30 April 2009

Tom Bihn's new Tri-Star

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I have toyed with the idea of designing my ideal travel bag. Its something I'd still like to do, but getting the quality products that I'd like to make it with is not particularly easy! Also, I have recently resumed writing my book, so things are a little busy in my brain to be thinking through designing a bag.

Today, Tom Bihn has released his much-awaited Tri-Star bag. I've been very interested in this one, because while I love the design of his Aeronaut, it is simply too large to be used on Australian airlines (particularly Virgin Blue) which have smaller size requirements than US airlines seem to. The Western Flyer, his other major travel bag, has always just seemed too small for my liking.

The new Tri-Star does fit the Virgin Blue size requirements - I know because I specifically checked! And it looks to be a very nice bag. The size seems to be a much more useful one than either the Aeronaut or the Western Flyer, as it sits nicely in between them.

It has backpack straps, which for me are an absolute must, and an optional waist band which is something I would appreciate. It has cinch straps in one of the compartments, something that as a bundle packer, I definitely prefer. I'm not used to packing with three separate compartments, but apart from very fat bulky things, I think I could get used to it. It would certainly stop a lot of things just tumbling around as I suspect that they might in the Aeronaut.

I really love the colour combo of the "indigo" outer and "solar" interior, though really I think that indigo is misnamed - it doesn't seem inky and dark enough to really be indigo!

At 1230 grams (thanks TB, for having metric measurements!), it is significantly lighter - actually less than half - than the wheelie bag that I currently use, which you can see my photos in a previous blog post. I've mentioned before that I'd love to ditch the wheels and have a bag without. It saves heaps of weight, leaving you more of the weight limit in which to actually pack the things you want.

The Tri-Star has handles just where you would want them - on the ends for using in the aeroplane overhead storage bins. There's a lovely padded handle on the side so that you can carry it like a suitcase, which while not my preferred method, is a useful feature for quick "pick it up and move it" occasions. It has backpack straps as I've already mentioned. You can also use it with a shoulder strap, but as I'd never use it in this manner, this doesn't particularly excite me.

The two outer compartments open out flat, though one side has an unzippable divider to divide the pocket further into two. The middle pocket doesn't open out flat, but is instead a slip in pocket. I imagine that this would be the perfect place to put your netbook, to keep it nicely sandwiched between your other things to protect it.

Of course it is made of the beautiful, high quality ballistic nylon fabric that we've come to expect from TB, and has their splashproof zips - something I'm not likely to need, but something I'd certainly want to use if I was making my own.

For me, I think this bag looks just fabbo for travelling lightweight with just one bag/only carry on luggage. I'm pretty sure that it would be large enough to take all my stuff for a several week vacation trip. It also would take all the things that I need for a domestic business trip.

My only beef (which Tom Bihn has no control over!) is the Australian dollar does not compare very well with the American dollar currently, and with the rather hefty shipping that gets added on, it would be extremely expensive to get one from there (Seattle USA) to here (Sydney Australia).

My very wise mother-in-law once said to me that "just because I like something doesn't mean I have to own it." And I think that is how this will have to stay for the time being. I'll have to wait until I can afford it (the dollar goes up?!) or somehow justify the large outlay... Or maybe Tom Bihn would stretch to sending one gratis to this lowly blog so that I can evaluate it fully... Yeah right. Dream on!

Photos swiped from the Tom Bihn website. As I am basically advertising for them, you sort of hope that they won't mind...


  1. I really like the versatility of the Tri-Star of being able to carry the bag by a strap or backpack straps. That could come in handy on certain family trips we take for sure. Right now I use the Sling from sfbags.com for my carry-on when I travel with my kids. The thing I love about it is that it fits a TON of stuff without ever looking huge. (I always have more to carry on my return flight and it somehow manages to continue swallowing up more and more.) The strap is kind to my back too. Thanks for your suggestions. I am a bit of a bag-o-phile!

  2. Hi Bag-o-phile,

    The Tri-Star is an interesting looking bag, isn't it? Reading on the TB forums over the last few days, Darcy (who works at TB) has mentioned the possibility of a smaller Aeronaut style bag before the end of the year. This pricked my ears even more!

    The Sling is a very nice looking bag! I haven't seen them before. One thing annoyed me about its page on the sfbags.com website. There was NO mention that I could find about what it is made of. :-(