Bought a pair of Aeronauts and a variety of tickets to get us from San Diego, California to the Wickaninnish Inn just south of Tofino British Columbia to celebrate my lovely wife's 50th birthday.
Photo of two Aeronaut bags (note compass on steel colored bag) and two roll top day packs.
Trip was 8 days long and we packed enough clothes for 8 weeks. The packed Aeronauts weighed just under 18 pounds each and we could have easily packed more clothes. We traveled by plane, train, car, boat and by foot. The Aeronauts excelled at all modes of transportation by quickly converting from suitcase to backpack or shoulder bag with the Absolute strap. We each brought an additional small roll top daypack bag sewn by me.
Photo of the birthday girl wearing her Aeronaut in backpack mode in downtown Vancouver.
First night was spent in downtown Vancouver with beautiful warm sunny weather and we hiked the perimeter of the city including Stanley Park returning at about 11pm. Jumped into the rental car at 7am and took the ferry to Naniamo on Vancouver Island. After a spectacular drive across the island, we checked into the Wickaninnish Inn at 4pm. Birthday dinner reservations were at 6:30pm and we watched bald eagles catch fish while enjoying an exquisite 3 hour tasting dinner of regional foods paired with local and European wines. We spent 4 unforgettable nights at the Wickaninnish Inn. The hotel location, staff friendliness, rooms, regional decor and art collection make it one of the worlds greatest hotels and it's currently rated as Canada's best hotel.
Photo of the restaurant and the Wickaninnish Inn entry.
Started each day with a bike ride down the bike path to the surfing town of Tofino to get a fresh juice and healthy baked goodie from Jupiter. We then pedaled back and packed a picnic, hopped in the rental car and spent the rest of each day exploring and hiking the rain forests and beaches of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This has got to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Photo of the trail to Florencia Bay and beach, Pacific Rim National Park and Reserve, BC Canada
Returned to Granville Island in Vancouver city for 2 more nights with a bus trip and short hike to the newly renovated University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology being the highlight. This is one of the world's best museums with over 10,000 jaw dropping objects on display.
The Wickaninnish Inn and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve should be on everyones must-do-before-I-die list. If you think that the Wickaninnish Inn is expensive look at the math this way; It's about twice as expensive as a medium hotel in this part of the world but this hotel is easily 10 times better than anything you've ever stayed in - so it's a bargain. You can tell yourself you'll save money by eating in the bar.
Photo of bald eagle taken from our Wickaninnish Inn room balcony. The glass visible on the left side are the restaurant windows. On the right side is a pic of wolf tracks we found on a remote beach north of Schooner Cove. Those wolf tracks and our own footprints were the only mammal tracks on that entire beach.
If you are reading this because you are thinking about buying an Aeronaut bag - you should buy one. It's the world's greatest travel bag and a bargain when you consider design, craftsmanship, country of origin, materials and lifespan of the object. Traveling with the Aeronaut bag is very liberating for those accustomed to traveling with rolling luggage as it easily navigates through narrow airplane aisles and slips effortlessly into the smallest of commuter jet overhead bins. Backpack mode with the Aeronaut is super comfortable leaving your hands free to take pictures or hold onto hand railings on slippery boat docks or better yet - just hold hands with your partner.
I'm all unpacked but I'm leaving my Aeronaut sitting out in full view to savor this last trip and to start planning the next trip.
The photos of 'the birthday girl' are great as a few people have asked for photos showing the Aeronaut on people. If you don't mind me asking, how tall is your wife?
wow! That looks like the trip of a lifetime! Thanks for sharing the pictures.
I heart this on so many levels!
The Birthday Girl is 5'4" and wears a size small for most garments. The Aeronaut in backpack mode is a good fit for people with medium to shorter torsos. Super comfy even when fully loaded.
Originally Posted by notmensa
So beautiful! Thanks for posting those gorgeous photos!
Wow! I thought the Aeronaut would be way too big for someone your wife's size. It looks great on her. A B.C. vacation sounds/looks like one I would savor. I like your bags that you made; would love to see and hear more about them.
Great pictures...and haunting spaces. What are the roll top day bags?
Thanks for the photo compliments everyone. It's a beautiful place.
Originally Posted by Shiva
The roll top day bags are designed and sewn by me just for fun. I think of them as a "Packsket" as they are styled after the old split ash canoe pack baskets. I swapped out the split ash for Cordura and added a Nylon pack cloth roll top with a side release buckle closure. The roll top closure keeps things dry and dust free and also allow the pack capacity to expand if you find a new Italian cashmere blanket at a thrift store. Once the roll top is closed you can do cartwheels down a steep mountain without losing anything and the the pack floats if you end up in the creek after the cartwheels. I try and make sure all of my materials including the thread and foam padding for the straps are made in USA (it's hard to verify country of origin when buying from surplus suppliers). I love bags and I make about 100 in a good year and I own lots of bags from Filson, Duluth Pack, Frost River, Gregory and now Tom Bihn. The Tom Bihn Aeronaut wins the gold medal.
Very cool! Do you have an industrial quality sewing machine? Do you make your own patterns, or do you have a good source to recommend? I haven't tried sewing a bag since I made a faux-medium cafe bag. It really is fun, though.
I do have two Pfaff 138 industrial zig-zag machines. I also have a small Pfaff 130 table top machine that can sew through just about anything. All of my machines are from the late 1950s. You can sew a nice bag with a home sewing machine - you just need to use lighter fabric (nylon pack cloth) and light weight nylon webbing and try and avoid any hemmed seams converging.
Originally Posted by kmcg
I make my own patterns by sewing prototype packs from scrap fabric and then give a few usable versions made from better fabric out for friends & family to test the fit & function (skateboarders are the best people to test a pack's durability).
Making your own bag is bags of fun and it will give you a whole new level of appreciation for the design and craftsmanship of a Tom Bihn bag!!!
I'm jealous of your glorious sewing machines!
Amen to that!
Originally Posted by mfield
I just wanted to follow up with a few thoughts on the Aeronaut fitting smaller people. I've attached this image of my lovely wife's Aeronaut hastily removed outside a hard to find Vancouver restroom while making our way (running!!!) to the airport. She's 5'4" and wears a size small in most garments.
Looking at the shoulder straps in the photo you can see a couple items of interest to smaller peeps...
The distance between the points of attachment, where the straps emerge from the zippered cover pocket at the top of the pack and where the lower end of the straps attach to the pack with the side release buckles is about 16" (between those points). In the world of backpacking backpacks that's considered a size small.
Looking closely at the bottom of the strap where it connects to the pack, you can also see that she still has almost 2" of slack in the adjustable length of the strap and she likes her shoulder straps tight! This would suggest that a person with an even smaller torso would do just fine.
Also of note is the width between the straps where they attach to the pack (where your neck fits). This width and the carefully contoured shape of the straps allows for a comfortable fit for just about everyone whether you need the straps loosened all the way out or tightened all the way up. They do not rub on your neck or want to fall off the sides of your shoulders (neither of us used the sternum strap). Tom has attained shoulder strap perfection.
Unlike backpacking backpacks the Aeronaut has no frame or elaborate hip belt so where you put heavy items makes a HUGE difference on how it feels. Heavier items need to be close to your spine and slightly lower in the pack. Using TB packing cubes or stuff sacks will help manage the load.
Great...now I need to visit this incredibly beautiful place. Nice pics!