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Thread: ideal setup for three-day commutes ?

  1. #1
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    ideal setup for three-day commutes ?

    Dear all,

    I am looking into buying a Tom Bihn bag for my commute, and I find it hard to weigh my options without seeing the bags in real life. However, I noticed this very supportive forum, and would like to get some advice.

    I travel to work on a weekly basis. I use train and bike, and I arrive at my flat at my work location for three days. Upon arrival, I bike from there to work. For my long commute, I need to take clothes, towels and food for three days, and sometimes bedsheets. I also carry some books, a laptop and an iPad from and to work every day.

    I would like to have an Aeronaut 30 bag, in which I use packing cubes to separate clothes, towels and food, and in which I also store a backpack to contain laptop, iPad and books. I like the idea of using a packing cube/backpack but I am wondering how good this option is to use as a laptop carrying bag. What are my options here to use a laptop bag or backpack as packing cube, and what are their pros and cons?

    I am also worried about liquids and yoghurt etc inside the bag.

    Any thought is welcomed.

    Best,

    Giovanni

  2. #2
    Registered User kkintea's Avatar
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    There's no padding in the packing cube backpack; have you considered the daylight (for a smaller backpack that packs into a larger bag) or the S25 with a cache as an all purpose bag? Do you have a need to carry the laptop separate around work after you arrive? Or a budget to keep in mind?

  3. #3
    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Welcome to the TB forum Giovanni!

    I used to do a similar commute, only I drove. 4 days at my place near work some 2 hours away, then 3 days (i.e. weekends) back home in Toronto.
    Quote Originally Posted by gsamaey View Post
    I travel to work on a weekly basis. I use train and bike, and I arrive at my flat at my work location for three days. Upon arrival, I bike from there to work. For my long commute, I need to take clothes, towels and food for three days, and sometimes bedsheets. I also carry some books, a laptop and an iPad from and to work every day.

    I would like to have an Aeronaut 30 bag, in which I use packing cubes to separate clothes, towels and food, and in which I also store a backpack to contain laptop, iPad and books. I like the idea of using a packing cube/backpack but I am wondering how good this option is to use as a laptop carrying bag. What are my options here to use a laptop bag or backpack as packing cube, and what are their pros and cons?

    I am also worried about liquids and yoghurt etc inside the bag.
    The Aeronaut (30 or 45) will give you the most flexible layout since it's really just a big cavern. Another option might be the Tri-Star, which can give you more natural organization/separation of your clothes from your electronics and food items.

    Some additional questions, since this is a pretty wide open topic without some more details:
    • How big of a laptop do you have to carry?
    • Do you prefer it to be a backpack, or are you open to messengers/totes?
    • How much clothing do you pack, and what type of clothing is it? Suits will necessitate a different packing solution than jeans and t-shirts.
    • What kinds of food are you carrying to you work location? Lots of food? Cans? Frozen? Already cooked?
    • What is a worst case scenario load like? Clothes + linens + food = how much stuff really?
    • How long is the overall trip?
    • What are you currently using to haul this stuff around?



    Quote Originally Posted by kkintea View Post
    There's no padding in the packing cube backpack; have you considered the daylight (for a smaller backpack that packs into a larger bag) or the S25 with a cache as an all purpose bag? Do you have a need to carry the laptop separate around work after you arrive? Or a budget to keep in mind?
    The Daylight doesn't have any real padding either; you have to supply/arrange your own in the shingled pockets to form a padded backing. That will depend on your load out. At least it has a little more structure than a PCBP (which is honestly the least used piece of TB gear I own [Aeronaut version]; well, I use it as a packing cube, but rarely ever as a backpack).
    gsamaey likes this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsamaey View Post
    Dear all,

    For my long commute, I need to take clothes, towels and food for three days, and sometimes bedsheets. I also carry some books, a laptop and an iPad from and to work every day.

    I would like to have an Aeronaut 30 bag, in which I use packing cubes to separate clothes, towels and food, and in which I also store a backpack to contain laptop, iPad and books. I like the idea of using a packing cube/backpack but I am wondering how good this option is to use as a laptop carrying bag. What

    Giovanni
    How many towels and bedsheets are you thinking of? For 3 days, can you do a packtowl and maybe a silk travel sheet to cut down on weight and space if you were thinking of terry cloth towels and typical mattress sheets/flat sheets? Depending on your clothing list and food list, you may be able to fit everything into a Synapse 25. When you get to the flat, you can unload everything and then use the Synapse for work.

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    Thanks for the reply and detailed questions.

    The Aeronaut (30 or 45) will give you the most flexible layout since it's really just a big cavern. Another option might be the Tri-Star, which can give you more natural organization/separation of your clothes from your electronics and food items.

    Some additional questions, since this is a pretty wide open topic without some more details:
    • How big of a laptop do you have to carry?

      I have a 13'' MacBook Pro + power chord + an iPad.
    • Do you prefer it to be a backpack, or are you open to messengers/totes?

      Since I need to bike, I definitely prefer a backpack (both for the full luggage and for the smaller bag to carry the laptop).
    • How much clothing do you pack, and what type of clothing is it? Suits will necessitate a different packing solution than jeans and t-shirts.
    • What is a worst case scenario load like? Clothes + linens + food = how much stuff really?

      I usually need casual clothing for 3 days: 3 shirts, a sweater, jeans + 1 pair of pyjamas; I don't need to wear a suit. Plus a big and small towel and sometimes bedsheets for a 2p bed.
    • What kinds of food are you carrying to you work location? Lots of food? Cans? Frozen? Already cooked?

      I just take food for breakfast and supper so I don't waste time with grocery shopping when at work: a loaf of bread, some milk and yoghurt and a few biscuits. Not the biggest quantities, but unpleasant is something spills on my clothes.
    • How long is the overall trip?

      I go for three days. Transport time is 1.5h by train + 2x20 min by bike. When I am there, I need to do 10-20 min by bike daily with only the backpack.
    • What are you currently using to haul this stuff around?

      I currently have a laptop backpack + a hard 30l suitcase. The suitcase is hardly ever full, and is very annoying to carry on the luggage rack of my bike. That is why I started looking into a better solution, and a ProfHacker post guided me here.


    I hope these answers can help steer the discussion.

    Thanks,

    Giovanni

  6. #6
    Registered User scribe's Avatar
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    If you want a single bag you can carry on your back when biking (I assume so, from your suggestion of packing a backpack inside an Aeronaut), maybe a Brain Bag would be a good choice? It's very capacious, but when you've emptied out your clothes and groceries, it can be strapped down tighter so your laptop and commute stuff don't rattle around in it.

    Also, it has two separate main compartments as well as four external pockets (big enough for milk bottles/cartons), which would make it a lot easier to keep food away from clothing. Plus, if you're only buying a single bag, you can use the money saved to buy accessories that would protect your yogurt, etc - clear organiser cubes, clear quarter packing cubes, travel stuff sacks and shop bags all come in handy for these kinds of uses.
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  7. #7
    Registered User adalangdon's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think the Brain Bag is a good option. But not having an A30, I am not sure whether the BB will fit inside it! If you don't mind possibly having to two-bag it, I would recommend the BB like @scribe.
    Last edited by adalangdon; 08-07-2014 at 12:24 AM.

  8. #8
    Registered User scribe's Avatar
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    Oh, I wasn't suggesting the Brain Bag inside an Aeronaut - I was suggesting one-bagging with the BB only. It's bigger than an A30, after all!
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    Quote Originally Posted by scribe View Post
    Oh, I wasn't suggesting the Brain Bag inside an Aeronaut - I was suggesting one-bagging with the BB only. It's bigger than an A30, after all!
    I hadn't considered that, as the brain bag was not in the list of travel bags. That sounds like a nice option.

    In that case, I think I could use a brain cell to keep my laptop, a Freudian slip to keep my miscellaneous backpack stuff, and packing cubes for the food and clothes. Now all I need to think of is the following:
    - how can I optimally stuff the bag with packing cubes? which packing cubes and how many fit in a brain bag?
    - I think it would be wise to use a hard container to put my liquid and semiliquid food in. What accessories would you recommend?
    - Does it make a difference for space optimisation with packing cubes whether I use a horizontal or vertical Brain Cell/freudian Slip?

    Life would be easier (for me ;-) ) when I would be able to see the bags/accessories and try them out before ordering, but this lively and friendly community is very handy as well. Thanks for all the hints.

    Giovanni

  10. #10
    Registered User adalangdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scribe View Post
    Oh, I wasn't suggesting the Brain Bag inside an Aeronaut - I was suggesting one-bagging with the BB only. It's bigger than an A30, after all!
    /face... palm...

    (at myself, of course)

  11. #11
    Registered User PaulT00's Avatar
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    I used to do something very similar to this, for about 8 years. Commute was 2.5 hours on the train each way, then the London Underground at the work end. Generally I was doing 4 days (3 nights) a week in London in a rented flat (or a cheap hotel, for about 6 months between digs). I started out using 3 bags (WWIT!?) - a smallish Samsonite wheeled case, a Samsonite laptop briefcase (at the time I was dealing with a 16" 4:3 aspect ratio Sony laptop; glorious screen, but not exactly portable!) and an Oakley Icon backpack.

    Note: navigating through the London Underground using a wheely case with another bag lashed to the handle is not recommended.

    Generally I was carrying business casual clothing for the 4 days (plus one spare 'everything') on the way up and dirty washing on the way back. I also had a gym routine in London, to stop myself going bonkers, so I would usually be carrying gym kit as well, including shoes. Initially, I never did any washing in digs and the bedding and towels were handled for me (serviced self-catering studio). I didn't need to carry much in the way of food, though, because after going to the gym on night 1 I would stop off at the local supermarket (open until 10pm) and buy food for the week. Digs included a fridge, microwave and toaster. There was sufficient storage space that I could keep various stuff there, as it was 'mine' for the duration.

    Several changes later:
    I had to move out of that set of digs because the company went bankrupt and kicked me out. After 6 months staying 3 nights a week in a small hotel near Paddington train station, I rented another place in Bloomsbury. I also swapped to a smaller laptop (macbook).

    For the last 4 years the routine was: laptop and gym kit in Oakley backpack, clothes and other impedimenta in a small holdall probably a bit smaller than an A30. The wheely case didn't get used any more and I was packing a bit lighter. Laundry facilities were available (communal laundry room in the basement) but tended only to be used about once or twice a month. I didn't need to carry bedding back and forth as I bought some specifically for the flat when I moved in, and left it there. Some clothing lived at the flat too, as did toiletries etc. So clothing and towels would go back and forth. As before, I didn't tend to carry much in the way of food as I continued to do shopping in the late evening of day 1.

    These days, if going to London for more than a daytrip (typically 2-5 days for work) I use an A45 which happily swallows clothing, toiletries, a TB Pilot for EDC (which includes the laptop in cache, plus paperwork and notepad etc) and a PCBP for carrying gym kit etc. I'm looking at getting an A30 for shorter overnight stays.

    To be honest my recommendation would be an A45 with a smaller backpack inside it for EDC! However that is coloured by my physical stature - I'm 6'2" and around 250lb, so clothing etc tends to be bulkier than to fit someone more petite. You mentioned that you occasionally need to carry bedding, which is also pretty bulky, and I would be concerned that the A30 wouldn't cope with everything in one bag. If you were to carry the A30 by its handle and put other stuff in a backpack (say an S25, depending on the laptop size etc)... am I right in assuming that the A30 would only go as far as your digs?
    A45 crim/stl TS navy/solr A30 aub/wsbi S19 nrdc/stl P nrdc/solr CP blk/stl; SE wsbi CQPC ibrn, solr Ri aub/stl 3DCC card TSS4 wsbi K card TT solr,nrdc,blk CC card/stl PCBP solr PP navy QK frst,cyte,aub + loadsa cubes!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulT00 View Post
    To be honest my recommendation would be an A45 with a smaller backpack inside it for EDC!
    This is exactly how I prefer to travel. I did exactly this on a recent two-week trip. Unfortunately, my new Aeronaut 45 had not arrived before I left, so I used another bag (Patagonia MLC). I collapsed my EDC bag into the main bag and used it extensively while on-site (carrying laptop, notebooks, etc). This is my preferred way to travel, and in fact, I just ordered a Brain Bag last night. Next trip will be the exact scenario described above: BB in a A45

    To scribe's point, the BB is certainly large to be used stand-alone in shorter trips, and thus, might be a bit large for EDC at my destination, but it will give quite a bit of flexibility.
    gsamaey likes this.

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    Thanks so much for all the helpful advice. I guess I am almost there.

    The options I have appear to be an Aeronaut 30 or 45 with an additional EDC backpack inside, or a Brain Bag (with or without an additional EDC backpack depending on how comfortable I am using an EDC bag of that size).

    Given the intermediate size of the Brain Bag + its additional compartmentalisation (that could be good to separate the food from the rest), I think I will go for that option.

    Now comes the next challenge: how to accessorise?

    - I searched the forums and figured out already that the Brain Bag main compartments can each host an aeronaut 45 large packing cube (or 2 small ones, or 4 quarters clears etc.) I could not figure out from those posts if that is with or without a laptop present in that compartment (be it in a Brain Cell or a Cache) and/or a Freudian slip.
    - It was mentioned above that each of the front pockets is large enough to hold a milk carton. What is the volume of these front pockets ? I would prefer to keep yoghurt and milk there to have it away from the rest of my stuff, but the front pockets are also the places that have the potential of taking a hit, so that might not be my best option.

    I am thinking about the following setup.

    Main compartment 1 : cache for MacBook Pro 13'' + 1 large packing cube backpack to contain clothes + towels.
    Main compartment 2: cache for iPad + 1 small packing cube for underwear + my current shoulder bag that contains wallet/phone/keys/...

    + 1 Freudian slip in one of the two compartments.

    (I am taking the suggestion made above to not transport my bedlinnen. Strange I didn't think of that seriously before...)

    That leaves two options for my food (typically a loaf of bread/a few small pots of yoghurt, a few juice boxes of milk (20cc) and some low-volume stuff like sliced meat and biscuits). Either I put this inside a lunch box in the Main compartment 2 (possibly shifting stuff that is there into one of the front pockets), or I try to stuff it in the front pockets.

    Any thoughts ?

    Best, and (as always) thanks for any hints.

    Giovanni


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