When Darcy, the VP of Marketing at Tom Bihn,
wrote asking if I would like to take a look at their new
Aeronaut Maximum Carry
On Bag, her offer couldn’t have come at a better time. My family was in the
process of getting ready for our California vacation, and I was in the midst of
a bag quandary. I was planning on bringing the usual heavy
load of travel electronics, along with a Fuji laptop and my new (and as yet
mostly unconfigured) DualCor cPC. As I started gathering all of my gear
together, it was quickly becoming obvious that my regular bag was not going to
comfortably handle the oversized load.
Now here’s the thing, the Aeronaut is not billed as
being a gear bag or a laptop bag. But I could tell by the website’s
description and some of the available optional items that the bag could likely
be configured to be just what I needed. According to the Tom Bihn site,
"the Aeronaut is hard to categorize: Is it soft luggage? A
duffel bag? Or a backpack? The Aeronaut is all of the above. It takes the best
of all of those bags and combines them into what may be the most versatile
travel bag yet."
Available in Black, Steel, Crimson, Grape, or Hunter, the Aeronaut measures a
Zooming in on those zippers reveals that they are
Each of the bag’s three main compartments have double zippers with easily
grasped 1" long metal zipper pulls. Each zipper pull has a 1/4" hole, through
which a lock can be attached. Each side of the bag as a built-in 7" long x
1" wide reinforced handle which allows the bag to be grabbed when it is sitting
The right side of the bag has a very handy zippered pocket measuring
approximately 7" wide x 13" tall. Built into the top of the pocket is a
removable snap lanyard which can be attached to keys or one of the smaller sized
Organizer Pouches sold on the site.
The back of the Aeronaut has an arched zipper concealing what looks to be yet
another handy pocket…
But instead it is actually the cover for the backpack harness system. Hidden
inside the pocket are two padded adjustable shoulder straps.
The ends of the straps have heavy duty plastic clips which snap into their
hidden receivers built into the fold at the base of the bag.
Once the shoulder straps have been snapped, the Aeronaut becomes the ultimate
quickie backpack – ready for a hike from the airport to the cab line, from one
hotel to the next, or wherever the wearer needs to go.
There is even a handy strap handle built into what is now essentially the top
of the backpack.
There are two versions of the Aeronaut, both exactly the same in every aspect
but one – their straps. The Standard Aeronaut straps are modified to fit people
that are around 5’8" and above, or those with larger frames. The Aeronaut
Breve’s straps will better fit those that are under 5’8", or those that have a
smaller frame. Here is Steve wearing my Breve. He said it was pretty comfortable
and liked that the backpack option was available for times when his hands were
Here is a shot of it on his back.
That pretty much covers the bag’s exterior – now let’s take a look at what’s
Both the right and left sides of the bag unzip to reveal an open compartment
measuring approximately 14" tall x 9" wide x 3" deep. The zipper unzips along
the top and almost all the way down the front of the compartment offering easy
access without the type opening that would encourage everything to spill out.
Both the larger sides of the compartment are lined in the
these end pockets can easily accommodate size 12
running shoes, so now maybe you can take all the shoes you need with you.
The end pockets also are great for segregating the clean from the un-clean, or
perhaps socks and underwear from everything else."
The main interior compartment is accessed through the large U-shaped flap.
This compartment measures approximately 17" wide x 14" tall x 9" deep. A 10"
wide x 11" long zippered mesh pocket is built into the compartment’s flap.
Inside this cavernous compartment are four snaps which are helping to anchor
the side walls.
Here is where things get interesting. Made to perfectly compliment the
Aeronaut are four different types of
Packing Cubes which are available in several configurations, and all are
looped for hanging.
This is the small all mesh pocket, which is perfect for storing folded socks,
underwear and other unmentionables. Four of these can be stacked "like bricks"
inside the main compartment of the bag, or two can be stacked on top of the
This is the end pocket which fits perfectly inside one of the outer Aeronaut
pockets. Four of these can also be used inside the main compartment of the bag,
stacked "like books on a shelf."
I found that this cube was perfect for holding all of my electrical cables
This is the Large cube; its rear is made of the ripstop material and its
front is mesh. Two of these will fit in the main compartment of the bag.
Another possible configuration is to take one Packing Cube and use it in
conjunction with a
Size 5 Horizontal Brain Cell.
This protective case cocoons the packed laptop with 8mm
of thick padding and a design which suspends the laptop in a "4mm hard
corrugated plastic insert that protects from the front, back, and bottom. The
sides are protected by dense cross-linked closed-cell polyethylene foam."
A big bag needs a substantial shoulder strap, and Tom Bihn offers two styles.
The first is the
Absolute Shoulder Strap, which is my favorite. This strap features a
neoprene pad with a stretchy backing and it is specifically made for heavy
loads. Wearing it on my shoulder makes even a totally packed bag feel
manageable; the strap is so wide and springy that it never feels like it is
digging into my shoulder.
The clips which attach to the bag are heavy steel with a secure snap lock.
The second option is the
TerraGrip Shoulder Strap, which according to the site, is "the only strap
we’ve come across that won’t slip off your shoulder. The TerraGrip is also an
excellent strap to use with our maximum carry on bag, the
TerraGrip Strap is made with state-of-the-art soy-based soft-touch polymer
materials. It will remain completely flexible to -40 F and is U.V. stabilized
(no fading or cracking).
However, "Please note that the TerraGrip Strap is built
for grip more than for comfort. We recommend it for loads under 16lbs (7kg). For
heavier loads, the
Absolute Shoulder Strap may be a more comfortable option."
Here is a picture of the wide rubber grip which composes
the TerraGrip shoulder pad.
Once again a steel slip is used with a locking spring bar.
Chocolate Raisen Baguettes, which I brought home and used to make the most
delicious Bread Pudding ever…
The Aeronaut is a big bag, and it holds a lot of things. But it is not
hard to handle, and it is not so large that it becomes a burden while traveling.
If anything, it makes travel easier because depending upon how efficiently one
packs, it may be the only bag that is needed.
The beauty of the Aeronaut is that it can be configured to work in whatever
way the owner needs. If it is needed as a piece of traditional luggage with
clothing and shoes stored in its compartments, then it can be that; if it is
called upon to hold a plethora of electronics along with other packed items, it
will adapt. This bag can be personalized and customized to be exactly what the
owner wants – even if the owner’s needs change upon a whim. The Aeronaut, in
combination with its packing cubes and the other Tom Bihn accessories, is the
ideal travel bag for anyone that wants a quality piece of luggage that will
adapt to their travel needs.