Review of the Tom Bihn Aeronaut
When writing a review of anything, I will always try to be upfront with you about any biases I may have about a company or product — for or against.
So before I launch into this review of the other bag we brought on our Round-the-World trip — the Tom Bihn Aeronaut — I need to disclose the following:
I really like Tom Bihn.
I really like their products. I really like the people that I’ve talked to who work there. I like their “corporate ethos”. I like their customer service. I like the little red airplane on their logo1. And based on some interviews I’ve read which featured him, I think I’d probably like Tom-Bihn-the-guy as well. (Follow Up — I recently met Tom and my instincts were right: He’s a wonderful guy!)
Now that my “bias” has been disclosed, let’s move into the heart of the matter: The Aeronaut is my favorite bag for extended travel and this review will attempt to explain why that is! 2
I had never even heard of Tom Bihn until earlier this year. As you might remember from previous installments, I had been spending a lot of time researching and trying to find the right bags for Lauren and I before we left on our “Round-the-World Honeymoon”.
I had already found one (The Red Oxx Sky Train) which was a great bag. But after spending some time with it, I felt that it was just a little too small for me to live out of for three months. Although the Sky Train had almost 2,400 cubic inches of space (about 38 liters and change), I knew that it would literally stretch things to the breaking point if I tried to jam all my clothes, cables, adapters, toiletries, etc. inside of it.
The Sky Train’s compartments also had a layout that didn’t make a lot of sense for what I was traveling with: Me being me… I had a lot of electronic gear that I needed access to while in transit — and I didn’t want my clothing to fall out or to be exposed while doing so.
After seeing how much the bag expands when fully packed, I realized that bringing everything I needed would make the Sky Train too big to fit it into an overhead compartment. I needed a bag that had more volume than the Sky Train — but which spread it out along its length, not its depth. I also needed a couple of small compartments to access key items without exposing my clothes.
Enter the Tom Bihn Aeronaut…
|Tom Bihn Aeronaut|
|Weight||2.71 lbs / 1230 grams|
|Overall Dimensions (L x W x H)||22" x 14" x 9" / 555 x 355 x 230mm|
|Volume||45 liters (2700 cu. in.)|
I learned about the Tom Bihn Aeronaut from a number of online forums and knew that it was a well-regarded bag among heavy travelers. Its length was longer than the Sky Train and also had a little more volume — 45 liters (2,700 cu. in.) compared to the Sky Train’s 38 liter capacity. It seemed to be what I was looking for, so I ordered one — along with their upgraded strap and a number of packing cubes and accessories. The online store was easy to navigate and my stuff shipped the very next day.
After unboxing the Aeronaut and accessories, I looked everything over carefully and was pleased by what I saw. Comparing the two bags, the Aeronaut matched the quality of the Red Oxx bag at every turn and I realized that I actually preferred it to the Sky Train. The Red Oxx is a great bag and it took me a while to figure out why I liked the Aeronaut better — both aesthetically and functionally. Trying to put my finger on why this was so, I realized it came down to two main things: The material that each bag was made out of… and the layout of the bags themselves