With my other half living over in Belgrade and a seasonal spate of wanderlust I seem to find myself taking many more flights than I used to. This inevitably results in time spent hanging around at the airport with little to do other than play with my various bits of tech or people watch. It was while doing the later that I started paying attention to what other people use to transport their belongings though the airport, and I started to evaluate what I use. Sometimes one can’t avoid taking a large bag that has to be checked in, but for a lot of my trips a carry on bag would suffice, but my problem was that none of my bags were either big enough to absorb all my stuff (even my lovely Millican Dave rucksack!) or either small enough to pass as hand luggage. I first noticed the Tom Bihn Aeronaut while at Heathrow, and had to do some investigative googling to track down the brand as, not being sold in the UK, I hadn’t come across it before. I am very glad I did.
The Tom Bihn Aeronaut seems to have an almost cult online following, and in the flesh its easy to see why. First off though this bag is not cheap, throw in the fact that it has to be imported from the USA, and it cost me a total of around £250 including £32 for VAT/ Import fees, $45 for shipping and £20 for the Absolute shoulder strap. For the full specs see the Tom Bihn website, but in brief the bag is a rucksack/ duffel / carry on suitcase. It is made of 1050 denier ballistic nylon on the outside and 200 denier dyneema rip-stop fabric on the inside, which makes for a very tough bag. It comes in a whole load of colour options both inside and out. Its made in Seattle, so has that coveted (in the US at least!) made in the USA label. It is currently only available direct from Tom Bihn, but they do make shipping it over to the UK extremely easy ($45!!).
It has one main compartment that can be un-popped to include the space made available by the two side pockets, as well as a zipped ticket/ book pocket and a zipped pocket for the backpack straps to stow away in if you don’t want to use them. It also has an internal mesh pocket with a keys clip within the lid. All the zips are very heavy duty YKK and are seem sealed, so their would be no fears if you did want to check it in for any reason. The Absolute shoulder strap is a fantastic addition, and remarkably seems very effective at spreading the bags weigh effortlessly across the shoulders. The bag also has tough grab handles at each end to make shifting it around in overhead lockers or from the back of a car a breeze. The suitcase style carry handles have a well padded grip for comfort.
The overall layout of the bag seems great; it has the versatility of a rucksack for carrying, but has an opening and the ease of packing of a duffel bag. It is a total of 40L of space, so more than enough for a weeks packing (with a little thought!). I’ve not had it long and have yet to test it outside the UK, but I tried a number of packing scenarios and it has swallowed up everything I’ve thrown at it without any problems. It is easy to carry in any one of its guises and happily fulfils my previously identified criteria. Don’t just take my word for it though; a simple Google search will come up with a plethora of reviews and comparisons, and I firmly believe that you will not be disappointed if you do take the plunge! Another great company, another great product!
I have trips to Istanbul, Copenhagen, Split, and no doubt Belgrade coming up, so will be putting the bag through its travel paces, and will of course report back!