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Thread: Western Flyer or Tristar for a petite female?

  1. #1
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    Western Flyer or Tristar for a petite female?

    I'm 5'4" and my travels are usually for 3-7 days, both domestic and international. I have a MBP retina 15 laptop, and, as a software developer who can work anywhere, the MBP tends to be my personal carry (in a separate backpack). However, on my pure pleasure trips, I don't bother carrying the MBP, but do carry my iPad, Kindle and sometimes a DSLR.

    It seems like the Western Flyer would work. I could use that for clothes/toiletries and continue with using a separate electronics bag when I bring my laptop. Also, according to many, the size of the WF would probably work better with my torso-size.

    HOWEVER, the middle compartment of the Tristar is mighty tempting. I could totally forgo the 2nd bag and stash a PC/BP for those items that somehow come back home with me (that is if the tristar blackhole couldn't handle it). Worried about the overpacking/weight concerns some have voiced.

    So, questions I have that I hope you knowledgeable TB customers can help me with:

    1) I usually have to fly the puddle-jumpers (RJ145s) to go the major airport hubs. I know the Western Flyer could fit in the overhead bins and/or underseat. Anyone have issues with the Tristar as a carry-on in these small planes? Ever have to check-it (the TS)?
    2) Would the WF be able to handle my MBP as well as 3-4 days of clothes?
    3) Reading through the forums, I know some people downsized from the TS to the WF due to weight (possible overpacking). Anyone regret that? Did anyone go from WF to the TS?
    4) If you have the WF and the TS do you like one more than the other?

    Looking forward to hearing any recommendations. I would like to just get one bag for now (but sign me up for the smaller aeronaut if that ever comes out )

    I've been trolling the forums for quite a while now and am grateful for all the insights/comments I've read thus far.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Registered User aryabird's Avatar
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    I'm the same height as you and have a Tri-Star. It will easily hold 3-4 days of clothes, your MBP with room left over and it will fit in the overhead bin as well as under the seat (if not overpacked) of smaller planes. I have also put my laptop in the Synapse and used the center compartment to hold both so I only had to carry one bag while still having a seperate daypack at my destination. I'm fairly short-waisted, but no issue with carrying the TS.
    Can't comment on the Western Flyer as I don't have one.
    Indigo/Solar Tri-Star, Indigo/Solar Synapse, Black/Steel, 13" Ristretto, Black/Wasabi iPad Ristretto, Forest/UV Smart Alec

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    Thanks, aryabird. It's nice to know carrying it isn't bad and my worry about a forced check-in shouldn't be an issue. JIC, I'll have to think about the bag-in-bag idea. Another excuse for me to start a Tom Bihn collection

  4. #4
    Registered User jannilee's Avatar
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    I have a wf and can easily carry clothes for 3weeks with space left over for a mbp. I guess it would all depend on how many clothes you usually take for 3-4 days. Iam about your height and i find the wf a very comfortable carry in backpack mode. The tristar is a bit too long for me and i sure dont need the extra space.

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    Hi, jannilee. 3 weeks! Wow!

    3-4 days clothes packing for me would be 2 pants, 4 shirts, underwear, socks, pjs. Work is business casual so I don't have to worry about heavy suits, just the MBP.

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    Having downsized from a Tri-Star to a Western Flyer in December, I one-bagged it with the latter for the first time this evening. Three day trip, business casual. All my clothes (I'm 5'9") fit into one compartment; my Lenovo T410 inside a padded sleeve, power supply, notepad, a little paperwork, Kindle and 311 bag fit into the other.

    It's a little heavier than I'd like over one shoulder, but absolutely manageable schlepping around the airport. The WF doesn't look overpacked in the slightest.

    What couldn't I fit? My running shoes. I'll need to figure that out next time.
    Enlightened traveller since 2009

  7. #7
    JLE
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    I downsized from a TS to a WF (5'6" female) and am happy to have done so. I love using the WF although I know what you mean about the convenience of the TS's third compartment! But I am one of those who found it was very easy to overpack the TS.

    I could easily use the WF for a 3-4 day trip but I would probably take a second bag for my laptop in that situation. But that's because I usually have a second pair of shoes with me. Without them I think it would be do-able.

    Mostly, however, I use mine for overnighters.

  8. #8
    ceb
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    I've found that shoes are a problem in both bags. Everything seems quite do-able in either bag (I just did a 3 day business casual [with the same people so I had to look a bit "different" each day] trip using the TS as a WF (nothing in the middle compartment) without issues. I was using a small Dell laptop bag for my computer that I quite like (but wish it was on Bihn quality) which sounds like what you would do.

    I'm thinking of adding a WF or Zephyr to my TS to replace my laptop bag and to do an overnight with the laptop in the back compartment.

    Anybody have any secrets for packing a pair of men's 10.5 shoes without having the front bulge out?
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

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    Never thought of leaving the middle compartment of the TS empty ...

    I'm currently leaning towards the TS due to the different options (laptop or not, underpacked or stuffed). If I do get the TS, to help stop overpacking, I may need to pack like I have a WF. (But I guess I'll have to get a WF as well, huh, to figure that out .... TB buying syndrome here I come)

    I usually wear my heavier/bulkier shoes in transit. For running and/or touring I use my vibram five fingers (used in multiple countries and states). The only time the vibrams are an issue is when it's a wet area as they are low profile and aren't waterproof. I guess it's something to think about if I find myself traveling to a wet area for business.

    Speaking of wet areas ... I'm bummed that my next trip is to Seattle but I'm going to miss going to the TB store. I wasn't able to get a flight to arrive in Seattle until Friday evening (way after the store closes). I'll continue to check for earlier flights as I'd love to see the stuff in person (even though I will hopefully have my own TB bag for that trip).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pita11 View Post
    Never thought of leaving the middle compartment of the TS empty ...

    I'm currently leaning towards the TS due to the different options (laptop or not, underpacked or stuffed). If I do get the TS, to help stop overpacking, I may need to pack like I have a WF. (But I guess I'll have to get a WF as well, huh, to figure that out .... TB buying syndrome here I come)
    I debated this as well and ended up with a Tristar. Having used it a lot in the past 4 months it was definitely the right decision for me. These are high quality, expensive bags, so I decided to get the one of the three (TS, WF, Aeronaut) that was the most "jack of all trades" and that can cover the most use cases. The disadvantages over the WF are small, whereas the advantages over the Aeronaut seemed large.

    I will say a stuffed Tristar with electronics+clothes was definitely TOO much. I took a 3 week trip with a maxed Tristar, and opening/closing the zippers was a real chore as it took a lot of effort. It performed fine, but weighed in at 25lbs, which I quickly found was too much for even the Absolute strap to comfortably carry for more than 5 minutes. The Aeronaut's extra size I can't see being an advantage for me, at that size I'd want wheels on my bag.

    The Tristar though works well under packed, or packed full but not stuffed (keep it rectangular and it looks very professional).

  11. #11
    Registered User jannilee's Avatar
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    If you look at one of my posts from the going to seattle... yay thread you can see my under and over packed wf lists. Also the wf weighs less than the tristar and the dyneema one (drool) weighs even less than that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jannilee View Post
    If you look at one of my posts from the going to seattle... yay thread you can see my under and over packed wf lists. Also the wf weighs less than the tristar and the dyneema one (drool) weighs even less than that.
    Definitely getting a dyneema bag (love the weight reduction there). I also looked at the WF packing lists and I am so amazed with what people put in the bag! I guess I'm more worried about the laptop as I do tend to travel with that more than not. Sigh ....

  13. #13
    Registered User jannilee's Avatar
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    If you put the laptop in the back compartment on top of a couple of pairs of pants there should be no fit or cushioning problem.

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    Thanks, everyone. It looks like I'm just going to have to pick one and do a test pack for my various scenarios. Depending on what I find, I'll either keep or do an exchange.

    Thanks again!

  15. #15
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Sorry I'm jumping into this conversation a little late. I've been on a weeklong cruise.... with my Western Flyer! I've actually downsized and find I don't need the extra room in a Tri-Star anymore. Part of it because I've lost a lot of weight and my clothes have shrunken, but I've also gotten even better at minimizing my packing.

    As for how to schlep either the TS or WF as a petite/shorter female, either can work, but the WF is definitely going to give you less of a Galapagos tortoise look.
    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
    Publisher, The Travelite FAQ: Don't get saddled with baggage—free yourself & your mind by packing lightly!
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