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Love at First Sight: Tom Bihn’s Tri-Star

by Globetrooper Todd | 3 Responses
Tom Bihn Tri-Star

I’ve developed a little obsession with the carry-on-only philosophy of travel. It basically means I love the challenge of travelling with nothing but carry-on luggage. There are times when it’s just not practical (destinations with sub-Arctic temperatures), but it mostly provides for a more rewarding travel experience (read this note for my justification).

I recently sold my Deuter Aircontact Lite 40L + 10L on eBay for almost as much as I bought it for. It’s an excellent trekking and mountaineering bag, but I found it too big for trips that don’t require a sleeping bag and winter gear. Once the Deuter was out the door, it was time to find a new home bag for my next trip.

Our next trip is an open-ended journey around the globe as digital nomads. This means we’ll need to take laptops and sundry business items, in addition to our personal effects. It also means my next bag of choice should be more suited to business rather than mountaineering.

After scouring forums, websites and journals, I discovered the Tom Bihn collection of carry-on luggage (other contenders were Patagonia and Red Oxx). The Aeronaut looked fit for purpose, but it didn’t seem to provide enough of a challenge (I know, I’m completely irrational when it comes to the COOP obsession). So the Tri-Star was the obvious choice, if in fact I decided a Tom Bihn bag was worthy of an all-expenses-paid RTW trip.

The vital stats of the Tom Bihn Tri-Star are as follows:

  • 33-litre carrying capacity (approx. 2000 cu. in.)
  • 48 x 23 x 20.5 cm (19 x 13 x 8 in.)
  • 1050 denier Ballistic nylon
  • Uretek splash-proof zippers
  • 3 x compartments (incl. laptop) + 3 x pockets + water bottle storage
  • 3 x handles + shoulder strap + stash-away backpack straps
  • Meets most airlines’ carry-on restrictions

The first thing you may notice is that while most carry-on restrictions allow for about 45 litres, this bag only holds 33 litres. After the initial shock of its size, I realised it’s actually perfect for digital nomadism. I trialled it this past weekend for an interstate trip. I packed it about half-full and used less than half of what I packed, which I thought was a good indication that it’s large enough for extended trips.

So far, I can’t fault this bag in any way, though I did think it was too heavy when it first arrived. It’s weight is a result of the thick external nylon. But on reflection of previous trips (damage to luggage), I’m glad they’ve opted for the heavier and more durable material. It really feels like the Hummer of carry-on bags.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but will post more as I put the Tri-Star through its paces.

Posted in Gear & Gadgets | April 19th, 2010

3 Responses to Love at First Sight: Tom Bihn’s Tri-Star

  1. Don’t think you’re irrational at all, I’m re-vamping the way I travel and I insist on lightweight luggage that is less than the usual dimensions (I’m 5’1″ 100lbs.). My preference is a convertible backpack that offers compartments (water bottle)and that the main compartment opens all the way around, much like a suitcase. I want the luggage, once packed, to fit under the seat (easier than overhead for me). I travel light, only 1 change of clothes, 2 if the stay is longer. Love at first sight, the Western Flyer, but the weight. Again, I want to try for keeping the total weight about 12lbs. if possible or 15lbs. Lighten up Western Flyer

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