New from Tom Bihn bags – the Tri-Star

Darcy over at Tom Bihn bags has been teasing me for over 2 months about a new bag Tom has been working on.

The only speck of information they were willing to reveal about the Tri-Star was that it would be a three compartment bag, and that its size would fall between their Western Flyer and Aeronaut bags.

This afternoon, they finally revealed the product, and posted a bunch of photos (with Tom Bihn himself modeling his creation).

Thanks to its compartmental design, the Tri-Star can hold your laptop, and all the clothes and smaller items you’ll need for a short trip. Like the Aeronaut, the Tri-Star can be carried as a regular bag, as a shoulder bag, or as a backpack.

After reading the product description I’m convinced that this is a dream come true for the kind of traveler that carries too much stuff, and tries to avoid checking a bag. Pockets, some more pockets, and then even more pockets. In fact, the Tom Bihn blog needed 1390 words to describe all the various features found on this bag.

Also, as a first for Tom Bihn, this bag will be available in blue (they call it Indigo) ballistic nylon, which looks pretty damn cool if you ask me.

The new Tri-Star will start shipping in late June, but can be pre-ordered on their site right now. The basic bag costs just $240, but a fully tricked out Tri-Star with their amazing Absolute shoulder strap, internal laptop case, Freudian Slip organzier and waist strap will run you $370. Still, if it delivers the kind of convenience I think it will, that may be a small price to pay.

5 days 5 bags – Day 5: Tom Bihn Aeronaut

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.

Dimensions (W*H*D): 22*14*9
Weight: 2.71lb
Colors available: Black, steel, crimson
Warranty: Lifetime
Price: $180.00
Product page:

Gadling’s 10 days of gadget giveaways – day 3 – Tom Bihn bags

Welcome to day 3 of Gadling’s 10 days of gadget giveaways. Today’s prizes are provided by Tom Bihn bags.

Tom Bihn designs and produces their bags in the USA, and their Checkpoint Flyer bag was recently featured in our best 25 travel products of 2008. Up for grabs in this giveaway are 2 Tom Bihn bags.

The Tom Bihn Western Flyer is described as “the ultimate overnight bag” and provides a whopping 26 liters of storage space, waterproof zippers and a divided front compartment roomy enough for a pair of shoes!

The Tom Bihn Aeronaut is equally impressive; this 3-in-1 bag is a soft bag, backpack and duffel bag at the same time. You can wear the bag over your shoulder, on your back, or simply carry it through the airport. The bag holds up to 45 liters of your stuff, and features splashproof zippers. Of course, the bag is approved as a carry-on for most airlines, including the strict rules at London Heathrow airport.

Don’t forget to enter our two previous giveaways where you can win a NotebookBuffer cooling pad or a Slacker G2 portable radio!

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us about your favorite product from the Gadling top 25 travel products of 2008.
  • The comment must be left before Wednesday November 26th at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Two Prize Winners will be randomly selected to receive either a Tom Bihn Aeronaut bag or a Tom Bihn Western Flyer bag.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The total value of the Tom Bihn Aeronaut (with strap) is $210, and the total value of the Western Flyer (with strap) is $190.
  • Click here for the complete official rules of this giveaway.

Gadling’s Top 25 travel technology products of 2008

Welcome to the Gadling top 25 travel technology products of 2008.

It has been a great year for gadget loving travelers, and I have come across some really fantastic products that have helped make my own trips much more enjoyable.

It was not easy keeping the list to just 25 products, and there should be something for everyone in this lineup. So, without any further delay, I present (in no particular order), the 25 best travel technology products of 2008.


Boingo is the only thing listed in the top 25 that isn’t a physical product.

Boingo provides a service that lets you pay a single monthly fee to get access to over 103,000 different Wi-Fi hotspot locations around the world.

For $59 you get their global traveler plan, which offers unlimited access to any of the locations in the Boingo network.

If you have traveled the world, you’ll have probably stayed at one of the many hotels using Wi-Fi as another source of income. Think of Wi-Fi as the new minibar. With daily rates as high as $30, using Boingo makes perfect sense. Business travelers will certainly appreciate the ability to use a single logon and not have to worry about a different expense for each connection they setup on a trip.

Why it matters to travelers: Saves money and makes getting online around the globe much easier.
Price: From $7.95 for a US only PDA plan, $59 for a global plan
Gadling review: Coming soon.

T-Mobile Blackberry Curve

With all of the mobile phones popping up this year, you’d probably expect me to pick the new 3G iPhone as the most travel friendly phone. Sadly for Apple, it’s actually a Blackberry that is still my favorite pick. The Blackberry Curve on T-Mobile has one very important feature that makes it the perfect pick for global travelers; Wi-Fi calling. The technology is called UMA, and it allows the Blackberry to roam onto a Wi-Fi hotspot signal and behave just like it would on a regular cell tower.

You could be in Japan on a Wi-Fi signal in your hotel, and your Blackberry will be able to make and receive phone calls and text messages just like back home. Of course, because you are not roaming on an international network, you can even make these calls for the same rate as a normal call back home, without the insane roaming rates involved.

Why it matters to travelers: Cheap calls, email, Internet browsing and travel applications.
Price: $99.99
Where: or any T-Mobile authorized dealer
Gadling review: October 15th 2008

Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Several years ago the big development in wireless technology was the availability of broadband 3G wireless access. If you keep your eyes open next time you are at an airport lounge, you’ll see loads of people working on their laptop with a little antenna sticking out the side of the machine.

To me, the biggest development in wireless data this year, came from the Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot.

The PHS300 turns your 3G modem into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The battery powered device creates a wireless signal ready to use by one person, or an entire conference room. By moving your wireless card out of your laptop, you also save battery life, plus you can move the Cradlepoint router closer to a window to pick up a better wireless signal.

Why it matters to travelers: One modem card can be shared with others, reduces the load on your laptop.
Price: $179.99
Gadling review: August 25th 2008

Eye-Fi wireless enabled SD memory card

Nothing in the photography world has made life easier for me than the Eye-Fi wireless memory card. The Eye-Fi card is a regular SD card, with a built in Wireless adapter.

What this means to anyone taking photos is that they can take a photo and within seconds it will be uploaded to their computer or a photo sharing site of their choice (as long as you are in range of a wireless network).

The card was released last year, but 2008 brought several major updates to their lineup including the Eye-Fi Explore. The Explore adds hotspot access to any Wayport locations, as well as basic Geotagging of your photos.

I’ve become so used to offloading my photos using the Eye-Fi card that I actually lost the USB cable of my previous camera.

Why it matters to travelers: Send your photos home before you leave your destination.
Price: From $79.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

Panasonic Lumix TZ5

In picking my favorite digital camera for 2008, I went through almost 15 different models. When it comes to a camera that is suitable for travelers I looked for several things; it had to be small enough for traveling light, and it had to offer something invaluable for making decent shots.

I’ll admit right away that I am a horrible photographer, I’ve played with digital SLR cameras, but never managed to quite master the art. Since I’m convinced the same applies to many other traveling consumers, I’ve picked the small Lumix TZ5 for this lineup.

The TZ5 is a 9.1 megapixel camera like many other point and shooters on the market. What makes the TZ5 different is its 10x optical zoom and the ability to shoot basic HD video clips.

Why it matters to trav
10x wide angle optical zoom, HD video clips, special “travel” mode for sorting your photos.
Price: $329.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Lenovo Ideapad S10

Every several years something big happens in the computer world. 3 years ago we saw a big shift from desktop PC purchases to notebooks. 2008 was the big year for the Netbook.

This new generation of ultra portable (and ultra affordable) computers has forced every major manufacturer to bring at least one machine to the market. What started with a single design from Asus has now morphed into about 30 different machines. I’ve tried almost every single one of them, but eventually there was just one clear winner for me; the Lenovo Ideapad S10.

This 10″ Intel Atom powered Netbook is perfect for business travelers as it is available with Bluetooth and it has an Expresscard slot (for expansion cards). The Lenovo S10 has a very sleek design, and incorporates the reliability Lenovo is known for. In my personal opinion, the S10 is also the best looking Netbook of the year.

Why it matters to travelers: Size, looks and performance.
Price: From $399
Gadling review: coming soon

SeV Quantum jacket

When you are on the road a lot, you learn to value the importance of pockets. It sounds pretty quirky, but the combination of travel and carrying too many gadgets means you always need more ways to carry them. The SeV Quantum jacket is a stylish jacket made of breathable material. Hidden away all around this garment are 28 separate pockets, including some large enough to carry a water bottle or even a small laptop!

Almost every pocket is linked to the others using the SeV patented “personal area network” which allows you to route cords inside the jacket. The Quantum even features 2 special pockets with clear plastic which allow you to have easy access to your iPod or mobile phone.

Why it matters to travelers: Pockets, lots and lots of pockets.
Price: $250
Gadling review: September 29th 2008

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

After years of making our lives miserable, the TSA actually used 2008 to help bring some common sense back to the checkpoint. One of their accomplishments was the creation of some better rules for how they treat your laptop. In the past, they were so scared of laptop computers that they wanted every laptop on its own going through the X-Ray conveyor. The new rules allow you to keep it inside an approved bag.

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer was one of the first checkpoint friendly bags to ship. The bag is made in the USA and features an ingenious folding laptop portion. The bag is very well made, and is full of great little touches like waterproof zippers.

Why it matters to travelers: Every minute saved at the checkpoint is valuable.
Price: $225
Gadling review: October 7th 2008

Altec-Lansing iM237 Orbit MP3 portable speaker

The Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 speaker is the perfect companion for your iPod, iPhone or other music player.

The speaker works off three AAA batteries and allows you to store the audio cord in the bottom.

The Orbit MP3 produces an amazing amount of sound, and despite its tiny size, you’ll easily be able to fill a decent size hotel room with your tunes.

Why it matters to travelers: Room filling audio from a pint sized speaker.
Price: $39.95
Gadling review: October 29th 2008

Creative Labs Aurvana headphones

I’ve had the Creative Labs Aurvana X-Fi headphones lined up for a review for some time, but I’ve been using them so often that I never got around to giving you a full review. The Aurvana X-Fi headphones feature the highly rated Creative X-Fi system for improving the sound quality of your digital music as well as a special mode for creating virtual surround sound when you listen to a movie.

The headphones are even $50 cheaper than that “other” brand of popular noise canceling headphones.

The Creative Labs Auravna X-Fi headphones are quite simply the best noise canceling headphones I have ever used. Included in the package is a sturdy carrying case, adapters for most headphone jacks and an extension cord.

Why it matters to travelers: Combines amazing sound quality with amazing noise canceling features.
Price: $249.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Duracell PowerSource mini battery pack

I like power. Sadly I don’t have much of the influential kind, so I compensate by collecting gadgets that can keep my other gadgets working. The Duracell Portable Power Pack is such a device.

This small rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack features a folding USB connector, a second female USB connector and a battery life indicator. A fully charged Duracell battery pack holds enough juice to recharge most of my gadgets at l
east three times.

Why it matters to travelers: Because a gadget without power can be really depressing.
Price: $39.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Peek Email device

Back in September we posted the first ever review of this personal email device.

Peek is a handheld wireless emailer which runs off the nationwide T-Mobile network. For $99 (priced at $79.99 till the end of the year) and a monthly service charge of $19.99, you get unlimited access to your email on the go. There is no contract, and no paperwork involved. You simply give Peek a credit card number, and you are all set.

I like Peek because it delivers on its promise; it does email, and only email, but it does that one thing quite well. Peek was recently voted “best gadget of 2008” by Time magazine.

Why it matters to travelers: Provides simple and affordable email on the go for anyone.
Price: $99.95 ($79.99 till December 31st)
Gadling review: August 26th 2008


The Chargepod by Callpod has completely changed the way I charge my gadgets on the road. In the past I had a complicated array of chargers, cables and splitters. The Chargepod powers off one AC adapter, and can power 6 gadgets at the same time.

Chargepod offers an impressive list of power adapter tips for anything from your Bluetooth headset to the latest portable gaming console. I have yet to run into a gadget that can’t be powered off the Chargepod.

Why it matters: One charger instead of 6
Price: $39.95 for the base unit, or $79.99 for the bundle pack with a selection of power tips
Gadling review: August 28th 2008

Otterbox cases

As gadget prices go up, so does the disappointment when a gadget breaks. Anyone who is on the road a lot will subject their gadgets to all kinds of abuse.

Otterbox produces a lineup of cases that provide several levels of protection. They vary from basic bump and scratch protection, to full water and shockproof protection.

Otterbox cases are available for all iPods as well as most Blackberry smartphones including the recently released Blackberry Bold.

Why it matters to travelers: Take your gadget to the beach, or up a mountain.
Price: From $19.95
Gadling review: September 10th 2008

Amazon Kindle

It’s almost impossible to list “best gadgets” without mentioning the Amazon Kindle. This electronic book reader launched in November of 2007 and has been one of the top selling electronic devices on ever since.

The Kindle was not the first electronic book on the market, but it does something no other eBook can do; wireless downloads of books.

No longer will you have to jump into the book store at the airport to buy another overpriced book, nor do you need to stock your carry-on with magazines and newspapers.

The Amazon Kindle offers it all, in a slick and easy to use package. The usability is slightly questionable, and the page changing buttons are a nightmare to use, but at the end of the day, nothing beats the ability to download a book right before takeoff. In addition to books, the Kindle also offers wireless access to select newspapers, magazines and RSS feeds.

Why it matters to travelers: Never worry about running out of something to read on the road, reduce the weight of your carry-on.
Price: $359 + the price of your reading materials
Gadling review: coming soon

Continue on to page 2

TSA friendly laptop bags popping up everywhere – an overview

Back in September, when the TSA announced their new relaxed rules for laptop bag designs, virtually every manufacturer jumped on the bandwagon. We are now more than a month into the new rules, and the following 11 manufacturers have at least one checkpoint friendly bag available for (pre) ordering.

Here are the current bags with their prices and availability:

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

Tom Bihn bags managed to be one of the first to actually ship a TSA friendly laptop bag. Their Checkpoint Flyer bag was reviewed here in October.

The Checkpoint Flyer is available in three colors as well as 13″, 15″ and 17″ dimensions, plus an upcoming version for the new 15″ Macbook Pro.

The Checkpoint Flyer costs $225 and most sizes are available for immediate shipping. When you order, be sure to add a shoulder strap!

Belkin FlyThru

Once again, Gadling got the scoop with the first review of this TSA friendly bag. The MSRP is $59.99 and it is available from many retailers right now. At $36.81 (through this reseller), it is currently the cheapest TSA friendly bag on the market.

The Belkin FlyThru bag holds laptops up to 15.4″ and has an expandable front pocket as well as plenty of internal storage space.

Skooba Design Checkthrough Bag

The Skooba Design Checkthrough bag has a fairly standard design, and is made for most 15.4″ laptop, though Skooba Design report that it will hold many slim 17″ machines too.

The bag costs $139.95 and is currently in stock and ready to ship.

CODi CT3 Checkpoint Tested

CODi announced 4 different checkpoint friendly bags (a backpack, 2 regular laptop bags and a wheeled case).

With the exception of the Mobile Lite wheeled case, they are all currently available to order. Prices start at $200.

Mobile Edge ScanFast Collection

Mobile Edge was among the first bag designers to announce a lineup of checkpoint friendly bags, and their ScanFast assortment consists of 3 different bags.

The lineup offers a backpack, a briefcase and a messenger bag, and they all cost $99.99 each.

The backpack holds laptops up to 17″, and the briefcase and messenger bag are designed for laptops up to 15.4″.

Like most other bags in this overview, the checkpoint procedure is as simple as unzipping the laptop portion, and placing the unfolded bag on the conveyor.

Travelon Bags Checkpoint Friendly

Travelon Bags has announced not one, but six different TSA friendly laptop bags. Their collection covers everything from a simply laptop sling to a stylish ladies brief.

Prices start at just $24.99 (for the laptop protector) up to $189.99 for a wheeled laptop briefcase.

Briggs & Riley SpeedThru

Briggs & Riley is the clear winner when it comes to the number of checkpoint friendly bags. Their assortment covers a whopping 16 different bags, so they are clearly taking the market for these bags quite seriously.

There is however one big difference; not all the bags are dedicated “checkpoint friendly”.

Most of the other bags in my overview have special design features that allow the entire bag to go through the X-Ray machine without taking pieces out, but the Briggs & Riley solution depends on you removing their “SpeedThru” sleeve from the bag, and placing it on the belt. This obviously puts their bags at a disadvantage over most other bags here.

The Briggs & Riley SpeedThru compatible bags start at $167 for a basic messenger bag, up to $429 for an expandable leather overnight bag.

Tumi T-Pass

Tumi has taken a similar approach as Briggs & Riley, as their lineup also depends on you placing your laptop in a TSA friendly sleeve inside a regular bag.

The T-Pass lineup consists of 9 bags and 4 different sleeves for the various sizes of laptop computers.

The cheapest Tumi T-Pass compatible bag starts at $375 for the Alpha medium capacity laptop bag, up to $995 for their Sloane leather briefcase. The required T-Pass sleeve is an additional $60-$85 depending on the size.

FitzWell Checkpoint Friendly

Many of you will have heard of Zappo’s, famous for their online shoe sales. Their in-house brand is “FitzWell”, and they too have introduced a checkpoint friendly bag.

The FitzWell Wheeled Checkpoint Friendly bag is as the name implies, a wheeled notebook briefcase. The wheeled briefcase comes with an internal removable checkpoint friendly sleeve for laptops up to 15.4″.

At $139 it is one of the cheapest wheeled checkpoint friendly laptop bags in this lineup.

Aerovation Checkpoint Friendly

The Aerovation Checkpoint Friendly Laptop bag claims to be the world’s first TSA friendly bag. The bag is available in regular Nylon ($129.95) and Leather ($279.95).

Aerovation has posted a 5 minute
video clip
on their site showing exactly how their bag and a laptop look when passing through the X-Ray machine.

TurboBag Checkpoint Friendly

TurboBag may be the brand with the silliest name in this overview, but their bags are nothing to laugh at.

The TurboBag checkpoint friendly bag lineup consists of 4 different bags, with 3 models for laptops up to 15.4″, and one for 17″ machines.

The bags are fold-open, which means you only have to unzip the laptop bag portion to slide it through the checkpoint conveyor.

Each bag even comes with a free “TurboLapDesk” laptop pad designed to protect your lap from computer heat.

The cheapest bag (in polyester) is just $58.95, and the most expensive is their T-400 TurboBag, in real leather for $109.95.