Gear Review: Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30






dr-evil-mini-meThen, Dr Evil and Mini-Me.





Side by SideAnd now, the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 and the Aeronaut 30. (Click on the image to see it in its entirety.)

Announced earlier today, the Aeronaut 30 is almost a carbon copy of its big brother but about 1/3 smaller.

Measuring 19.7″ x 12.6″ x 7.9″/50 x 32 x 20 cm, the Aeronaut 30 holds 1830 cu in/30 liters of gear.  (The Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 holds 45 liters. Get the reason for the numbers?) It will be available in both a 1050d ballistic nylon and 400d Dyneema. They will weigh 2 lbs 14oz/2 lbs 6 oz respectively.  All exterior zippers are coiled #10 from YKK.

Side by side, the two bags look similar, except for size. However,  Tom Bihn made a few changes to the “30.” (Since the original Aeronaut, now called the Aeronaut 45, has been written about so much, including two reviews on our archive site, I’m  going to focus mostly on the differences.)

IMG_0428LIke the Aeronaut 45, the Aeronaut 30 has movable dividing panels between the center and end compartments.

Should more room be needed in a specific compartment, the panels unzip to allow freer movement. (The 45 had a similar arrangement but with snaps instead of zippers.) Be aware, unzipping the panel does not add an opening from the end compartment into the main compartment it just allows the panel to move more outward or inward. I would have liked to have seen at least one divider open completely. This might be a useful feature if trying to put something longer in the bag.


IMG_0429There is a zippered mesh compartment on the inside lid of the main compartment.  There are also two tie-down straps that can easily be removed if you  don’t want them.



On the outside of each end compartment is a smaller zippered compartment. (On the “45,” one compartment was zippered, the other was open.) A key strap is included and attached to the “O” ring in one of these compartments.

If you have the original Aeronaut and used a 3D organizer cube as your 3-1-1 bag, and attached it to the “o” ring in one these pockets, you might find it difficult to get the organizer cube in the pocket especially if the cube is full. These pockets are narrower.

IMG_0430On the back are hideaway backpack straps that appear to be exactly the same on both Aeronauts. However, the foam padding found inside the back of the Aeronaut 30 extends further inside the bag to allow a comfortable carry for both  short and tall carriers. The straps themselves are comfortable and come with an adjustable sternum strap. An easily attached/detached waist strap is available as an option. (I think the extra foam is the reason the bag isn’t closer to 1/3 lighter than the Aeronaut 45.)


IMG_0432Packing Cubes made specifically to fit the Aeronaut 30 will be available for pre-order but weren’t ready in time for this review.  I know that many of you like to use packing folders instead of cubes.

An 18″/medium Eagle Creek folder will not fit in this bag. While the dimensions of the folder are smaller than the bag, it won’t fit, packed, into the main compartment opening. A 15″/small folder, seen in the photo to the left, fits easily. It wasn’t even necessary to unzip either divider.

And of course, there are plenty of the famous “Tom Bihn “O” rings throughout the bag.

While I’ve only had the Aeronaut 30 a few days, and haven’t had the opportunity to fully pack it and take it out for testing, I have a feeling it will hold more than you might imagine. One of the great things about the Aeronaut design is the floating divider panels that conform to whatever you pack.

I can’t imagine anyone having a problem carrying this bag onto most aircraft including the smaller regionals. Only the most sinister gate agent would make anyone check this bag. Just don’t go over the weight limit if one is being enforced.

Who is this bag for and who is it not for?

If you are new to one bag travel, and are coming from a full-sized suitcase, you might consider the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 rather than the Aeronaut 30–until you have a few trips under your belt.

However, this might be the right bag if:

–you are a seasoned one bag traveler looking to scale down from the Aeronaut or Tri-Star, or something of similar size;

–you are petite in stature and haven’t come close to filling a maximum legal carry-on;

–you are looking for a great overnight or weekend bag;

–you find the Western Flyer too small and the Tri-Star too big, or you just prefer a larger main compartment.

–you just have to buy it because one of the color choices is Aubergine.

I’m sure there are many other scenarios where the Aeronaut 30 would fit the bill.

For years, there has been talk of a scaled down version of the Aeronaut 45. As one baggers have become better and more efficient at packing, the need for a functional, well-made bag had arrived. And right on time came the solution.

I tried very hard to find fault with this bag. But I couldn’t find anything major.

As most regular readers know, the Aeronaut 45 is my go-to bag. It’s just so flexible I can use it for numerous travel scenarios. But on shorter trips, there always seems to be plenty of extra room. I think the new Aeronaut 30 will replace its bigger sibling on  those type of journeys.

The Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 retails for $270 and is only available from the manufacturer. Made in the USA.


Disclaimer:  One Bag, One World is a Tom Bihn affilliate and the Aeronaut 30 was supplied for review. However, this has no effect on the reviews given.


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9 Responses to Gear Review: Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30

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  3. JL says:

    Thanks for the review Frank. It would be really interesting to see a comparison pack between the TriStar and the Aeronaut 30. From the pictures I’ve seen the A30 still seems like a fairly large bag even though the stated volume is obviously less than both the A45 and the TS.

  4. Frank@OBOW says:

    If you remember from a previous post, I suggest not really going by stated volume.

    As an example, the Tri-Star will bulge out when fully packed. This is included in the maximum volume dimensions. The A30 won’t bulge out as much so it shows the volume as less. .

    I personally think from a practical point of view you should be able to get more into the A30 because it is much more forgiving on the thickness of what you pack…and….you can find little nooks here and there for smaller items.

  5. bchaplin says:

    Thanks for the review!

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