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A Detailed Review of the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 Carry-On / Backpack Hybrid Bag.

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 45

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

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  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! []

The Answer Depends On Who You Are… And For How Long You’re Gone!

Almost as soon as I started planning our trip around the world, my pleasant day-dreams were disrupted by a recurring image: It was a vision of me lugging my laptop for weeks on end like some sort of modern-day Sisyphus.

I’m a writer, a consultant, and the sole proprietor of… and I didn’t want to have to stop my work just because I was traveling for an extended period of time. In fact, being able to work while away was a key part of my travel plans — you know… the part of the plan that helped me pay for the trip.

So, I had basically resigned myself to carrying a laptop when *it* was announced.
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Some Companies Know How To Do “Customer Service” Right!

Thought I’d quickly share a couple of good experiences:


I’ve owned an external battery/hardshell case for my iPhone called Mophie Juice Pack Air since it first came out. For me — someone who tries to leave their laptop at home whenever possible — it’s been a fantastic purchase, enabling me to work from my phone by extending my battery life (and providing some sturdy protection as well!).

But no product design is perfect. Several people have dinged the Juice Pack Air on its page because, it seems, that its Achilles’ Heel is the micro-USB port used to charge it and to allow your iPhone to sync with your computer. Lucky for me — my problem was only an “intermittent connection” which would start a sync with iTunes every time I touched the USB cable. Annoying… but not a show-stopper.

Still, it was annoying enough to contact Mophie about it. They immediately sent instructions on how to return the Juice Pack Air — along with a pre-paid shipping label. After unsuccessfully digging around for a receipt, I decided to roll the dice and send it in anyways. Even though the product had been released less than a year ago and, thus, was still within the warranty period, some companies would have sent it back to me saying “Sorry — Can’t help you without a receipt!” or “We’ll fix it… for (insert amount that you don’t want to pay here)“.

To Mophie’s credit, they weren’t looking for a technicality to avoid providing warranty service. They were looking to take care of their customer. The day after they received my defective battery, they sent out my replacement.

And speaking of Amazon…

Yesterday, there was a great thread on Ask Metafilter where someone was asking for recommendations of music similar to Miles Davis’s score for a movie called Ascenseur pour l’échafaud or, as it’s known in English, Elevator to the Gallows.

I’m as much a fan of good, smoky, Film Noir jazz as anyone, so I took note of the suggestions and then went over to to buy some MP3s! First selection…. Undercurrent by Bill Evans and Jim Hall.

And, for the first time since I started buying music through Amazon, something went wrong. The download never started and, when I went to my Account page, it claimed that I had already downloaded my album. A quick email to customer service receive a quick reply in return:

I’m sorry there was a problem downloading your recent MP3 purchase.

I’m not sure why this happened, but I want to be sure you get the album you ordered. I’ve restored access to the download. Please try to download from Your Media Library on

Pretty straightforward and, more importantly, written in human language! They didn’t make me read through a bunch of cut-and-pasted boilerplate language about how my business “is valuable to them”… only to then make me jump through a bunch of hoops before even trying to fix my issue. There was a person on the other end who understood my problem and what it would take to resolve it.

Anyhow, for as much airspace on the internet is devoted to venting when companies fail us, I felt that a little “counter-programming” was in order. Companies, after all, are made up of individual people — and people that make an effort to “do the right thing” should get a little attention as well!