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Aeronaut 30

Regular price $290.00
  • Mars Red 525 Ballistic/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon
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    If something goes wrong and it's our fault, we'll fix it for free. Repairs due to normal wear and tear or due to other things that are not our fault will be performed, when possible, at a reasonable charge right here in our Seattle factory where your bag was made. Defects in materials or workmanship are uncommon and almost always evident while the product is still new. Keep in mind that bags and packs are often subject to extreme wear in everyday use: do not expect them to last forever. Only true love lasts forever! You can expect a TOM BIHN product to give years and years of hard service.

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U.S. high tenacity 1050 denier ballistic nylon
bluesign® certified 525 denier High-Tenacity 2x2 Ballistic nylon
— or —
bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® certified Ultralight 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop
bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® certified 200 denier Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric lining
Tough Duraflex®, Nexus, and Woojin buckles and related components
Main Compartment and End Compartments:
#10 YKK Aquaguard Coil Zippers with lockable sliders
Diagonal End Pockets and Interior Pocket:
#8 YKK Aquaguard Coil Zippers
Interior Divider Zippers:
#5 YKK Vislon Molded Tooth Zippers
3/8" / 10mm thick back foam panel
Bound-edge EV50 .375" / 10mm shoulder straps (EVAZOTE® OEKO-TEX® foam)


Sewn in USA with globally sourced materials
100% finished seams


Dimensions: 19.7" (w) x 12.6" (h) x 7.9" (d) / 500 (w) x 320 (h) x 200 (d) mm
1050d ballistic nylon: 2 lbs, 14 oz / 1300 grams
525d ballistic nylon: 2 lbs, 10 oz / 1195 grams
400d Halcyon®/420d nylon ripstop: 2 lbs, 6 oz / 1070 grams
Volume: 1830 cubic inches / 30 liters (ASTM Standard Measure)
What's included:
1x 8-inch Black Webbing Snaphook/Snaphook Key Strap
1x Black Cord Zipper Pulls w/ Plastic Ends (8 Pack)
1x Sternum Strap Assembly
1 pair Tie-Down Straps
Total O-rings: 9 (4 in the main compartment, 1 in the inside mesh pocket, 1 in the left curved pocket, 1 in the right curved pocket, 1 in the left side pocket, 1 in the right side pocket)
Want to see the specs for all of our bags?

With the A30 on your back, you won't hesitate to make your way through the crowd, down a cobblestone alley, across the grass, or up the trail.

The Aeronaut 30 is the little brother of the original Aeronaut 45, our convertible carry-on travel bag (the "30" or "45" reflecting their approximate volumes in liters). Its smaller size meets most requirements for North American regional commuter jets and intra-European flights. That said, even if you fly in just regular planes, you may find that the Aeronaut 30 better meets your needs: its smaller size will allow you to squeeze it in to just that many more tight overhead bins, and to move that much more stealthily through crowds. Though the Aeronaut 30 has only two-thirds the volume of the Aeronaut 45, you'll find that in use it seems to fit almost as much.

When we began to scale down the Aeronaut 45, we couldn't resist updating the design with a few minor changes. To make it smaller but still allow full-sized folks to carry it, we had to change the way the bag went together: the padded back panel under which the backpack straps hide is actually a bit longer/taller than on the Aeronaut 45. The gist is that you needn't be 20% shorter to wear the Aeronaut 30. In other words: if the Aeronaut 45 is a good fit for you, the Aeronaut 30 will be as well.

Travel with the Aeronaut isn't like travel with wheeled luggage: you won't ever hesitate to make your way through the crowd, down a cobblestone alley, across the grass, or up the trail. With the load on your back, you can navigate through not just airports, train stations, and bus depots, but through airplanes, trains, and buses. The Aeronaut 30 is at once soft luggage, a duffel bag, and a backpack. It takes the best of all those bags and combines them into what many people have found to be their most versatile travel bag yet.

Designed, like we said, to fit even European budget and regional commuter airline carry-on requirements, the Aeronaut 30 also serves as luggage for shorter trips (or even longer trips for those of us who lean towards ultralight/minimalist packing). With its zip-away backpack straps, the Aeronaut 30 can be carried as a backpack, or with its padded handle can be carried on-edge as one would a traditional suitcase. Of course, you can add our Absolute Shoulder Strap so you can carry it on your shoulder or cross-body (almost any other shoulder strap will work as well).

The downside to most duffel bags is their lack of compartmentalization: we think we've answered that quite successfully with our Aeronauts. The main body of the bag is divided into three significant compartments: a large center compartment flanked on both ends by substantial end compartments. Don't need one end compartment or the other, or need to fit something bigger than expected in the main compartment? The panels dividing the end compartments from the main compartment of the bag unzip — another versatile feature allowing you to customize the Aeronaut 30 to your needs. Good to know: the end compartments of the Aeronaut 30 can accommodate a pair of size 12 (USA) men's dress or running shoes. Don't wear a size 12? Smaller sizes fit too, of course. The end compartments are also great for segregating the clean from the unclean (more on that just below), or perhaps socks and underwear, from everything else.

Available in a size designed specifically to fit the end compartment of the Aeronaut 30 is the Travel Laundry Stuff Sack. Based on a design from Tom's archives (circa 1981) and inspired by his time hosteling around Europe, the Travel Laundry Stuff Sack works like this: start your trip off with the sack full of clean clothes, and as they become dirty, put them in other end of the same sack. A floating divider midway keeps the clean and the dirty clothes separated. The volume of the clothing doesn't change, but the ratio of clean to dirty does. You don't need separate sacks for clean and dirty laundry anymore! Yeahh! It can be ordered as an optional accessory with the Aeronaut 30 or separately.

The main compartment of the Aeronaut 30 is accessed through a curved zipper opening and swallows a substantial stack of folded shirts/blouses/trousers/dresses; as you pack the Aeronaut 30, the end pockets act like bookends, keeping everything in the center compartment relatively flat and folded. The inside of the opening "hatch" features a convenient zippered mesh pocket for small items.

There's also two simple webbing loop handles that are accessible only when the main hatch is unzipped: they're designed to be used as grab handles when and if you need to move your Aeronaut around while packing or unpacking. The handles drop to the inside and are only there when you need them (we think you'll appreciate them).

We make a variety of Packing Cubes sized specifically to most efficiently utilize space inside the Aeronaut 30. Inside the main compartment of the Aeronaut 30, you can fit two Large Aeronaut 30 Packing Cubes, one Large and two Small, or four Small. In either end compartment of the Aeronaut 30, you can fit an End Pocket Packing Cube in either Fabric/Mesh or All Fabric. Also available to fit in either of the end compartments is the handy Travel Laundry Stuff Sack that we mentioned above or various combinations of our Travel Stuff Sacks.

If Packing Cubes aren't your style, you can avail yourself of the pair of tie-down straps inside the Aeronaut 30's main compartment. These straps can be handy for securing pants/slacks or a carefully folded sport coat. The tie-down straps attach to the inside of the bag with Gatekeeper loops, so if you find they are in your way you can save a bit of weight by removing them.

The Aeronaut 30 converts easily to and carries comfortably as a backpack: the shoulder straps are contoured and padded, and they feature a removable/adjustable sternum strap; the back panel is padded with 3/8" / 10mm thick closed-cell foam as well. Thanks to a zipper hidden inside the lining of the bag, the back panel foam is removable (or swappable) if you don't find you need it and want to save the weight/bulk. 

We offer the optional and removable Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt and Aeronaut 30 Internal Frame for those who would like to offset some of the weight of a fully loaded Aeronaut 30 on to their hips. The Padded Hip Belt is designed to fully integrate with the Aeronaut 30 — almost as if it was built-in to the bag from the get-go.

Once the Padded Hip Belt is installed, you have the option of unclipping it and, in one fell swoop, stowing the Padded Hip Belt and the backpack straps in the backpack straps compartment. And with both the backpack straps and waist strap tucked away inside, the Aeronaut becomes a sophisticated soft-luggage piece, free of extraneous straps and geegaws and entirely presentable. Because it is carry-on size, you usually won't be checking the Aeronaut as luggage, but tucking away the shoulder straps (and waist strap) also greatly reduces the possibility of the bag being caught in a conveyor belt if you must check it.

The optional Aeronaut Internal Frame slips inside the same secret zippered pocket that accommodates the back foam padding, and is held in place by its hourglass shape. Some folks may opt to use just the Padded Hip Belt, just the Internal frame, both, or none of the above — for our two cents on those matters, please see our Aeronaut: Frequently Asked Questions blog post.

The grab handles at either end of the Aeronaut 30 were designed to be in the right place at the right time. Specifically, they provide an inviting and obvious place to grab the Aeronaut and give it a yank to extract it from an overhead compartment of a plane or other tight spot. They’re reinforced, so if you need to pull hard, go ahead, and because they’re padded, the whole process will be as comfortable for your hands as possible.

Both exterior ends of the Aeronaut 30 have exterior zippered pockets; one includes a Black 8" Key Strap, and both are large enough for the Guide Michelin and a boarding pass. They're a nice place to keep your earbuds or other small items you might need during the flight, as one end or the other is often easily accessible in the overhead bin.

We make the Aeronaut 30 in two different exterior fabrics: 1050 denier high tenacity ballistic nylon (made in USA to our specifications) or 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop (made in Japan to our specifications). Both versions are lined with our ultralight Japanese 200 denier Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric (again, made to our specifications — see a pattern here? We want things to be just right.)

More on materials: we use #10 YKK Coil Aquaguard® water-repellent zippers so you needn't worry so much about bad weather impacting your gear.

Included with the Aeronaut 30 is a package of our Cord Zipper Pulls in Black so you can add them to the metal zippers for an easier grab, though many folks like how uncluttered the Aeronaut looks as-is.

Of course the Aeronaut 30 is built, like all TOM BIHN bags, to withstand years of worry-free abuse. Bartacks galore. Reinforced everything. Finished seams.

Choosing an Exterior Fabric

You like choices and we like to give you choices! That's why the Aeronaut 30 is typically available* in two different exterior fabrics. Our Materials Glossary explains each fabric in great detail, but here are some quick facts that may help you decide which to choose. And we're always here if you have questions:

400d Halcyon
Weave: plain weave with 1/4” / 6mm ripstop
Fibers: 400 denier type 6 filament nylon (base fabric); 420 denier ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene ripstop grid
Coating: light urethane
Made in: Japan
Choose this fabric if:

  • You want a lighter weight alternative to traditional nylon fabrics that has remarkable tear strength and good abrasion resistance.
  • You're looking for a fabric with a modern, "technical" appearance.
  • You have pets: 400d Halcyon doesn't collect pet hair, reducing your monthly lint roller costs.

1050 Denier High Tenacity Ballistic Nylon
Weave: 2x2 “ballistic” weave
Fibers: 1050 denier type 6,6 (high tenacity) filament nylon
Coating: medium urethane
Made in: U.S.A.

Choose this fabric if:
  • You want a super-tough fabric – originally designed for use in bullet-proof vests.
  • The weight of your bag isn’t a huge concern (though it’s worth noting that 1050d Ballistic is still lighter than cotton canvas or leather).
  • You want a smooth surface that won’t collect pet hair or sweater fuzz, slides easily into and out of the overhead bin, and fits in whether you're traveling for work or leisure.

*There may be times when one of the exterior fabrics mentioned here isn't available. Even with our best efforts, the demand for our bags occasionally outpaces our production capabilities: at times, some products, color combinations, or fabrics might be temporarily unavailable or "In Production." See the In Production color combinations as a guide to what our factory crew is making and what will be available next.

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Design Notes

With the original Aeronaut 45, I had to go through some patterning challenges to get the back panel (the face of the bag which rides against your back when worn as a backpack), to be long enough to accommodate the pocket for the zip-away shoulder straps, while at the same time maintaining the desired volume of the end compartments. However, when we decided to offer the slightly smaller version, I knew I'd need to come up with an entirely new way of dividing the space and accommodating the shoulder straps, as the new size bag was targeted to fit the same size range of people and therefore would have the same size shoulder straps (and back panel length) as Aeronaut 45. The solution I had come up with for A45 was not going to work on this new smaller bag, as there simply wasn't the real estate available.

This challenge fermented in my brain for some time: I sketched and sketched; I sewed rough samples demonstrating new ways of putting a divider into a bag; I set the whole aside for a while, hoping something would congeal on its own. I imagined a solution, but bringing that into reality took time. The ultimate solution involves some sewing that is not at all intuitive, and still frankly resides at the fuzzy edges of my own topological comprehension. In fact, my sewing crew gave me some very strange looks when I showed them how to assemble the first Aeronaut 30. However, it's a solution that is so solid (and IMHO, elegant), that we went back and repatterned Aeronaut 45 using the same design principles. Perhaps even more exciting, the design principles I worked out for A30 can be applied to some other designs I've had sitting on the back burner as well (stay tuned).
- Tom

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