Bags and Luggage Product Reviews

Tom Bihn Western Flyer in 400d Dyneema Nylon – The Travelite FAQ

Seattle-based bag manufacturer Tom Bihn has been promoting his widespread Western Flyer carry-on bag (in the basic hideaway backpack straps model as well as the newer rolling luggage deal with version) for several years now. The medium-sized bag, a smaller sibling to the larger Tri-Star, has been common with mild travelers as a essential carry-on bag, with these on the lookout for a hefty laptop computer/briefcase overnighter, and with these on the lookout for a generously sized carry-on to enrich their check-in luggage.

The Tom Bihn Western Flyer in Nordic blue Dyneema. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

The delivery of a thicker material

Tom Bihn worked extensively together with his material producer in Japan to provide you with a heftier version of the lightweight, slash-proof Dyneema nylon material he used as a liner for his travel luggage. Wanting to offer a heavier model of the fabric that he might use as an exterior material on his carry-on luggage, the result’s a 400-denier weight version that is twice as thick as the 200-denier weight Dyneema (which Tom Bihn makes use of as a liner material and for lighter-weight gadgets just like the buying luggage).

The entrance pocket can it an iPad or small magazine. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

The new material was introduced by means of the website earlier this fall and was provided in two colours—the acquainted dark gray “steel” and a brand new “Nordic” blue—Tom Bihn, for the primary time, introduced 400d Dyneema nylon carry-on luggage in his three essential fashions: The Aeronaut, the Tri-Star, and the Western Flyer (in addition to in some of his smaller products, incuding the Synapse backpack and Small Cafe Bag shoulder bag).

The primary selling point on the Dyneema version of these luggage is lighter weight. A lot of the 400d Dyneema models are roughly 20 % lighter than their ballistic nylon counterparts. This will not look like an enormous deal for some, but these on the Tom Bihn forums needing to attenuate their carry-on weight in order to satisfy the extra stringent requirements of European air carriers welcomed this announcement with great cheer.

The Western Flyer

Of the three essential carry-on luggage Tom Bihn sells, the Western Flyer is the smallest. Shaped like the Tri-Star, the Western Flyer is smaller. Solely 18″ by 12″ by 7″, it is substantially smaller than the utmost allowable carry-on measurement for most airlines (which is usually 21″ x 14″ x 7″), and when not absolutely packed, can easily cross as a larger laptop case.

The backpack version of the Western Flyer has hideaway backpack straps that zip up right into a compartment in the back of the bag. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

The hideaway backpack straps are nothing to sneeze at. They’re sturdy, padded, and contoured so you possibly can put on the bag comfortably. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

The Western Flyer has two important compartments, as well as smaller pockets in the front. The primary compartments open utterly, permitting you to pack clothes in one compartment and digital gear in the second, for example. Once I pack my Western Flyer, I sometimes pack garments in the back compartment, and use the entrance compartment to pack additional footwear, toiletry bag, makeup bag, and other extras in organizer pouches. This leaves the front zippered pockets for stashing smaller gadgets I’d need for the flight, like iPod, earphones, boarding passes, and wallet.

The most important compartment unzips utterly and lies flat, making packing a lot simpler. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

A take a look at the Dyneema version of the Western Flyer

I’ve been touring often with a Western Flyer for quite a lot of years. I contemplate it my go-to carry-on, and although I flip to the larger Tri-Star for dual-purpose journeys (two totally different climates, two several types of trips rolled into one, and so forth—my subsequent one shall be a week-long cruise in February followed by a half-marathon, on the identical trip) and have traveled with smaller luggage, I’m most conversant in the Western Flyer. I’m accustomed to the dimensions of the compartments. I know what I can match into them. I do know what I sometimes pack into the segments.

The entrance compartment also opens up absolutely, nevertheless it has a center divider that allows you to separate the area into two segments. To open the compartment utterly or to not use the divider, merely unzip it. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

So once I obtained my palms on the Dyneema version of the Western Flyer, there weren’t numerous surprises. For Western Flyer fans, you’ll be able to relaxation assured figuring out that the Dyneema model is equivalent to the ballistic nylon version. All the zippers work the same means, the insides are still lined with (the lighter 200d) Dyneema, all the interior seams are coated. The bag is lighter, but there’s nothing here that feels cheaper concerning the new material.

Small touches, like a key strap in one of the front pockets, and little plastic rings on which to clip your keys, are hallmarks of a well-made bag from Tom Bihn. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

While I knew the Dyneema model of the bag can be lighter, I was pleasantly stunned by some further issues I observed during a current check run on a Thanksgiving weekend journey:

  • Lighter – it’s one factor to learn that the Dyneema version weighs 20 % much less, and another to truly stroll round with a packed bag. I’m brief (5-feet 3 inches in thick socks), and the lighter weight of the bag was fairly noticeable once I was walking around carrying the bag with the backpack straps.
  • Much more forgivingwhen packing – I hadn’t actually thought-about this, however it made sense as soon as I gave it some thought. You possibly can really cram stuff into the interior organizer cubes Tom Bihn sells, they usually’re produced from Dyneema, as nicely. Dyneema is thinner and very flexible—so it’s straightforward to squish it down if you zip it up. A superb comparison is the entrance pockets on the Western Flyer. I’ve sometimes saved my iPad in considered one of them, however it’s all the time been a really tight match, and with the ballistic nylon version, I’ve needed to shimmy the iPad in and tug and pull at the corners of the pocket to get things to seat proper. No such problem with the Dyneema model; the material “stretches” and has more give, making stashing the iPad a lot easier.

    The bottle pocket is an effective example to test out the material’s give. Try to match a large bottle in the pocket and zip it up. It feels a lot simpler with the Dyneema model. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

  • Folds down flat– this was a  factor I didn’t even take into consideration. However once I obtained to the lodge, I unpacked all the things into the closet and dresser. I often maintain my bag on the valet stand as a result of I don’t need to just sit it down, empty, on the ground. But I discovered that once I emptied the bag, it lay as flat as a pancake. So I wound up putting the emptied Western Flyer in a dresser drawer and stashed it out the best way. This might come in really useful once you’re staying in a tiny lodge room where actual estate is at a premium, or whenever you’re on a cruise ship. Since it’s so mild when empty, you might even zip all the things again up and cling it up on a hanger in the closet.

    The Dyneema Western Flyer folds down very flat when empty. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

  • Tremendous smooth floor– when you’re a fan of Dyneema like I’m, you realize that the material is super-smooth. Nothing snags on this material. And should you get any filth on it, you possibly can simply wipe it off and it comes off instantly, and smaller bits of dust gained’t get caught in the weave of the fabric. The Dyneema feels slicker than the ballistic nylon, and regardless that the Western Flyer is identical measurement no matter which material you get, the Dyneema version appears much simpler to slip in and out from the underseat area on the aircraft. I found it really easy to tug the Dyneema Western Flyer out from the world with the aspect deal with in the course of the flight as nicely.

    The padded aspect deal with makes it very straightforward to tug the bag out from underneath the seat in front of you on a aircraft. Photograph by Lani Teshima.

  • Trendy – I didn’t assume I’d hear myself say this as a result of I’m extra into the practical, but the Nordic Dyneema is sort of trendy. It’s an ideal colour; a deeper indigo hue that leans somewhat in the direction of violet. It’s an ideal unisex shade, and an actual standout towards the ocean of bland, boring black luggage everyone carries.

Drawbacks of Dyneema

Although a lighter bag is usually a superb thing, the brand new Dyneema version will not be for everyone. Should you’re not making an attempt to shave ounces off of your carry-on or you plan to do some traveling via rough circumstances, the normal ballistic nylon continues to be a greater choice for you. In reality, the Tom Bihn website even provides this warning:

“It must be noted that while our new 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop is a very durable fabric, there is a compromise in choosing it over 1050 ballistic or Cordura® nylon: your bag will be lighter, but it won’t stand up to the all-out abuse these heavier fabrics can handle. You will need to exercise care and not drag or otherwise mistreat a bag made from 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop. It’s a compromise many will feel worthwhile, but it’s a compromise to consider.”

Also, those using a Western Flyer as their briefcase might not need to use a bag with checkered material, as an alternative sticking with the extra traditional black ballistic nylon.

Lani’s suggestion

As an enormous fan of Dyneema as a cloth, I feel the Dyneema model of the Western Flyer is an excellent addition to the Tom Bihn line-up. However for those who already personal a Western Flyer in ballistic nylon, do you have to purchase the Dyneema model? The reply relies upon. Should you use the Western Flyer for principally automotive journey otherwise you fly domestically on airlines that don’t have strict weight limits on carry-ons, or should you already really like your ballistic nylon Western Flyer and also you’re proud of the color you have already got, I don’t know that you simply necessarily should swap out luggage. The Dyneema model may be lighter, however it’s not lighter in your pocketbook; it nonetheless costs $210—which continues to be a ding on most individuals’s wallets.

In the event you’re a fan of Dyneema or really like the Nordic blue, you’ll be able to recuperate a whole lot of the price when you sell your ballistic nylon Western Flyer (say on eBay), particularly if your bag uses a retired shade (for instance, with the yellow Photo voltaic inside), since there all the time appears to be individuals eyeing the marketplace for such gadgets. Or perhaps you don’t need a second Western Flyer, however you’ve got an in depth good friend or family member who’d respect your ballistic nylon Western Flyer. You may even have the ability to use it as an excuse to assist convince somebody to attempt carry-on-only journey.

When you don’t yet have a Western Flyer, think about getting the Dyneema over the ballistic nylon if you need a lighter bag that uses a smoother material, and stands out a bit extra.

In the event you’re an enormous fan of Dyneema already and you don’t own a Western Flyer but, what are you waiting for? Get your bag now!

One further observe: Should you like your purse (or “personal item” or ECD/”on a regular basis carry”) to match your carry-on, think about getting the Dyneema Western Flyer and mix it with the Small Cafe Bag. Tom Bihn has launched the popular unisex ECD bag in 400d Dyneema as properly.

Product at a look

  • Product identify: Western Flyer
  • Producer: Tom Bihn (made in the USA in his manufacturing unit in Seattle)
  • Obtainable Dyneema nylon colors: Nordic Dyneema (blue) exterior with Steel (grey) interior; Steel 400d Dyneema with Steel interior. Also obtainable in traditional ballistic nylon colors.
  • Types: Backpack fashion obtainable in Nordic and Metal; rolling upright deal with fashion out there in Metal
  • Quantity: 1600 cubic inches
  • Worth: $210 plus delivery
  • The place to buy: TomBihn.com web site or at their manufacturing unit store in Seattle.
  • Further notes: The bag does not come with a shoulder strap; the website provides an elective $30 padded “Absolute Strap” however if you would like a plain strap it’s worthwhile to buy the “Simple Shoulder Strap” ($12) from their Equipment page (hint: the Absolute Strap is far more snug).

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