From time to time, we have the opportunity to share our customers stories. Danny O’Neil is a Northwest native who covered Puget Sound sports for 20 years at The Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and 710 AM, a sports-radio station in Seattle. He is now a freelance writer in Manhattan, a contributor to “Seattle Magazine” and is working on a non-fiction book about Pete Carroll. He has been known to carry a baguette in the water-bottle pouch of his Synapse 25 (Burnt Orange Ballistic if you must know).
Trips are classified according to baggage in our house.
“A Western Flyer trip?” my wife asks.
This would indicate one of two things:
1. A two-night work trip requiring a sports coat and a pair of dress shoes
2. A trip to a warmer-weather destination for as many as five nights for my annual trip to Arizona for Mariners’ spring training.
My wife believes that five nights require more than the most minimalist of Tom Bihn’s travel bag offerings.
“Maybe you need the Aeronaut,” she’ll suggest.
This is her go-to bag for the Hawaiian beach vacation, and the week-long cabin getaway to Vermont. It’s also perfect for car camping. In fact, if there’s any situation where there’s any uncertainty about clothes storage, the Aeronaut is my wife’s bag of choice. The variety of compartments make it a perfectly functional dresser with one of the side pockets converting to a laundry hamper over the course of the trip.
Over the past five years, the Aeronaut and the Western Flyer have become not just essential travel bags for us, but the way we measure how much a specific trip will require us to bring. They’re organizing tools as much as they’re luggage and in the spirit of sharing that runs strong in the Tom Bihn community, I’m moved to share the specifics.
The Western Flyer
(Aubergine 1050 Ballistic/Wasabi 200 Halcyon)
This is my indispensable travel bag, an absolute revelation after spending a good 15 years searching for the best bag for the two-night trips that are a staple of my job in sports media. I have tried rollers. I have used garment bags with shoulder straps. For a while I was partial to convertible suit bags that zip up into a duffle. The Western Flyer relegated all those to the status of “bags I used to use.” I’m a confirmed minimalist, the Western Flyer is my grail and here are the two essential applications:
The Two-Night Business Trip:
This is a situation that calls for sports coat, tie and dress shoes for one day of work that is tucked in between two travel days. This can be stretched to two work days, but that requires some creativity to keep from going up a class to the Aeronaut. I’ve found I can add a second dress shirt and additional tie, but not another pair of pants. More likely, I’ll wear a T-shirt or uncollared shirt under the sports jacket on that second work day (gasp!).
To be packed: One pair dress shoes, my toiletry kit, one Western Flyer packing cube with dress slacks, two pair underwear, two undershirts, pajamas, one pair dress socks, one pair travel socks, long-sleeve T-shirt for return flight. One dress shirt packed in Eagle Creek garment folder. One tie and tie clip packed in a travel tie case.
Configuration: The Western Flyer has two main compartments, one of which has a vertical divider that can be unzipped if it’s not desired. I LOVE the divider. I pack my shoes in a cloth shoe sack and put it in one compartment. My toiletry bag fits neatly in the other half. I place the garment folder, the tie case and the packing cube into the other main compartment.
Worn on the plane: The sports jacket over a polo shirt or solid T-shirt in spring or summer. This gets a little trickier in the fall and winter because I’ll have a sweater or crewneck under the sports jacket and an overcoat that I’ll stow in the overhead bin during the flight.
Five-Night Warm-Weather Extravaganza:
“That’s all you brought?” This was the observation of the executive producer of the radio station I worked at when I arrived in Peoria, Ariz., for a week’s worth of spring-training baseball in 2019. Yup. And I even had fresh undies each day I was there. This requires some commitment on the part of the packer.
To be packed: One dress shirt, one short-sleeved collared shirt, pajama shorts, toiletry bag, two pairs of shorts, one pair swim trunks, three T-shirts, five pairs underwear, tank-top undershirts and socks. Flip-flops — if desired will need to fit in an outside pocket.
Configuration: Use the compartment with the divider for the toiletries in one side, underwear, undershirts and socks in the other. Rolling up underwear, undershirts will save space. Remainder of the shirts and shorts go into the packing cube with the dress shirt folded as top layer of the cube.
Worn on the plane: Your shoes, which will be the only ones taken on this trip. Pants, also the only pair being taken on this trip. Any jacket/sweatshirt will also need to be worn, not packed. Same goes for a rain shell and/or hat.
The best part about the Western Flyer is its size or more accurately the lack thereof. Not only is it easy to manage as a carry-on, but it forces me to be disciplined in what I bring. What’s the right configuration for you? Only one way to find out: Start packing!
You can shop the Western Flyer yourself and add some packing cubes to achieve an extra level of organization. Looking for something similar but slightly bigger? You may want to check out our Tri-Star.