Welcome to the 5th and final day of our “5 days 5 bags” luggage lineup. In the previous 4 reviews, I covered 2 rugged backpacks, a business backpack and a TSA friendly laptop bag.
In today’s review I will be showing you a bag designed by one of my personal favorite brands – Tom Bihn.
We’ve covered their products in the past, and even our own Kent Wien uses a Tom Bihn bag as part of his flight kit.
The Tom Bihn Aeronaut is one of the smartest bags I’ve come across – but the poor thing suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. The Aeronaut is a great duffel. But at the same time, it is also a very respectable backpack and an excellent shoulder bag.
Many bags have a second way to carry them, but the Aeronaut takes this to a whole new level, because each of the carrying methods feels like it is the only, and best way to use the bag.
The bag is huge, but I like to think of it as “smart huge”. By using thinner materials and very little bulky padding, you end up with a duffel style bag, without the cheap duffel bag look and feel.
The 45 liter storage space inside the Aeronaut is so big that I was able to put it through my “full rolling suitcase” trial which involves me moving everything from a large 22″ roller into the cavernous main compartment of the Aeronaut. I like to call bags like this bottomless bags, because no matter how much you pack inside, there is always room for some more crap.
The bag is split into 3 compartments; one main portion and 2 side pockets. The main compartment has a zippered flap that provides access to the entire space. The side pouches are spacious enough for shoes or an oversized toiletries bag.
The left side has a second zippered storage pocket for more stuff, and on the right is an open storage pocket for things like an umbrella or water bottle.
On the back of the main compartment flap is a zippered mesh pocket. The bag itself is made of ballistic nylon, and all the zippers are splash proof as you can see in the photo above.
On the back of the Aeronaut is where you’ll find one of its coolest features – hidden behind a zipper are the backpack straps, which allow you to convert it from a duffel into a regular backpack.
When fully packed with your stuff, the Aeronaut manages to stay within the limits of carry on baggage on most airlines, which explains why Tom Bihn refer to the Aeronaut as the “Maximum carry-on bag”.
In order to use the Aeronaut as a shoulder bag, you’ll need to purchase one of the Tom Bihn shoulder straps.
That’s right – you do not get a shoulder strap as part of your $180 purchase. The reason behind this is that Tom Bihn lets you order the strap you want, instead of including a strap you might not use.
Their $30 Absolute shoulder strap is one of the best in the industry, and is like a shock absorber for your bag. $30 may seem insane for a shoulder strap, but don’t judge it until you’ve tried it, you’ll thank me later.
Last but not least, a very important “feature” of the Tom Bihn Aeronaut bag is that it is made in the USA in their Seattle, WA facility. If you visit their retail store, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of the Tom Bihn staff assembling your next favorite bag.
As I mentioned – the Aeronaut costs $180 with $8 for ground shipping. Just remember to order a shoulder strap if you place an order.