Here are some pictures and thoughts on the new Tri-Star carry-on convertible from Tom Bihn (Click on photos for a large version)
The Tri-Star outfitted with my preferred method of carriage - the essential Absolute Strap.
The Tri-Star (and its older and slightly smaller cousin the Western Flyer ). The Tri-Star has three compartments, the WF has two. Respective volumes are 2000 & 1600 cubic inches (33 & 26 liters).
This view shows the Tri-Star’s double handle shows the relative size of the three zippered copartments.
The Tri-Star has hide-away contoured backpack straps with a sternum strap. Carrying comfort at 15 pounds is similar to most other convertibles I’ve tried.
Beginning with the rear compartment we see something that’s never before appeared in a TB travel bag - hold-down straps. They’re well-positioned and have nice, thin buckles. My bundle had two pairs of pants, two l/s shirts and one s/s shirt. I’m working on a sort of modified simple bundle method that works well with this compartment and its straps.
The middle compartment is a good place for a computer. You can see my netbook stowed vertically in an over-sized sleeve on the left and a small Tri-Star cube holding a pair of size 10 shoes (pretty thin and flexible dress shoes - much larger or thicker shoes would not fit - not for Sasquatch, a neighbor of Tom’s).
A better view of the shoe situation.
This end view shows that the middle compartment zips only across the top and few inches down each end, making it more secure for a computer. This compartment also has buckles that work with Tom Bihn Brain Cell laptop sleeves. Also note the nifty pull handle found on each end - for quick extraction from the overhead compartment.
Here’s something else the TS shares with the WF - the zipper-divided front compartment. My wife, who uses the WF almost weekly, likes to drop her hair stuff in the divided pocket. For folded clothing large printed material you can unzip it for a large compartment that can be opened flat like the rear compartment.
By now you’ve noticed the nice light-colored interior. The interior dividers are semi-translucent so you can even see well down into the middle compartment. I’ve always preferred a llight/bright interior material.
To the front - we see the three horizontal pockets with the new 3D Organizer Cube (which can reputedly pass a 3-1-1 baggie) peeking out of the top one. (See the bottom of this post for a video demo of the 3D Cube) This pocket layout was first seen on the WF which had only two.
Here’s the water bottle pocket. I’m not much on water bottles but I can see using this pocket for tickets, iPod, or snacks. You might see a slight tendency to bulge here. If you pack the front pockets heavily you need to under pack the front compartment to allow a little sacrificial space for the pockets to bulge inward rather than out.
This close-up of the water bottle pocket shows the TB attention to detail and a texture view of the bag’s most important quality: excellent-quality ballistic nylon which wears like iron and fights bulging. Also note the water-resistant gasketed zippers - just what you’d expect from Seattle.
The TB system approach - four new cubes just for this bag. The full-size half-mesh (large), the 2/3 size half-mesh (medium), the 1/3 size half-mesh (small), and the 1/3 size solid (which I used for shoes).
I packed this bag, which weighs about 3.5 pounds, to 15 pounds. This load included more clothing than I take for a long European trip and a netbook.
At $240 this bag is definitely not cheap, but it looks like a very labor-intensive bag to sew and the materials are top-notch. A great deal of thought has gone into its design. More to come about this bag.
In response to a queston, there is no padding in the bag except on the back wall of the rear compartment - to make backpack use more comfy.
OBOW reader Esther is headed to Europe and has posted the following on the Fourm: