Flying with an Aeronaut and MacBook
I am planing on purchasing an Aeronaut (after holding off for too long) for carry-on airline travel. I am wondering what to do with my MacBook. I typically carry my Brain Bag (with my Brain Cell inside) for 1 or 2-night trips, adding a carry-on/roller for longer trips. The Aeronaut would be replacing the roller bag and I plan on carrying it backpack style (from airport to train/bus to hotel), so the Brain Bag needs replacing (since the Aeronaut would be on my back). I would like a carry-on to contain my laptop, snacks, iPod, a book, a few papers, passport, etc.
Reading over several threads from about a year ago, it seems that the Imago/Aeronaut is a popular combo. It seems, however, that the Imago doesn't hold the Brain Cell for a 13" MacBook and I'm a little nervous letting my MacBook out of it's Brain Cell (admittedly, I've never seen the Soft Cell). Are some of you who carry the Aeronaut/Imago combo carrying a laptop? If I were to go the Soft Cell route, I think I might be drawn more towards the Ristretto Messenger.
If I wanted to keep with the Brain Cell, there are two possibilities:
- leave room for the Brain Cell in the Aeronaut (taking it out once I've boarded if I plan on using it on the flight).
- get the Zephyr.
The first option seems awkward and potentially less safe for the laptop. The second option may be cost prohibitive at this time (I'd have to get a horizontal Brain Cell for the Zephyr as my current Brain Cell is vertical).
Am I being overly concerned for the laptop? Will the Ristretto offer sufficient protection? Will it be comfortable wearing cross-shoulder with the Aeronaut on my back? Would the Zephyr be just as comfortable in the same configuration on my body? Any thoughts/experiences would be appreciated.
While a loose Brain Cell in an Aeronaut might be a bit "awkward" (depending on how you packed), I wouldn't worry about the protection. The Brain Cell is the best laptop protection available anywhere short of a Pelican case, and if it is packed in an Aeronaut surrounded by clothes and toiletries, it should be fine.
Originally Posted by tsharvey
While I have never had an Imago or a Zephyr (and can't comment on them), I do have a Ristretto, and I think it's perfect for your situation. Yes, the laptop will have less protection than a Brain Cell, but it also takes up noticeably less space. The Ristretto will easily hold the contents you described, though I'd personally add a Tom Bihn Cordura Organizer Pouch to help organize things. (I feel better about my passport when it is in a dedicated TB Passport Pouch attached to a keystrap inside my bag.)
While the Ristretto offers less laptop protection than the best-in-class Brain Cell, it's safe enough for me anytime I want to go smaller and lighter than a Smart Alec. If I didn't have to carry a digital SLR camera and extra lenses, I would travel with an Aeronaut/Ristretto combination. (I use my Ristretto for around-town use while I'm at home.)
I usually wear a backpack (Brain Bag or Smart Alec) and sling my Aeronaut (with Absolute Strap) over one shoulder or across my body, and I haven't had much problem. I imagine that wearing the Aeronaut as a backpack and slinging the Ristretto's Absolute Strap across my body would be *much* more comfortable, because of the lighter weight of the Ristretto and its contents. (My backpacks are pretty heavy, with a 13" MacBook, accessories, and camera equipment.)
The Ristretto is also a great value for the price. I highly recommend it for your situation.
Last edited by BJ Nemeth; 09-12-2008 at 12:49 AM.
if you want the aeronaut to be the only bag you're carrying (this is a great convenience), i would recommend a soft cell to carry the macbook. your macbook will be well protected in a soft cell surrounded by your clothing. and that would fit very nicely in the aeronaut. you may also want to add a pouch to carry accessories (ac adapter, etc).
if you would like a bag to carry your macbook in at your destination, you could choose the soft cell + convertible packing cube / backpack. you're still carrying only one bag while you go through the airport.
you could follow a similar strategy with the large cafe bag + soft cell, but the large cafe bag will take up more space inside your aeronaut than will the convertible packing cube / backpack.
You could clip an Absolute Strap to your Brain Cell and use it as your personal item. That would take care of the laptop.
Your snacks, iPod, an book can be placed inside a Convertible Packing Cube designed to fit one of the side pockets of the Aeronaut.
A few papers(if they are letter size consider putting them inside a hard plastic folder then in the Packing Cube/backpack).
Your passport will be secure in it's Passport Pouch clipped by the strap inside the small pocket shown on picture N of the Aeronaut page.
I also use a Brain Bag as my first carry on with a Large Cafe Bag as my second.
If I have to travel with the Aeronaut instead of the Brain Bag, I will be faced with the same dilemma.
I would keep my MacBook in its Brain Cell and just pack it in my Aeronaut. As fodn as I am of the Ristretto and the Soft Cell, my MacBook doesn't leave the house unless it's in its Brain Cell. Period. Whether I'm carrying my Zephyr or just carrying the Brain Cell solo, I paid too much for my MacBook to trust its protection to a thin layer of soft padding a la the Ristretto/Soft Cell.
Pack your Brain Cell in your Aeronaut. You and your MacBook will be much happier.
How about the Western Flyer?
I tried putting my MacBook in a Brain Cell into my Aeronaut, and while it fit fine it lacked the utter ease that putting the Brain Cell in a Western Flyer provides: I found that there was too much fussing to disengage the Brain Cell from the Aeronaut. Admittedly the Aeronaut/Western Flyer is a LOT of capacity so I mostly carry my clothes in a Smart Alec that goes in the overhead (and is so compact and malleable it fits anywhere) and my Mac and everything else I'll want on the flight in a Western Flyer.
The biggest issue for me, one that prevents me from using a smaller bag like a Cafe Bag (or even an Ego) for under-the-seat-in-front-of me use, is having ability to zip everything up tight. That way when the plane lands and I'm slinging things over my shoulder I never have to worry about some bit of electronica slipping out and getting left behind.
(Give me a Large Cafe bag whose main compartment zips shut and life would be even more perfect)
Thank you to all who provided ideas/experiences.
I went ahead and ordered the Aeronaut and Ristretto. I plan on trying out the Brain Cell in the Aeronaut when I get it to get a sense of whether or not that will work for me. But I'm thinking that I'll e happier with the Ristretto. I'll report back once I've got both bags and get a feeling of what will work for me.
I think you'll be very happy with your decision, and I'm curious to hear your opinions once you have used both bags for a while.
Remember, the Ristretto has the advantage of also being a great around-town laptop bag when you're *not* traveling. (That's how I use mine.)
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