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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Lightbulb Brain Bag Gripes

    I am a network security consultant, and travel probably 30 weeks out of the year. I have been through probably 10 different bags over the years, and while the Tom Bihn bag is an awesome product, I would like to see a couple more features.

    What I tyipcally carry in my bag:
    > Laptop (duh)
    > freudian slip with pens, meds, cd drive for laptop, ac inverter, assorted papers
    > in the front compartment, I put my CD case, extra drves, my snake charmer bag, and another targus bag similar to the snake charmer. I typically also keep a small wireless access point in there.
    > I don't put much in teh front pockets; I have an exra latop battery and a few protein bars. I'll explain why further down.

    - Small top pocket on front: I think this should be bigger. This pocket would be more useable if it could comfortably hold something like a CD player. This is an easy access pocket on the plane, but it is really small. Not much more than your iPod fits. I realy liked the larger pocket that was between the two large compartments on the Swiss Army packs.

    - More pockets and organization options: I have the Freudian slip, which is great, but the large front compartment is just a vast cavern of space with no effective way to organize it. I am looking for some kind of "mini-pack' or something I can put in there that organizes the vast amount of crap I carry with me, kind of like a camer backpack, maybe with velcro dividers so I can control the configuration.

    - Side pockets: for airline travel, a wide bag is better than a thick bag. I put very little in the front pockets because on smaller aircraft, the overhead storage is not much bigger than the glove box in my truck. Stuff strapped to the sides fits with no issues, but sometimes I really have to jiggle and jam the bag in place because of it's thickness. My bag stays so full I don't need to tighten the straps on the side. I use them to strap small things to like a digital camera, or a small travel pouch for my phone. I would love to see maybe some side tubes that have clips on the back that the current clips fit into, which would still allow one to cinch down the straps if necessary.

    - Front middle strappy thingy: I originally assumed this was for a water bottle, but every bottle I've put in it falls out. Maybe its for an umbrella... I dont know. I think another pocket or mesh pocket with a cinch cord woudl have made more sense.

    - Chest straps: my BIGGEST gripe about this bag. While the plastic clips are cute. the are prone to coming lose, so I have lost the femal clip altogether, and it truly sucks. That is the main reason I came to the forum (to find a replacment), but I thought I could comment on some of the other things while I was here. I am about 6'5" and 340lbs, so the I'm most def "hohee wide" as mentioned in the Tom Bihn FAQ, and in particular, the left shoulder strap wants to constantly slide down my shoulder now that I dont have the chest straps. I have a hiking backpack that has those going around the actual shoulder strap ( no cutsie plastic retainer clippy thingy); much more reliable. I had noticed these straps trying to get free a couple times before I actually lost mine, and they are difficult to get back on the strap.

  2. #2
    I work at Tom Bihn sunga's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    just outside of Olympic Nat'l Park
    Hi there,

    Thanks for your very detailed review of the Brain Bag. This pack was my "first love" among the Tom Bags. I am sorry to hear that it has not been the perfect travel solution for you. The Brain Bag is due for some design changes and I will certainly make sure that Tom looks at your post as that process begins.

    Just a couple notes regarding your complaints/suggestions.

    -Yes, that front middle strap is made for a travel umbrella, not for a water bottle. Those two tall front pockets will each fit a litre Nalgene bottle. I usually use one of those, or if I am carrying a bike bottle that could potentially leak, I use the mesh pocket on the outside of one of those pockets.

    -Unfortunately, if we made the bag wider, it would no longer fit the requirements for a maximum carry-on bag. We can't take anything away from the height as that would prevent our larger laptop cases from fitting inside. If we reduced the thickness the bag just wouldn't carry as much. We have some customers who put 2 Brain Cells inside their Brain Bags.

    -More pockets. Well, that's why we created the Freudian Slip. Some folks just want a big space and others want lots of pockets. I have found it very useful to add a couple of Packing Cubes when I travel with the Brain Bag. These little guys are amazingly useful for keeping me organized.

    -Small pocket on the front. Sounds like a good idea to make that I little bigger. I've always just used it for wallet and keys, but I'm sure many people would like to carry more in there.

    -Sternum strap clips. We switched to this style in the past year because we had been receiving a lot of requests to make the sternum straps removable. This is definitely important feedback.

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by sunga; 11-20-2006 at 06:08 PM.

    "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

    -Dr. Seuss

  3. #3
    I work at Tom Bihn
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    uuhhh my post is all messed up...

    I can understand why a few of the things about the Brain Bag might be
    frustrating. I use(d) the Brain Bag on a regular basis when I was in school and have mostly retired it at this point, however for overnight trips, etc. it makes a great traveling companion.

    I shared your initial feelings on the front top pocket, that it should be
    larger. However, over time I learned to use that pocket for (what I feel)
    it was meant to be used for - a place to throw small items for easy
    access. I think it's the ideal pocket for keys, change, chapstick, cell
    phone, etc. If it were any deeper you'd lose all of those small precious

    As far as organization is concerned, you should check out some of the new
    pouches and organizer pockets that are available. Combined with the
    Freudian Slip it might solve your problem.

    The front pockets are additional organizational space if you are willing
    to use them. The Brain Bag doubles well as a carry on bag but it wasn't
    designed as a carry on bag. If you are looking for a carry on bag you
    should check out the Aeronaut. (I've used it, it's GREAT! =)

    Sunga already responded to the umbrella holder (which is great for those of us living in the great wet northwest) though I can completely understand why it would seem a little odd!

    The sternum straps. They can be a little annoying. I never used them much, so I don't really feel qualified to comment. I'd imagine they could use to be a bit sturdier, and, like Sunga mentioned, removable!!

    I hope this helps a little and I hope you continue to use and love your Brain Bag (mine has sadly been replaced by the Buzz and the ID, but I still use it on occasion.)

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