Debating an Aeronaut
Beginning next year, I will be traveling a lot more and I am really wanting to tame my overpacking ways. I do need to get a smaller bag and I am considering the Aeronaut. I am almost 100% sold on it but Osprey has come out with a line of ultralight roller bags and their comparable bag is just a pound more than the Aeronaut.
I am really torn on the wheels vs no wheels thing. While the Aeronaut has the backpack straps, I am not 100% certain I would use them, especially if my Synpase travels with me as well. I really want to order it but having a bag with wheels just seems so much easier (especially since that is what I am used to.)
Help me out!
I'm afraid I'm a bit of a TB devotee, so please forgive my more than a little partisan response! When comparing the two, the Osprey 36 is 36 litres compared to the Aeronaut's 45 and it weighs in at 1,810 grammes, compared to just 1,075 for the aeronaut. The wheels and handle take up more room and a precious chunk of your weight allowance than you'd think! That weight difference is enough for an iPad. If you plan to venture in to Europe, that matters a lot. Personally, I share Tom's dislike for wheeled bags as they are trailed around airports getting in people's way and then they switch from an unnecessary convenience to a total inconvenience the minute you leave the smooth level floors of the airport's concourse. I'd go for the choice of hand, shoulder or rucksack of the Aeronaut every time. Or, if you don't need that extra 25% of space over the Osprey, what about the great looking Tri-Star? I've not used it yet, but I'll be correcting that in just over a fortnight, and I'll let you know how it pans out! Yes I'm biased, but also the sheer quality and strength of TB's bags is also a plus for me.
Get an Absolute Shoulder Strap to go along with your new bag and ditch the wheels. I go on about six two-week international business trips each year carrying only my Tri-Star and a Super Ego. I've found that I can easily pack one full week of clothing in the Tri-Star (and I'm not a skinny guy); this allows me to theoretically travel for an indefinite period of time assuming I can do laundry or have laundry done at the hotel.
I can move through an airport faster without wheels. I never have to worry about finding the ramp or escalator and the Tri-Star *always* finds a spot in the overhead bin; even on regional jets with small compartments.
The question you should be asking yourself is: Should you downsize from the Aeronaut and get a Tri-Star? I don't have an Aeronaut (yet) but the only benefit for me carrying the Aeronaut instead of the Tri-Star would be the ability to carry another pair of shoes. But if your feet are smaller than mine (US 11.5 mens), you might be able to get a couple of pairs of shoes in the Tri-Star.
If the osprey is 36 liters, then that's in line with the Tristar (33 liters) which is really an AMAZING bag. I think once you get to max carry-on size I can see the logic for having wheels, as a shoulder bag at 45 liters can be unwieldy if you've really stuffed it. The Tristar though is the perfect size as a shoulder bag, and as a backpack it doesn't look bulky, but blends right in.
I have the Osprey Porter 46, which is a bag that has great reviews, but it's not nearly as well thought out as the Tom Bihn Tristar. For instance, the Porter 46 used to have a front pocket for papers (removed on this year's model to cut costs). That pocket would have been great for things like boarding passes, as it could fit 8.5x11 or A4 papers, BUT the opening zipper was below the compression straps, which meant to get to your itineraries or boarding passes you had to undo the clips, and then reclip them (which is tedious if they are tight for compression). It sounds minor but in practice it annoyed the heck out of me each time. Also the ultralight osprey rollers have much less durable materials than even the beefier Osprey's, which use some kind of nylon I believe, not as strong as either ballistic or cordura.
They're good intro bags for the "one bag" crowd, but if there's one thing I've learned it's that if you're a person who is actively researching what a well designed bag is and you begin by buying a bargain or entry-level bag, 9 times out of 10 you'll end up buying a nicer bag that remedies the problems you found in the cheaper one. Why not start with the tristar and get something that's bomb proof and will last longer than the Osprey while having more realistic modes of carry?
If you need a roller, then get a dedicated roller like the eBags ones for about $60. For a one bag that even when max packed is comfortable to carry in three different ways, the tristar is the best bag you can find.
If you haven't already done so, check with your local REI to see if they have the new Osprey Ozone in stock. (The one near me does.)
The main thing that caught my eye about the Osprey wheeled bag is the material--210d nylon. That's the same weight as the "lining" Tom Bihn uses in his bags.
Gadling did a review of the new Osprey bag and while they liked it, they, too, were concerned about the thin material.
Gadling Gear Review: Ozone Ultralight Roller Bag | Gadling.com
And since wheeled bags have more of a tendency to get checked--regular or gate--you'd be better off getting a sturdier bag.
@Fat Crip, the Osprey I was comparing to is also 46L (it is the ozone series) but you are right about the wheels and handle taking up some of that space. Again, you are also right about it only being more convienent in the airport. I specifically remember a time in San Francisco on the train from the airport and how cumbersome my wheeled (and overpacked) bag was. I think the Tri-Star may be to small for me, especially since I often travel from West Coast to East and need warmer clothing.
@Adamki I worry the Tri-Star is a bit to small. I rarely travel with my laptop so there is the space in the center compartment but the Aeronaut seems like a better fit for me. Of course, one day there is an option to add the Tri-Star as well. Thanks for your input.
The Osprey was 46L so on par with the Aeronaut, but you are right about the materials not being on par with the Tom Bihn bags and the lack of compartments is something that annoys me.
Originally Posted by drbobguy
I think my current plan is to get 2 bags sized similar to the Aeronaut and the Tri-Star, pack it and see what will work well for me size wise. Of course I could just order them both from Tom Bihn but I dont want to pay return shipping.
I do need to go to REI and actually look at it. I was waiting a few weeks until preschool starts again so I can go without my 4 year old helper. My trip isn't until late February so I have plenty of time. I also read the Gadling review and seeing the part about the thin material made me iffy. Last year I broke 2 cheap suitcases so that is something that concerns me.
Originally Posted by Frank II
Thanks for your input!
By all mean, look at all the bags in your vicinity, but, buy either the Aeronaute or the Tristar.
Many years ago, when I lived in Europe, I travelled with very bulky suitcases, I had a little rolling cart to help out, but it added more bulk than anything, something I didn't need.
A forum member, I think it was Maverick, bought a more recent and lightweight folding luggage cart model. This can be handy when transitioning from wheeled to wheel free.
I bought a Tri-Star recently, the middle compartment is just a suitcase compartment, it just doesn't open all the way out like the front and back compartments.
It is the perfect place for electronics protected in a Brain Cell, (Tom Bihn lightweight laptop case) or various Caches for tablet like devices.
It can also be used with Packing Cubes of various sizes or by itself for clothes. books or accessories...
I have yet to do, even a practice pack with the Tri-Star.
I am very familiar with the Aeronaut because I packed my vintage ballistic one, in a rush, for a "get out of town in a hurry getaway" also known as a possible evacuation.
It usually holds my big needlework pieces awaiting framing.
The Aeronaut fits my Plus Size clothes perfectly, is a dream to pack, even in the most of hurry and you can choose the ultra strong and sturdy ballistic for domestic flights or the ultra strong and lightweight Dyneema for those pesky European and Asian weight regulated flights.
I travelled for many years on our annual vacation known to me as "the family visit trek". In January, we would fly from our Temperate San Francisco Bay Area home to Warm Florida to Freezing Cold Canada to Cold Midwest.
Every stop had to include dress up and casual clothes and usually a mean to bring a portable computer.
It was before I got my Tom Bihn bags, I felt like Jeeves, the butler catering to bags with unwieldy layout, heavy weight and low capacity, uncomfortable to the point of hurting handles and I don't recommend anybody suffering on vacation or work trip because of packing logistic.
Far forward we did a car trip from warm Alabama to Snowmaggedon Virginia and a plane trip from Freezing Cold Virginia to Warm Florida, again with dressy and casual clothes as well as an heavy laptop, but, this time, we had our Tom Bihn Brain Bags.
I so wish I had found Tom Bihn Bags earlier, I would have enjoyed my vacations more.
Oh yeah, I did mean I would look at comparable sizes but then order the Aeronaut or Tri-Star, I probably wasn't clear on that. Thanks for the input, I am really excited about whichever of the 2 bags I decide on. I did take my Synapse out for a spin today (lucky for us, the zoo is open on Christmas which is nice because we are Jewish and it is not crowded) and it was so comfortable. Even my husband remarked on how much more comfortable it is than our other backpacks.
Originally Posted by backpack
Originally Posted by sarahlin
Don't let your husband get used to Tom Bihn bags and accessories, he'll take them over! Lol!
I love my Synapse(s) as well. I scored one of the latest UV and just got a brand new Nordic.
I can help with the capacity of either because I have both. Hannuka presents included a Nordic Aeronaute and a Steel Travel Dyneema Tristar.
The Tristar is amazing and I might exchange the Steel for a Nordic, if my husband agrees. The Tristar is for him but there is no law that says that I can't borrow it.
This way, I would have almost the complete Nordic bag set which I am sure is going to grow because Tom is working on new designs, one of which being the Pilot.
I almost ordered the Co-PIlot with my surprise but decided against it because I need to do load of practice "light packing" which is a huge challenge when one is hefty and only wears cotton or microfiber.
To help with light weight compression packing I also got UV Travel Stuff Sacks, Travel Tray and 3D Organizer Cube. They will join my other UV Packing Cubes to help keeping the load light.
I was also very naughty and got the most beautiful Nordic/UV Small Cafe Bag almost the minute I saw it on the forum, Blog and its own page.
This Hannuka, I did get one gift per day. :)
I waited all year long, which was very very very difficult because the most gorgeous Aubergine was introduced and it was all I could do to contain myself from ordering everything in that color.
By some kind of miracle, I was able to hold off until the Travel Dyneema was introduced.
I spent the long, ultra hot, trying to compete with Mars' summer with my Everyday Dyneema things holding water bottles and cardigan to prevent chills from the stores AC Arctic blasts and a wind/rain shield against the ever present threat of severe storm generated rain. A pleasant sunny day can turn into a green sky worth frightening Toto and Dorothy at the drop of a hat which I also carry for sun protection.
In that heat, I even left my Cordura Small Cafe bag at home.
Everyday Dyneema is the best for hot weather and I know you have plenty of that in San Diego.
Not enabling you or anything. :)
I have a 3d cube and some other goodies arriving Thursday. I do have a travel tray which I haven't used yet for anything other than knitting. A Nordic shop bag is on my wishlist, I love the ones I have. I am considering a MCB. I'm not usually a messenger bag girl (my go to purse is an MZ Wallace Jane) but the MCB would be good for short outings with my daughter where I need to bring water and a snack.
Since you love shoulder bags, The Swift and/or the Little Swift are for you.
Originally Posted by sarahlin
I have 4 Swifts and they are great shoulder bags, bonus, the handle is very comfortable and doesn't slip, even on my very small down sloped shoulders.
I usually place a Packing Cube Shoulder Bag inside the Swift to get a zippered main compartment effect.
I don't have a Little Swift but Dorayme has a couple, she also has children so she could help in choosing either of those two wonderful Tom Bihn Bags.
All my Travel Bags, Shoulder Bags and Backpacks as well as most accessories are from Tom Bihn
I posted some photos of what I packed in a Tri-Star for a trip in 2011 here. There are some other photos/lists in that thread as well as other threads with Aeronaut packing lists in that forum.
The rear compartment could have held more. If you need to pack more than that then, yeah, go for the Aeronaut. If you do, you may have to practice some restraint when packing so that the bag doesn't get too heavy.