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Thread: Modify/replace/remove water bottle pocket on Tri-Star/Western Flyer...

  1. #1
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    Modify/replace/remove water bottle pocket on Tri-Star/Western Flyer...

    Sadly, I find the current design water bottle section on my Tri-Star to make it pretty much a useless appendage on my beloved bag. I just don't carry a water bottle for travel--at least not in my bag where a leak could wet clothes, documents or electronics!

    I have tried putting documents in there, but the weird tilt-out bottle pocket doesn't make it easy to insert rectangular objects--they just don't go in easily with the shape of the internal tilt-out liner and the curved zipper.

    I've also stuffed small electronics in there, but they have a tendency to poke or fall through the loophole between the snaps of the internal tilt-out liner, making opening the zipper a quick way to drop some small chargers/plugs/adapters/cables.


    There are a number of ways to fix this that I can think of:

    1) add another snap and cut the liner all the way to the bottom so that the tilt-out inner pocket can be disabled entirely
    2) change the snap(s) to a zipper that goes the full height of the pocket, so that the tilt-out inner pocket can be disabled entirely
    3) replace the water bottle section with a regular, rectangular 3D compartment (give up the water bottle idea completely)
    4) change the internal tilt-out pocket to some other system of restraining a bottle, like flat loops (not a great idea though, because inserting/removing the bottle will be a pain)
    5) build the inner bottle pocket into the inside of the lid of the section, effectively turning the section into two pockets behind one zipper
    6a) build a flat document pocket behind the bottle water pocket whose zipper is lengthwise along the shortest edge, from top right corner of the bag to the bottom right corner (ie, this section becomes two pockets with two zippers)
    6b) build a flat document pocket into the lid of the section, in front of the bottle pocket, with zipper that goes from the top right corner of the bag to the bottom right corner OR just along the top edge of the section, from the top right corner towards the middle of the bag
    7) change this section to a modular system that accepts an optional bottle holder pocket; without the bottle holder, it is just a plain 3D rectangular compartment (basically, a fancier version of 3) above)

    Of these, I like the modular system in 7) best or 6b)+2), which would give me a flat document pocket and a 3D rectangular compartment behind it.

    Anything to give me back use of that section of my Tri-Star (or Western Flyer)!

  2. #2
    Registered User zutphen's Avatar
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    I think some of your suggestions for modification are quite ingenious, but I have a simpler solution to suggest.

    I suspect the bottle pocket on the Tri-Star & Western Flyer has very similar dimensions to the side bottle pocket of the Smart Alec. My Side Effect fits easily in there. I use my Side Effect to hold a variety of essentials (basic 1st aid, flashlight, knife, some spare pens, etc), but it could easily serve as a catch-all for cables & chargers.

    The Side Effect measures 8.6" x 5" x 2" -- so any of the following would work just as well, since they are all only 7" x 4.3" x 2":
    3D Organizer Cube
    3D Mesh Organizer Cube
    3D Clear Organizer Cube

    Or even some Size 1 or 2 Stuff Sacks. You might even be able to fit two Size 1's (5.2" tall x 3.8" x 2.7") on top of each other.

    The real win-win here, of course, is that TB gets more of your money, and you get to strut more cool TB gear and look all super-organized.

    HTH!
    ~Rob

  3. #3
    Registered User daisy's Avatar
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    I just checked my current model SE in MrDaisy's WF and Smart Alec - it does indeed fit in the Smart Alec side pocket, but not the WF bottle pocket.

    The 3D cubes fit nicely in the WF bottle pocket although sadly there seems to be no ring to tether it to.

    As mentioned above, the stuff sacks would solve your problem of little things jumping out ....

    I've also stuffed small electronics in there, but they have a tendency to poke or fall through the loophole between the snaps of the internal tilt-out liner, making opening the zipper a quick way to drop some small chargers/plugs/adapters/cables.
    For myself - I have made peace with the fact that there are sometimes nooks and crannies in my TB bags that I do not utilise.
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    List under construction ....

  4. #4
    Registered User zutphen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daisy View Post
    I just checked my current model SE in MrDaisy's WF and Smart Alec - it does indeed fit in the Smart Alec side pocket, but not the WF bottle pocket.
    That's too bad, and a little surprising. The dimensions for the WF & the TS along the relevant side is either 12" or 13", so I assumed the pocket in question would be that tall, which is how tall it is on the SA. I guess the pocket isn't wide or deep enough? And I wonder if the TS's pocket is much bigger than the WF's?

    Anyway, my point in the abstract is that any pouch that's essentially water-bottle-shaped should fit, and serve as a mini-snake sharmer for squirmy cables...

  5. #5
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    If the Water Bottle Pocket can easily be modified to become an electronic or small stuff holder with the help of the Size 1 or 2 Travel Stuff Sacks (obolong bottom), I bet a Small Yarn Stuff Sack: 4.5" tall, 5" in diameter(round bottom), can fit as well.

    I have been trying to find an excuse to get one. :)

    Thank you so much for giving me the ideas zutphen and daisy and for inspiring their posts dchang0!
    Last edited by backpack; 07-07-2013 at 06:48 PM.
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  6. #6
    Registered User zutphen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    Thank you so much for giving me the ideas zutpen and daisy and for inspiring their posts dchang0!
    Hey don't mention it -- this forum is ALL about the enabling! You go buy some Stuff Sacks (Yarn and/or Travel). If anyone has a problem with that, you tell them I said it was okay!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zutphen View Post
    Hey don't mention it -- this forum is ALL about the enabling! You go buy some Stuff Sacks (Yarn and/or Travel). If anyone has a problem with that, you tell them I said it was okay!
    I already have Stuff Sacks (Yarn and Travel) of all size, except this one. :)

  8. #8
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    I agree that the pocket takes some getting used to. I did use it on my first flight with my new WF to hold my headphones, but i would really like to be able to use the pocket more easily for travel documents.

  9. #9
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    Sadly, the Side Effect, if full, becomes a rectangular object, and it's that weird tilt-out bottle pocket "lining" combined with the curved zipper that prevents rectangular objects from being inserted or removed easily. I'm tempted to take a pair of scissors and just cut that lining out, but then it'd destroy the resale value of the bag, which is important when Tom releases a brand new must-have color or fabric (Dyneema 400D, I'm talking about you!).

    I DO happen to have a Stuff Sack that fits, and that is a great idea for securing the loose small electronics/gadgets so that they don't spill out at inopportune times. Thanks for that suggestion. Still, it's not quite perfect to have to "double-bag" my electronics. There were at least two times on this last trip where I had to fish around awkwardly in my bag for headphones or maps (big rectangular documents) while in cramped quarters (on the STM 747 bus to the Montreal airport in the dark morning) or while slinging the bag off of one shoulder (while walking briskly through the terminal). If they had been inside of a Stuff Sack, it'd have been a two-hand or stop-and-set-the-Tri-Star-down operation, because once I'd gotten the items I needed out of the Stuff Sack, I'd have to put the Stuff Sack with its remaining items back into the section. For the same reason, my small pouches won't work well, nor will the Side Effect I have on order (for a different Tom Bihn bag than the Tri-Star).

    Really, what would be awesome is turning the pocket into a 3D rectangular section capable of receiving a module that has little open-top bellows pockets sewn in its front, kind of like a tiny Freudian Slip. That would allow for semi-securing the small electronics so that I can still reach in one-handed while getting jostled around on a cramped bus and pull out the headphones or sunglasses without pulling all the other gadgets along with it. And the tiny Freudian Slip would allow for the easy insertion and removal of a large folded map in the same section, either just behind the tiny Freudian Slip or in front.

    For those people who want the tilt-out bottle holder, just replace the tiny Freudian Slip with a stiff-backed insert that has the same tilt-out bottle holder design sewn to it. I am assuming that the modules would all be secured by little O-rings in the corners of the section.

    And it may be possible to come up with other modules. For instance, maybe a padded 3D rectangular insert for those who pack small action cameras like the GoPro Hero 3. I suppose it would even be possible to pack a DSLR body sans lens in this padded module, but that might be too thick to fit in that section. I'd definitely throw my smartphones in this padded insert, since it is possible to crack their screens when a belt buckle presses through the Dyneema wall between the main compartments of the Tri-Star. I ended up having to wrap the extra smartphone in a sock to protect it from the belt buckle.

    Oh well, here's dreaming that Tom will hear my wishes and make that one section modular! And thus, keeping the resale value of my current beloved Tri-Star up remains a priority...
    Last edited by dchang0; 07-11-2013 at 01:41 AM.
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  10. #10
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    I received my new Side Effect and tried it out in the Tri-Star's water bottle pocket. It does fit, although not well. Its width is shorter than the length of the water bottle pocket, so that fits with a couple inches to spare, but its height is wider than the width of the bottle pocket by a tiny bit. So, if the Side Effect is full to its top zipper with rigid items, then it will not slide into the bottle pocket on the Tri-Star. And the resulting bulge (if completely full) is just so that the bottle pocket's zipper can barely be closed.

    Still even if only mostly full, it is not easy to insert it. That's a two-hand operation, with one hand holding the tilt-out bottle pocket liner fully open to allow for insertion of the Side Effect. It IS possible to remove the Side Effect from the water bottle pocket one-handed, as far as I can tell, in all conditions except if it's filled bulging.

    So for now, it's about the same outcome as with the Stuff Sack: two-hands to put it away, one-hand to pull it out, two-hands to open the Side-Effect or Stuff Sack to get at the gadgets inside.

    Hope this helps somebody considering the Side Effect for fitment into the Tri-Star's bottle pocket.
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