Glad you found the pics helpful. I want to be totally honest and say that while the TS is a great bag, it wouldn't be my first choice for international travel. I use it almost solely for work travel, and use my Aeronaut for leisure travel and especially international travel (you can dig around and find a post I wrote a couple years ago about taking it to Italy for 3+ weeks). Regarding slumping: I don't find it annoying at all. It can make the bag look less elegant, especially if you are handle or strap-carrying it, but it's not really noticeable in backpack mode at all. The important thing is to pack heavier stuff at the "bottom" so that gravity works for you rather than against you. I have carried loads as heavy as the test pack in both the TS and the A45 and they are manageable in both, but in the event you need to carry your bag by the handles or the strap, the Aeronaut tends to feel better. That may just be my preference. FWIW, I am shorter than you by a good 2-3" but I am, shall we say, powerfully built. Something I consider "not so bad" is often in "holy crap this is heavy" territory for other people . Another thing to consider is that what's manageable when you're well-rested and in the comfort of your air-conditioned home could feel like a ton of freaking bricks when it's 100F, humid, and you have been walking for an hour and have just realized you are lost. At any rate, I'm glad you decided to pack fewer clothes
To answer your other question: no, I wouldn't exchange my TS for the A30, because I think they serve different purposes. I have an A30 on the way, as a matter of fact, and I'm really looking forward to using it for casual travel when I don't need to pack as much.
And okay, I feel you on the outdoorsy-looking travel clothes (I am from Oregon and also gay, but as you said, that's no excuse). Take a look at Ibex and Rohan for travel-friendly clothing that is a bit more tailored and less safari. You may also want to check out uniqlo, which isn't travel specific but has lightweight, comfortable and well-shaped items. I've also found that if you look at Patagonia for things like travel skirts and non-technical (organic cotton/hemp with some poly) clothes, you won't look like you're going fly-fishing (they also make some really lightweight and stuffable bags—check out the lightweight travel courier). Did you ever say where you were going? If you're in northern Europe or Ireland or the UK, it could be quite damp indoors and you may find it hard to dry anything that's made of thick cotton. If you are in Italy, France, etc., you're in luck: most hotels have heated towel bars, which can dry lightweight stuff overnight. Also, and I know you're kidding, but seriously don't go commando, especially if you're somewhere warm and humid. Or take a large supply of Gold Bond, I guess It's definitely worth it to invest in some Ex Officio, Icebreaker, or other lightweight, quick-drying undergarments, as monkeylady said. They're kinda pricey but they last forever and you'll be able to wear them at home, too.
Re: taking duty free bags onto the plane. Yes, you're right. Usually if you buy a magazine or a box of duty-free chocolates or whatever, you can stuff other things into the bag it comes in and it doesn't count against you.
Re: travel towel. Look for something called a Salux wash cloth, or what I think of as Japanese wash cloths. They're kind of rough and may be too exfoliating if you have very sensitive skin, which is the only downside; I say this from experience. I know different levels of roughness are available, but I don't know how readily in mainland America (I'm Japanese and we always got ours from Hawaii or Japan). But anyway, they're nylon and quite long. You can cut one in half for travel, and they dry in a flash and pack down to nothing. For a towel towel, look at Packtowl. They're thin but super absorbent. I think a medium would work for an average/slim woman, but maybe not as a family-friendly cover-up if you're heading out of communal showers. Just FYI, I don't think the L or XL sizes are really that much bigger/heavier, so it's your choice.
Finally, I will say that it's great to be able to try both bags, but go with your gut: if you are totally in love with the TS, get it. If you love it, can fit what you need to into it, and can carry it, that is the best bag for you. What I or anyone else might take to Europe is simply what works for us. Whatever you choose, I think you'll be getting a great bag that will make traveling a lot less stressful. And no, it's not weird to be excited to pack. You're among friends here.
whats the difference between a regular eagle creek folder and the spector. I have a regular but thinking about another one for my partner we often share the one but I think each of our own would be better?
I have both. The only difference is the weight/heft of the fabric. The Specters are significantly lighter and more malleable...important when you're counting ounces.
The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.
link to the mesh version of the medium (18") Pack-It Folder and another link to the Specter II Sil-Nylon version of the same size folder. In the Western Flyer, the slightly larger and stiffer ends of the mesh/cloth corners of the folder can make it a little harder to fit easily into the back compartment, though this shouldn't be an issue for the Tri-Star. The Specter II versions fit easily into either bag. In the Specter cubes, the Sil-Nylon is very light weight, but the cubes basically take their structure from their contents. The advantage of the regular cubes is that they provide more structure, and it can be easier to pack "flat". In addition, the Tom Bihn packing cubes of Dyneema can provide both a good compromise of light weight with enough structure to "pack flat" along with sizing that often works very well for many different bags. There are various forum threads, including one title "Going Marsupial" about bags and accessories that fit well into other bags. For example, the small Western Flyer packing cube is a good fit to the back pocket of the Co-Pilot, Packing Cube Shoulder Bags fit neatly into the bottom of the Swift totes, etc. Most of us use a combination of TB packing cubes and Eagle Creek products, so you can ask about the relative sizes of these items. For instance, two Eagle Creek Specter II quarter packing cubes will neatly fit into a Small Cafe Bag, and the quarter packing cubes are close in size, but slightly smaller, than the size 2 Tom Bihn Travel Stuff Sack, etc.
i love the tom bihn cubes but wish they did a folder as well. i might try the spector to compare it to the original which I already have
Some of the churches have a dress code for women. It does vary, but I do remember bare shoulders, short skirts and short skirts being prohibited. I don't know how strictly these rules are enforced.
When your bag(s) arrive, fill them up according to your packing list and take it out for a day around town. Lug it around for a weekend and see if it needs to be pared down a bit.
I would add a packable rain jacket to your list.
Have a wonderful time!
I've had a TriStar for the last couple years I got primarily for short business trips, no more than a week and generally two to three days that necessitated taking 8" work boots and carrying a full size Dell laptop. The TS worked well for this duty using a Cache or Brain Cell for my computer and in combination with my EDC bag, a CoPilot first and a Pilot later. I did find the three zippered front pockets fairly useless due to lack of depth, but other than that, a great design.
My work life has changed recently however, and I likely won't have to travel with a large laptop anymore, and that leads me to think that the Aeronaut type of bag may fit my needs better. For my new needs the new A30 looks like a perfect fit and an absolutely brilliant piece of design that should be extraordinarily versatile. As much as I'd rather not spend the money, I think an A30 order is in my future.
Glad that you are enjoying your Tom Bihn. I have a personal question of your experience with your Personal Bag - Co-Pilot and Pilot. I have a dilemma over these 2 choices. I love them both and I understand each uniqueness, yet I only can buy one.
I see that you have experience both and from one to another. Perhaps, I could learn from your experience. Please share more in details.
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