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Thread: Tristar and a Day Laptop Bag

  1. #1
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    Tristar and a Day Laptop Bag

    I have several Tom Bihn bags (Synapse 25, Cafe Bag, Ristretto and an Imago). I have browsed the forum many times, but this is the first time I'm posting.

    I am asking another version of the Aeronaut vs. Tristar thread that comes up all the time.

    Let me start by saying I am leaning in the direction of the Tristar, but I might need some confidence in the way of input from the great group here.

    I travel for work a few times a month for 2-3 nights. Right now, I take my Synapse 25 and a Samsonite rolling suitcase. Here are the things I want to try to achieve with a new bag:

    - Take only one bag on the plane vs my current Synapse/Samsonite set up
    - Carry enough clothes for 2-3 nights
    - Have the option to carry a sports coat or suit on the rare occasion
    - Carry a pair of sneakers
    - Be able to have another bag to carry the following into work after I reach my destination:
    - 15" Macbook Pro Retina
    - Power Supply
    - Various cables
    - iPad Mini or Kindle
    - Retain the checkpoint-friendly nature of the Cache on Rails set up I have with the Synapse

    My hypothetical set up is:

    - Tristar
    - Cache on Rails
    - Packing Cube Backpack
    - Other Packing Cubes as needed
    - Eagle Creek Pack-It Garment Sleeve

    I am thinking that I can pack up the Macbook, Cache, power supply, various cables and iPad/Kindle in the Packing Cube Backpack to take into the office. In talking with someone at Tom Bihn, they felt like the "light" nature of the Packing Cube Backpack may not be the best way to do this. I know the Brain Cell would work for this, but I hate to lose the checkpoint-friendly nature of the Cache on Rails. Is there another bag that I should be considering for my "day" bag?

    Also, will the Eagle Creek Pack-It Garment Sleeve fit in the Tristar? I'm seeing some threads saying I should use a Pack-it Folder.

    My alternate is to get an Aeronaut and just put whatever I need in there. I just like the idea of the Tristar more!

  2. #2
    Registered User kkintea's Avatar
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    I can second the PCBP advice from the crew: there is no shape to the backpack or any padding, so I think it might be uncomfortable (although not impossible) to carry the 15" MBPR. I have biked with the PCBP and I had a side effect (PLO), water, sunscreen, and lunch for 2. I think at some point I also was carrying my partner's DSLR wrap. But, all of the items were very light and it worked well.

    I have both the TS and the Aeronaut -- with the TS, the design handles a lot of the organization for you, and you can still add packing cubes and other accessories to further compartmentalize. With the Aeronaut, you get much more freedom to pack as haphazardly or as organized as you want. There is also the Aeronaut 30 debuting soon, so perhaps you could wait to see if maybe it's the in between bag that would work best for you.

    Perhaps you are gravitating more to the TS because of the organization of the S25 (whose Aeronaut backpack counterpart might be the Smart Alec). You could consider a Brain Cell, since it can be carried on its own and clipped into the TS. What are you other requirements for the day bag?

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    @widepipe Welcome to the forums. This is only a partial answer to your question, but you state that you want to "Retain the checkpoint-friendly nature of the Cache on Rails set up I have with the Synapse". Neither the Aeronaut nor the Tri-Star will let you use the same Cache on Rails that you have for your Synapse 25: the Aeronaut, because it does not support the Cache on Rails, and the Tri-Star because it is a horizontally oriented bag, and so would require a separate Horizontal Cache with Rails. See this recent thread on Choosing a Cache for Synapse 25 and Tri-Star for more details.

    The Tom Bihn crew are correct that the concern is for the degree of protection your laptop would get inside the Convertible Packing Cube Backpack for Tri-Star/Western Flyer. You might do a little better if you can order the Steel (which is the heavier 400d Dyneema fabric -- only made for a temporary run) before it sells out, place your 15" Retina MacBook Pro in a hard case, and then use the 4Z cache for the 15" MacBook Pro as described in the MacBook Pro 15" Retina sleeve so darn tight- something slightly larger? thread.

    A few people have claimed they can use the Pilot to carry a 15" Retina MacBook Pro, but it's a tight fit.

    I think I've read that the Eagle Creek Garment Sleeve is too large to fit in the Tri-Star, but works in the Aeronaut -- unless your garment sleeve is not the 21" size? (The 18" Pack-It folder is the maximum that will fit in the Tri-Star, and you don't give any dimensions) .

    HTH. moriond

    ETA: Another completely different solution is to use a Brain Bag in place of your luggage selection, if you don't need a "professional" appearance, but mainly the carrying capacity.
    Last edited by moriond; 05-12-2014 at 01:15 PM.

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    The Founder's Briefcase and Cadet are the two minimal-but-functional laptop bags that can hold a 15" MacBook. I can't remember if anybody's tried putting the Founder's Briefcase into the Tristar and posted pictures, but someone has done just what you're looking for with the Cadet--link below.

    Cadet fits in Tri-Star

    The Founder's Briefcase is pretty similarly-sized to the Cadet. It is .2" thicker when loaded, is .1" shorter, and is 1.45" wider. Wider shouldn't have much of an affect on the fit though. The Tristar is plenty wide to hold either.

    Founder's Briefcase is checkpoint friendly in a different way. It's a clamshell style briefcase that opens up completely, leaving the laptop in a padded pocket on one side by itself and all the other bits on the other side. I would think for checkpoint friendliness, if you had your laptop in the cache on rails inside the Cadet which is in turn left unzipped inside the Tristar, you could unzip the Tristar, reach into the Cadet, and slide the cache out on the rails.

    Alternatively, it's pretty easy to get the laptop out of the Founder's Briefcase to put in a bin if you prefer its look and functionality for everything but the airport.

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    Quote Originally Posted by autolycus View Post
    The Founder's Briefcase and Cadet are the two minimal-but-functional laptop bags that can hold a 15" MacBook. I can't remember if anybody's tried putting the Founder's Briefcase into the Tristar and posted pictures, but someone has done just what you're looking for with the Cadet--link below.

    Cadet fits in Tri-Star

    The Founder's Briefcase is pretty similarly-sized to the Cadet. It is .2" thicker when loaded, is .1" shorter, and is 1.45" wider. Wider shouldn't have much of an affect on the fit though. The Tristar is plenty wide to hold either.

    Founder's Briefcase is checkpoint friendly in a different way. It's a clamshell style briefcase that opens up completely, leaving the laptop in a padded pocket on one side by itself and all the other bits on the other side. I would think for checkpoint friendliness, if you had your laptop in the cache on rails inside the Cadet which is in turn left unzipped inside the Tristar, you could unzip the Tristar, reach into the Cadet, and slide the cache out on the rails.

    Alternatively, it's pretty easy to get the laptop out of the Founder's Briefcase to put in a bin if you prefer its look and functionality for everything but the airport.
    The Founder's Briefcase will not fit in the Tri-Star. The only two options that will fit in the Tri-Star are the Cadet and the Pilot. A few people have stated they can get the 15" Retina MacBook Pro into the Pilot, and have posted pictures. See the pictures at the end of the Pilot or Cadet? thread. The Founder's Briefcase can definitely take the 15" Retina MacBook Pro, because of its larger size.

    A better thread to view pictures and discussion of the Cadet inside the Tri-Star is UK-Limey's Cadet in Tri-Star thread.

    ETA: I should qualify my remarks about the Founder's Briefcase. You might want to ask the Tom Bihn folks specifically about this, but my understanding is that its width makes it too large to fit into the center section of the Tri-Star, which is only about 3" wide. I don't believe that an underfilled Founder's Briefcase can be fit into that compartment. With the Pilot, and with the Cadet, you can underfill the bags and get them into the center compartment of the Tri-Star. The Pilot is light-weight in the outer Dyneema, and lets you compress the unfilled forward compartments. The Cadet is padded on the bottom, but only up to the 3" depth. The front compartment can open in V-fashion forward, but if it's not filled it will not overflow the center of the Tri-Star. But I don't think the design of Founder's Briefcase allows you to get away with this. Maybe Beau or one of the Tom Bihn folks can answer this, since I can't find a definitive negative to cite in a quick forum search.

    moriond
    Last edited by moriond; 05-12-2014 at 01:33 PM.

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    Sorry @autolycus, I know you have the Founder's Briefcase. I didn't know that you had the Tri-Star. If you've been able to test the Founder's Briefcase in the Tri-Star I retract my comments. However, the center compartment of the Tri-Star is only about 3" wide, so the Founder's Briefcase unfilled would have to make that size in order to fit inside the Tri-Star. I can verify the statements I made about the Pilot and Cadet for the Tri-Star.

    moriond

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    Wow. Thank you everyone for the great feedback.

    I would love to use the Cadet, but the bill gets very high, very quickly if I take that route.

    It sounds like I may have to give up the convenience of the cache on rails and go with a Brain Cell. I'm giving up convenience for a minute or two at an airport checkpoint, but I would be gaining a much better "Day Laptop Bag".

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    What I'm about to say needs to be qualified with, I'm not very knowledgeable about technology and sizes of various computers. Now that that is out of the way, you might consider a dyneema medium or large Cafe Bag. It would fit nicely in the back section of a TS where the straps are stored. Upon arrival just pull it out, load it up and you're ready to go.
    Moose
    List exceeds allowed characters. So I'll just say I'm plum and kiwi loving FOT!

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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Sorry @autolycus, I know you have the Founder's Briefcase. I didn't know that you had the Tri-Star. If you've been able to test the Founder's Briefcase in the Tri-Star I retract my comments. However, the center compartment of the Tri-Star is only about 3" wide, so the Founder's Briefcase unfilled would have to make that size in order to fit inside the Tri-Star. I can verify the statements I made about the Pilot and Cadet for the Tri-Star.

    moriond
    I don't have a Tristar. I was going just on dimensions and assumptions from the Cadet photos. I'll try to measure the FB this evening to see how skinny it can get empty.

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    One bag travel seemed like the holy grail when I started to figure out how to simplify my travel life but I found two bags actually work much better for me. Like you, I am traveling to clients several times a month for 2 to 5 days at a time... the Tri-Star is the perfect bag for this and I easily fit in two mens suits and all my other clothing. Better yet, the Tri-Star is not that heavy and I can carry it on ling walks through the airport with no trouble. I use a separate briefcase (not a TB bag because I haven't yet found one which works for me) which accommodates my computer (a MacBook Air 11") and all my non-clothing items. The briefcase is also quite light and the two lighter bags are way easier to carry than the same load in a single bag. Yes, it's a bit of a pain to keep track of two bags, but I have a bag to bring to client meetings when I arrive and it easily fits under the airplane seat so everything I need on board the plane is readily available. One item I highly recommend in whatever briefcase / computer carry solution you settle on is the Freudian Slip... adds very little weight and provides excellent organization for all my files and small items.

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    Quote Originally Posted by autolycus View Post
    I don't have a Tristar. I was going just on dimensions and assumptions from the Cadet photos. I'll try to measure the FB this evening to see how skinny it can get empty.
    I have taken a close look at the FB in light of this discussion.

    The bottom and zipper sides of the FB have no padding so it compresses pretty well. When completely empty, it can be flattened to well under 3" thick. Probably something close to 2.5". That's with no laptop.
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    Quote Originally Posted by autolycus View Post
    I have taken a close look at the FB in light of this discussion.

    The bottom and zipper sides of the FB have no padding so it compresses pretty well. When completely empty, it can be flattened to well under 3" thick. Probably something close to 2.5". That's with no laptop.
    Good to know. So perhaps the Founder's Briefcase would work well inside the Tri-Star. The FB wil certainly hold larger size laptops, and not require a specially sized cache or Brain Cell. Thanks for checking.

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    @Moose The large cafe bag would be perfect, but it seems like it might be a smidge small for the 15" Macbook Retina:

    Will 15" Macbook fit in Large Cafe Bag

    Has anyone else tried to make that combination work? I don't mind if it sticks up a little as long as it buckles closed.
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    Hmmmmm,

    Actually, the Founders briefcase does fit in the middle of the Tri-Star,
    With the padded compartment full) as well as in the Aeronaut.
    I wouldn't go precisely by the posted measurements.

    Remember, Tom Bihn bags are much like the TARDIS from Doctor Who.
    The word TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension in Space.
    "The TARDIS is dimensionally transcendental, meaning it’s bigger on the inside than the outside.
    The interior exists in a different, relative, dimension to the exterior."

    That quote was taken from a site describing the Police Box that holds the traveling time machine
    Of Dr Who, I laughed when I realized that it properly describes TB bags.

    I'll try to post a pic when I get home.

    Cheers,
    Trailhiker
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    Registered User vivelly's Avatar
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    Thats a very accurate description of Tom Bihn bags! lol

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