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Thread: Smart Alec Makes the Final Cut for Haiti Trip

  1. #1
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    Smart Alec Makes the Final Cut for Haiti Trip

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    After packing, wearing and re-packing a half-dozen times, I believe I’ve finally decided on my son’s Smart Alec and my medium Cafe Bag to make the trip to Port au Prince Haiti this coming Saturday. I’ve come to realize that my neck and shoulders don’t tolerate carrying a shoulder strap as well as backpack straps, even the Absolute strap, when I’m carrying a full travel bag. I’m barely 5 feet tall, so the Smart Alec just feels better to carry as a backpack than my Tristar or my husband’s Aeronaut.

    This is my second medical mission trip to Haiti. I din’t even know Tom Bihn existed when I took my last trip in November of 2010. I took a big, check-through suitcase and had nowhere to put it in the guest house. My new setup will sit at the foot of my bed and still give me plenty of sleeping room. I’m indebted to Tom and the crew for making such beautiful, functional and practical pieces. I’m also indebted to the folks on this forum for such great advice and travel tips. I think it was Lani who told me about merino wool clothes (packed) and Tom’s laundry detergent (packed).

    So, here’s what I’m taking for an eight day trip:

    In/on Smart Alec:
    4 sets of scrubs (Aeronaut packing cube)
    In Trisar packing cube-
    4 shirts (3 merino and 1 Ex Officio)
    4 skirts/skorts
    5 undies, bra, socks
    Cliff bars in size 3 travel stuff sack
    Keen sandals in size 4 travel stuff sack to bungie to outside of bag
    hairdryer and odds and ends on travel tray
    Travel towel in it’s bag
    Vitamin water mixes in Ex Officio bag
    Hand wipes in size 2 travel stuff sack
    toiletries in 3D clear organizer (side water bottle pocket)
    ball cap and light merino sweater for airport/airplain

    In Medium Cafe Bag
    iPad
    Moleskine journal
    Side Effect for camera and to be day bag
    TB Clear Organizer Wallet
    TB pouches with power cords and odds and ends.
    Small Bible and (maybe) another paperback

    It’s a tight fit, but it all does fit! I should have less on the return trip There is the chance that I could be persuaded to put everything in the Aeronaut and go with it. I’m open to suggestions.

    Thanks again everyone!
    Last edited by Katy; 07-26-2012 at 01:50 PM.
    Happy owner of Steel Tristar, Steel Side Effect, Plum Medium Cafe Bag (my first TB), Indigo Synapse, Cardinal/Hemp/Steel Imago, various pouches and organizer cubes, Cache.

  2. #2
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Sounds wonderful!! Glad I could help you with the tip about merino wool. It's nice stuff. :)
    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
    Publisher, The Travelite FAQ: Don't get saddled with baggage—free yourself & your mind by packing lightly!
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  3. #3
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    Are you planning on doing sink laundry or sending it out? You might could cut out at list one shirt and one skirt/skort. The same for a set of scrubs. You'd have one to wear, one that is drying, and then another as back up in case the one you washed isn't quite dry enough the next morning. Same with undies. Up to you, but would give you a little more space and less weight. Especially since you'll still have whatever outfit you travel in. You didn't mention that in your list.

  4. #4
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    This is such a timely post. I want an Aeronaut so badly! but like you, I'm just 5ft tall and can't tolerate carrying bags on one shoulder. I'm afraid the Aeronnaut worn backpack style would swallow me. I've been trying to decide between a Western Flyer and Smart Alec for one bag travel. Carrying comfort is a bigger consideration than anything. Thanks for the post and the pictures!

  5. #5
    I work at TOM BIHN Katy's Avatar
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    I can't believe how much you were able to fit in there!
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  6. #6
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    Good luck with your trip to Haiti, that's a great thing that your doing out there. I often wish I had the skills that could make a real difference to folks lives.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for that advice Darbs. I think I will pull out at least one of the sets of scrubs. I'm also reconsidering what I'll wear on the trip, long shorts, since I won't be able to wear them out while in country.
    Rocks, The Smart Alec is quite a bit more comfortable backpack style than the Aeronaut or the Tristar and I like how it packs just fine considering I'm using packing cubes either way. However, it is smaller at 26 liters than the Aeronaut at 45 liters.
    moriond and Rocks like this.
    Happy owner of Steel Tristar, Steel Side Effect, Plum Medium Cafe Bag (my first TB), Indigo Synapse, Cardinal/Hemp/Steel Imago, various pouches and organizer cubes, Cache.

  8. #8
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocks View Post
    This is such a timely post. I want an Aeronaut so badly! but like you, I'm just 5ft tall and can't tolerate carrying bags on one shoulder. I'm afraid the Aeronnaut worn backpack style would swallow me. I've been trying to decide between a Western Flyer and Smart Alec for one bag travel. Carrying comfort is a bigger consideration than anything. Thanks for the post and the pictures!
    Rocks -- I'm 5'2.5" (the half inch counts when you're only yay tall!), and the Aeronaut is too big for me when it's packed full. It works great for my husband, but he's 6 feet tall.

    When I have a dual-destination trip or dual-purpose trip, I will take a Tri-Star. It's still a bit on the big side for me, but not as long as the Aeronaut so it feels a little better. But my go-to bag is the Western Flyer, which I believe is sized perfectly for petite people. Next to that, in my opinion, is the Smart Alec (since the WF and SA have the same capacity)--if I'm only going to one place and I can just remove everything from the SA, or it's an extended weekend.

    dmilem's strategy is really good, because she's also taking the Medium Cafe Bag as her purse. Add to that, she's even using the exterior bungy cord to strap on her footwear!
    dorayme likes this.
    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
    Publisher, The Travelite FAQ: Don't get saddled with baggage—free yourself & your mind by packing lightly!
    Editor, MousePlanet: Detailed park guides, daily news & stories from all over the Disney kingdom | Technical writer | Marathoner

  9. #9
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    Down to 2 sets of scrubs and 3 skorts. I'm on a role...What else can I shave.....
    Happy owner of Steel Tristar, Steel Side Effect, Plum Medium Cafe Bag (my first TB), Indigo Synapse, Cardinal/Hemp/Steel Imago, various pouches and organizer cubes, Cache.

  10. #10
    Registered User lonestar6's Avatar
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    Lani, what is the story on Merino wool shirts?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lani View Post
    Sounds qwonderful!! Glad I could help you with the tip about merino wool. It's nice stuff. :)

  11. #11
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    I believe it was Lani who told me about merino wool clothing and its' benefits for travel. I've also see other travel and sport sites that tout it's amazing versatility. Since early this past Spring, I've discovered 3 main manufactures of wool products, Smartwool, ibex and Icebreker. They all have great products and I purchase whichever is on sale at the time. Much of Ibex's line is mad in the US. I'm taking 3 short sleeved shirts, a light sweater and a skirt to HOT, humid Haiti. I've been "practicing" by living in it in HOT humid Kentucky. Actually, it doesn't take much practice to fall in love with this stuff. It's soft and comfortable and cool and packs well. It also isn't supposed to retain odors and so is a good option if you have to re-wear it. It seems counterintuitive to think of wearing wool in oppressive heat, but it works. Might I dare say merino wool tee shirts are the Tom Bihn of clothing?!!!
    Happy owner of Steel Tristar, Steel Side Effect, Plum Medium Cafe Bag (my first TB), Indigo Synapse, Cardinal/Hemp/Steel Imago, various pouches and organizer cubes, Cache.

  12. #12
    Registered User dorayme's Avatar
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    I'm the same height as Lani and I agree, the WF is an excellent bag for us petite peeps both in size and it's offerings. Especially if you can get away with traveling with an iPad vs. a laptop. I would like an Aeronaut, and plan to obtain one in the coming year. Mine would primarily be used for certain travel situations like; dh and I pack our things into one bag together, me packing my things with one of my children's things, packing multiple children's items together, or for extended trips via car with our Travel Trailer when I cannot access laundry facilities or have a variety of venues to attend. I doubt I would ever need to load up the Aeronaut for just me in most scenarios.

    In general I'm much more comfortable with the WF and another bag alongside, like a Synapse, Swift or Co-Pilot. I can manage two smaller bags easier than one huge one, before, during and after travel. When I get where I'm going I have a nice sized bag for day trips and excursions.
    Si non aptus in Peram, ego opus ad buy magis quisque.
    my bags: S, LS, KP, mg'11, S, LS, COW, MCB, LS, COW, LSB, SE, LSB, TT, SB, SE, TSS4, PCSB, PCBP-A, SC, BB, SCB, FJN, BB, FoJ, RS, F.O.T., LSB, S25, PCSB K, LS, I w/AS, A, PP, RiPad, FJN, SE, 3-DC, MCB, PCBP-T/WF, PCSB, CQPC, S19, LSB, SB, TT, SE, S, P, WF, UT, LSB, CQPC, PCBP-T/WF, RiPad, SB, LSB

  13. #13
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    Hey dorayme,

    I was considering the WF but wonder if the theoretical packing list I posted in my "TriStar or Aeronaut?" thread would work for a petite but not so "pleasingly plump" person like me. If it fits, yay, I'll buy it. If it won't, I'll grab the TS. The AN is going to be way too big, I think.

  14. #14
    Registered User dorayme's Avatar
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    I think with cubes for compression the WF would work depending on your shoe size, cardigan thickness and the dress, whether it's the kind that compresses well, or the kind that has a lot of fullness.

    I could definitely pack your list for myself into my WF. I wear ladies M and size us 7.5/ European 38 shoes. My cardigan and dress choices would be on the thinner packable side, because that's mostly what I like. My bulkiest item would be my shoes.

    If you think your list is typical for your travel ventures, I would try the WF. If you frequently have more, the TS would probably be a better fit. You can always have an understaffed bag, cubes and the internal compression straps will keep your contents from shifting too badly. It would not work as well to need a few more cubic inches and not have them.

    When I saw the WF in person, I thought it must be too small to work for overnight and weekend travel (I was used to wheeled bags and satchel/duffle bags that were carry on size but way bigger feeling than the WF), but now that I've been using it for the last year, it's my preferred travel bag for most of my trips unless I'm traveling with one of those scenarios I describe above. I mostly bundle pack, but if I'm traveling with more clothing than my usual load, I roll. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to fly with it. It's so small it's going to be wonderful for negotiating airports, airplanes, etc. I too have back issues and I don't fear being able to handle my own bag with the WF.
    Si non aptus in Peram, ego opus ad buy magis quisque.
    my bags: S, LS, KP, mg'11, S, LS, COW, MCB, LS, COW, LSB, SE, LSB, TT, SB, SE, TSS4, PCSB, PCBP-A, SC, BB, SCB, FJN, BB, FoJ, RS, F.O.T., LSB, S25, PCSB K, LS, I w/AS, A, PP, RiPad, FJN, SE, 3-DC, MCB, PCBP-T/WF, PCSB, CQPC, S19, LSB, SB, TT, SE, S, P, WF, UT, LSB, CQPC, PCBP-T/WF, RiPad, SB, LSB

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    I have an ibex skirt and it's the most wonderful thing. I bought it from Rowgue, a rowing clothing company; they intended it to be worn over a uni (the spandex one-piece that rowers wear) for walking around regattas and suck. But it's basic black and is perfectly nice enough to wear to work. It's extremely comfortable, is just above my knee, and even has got a zip pocket!

    I've also got a few merino shirts: one short-sleeve and light weight, the others long-sleeved and a bit heavier. I wear them mostly for rowing (which tells you about their comfort and their moisture and temperature management), but they look nice enough for casual wear as well.


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