Tom Bihn Western Flyer

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After three weeks of coast-to-coast holiday visits, I am finally unpacking the trusty carry-on bags that have transported two seasons of clothing options and gifts given and received. Yet again, my Tom Bihn Western Flyer has stolen the show. I got this bag a while ago when my fiance and I were searching for maximum carry-on limit luggage (mine is actually one of their mid-sized bags, not MLC) that was attractive, durable, and functional. Since then it has been a go-to weekend bag and was an indispensable component of a four month stint in Southeast Asia.

Why is the Tom Bihn Western Flyer better than my favorite suitcase, messenger bag, or backpack? This bag combines the elements of all of these into one super tidy, easy to use package. Like a suitcase, I can pack everything I need for travel. The main compartment is big enough to store days worth of clothes and a change of shoes. I packed for a ten day trip in Nepal in just this bag! The front compartment has a divider to split the compartment in two and generally keeps my toiletries, electronics (chargers, etc) and books organized and easy to reach wthout digging through my unmentionables. The front pockets are weather sealed and hold my travel pillow, headphones, keys (and all the other bits and pieces I pick up along the way). The bag has an optional handle, shoulder strap and hide-away backpack straps. Because I like the balance and comfort of a backpack, these padded straps are out all the time and keep my hands free for a coffee and/or a roller bag.
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And the Tom Bihn is better than my other options because it is super durable. I don’t treat my luggage lightly, and after several beatings, pushings and pullings, and weeks of over-stuffing, the bag looks as good as new. This is part due to the super tough over-sized zippers that don’t complain. But all of this is just in MY experience, and is suited to my particular form of travel. Better still are the materials. My inability to destroy this bag comes from the U.S. 1050 denier Ballistic nylon (translation: destruction-retarding) exterior and the light and tough Dyeema/nylon ripstop that lines the interior.
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Though I love my Western Flyer, I’ve been impressed with a number of their products, and can’t help but mention ONE accessory that provides further function. The Packing Cube Backpack functions like a normal packing cube for both the Western Flyer and the slightly larger Tri-Star. I normally do not bother with packing cubes, but this one also has thin, light backpack straps. If I am only traveling with one big bag, this gives me the option for a lightweight day pack without taking up any space. Plus, it looks really cool.

-- Kristyna Solawetz  

Tom Bihn Western Flyer
$210+ (price varies with extras)

Available from Tom Bihn

Packing Cube Backpack
$40

Available from Tom Bihn

Sample Excerpts:

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The front pockets of the Tom Bihn Western Flyer.

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Tom Bihn Packing Cube Backpack