"Personal Item" Recommendations....
I've been a Bihn Aeronaut single-bagger for years now, and I love it. I've recently begun flying a deep discount airline that has some draconian baggage requirements. One of which is that your only free item is your "personal item" - which must be no larger than 15"x16"x7" - As much as I love my aeronaut, and my Bedouin Genghis that goes with me everywhere, I don't really want to chance a 35 dollar fee every time I come through on this airline (long story, but this is going to be for a regular flight I take, and I'm looking to minimize cost)
That all said, I'm really considering a co-pilot, but I'm curious if anyone else out there has some ideas for me on the maximum sized bags that I can get to fit in these dimensions. They claim that it must "fit under the seat" of an MD-80 (which I know my Aeronaut does, but I'm not planning on winning that argument) - If Bihn makes something (in Steel/Solar preferably) that would fit this, that'd be my preferred, but I'm open to any other suggestions...
I'ce successfully used both a Synapse and a Smart Alec for this purpose. They're both great one-bag items. Obviously the Smart Alec holds more, but the Synapse is no slouch.
What are you planning on carrying with you? If you're thinking Co-Pilot, I'm thinking you are trying to streamline as much as possible, but it also seems to me that nukediver's suggestion of a slightly larger pack could be useful if you occasionally need to bring more. If you're looking for a more briefcase-y type bag, there's also the ID, the Cadet, or (if you like messenger bags) the Ego.
Sadly, Solar's been phased out, so your interior color choices will be different—most likely Steel if you choose a Steel exterior.
Well, I'm pretty much looking to take a minimum of beach-y clothes with me for a long weekend (basically 2-3 shirts, pair or 2 of shorts, pair of trunks, and my bathroom bag (which is a medium timbuk2 clear flexito) - plus the iPad and charger. Everything else I can wear on my body. If I can wear boat shoes down and pack my size 12 rainbow sandals, all the better, but with the size limitations, I'm obviously willing to make some concessions, I'll be lounging under / on the water nearly the entire time I'm down there, and could probably get by with the clothes on my back if I really had to, but I figure the more space I can get for free, the better.
I'm somewhat sad about the solar, I'm a big fan of bright interiors to bags to assist in finding items, but I'd just be happy to find a steel exterior on a copilot. I'm also considering a Timbuk2 Jetway tote, which with their current sale might be worthwhile to try, and gift it if it doesn't seem like it will work out. I just can't get into black for a bag color, I need something neutral.
a synapse would fit the bill, too, if you don't pack it super full. the depth is juuuust a smudge larger than the limit, but the pockets are such that it's very easy to keep it from puffing out too much.
I think that a Synapse might work better. Your sandals would fit with no problem, and it would swallow your clothing while remaining flat enough to avoid suspicion. I think you could get what you are describing into a Co-Pilot, but it would be a tight fit, especially with the toiletries, unless you're like a size S and your clothes are really thin.
The Smart Alec is technically too large for the personal item dimensions given by the OP (Dimensions: 18.5" x 11.75" x 7.75" / 470 x 300 x 20). For maximum carrying capacity volume within the stated size limits try the ID or Ego messenger bags instead. My favorite personal item as a carryon bag is the Synapse, which is also my favorite EDC. As capncat notes, if you don't pack it too full, it will nicely meet the thickness specs. And I've been able to fit this under absolutely every airline seat I've tried — even small planes with a large AV box occupying the region under the seat. I like the compartment design organization of the Synapse, but if you want a more conventional rectangular design for holding shoes, etc., I would opt for the ID bag in Black/Steel/Wasabi, which would be a good match to your color preference of Steel, and have a bright interior. Get this with an Absolute Strap. It's got a water bottle pocket on the outside, which is a plus when traveling, and you can also use to hold an umbrella, if you don't want it for water. You can also use the Ultrasuede-lined pockets on the side to hold your mobile phone or sunglasses.
For women, another nice option to use as a personal item is the Swift. And if you don't need to carry as much, the Co-Pilot is always a nice option.
Another vote for the Synapse from me, especially if you're taking stuff for the beach.
Originally Posted by Badger
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Another vote for the Synapse as well.