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Feedback from Tom Bihn Aeronaut carry-on bag owners

Feedback from Tom Bihn Aeronaut carry-on bag owners

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Old Oct 11, 09, 10:09 pm
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Feedback from Tom Bihn Aeronaut carry-on bag owners

Am considering buying this bag as it seems to suit the way I travel but wanted to solicit any feedback on this forum from users who have an Aeronaut for their opinions.

I travel 3-4 times a year on average ranging from 2 nights to 2 weeks but all on pleasure and without any electronic gadgets apart from my digital camera. I started travelling with only a carry-on a few years ago and really like it though packing does take more planning than travelling with a checked bag as a back-up. Currently am using an okay Samsonite medium duffel that's fairly done me for the past few years and is built well but it isn't all that user friendly having only one large main compartment and two exterior pockets and I thought if I could still travel with the same amount of clothes but lighten up the weight of the carry on and carry some things more efficient it would make for easier travel.

Thanks for the advice anyone can offer on the subject.
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Old Oct 11, 09, 11:15 pm
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Since you don't need to pack a laptop (I use the separate "personal item" for that), I think it's the perfect carry-on bag. I have never had a problem fitting it in any of the overhead-compartments, even on smaller planes. The handling is brilliant - notice for example the handles on the ends for pulling it out of wherever you stowed it; the overall build quality is just superb.
I seldom use the capability to convert it into a backpack, but when I need to, I am thankful I can, and I like that you otherwise don't see or notice the straps at all.

I do strongly recommend getting the complete set of 5 packing cubes as they make packing and unpacking so much neater and easier - get at least the 3 for the main compartment. Also, the absolute strap is brilliant, particularly when the bag is a little heavier and you want to carry it on the shoulder for a while.
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Old Oct 12, 09, 12:13 am
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Originally Posted by khaberz View Post
Also, the absolute strap is brilliant, particularly when the bag is a little heavier and you want to carry it on the shoulder for a while.
Thanks for the input. I ordered the Absolute strap this past summer and am impressed, although the Samsonite carry-on I have it on does get weighty at times and even it can only spare so much shoulder strain which is why I thought I'd see about trading up to this improved piece of travel gear.
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Old Oct 12, 09, 2:38 am
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My advice: Look for something else, there are much better designed bags out there including Tom Bihn's own models.

What is it that attracts you in the Aeronaut? Which features?

I have a Mandarina Duck Tank series bag with the exact same basic design from the 80s. Only difference is that it doesn't have the backpack/messenger strap and it looks much better. The size and layouts of the compartments are not ideal for organized and wrinkle free packing. Notice the recommendation on getting tons of packing cubes? Well, you might need them and that will drive the price up. Even the Patagonia MLC and MLC Burrito are much better bags for less money.

My usual recommendation is the Briggs Riley 235x. See here for my review:
http://www.1bag1world.com/blog/2009/...-shootout.html

Then there is the Redoxx Airboss. And finally the Tom Bihn Tristar.

In the duffel category I am quite "blissed out" with the Andiamo Valoroso 25" four pocket duffel which you can find around $130 (originally over $300 and justifiably so).
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/12137102-post9.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/12315368-post31.html

If you tell me more about what you want to pack and what you require in a bag (weight, look, pockets, durability, layout, etc) I might be able to give you a more pointed recommendation but basically anything I just wrote here will be better than an Aeronaut. Sorry.

Till
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Old Oct 12, 09, 4:40 am
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Hi,
Here are two reviews that I found helpful:

http://www.imagometrics.com/GoBags/Aeronaut.htm

http://www.rainydaymagazine.com/RDM2...tFirstLook.htm
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Old Oct 12, 09, 12:31 pm
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Thanks for the input and review ans welcome to FT notmensa.

So many bags I see either hint at it or come right out and say its a bag for 2-3 days of business travel, which isn't really how I travel at all and why I thought a better duffel was what would do me better. I like the look of the RedOxx Air Boss and how it carries the clothes vertically instead of horizontally, I assume with straps, and that would keep them crisper than in the single large compartment of my current duffel where everything kind of gets compressed. I assume the way the clothes are strapped in it would mean no packing cubes are really needed, though would be curious to hear back whether that's correct or not.

The price of the Pathfinder was very attractive but the model you reviewed is sold out at overstock otherwise I would've likely taken a flyer, pardon the pun, on it at approx. $70 which I can't consider as easily when the price passes $200.

How would you rate the Travel Boss versus the TriStar?

I know I'll get good use out of a good carry-on as this year alone I've done one week YEG-CUN via MSP & IAH for a holiday, a one week Holland America Alaska cruise, 2+ weeks in EZE and Argentina, a 2 nighter YEG-PHX via DEN and next month a 6 night pseudo MR YEG-KIX via SFO. Now this might not be a typical year as next year I might travel less but I know if I can find the right bag it'll make my travelling easier.

I usually travel fairly light with 2 black T-shirts, 2-3 polo shirts (1 long sleeved for the plane), 2 pairs of comfortable Columbia pants (no jeans), swim trunks, Eagle Creek Koala toiletries pack with the Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube which fits pefectly into the bottom zippered pocket of the Koala though I'm sure that wasn't intended, an Eagle Creek Pack It half tube for underwear and socks, swim trunks, paperback, document holder, and a small pack of pens, ear bud earphones, sleepmask and kleenex. I take a small bottle of Dylex and wash the shirts once or twice depending how long the trip is.

Trust me, I'm a convert to the one bag reality and am trying now to get a better fit.
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Old Oct 12, 09, 1:38 pm
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Tcook, this is an excellent packing list. Very restraint. You don't even need a 45 linear inch bag. You should be fine with a 38-40 linear inch bag. If you want further weight reduction, the only possibility I see is to stow socks in the shoes and underwear with the polos.But do you even take an extra pair of shoes?
Perhaps you can get rid of the toiletry bag. I got rid of mine in favor of two 1 quart ziplocs. One holds liquids the other hardware.

So knowing you don't actually need all that volume, I would prefer the Tristar over the Airboss. However, now there are new alternatives out there. Cubes are not necessary in the Airboss and they are not necessary in the Tristar even if the sellers want to make you feel they are necessary.

Knowing this list and the absence of a need to take formal clothes my new rec would be between a Tristar, the Valoroso 18" six pocket tote and the BR 231x double expandable tote.
http://www.briggs-riley.com/category...able-Tote_231X
http://lazarsluggage.stores.yahoo.net/an18shoultot.html
You should be able to negotiate a price of around $150 for the Valoroso.

Both are cheaper and both are as well made as the Tristar. The Valoroso has no warranty anymore but a) the bag is as overbuilt as an Airboss and b) since the bag is always with you this is not much of an issue, especially compared to a wheeled bag that you check in.

The reason the manufacturers say that these bags, even the 45" models, are for 2-3 day business trips is that they know that the normal person doesn't know how to pack. Obviously you are different and most FT'ers are different, too. The manufacturers also tell us that a 26" case is good for a one week vacation. Come on, I can live indefinitely form a 22 incher and comfortably from a 24 incher. So don't even listen to that.

If you want to go super lightweight, check out the lightweight bags thread here. I think the A. Saks double zip carry-on and the Essential gear carry-on are among the lightest and cheapest serious onebags. Both would be amply sufficient in your case and as easy on the wallet as on your back.
http://www.luggage.com/asp/show_deta...d=FR52-ASK1000
http://www.asaks.com/pages/ae21_ae26.html
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___60793

If you can find the old version of the Patagonia MLC (with elephant ear pocket) that would also be less than $100 and a very good bag.

The BR235x, as you read in my review, is kind of the Lexus of shoulder bags but I don't think it is necessary in your case, as much as I like it. The 231x should easily do the trick.

One thing you need to decide is whether you do like the possibility of having backpack straps. In that case, you should read the convertible bag thread here and on OBOW. They take room away and add weight, but if you do carry heavy and compact stuff (tech gear and books), which you don't, then they are fully justifiable.

Given the price and the fact that you don't really need backpack straps, I'd go for the BR231x or the Valoroso VT18 at the high end of the market (still cheaper than TB) or the Essential from Campmor or the A. Saks at the low end. Mind you, low end, does not mean that these are cheapo bags. They are just made of lesser material (thus less weight) and with perhaps a bit less attention to detail than the others. Since the price is 3-7 times lower and durability is not a huge issue with a hand carried bag and a light load like yours, the cheaper bags almost seem like the better deal.

Till
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Old Oct 12, 09, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by tfar
My advice: Look for something else, there are much better designed bags out there including Tom Bihn's own models.

What is it that attracts you in the Aeronaut? Which features?

I have a Mandarina Duck Tank series bag with the exact same basic design from the 80s. Only difference is that it doesn't have the backpack/messenger strap and it looks much better. The size and layouts of the compartments are not ideal for organized and wrinkle free packing. Notice the recommendation on getting tons of packing cubes? Well, you might need them and that will drive the price up. Even the Patagonia MLC and MLC Burrito are much better bags for less money.

My usual recommendation is the Briggs Riley 235x. See here for my review:
http://www.1bag1world.com/blog/2009/...-shootout.html

Then there is the Redoxx Airboss. And finally the Tom Bihn Tristar.

In the duffel category I am quite "blissed out" with the Andiamo Valoroso 25" four pocket duffel which you can find around $130 (originally over $300 and justifiably so).
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/12137102-post9.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/12315368-post31.html

If you tell me more about what you want to pack and what you require in a bag (weight, look, pockets, durability, layout, etc) I might be able to give you a more pointed recommendation but basically anything I just wrote here will be better than an Aeronaut. Sorry.

Till
With respect, from memory I believe that you posted previously that you didn't own any TB bags. The OP asked for opinions from those that owned the Aeronaut. Apologies if I'm mistaken on this, but do you think you can review something you don't own and use?

On the Aeronaut, it comes down whether you prefer a structured, segmented-type bag, versus a duffel-type bag. If you prefer the former, the Aeronaut is unlikely to be the right bag. The main pocket is huge and really benefits from packing cubes as pointed out above. The pocket sizes are "slightly" changeable by fastening/unfastening retaining clips inside the bag. It really is a useful bag if you have big feet or large bulky items. I really feel it's probably a more useful leisure bag than a business bag if you are one-bagging it without a separate laptop bag due to it's unstructured set-up. As a leisure carry-on I think it's fantastic, holds a lot and the construction is very, very good. Right down to the zips it smacks of being well made using good quality components.
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Old Oct 12, 09, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by khaberz View Post
Since you don't need to pack a laptop (I use the separate "personal item" for that), I think it's the perfect carry-on bag.
We're going to travel international to Japan and I also want to do the one bag carry on method. I am also considering the Aeronaut as well (Considered the Tri-star as well but it's only 2000 cu in vs the Aeronaut's 2700 cu in).
I was thinking of bringing my Macbook Pro 13" as well. I have a sleeve for it already so it's well packed. I will be sitting in a bulkhead area so I'd like to keep it near me if I can. I wonder if I should have a smaller bag for the electronic gear for me and my 2 year old daughter (DVD player, Sony PSP, Sony cam corder, Nikon DSLR, iPhone). I don't need this equipment dropping from the overhead bin unless I can tuck it all the way in the back.


Originally Posted by khaberz View Post
I do strongly recommend getting the complete set of 5 packing cubes as they make packing and unpacking so much neater and easier - get at least the 3 for the main compartment. Also, the absolute strap is brilliant, particularly when the bag is a little heavier and you want to carry it on the shoulder for a while.
So instead of getting 2 large packing cubes, to get 5 small packing cubes? We plan on using 2 Aeronauts for the 4 of us (2 adults, an 8 month, and a 2 year old) as carry ons including souvenirs for the family and 2 strollers (maybe a car seat if we cannot rent on the plane).

Last edited by AoiGSR; Oct 12, 09 at 4:45 pm
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Old Oct 12, 09, 4:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Kgmm77 View Post

With respect, from memory I believe that you posted previously that you didn't own any TB bags. The OP asked for opinions from those that owned the Aeronaut. Apologies if I'm mistaken on this, but do you think you can review something you don't own and use?
I don't own the Aeronaut but, as I said, I own an almost identical Mandarina Duck bag since about 1988. Thus I can very well comment (I never said I was reviewing a TB product) on the packing site and suitability of this bag based on the OP's statements and my experience. Factors like workmanship and durability are secondary in this particular case and I've never doubted TB's high standards in these areas.

I'd even go as far as to say that my opinion based on my hands-on experience, article research and in-depth analysis of MANY other but similar bags will be better informed and more insightful than that of most reviewers who have owned and used a bag. Still, I declare mine as an opinion because I haven't owned and used a bag, while they can justifiably call it a review. This explains also why I took the liberty of responding to the thread hoping even suggestions from a non-user would prove helpful for the OP.

That said, I do agree with your assessment of the Aeronaut. It packs a whole lot but it is awkward to pack yet advantageous if you have bulky items, e.g. one size 13 shoes in each side pocket. But the layout is not well-organized enough for my taste and even for folded clothes it is awkward to pack. Using a packing cube and a shirt folder it becomes more manageable but still wastes a lot of space and stuff tends to slide around and get wrinkled. It would be a great bag though for a well versed bundle-wrapper. For the OP, it is clearly too big, given his packing list.

I have largely retired mine (the MD bag) for travel purposes but it still gives me great use as a sports bag for my bulky karate-gi or for a little swimming excursion to the local pond and such things.

Cheers,

Till

P.S.: Welcome to FT for notmensa and AoiGSR!
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Old Oct 12, 09, 4:59 pm
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Very interesting. While checking out the Tristar I phoned Tom Bihn and found out the shoulder straps are not detachable, meaning if I never ever use them they'll still stay folded up in their pocket. Oh I know they don't weigh a lot or take up much space but if I'm never likely to use them I can't remove them short of going radical and cutting them off which I'm not wanting to even consider on a brand new bag I just bought.

Thanks again for the input and I appreciate the comparisons between a duffel type bag with a large compartment, much like I use now, versus a more segmented type bag. Having lived with and out of a duffel for so long I think I'm ready to try the upright option, if I can call it that, and so have narrowed the options to the Tristar or BR 231x as the best. While I appreciated the inclusion of the value options from Till I think if I make this bag last for ages I can live with the price as I more often than not will pay for quality and trust it'll last a long time.

Speaking of durability that's what I have gotten from the one pair of shoes I travel with, which is a pair of Ecco's much like this one and they are so comfortable for a full day of sightseeing yet casual enough to look dressed down but presentable in all but the fanciest surroundings. They cost 2-3 times what the lesser shoes I used to buy cost but have lasted well for 3+ years.
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Old Oct 12, 09, 5:09 pm
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Originally Posted by AoiGSR View Post
We're going to travel international to Japan and I also want to do the one bag carry on method. I am also considering the Aeronaut as well (Considered the Tri-star as well but it's only 2000 cu in vs the Aeronaut's 2700 cu in).
I was thinking of bringing my Macbook Pro 13" as well. I have a sleeve for it already so it's well packed. I will be sitting in a bulkhead area so I'd like to keep it near me if I can. I wonder if I should have a smaller bag for the electronic gear for me and my 2 year old daughter (DVD player, Sony PSP, Sony cam corder, Nikon DSLR, iPhone). I don't need this equipment dropping from the overhead bin unless I can tuck it all the way in the back.




So instead of getting 2 large packing cubes, to get 5 small packing cubes? We plan on using 2 Aeronauts for the 4 of us (2 adults, an 8 month, and a 2 year old) as carry ons including souvenirs for the family and 2 strollers (maybe a car seat if we cannot rent on the plane).
Are you going to be traveling around in Japan with the need to repack your bags every other night or will you stay in one place and do excursions from there? If you need to repack often, do get cubes. If not go for bundle wrapping. It will save you some weight and a lot money. Use the Rick Steves cubes. They shall fit well in the cavernous Aeronaut, are lightweight and cheap.

I think the Aeronaut is actually a good bag for that purpose. Two Aeronauts will be quite loaded with the effects of two adults plus two babies. You could also go an intermediate route where one bag is outfitted with cubes and stuff that needs to be accessed often and the other bag is bundle wrapped. The backpack feature will come in handy because your hands will be full already in terms of children and car seat etc. Do check out the Travel with Children forum here. Extremely helpful advice from experienced people.
I wonder: Is there not a car seat that can be turned into a stroller? The stroller portion gets gate checked and the car seat serves either on the plane or in the car. I am sure such a thing should exist, no?

One thing you need to keep in mind is that there will be situations where you will need to carry the bag on your back, a child in one arm and the stroller in the other hand. I'd think about getting one of these sleeves or cloths where you carry the child on your chest. This should off-set the backpack weight nicely and still leave one hand free to maneuver.

Make a packing list and see which items you need to access how easily and how often. You might also want to see if you cannot leave some items at home. The laptop does play DVDs and can be used for games. I think one can watch films on an Iphone and PSP, too. Thus taking all of these items and their associated gadgets doesn't seem like the most efficient way to fulfill your entertainment needs. Smart packing is about consolidation of really needed items, not specialized tools for entertainment purposes. At least leave either the PSP or the extra DVD player at home. Ideally you'd leave the macbook at home. That's 5lb with the charger. You can check emails and do games on the Iphone and use the DVD player for entertainment.

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Old Oct 12, 09, 5:10 pm
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
P.S.: Welcome to FT for notmensa and AoiGSR!
Thanks First post. Amazing how many forums there are. Flyertalk, specific car forums, aquarium forums, specific fish forums, car seat forums (for kids/children), Tom Bihn even has a forum. You can get so specific to something that you want to find an answer to or a community to belong with.

Going to travel in a month for 2 weeks in Japan and just trying to get everything ready. Haven't traveled since 2003 so lots of things have changed. Can't wait for the TSA!

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Old Oct 12, 09, 5:30 pm
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
Are you going to be traveling around in Japan with the need to repack your bags every other night or will you stay in one place and do excursions from there?
We're going to stay at my wife's sister's place (sister in law) for 15 days.

We won't be repacking. We have lots of goodies for the family when we go there. Probably should stash another bag as a day pack inside so I can use that for traveling around Japan.

Yes I've read about bundle wrapping. I think once we get the luggage, then we can evaluate how much we want to take then pair don't what we don't need.

I wonder if TSA will sift through our stuff and mess up the packing so I wonder if cubes will be good to have.

I didn't know if the Tristar was going to be an option because it's $40 more than the Aeronaut. When I called customer service, the person went to talk to Tom Bihn and he said it is just more labor to produce that bag.

Originally Posted by tfar View Post
Do check out the Travel with Children forum here. Extremely helpful advice from experienced people.
I wonder: Is there not a car seat that can be turned into a stroller? The stroller portion gets gate checked and the car seat serves either on the plane or in the car. I am sure such a thing should exist, no?
What we plan on doing if Japan Airlines approves is rent 2 car seats that they provide no charge. For sure I can do this with my 8 month but finding out from JAL if they will allow my 2 year old to be in a car seat provided by them as well (It won't be a pain to carry all of that then).

If that doesn't work out, we need to bring one car seat then. We can get something that is called Go Go Kidz that is like a luggage cart that the seat can strap to. If I need to hold my 2 year old, then I can strap the luggage on the car seat and wheel that. If it does work out, we're thinking to get some cheap umbrella strollers or maybe bring our nice one but I hear people aren't nice to strollers either. I don't want to see my nice stroller thrown around like a pole vault

Originally Posted by tfar View Post
One thing you need to keep in mind is that there will be situations where you will need to carry the bag on your back, a child in one arm and the stroller in the other hand. I'd think about getting one of these sleeves or cloths where you carry the child on your chest. This should off-set the backpack weight nicely and still leave one hand free to maneuver.
Yes my wife will be using an Ergo carrier for our 8 month. We're hoping our 29 month will like to stay in the stroller and not walk. She may be asleep so
we're not sure. I came to this forum because i was looking for car seat situations, then was looking for luggage information and here I am

My friend from Japan said I don't need to bring the laptop if I don't have access at my sister in laws place (which I am told she doesn't use e-mail, but her husband works in IT so I should verify that). It would be a savings (and is quite heavy).

The laptop has only limited power, as well as the iPhone, PSP, DVD and all will wear down. Since we're not in business class, we're limited with battery power. I have an extra battery for the PSP already. The iPhone you could get a Mophie battery pack to attach to the iPhone but I would not use it after the trip. portable DVD does not have sell the battery pack anymore for whatever reason (even though it's detachable).

Originally Posted by tfar View Post
You can check emails and do games on the Iphone and use the DVD player for entertainment.
I can only check e-mails on the iPhone assuming there is wireless connectivity in Japan where I will be. My friend from Japan did say we can go to coffee shops that have internet cafes where we can use public PCs as well. I also need to fill out my timesheet for work somehow on the internet. Not sure if it has to be on Internet Explorer or if I can use Firefox (i'll test this week on Firefox and see how it works).

I'll need to get a prepaid phone in Japan as well, which I've squared off on where to get when we get to that airport. I can't use my iPhone in Japan anyway but will be nice when there's wireless around.

Last edited by AoiGSR; Oct 12, 09 at 5:35 pm
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Old Oct 12, 09, 5:43 pm
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Originally Posted by AoiGSR View Post
We're going to stay at my wife's sister's place (sister in law) for 15 days.

We won't be repacking often. We have lots of goodies for the family when we go there.

Yes I've read about bundle wrapping. I think once we get the luggage, then we can evaluate how much we want to take then pair don't what we don't need.

Bundle packing does work then. If you are not traveling around so much, why not check at least one bag? It's an international flight and at least one bag per person should be free. Would make things a bit easier.

I wonder if TSA will sift through our stuff and mess up the packing so I wonder if cubes will be good to have.

TSA with babies is a pain from what I can see at the checkpoints. Put metal objects, tech objects, powder and liquids in an easily accessible place. That's the stuff they might want to check. Don't hide that under your clothes.


I didn't know if the Tristar was going to be an option because it's $40 more than the Aeronaut. When I called customer service, the person went to talk to Tom Bihn and he said it is just more labor to produce that bag.

Indeed, the Tristar is much more elaborate. Price difference is fully justified. But it is also the smaller bag and if those are the only bags you take, the Tristar will be too small.


Sounds ok for the stroller planning.

My friend from Japan said I don't need to bring the laptop if I don't have access at my sister in laws place (which I am told she doesn't use e-mail, but her husband works in IT I should verify that. It would be a savings (and is quite heavy).

The laptop has only limited power, as well as the iPhone, PSP, DVD and all will wear down. Since we're not in business class, we're limited with battery power. I have an extra battery for the PSP already. The iPhone you could get a Mophie battery pack to attach to the iPhone but I would not use it after the trip. portable DVD does not have sell the battery pack anymore for whatever reason (even though it's detachable).

I can only check e-mails on the iPhone assuming there is wireless connectivity in Japan where I will be. My friend from Japan did say we can go to coffee shops that have internet cafes where we can use public PCs as well. I also need to fill out my timesheet for work somehow. not sure if it has to be on Internet Explorer or if I can use Firefox (i'll test this week on Firefox and see how it works).

I'll need to get a prepaid phone in Japan as well, which I've squared off on where to get when we get to that airport. I can't use my iPhone in Japan anyway but will be nice when there's wireless around.
Some comments in red within the quote.

She lives in Japan with her husband being in IT and they don't have wifi at home? Sounds strange. Anyways, computer access shouldn't be a problem. I'd really look into possibilities of leaving the laptop at home. Maybe her husband can get you one from work for the time you are there?

Bring the Iphone. It's not heavy. But think again about playstation and DVD player.

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