I currently own a first generation Patagonia MLC travel bag. This bag is the perfect bag for me, but has long since been discontinued in favor of second and third generation models which make some unfavorable design choices such a using a less durable material (I hear) and a slightly smaller capacity. I'm also concerned that Patagonia is changing their business model, much like Eagle Creek, and is focusing more on releasing new models every year or so rather than maintaining and improving their current line in the long term. That said, I'm beginning to look for a bag that can replace the first generation Patagonia MLC in form and function.
My Bag Requirements:
- Approximately 22x14x9, give or take a few inches
- No larger than maximum legal carry-on size (45 linear inches)
- Between 40-45 liters (40 liters is ideal)
- Large main compartment capable of folding out completely flat for bundle method packing
- No dedicated laptop compartment
- Backpack mode must be comfortable for long sessions (approx. 2 hrs)
Aftering doing much research online, below are the bags that come closest to fitting my requirements:
Patagonia MLC - First generation bag is great but later generations decline in quality
Tom Bihn Aeronaut - Not conducive to bundle packing but great bag otherwise
Tom Bihn Western Flyer - Too small (26 liters)
Tom Bihn Tri-Star - Slightly too small (33 liters) and wasted space dedicated to laptop
Tom Bihn Brain Bag - Not conducive to bundle packing and wasted space dedicated to laptop carry
Red Oxx Sky Train - Durable but unnecesarily heavy and backpack straps leave comfort to be desired
Red Oxx Air Boss - Durable but unnecesarily heavy and backpack straps leave comfort to be desired
MEI Voyageur - Very basic and rugged looking, lacks auxiliary compartments for convenience
Of all the travel gear companies I've researched, I've been most impressed with Tom Bihn. They appear to have great customer service, a strong customer focus, and they love what they do. I'm not a Tom Bihn customer yet but I'd love give them my business. Of the bags listed above, none of them are a perfect fit (call me picky if you want). From what I've seen the Aeronaut is a great bag with great reviews, but I'm just not comfortable changing my packing style to accomidate the bag. I've included some suggestions (including some rough sketches) for a new bag that would fit my needs:
Suggestion 1 - Western Flyer expanded to accomidate 40+ liters, roughly the size of the Aeronaut.
Suggestion 2 - Tri-Star with laptop compartment removed and adjusted to accomidate 40+ liters.
Suggestion 3 - Brain Bag with laptop compartment removed and main compartment modified to allow it to fold out completely flat for bundle packing.
Suggestion 4a/4b - New bag designs with form factor similar to Aeronaut but with completely redesigned compartment layout. (see my very amateurish sketches below)
I'd love to see a bag made by Tom Bihn that could fit these requirements. Does anyone else concur? Is there anything you would add or change about the design? I'd love to see a Tom Bihn bag that fit these requirements. I'd be first in line to buy one.