On Tour: 18 days with an Aeronaut & a Smart Alec
I wasn't sure if this was the proper forum to post this in. Feel free to move it as necessary.
I make an odd living selling merchandise for bands on the road. It's a crazy, fun, unforgiving lifestyle where grown men sleep in bunk beds on a tour bus and eat peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for dinner. It also requires expert packing and lifehacking skills. After my first couple years of touring I was fed up with my large, bulky hardshell suitcases that required being checked. I've dealt with lost baggage on several occasions. It's a scary realization when you land and your life isn't there to greet you at baggage claim. And you might be hundreds of miles away in 24 hours at another gig. Thankfully, after many hours of research and comparison I stumbled upon Tom Bihn. I've made a few purchases that have changed my touring life and made it for the better. And I hope to make more in the future.
Here's how I lived for 18 days out of two bags, without doing laundry, while selling merch and doing tour photography for Josh Ritter (http://www.joshritter.com) this month.
Aeronaut: Steel/Solar w/ Absolute Strap
- 8 t-shirts
- 4 button up shirts (1 dress shirt, 2 plaids (1 not pictured), 1 short sleeve)
- 1 herringbone vest
- 1 pair of jeans (I wore a second pair on me to the airport)
- 1 pair of gym shorts
- 1 pair of pjs
- 10 pairs of socks
- 10 pairs of boxer briefs
- shower kit (soap, shampoo, face wash, toothpaste, deodorant. All lovingly assembled and labeled by my girlfriend)
- 1 hair straightener (not pictured)
- keys (not pictured)
Smart Alec (Steel Solar) w/ Brain Cell & Snake Charmer
- 1 Macbook Pro 13" (kept in Brain Cell)
- Canon Rebel XT w/ 17-70mm lens attached (not pictured because it's taking the pictures!)
- 2 zip up hoodies (One for wearing, one to wrap around my camera to keep it safe)
- 1 external hard drive w/ USB cable & case (for music and photo storage)
- 1 power strip
- first aid kit (tylenol, advil, bandaids, etc)
- sunglasses w/ case
- passport (I keep it tucked inside the small pocket on the front of the Brain Cell)
- stack of business cards
- 1 poncho (for emergencies!)
- 2 ball point pens
- 1 medium sized notebook
- toothbrush w/ case
- Snake Charmer - in which I keep:
- computer charger
- iPhone charger
- camera battery charger
- 2 camera batteries
- 2 CompactFlash cards
- camera transfer hub
- 1 external hard drive (for Time Machine back ups)
- 2 USB cables
- 1 screen cleaning cloth
As you can see, I'm heavy on the technology. The contents of my backpack alone are pretty pricey. But they're all tools which are necessary to my job. My Aeronaut was a champ and kept all my clothing close by, fit easily in my planes, and stowed nicely at the foot of my bunk. Most of the other guys on tour keep their giant suitcases in storage in one of the bays underneath our tour bus. My bags were small enough to stay in my bunk and still give me plenty of room to sleep.
Now don't gross out on me, but you're probably wondering how I lived 18 days on 10 changes of clothes. Well the obvious answer is the correct one: showering every other day or so. Sometimes showers aren't always available in clubs or the hotel room is too far too walk with my limited schedule (I'm a busy guy!) It works out well. Though I'll admit the Aeronaut could use a heavy febreezing.
I'd like to note that on my return trip home from tour I packed my Aeronaut to the gills with records (read: vinyl) that I picked up in record shops along the way. 10 of them to be exact - adding a hefty 10 extra pounds to my luggage weight. Thankfully the backpack straps did a magnificent job of keeping the weight manageable.
Thank you Tom Bihn and company for making my life and job a breeze. You've earned yourself not only a customer for life, but a martyr for your products. I talk my bags up to anyone and everyone. I'll be flying out again in just two weeks time to start another run of tour dates with Josh Ritter. We're playing the Showbox at the Market in Seattle sometime near the end of June. Let me know if you all would like to attend - I'll make sure tickets are waiting for you at will call.