I've had my Zephyr (Black/Black/Steel) for just over a year (time flies!) and have used it every work and travel day. I absolutely love it. I got the absolute shoulder strap for carrying it, which is absolutely fantastic.
I chose the Zephyr over the Empire Builder and the ID.
I chose the Zephyr over the EB because I didn't think I'd need the extra space that the EB has and I wanted the smaller footprint. I haven't once wished for more space and am happy with that decision.
I actually also ordered the ID because I wanted to have both in my hands for comparing. I returned the ID ultimately because I felt like the Zephyr looked a bit more professional. If I had been choosing a bag solely for traveling, I would have chosen the ID because it was lighter (due to the less structured) and because of the water bottle pocket. I miss having the water bottle pocket, but that was one piece of the ID that looked less professional than the Zephyr.
After one year of use it looks as good as new. It holds an amazing amount of stuff and never looks overstuffed. I knew it was going to be structured, but I didn't know exactly how much structure there would be. The structure definitely adds weight and makes usable space a bit smaller, but IMO it was worth it because I can put manila folders with papers in them in the bag and not worry about them getting all wadded up.
The Zephyr joins my Aeronaut and Small Cafe Bag. I love both of them too!
My Zephyr went with me on our recent trip to Kauai. Worked great for a personal item, though I had to squish it a little on top to get it to stand up under the plane seat. Still diggin' the navy.
Love the Zephyr! Last year I took my mine for an overnight stay in hospital. It was the perfect size to carry everything I needed: PJs, change of underwear, shirt, toiletries, magazine, phone, iPod, keys, pen, admission forms. No photos, though, sorry!
I feel like I am in full blown paralysis by analysis right now. I am looking for an airplane travel bag that will fit under the seat in front of me and looks professional enough for meetings. I travel with a MBP 13, denon NC-800, folio, magazines, charges (phone/MB) and a small book. I'm 6'3" 195lbs, so space is critical in those tiny airplane seats. I travel domestically, about 100k miles per year, half the time I'm on a small regional jet.
The Zephyr seems to be the best fit, however I watched the youtube review and the reviewer commented on how big the bag was?? Is it really that big? Should I be looking at a Cadet? Any insight or comments would be greatly appreciated.
All but the Denon headphones would fit inside the Cadet. I downsized from an Empire Builder to a Cadet last month for the reasons you mention are a potential concern about the Zephyr. The Empire Builder is slightly bigger than the Zephyr, and I find it a squeeze under an airline seat. That plus it takes up the available legroom.
I use the 15/13 Cadet with 15" MBP sized Cache for my work-issued Lenovo T410, a 14" widescreen laptop with an extended battery. I carry power supplies, mobile phone, a small amount of paperwork as needed, Moleskine sized notebook and a Kindle inside, without a problem. The Cadet/Cache works really well for my needs. My personal laptop is a 13" MBP and there's even more space inside the bag with that. I'll try to take a photo later and post to the forum.
Here are a few photos of the 13" MBP compared with the 15/13 Cadet. A little rushed as I had a 5 year-old demanding my attention, but I hope it gives you an idea of the available space.
Excellent comment and detail lotuseater, legroom is a valuable commodity when flying. I do have a pair of Shure ear buds that can be used over the Denon's for shorter trips. Thank you for the pictures as well, very helpful. After reading your post I think the Cadet may be the best option. Time for some further investigation into the Cadet :)
Sorry, one more question regarding the Cadet - did you upgrade to the Absolute strap? If so, is it worth the $20?
The upgrade to the Absolute strap at $20 is always worth it - even if you end up using it on a different bag.
Originally Posted by ceb
Absolutely you should upgrade to the Absolute strap. Laptop bags can get heavy quickly. The comfort difference is significant.
I cannot carry my fully loaded EB (heavy law student edition) without the Absolute strap. My bag can come close to 50lbs--yes 5-0 pounds, with all the casebooks, laptop,, brain cell, caffeinated beverages, and all that. If only casebooks came on an e-reader...
An Absolute strap is a good investment for your other bags (even non TB bags) too.
+ x for the Absolute strap. I use it for my Zephyr every week. I use it for all sorts of bags.
I own two Absolute straps...you will not regret that purchase. It must be made of helium and novocaine.