I have been using the Western Flyer for the last 2 weeks now and thought I would write this review for those considering purchasing this bag.
Forgive the length of the post; I am of the opinion that a bag of this quality and design deserves a thoughtful and thorough contribution.
Historically I have never been quite able to get the right mix of professional appearance, practicality, comfort and organization for my three day business trips.
I have always had to compromise on one or the other and as a result have had to carry multiple bags.
There were no UK options I could find and so after researching the web, the only bag that really addresses all of the above is the Western Flyer. The Air Boss was just too big for 3 days away, my MEI Voyageur (whilst a fabulous bag) was again too big and lacked the professional appearance.
The Western Flyer coupled with a horizontal Freudian Slip (amongst other Tom Bihn accessories) provides a wonderful solution and I am enamoured with my purchases.
I purchased the bag in black and at a glance it looks like any other business bag / rucksack, which was my intent. Full or near empty it looks great and does not sag. It looks smarter than a rucksack and when the messenger strap is tucked away looks just as professional as a briefcase.
Any dust or marks easily rub off.
On The Road
I travel for three days a week, staying over in hotels for two nights. I walk for a mile to the train station using the messenger sling or Absolute Shoulder Strap and with 10kg it is quite comfortable for me (although you do notice the weight more with the messenger strap). The only (very minor) niggle I have with the bag to date concerns the messenger strap. Although this might solely be due to the fact that I have never had a messenger style bag before and hence do not know how to correctly place the strap (I will leave it for you to educate me in this regard). However, invariably the bottom right hand corner of the bag ends up in the small of my back and can be annoying (see photo below for illustration). I was in too minds as whether to include this “niggle” or not but an honest review requires completeness.
I pack as follows. In the front compartment, I put my clothes and toiletries for a three day business trip.
I bundle wrap 2 shirts, a tie, a t-shirt and one pair of shorts around a core. The core is comprised of the Convertible Packing Cube/Shoulder Bag (containing my small toiletries bag, a scarf, gloves, and hat) together with a pair of lightweight training shoes, 2 pairs of underpants and 2 pairs of socks. I am quite well built (6’6” and weigh 117kg), yet my size 11 (UK) trainers fit perfectly and my extra large clothes emerge with minimal creasing.
In the back compartment (the one without the zipped divider), I put my laptop (Dell D620), power cable, small umbrella and my horizontal Freudian Slip. The Freudian Slip contains my A4 sized hardback notebook, work notes (often 0.5” thick), magazines, pens, flip chart markers, blue tack, paperclips, post-it notes, the list goes on. I basically need, and the Freudian Slip provides, an organized mobile office.
In the upper zipped pocket (the larger of the two) on the outside of the bag I put my 5 metre LAN cable, iPhone docking cradle, and my portable external hard drive.
In the lower one goes a pack of tissues, spare mobile phone, ID pass and any receipts I accumulate as the week progresses.
In the open “scallop” shaped pocket I have a 1 litre Platypus water pouch. When the bag is full I will only half fill this to minimize bulging. If you fold the bottom part over it will not slip out as it sort of “locks” itself in there.
I have also purchased some Strapeez to further reduce packing volume by tightly binding accessories such as my iPhone cradle, computer charger and my LAN cable.
In The Office
I can attend meetings with a fully packed Western Flyer and does not look out of place. Even when I have removed my clothes the Western Flyer still retains it’s shape.
The horizontal Freudian Slip and Mini Clear Organizer Pouch keep me organized, enabling me to immediately locate files, notes, memory sticks, pencils etc. and not have to endlessly root around.
My purchases were shipped without delay and I received them in the UK within 6 days (including the weekends).
All in all, I can not recommend it highly enough.
PS. I have not got a clue as to how to embed photos in the text above so I have included them as attachments.