Mike, wow, thanks for the visual proof that the Tri-Star can work for what I'll be doing. This is indeed a tough decision.
Regarding my earlier point about taking two bags (laptop and travel bag), as my thinking has evolved over the last couple of days, I think what I'm really after is the following:
1. The ability to haul everything through the airport in a single bag, and
2. The ability to pull out a laptop bag once I board the plane, stowing the travel bag in the overhead bin and the laptop bag under-seat, and
3. Using the laptop bag as my daily-carry once I reach my destination
I think I'm leaning toward the Aeronaut for this purpose, as I don't want to carry the Tri-Star as my daily bag. But if anyone has thoughts or suggestions for my use case, please let me know.
Assuming I went with the Aeronaut and carried all the stuff I mentioned above, what laptop bag would you guys recommend for holding a laptop plus other stuff I'd want to access while on the plane (chargers, meds, headphones, food, etc.), that will fit in the Aeronaut? I previously mentioned that I prefer a briefcase or messenger style bag, but on further thought, I'm open to backpack-style bags also. My initial objection to backpacks was based on my dislike of my current large, side-loading backpack laptop bag, but there is no reason this should dissuade me from a better backpack solution, I think.
And of course, if I am off the mark, please don't hesitate to suggest a better system.
The Brain Bag, the Aeronaute and the Tristar can handle a full week of clothes as in 7 changes of tops, bottoms and foundation garments, but they are going to be really heavy and it is most probable than a second bag for electronics would be needed.
This doesn't address the special handling required for suit jackets, coats, other cold weather attire and bulky shoes.
Before I got my Aeronaute and Tristar in Dyneema, I used to pack around 35 pounds of clothes and things, I have learned to streamline to 14 pounds per bag.
While it is easily done with people of medium size clothes or under, fitting large size clothes is another matter and compromise need to be made. I don't really know what they are, because on my last trip, I knew that I could do laundry for the majority of the stay.
While I used the Aeronaute on my last trip, I really want to use the Tristar for the next one, hoping it will fit all big clothes I want to bring.
If I visit friends and really want to look good, I might chicken out and take the Aeronaute anyway. Gorgeous in Nordic can be Tristarified by using packing cubes, thus creating 3 compartments inside.
Though it is currently unavailable, I use a PC Checkpoint as my carry-on if I was on a 2-3 day trip. If it was a longer trip (say a Business week), I would add in my Brain Bag. The Brain bag actually has more interior space than the Tristar and is very comfortable even when heavily loaded compared to any other non-TB backpacks. For "one-bag", the Brain Bag with a Brain Cell is very easy to do. The Brain Cell can double as a light stylish vertical briefcase. And, if I need more room in the Brain Bag, I just take out the Brain Cell and use it as my personal carry-on (even though it is not completely TSA compliant, I have never had issues leaving my laptop in it and putting it through the checkpoints - I just put the side with the pockets towards the bottom).
If you are going with the Aeronaut, you could get a Synapse 19 or even an Aeronaut packing cube with shoulder straps and put in a Brain Cell to protect your laptop. A TB Cadet might also fit and you would have that professional laptop case option too.
What you're asking for is exactly what I'm after too, I just haven't figured out an optimum solution yet. For me, it was going to be the Tri-star with a horizontal brain cell inside, though that isn't exactly an "EDC" bag. It isn't the solution now because I have a shoebox-sized CPAP machine, but once I get a smaller one, I'll probably still do this. I also don't usually pack shoes, which are bulky.
If you want a nicer EDC bag than a brain cell once you arrive, be careful that the laptop fits inside. I don't think your laptop will fit in a Cadet or a Synapse 19, but I'm thinking a Synapse 25 would be no problem. (That's my EDC bag, so I know a 4Z-sized cache fits quite comfortably.) Be sure to check with the experts at Tom Bihn on sizing though.
I think both the Aeronaut and Brain Bag would be good choices. Brain Bag could be an EDC all by itself (though rather large) but it only has one carry option -- on your back -- while the Aeronaut can be carried 3 ways, if that matters to you.
And don't overlook packing cube backpacks... they aren't fancy, but they're such a great idea for an EDC bag on arrival... It's probably just me, but when somebody comes up with such a clever idea, I can't help but be attracted to it.
Thanks again to everyone on these forums for helping me to make an informed decision. I went ahead and ordered the Aeronaut and some packing cubes, though it was a hard choice vs. the Tri-Star.
I deferred the laptop bag decision for now, as it seems that none of the currently available options will fit my laptop AND fit in the packed Aeronaut. It's probably just as well, as I'm due for an upgrade in a couple of months, and I'll probably go for an ultrabook, which will fit in more/smaller bags. For now, I'm planning to use an old Timbuk2 laptop sleeve that's just laying around.
I just noticed that this thread made the blog: Decisions, Decisions: Picking the Right Bag - TOM BIHN Blog: We make travel bags in Seattle, Washington
At the beginning of this week, I hadn't even heard of Tom Bihn. I happened across it while perusing FlyerTalk on my search for a new bag. By the end of the week, I think I'm probably a customer for life, and I haven't even received my bag yet. What a cool company, with an awesome community!
Admittedly I feel a tinge of guilt for selecting the Aeronaut over the Tri-Star, especially after Mike's help, but like many of you, I think I'll probably get both (and more), eventually.
Thanks again to everyone for helping me to decide on a bag!
You shouldn't feel guilty! The goal was to be sure you got the right bag, and that's not the same bag for everyone.
Be sure to do a test pack when you get your bag and let us know how it goes.