I’ve read plenty of reviews of Tom Bihn’s trusty Aeronaut bag — both on the Tom Bihn company blog and various travel sites around the web, including Practical Travel Gear, where I contribute content. Users describe packing the Aeronaut full of gear to take on backpacking trips around Europe and using it for weekly business trips. The Aeronaut is also lauded as a great carry-on bag since it fits smoothly and easily into airplane overhead compartments (except, perhaps, little prop-plane puddle jumpers, where not much more than a pocketbook fits overhead).
I found another great use for the Aeronaut: it held my kids’ stuff for a three-night road-trip to Denver last month. Indeed, my children (ages 9 and 7) are still of the age that they don’t care if they share a suitcase. The soft-sided, duffel-bag-like Aeronaut was the perfect size (with room to spare) for three days’ worth of clothing, pajamas, two pairs of shoes and toiletries — plus “bear” and “blankie.”
A few highlights of the Aeronaut bag that I appreciate:
Streamlined construction: By that I mean, there aren’t a ton of little zippers and pockets. Now, normally, I like a lot of pouches to stash small things in my tote bags or purses, but for this overnight bag, I don’t think they are necessary. There’s one large, main compartment and two end compartments (awesome for shoes) — one of which has a zippered slot and the other, an open pouch. If you do want more compartmentalization inside the Aeronaut, check out the Tom Bihn packing cubes.
The zippers: Tom Bihn uses these cool splash-proof zippers that form a tight, protective seal. They are covered in fabric so you actually don’t see the zipper teeth when closed.
The multiple handles: At least twice during our road trip, my husband said, “I love this bag,” as he hauled it in and out of the car (we stayed in multiple hotels), grabbing the bag by its “traditional” top handle, either one of the padded “grab” handles on the side, or the backpack straps. Yes, this bag can easily convert into a backpack for carrying ease, and the straps can be hidden and zipped away when not in use. My daughter carried the bag on her back for the short distance from the car to the lobby of our Denver hotels — I wouldn’t advise a child carrying the pack for long distances, but when it’s “all hands on deck,” to move gear around, the backpack feature is certainly handy. If you need still one more way to carry the Aeronaut, buy the Absolute Shoulder Strap, which can be used on many different Tom Bihn bags.
The rugged material. Tom Bihn bags are built to last with heavy-duty ballistic nylon. To me, that means hefty material that resists punctures and tears, and can be wiped clean with a wet cloth.
The Aeronaut comes in four colors: bright blue, red, grey and black. Retailing for $200, this sporty, sleek, functional bag would make a nice gift for any active traveler on your gift-giving list.
Tom Bihn, the official luggage sponsor of The Vacation Gals, provided me with the Aeronaut to review.