// Around The World With One Bag (Part Three)

Be sure to check out Part One and Part Two of the “Around the World With One Bag” Series!

Tom Bihn Aeronaut

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…

The Details

Item
Description
Tom Bihn Aeronaut
Price (USD)$220
Weight 2.71 lbs / 1230 grams
Overall Dimensions (L x W x H)22" x 14" x 9" / 555 x 355 x 230mm
Volume45 liters (2700 cu. in.)
Warranty Lifetime Warranty

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

On The Next Page: “What The Hell Is A “Denier”?”

  1. A Farman F–121 Jabiru []
  2. Okay — maybe the little red airplane thing on their logo is also a pre-existing bias: I loves me some old-timey travel stuff! []

4 Responses to “Around The World With One Bag (Part Three)”

  1. Melinda says:

    Ok so while your review of the Aeronaut was helpful and is what made me decide to go with Tom Bihn, you didn’t do it justice!! I just got my bag yesterday and this is a GREAT BAG!! I don’t know why you would use any other bag for one bag travel. It is everything you said and more. It’s roomy, the craftsman ship is outstanding, and you can see that this bag will last a VERY long time. Thank for your review!

    • Justin says:

      I am always mindful of how many exclamation points I use (because I use them a lot) but, clearly, I didn’t use enough this time around. ;-)

      Glad the review helped and steered you towards this awesome bag/company. My Aeronaut is still my primary bag and it’s looking great — even after putting almost 170,000 miles on it.

      FYI — In 2013, I’m planing on reviewing a few more TB products while I travel.

  2. Mike says:

    Great review.
    Interesting that most online reviews state that the backpack straps of the Aeronaut are superior while you have reached the opposite conclusion. Could you expand your comments on that specific area?

    • Justin says:

      Thanks Mike!

      Both the Red Oxx and the Aeronaut have *really good* backpack straps! To me, though, the padding on the straps of the Sky Train feels more robust.

      But that’s not the whole story: The Sky Train’s metal hardware (which locks the backpack straps into place) is much heavier than the plastic clips on the Aeronaut’s. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your personal preferences. In our case, one of these clasps bent early in our travels, which made it hard to quickly convert the bag from shoulder carry to backpack mode.

      I also prefer the way the Aeronaut feels when I’m wearing it as a backpack. Generally speaking, my bags are fully loaded when I travel and the Aeronaut distributes this along a longer — not a deeper — axis. In practice, this means that I’m less worried about inadvertently whacking someone with my bag as it’s gives me a narrower footprint while walking down the street.

      Two and a half years (and probably 150,000+ miles worth of travel) since getting the Aeronaut, it still looks basically brand-new and it’s still is my bag of choice when going anywhere.

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