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Thread: A30 first use report: 2 weeks in Europe

  1. #1
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    A30 first use report: 2 weeks in Europe

    Hi all,

    In recent months I've mentioned a few times that I was going to attempt to use my A30 as my main bag for a two week trip to Europe in September. While I am a light packer, I didn't know if I could truly pack ultralight in only 30 litres. I'm happy to report that I recently returned from my trip (Istanbul weekend followed by 12 days throughout Italy) where I successfully used my A30 for my main bag with only a purse as my other carry. Ah, sweet success! The Italy portion was a tour--moving every two days--so flexibility was key. And can I just say that it was a stark contrast when I put my A30 next to some of the behemoth bags that some people took with them on that tour.

    Based on my experience, I want to share my thoughts about the A30 as well as on some of the A30/other Tom Bihn accessories that I used during the trip. My airline (Turkish Airlines) had an 8kg carry-on limit and I weighed in at 6.8kg leaving the U.S. I will try to post a few pics, too.

    Here's my overview (I can write more later about my exact clothing and other packing items if people ask for it):
    • Build quality: I stuffed the A30 full and was quite rough with it at times to get things to fit the way I needed them to throughout the trip. Not surprisingly, the A30 was flawless in this regard--tough as nails.
    • Versatility: I used the center compartment unzipped to allow more maneuverability, which really increased its functionality. It's a really nice feature. I put two packing cubes (more on them below), my toiletries kit, an umbrella, my Travel Tray, and odds & ends in the center compartment. Modes:I used the A30 mainly in backpack mode, as during our tour we took trains, buses, etc. and walked up and down lots of stairs. I was quite surprised that 95% of the people on the tour took wheeled bags! I received so many compliments and kudos from people not only for the backpack capability of the A30 but also its size. I also used the Absolute Strap a few times and it was super comfy and did its job. That said, I just don't like carrying bags on my shoulder, no matter how light, so if I'm going more than a short distance, I'll definitely use the backpack straps.
    • Accessories: While I purchased both the TB Travel Laundry Stuff Sack and the A30 End Pocket with my A30, I ended up only taking the End Pocket, which I used to carry my quick-access clothing items (sleep shirt, pair of socks, scarf, travel washcloth, light jacket). What I really, really loved and are my new favorites are the two Packing Cube Shoulder Bags I bought on a midnight whim a few days before my trip. Boy, I LOVE these! They hold a ton (in one I had 7 shirts in the main section and 5 pairs of undies in the zipped pocket; in the other I had two travel pants, a skirt, a maxi dress, 2 scarves, and a travel jacket). They were like bricks they were stuffed so full but hey, it all fit in each cube and fit nicely in the A30 (see the pics). I didn't end up using either as a shoulder bag this trip but I can imagine possibly doing that in the future. All in all, I have high praise for these 3 packing cubes. FYI, at first I rolled all my clothes and tried packing that way (with then without the packing cubes) but didn't like the result. I ended up putting using the packing cubes with folded items as that was the most efficient for the A30.
    • Other bits: I put 5 empty ziploc bags (2 Ziploc 2-gallon size, 2 Ziploc freezer quart size, 1 cell phone size Loksak) in the backpack compartment (under the straps when they were stored). I put two pairs of shoes in the second A30 pocket in my own shoe bags; 1 pair of Teva sandals and one pair of Merrell ballet flats (which I left in Italy; the pair of Keen light hikers that you see in the photo were what I wore on travel days and on the plane). Also packed in the A30: a medium size umbrella (broke during a turbulent rainstorm in Pisa so it also was left behind in Italy), my wasabi Travel Tray, and some miscellaneous items (Istanbul city guide in end zipper section), a foot massage ball (luxury item; I won't take it again as I didn't use it enough).
    • Clothing choices: It was much warmer in Italy than the weather suggested so I had one long sleeved Icebreaker tee that I never wore, as well as a light travel jacket that wasn't needed. Other than that I had two main travel pants, a dressier skirt for evening (we went to the ballet one night, for example), plus approximately 5 shirts, 2 travel weight cardigans, 5 undies, 3 socks, 1 sleep shirt, one yoga capri, and 2 scarves (plus I bought two shirts while there and was able to pack them in the A30). FYI, if you plan to buy things while away, I suggest you take a packable duffel or similar if the A30 is your main bag. I took a packable REI duffel with me that was about 1/2 full on the return trip.


    Final vote: Buy an A30!! It is more than enough for a two week (or potentially longer) trip. I think I'll use it mainly for 1 week or less trips from now on but it's proven itself to be a Tardis bag. It's well worth the money and the color is lovely (I suggest the Steel/Wasabi...my color combo It got lots of compliments). I own both a Tristar and the A30 and I may be selling my Tristar (why keep it if I won't use it?!) so keep your eyes peeled if you are in the market for a Black/Solar (yes, solar!) Tristar.

    Thanks for listening!!

    Holly

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  2. #2
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    Great write-up, inspiring pictures.

    No electronic gadgets? That's freedom!

    "I think I'll use it mainly for 1 week or less trips from now on": What will you use for longer trips (unless you'll just take short trips)?

  3. #3
    Registered User PaulT00's Avatar
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    Congratulations on an ultralight trip - nice write-up! I'm with @Holly on the comments and kudos front. My A30's maiden voyage was only 3 days / 2 nights, but a number of people were amazed that it was all the luggage I had with me. I don't know that I would be able to manage 2 weeks out of it - but with technical fabrics, merino and some laundry along the way who knows? Especially if I didn't have to carry a laptop/ipad/etc... When I checked into my hotel the desk staff asked it I needed help with my luggage and gawped at me when I showed them my single (aubergine) bag. They were pretty amazed that a big guy like me had such a compact bag for a 3 day trip - we had a little chat about how some people would have several gargantuan wheeled bags for the same few days... but I'm not one of them! I also went a bit marsupial, taking a packing cube backpack which I used as a daypack on the 'middle' day of my trip leaving the A30 at the Hotel - and some of my stuff was corralled in a Side Effect too. Neat compartmentalisation with cubes etc seems to be the key to light packing!
    A45 crim/stl TS navy/solr A30 aub/wsbi S19 nrdc/stl P nrdc/solr CP blk/stl; SE wsbi CQPC ibrn, solr Ri aub/stl 3DCC card TSS4 wsbi K card TT solr,nrdc,blk CC card/stl PCBP solr PP navy QK frst,cyte,aub + loadsa cubes!

  4. #4
    Registered User bchaplin's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for this post! These reports on using the A30's in real-life situations are so useful, as I am planning to take mine out for the first time in November. Loved the photos. And I always appreciate a Doctor Who reference!
    ----
    Please bring back the Portable Culture patch!

  5. #5
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    A30 first use report: 2 weeks in Europe

    I get to use my A30 again in November. It was supposed to just be a 5 night trip, but will now be a 9 night trip. I'll be staying with family and can do laundry so the packing will be close to the same except I will need a dressy outfit for a party.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Pokilani; 10-06-2014 at 05:45 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepie View Post
    Great write-up, inspiring pictures.

    No electronic gadgets? That's freedom!

    "I think I'll use it mainly for 1 week or less trips from now on": What will you use for longer trips (unless you'll just take short trips)?
    Hi IIIkepie,

    I did take my smartphone for tech (Samsung Galaxy Note 2) but nothing else. I downloaded lots of travel info (audio guides, offline maps, books, etc.) so it's all I needed. I also went Wifi only using a personal VPN for protection. All worked like a charm and I didn't miss not having anything else.

    As for what bag I will use for longer trips, unfortunately trips longer than a week aren't a routine thing for me although I'm trying to change that so the A30 will be all I need for the most part. For longer trips, I don't have a dedicated bag really; I have an old 24" Travelpro roller that I could use but it just seems huge to me and I can't imagine needing that much space ever! I also have a Eagle Creek Continental Journey from the early 90s that is still in excellent shape, should I need something larger. If you're wondering about the A45, while I love the design in the A30 size, the A45 size has never appealed to me. Perhaps I should give it a whirl but since my Eagle Creek CJ is approximately the same bag (no offense, TB!), I don't see the need to acquire one. I do still have my eyes on an S25 but that wouldn't be for 2 week or longer trips (at least not for me!).

    Other than the smartphone, I also took a large cross body bag (a Baggalini that I got at The Container Store) in which I kept my camera (Sony Alpha Nex 5R), my TB Side Effect, one TB medium and one TB small Double Organizer Pouches, and various odds and ends (minimal makeup, for example) that I won't go into more detail here.
    Last edited by Holly; 10-06-2014 at 05:27 PM.

  7. #7
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    I'm sure it will work like a charm, Pokilani!


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