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Tom Bihn, Osprey, and Tortuga

I've been researching the purchase of a travel backpack, and I know some of these backpacks have been mentioned in some posts here, but they don't come up when I do a search, probably because the names aren't used in the title of a post. So, my question is who owns any of these backpacks and are there any drawbacks to any of them? I know the Tom Bihn is a little expensive (especially in Canadian dollars), but I'm thinking of spending the money to get a good one that will last many years. To me it looks like to Tortuga V2 would be the most comfortable as a backpack as it seems to have more padding. The Tom Bihn looks like it's a sturdier bag, and the Osprey looks to be a good basic design?? These are three packpacks that seem to come up over and over on most of the review sights I've visited. I would love some input as I haven't seen any of these bags in local stores.

Posted by
5 posts

Anita,

Add one more manufacturer to the mix: www.redoxx.com (I don't mean to further confuse the process.) RedOxx makes Sky Train and it is, in my opinion, worth a serious look. Because it's made by ex-parachute riggers, it's sturdy but much heavier than Rick's bag (4# vs. 1.95#), so if weight's an issue, you may want to try Tom Bihn's Aeronaut 45 at 3.0#. I'd rather have sturdy and, like Tom Bihn, the interior is a bright color. You can quickly see if you left something unzipped and more easily find stuff in dim rooms. I really like Tom Bihn's little 'O' rings in their pockets that, coupled with their leashes, keep stuff from tumbling out on the airplane floor. With me, that's an issue on my 13-20 hour flights. I always seem to be triple checking the floor before leaving the airplane.

Tom Bihn is extremely well designed and thought out. I'm seriously considering their Synapse 25 for my shorter trips with a computer. I only wish they made a bag with a "Cache" computer sleeve for my long trips with a computer.

Neither Tom Bihn nor RedOxx currently make a roller bag, so they pay attention to what they know and design great bags.

Best regards,

Bill

Posted by
715 posts

I use an Osprey Porter and I love it. However, the backpack part of it is a convince, not to be used for extensive hiking, just as an easy way to carry it.

Posted by
901 posts

Thanks for the Reddoxx suggestion, I hadn't come across it. It's an interesting design, but it also looks like it might be uncomfortable as a backpack for any long walk (I'm thinking of Venice and what might be a long hike to the hotel) due to its rather boxy shape, and the straps don't look well padded. It sure would be nice to be able to try one of these bags on to see how they feel.

Posted by
1068 posts

Second Red Oxx. Great stuff, cleverly thought out.

Posted by
36 posts

I don't have any of these bags, but I do have a Tom Bihn briefcase. The thing is awesomely well made. If you're willing to spend the money for the Tom Bihn, I'd expect it should last pretty much forever.

Posted by
19167 posts

As some of you know, I am a disciple of Rick's light packing philosophy. I started abiding it in 2000, and have worked since than at reducing unneeded things and washing as I go. I now go to Europe with less than 10# of stuff in a bag weighing less than 3#.

I started with a Rich Steves bag in 2000, switched to a slightly smaller, lighter Essential Carryon bag in the late 2000s. I've tried a lot of bags in the last 15 years, developing a set of requirements for my ideal bag. I've search extensively for my ideal bag.

A few months ago, someone posted here about the eBags eTech Weekender Junior bag and I liked it's properties. I bought one and now intend to use it exclusively. For me, it's a little bigger than I need, but it's cinch straps compensate for that. It's still a little heavier that I would like; a bag that is only carried on doesn't need to be gorilla proof. It opens like a book from the side, so you don't have to disconnect the other side cinch straps. It has a sternum strap, which I really wanted, It has a waist belt, which I don't need since I pack so lightly, but defeats any argument about strain on the shoulders that many roller bag advocates claim. In short, I think it offers the best option for anyone who can pack lightly.

Posted by
19167 posts

As some of you know, I am a disciple of Rick's light packing philosophy. I started abiding it in 2000, and have worked since than at reducing unneeded things and washing as I go. I now go to Europe with less than 10# of stuff in a bag weighing less than 12#, packed.

I started with a Rich Steves bag in 2000, switched to a slightly smaller, lighter Essential Carryon bag in the late 2000s. I've tried a lot of bags in the last 15 years, developing a set of requirements for my ideal bag, and I've search extensively for the bag that fits my ideal criteria

A few months ago, someone posted here about the eBags eTech Weekender Junior bag. I looked it up and liked it's properties. I bought one and now intend to use it exclusively. For me, it's a little bigger than I need, but it's cinch straps compensate for that. It's still a little heavier that I would like; a bag that is only carried on doesn't need to be gorilla proof. It opens like a book from the side, so you don't have to disconnect the other side cinch straps. It has a sternum strap, which I really wanted, It has a waist belt, which I don't need since I pack so lightly, but defeats any argument about strain on the shoulders that many roller bag advocates claim. In short, I think it offers the best option for anyone who can pack lightly.

And it's priced much lower than some bags that don't have the desirable charachteristic it has. You don't have to spend a lot for a bag that works well.

Posted by
71 posts

I've taken my Tortuga v2 on my last couple trips, and I can certainly throw some comparisons of this to travelling with a generic ~40L bag, as well as a ~60L bag.

What I like

  • Simple layout: The large compartment allows a lot of flexibility when packing.
  • Front-loading: You can actually load the bag and see all of the contents at once.
  • Top zipper: The top zipper is actually more useful than it would seem. It's big enough to grab your laptop from inside the main compartment, and you can stash a camera or something else that's too bulky for the other pockets and quickly get it out.
  • Conversion: Being able to convert it between a backpack and a slightly oddly-shaped carry-on bag works well. Zipping it all up certainly saves you angst at the airport.
  • Low profile: It doesn't look like a tourist bag.
  • Not huge: My 62L bag encouraged me to overpack. This bag does not. Everything needs to be carefully thought out.
  • Compartments on the waist straps: these are actually large enough to hold passports and airline tickets. Very handy.

What I don't like

  • Secondary pockets are somewhat underwhelming: I get it: the purpose of the bag is to have one big compartment, and while it has a couple other pockets, they look rather silly when packed to their capacity.
    • The two side pockets are good for stashing small things, but they stick out if you fill them up.
    • The front pocket is good for storing a couple of books or some travel documents, but it will puff out and look ridiculous if you put in something like a jacket.
  • Too much padding: the padding seems to intrude on the main compartment space somewhat, and it always feels like I'm missing a few litres of packing space because of it.
  • Not a hiking backpack (but you already knew it): It's comfortable wearing it for maybe an hour straight, but don't expect to tromp around all day without some back issues.
  • The compression straps on the inside are largely useless if you actually want to use them to compress your interior load. They're a nice thought, and the pockets attached to them work well, but you'll need to rely on packing cubes.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this bag. It's a big step up in convenience and flexibility than a using a standard hiking backpack.

Posted by
108 posts

I have an Osprey Porter 46 and love it. I've never used any of the other bags mentioned here, but I've been very happy with the Porter. I do have an older version, w/o the organization panel in the front, so I'm not sure how the helps/hurts the bag.

What I like about the Porter:

  • Large, U shaped opening makes it easy to find what I'm looking for when I open the bag.
  • Structured sides provide some protection for what I'm carrying.
  • Cinch straps allow me to cinch down the bag to keep things from moving around if it's not full, or to fit in to smaller overhead bins on regional jets
  • Capacity is great. The bag can always take one more thing.
  • Durable. I've used this a bunch of times, worn in while walking through rain, etc. and it looks just like the day I bought it. No signs of wear and tear.
  • I'm never asked to gate check it. For awhile, I lived in a city that was primarily served by small, regional planes with small overhead bins, so most hard-sided carry-ons had to be gate checked. However, I was never asked to gate check or even questioned on the size of the Porter, though I did usually make a point to not pack it full on those flights, so it would fit. So, far, I've never encountered a situation where I couldn't take it on the plane with me, which is important since I often don't want to wait for a checked bag or risk my bag getting lost.

What I don't like about the Porter:

  • No easily accessible external pocket to quickly stash a boarding pass, etc. This may be different in the newer version with the organizational panel, but in mine the cinch straps cover up the one external pocket, and it's just not at all convenient if you want to stash something small like a phone or boarding pass. I end up just stashing those in my personal item, but it'd be nice to have a side pocket or two on the Porter.
Posted by
15662 posts

Buying a bag is an individual as buying a car. We all have different requirements.

While I can't say much about Tortuga or Osprey as they are two of the brands of bags I don't have, I own quite a few Tom Bihn bags. They are all excellent. (I tend to travel with the Aeronaut 45 more than any other and I own quite a few different bags.) The workmanship is excellent, the Tom Bihn customer service is second to none, and I have rarely heard of anyone disliking the bag. (The few that do aren't fond of the designs.) Tom Bihn also offers their travel bags in two different materials depending on your needs--ballistic nylon and dyneema. Dyneema lowers the weight of the bag an average of about 20%. There is an excellent forum on the Tom Bihn website where you can ask questions to those who own the numerous bags.

Let me throw a wrench into your choosing. How about Eagle Creek? They make numerous bags and my second choice for a carry-on. Their Adventure Weekender is very popular with my readers and the company has come up with two new bags that are similar--the Flyte Weekender and the Tarmac Weekender. The main differences are slight changes in dimensions and a new fabric. The Tarmac Weekender and the Adventure Weekender are similar in design. The Flyte Weekender has a few changes that make the bag better for those with small electronics. (I just got a Flyte Weekender from them the other day to review.)

I always suggest buying the best bag you can afford because it will probably last longer. It also depends on how much you'll be traveling. A road warrior needs a tough, sturdy bag. A once a year traveler can get away with something cheaper.

Posted by
901 posts

Thanks for the detailed likes and don't likes, this helps a lot. I've added another to the list, the Patagonia MLC, it comes up fairly regularly, too. I've looked at a couple of Eagle Creek ones, now, as well, and they seem to be well designed, too. I keep going back to the Tom Bihn Aeronaught 45 and wondering whether or not I like the duffel bag style with the two end pockets. I wonder if this makes the main compartment harder to pack things into as it will not be full length like some of the other bags. But, whenever I go up country to visit mom I seem to just throw everything into a duffel bag that is probably just a smaller version of the Aeronaught. I have read a couple of reviews, now, that say people have had trouble getting the Skytrain bag into the overhead of some smaller planes because it is a fatter bag than some? I had no idea there were so many options out there!

Posted by
83 posts

After much research, I have determined that the Red Oxx Sky Train will be my next purchase. We already own the Safari Beanos PR5, the Gator, the Travel Tray, 4 Totes, a Lil Roy, as well as have given some of these and others as gifts. My husband loves his PR5 and uses it for vacation as well as for Friday nights when he travels to officiate high school games (football/basketball). It will hold more than what he needs for either of those, but the bright inside makes it so easy to see what he is looking for that he cannot seem to make himself carry something smaller. I cannot say enough good things about the quality of Red Oxx products. The Sky Train can be carried as a backpack, by the handle or over the shoulder. It would hold as much as I need for 10-14 days along with my Gator which I would use for snacks, medications, electronics.

Posted by
15662 posts

The Patagonia MLC is thinner than all of the other bags you mentioned which can have an effect on packing.

In regard to packing the Aeronaut 45, the dividers between the main compartment and the end compartment float so you can use as much room as you need in the center section. They used to have snaps but now they have a zipper that releases the divider. It doesn't open up to allow access but has plenty of give.

I've even put in an Eagle Creek Packing Folder in the center section.

Whatever bag you decide upon let me add this. If you plan to use a shoulder strap in addition to or in lieu of the backpack straps, ignore whichever one might come with your bag and get the Tom Bihn Absolute Strap. It is, by far, the best shoulder strap I've ever used.

http://www.tombihn.com/PROD/TB0505.html?affiliate=obow

Posted by
901 posts

Well, I've been reading so many reviews and forums that I'm just completely undecided. Information overload, and it's hard to make a decision based on photos. I have discovered that there are possibly a couple of places in Vancouver where I might be able to find an Eagle Creek bag, or a Patagonia bag to actually try out which would help a lot. I'm starting to think the Aeronaut duffel bag style is just not my favourite even though I really like what I read about the quality of the bag. I also think the Red Oxx style might be too boxy, but it's really hard to say when I can't try it out. The Tortuga is still on my list because I've read so many rave reviews about how comfortable it is to carry, and how well organized it is, but it doesn't have a shoulder strap option. Many good reviews about the Osprey bags, too, but a continual complaint is how difficult it is to access things quickly with the external straps covering up access. I think I'm going to be dreaming about backpacks for a while! I appreciate all the suggestions, and if anyone has suggestions to help narrow down the list that would also be helpful.

Posted by
1265 posts

Anita - I have several travel bags. My go to bag for most trips is the Campmoor Essential Carryon. I also use an Osprey Porter 46 for travel. The Osprey meets my needs quite well. It weighs only 2lb 6oz. The main bag compartment accepts my packing cubes very easily. The backpack straps are easy to attach and they rest comfortably on my shoulders.

http://www.ebags.com/product/osprey/porter-46-travel-backpack/277438?lastSearchTerm=osprey+porter+46+travel+backpack&pl=hdr_srch_as_l1

Posted by
48 posts

Maybe this has been mentioned but I just saw a new smaller version of the Osprey Porter while browsing the LL Bean site.
http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/85699?feat=514261-GN3&page=osprey-porter-30-pack
Capacity 1,831 cu. in., 30 liters.
Weight 2 lb. 1 oz.
Dimensions 20"H x 13"W x 8"D.

At $110 it's a little pricier than the eBags Junior bags but might be worth it.

Edit: just saw a user review on eBags that said the bag is actually 2 lb. 8 oz. so I'm still leaning towards an eTech Junior.

Posted by
15662 posts

Since the previous poster had you linking to L.L. Bean, you might also consider the L.L. Bean Quickload Travel Pack. 21.75 x 14 x 9, it weighs 2 lbs, 2 oz and goes for $129. I own one as well and have used it along with all my other bags. EVen though it is very lightweight, it is fairly durable. It's been around for years.

http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/51615?page=quickload-travel-pack

Posted by
32264 posts

Anita,

One important point to consider when considering a Backpack is whether it provides for torso range adjustment. If there's a possibility you may be carrying the pack for longer periods of time, that's very important. The majority of weight should rest on your hips rather than your shoulders, and torso range adjustment allows the user to balance the weight. Most of the products you mentioned do not allow for that. You may find it helpful to have a look at this - http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/web/sizing_and_fitting

For international travel using a Backpack, a couple of other features I find useful are.....

  • Detachable Daypack (allows the daypack to be used as carry-on when the main pack is checked)
  • Daypack front carry option (another way to balance the load by carrying the day pack in front, which also makes it easier to keep it in view and away from pickpockets)
  • Stowable harness system (being able to stow the harness behind a zippered panel helps to prevent damage from airport conveyor systems).

Osprey travel packs are excellent quality and have many of the features I mentioned. Eagle Creek are also good but they seem to emphasize wheelie bags more than backpacks these days.

One other point to mention is that I have (and use) a variety of products from Eagle Creek, Osprey, Tom Bihn and Red Oxx. I've found that the Tom Bihn TriStar (which has backpack straps) is very comfortable for short use and not too heavily loaded and I'd certainly recommend it. Note that Tom Bihn has 30 liter and 45 liter versions of the Aeronaut so you could use whichever size you're comfortable with. Tom Bihn's factory showroom is in Seattle, so if you'll be taking a weekend trip there in the near future you could stop by, look at all the products and get accurate answers from the staff on the best product to fit your needs. A weekend trip would also provide you with a duty free allowance on the bags and you wouldn't have to pay shipping charges. Just a thought......

Good luck with your decision!

Posted by
901 posts

One thing that is starting to puzzle me is the stated dimensions and capacity of the various bags. It seems to me that some bags are smaller in dimension, but have a stated capacity the same as bags with larger measurements. Example: the Eagle Creek Tarmac Weekend bag is 19.5 x 13.5 x 8 with a carrying capacity of 45 L. The Tom Bihn Aeronaut measures at 22 x 14 x 9, and is also a 45 l bag. One would expect the larger bag to have greater volume. How do they determine the volume of a bag? It seems to me that if a person is concerned about not checking a bag it would make sense to buy the bag with the smaller measurements, but the same carrying capacity.

Posted by
15662 posts

The standard testing for a bag is done something like this...and I'm not kidding.

The bag is filled with small plastic pellets. That will fill up the tiniest areas of the inside of the bag including pockets. Then those plastic pellets are measured in terms of volume. (While this is the industry standard, it is not a requirement. Some companies just take the outside measurements and use that. )

The design of the bag has a lot to do with the volume. A one large compartment bag, even if the outside dimensions are smaller, might have more packing capacity that a larger bag with multiple sections.

The Tarmac Weekend bag was just introduced on July 1. Unfortunately, I've found in the past that Eagle Creek sometimes makes errors in their dimensions. There is no way the Tarmac Weekender can be 45L unless the bag bloats quite a bit when filled. In that case it will be much wider than allowed by most airlines.

I never suggest people focus too much on volume when choosing a bag because the style of the bag, and the way someone packs, has more to do with how much they can take over the stated volume. Look more at the dimensions than the volume.

Posted by
901 posts

Thanks for the explanation, Frank, you are a wealth of information! I'm finding I like the one big open space style of bag more than those that have several pockets or compartments. I have a dedicated camera bag that I always take that can carry some other smaller items as well (including a spot for my ipad) so I don't need a bag with a zip off day pack or one with a storage spot for a laptop as I don't have one. An external pocket for things like a guide book, paperwork you may need quick access to, maps, pens, small electronics would be good, also, but generally I'm looking for a good, basic design that will be accepted as carry-on with most airlines, and will stand the test of time and weather.

Posted by
15662 posts

If you have the money to spend, buy the best quality bag you can afford with a good warranty. Think of how you would pack. Even though the following bags have basically one big compartment, the Tom Bihn Aeronaut packs differently than the Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender which would pack differently than an Osprey 45.

Look at photos of the inside of the bags and think how you would pack them. Take into consideration the measurements. Take into consideration how you plan to carry it most of the time. Besides backpack straps, do you also want a sternum strap and/or a waist belt? Do you want to be able to attach a separate shoulder strap? Would external compression straps be helpful the way you pack and plan to carry it? Will you use packing cubes or other packing aids or just put everything in loose?

If there are any stores near you that carry any of these bags, check them out in person.

And before you take a trip to the Tom Bihn store, give them a call. They are planning to close for renovation if they haven't already done so. (The onsite store not the entire company.)

Posted by
901 posts

That's exactly the point I am at now, Frank. I'm searching down youtube videos of these bags being packed, and trying to figure out how I would do it. I have several packing cubes and other aids ( bags, and even a compression bag) that I may or may not use. Sadly, I don't have time in the next couple of months to drive all the way down to Seattle to look at the Tom Bihn, but I may be able to find an Osprey bag locally, and a couple of the Eagle Creek. I may just go with something I can get locally for this trip, then make a decision on a higher end bag some time down the road. There seems to be enough good quality bags available that it shouldn't be too hard.....I just need to stop overthinking it!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Anita I was reading your conversation between you a guy named Frank. I too really enjoy Tom Bihn and I live in Canada. I just recently purchased the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 and 30 litre bags. These bags are some of the best quality out there and Tom Bihn has fantastic customer service. I currently have a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 because I sent the A45 back and now regret it as for my size the A45 would have been the better choice. The A30 is better for women or smaller frames. But you can't go wrong with this company. If you were interested I could send you a few pictures or post it on ebay in canada and send it to you. But you tube videos of the aeronaut 45 and 30 and you can then judge for yourself.

Posted by
901 posts

Thanks Skipper, the Tom Bihn A45 is still on my list. I've been searching for videos of various ways to pack it to help make my decision a little easier. I'm not concerned about it being too big for me as I am 6' tall, and I think the A30 would be a little small. Still, I plan on looking at a couple of other backpacks that can be purchased locally before making my decision. I have a couple months before my next trip, but I don't want to deal with returning something I don't like after paying the duties, and the exchange rate.

Posted by
25 posts

I have personal experience with the Tom Bihn Tri-Star and Aeronaut 45, the Patagonia MLC and the RS basic backpack. First, I have several of Rick's bags that I picked up at rummage sales, and they last for decades! If you like a big cavernous opening, they're great. My son uses these all the time. My daughter took over the Patagonia, and loves it. I find it a little small for extended travel. I sold my Tri-Star because although it was a lovely bag, it just had too many compartments, and the extra weight just wasn't worth it. I think the Aeronuat 45 is a perfect bag, especially if you want to carry one one your back. It is shaped so that it looks a lot less sprawling than the RS bag, and I find the end compartments really useful for shoes or laundry or other things that want a place of their own. I use packing cubes, and the Aeronaut works really well with that mode of packing (and if you're trying to save money, you don't have to buy the specialized cubes). It is comfortable to carry even when packed to the gills--or it least it was until I hurt my back on a trip a year ago. Now I'm actually contemplating selling it because I'm not sure my back can handle the weight. (their resale value on ebay is shockingly high, so maybe that weighs in their favor too.) But I'm looking at rolling bags and am aghast at the weight! We'll be flying a European airline with a 17.5 weight limit, and boy the Aeronaut would be nice for that! If you have time to peruse the forums at tombihn.com you can learn lots of good packing tips. Good luck with your decision!

Posted by
32264 posts

Kathy,

"It is comfortable to carry even when packed to the gills--or it least it was until I hurt my back on a trip a year ago."

Perhaps the AeroNaut 30 would be a good compromise, as it's also very roomy but not as heavy as the 45 when fully packed. I've found the Tri-Star is very easy to carry in backpack mode, even though it doesn't have a waist belt or torso range adjustment. Unfortunately it's not large enough for Europe trips so I prefer my Backpacks that have a waist belt for that.

Posted by
729 posts

I second the vote for the Osprey Porter 46, the details of which have been well covered in previous responses. It has held up well for me on multiple trips.

Posted by
901 posts

Well, for anyone who might be wondering, I finally made a decision on a new bag, and it arrived today! After looking at just about every review on the web, and watching countless videos of various bags being packed I finally realized what I needed was a fairly simple bag design that would hold clothes, toiletries, and a few odds and ends. It had to be carry on size and be comfortable as a back pack. Enter....the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45, in green, with a blue interior. Love it! As soon as it arrived I found my packing cubes and stuffed them with a weeks worth of socks, underwear, 4 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, and two other short sleeve cotton shirts. Then I rolled up a couple pairs of jeans and threw my toiletry kit in one end pocket. Guess what? There's still room! And it only weight 15 pounds at this point. Of course, a few more things will go in when I pack for an actual trip, but so I'm impressed.

Posted by
32264 posts

Anita,

It's great to hear that you've now got your new luggage - good choice! Tom Bihn products are exceptional quality and I'm sure it will last for a lifetime.

Happy travels!

Posted by
9855 posts

Anita, congrats! It sounds like you really considered all the options and got lots of good advice -- I bet you'll be happy with your choice! More importantly, have fun packing and TRAVELING with it!

Posted by
982 posts

Anita -

I, too, discovered Tom BIhn on these forums back in January -- thanks to Frank II & Ken. Since then, we have bought LOTS of items in preparation for our trip to Italy in October for 3 wks -- we each bought an Aeronaut45, Packing Cubes, a CoPilot for my husband's day bag, a Medium Cafe Bag for my day bag, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes, lots of organizers/pouches, and 2 of our favorites - the Travel Tray. Congrats on your purchase - they are very well made, by hand, here in the USA.

Posted by
901 posts

Yes, ChinaLake, the difficulty now is to resist buying more items from Tom Bihn. I see they even have some knitting accessories! What am I going to do?

Posted by
14244 posts

Anita, laughing because I don't even knit but when I saw the knitting accessories I wanted them! Crazy! Now, if they come up with some cross stitch carrying stuff, I'm really in...

Posted by
692 posts

I'm in the midst of trying to choose a pack, and I'm wondering: Does the hip belt actually make much of a difference? I only plan on being in the airport and walking from the Tube station to my B&B, so I wonder if I can get away without one.

Posted by
32264 posts

SandraL,

The short answer about the hip belt is that it depends on several factors, the first being what type of pack you're using. If you're using something like the RS Convertible Pack or even the Tom Bihn models, the hip belt won't be of much use as the packs themselves don't have any provision for torso length adjustment. However, if you're using a pack that's properly designed for a hip belt and has torso length adjustment it can make a huge difference, even just walking from the airport to the Tube station.

Given the large size of some of the transportation venues these days, it's easy to underestimate the amount of time you'll be wearing the pack and you'll also have to wear it while waiting for trains or whatever. Another factor to consider is the weight of the pack. The heavier it is, the more valuable the waist belt is as it keeps most of the weight on the hips rather than the shoulders.

I was travelling with a fairly heavy pack on my recent trip and found that I used the hip belt more than anticipated, and it really helped. Even on past trips with a lighter pack, I've used the hip belt when waiting as long as 40 minutes for a train, and it was perfectly comfortable so I didn't bother taking the pack off.

What type of pack are you using (or planning to use)?

Posted by
692 posts

I love Tom Bihn's products, but I'm finding it hard to justify $280 for a pack I'll use only occasionally. Ditto for the Tortuga, though I do like the design with the outer water bottle pocket and padded hip belt.

Many people here have recommended Rick's packs, and also the eBags Mother Lode. I am also looking at the Osprey 46. Would love to keep the price under $200. I don't travel very often so I don't want to go overboard (no pun intended) on the pack.

I am also going to make every effort to pack light for my upcoming trip. I have a tendency to overpack (my friends have joked about it) but this time I am determined. I would like a pack that allows for carrying with a shoulder strap and a handle (like a suitcase). Though with a 20 lb. load, I really can't see carrying it on one shoulder.

Thanks!

Posted by
32264 posts

SandraL,

You might also look at the Osprey Packs, as they have a good range of products, and the prices are reasonable.

Although in the same price range as Tom Bihn, you could also have a look at Red Oxx products as you may find something there.

Posted by
83 posts

SandaL
Red Oxx's Sky Train is a BackPack, can be carried on the shoulder and can be carried by hand as well. Their products are extremely well made. I have been wanted one of them for a very long time as we have several of their other products. My husband uses his duffle all of the Safari Beanos PR-5 all of the time. He has had it for about 3 years and it has withstood the weekly use of carrying his football officiating gear as well as on vacation travel so I know it will withstand tossing around.

Posted by
4471 posts

Just bought the Tristar in the Dyneema light fabric and I think I can get everything in it for a summer trip to Europe( I wash clothes in the sink every time I spend 2 nights in the same hotel) .Fully packed, it seemed pretty light and comfortable. I love the compartments and will probably also use the clips to hold bags, which is why I got it to replace the RS backpack. My main luggage is a RS rolling bag. I used to pair it with an LL Bean shoulder bag, but it was too heavy for my little shoulders so this summer I enclosed it in the RS backpack. It worked, but too cumbersome. The Tristar will replace it but when traveling on trains I plan to use the Tristar alone. At 61, I think it's time to splurge on anything that makes it easier to slepp through airports and on public transportation.

Posted by
32264 posts

lynda,

I use the TriStar for domestic travel and was also pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to travel with, even in the backpack mode. I may give it a try on a longer European trip in future, as soon as I find a product that will allow me to combine the contents of my daypack and camera bag.

Posted by
692 posts

That's a good point, about being a woman of a certain age and having decent luggage that doesn't kill your back. Something to think about. Thank you!

Posted by
901 posts

I just thought I would mention that my decision to splurge on the Tom Bihn bag worked out very well. I managed to get everything I needed in the bag and it weighed in at less than 20lbs on the return trip. Even Lufthansa didn't question it after weighing it at the airport in Vancouver. The two external pockets were great for the things that I needed access to often, and I put my liquids in one so at security it was easy to grab them. In the other pocket I put all of my odds and ends like camera batteries, cables, chargers etc. I used the internal pocket on the flap to put paperwork and all the postcards I bought. I bought the shoulder strap, and it was very useful at airports when standing in line for security. I just put the bag on the floor and hung onto the should strap and dragged the bag forward as the line moved. I didn't have to do a lot of walking with the bag on this trip so I mostly used the should straps or just the handles to carry it. Even though it's pricey, the quality is amazing, and you don't have to use it just for international travel. Some people use it as their gym or sports equipment bag, also.

Posted by
692 posts

Thank you, Anita, for the update! I'm so glad you like your Bihn bag. I'm really leaning toward splurging and buying the Aeronaut.