too.
    I can even get a pair of size 13 shoes,Keens usually in the front divided section and I am amazed every time that it will zip closed with them!

    Last Sunday I had to run for 50 gates in Detroit to make a tight connection and the T.S. was ideal for that using the straps.Of course the flight had been delayed but the monitor did not reflect it so I just got a little unplanned workout instead.

    I have been about to order an S25 for the last year or so as I love the S19 but it is a little silly on me too.

    This morning I picked up a Rush 24 to try out and I carried a Vertx Gamut last week on the road and we did not get along well at all!
    I thought I would love it but......

    I don't have the time to get the S25 before leaving town again and I have high hopes for the R24,we will see.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobNC View Post
    It's been a day of highs and lows.

    My Monday started out great, with the notification that my Synapse 25 would arrive a day early. Then the fun of receiving the package, getting all of my packing system laid out, and planning for my upcoming trip on Thursday.

    Then, the joy of loading such a great bag! When would it reach capacity? I stuffed a Thinkpad T420 and a MBA 11", along with my minimalist clothing and accessory setup into the bag, and didn't even use the side pockets. Plenty of room to go!

    Then the lows. I actually tried on the loaded bag.

    Just a bit of background: I've been a wilderness backpacker for over 20 years, and apply many of the same principles (and equipment!) to my business travel. I am quite experienced in loading and fitting bags, and this one just does not fit me.

    I am 6'1", ~205lbs, and have a long torso (30" inseam...woohoo, hobbit legs!). I find the Synapse to be woefully short for me, and the straps are set far too narrowly to be comfortable at any degree of load in the bag. In order to use the waist belt, I had to extend the straps quite far, and the bag was sitting way too low. Waist belt usage was never really part of my plan for this bag, but it makes an excellent way of measuring where the bag would need to be positioned to make use of it.

    I (not surprisingly) have plenty of other bags/backpacks to try out around the household. Sadly, my S25 was the worst fit of the lot for me.

    There was no convincing myself, or thinking "it would break in". It was really clear, despite my love for the bag itself and the wonderful design and craftsmanship that went into it, it was not meant to be.

    I'll get it packed up and sent back. I think Badger sold me an A30 with the great write-up today, so I know what I'll be putting on backorder.
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    Registered User RobNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Are you looking at the Aeronaut as a direct functional replacement to the Synapse (as an EDC?), or are you going to use it for a different purpose (i.e. travel bag)?

    I'm 5'10", just under 200 lbs, 30-31" inseam, standard to athletic(ish) build, and wear a 40R jacket off the rack if that helps you picture my general build in comparison to yours. I don't have a TB backpack other than a PCBP, so I can't comment on any differences there may be in backpack straps between the travel bags and the true backpacks. In my experience though, the A45 straps have felt fine in my travels. The last time I weighed my A45 packed up for a trip it was about 20-22 lbs. I can carry it on my back and walk several kms pretty easily (though my back will get pretty f'n hot; how I miss ventilated back panels, despite the wasted weight), but it is quite a relief when I can take the bag off. I don't find that they pinch my neck/shoulders at the top like I have found in some other bags (most notably the Timbuk2 Wingman I had before coming my senses and upgrading to the Aeronaut). They get the job done, but I would not mistake them for a more fully padded backpack shoulder strap as I would think to find on a dedicated backpack. Thankfully, since it is a convertible bag, at least I have the option of switching it to a shoulder bag very easily (and with the Absolute Strap, sometimes this is more comfortable, even for walking moderately long distances).

    From a practicality standpoint, I don't find the Aeronaut to be all that practical for carrying a laptop. Since that is typically the single heaviest item you have, it should be the closest to your spine if you plan on wearing it as a backpack. You can lash it down with the compression straps, but then it makes the laptop completely inaccessible under anything else you are carrying, which is particularly challenging if you are going through an airport and need to take it out. Depending on your laptop, I suppose you could try sliding it into the backpack strap pocket while you have the straps deployed, but I would only do that if you had some other kind of protection on your laptop (sleeve or something).
    itsablur, thanks so much for the size/build info along with the direct experience with the Aeronaut. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Our builds are similar enough that I would feel comfortable picking up an A30 or A45.

    I will mainly be using the bag for travel situations, as I work from a home office and don't need much in the way of an EDC setup. A traditional backpack filled the "hole" in my bag spectrum, so I was focusing on that at first. As you mentioned, they are also a good way to handle the laptop situation that's part of business travel. Although it's not ideally suited for quick access to the laptop, I think I can make an Aeronaut work. There's also the Tristar, but I like the flexibility in packing strategies that the Aeronaut supports.

    The search continues! Unfortunately, I don't get to try out and refine a new bag setup on the trip I'm taking this week...but I can continue to shop and completely over-analyze the situation! hah

    Thanks again for your great comparison.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    Rob

    Have yo looked at the Tri Star?
    It is much more of a business oriented bag I think than an Aeronaut,at least it resembles a briefcase much more and has some similar organization features as well.

    I have carried mine many trips with multiple computers and using the B.P. straps and it is pretty nice for me.
    We have similar torso length pretty much while I have longer legs and the T.S. is a great multi-use bag. I can load it for a week easily along with an 11" MBA and small Windows machine and be pretty happy usually too.
    I really only wear casual attire,jeans and Polo style shirts but they are fairly large too.
    I can even get a pair of size 13 shoes,Keens usually in the front divided section and I am amazed every time that it will zip closed with them!

    Last Sunday I had to run for 50 gates in Detroit to make a tight connection and the T.S. was ideal for that using the straps.Of course the flight had been delayed but the monitor did not reflect it so I just got a little unplanned workout instead.

    I have been about to order an S25 for the last year or so as I love the S19 but it is a little silly on me too.

    This morning I picked up a Rush 24 to try out and I carried a Vertx Gamut last week on the road and we did not get along well at all!
    I thought I would love it but......

    I don't have the time to get the S25 before leaving town again and I have high hopes for the R24,we will see.
    AVService,

    Thanks for a great write-up and suggestion. I have looked at the Tri-star as well as its little sibling, the Western Flyer. I was leaning a bit more towards the Aeronaut, since its more unstructured, but I could be circling back now to the Tri.

    It sounds like we have a very similar load for business travel, so the ability to carry a large work laptop as well as my MBA comfortably is definitely one of my requirements. I know I could just carry a smaller dedicated backpack for those, but I like the challenge of single-bag travel.

    Ok, we have one vote in for the Aeronaut and one for the Tri-Star.. Time to go into over-analysis mode!

    I really appreciate all of the input and support from everyone. This is a great community.

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    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobNC View Post
    itsablur, thanks so much for the size/build info along with the direct experience with the Aeronaut. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Our builds are similar enough that I would feel comfortable picking up an A30 or A45.

    I will mainly be using the bag for travel situations, as I work from a home office and don't need much in the way of an EDC setup. A traditional backpack filled the "hole" in my bag spectrum, so I was focusing on that at first. As you mentioned, they are also a good way to handle the laptop situation that's part of business travel. Although it's not ideally suited for quick access to the laptop, I think I can make an Aeronaut work. There's also the Tristar, but I like the flexibility in packing strategies that the Aeronaut supports.

    The search continues! Unfortunately, I don't get to try out and refine a new bag setup on the trip I'm taking this week...but I can continue to shop and completely over-analyze the situation! hah
    No problem! It's interesting how many of the really dedicated forum Bihnions are women (petit ones at that!), so it is sometimes hard to gather what will fit someone several inches taller, and considerably heavier. My clothes certainly take up more room than my wife's clothes when we're all packed up and ready to get on a plane.

    To be honest, I have used my Aeronaut for one bag business travel and shoved my work laptop in there. Since I knew I needed it, and I knew I wasn't really walking all that far, I just put it in a sleeve and left it at the top of the bag. Wasn't hard to extricate when I needed to take it out for the security check since you have to do the whole rigmarole anyway; 3-1-1 out, shoes off, belt off, jacket/sweater off, bend over, turn head, cough, etc. My smaller device can slip into one of the end pockets along the internal wall. Going into the office, I just bring the laptop in the sleeve. Not the most ideal, but it works depending on need. Can't wait to get a new work laptop though; I'd love to just fit my work laptop in my Co-Pilot or a Pilot really.

    I have played with a Tri-Star (cousin's) and it is a very nice bag. I can see how it can be a little more business oriented since you really could just pull your clothes out and take it right into the office. A little big (surely the WF is more "briefcase sized"), but it at least looks and opens the way most people would expect. I know it is not physically the case, but it just felt like it would pack thicker than my A45. Perhaps it was the proportionality of it. <shrug>

    In any event, it alleviated my concerns over whether or not I had the right bag for me. I find the A45 more flexible since it is less structured (and lighter, and cheaper); it makes it more versatile for me to use it in both business and leisure travel. Plus I can do stupid things with it, like put in my hiking camera backpack into the A45 and try to pack around it... Not for the faint of heart...

    I work in Charlotte with reasonable frequency (week a month, but usually a little less so in the summer). If you live around there and are still deliberating the next time I'm in town, you are more than welcome to examine my A45.
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    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

    Want: EVERYTHING.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RhoFro View Post
    If you're looking for a load-balancing travel bag that can accomodate electronics, personally I would opt for the Tri-star. I've used it in every configuration possible (backpack, absolute strap, overseas travel and conventions). It's the only bag in the herd that has always 100% accomodated what I asked of it without needing 'a little more' of something.

    Having said that, my Brain Bag hasn't been put through the paces. But I have a GoRuck Bullet, GoRuck Civvy, Eberlestock HiSpeed, Synapse 19, Synapse 25, Tri-Star, Co-Pilot, Cafe Bags, and an Aeronaut (which I've never used because other bags simply served at the time of packing; or I'm not favoring a duffel bag over more structure).

    I don't know if you'll find the strap width more comfortable because personal fit is personal fit. I do train with a weighted Bullet and if I equate that ride to a Hummer, the Tri-Star would be a Range Rover. More comfortable but balanced, high riding and stable utility. JMO.
    Another helpful response! Most appreciated.

    I spent some time today going over the Tri-Star and the A45 in direct comparison, and I think I've come to the conclusion that I really prefer a more unstructured bag. Maybe it's because I'm a packing cube/organizer addict.

    You make a good point about the suitability of the Tri-Star in handling electronics (multiple laptops), which is a situation I encounter frequently. I'm not sure I want to sacrifice the duffel-like flexibility of the Aeronaut for that though. I might be more inclined to use a sleeve and try out a few configurations.

    Again, thanks for the great feedback!

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    Registered User RobNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    No problem! It's interesting how many of the really dedicated forum Bihnions are women (petit ones at that!), so it is sometimes hard to gather what will fit someone several inches taller, and considerably heavier. My clothes certainly take up more room than my wife's clothes when we're all packed up and ready to get on a plane.

    To be honest, I have used my Aeronaut for one bag business travel and shoved my work laptop in there. Since I knew I needed it, and I knew I wasn't really walking all that far, I just put it in a sleeve and left it at the top of the bag. Wasn't hard to extricate when I needed to take it out for the security check since you have to do the whole rigmarole anyway; 3-1-1 out, shoes off, belt off, jacket/sweater off, bend over, turn head, cough, etc. My smaller device can slip into one of the end pockets along the internal wall. Going into the office, I just bring the laptop in the sleeve. Not the most ideal, but it works depending on need. Can't wait to get a new work laptop though; I'd love to just fit my work laptop in my Co-Pilot or a Pilot really.

    I have played with a Tri-Star (cousin's) and it is a very nice bag. I can see how it can be a little more business oriented since you really could just pull your clothes out and take it right into the office. A little big (surely the WF is more "briefcase sized"), but it at least looks and opens the way most people would expect. I know it is not physically the case, but it just felt like it would pack thicker than my A45. Perhaps it was the proportionality of it. <shrug>

    In any event, it alleviated my concerns over whether or not I had the right bag for me. I find the A45 more flexible since it is less structured (and lighter, and cheaper); it makes it more versatile for me to use it in both business and leisure travel. Plus I can do stupid things with it, like put in my hiking camera backpack into the A45 and try to pack around it... Not for the faint of heart...

    I work in Charlotte with reasonable frequency (week a month, but usually a little less so in the summer). If you live around there and are still deliberating the next time I'm in town, you are more than welcome to examine my A45.
    I'll be flying out of Charlotte on Thursday, actually!

    I think we have the same approach to packing, and I see the unstructured nature of the A45 to be part of the challenge/fun. I appreciate flexibility in a bag. Especially one that I'm planning to one-bag-travel with. Your story about packing another backpack inside your main pack and then packing around it is exactly the kind of flexibility I'm looking for.

    I've got a Navy/Solar A45 and a slew of accessories sitting in a cart right now...finger hovering over the trigger. The only issue is the backorder wait.

    I think you and RhoFro both have co-pilots. I was thinking this might be a nice "shuttle craft" bag that I could dock inside the A45 (when lightly loaded), and pull it out for EDC while travelling around at my destination. Looks like it might barely fit a MBA 11". Any clue if it will?

    Again, thanks to everyone that have joined in this discussion. It's really helped alleviate the trauma of shipping back my S25!
    itsablur and carl0 like this.

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