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  1. #1
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    Jun 2010
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    +1 Personal Item Suggestion

    I recently received my first Tom Bihn bag, a Black/Solar Aeronaut. I was so impressed by the design and quality that I purchased a second one for my wife (Crimson/Steel) as well as some packing cubes and pouches. Being a Steeler's fan, I also love the Black/Solar color combination. Now I am in need of a good +1 personal item. We try not to check bags anymore so I would like a good option that can be carried with my Aeronaut on longer trips. I just ordered a Brain Bag but also considered getting either a Tri-Star or Western Flyer. I like the idea of carrying the Brain Bag because I can use it as my daily bag to carry around at our destination, but I don't know if it would pass as a personal item. Plus I would prefer to wear the Aeronaut as a backpack and carry my personal item over my shoulder. I considered the Checkpoint Flyer, but at 950 cu in, it is a bit too small. I usually carry a 15" Macbook Pro, a Nikon D200 with a few lenses, some binders, manuals, e-reader, and some odds and ends. Does anyone have any experience traveling with an Aeronaut plus any of the options I am considering as a personal item? Any input would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Jan 2009
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    Florida
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    On my last several plane trips, I carried a Brain Bag and Aeronaut without checking either. However, on some of the smaller regional flights, I had to gate-check the Aeronaut due to space limitations onboard the smaller planes.

    Congratulations on your purchases! I have been extremely happy with both of these bags.

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator
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    Mar 2004
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    Northern Virginia
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    hi CR88!

    welcome to the forum!

    the brain bag can be pretty big fully packed. you also bring up an important point of wanting to carry the aeronaut as a backpack.

    similarly, the tri-star is on the large side for you to be able to get away with it as being a personal item.

    whether you would be able to take these on board as a personal item would depend on the personnel at the gate.

    Quote Originally Posted by CR88 View Post
    I usually carry a 15" Macbook Pro, a Nikon D200 with a few lenses, some binders, manuals, e-reader, and some odds and ends.
    help me here - how thick are these binders, and how many are you taking? is the e-reader something like the ipad or kindle? how many lenses, and how big? i can check and see how they fit in the western flyer and checkpoint flyer.

    thanks!

  4. #4
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    Jun 2010
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    5
    Thanks for the feedback.

    Radio Bug:
    I am going to try to bring both on my next trip so it's good to know that you were able to get through without issue. I do LOVE the Aeronaut, can't wait to get the Brain Bag. UPS tracking says July 1st, I am counting down the hours.

    Maverick:
    As far as what I usually carry, when I attend our conferences I bring a few different size binders, the main one is about 2" thick with about 2 or 3 more 1". Then I usually carry about 150-200 pages of loose documents in folders.

    For leisure trips or vacations I only take toys and some extra clothes that won't fit in the main carry on, no binders or docs (Camcorder, Ipod Touch, PSP)

    I will always bring my Nook e-reader (I think its about the same size as the Kindle), my Mac and my camera. My lenses are a 18-200, 50mm, and in the near future I will also be bringing a 70-200 2.8., which is kind of heavy.

    Thanks again.

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Sep 2008
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    306
    I think you are running a non-negligible risk that you'll have to check one of the bags if you try to bring on both the Aeronaut and the Brain Bag, so be sure to arrive at the airport a bit early so you can repack one of them for checking if need be (leaving out expensive and/or delicate items). Or better yet, pack in the first place with the idea that you might need to check one and have papers, binders, and less needed clothing in the bag that you would opt to check if required to.

    This is especially true on international flights, and almost a certainty on trans-Pacific flights. (On an Air New Zealand flight, I had the check in clerk look twice at my Imago as a 'personal' item! She did let me take it on, but only after squinting at it a bit and my plea that it was housing my laptop.)

    [I should add that I have had no experience recently with US legacy carriers running international routes. They may be more lenient on the personal item assessment.]
    Last edited by flitcraft; 06-29-2010 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Addendum
    Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.

  6. #6
    Registered User
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    Jan 2009
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    460
    Hi there:
    In my experience, an aeronaut and a brain bag fully packed would draw attention. I would say you can get away with aeronaut and the Smart Alec (which will hold your 15 inch) and a whole lot more. I have been able to pack a lot in there, and it also slides easily under the seat. For international flights: I think they are pretty tight still on ONE bag--meaning ONE bag. At best, you could sneak in a small cafe bag or medium cafe bag. For this, I would say Tri Star or Western Flyer with cafe bag are the most versatile combinations for international travel.
    Domestic carriers seem to vary all over the place; and also depends a great deal on the mood of the gate person, how full the flight is, and how hot it is!!! You get my drift....

  7. #7
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    Jun 2010
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    It seems like I may be pushing it with the Brain Bag as my personal item. I haven't received it yet, but from what I am understanding, it sounds like it may be too large to carry with the Aeronaut. I may try the combo on my next domestic flight where it would be nice to have a backpack with me, but I will probably go with something like the smaller Checkpoint Flyer or Empire Builder for my main personal item. Thanks for the info.

  8. #8
    Registered User
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    Feb 2009
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    milwaukee
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    i've travelled with an aeronaut + synapse, and also with an aeronaut + smart alec, and never with any problems. i don't have a brain bag so i can't chime in on that... but the smart alec and the synapse are both slim enough to squeeze under the seat, so they should avoid any sideways looks.

  9. #9
    Registered User
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    Feb 2006
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    2,681
    We routinely travel with a Brain Bag/Large Cafe Bag pair, I think a Synapse would be ok to replace the Large Cafe Bag.
    (my husband used an old backpack roughly the size of the Synapse with a Brain Bag on our last trip)

    But on us, husband and I, 5'7', the Brain Bags look big so they look like our main carry on.

    I think a Brain Bag/Checkpoint Flyer could be the winner pair for CR88.

    The Checkpoint Flyer is definitely a laptop bag and it is a shoulder bag.


    For people 6 feet or over, the Brain Bag looks like the Synapse does on average people and could possibly be used as personal item with an Aeronaut.


    One thing to remember with the Brain Bag, if you have time at the security line or at the gate, tighten the compression straps as much as possible.
    Better yet, do it the minute you know you are done packing.


    Edited to say that I have been flying Southwest exclusively for 2 years.
    Last edited by backpack; 07-01-2010 at 08:00 AM.

  10. #10
    Registered User
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    Mar 2009
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    709
    Think 35"...that's the maximum most airlines will allow for a "personal item." (That's L x W x D). Some are less. It's best to check the airline's website for guidelines. But in the end, it's up to the gate agent.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  11. #11
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    Jun 2010
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    Minneapolis, Minnesota - USA
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    I have traveled with an Aeronaut plus BrainBag and checked neither. It should be noted that the BrainBag had very little in it. These were US domestic flights, but also on a few regional airlines with tight restrictions.

    However, I don't really do that anymore. Now I either get everything into my Aeronaut, or bring my SmartAlec along. Again, my trick is to keep the SmartAlec almost empty. As such, it doesn't seem to draw any attention.

  12. #12
    Registered User
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    Dec 2006
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    55
    I did an airline trip with an Aeronaut for clothes and a Tri-Star with laptop, personal items, and C-PAP machine. I didn't have a problem with both bags as carry on. The Aeronaut fit in the overhead and the Tri-Star under my seat. However, it was a pain to haul both bags around. It was all just too bulky. I actually wound up checking my Aeronaut on the return flight because I didn't want to carry it around on my 3 hour lay-over.

    My suggestion is to pack lighter and take an Aeronaut with an Ego or smaller bag as the +1. Your back will thank you for it .

  13. #13
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    Jun 2010
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    5
    Thank you all for the feedback. I ended up sending the Brain Bag back. For my use and my size (5' 10" - 170) it was WAY too big. I LOVE the quality of the bag and the design, it's just too big for me. I was also hoping to use it as a personal item, but judging by the responses it was too big for that as well. I ordered a Synapse, so I am hoping that it will work out. We'll see. I do like the idea of travelling with only an Aeronaut, it would just be hard to get all of my electronics (Macbook Pro, e-reader, DSLR, video camera) and paperwork in the same bag with my clothing.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by CR88 View Post
    Thank you all for the feedback. I ended up sending the Brain Bag back. For my use and my size (5' 10" - 170) it was WAY too big. I LOVE the quality of the bag and the design, it's just too big for me. I was also hoping to use it as a personal item, but judging by the responses it was too big for that as well. I ordered a Synapse, so I am hoping that it will work out. We'll see. I do like the idea of travelling with only an Aeronaut, it would just be hard to get all of my electronics (Macbook Pro, e-reader, DSLR, video camera) and paperwork in the same bag with my clothing.
    I think you'll be very happy with the Synapse! Mine has been my default personal item on all my flights for the past year and so far I've had no problems with it. It holds a surprising amount for its size and it fits under seats beautifully, even when you have barely any space like on some of those really tiny planes for domestic flights.
    Owner of:
    Imago in Cocoa/Cocoa/Wasabi, Large Cafe Bag in Black/Wasabi, Various organizer pouches, Shop Bag in Steel Dyneema (love it!), Synapse in Steel/Steel (love it too!), and a Medium Cafe Bag in Plum/Wasabi.

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    564
    Quote Originally Posted by CR88 View Post
    Thank you all for the feedback. I ended up sending the Brain Bag back. For my use and my size (5' 10" - 170) it was WAY too big. I LOVE the quality of the bag and the design, it's just too big for me. I was also hoping to use it as a personal item, but judging by the responses it was too big for that as well. I ordered a Synapse, so I am hoping that it will work out. We'll see. I do like the idea of travelling with only an Aeronaut, it would just be hard to get all of my electronics (Macbook Pro, e-reader, DSLR, video camera) and paperwork in the same bag with my clothing.
    I've used the Brain Bag for a personal item but you can't really hope to pack it fully and put it under the front seat. I should say I do mostly take major US airlines so under the seat storage is pretty big compared to what I hear about other planes.

    I've also taken the Smart Alec and it of course fits just fine under the seat. My next trip I'm going to take the Synapse which should really fit fine.

    I think your problem is all the bulky items. I've downsized to a netbook, I will probably go from a paperback to an e-reader, but I still have a DSLR. I may someday downsize that. But add on binders and you really do have your work cut out for you. Good luck.
    Owner of : Imago, Aeronaut, Brain Bag, Smart Alec, Synapse, Co-Pilot

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