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  1. #1
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    Smile How did you make up your mind?

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post. I've been lurking on the forums and reading everything I can find about the Aeronaut and the Tri-star. Both bags are gorgeous and both are very different!

    I'm in the market for a new bag because I want to get away from being dependent on wheeled bags. My husband and I are going to France for 10 days in September and figured that trip is a good excuse as any to buy a new bag. We only do carry-on but have always had wheeled luggage which can make the bag heavier.

    At the moment, I am having such a hard time making up my mind and am wondering how you all eventually decided to pick the bag that you choose. I'm usually not so indecisive but because Tom Bihn bags are only available online, that makes it even tougher to make a decision because I can't see the bags in person and try them on before buying.

    How did you all decide on which bag to get? I'd love to hear your stories.

    Chowbisou

  2. #2
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Welcome! :-)

    I don't have either of the bags you are considering, but it seems to me that a lot of folks wonder which of these two would work best for their packing and travel style. If you live close, you could visit the factory store and test drive both. If you don't, you could order both and return the one you don't want. Or you could order both and keep both - as with so many things, when there is a difficult choice between two excellent products, the question isn't so much which to buy but which to buy first. Both bags are built to last, so the investment (in either or both) will pay off if you are a buy-once-use-forever type of person or a frequent traveler.

    Make sure you post in the Anticipation thread when you make your decision! And then the photos and packing list threads so we can see how you are using your bag(s)! And pictures of France, too, because we love seeing travel photos!

  3. #3
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    For me, it was easy—there was no Tri-Star when I bought the Aeronaut.

    But I would have gone for the Aeronaut anyway, because I like the flexibility of an open space I can fill any way I want to. (I just wish it had come with the tie-down straps then.) You can even unsnap the snaps to enlarge the main compartment into the end compartments.

  4. #4
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    I had a similar debate between my RedOxx Air Boss and the TB Aeronaut. I chose the Air Boss because I believed the organization was better than the TB. On the other hand, I encouraged my girlfriend to get the Aeronaut for our recent trip to Australia. I was trying to convert her into a one-bag traveller and the RedOxx bags were a bit too rugged in nature for her. Well, I saw the Aeronaut when we left for our trip. I was quite impressed with the quality and design features (especially the handles). My girlfriend loved it. Even though I'd like to think that I travel light, the weight of my clothes, DSLR, and iPad actually seemed to get heavier the further we travelled. Having the just the shoulder strap compared to my girlfriend's backpack straps are what sold me. She actually overpacked quite a bit yet had a much easier time thanks to the backpack straps.

    As for size, the fact that we had to check our bags when we flew from Port D to Whitsunday Island to Brisbane to Sydney didn't help. After two weeks down under, I got back to Afghanistan and immediately ordered the Tri-Star. I felt that the organization was perfect for short trips and the size was conducive for all-around travel. In fact, if I had the Tri-Star with me in Australia I would have saved quite a bit of money. The only downside I felt with ordering the Tri-Star was the lack of an "open-space" compartment for a DSLR or other wide object. I noted to myself that this was the bag for when I really wanted to travel light.

    To be honest, I haven't used the Tri-Star. It's sitting in my locker waiting for my return home. When I leave this part of the world I plan on having just my TB and a backpack for the rest of the journey home. Yet, TB went ahead and came out with a navy-colored Aeronaut. Why did they have to do that??? I went ahead and ordered that because I know I will still need a bag for those intermediate trips where I want to bring the DSLR and whatever miscellaneous "necessities" of the time.


    As soon as TB comes out with a smaller sized Aeronaut I'll curl up into a ball and cry. Or I'll see if I can pawn my current 2 bags off onto my brother. Cheers.
    Last edited by illinifly; 05-13-2011 at 10:25 AM.

  5. #5
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    chowbisou,

    For me the choice was simple. First, you get a young pullet chicken and slay it with a stone knife, draw out the intestines and count the lumps along the smaller section. Divide the total by two, multiply by the year of your birth and subtract your frequent flyer number. If it is even, buy the TriStar, if it is odd buy the Aeronaut. Or just give up and buy both!

    In all seriousness, I chose the Tristar because I DON'T like the big open packing area approach and the divided organization appealed to me.

    If you want the organization, but want the additional size than adding packing cubes to an Aeronaut may give you your best option.

  6. #6
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    I chose Aeronaut! I carried a Timbuk2 Checkpoint Roller for many years. By the way, it's a GREAT rollaboard-style bag if you need one... very unique shape, fits in just about every non-regional overhead, and pretty light. And I have a 2007-vintage Patagonia MLC, which is "a bit" Tri-Star-ish", and which is pretty good for very short trips. I was looking for something which would allow me the volume and flexibility of packing that the Checkpoint Roller offered that I could move around as flexibly as the MLC. So I went with the Aeronaut (Black/Iberian... it will be very cool on business). AND I really like the flexibility and ability to organize my gear that the large end compartments offer (I plan to use one end for shoes and the other for my "At Seat Pouch... an End-Pocket Packing Cube containing my headphones, iPad external battery, neck pillow, etc. that I can pull out when I get seated). Of course then I couldn't stop and got my new Checkpoint Flyer, too.
    Last edited by Yonkdaddy; 05-13-2011 at 12:39 PM.

  7. #7
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    Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. It really is a hard decision to make and the bags are just gorgeous based on the pictures I've seen so far. I think I will need to make a decision by June at the latest just to ensure I can get the bag I want in case it's on back order.

    I'll confess - the cubic inches has me a bit worried. The Aeronaut has 2700 whereas the Tri-star only has 2000, it seems like a huge difference.

    I have the ebag Mother Lode eTech Mini 21 wheeled duffel which has 2557 cu. in. which I have used many times but as mentioned earlier, it has wheels which I want to get rid of. Obviously there is a difference between the Tri-Star and Aeronaut cubic inches but will it be a huge noticeable difference? Do tell....

  8. #8
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    Tri-star

    I had a similar problem a couple of years ago when I was deciding between the Empire Builder and the Zephyr. I did what you are doing, I stalked the bags online, read every review I could. I even called and talked to Katy about legal size paper capacity. In the end, I went with the small bag (Zephyr) and I'm so glad I did. I cram it full of documents, a laptop, lunch, and a variety of pens, flashlights, sporks, etc. and it all fits. I can't imagine having the larger bag. I carry a lot of stuff and I can't imagine what line of work you would be in to carry more.

    I feel the same way about the aeronaut and the tri-star. My guess is that most of the time the tri-star will be perfect for you. You will probably be happier with a smaller compact bag and I know you will love the design.

  9. #9
    Registered User Fat Crip's Avatar
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    I went for the Aeronaut and am sure it was the right choice. I very nearly ordered the TriStar and I know it would suit many of my trips for business. The ability to compartmentalise would be very useful. Having my lap-top and papers in the centre and clothes in the other pockets, or my clothes in the back and my Ristretto in the front plus some shoes would be great. Also being able to access my lap-top without exposing my clothes at security would help. On the other hand, I love my Aeronaut. I can bundle wrap loads of clothes and then add my lap-top and iPad Ristretto on top. In the ends I can fit a dozen pouches with everything from wash kit to pencil case and camera to lap-top charger. I also fit a large pouch with documents in an end pouch. Flexibility to carry in any of three ways goes without saying for both bags. I use the shoulder straps to put the bag over the back of my disability scooter or wheel-chair.

    I was going to buy a TriStar for my wife, but having just seen the Navy/Solar and Navy/Iberian Aeronauts, I'm not sure now. How do make up your mind?

  10. #10
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    Fat Crip - I am sure that your wife will love whatever you buy for her! Currently I don't travel at all for work, only for pleasure and that may be a deciding factor in which bag to go with. Also, I do a lot more weekend trips here in the U.S. than trips abroad. In the fall when I go to France, I unfortunately will need to bring my laptop (Dell Latitude) with me to continue to do schoolwork while I am there. Obviously the Tri-Star would be better assuming my laptop will fit in the middle but I do worry that I won't have enough room if my laptop is taking up the middle compartment. The Aeronaut seems to be more flexible but might be too big for my needs. Usually when I travel for "big trips", I only take two pairs of pants, several shirts, one sweater or two depending on the weather, a couple of socks, undies, toiletries, and any necessary electronics that I need and of course my Kindle which I take everywhere with me.

    Should I just flip a coin and be done with it? :-)

  11. #11
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    Chowbisou, I chose both. Each has its own purpose. The Tri-Star came first, as at the time I was taking 4 day business trips each week. I could pack 3 days worth of business casual attire, one set of workout clothing, my 14" laptop, iPad and cables in the Tri-Star. Remove the laptop and I could add a couple of casual outfits for evenings. I did however limit myself the shoes I was wearing and the sneakers. Then my travel needs changed, with longer trips and colder climates. I purchased the Aeronaut. The first time I packed it for a 4 day trip it would have been half-empty if it weren't for the down parka. If I'm not careful I'll carry more with the Aeronaut, just because it has the space. My laptop doesn't fit well in the Aeronaut, so I find myself carrying a second bag for the electronics.

    Trips < 7 days - I take the Tri-Star. Longer trips, or if I'm on the fence - I take the Aeronaut. An underpacked Aeronaut is easier to live with (and nicer to look at) than an overpacked Tri-Star.
    Enlightened traveller since 2009

  12. #12
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    Lotuseater,

    You've given me some insight to think about...based on your post, I'm now leaning towards the Aeronaut though I will have to be very conscious not to overpack because that is the tendency I have. I don't want a bag that is so heavy that it hurts my back. The new navy color is also luring me over to the dark side...and with solar, it'll be gorgeous!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chowbisou View Post
    the cubic inches has me a bit worried. The Aeronaut has 2700 whereas the Tri-star only has 2000, it seems like a huge difference.
    As someone who has both an Aeronaut and an Air Boss (2,184 cu. in.), I still feel that the WAY you pack the two bags makes a bigger difference. Having one large compartment sitting horizontal like a cavern vs. three equal but smaller compartments that fold open like a book makes the large compartment seem even bigger as far as stuffing everything in there. I have a hard time stuffing the Air Boss compartments but find it easy to stick things like socks or shoes in the corners of the Aeronaut. While I don't have a Tri-Star (yet!), I would imagine it to be similar.

    Of course this leads to the problem of overstuffing an Aeronaut, but that's more a function of the user vs. the bag itself...
    Aeronaut (crimson) with Absolute Strap, Synapse (navy), Smart Alec (black/steel/solar), Shop Bag (solar), cache for MBP, cache for iPad2, and numerous pouches and key straps.

  14. #14
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    Actually, if you are not packing a bunch of electronics the center section of the Tristar is fairly easy to stuff into since the zippers don't open all the way...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by malamalama View Post
    As someone who has both an Aeronaut and an Air Boss (2,184 cu. in.), I still feel that the WAY you pack the two bags makes a bigger difference. Having one large compartment sitting horizontal like a cavern vs. three equal but smaller compartments that fold open like a book makes the large compartment seem even bigger as far as stuffing everything in there. I have a hard time stuffing the Air Boss compartments but find it easy to stick things like socks or shoes in the corners of the Aeronaut. While I don't have a Tri-Star (yet!), I would imagine it to be similar.

    Of course this leads to the problem of overstuffing an Aeronaut, but that's more a function of the user vs. the bag itself...
    This is exactly where I am struggling. Yes, I do only carry-on but having a wheeled bag makes it very easy to overpack and not worry about the weight because it is not being carried on my back whereas with the Aeronaut I would have to watch everything I pack. It's a different mindset for sure.

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