I'm waffling between a Tri-Star and an Aeronaut for a 3 week leisure trip to China. The Aeronaut just seems too big and I fear it will lead to overpacking and be too heavy for me. And I like the Tri-Star's organization better and ability to hold contents in place without everything in packing cubes. That said, I don't need a Tri-Star for my laptop or business. I don't travel for business. My husband and I share a netback; he usually carries it in his pack.
Sooo...what to do with the middle compartment? Does it open up fully like the front and back sections or do you have to access it more like a compartment of a traditional briefcase. Is there enough room for a couple pairs of shoes and some sundry items (toiletries, laundry stuff, or knitting (haven't checked if knitting needles are allowed)? How wide is it? Or would stuffing other things beside a laptop create bulge into the other compartments.
Interested in hearing if others use the bag without a laptop and how you've utilized the middle compartment.