As an expat family living in Doha, we take quite a few family trips a year and can be pretty hard on luggage. I was in the market for a brand that could stand up to the constant barrage of abuse that so many of our bags were subjected to. After doing a little research on Tom Bihn luggage and finding out it’s actually got a pretty large following, I decided to get in touch and try it out myself!
It is obvious that the attention to detail and time spent on the design of these bags is very important to the company. Their company policy is all about inclusivity and quality over quantity with a whole lot of fun thrown in. The entire production process from design to completion is done in Seattle, Washington. They use only the best and strongest of materials for the bags and everything is double reinforced to give your bag extra longevity. With everything their website promised, I decided it was time to put this luggage to the test and see just how well it stood up to extensive travel.
Let me just say first that I am a backpack diaper bag mom ALL. THE. WAY. I wouldn’t even look at diaper bags unless they were a backpack or had a backpack style feature to them. Needless to say, when the parental unit came I was VERY skeptical. I decided to give it a fair shot and brought it on a long trip through Singapore and Bali. One day was all it took to be converted to the Tom Bihn bag over my backpack bags. I was incredibly shocked it could fit as much as it did and even more shocked that somehow I could hang it on the back of our very lightweight GB Pockit stroller and not have it be an issue with throwing the weight off. I was also sent a more comfortable shoulder strap, which was a huge bonus. I’m not sure if I could have worn it as long as I did without it.
In the diaper bag we were able to fit, 3 of the larger tommee tippee bottles on one of the ouside pockets, a small tin of formula,bathing suits for all 4 of us, a change of clothes for my 2 boys, sunscreen, bug spray, a bottle of water, 2 decently larger toys for my 8 month old, small camera, a cell phone, diapers and wipes. Check out this quick video if you would like to see exactly how we fit everything in!
There is one main compartment with pockets on either side, great for diapers and wipes. The main compartment itself is deceivingly large. On the outside of the bag are areas on both sides with 3 smaller sections in each. This was perfect for us to put our son’s bottles on one side and our phones and keys on the other.
The Aeronaut 45 was another pleasant surprise! The look and feel of the bag is both sturdy and stylish. Their signature luggage is great for people who want to pack minimally for their trip. I tried (I swear I tried!), but was unable to minimize. I was also sent a few of their packing cubes so decided to test them out with the Aeronaut. This was my first time using packing cubes. I kind of always thought they defeated the purpose of the bag considering it was just mini bags within a larger bag and I figured they would take up precious space in the luggage. While I am still not completely sold on the packing cubes, they did come in handy for a few things. Towards the end of the trip it was great to be able to separate the dirty from the clean clothes and still keep them neatly packed away inside the bag. Since our trip was also mostly a beach trip I used one packing cube for all my beach clothes and swim suits while the other was used for regular clothes. The smaller cubes were great for socks, underwear, and pj’s.
The best feature about the Aeronaut 45 was it’s backpack straps that could be tucked away in a pocket or pulled out when you needed to carry the bag. It was extremely comfortable on my shoulders and easy to carry while also holding our 8 month old son. The main compartment of the bag is able to fit two of the large packing cubes (as long as they are not stuffed to full) and it also has two pockets on either side with a smaller pocket within those. The zipper’s are bigger than normal and very sturdy. In our family, zippers are usually the first things to break, but I’m not sure I could break these if I tried!
There is no wheeled feature on this bag which I thought might be a problem at first, but honestly the bag is so comfortable to wear that it’s not needed. If you are looking for a bag that is carry-on size but still packs a powerful punch in the space category, this is definitely it. On our trip to Singapore and Bali we decided to check it and see how it held up. I inspected the bag after it went through 4 separate flights of being checked and there was not a single tear or even so much as a scuff mark on the bag. To say I was impressed, is an understatement!
The bags all come in a variety of colors, but I am partial to the signature Halcyon design as its just different enough from all the other black bags being carried around. The different accessories that you can order with the bags are also great and a few of them I would highly recommend! I have put a list at the bottom of this review of all the accessories I was sent to try and which ones I think are a must add on!
Overall, the Parental Unit and the Aeronaut 45 have become two of my favorite bags. We travel all over the world with our kids and I really needed something sturdy that is going to hold up to the stresses of travel and young boys. The Tom Bihn bags have definitely proven their worthiness in that regard and the best part is they are made by a small company that has a philosophy and values I can get on board with.
Additional Accessory List
-Shoulder straps – highly recommended! They made carrying the Parental Unit very easy!
-Packing cubes- recommended if you like the organization cubes give you.
-3D organizer cube – recommended, I used this for all of our electronic cords.
-Key straps – great if you want to know exactly where your keys are in the bag. I did not end up using these as much as I thought as I just put our keys in one of the outside pockets.
– Wheelchair or stroller straps – I actually used the shoulder strap to put over our stroller, but you might want to look into seeing which would work better for your particular scenario.