Anyone go camping with a Tom Bihn bag?
I camp ultralight and have gotten down to a 28L pack but I have extra space, so I'm thinking I can go smaller. I've always used internal frame packs, and my current bag has a longer length than anything Bihn makes.
So anyone have any experience with Tom Bihn camping?
I've no experience camping with my synapse. However, if I were to go on an extended hike/over-nighter, I think that I would opt for a pack that was more hiking specific (i.e. one pack that looks very interesting is the Osprey Talon 22). I find the synapse to be great for urban exploring, short (i.e. 1 to 2 hour) hikes, the gym etc.
Partner and I camp with Aeronauts. 45L, yikes! and ~25 pounds -- but some of our experience may still be applicable, so read on.
We're on a long-term project to camp in as many US National Parks as we can (I know...but we're interested in what others have thought especially worth preserving). So we kind of have to fly there. We usually go from camping to a family reunion where we have to dress up a bit more, too.
We didn't want the hassle of trying to protect our old external-frames -- or a new bag's dangling straps. And we wanted bags that weren't just the right size, but also the right shape, to be carried on.
It was very hard to find such bags that actually had waist/hip belts. When we first found the Aeronaut, it didn't...but as soon as waist belts were added, I snapped one up.
(I did consider the MEI Voyageur...problem is, it requires all that fussing to put away the hip belt. That's too much fussing for me, especially since because I have a bad back, I need to wear it as a backpack right onto the plane. I couldn't stand there in the aisle fussing to put away the hip belt! With the Aeronaut, I just leave the straps out and don't feel I need to worry. And it seemed like the Voyageur's belt was so huge that trying to put it away would interfere with what was inside the pack. Plus, I've never wanted or needed all sorts of padding on my hip belt.)
I'm 5'4". I use the Aeronaut the same way I use my external frame -- I use the "waist belt" as a hip belt, and the back padding does work as a bit of an "internal frame." For this use, the Aeronaut is the perfect size for me, not "too big" at all. I have a slipped disc and I still use it for this purpose. (With my bad back I could never carry it on my shoulder, even with the Absolute strap.) It's *not* as comfortable as my old external frame, but for what I want it for, it works very well. I also use it for all my other travel.
After my partner saw my Aeronaut, he wanted one. It doesn't work as well for him -- he's 5'9" and when belting it to his hips, he needs to loosen the straps so much the padding ends in just the wrong place. But it's never given him any blisters or anything.
I wouldn't get an Aeronaut *just* for camping. It's not as comfortable for backpacking as a dedicated backpacking bag. It does work well for our needs, though.
Bottom line: the kind of padding used in the Aeronaut does work as a *basic* "internal frame," and the "waist belt" works fine as a hip belt.
Maybe you could ask if the padding in the smaller bags is similar?
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