While the smaller-sized of us await sized-for-us shoulder straps on the Aeronaut, I had a few thoughts which turned into questions:
1 - While on journey with my Red Oxx Air Boss, an MLC-sized carryon, I noticed that since the "give" of the bag was especially generous, I ended up stuffing much more into the bag than I should have. This easily distorted the bag's proportions and also made the new weight of the bag unwieldy for carry-on (or even carry-around) purposes.
Could I run into the same problems with the Aeronaut? Looking at the design of the Aeronaut, I don't think it takes well to overstuffing, but I can't be sure.
2 - Let's say I understuff. Will this also distort the shape of the bag, or does the Aeronaut have some sort of lightweight structural system that allows the bag to maintain its shape if, say, I put shoes in the end pockets and leave the main compartment empty save for a couple of hardbacks (leaving room for everything I aquire on my journey)?
Thanks in advance for any assistance!
Aeronaut - answers while waiting for the smaller-size model
OK, I broke down and ordered a regular sized model of the Aeronaut, even though I am waiting for the smaller-sized model, too (grin). (I can just imagine that they sell out, and there is another 3-month wait to restock! I figure that I can always give this to my sister as a present).
I think the bag will not be prone to overstuffing. The curved line of the seam (on the back view) and the other lines mean that this isn't a typical block design -- when you fill the bag the lines of tension go in a direction to hold the shape fairly well. Similarly, the interior side panels and snaps (which you can't see, since there are no photos showing this in the reviews or on the site) tend to hold the inside shape. This design is less constricting, however.
The same non-standard design lines mean that the bag also holds its shape when empty (or underfilled) better than you might think. There's a slightly diagonal component to the forces pulling in from the corners, and the curved lines on the two sides (see especially views 3 and 6 of the back and 4 of the end panels in the detailed view options on the product page) hold this in shape, while also giving a better curved fit to your back (view 5). (I realize this isn't a very well-done description, but you probably are more interested in getting an immediate reply that can be refined.)
Having tried on the back-pack, I can believe that the smaller sized "harness" will be more comfortable for a smaller build, although this is not bad. It's mainly that the width between the shoulder straps can't really be adjusted to any large extent and match as well to body size. YMMV. (I'm 5'4", and the usual problem I've seen with backpack designs is that they seem to be designed for guys who are much bigger and with broad backs).
Last edited by moriond; 05-06-2006 at 08:52 PM.
Thanks! I had pretty much gathered the same while looking at the pictures (though not in as detailed an explanation as you gave me *G*) - and am now pretty convinced. But you mentioned you ordered one.. do you have it in hand and have actually tried over/under-stuffing and seen that the bag doesn't bulge horribly or collapse awkwardly inward?
Basically, I hear you on why it should hold its shape, I just wanted confirmation that it does .
I do have one of these bags in hand, but haven't had a chance to play with it extensively (overstuffing and understuffing it). But my impression is that it holds up pretty well in holding its shape against overstuffing, at least in the main compartment. I'm not so sure how the side compartments work if you try to put in boots or other bulky items, especially since I don't have such items readily on hand to try! (Did you notice that the early discussion in the Carry-On Traveller's Bag thread had lots of women putting in requests for people with smaller builds?)
There may be more possible distortion with underfilling the bag under the conditions you give (shoes in the side compartments and a mostly empty main compartment). In that case I can imagine the two sides tending to fold inwards. The cordura fabric has a certain resiliance, though.
It would be really interesting to hear opinions from someone who has tried the Red Oxx Air Boss and can make comparisons, though.
F1rstly!!!111one! I just noticed that you're in Honolulu - me too!!!!!
No, I didn't consciously notice that about the requests - but always fun to re-read old threads in this forum I think it's pretty common, though, for many women and others with smaller builds to request such, because we are tired of seeing cool stuff that doesn't "fit" us! (Don't get me started on how I had to pretend that a Small-sized set of body armor fit me fine, when in reality it fit me not at all and impeded me to a large degree.)
But I think it goes for the other end of the spectrum as well. People with larger builds might feel that even the Super Ego is purse-like, on them!
Actually, I read the Aeronaut page again and it's made of Ballistic, so many more points towards holding its shape (I think!). The Air Boss on the other hand, Cordura. Actually there is really no need to compare, since it is quite obvious why the Air Boss doesn't hold its shape (though, as a plus, it accomodates extras easier - as long as you don't mind checking it when it becomes too huge). I only mentioned it because the bag brought the bulge factor to my attention.
Aeronaut Usage Comments and Questions
Yes, I meant to say "ballistic nylon" instead of cordura -- a residual side effect of mentally composing a response for a Buzz post, too. Here's a thread containing Tom's discussion of ballistic nylon and another thread with comments on recent cordura fabric.
The use of ballistic nylon really does help to provide a light-weight solution to maintaining the structure of the Aeronaut while removing the need for a supporting frame. Pictures of the bag for the product description should also include a shot of the Aeronaut opened and empty. The squarish "U" of the zipper actually provides a kind of reinforcing structure, and the stiffness of the ballistic nylon on the side (what would be the "bottom" of the bag when held by the handles) combined with the curved rather than squarish seam join at its base, results in the main compartment staying open and maintaining its depth while you pack.
The bag also gets structural support on the sides by the seaming and zipper designs of the side pockets. The curved seam designs are an inspired feature; not only do they work structurally for the support of the bag, but I'm pretty sure that for the backpack use they help the contouring to fit more comfortably to the shape of the user's back. On the sides of the bag, you can see that the hand pulls echo the shape of the curved seam design. This makes for a comfortable grip as well as being an aesthetic feature. At the same time, having the ends of the pulls attach to curved side seams makes pulling the bag out from storage easier, while I'll bet that it also makes it less likely that the seams will pull apart there due to wear. Very, very nice.
The main trade-off for the Aeronaut design seems to be in easy access to large size reading materials, although the side-zipped pouch works very well for even standard sized books, and newspapers, magazines, and brochures also fit in easily. I think that as a result of prioritizing light weight and good structural design, the kinds of large outside pockets for papers, etc. that you find on other carryons bags aren't there. So the Aeronaut's side pockets handle this instead. If you're carrying another personal carryon for your laptop, you'd probably access large papers and files from that bag. I wonder if there's an easier way to access airline/railroad tickets, though, since the side pocket with the diagonal zipper is multi-purpose, and a bit too deep to handle this easily.
I think the main potential problem area for overstuffing may be this diagonally-zipped side pocket (as opposed to the deeper pocket behind it), since it's relatively shallow, and backed with 200 denier nylon lining. If you were to consistently overstuff it with bulky items, like too-large water bottles, there might be consequences for the back lining.
I had a final question for the Tom Bihn folks about the rubberized zippers. I like this feature a lot, but I notice that the texture is a kind of matte black instead of the shinier and thicker rubber on the zipper of my Buzz. I haven't had any problems with that design on my (early model) Buzz, but I saw this thread about some eventual wear on the rubberized edges of the zippers, and wondered whether this was a newer design in response to this.
Oh, and people who have started traveling with their Aeronauts, are you using the zippered pocket that holds the straps for other storage, and if so, what do you put there? I imagine it could be used to hold folders and large flat magazines, but might be less comfortable to carry in "backpack mode".
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