Tom Bihn Tristar Travel Bag Review

It’s not everyday I get a bag like this in the mail.  Tom Bihn makes, in my humble opinion, the best travel bags period.  The new Tristar bag is no exception!


I say this as a Tom Bihn owner for quite some time.  I have taken the Tom Bihn Aeronaut with me to DC on my last flight, and I used the Western Flyer and the Aeronaut when my son and I went to camp.  The Aeronaut was kind of large to take on a school trip with my son to camp.  Well, next year I can just use the Tristar as it fits squarely in the middle of the Aeronaut and the Western Flyer.

There are many differences between the Western Flyer and the Tristar.  The biggest of these is the middle compartment.

The Tristar has three compartments versus the Western Flyer’s two.

The middle compartment, however, is designed to hold a braincell – which is where you would put your laptop when you’re trying to just use one bag for your trip.  You can also put a Freudian Slip (a case that holds smaller items such as PDA devices, smartphones and there is also room for file folders) in the center section as well.  This center compartment of the Tristar is your office away from home.


The front compartment is the one with all of the zippers on the front.  Instead of only 2 zippers on the left hand side of this compartment, the Tristar has three.

Tom Bihn also includes the cord zipper pulls so you can choose to use the cord zipper pulls or the metal zipper pulls.

The top zippered compartment one holds magazines or maybe your Kindle DX (in a nice case of course).


The next one can hold other various items.  I’d use this one for keys at it already has a nice strap for them.


The last compartment on this side of the bag would be useful for  the stuff you usually might have in your pocket except when going through security.

The zipper that dominates the right side of this front compartment is actually a water bottle holder.  This is where I would put my water or pop I picked up on the other side of security.


Once you unzip the big zipper on this compartment, you see that this compartment is divided into two sections.  If you don’t want this compartment divided, then you can unzip the divider and make it one big compartment.  This compartment would be good for putting a spare set of shoes.


The back compartment has a zipper on the  right side like the front compartment, except this zipper is hiding something. tristar7

Instead of a sling like the Western Flyer, It’s actually hiding a set of backpack straps like the Aeronaut!  This one also has a handle near the top of the backpack straps.


Unzipping the big zipper going around the back compartment reveals the last big section for packing clothes.  One thing that is different about this compartment is that it also has straps for strapping clothes to the one side of the compartment.


You could also use this to hold one of the many packing cubes you can purchase extra with the bag.  Packing cubes, for the uninitiated, are basically bags within a bag.  You first put your clothes in the packing cube and then put the cube in your Tristar.  Tom Bihn sent several cubes with this bag all of which are designed to work with the tristar.

The first one I came across was the 3D packing cube.  This cube is perfect for holding your TSA approved liquids.


Next is the large cube for the Tristar, and this one is in Solar coloring.  I love this color!  I just wish they made bags this color too!


They also sent me a small Tristar cube in steel.


They also sent a all fabric small Tristar cube in that wonderful solar color!


Lastly, a medium which is good for the larger side of the divided compartment.  This is the one I would put t-shirts and shorts for after hours when the weather is nice.


These cubes are my favorite way of packing.  I can’t imagine not having packing cubes when buying a Tom Bihn travel bag.  With packing cubes, I can fit much more clothing in the bag with cubes than without.  Plus it makes unpacking at the hotel much easier.  I am a huge fan of the packing cube way.

Lastly, I highly recommend ordering the Absolute Strap for your shoulder strap.  This strap makes it feel like your carrying almost nothing at all even with it fully loaded.


Tom Bihn has another winner.  With the 1050 Denier exterior, YKK splash proof zippers, the Dyneema Ripstop fabric in the interior and the packing cubes makes the bag and the cubes literally bomb proof.  My next trip by car or  plane will include the Tristar as my primary bag.  In fact, I may even try not taking anything but the Tristar.  This may be a tall order with the tech gear I like to carry, but I am definitely going to try it!

The bags I have used before the Tristar both have been used many times and the both look just as good as the day I got them.  My Western Flyer even was a daily bag for a while which brings up a important point.  These are travel bags, not daily laptop bags.  Tom Bihn makes plenty of those bags and I suggest getting a Checkpoint Flyer for that.

Lastly, Tom Bihn bags are all made here in the United States in Seattle, Washington.

The Tom Bihn Tristar is $240 by itself.  As reviewed, it is $345.  This includes a absolute strap, one large packing cube, one medium packing cube, 2 small packing cubes and the 3d clear organizer cube.  Believe me when I say you should order these cubes.  They make packing and unpacking a breeze.

What I liked: It has a bombproof construction like all Tom Bihn bags I have reviewed.  I like the 3 compartments versus the Western Flyer’s 2 compartments.  The drink bottle compartment and the backpack straps make this the most versatile bag ever from Tom Bihn.

What needs improvement: I would say price except that this bag is worth every penny you pay.  Once you have bought a Tom Bihn bag, you won’t wear it out!

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.

2 Comments on "Tom Bihn Tristar Travel Bag Review"

  1. Review: Tom Bihn Tristar Travel Bag | Gear Diary: Posted on 06 July 2009, at 10:09 am, by Joel McLaughlin. It&#3..

  2. Review: Tom Bihn Tristar Travel Bag | Gear Diary

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