Nothing seems to compare to the design, material, and quality of Tom Bihn products. However, after reading the forums, there seems to be quite a demand for a new bag that would fill the perfect niche between the Aeronaut and the Tri-Star.
This suggestion is based on many hours perusing travel forums, comparing other manufacturer's products, and reading hundreds of customer reviews (most notably, Eagle Creek, Red Oxx, and last but not least Tom Bihn).
Presently, the gap between the Tri-Star and the Aeronaut is being requested in numerous ways. Additionally, as a precedent, the Empire Builder / Zephyr shows that having different sizes of the same line is worthy of consideration.
At the moment, no one is making a combination business/leisure bag in the 40-42 liter range. The Tri-Star, enlarged, would be ideal. Let's say we call it the Wingwalker, since it would well represent "the perfect balance" between the Tri-Star and the Aeronaut (plus it goes perfect with the Farman F.121 Jabiru!). If the dimensions were 20.5 x 14 x 9, that should translate to approximately 2500 cubic inches, or 41 liters. Also, many requests are for an enlarged version of the Western Flyer, with two compartments. If one were 5", the other 3", with 1" allowed for filling the three pockets of the front (thereby not impacting the 3"), that would translate to 9" total.
The advantages are as follows:
No one makes this bag
It is combination business/leisure
It allows for cubes in many configurations (ie Eagle Creek folders or Tom Bihn cubes)
A suit, a laptop, and leisure clothes, together with a daypack and room for a few souvenirs, that can be carried reasonably
Existing Tri-Star large packing cubes could fit in either compartment
Many combinations of existing Tom Bihn packing cubes fit well
All Brain Cells, plus a snake charmer would fit side by side (recommend 5" pocket) and layer with large Tri-Star packing cube and Freudian slip
Heck, even an ID would fit in place of the Brain Cell!
In the 3" compartment, an Aeronaut backpack cube (Like this design better, plus it comes in yellow Dyneema) and an end cube would fit side by side
This gives the advantage of having either a versatile bag that is cavernous, or for use with laptop,etc; other compartment fits backpack/cube.
Some definite feature requests:
Hold down straps - 2 in 5" compartment, 1 set in 3" compartment
Eliminate the zippered separator (or make it expandable to allow for large Brain Cell and shoes at same time)
For those asking for a one compartment Tri-Star : perhaps making the compartment separator between the 5" and the 3" removable
Being only 1-2 large compartments, it allows for handles on the end for overhead bin access; weight is likely reduced in material, and it works off the existing design to a large extent.
A few possibilities to make it more distinctive (but not as necessary as the points above) might be
A heavier duty waist strap like the MEI Voyageur
A passport/boarding pass pocket in the backpack strap area, accessible top center by handles
Water bottle/umbrella pockets on end
Compare the LowePro Apex series camera bags for bottom skid protection idea (ie Apex 20: best to see in person. They're excellent!)
Compare the LowePro Apex series ALSO for an ingenious way of storing a rainfly that easily pulls out to protect the whole bag (requests for such a thing for Brain Bag too)
Thanks for considering these ideas. Having traveled extensively (climbing Mt. Kenya, cycling France, scuba-diving the Great Barrier Reef, etc), and looking ahead to our next trip to Costa Rica, I'd love to see one of these.
I think many, many other people would, too. I welcome everyone's thoughts!
PS Having trouble adding pictures... have added as pdf attachments below for now... will ask for help Monday to have pix embedded in post.