Why do both bags have to be so awesome looking? Tom Bihn - see the chaos you've caused?
Original designs. Made in the U.S.A.
Why do both bags have to be so awesome looking? Tom Bihn - see the chaos you've caused?
I went back and forth between the Aeronaut, Tri-Star, and a couple bags from Red Oxx. I chose the Aeronaut and couldn't be more pleased.
Like others have pointed out, the flexibility of the center compartment is great to have. If you want more organization, there are several packing cube sizes and plenty of ways to mix and match them to fit your needs. I also use a clear quarter packing cube to handle my cords/chargers/misc stuff and it works quite well.
Regardless of what bag you choose, you'll end up with an extremely high quality bag that will serve you well.
Traveling around with a Crimson Aeronaut...
I bought a Crimson Aeronaut just over a month ago and I love it.
I agree with scot and others on this forum that the flexibility of the center compartment is great; you can always compartmentalize by using packing cubes and such but if I need to pack something which takes up a lot of space - I can! However, if the bag has 'built in' compartments you don't have choice.
I too hard trouble deciding. So much so that I ended up buying both as well as a Red Oxx air boss. Got them and did trial packings, carried them around them the house (and outside but don't tell anyone!). Ultimately chose the Tristar as it was the best combination of features for me. The others bags would have allowed me to carry too much. I very much like the form factor of the Aeronaut but it simply can hold way too much for me to comfortably haul around. For me having all the bags to play with helped and was well worth the return shipping - really minimal.
With the Tristar I can carry 4-5 days with of stuff plus my electronics (varies among Macbook air, ipad, kindle, etc depending on the trip. That is enough for most of my travel. If I am gone longer, I can do laundry in the room or, if feeling extravagant, have it done in the hotel laundry service.
I am returning from a trip to Denver. On the way out I had a really tight connection (40 minutes) in Atlanta. If I had had to wait for a wheelie to be offloaded and brought to me in the jetway, I would never have made the flight. (We can only fly CRJ-type planes out of our airport so all wheeled bags get gate checked as carry on luggage).
Either bag will serve you well. Good luck in your choice.
I really appreciate everyone chiming in - it helps to know that I'm not alone and that there are others out there that have had a difficult time choosing a bag!
At the moment - I'm leaning towards the Aeronaut but am not 100% certain yet. I still have a bit more research to do.
Does the laptop need to travel in the same bag as your clothing? Ergonomically, it's easier to carry an item as heavy as a laptop closer to your center of gravity. The center compartment of the Tri-Star does that nicely, irrespective of how you carry the bag, and you have easy access whenever you need it. With the Aeronaut, you have to choose whether to bury the laptop under clothing - reducing access - or putting it close to the top of the bag - which puts its weight as far away from your body as it can be.
You can save space in the Tri-Star if you don't put the laptop inside a Brain Cell. Clothing in the front and rear compartments provides plenty of padding, which leaves the strip at the bottom of the center compartment. Create a layer of padding with a travel towel, underwear, t-shirts or something similar at the bottom of that compartment and you will have a snug ride for your laptop. It's not going to have the same level of protection as a Brain Cell, but it has worked well for me in weekly commutes by plane.
If I absolutely positively have to carry my 14" laptop inside the Aeronaut, I put it in the slimmest sleeve with handles I own (a Briggs & Riley checkpoint friendly model - thinner but less protective than a Brain Cell), and only put the laptop & sleeve inside the Aeronaut when waiting to board my flight. Once on board, the laptop comes right back out.
Last edited by lotuseater; 05-16-2011 at 02:06 PM. Reason: Clarified a sentence (so much for proof reading before posting!)
Enlightened traveller since 2009
Lotuseaster - great question. I'm actually contemplating what to do with my 14" laptop. I was thinking that if I put my laptop inside the Aeronaut between packing cubes then I wouldn't need to carry a separate bag for my laptop then I'd only need to take a small bag (perhaps a Cafe bag???) which would help minimize the load. In the past, I usually had a wheeled suitcase and my backpack on my back. I'd like to change that and become a true "one-bag" person and hope a TB bag will help me meet that goal.
I think I'm a bit too worried about the size of the Tristar. I'm afraid that I won't have "enough space" but am probably over thinking this. The Tristar is definitely appealing but at 2000 cubic inches seems so small by comparison to the Aeronaut though technically we are only talking about a few inches less of space if we really want to get down to the nitty gritty of it all.
Thanks for telling me your Tristar packing tips.
I went with the Aeronaut, mostly because I was buying for a 5-day, 3-city, business trip and wanted one bag + personal bag (briefcase) and no bag checking. At the time, when reading the forums it seemed that the Aeronaut was the most recommended for trips greater than 4 day. Plus, I've used a duffle style since I went away to college and am used to that style of packing.
The Aeronaut handled the trip like a champ, with plenty of packing space for all my business clothes, even my blazer for part of the trip. A TB 3D cube in one of the end pockets worked well as a 3-1-1 bag. I did purchase and use a small (15") Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder for my dress shirts, which I highly recommend for reducing wrinkles. I'm considering a TB Aeronaut large cube for using with bulkier clothes - pants, sweaters, etc - in the main section of my Aeronaut. Not so much for wrinkle prevention, just to make it easier to sort clean and dirty, pull the cube out and stick it in the hotel dresser drawer, etc. After the first day of the trip, I found myself using the backpack straps instead of the Briggs & Riley shoulder strap that I had attached. Surprising, since I have a bad shoulder and don't usually find a backpack comfortable.
Since that business trip, I've used the Aeronaut for several weekend trips and it's worked better than expected. Between the EC Pack-It Folder and the internal compression straps, the Aeronaut can handle fewer contents without too many more wrinkles. I've even put my 15" Unibody MacBook Pro in its TB Cache in the main compartment - it traveled well and safely, just significantly heavier.
If I start traveling more on business and take shorter trips, I'll probably consider the Western Flyer or Tristar.
Aeronaut in Black/Iberian, Synapse in Black/Iberian, Small Cafe Bag in Linen/Steel, 4Z Horizontal Cache in Black, iPad Vertical Cache in Black, 3D Organizer Cube in Steel, Large Clear Organizer in Pouch Iberian, Medium Clear Organizer Pouch in Iberian, Mini Padded Organizer Pouch in Black, Mini Organizer Pouch in Iberian, 16" Key Strap in Sapphire, 8" Key Strap in Storm
Here's my chance to play meanie... uh, devil's advocate. I own an Air Boss and an Aeronaut. I hated the Air Boss from the get-go, deep down inside, because it didn't have backpack straps. But it was in that brilliant Mariner blue (what Tom Bihn calls Sapphire). I put up with it for four years and jumped at the Aeronaut when it came out in Indigo, last spring. I haven't used the Air Boss save for storage since. Three-compartment packing is great for business. I did it for four years in the Boss. But it's a real hassle when you travel with odd shaped stuff. I was always cramming and ramming boxes into the Boss, which bulged and looked very cumbersome when I did. And the best things about the Aeronaut are the end straps. I can't overstate how convenient those are when doing the down-aisle dance to your seat. If I had a dollar for each time I heard someone tell me 'I gotta get a bag that does that' as I go by...
But here's the meanie part. I've been on the make-a-smaller-Aeronaut bandwagon for years now. I'd like an Aeronaut in the 18-19"x13"x7-8" range, even up to the 20" length. I REALLY want that smaller bag. You can stuff waaaaay too much stuff in an Aeronaut if you try. It will take it, my back just won't. So I'm waiting to see if it really WILL be out this summer (as whispered). It won't be that beautiful Indigo, but I think I can try Navy instead.
Tristar's a beautiful bag. But it's the same three-compartment design as the Boss. Even with the backpack straps, that's made it a not-for-me from Day One. The Western Flyer is also compartmentalized. After using the Aeronaut's big-compartment design, I won't go back to mini-compartments. But that's just me.
I really want a smaller bag for regionals and Europe, just so there's almost no chance I'll be forced to gate-check. My mother's moving to a place I can only get to with a prop puddle-jumper, and size is very critical on that one jet. Since this would be a trip I'd have to take at least monthly (her medical issues), having a smaller bag before the holidays is becoming critical for me.
If I'm on an overbooked flight I make sure I'm in the first boarding section as it is. If I had a slightly smaller bag I wouldn't have to, since it might go under the aisle seat on a 37. My Aeronaut just won't. I've tried.
However, if the new proposed bag is a Tristar with ONE compartment, that's what I'll buy. I'll miss the u-shaped opening, but gain the smaller Tristar size and Aeronaut big compartment all in one. If it's a smaller Aeronaut with the u-opening and only one end compartment (but still with those lovely end handles and all those o-rings), YES! Eureka! My Perfect Bag! I might buy two.
So, worried about the Aeronaut being too big? Maybe the smaller Aeronaut is the perfect bag to wait for. Then again, you won't regret having that bigger Aeronaut. I never have! Mine will still get used, no worry there. So will yours. I guarantee it.
Last edited by aiethabell; 05-17-2011 at 11:32 AM. Reason: Western Flyer
Indigo Co-Pilot w' Cache, Sapphire/Olive Medium Cafe bag, Sapphire/Black and Indigo Ballistic Swifts, 50+ assorted Stuff Sacks/Pouches/Key Straps, 4 Shop Bags. 2 Absolutes, 2 Strap Wraps, a #5 Brain Cell, 3 Clear Quarter Packing Cubes , 3 Aeronaut cubes, a 3D, a Kit, a Convertible Shoulder Bag and Convertible Backpack for my Indigo/Solar Aeronaut. Last, 3 Lifefactory Bottles and my Plum Field Journal! Plus a blue (natch) FOT. All bags decked out with Tom Bihn luggage tags .
[QUOTE=aiethabell;25839]Here's my chance to play meanie... uh, devil's advocate.
@aiethabell - perhaps you should change your handle to Devil's advocate!
I did see that thread about a potential smaller Aeronaut! I really do wish that was on the market right now then I wouldn't be waffling so much. How strong was that whisper that it might come out this summer? Now this is getting really really difficult! I would hate to buy an Aeronaut only to have a smaller one come out a week later...I wonder what the chances are of that happening?
@Scattered - glad to know your Aeronaut worked well with your laptop even though it made it significantly heavier. I'm considering going that route but need to find out for sure that we do not have to check bags coming back into the US from Europe because last year when we flew home from Germany, we had to check our bags which was a pain.
I bought the Aeronaut before the Tristar came out, and may yet buy a Tristar or Western flyer, but if I could only buy one bag, it would be the Aeronaut.
The reason is simple: flexibility. you can always pack less in the Aeronaut, but can't pack more in a smaller bag than it will comfortably hold. This takes discipline, sometimes, but also comes with practice at one-bagging.
On the other hand, I came to the Aeronaut from both a 2004 Patagonia MLC and a Red-Oxx (custom ordered extra wide). The MLC was a two compartment bag, and was easier to pack clothes in (flat-packing). It took me a while to learn how to pack the Aeronaut well. Now I miss it when my wife insists I take a wheeled bag. I like to pack one end pocket with things I will use on the plane when it is the only bag I take.
But I often take my Imago with it in the cabin. In that case, the Imago carries my laptop and reading materials/headphones. I just bought an 11" MacBook Air which is wonderfully light and compact. Laptops are the big drawback for the Aeronaut: they are hard to get in and out for the security check or when the bag is stowed in the overhead. You can get around this by carrying the laptop in a sleeve with d-rings and a thin shoulder strap, which then can be packed in the Aeronaut for boarding once you are through security.
If you are still undecided rest assured: once you get hooked on Tom Binh bags, you will almost certainly wind up buying another.
Okay, after everyone's feedback here which I greatly appreciate - I am going to go with an Aeronaut!
However before I make that purchase, I need to get confirmation from Delta Airlines/Air France that I can indeed carry my bag on a flight from Europe back to the US because last year I couldn't do that on a flight coming home from Europe which was very annoying. That is a major consideration for me because of my darn laptop.
Thanks again everyone for all their input - I love the TB forums!