Backpacking across Europe, or taking a multiple month journey?
You might want to consider the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 Backpack.
- Panel loading – easy to pack and unpack
- Great overall organization
- Very durable
- Smooth, easy to use and lockable YKK zippers
- Carry-on sized
- Straps can be stowed away – simply unbuckle them at the bottom corners – great for the times when you want to check the backpack in
- Made in the USA
Pockets and Organization
With the straps stowed away, the Aeronaut 30 is symmetrical and looks almost like a large briefcase. (If you purchase a shoulder strap, you can use the backpack as a shoulder bag.)
Here’s an overview of the main pockets:
- 2X large side pockets (lockable zippers)
- 2X small side pockets (not lockable)
- 1X main compartment (lockable zippers)
The two large side pockets are perfect for holding shoes, toiletries, socks, and other small-ish items. The small side pockets can hold your small knickknacks like your voltage converter, phone charger and cables, small toiletries, flashlight, etc.
The main compartment is where you’ll want to pack all of your clothes. There’s a small mesh pocket inside the main compartment, which is great for packing underwear and other small clothes. The main compartment also has two removable straps for synching down the contents inside.
Overall, I’m a big fan of the organizational layout (I’ve given it a 10/10 in the rating section below). The Aeronaut hits the sweet spot with its pockets – there are neither too many, nor too few. The layout is logical and practical.
I use, and have been using the Eagle Creek Pack-It Mobile Locker for the past 4 years, including during a 2 year RTW (round the world trip). It is hands-down the greatest packing cube of all time, but tragically it is no longer sold.
Packing a Laptop in the Aeronaut 30 Backpack
Finding a place for your laptop on the Aeronaut 30 is where packing can get a bit tricky. There is no designated laptop compartment on this backpack, but you can put a laptop in the back pocket where the straps are supposed to be stowed away.
There are a couple of issues with this, though: the back pocket is not lockable, and it cannot be zipped when the straps are out. You can only close the back pocket when the straps are stowed away. An old 15-inch Macbook Pro will fit snugly in the back pocket, and any 13-inch laptop will fit easily. It’s not ideal, but it works.
On the bright side, the back pocket is padded, as there is a foam insert to make wearing the pack more comfortable. Also, it is impossible for anyone to steal your laptop while you are wearing it, because your back would be blocking any possible access to the pocket.
Another option would be putting your laptop in the main compartment. This could work, but it would be a hassle to remove (especially when going through airport security), and it could mess up your backpack’s weight distribution (usually you want the heaviest items closest to your back).
- The design is a bit boxy. It’s a purely aesthetic issue.
- At $285 it’s quite pricey. It’s more expensive than my 110 liter Dakine Split Roller Bag ($230).
This backpack does not have a waist belt or a frame. In my opinion, both are not necessary because the backpack is not very large, and it is not intended for hiking. The frameless design also helps the backpack to be lighter. If you’re out exploring all day with the backpack fully loaded on your back, it will get tiring after a while.
Who is this bag for?
The Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 is ideal for urban travelers on the move; well suited to any trip from an overnight excursion to a 3-month backpacking journey through Europe.
Sizing: Should you get the Aeronaut 30 or the Aeronaut 45? (Aeronaut 30 vs Aeronaut 45)
Full disclosure: I have not personally tested the Aeronaut 45, however, it’s just the larger version of the Aeronaut 30. They’re essentially the same, except for size. The Aeronaut 45 and 35 are both within the carry-on bag requirements.
Personally, if I were traveling for 6 months or longer, I would go for the Aeronaut 45, but if you can get away with just 30 liters, go for it.
For more information, read our article on the best travel backpack size.
In that article, I wrote that my ideal travel backpack size is between 35 to 55 liters. The Aeronaut 30 is slightly below my ideal range for long term trips, but it is great for anything ranging from one night to 3-months. It all depends on your travel style and how light you want to or can pack.
Colors and Aesthetic
I’ve tested this bag in the Original Halcyon/Wasabi colorway. The exterior of my Aeronaut 30 has a unique black and white lattice, while the interior of the bag has a light green wasabi color. The lattice is a bit too intense for my liking – I would have preferred a subtler design – but it keeps it interesting, in my opinion better than simply black bag. The Aeronaut 30 comes in 17 different color options ranging from burnt orange to aubergine.
Overall, the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 is a solid travel backpack, perfect for urban travelers. The standout feature is the backpack’s organization, although it would be nice to see a laptop-specific compartment.
At the retail price of $285, this backpack is an investment, however it is made in the USA and built to last.
Where To Get It
- Buy the Aeronaut 30 on TomBihn.com
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.
The Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 was provided for this review. As always, this Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 review contains only my honest views and opinions. 🙂 Find out more about me and this site here.