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Packing like Sarah

I am a big fan of RS Guide Sarah's blog. After reading it, I decided to get a Tom Bihn Tristar for a short trip to England. I expected to feel weighed down but it was really comfortable-only 15 lbs fully packed. I got the lightweight Dyneema version of the bag. It was so much easier than lugging my RS Rollaboard up all those steps in the London Tube. I need to find a lightweight "personal item" that will carry more than the purse I took this time, but this is definitely my new packing paradigm! For those who question if you can do this, I am in my early 60's and have some knee, minor back, and shoulder issues and non of these bothered me at all with this bag and LL Bean Sport Lace-Up Shoes (which didn't get wet despite the constant rain).

Posted by
1236 posts

Thanks, Cala.

I am checking this out along with the Adventures with Sarah blog. Did you have to special order the Dyneema version?

Posted by
48 posts

Dyneema has been renamed/replaced by Halcyon. There is a current 2 to 12 week wait to order for some color combinations.

Posted by
139 posts

I have a Tristar like Sarah's (gray/unltraviolet Dyneema) that I don't use very often. Was tempted to send it to her when I saw how stained hers was from wine. :-) But I'm sure she'd prefer the lighter-weight Halcyon models.

Posted by
32222 posts

Cala,

For a "lightweight "personal item", you might find that one of the other Tom Bihn products such as the Pilot / Co-Pilot works well (depending on how much capacity you need). I also have a Tri-Star and agree, it's a great product. I've been using it for domestic travel as I haven't yet mastered "packing light" for my longer European trips.

You could also have a look at Red Oxx products which are the same exceptional quality as TB. Something like the Gator Carry-On Bag or the Extra Small Aviator Bag might work.

Posted by
32222 posts

Kaeleku,

Which link are you interested in?

Posted by
4374 posts

Ken what do you think of Bihn's medium Cafe bag as a personal item? Thanks for your earlier recommendation of Pilot. It looks too large to me and I think the medium Cafe could be used as a purse.. I don't take a computer or a tablet with me on trips. I'm looking for a bag large enough to hold my small fleece pullover and rain jacket stuffed into its stuff sack, which I prefer to an umbrella since it provides some warmth. I'm thinking that a messenger-style bag will be easiest for distributing weight with the TriStar on my back.

Posted by
15245 posts

the Medium Cafe bag would make an excellent personal item if it fits your needs. Since it's hard to tell exactly what size your items are, I suggest you look at the dimensions of the MCB and then put what you want to take on a table. Scrunch together as if it were in a bag. Then measure the three dimensions. If it is smaller than the MCB, you have a winner,

Posted by
630 posts

Ken what do you think of Bihn's medium Cafe bag as a personal item?

Carla, just keep in mind that Tom Binh's Cafe Bags do not have a zippered top. It's easy for unwelcomed hands to slip in and take something. Just something to keep in mind.

Posted by
4374 posts

Pilgrim, thanks for the reminder-i could put phone, passport, cards and cash in money belt but i think the zippered compartment inside the bag would work except in crowded pickpocket prone areas? i dont carry cameras or computers and think the tom bihn organizer that has two o rings would make it much more difficult for someone to take.

Posted by
1194 posts

MrsEB - you can actually buy light weight dresses out of silk. The problem is the cost. For example, one I liked was $85 at 50% off! I believe this is one of those times where sewing a silk dress costs far less then buying it.

Sara is right about clothing though. Travel pants weight 8 oz where jeans weigh 17. A light linen top weighs 3-4 oz where a cotton one weighs 6. A light sweater weighs 4 oz where a regular one weighs 8. It can make several pounds difference if you take 2 pants, 2 sweaters, 4 tops, a dress.
You can do this for jewelry and electronics too.

It's pretty easy to hit under the 5-6 kg limit when you weigh your clothing. For example my completely full bag weighs 5.5 kg. That includes the weight of the 16 L bag. It would weigh a few pounds heavier in the autumn (extra base layer, puff jacket) but it's still within weight limits. BTW, that's the only bag I take and it's technically a personal item. That's another advantage of the Sarah method - lighter clothing packs up smaller too.

You may not make Sarah's weight limits but you should try. I bet you could cut out a pound or two. I know every time I cull my luggage to go lighter it loses a pound or so.

Posted by
15245 posts

There is a way to prevent wandering hands from taking items out of Tom Bihn bags.

All of their bags have "o" rings stitched into them. You can get pouches or smaller cubes from TB, put your valuables in them, and attach those to the "o" rings. All of Tom Bihn pouches and cubes have clips on them for this purpose.

Posted by
22 posts

I used the Tom Bihn Medium Cafe Bag as my purse for the “Best of Europe in 21 Days" tour in 2014. It worked out great! I used the o-ring system and had all of my items in pouches linked inside the bag. It thwarted wandering hands and made things in the bag very organized. (I got to have the wandering hands experience the second day we were there! Nothing escaped.)

This year we are going on another tour in July and I am going to bring the Tom Bihn Small Cafe Bag as my purse and the Aeronaut 45 as my only suitcase. While the Aeronaut is not as small as the Tri-Star, it is a big step down from the suitcase that I used on my last tour. On my last trip I used a 25” rolling suitcase from Eagle Creek, a backpack and a purse. I soon found out that I had packed way too heavy for a Rick Steves’ tour. I learned my lesson!! I love Sarah’s blog and am weighing everything that is going into my suitcase before we leave.

I am a huge Tom Bihn fan. They make great products!

Posted by
630 posts

I'm a Tom Binh fan as well. Their products are very well made.

Posted by
4374 posts

I have one alteration to Sarah's packing method-I don't weigh everything but I do wash all clothes and underwear at home and time how long it takes each to dry hanging in the shower. I use quick dryability as my criteria, not weight, since I expect to wash them multiple times on a 2 or 3 week trip. Of course, heavy things are likely not to fit this criteria either.

Posted by
139 posts

Love when she talks about washing clothes in the "Careless Cycle" to see if they're travel-worthy.

I think Sarah sometimes uses a Ristretto fro pm Tom Bihn for her day bag/personal item.

Posted by
32222 posts

cala,

"what do you think of Bihn's medium Cafe bag as a personal item?"

The Medium Cafe Bag would be a bit small for me, and the fact that the large centre compartment is "open" is not something I would like. You could also have a look at the Co-Pilot which is a bit smaller than the Pilot.

A couple of other products you could look at.....

There are lots of products on the Tom Bihn, Red Oxx and Rick Steves websites, so you should be able to find something that works on one of them.

Posted by
117 posts

I love Sarah's latest packing video. I do want to see how close I can get to 16 lbs for our next trip even though it's longer than our trip last year.

I wish there were a few tips about how to pack for cold weather though, as the clothing and shoes she was putting in the bag definitely seem mostly geared for summer, other than the cashmere sweater and the vest.

Posted by
440 posts

Kathleen- Sarah's blog has a few posts about packing for cooler weather. Go to the packing section and scroll down to the posts from April 3 and February 22. Hope that helps!