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  1. #1
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    Packing a men's blazer or swiss army knife type device

    Hi... two questions that are a bit unrelated...

    What do people do if you can't pack a swiss army knife type device anymore? How to you make do when you get to your destination without it?

    How do other people pack a business blazer? When I travel, I'm often in a situation where I'm tacking on a pleasure portion to the business side of things. So, I have to bring a blazer, but it barely fits into my Aeronaut when all is said and done. I sometimes wear it on board the plane, but then I dislike the idea of dragging it around afterwards when I'll hardly wear it. I've looked at the travel type blazers or coats that are "sort of" like blazers (Magellan lists a travel type blazer/coat that can be pinched in at the waist for a better look), but I fear they're not quite professional looking enough.

    Do others manage to pack theirs into an Aeronaut and still have plenty of room?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozone View Post
    What do people do if you can't pack a swiss army knife type device anymore? How to you make do when you get to your destination without it?
    I used to carry a pocket knife with me all the time, and it was very handy in a variety of situations. But once airline security started banning them, I would forget to take them off my keychain, and they would be confiscated -- I lost four or five of them. So for the past however-many-years, I've stopped carrying any pocket knife at all, and it's very frustrating.

    I just ordered and received a Utilikey (link below this paragraph), which is a multi-tool disguised as a key that should blend into your key chain. I know it's technically breaking the rules (though it's hardly a weapon), and I've heard reports that security personnel know how to spot these and will still confiscate them. I'll find out for myself in two days whether or not I'll be able to get it through airport security.

    Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Swiss-Tech-Uti...9255639&sr=8-4

    I'm not the type to wear a blazer, so I can't help you there.

  3. #3
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    As far as the knife goes, I just stopped carrying one. I always had either a Swiss Army Deluxe Tinker or a Leatherman with me. Now, I just buy a knife on arrival if I want to slice something up, like food. I usually avoid Wal-Mart like the plague, but if that's all there is, WallyWorld has a lot of serviceable knives for your use. I've found them for $3 or less. You can either give it to one of your business clients (if they're local), donate it to Goodwill or Salvation Army on your way to the airport, or just wash it and leave it in the hotel. SOMEONE will use it. Matter of fact, you can always BUY a knife at Goodwill (often less than $1), use it, then re-donate it when you leave. I pack a 1/4 oz of Dawn just for dish use in my 3-1-1 bag. Dawn-flavored toothpaste is no fun; Nalgene makes bottles this small, and they don't leak. You only need a drop or two to wash up, anyway.

    Traveling locally after you buy the knife? Look for one which comes in a blister pack, or has its own blade cover. Use the blister pack for storage and it won't slice into your bag. Failing that, always pack a small piece of cardboard and a rubber band; fold it over, slip the knife inside, and you're good to go.

    Problem with this method is it's just a knife; if you want a corkscrew, tweezers, scissors, and all that, you're hosed. Still, I'd rather buy something for a few dollars and not check my bag. I've been carry-on only since 1994 (since before that, mostly, but that was the trip someone lost two boxes - never again), and I've survived without carrying on my Leatherman.

    If you're going internationally, budget for one when you arrive and ship it home to yourself, or, if you're visiting a business associate, ask if you can send a package ahead of you. Include your sharp stuff and labels to readdress it when leaving. I've used Royal Mail Signed-For and it only took 5 days to get across the pond. Cheaper than having TSA take it or buying my 20th Swiss knife. Shipping ahead? Save that label. Include it in the return box and mark the box 'American Goods Returned' to avoid duty on something which was already yours. This only works if the items are yours to begin with: if you slip something you bought overseas into your box it's going to be pricey if you get caught. Don't try it.

    I've found it incredibly difficult to pack large jackets/blazers in an Aeronaut, which is why I'm still using an Air Boss. However, you might be smaller in the shoulders/bust than I, here's a way: fold your jacket in half at the midline, right back on top. Lift the left front out from under it and put the right shoulder into the left one's lining. Now fold the left front over the jacket. It won't be perfect, but you can put it on the outside of your bundle (or wrap it around the large cube) and keep it mostly presentable. Make sure the left front side is facing into the bundle or cube, not outwards, when you wrap it.

    This won't work with thick shoulder pads, or smoothly with Mandarin collars, but it works well enough. Failing that, just say no to blazers or jackets just for looks while you're in transit. Many people find dressy sweaters to be acceptable for men or women these days (well, for winter), and don't even bother with the whole suit thing at all. It depends on the business you're in, or the country you're going to.
    Indigo Co-Pilot w' Cache, Sapphire/Olive Medium Cafe bag, Sapphire/Black and Indigo Ballistic Swifts, 50+ assorted Stuff Sacks/Pouches/Key Straps, 4 Shop Bags. 2 Absolutes, 2 Strap Wraps, a #5 Brain Cell, 3 Clear Quarter Packing Cubes , 3 Aeronaut cubes, a 3D, a Kit, a Convertible Shoulder Bag and Convertible Backpack for my Indigo/Solar Aeronaut. Last, 3 Lifefactory Bottles and my Plum Field Journal! Plus a blue (natch) FOT. All bags decked out with Tom Bihn luggage tags .

  4. #4
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    Ah well... thanks for the tips about the tool. I suppose I can always just buy what I need when I get there. I'm thinking more for Europe trips, as opposed to US destinations (I'm Canadian). When I do go, usually there's nobody I really know in advance.

    I asked about all this because I'm off to Northern Italy in about 4 weeks time and - useful tools aside - I'm going to be at a networking forum for the first 3 days. There's a banquet one night too which I'm guessing requires at least a blazer, and probably preferably black. I have a great travel blazer (cost me over $500) but barely wrinkles even when worn continuously. I've found that Europeans tend to be better dressed, and for a business setting, I'm afraid a sweater won't do. I even felt out of place once wearing a sweater at a Canadian meeting I was at that I had been part of for a number of years.

    The problem is that I've tried to put it into my Aeronaut many times in the past, and with the shoulder pads, it doesn't fit. I'm not overly tall, but at 5'10" and over 200 lbs (not all fat - I do work out!), all my clothes are at least a "large".

    I've read the One Bag site by Doug Dyment, the packing lists from Rick Steves, Tilley Endurables, etc. and at the end of the day when I'm staring at my Aeronaut, I just cannot figure how these people can fit absolutely everything into one bag. I can do it if I'm traveling for leisure only or maybe just 2 days, but as soon as I get into the mix of business + pleasure for more than 3 days, ach... forget it. I've concluded that the largest single item is my blazer, and so I'll wear it onboard the plane, but then if I want to pack it up for wandering around afterwards and want to not sweat in it from morning to night, there's little room for anything else.

    So, it's either change the blazer (a more all around jacket), change the bag (not sure I'll do better than the Aeronaut when all is said and done), or do something I haven't thought of yet.

    I suppose this should go in another forum but since a big part of the equation is the bag itself... (though I'm loathe to part with my forest green collector item Aeronaut!).

  5. #5
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    I'm a bit confused. Do you think the problem is the blazer is the problem or is it trying to pack (in one bag) for a long trip of mixed business and pleasure? At first I thought it was just the blazer but after reading more it sounds like even without it you would be near capacity on this upcoming trip. I ask because while it sounds like the blazer is the problem it may be everything that is causing it to be the problem.

    Knock on wood I've been lucky thus far and not needed to dress up much on trips. The only way I can see on going the one bag route while packing for business and pleasure is to really cut corners. For example, I would have to limit myself to just 1 running outfit instead of the normal 2. You might need do something similar like leaving casual pants or jeans at home.

    It could be that something like the Air Boss would be better suited. I tried one once and it did appear to handle large bundles of clothes better than my Aeronaut. But it was a major pain to carry, but I didn't have the absolute strap with it. I saw one reviewer on the web site claim they took running shoes, dress shoes, and hiking boots (along with a good collection of clothes) in the Air Boss with no major issues. From the pictures he looks like a big guy too but I can't imagine the bag being able to do all that.

    The only thing I can think of is the bundle method with the Aeronaut. I use the cubes but I suppose bundles might work for the blazer.

  6. #6
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    I just returned from a three week road trip ending with a convention where one night I needed semi formal clothing including a sport jacket...

    I don't have packing cubes yet, so I bundled everything into my aeronaut, witht he jacket on the outside of the bundle...

    I found it perfectly fine if I remembered to hang it in the bathroom when I showered to give it a fast steaming of wrinkles...

    for the record, I'm 6'3, 240 lbs

    of course that particular jacket wasn't too padded in the shoulders, so that might be a factor

  7. #7
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    Another consideration is using a packing folder. Eagle Creek has one that's 20" wide which can be used with blazers. I used one once and the coat did at least as well as being a part of a bundle. I ultimately returned the folder because it was not a good fit with the bag I was using at that time. The down side of using a folder is losing some of the functionality of the aeronaut's end pockets'. I still use a shirt folder religiously but have reached a point in my career where I really rarely need to have a blazer/sport coat with me. When I get to the point where I don't need the shirt folder, I suspect I can retire!!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelb View Post
    I saw one reviewer on the web site claim they took running shoes, dress shoes, and hiking boots (along with a good collection of clothes) in the Air Boss with no major issues. From the pictures he looks like a big guy too but I can't imagine the bag being able to do all that.
    You're not the only one. I pulled out my Air Boss and tried to duplicate that list. I couldn't. The shoes I used, Salomon Expert Low hiking boots, Birkenstock Almanor suede clogs, and a pair of Arcopedico City, took up too much space. Even if I wore the Salomons, I didn't have enough left for all the clothes on the man's list, let alone my electronics - and I can squirrel stuff away with the best of them. I wear a 42, which is a men's 9, and the Salomons are 45's, a men's 10 1/2.

    I wear a women's 20, sometimes a 22 (in the winter for layering), so I'm not small by any means. If you stuffed the Air Boss with the whole list it bulged like a snake after a big meal. Not only was it unwieldy, it was too heavy (even with my Absolute Strap) and looked too big - a sure-fire way to get gate-checked.

    As far as rabergnc's folder suggestion, unless you have an older Eagle Creek folder, you might want to weigh one (literally). The newer ones, with all their fancy, pretty fabrics and newer design, seem to weigh more. The fabric's also stiffer, harder to clean, and makes a lot of noise when opened and moved about. If you open one of those on an international flight you're going to wake someone up! I got rid of a new Tree Frog one and went back to an old dark green one from the late 80's. It may be harder to find in a dark place, but it is a lot easier to travel with. The older ones are also a fraction smaller; I can get my old 20" folder into my Air Boss without a problem, but the new 20" was too big unless I took out the lower plastic stiffener.

    From your description, I'd say you're trying to pack a wool blazer. Have you thought of shopping at Tilley or TravelSmith or Magellan's and purchasing a lightweight travel blazer? You might need to get it tailored, but the fabric's lightweight, won't wrinkle, and all have hidden pockets. They might be pricey, but they pack very well and still look presentable. With silk underwear/liners (try Terramar or WinterSilks), you can stay warm in cold weather, too.

    Edit for mail: For anyone who's never tried, mailing things out of Italy (or in) is chancy at best. Even if you mail from the Vatican it's a tossup whether it will ever arrive. If you're flying out of another country, wait and mail things home from there. As far as mailing stuff in, USPS Global Priority or Express works, just be prepared to pay for it on this end. At least you won't have brokerage charges, something to be aware of if you use FedEx or UPS. You can always mail stuff to your hotel if it's your home base, just call or email them and see if they're willing to receive your package, and the usual timeframe for overseas deliveries. You won't be alone; many travelers now ship ahead. Ask your local PO for advice on how to fill out the label so your item isn't hung up in Customs.
    Last edited by aiethabell; 08-21-2008 at 10:25 AM. Reason: Added on re: Italian mail
    Indigo Co-Pilot w' Cache, Sapphire/Olive Medium Cafe bag, Sapphire/Black and Indigo Ballistic Swifts, 50+ assorted Stuff Sacks/Pouches/Key Straps, 4 Shop Bags. 2 Absolutes, 2 Strap Wraps, a #5 Brain Cell, 3 Clear Quarter Packing Cubes , 3 Aeronaut cubes, a 3D, a Kit, a Convertible Shoulder Bag and Convertible Backpack for my Indigo/Solar Aeronaut. Last, 3 Lifefactory Bottles and my Plum Field Journal! Plus a blue (natch) FOT. All bags decked out with Tom Bihn luggage tags .

  9. #9
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    aiethabell is right. The folder I was talking about was an older one - probably from the early 1990s. The shirt one I have is from then and is a hunter green with black netting as part of the bag. It has survived more travel than I could possibly remember and still works like new! (It would go well with a hunter aeronaut!!>)

  10. #10
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    I have been able to pack my size 48 blazer in the Areonaut without too much trouble. I put the blazer on a light weight hanger in a standard garment bag. After I have my packing cubes ready, I lay the garment bag on the open Areonaut and tuck the bottom of the bag into the main compartment with the top half of the bag draped over the back. I pack the cubes on top of this and then tuck the top of the garment bag over the cubes. This makes a loose bundle, with the garment bag around the packing cubes. I have done this with just a wool blazer and with a full poly/cotton suit with minimal wrinkles.

  11. #11
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by RedBeard View Post
    I put the blazer on a light weight hanger in a standard garment bag. After I have my packing cubes ready, I lay the garment bag on the open Areonaut and tuck the bottom of the bag into the main compartment with the top half of the bag draped over the back. I pack the cubes on top of this and then tuck the top of the garment bag over the cubes. This makes a loose bundle, with the garment bag around the packing cubes.
    Hmmm... I might have to try that approach. That's not usually how I bundle my blazer.

    The blazer I have is a fine worsted (?) that I bought at Tom's Place in Toronto about 7 years ago. I only wear it about 10 - maybe 20 - times a year, but it's a beautiful blazer that travels extremely well.

    About the suggestion that I go to Tilley... I have far too many Tilley clothes (embarrassing!), and I recently purchased the new Tilly travel blazer (3 button, and hangs up straight from the washing machine!). A great blazer. Unfortunately, it does not quite compare to my black one for that neat, business appearance. At the same time, it's more versatile - it would look a little out of place wandering around in a black blazer just for touring.

    After reading preztelb's and aiethabell's responses, I think I might have to revisit my packing list. I don't generally overpack, but I might have to watch the electronics. It's tough to keep the cords, USB dongles, etc. down to a minimum sometimes, especially if it's for business and if I think I might be in one of those "you just never know situations". I just recently got an Acer Aspire One ($400 Cdn) to deliberately lighten my load, and because I don't want to despair if it's damaged, stolen, or confiscated by US customs if I fly through the US! :-( Otherwise, I might try investing in an Apple MacBook Air since I'm a Mac user 80% of the time. I also finally got some TB packing cubes specific to the Aeronaut, so maybe that will make a (hopefully big) difference.

    I'd like to think that I can manage my travel with just the Aeronaut and maybe a light side bag. Seems everybody else can! Now where did I leave my dSLR and that 5 pound lens.... ;-)

  12. #12
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    You can install OSX Leopard on your Acer Aspire One if you don't mind a bit of medium-geek hacking. Actually these days it's pretty easy to get OSX on pretty much any Intel/AMD PC made in the last few years. Insanelymac.com has great tutorials on this, and I believe the Acer is featured in several threads.



    Quote Originally Posted by ozone View Post
    I just recently got an Acer Aspire One ($400 Cdn) to deliberately lighten my load, and because I don't want to despair if it's damaged, stolen, or confiscated by US customs if I fly through the US! :-( Otherwise, I might try investing in an Apple MacBook Air since I'm a Mac user 80% of the time.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonjake View Post
    You can install OSX Leopard on your Acer Aspire One if you don't mind a bit of medium-geek hacking.
    That was one of my first thoughts when I got the Acer... well, actually before I bought the Acer. Now that I've got it and it's running, well, it's a little underwhelming. Even if I could hack it to get it running OS X, I'm not sure I'd care that much.

    When the MB Air first came out, I was a little underwhelmed: I mean, I have a long history of buying useless - errr, niche fulfilling - gadgets (don't ask my wife!). I thought if it wasn't small, then what's the point? As I thought about it though, if you really are going to use a laptop on your lap, then it has to be wide enough to span your lap; and if you're going to work more than 15 minutes, a larger screen is so much more productive. Too small of a screen and it's just a toy really. I've tried - and seen others - scrunch up their legs together to support teeny, tiny laptops and slouch down to see the screen. I'm not that old, but old enough to give that scenario a pass!

    Still, my objective was to: 1) get something cheap enough that I would not be devastated by a loss, theft, or damage; and 2) get something small enough that would be easy to travel with. The MB Air doesn't rank as "cheap", and it's only space saving in one dimension.

    All this angst so that I can fit my life into a bag, and a special bag at that. Who knew that hunter green, nylon luggage could play such a prominent role in my life!

  14. #14
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    Ah, but the MB Air in a Ristretto is perfect.

    (Backstory: I first bought an EeePC (still have it) but the keyboard is just too small for me. I waffled on getting the MBA - after all, it wasn't small - but I wanted a laptop I could write on and still be light enough that I didn't have to think twice about lugging it about with me.

    Since it's both light and has little bulk, the MBA is just the right solution for me. It's easy to slip into the Ristretto and I'm off, whether to the library or a coffee shop. Took it on a trip with me a few months ago and it was no problem at all on those tiny trays.)

  15. #15
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    Aghhh.... the pain... the agony... (I'm trying to my best over the top William Shatner impression here...)

    ... sigh... I only use Windows on my tablet, but otherwise, it's 85% Mac OS X at home and work. I guess I'm going to break down and get an MB Air. Now comes the perpetual "do I buy it now or later" question.

    ... a Ristretto, eh? Hmmmm.... :-)

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