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  1. #1
    Forum Member sujo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Fort Worth, TX

    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag

    I mentioned in an earlier thread that my office is closing and I will be working remotely with a good bit of travel involved. I know my current everyday carry (a black/steel/wasabi ID) will not be a good choice any longer and was thinking seriously about a Tri-Star. In my mind, the Tri-Star would be a one-bag solution for work and travel. Well, every time I had the conversation with myself, my Brain Bag (black/olive) would shout from the closet, “I can do that!” I ignored him for a while, but it finally sunk in that yes, the Brain Bag CAN do that. So, I’ve decided to breathe new life into this old backpack.

    A little history – I bought my Brain Bag used on eBay October 2014. Though new to me, it is an older version (Portable Culture tag, no rail system) that had been gently used (there’s a small tear with a little discoloration on the front logo pocket). The tear has not increased in size and has not caused me any issues. I am totally OK with it because he came to me already broken in.
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_tear-stain-jpg

    I switched to the ID in March because I was carrying way too much in the Brain Bag. It was heavy and hard to get things in and out of. Last week, I switched back to the Brain Bag, with the thought it will be my new everything bag. I added back a few extras (because, of course, I have room now) but didn’t want the bag to become too heavy or unmanageable. A few recent threads made me realize what I really need is better organization.

    So, I placed an order for a few things: vertical Freudian Slip, Iberian dyneema 8-inch key strap with O-ring, two double carabineers, and a No. 3 Travel Stuff Sack in northwest sky dyneema. I mentioned to the Tom Bihn crew in the Notes section at time of order what I was planning to do. When my package arrived, there was a hand-written note saying how glad they were I was giving the BB another chance. Isn’t that awesome?
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-tb-order-note-jpg

    Before Re-organization: Top pocket – Keys on a 16-inch black key strap. I keep my phone in there too. I have little Sea to Summit stuff sack with ear buds in the mess pocket, a small Totes umbrella strapped down in front, and my steel luggage tag (forum gift) on the handle:
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_front-keys-jpg

    Front left pocket – A groovy case for my everyday glasses, pens, cough drops, small Moleskine notebook, comb, and business cards:
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_front-left-pocket-contents-jpg

    Front right pocket – Oakley watch case, spare glasses in hard case, highlighter, pen, a stylist and mechanical pencil:
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_front-right-pocket-contents-jpg

    Front compartment – This is my non-work stuff: No. 1 Travel Stuff Sack (solar) with rain jacket, 3D Fabric Organizer Cube (wasabi) holding a small Shop Bag (also wasabi); small Q-kit (navy) with assorted stuff; mini Cordura Organizer Pouch (wasabi) with change; and a small mesh stuff sack with a microfiber towel. Lots of room left on top:
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_front-contents-jpg

    Oh, I use a mini Q-kit (black) hanging from the O-ring in the front compartment to hold my work badge and lanyard (it zips completely closed):
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_qkit-badge-jpg

    Back compartment – This is work stuff: medium Cordura Organizer Pouch (forest) with laptop charger and wireless mouse in a Case Logic padded stuff sack; small Cordura Organizer Pouch (grey) holding more stuff on 14-inch utility strap; Side Effect (black/ultraviolet) holding wasabi dyneema Clear Organizer Wallet and running around stuff – just add keys; horizontal 4z cache for laptop; large parapack Clear Organizer Pouch (grey); and small Double Organizer Pouch (olive) on solar key strap holding iPad/iPhone cables, USB sticks and cleaning cloths:
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_back-contents-jpg

    Re-Organized BB – I used the Freudian Slip to organize my work stuff in the back compartment. In the bottom mesh pockets, I fit the spare glasses in case, charger and mouse. I fit all my pens, cough drops, comb, notebook and other stuff from the front pockets into the front slots. I eliminated the medium pouch but plan to use it when traveling. Groove glasses case and watch case went back in the front pockets:
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-fs_front-contents-jpg

    I fit the large pouch and some folders and mail in the back of the Freudian Slip. There was one pocket unused and lots of room for more stuff in the others. I attached the two double carabineers to the Freudian Slip handle in case I need them:
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-fs_back-jpg

    I slipped the double organizer pouch and small pouch back into the back compartment. I replaced the utility strap on the small pouch with the Iberian key strap to make it easier to see (I have way too many black straps). I moved the Side Effect to the front compartment with the non-work stuff, as well as the utility strap to hold the change pouch.
    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_with-fs-jpg

    Now, I’m organized and love being able to get at my work stuff so easily. I think my next purchase will be a Brain Cell. I like the cache but it’s horizontal. I would prefer not to remove it every time I need to get to the laptop. And since I don’t have a rail system on this bag, the Brain Cell makes more sense than a vertical cache.

    When I travel, I will use my small and medium Tri-Star cubes (steel) and/or the Tri-Star/Western Flyer Packing Cube Backpack (steel) or 18-inch Eagle Creek Pack-it Folder. If I need extra room, I plan to use my Night Flight Travel Duffel (coyote/steel). I also plan to travel with my new No. 3 Travel Stuff Sack (I had to have SOMETHING in northwest sky).

    One last thing – Since I sometimes flip-flop letters in words (e.g., “form” instead of “from”), I see “Brian” every time I read “Brain.” Because of this, I’ve decided to name my Brain Bag Brian. Seems only fair Brian should get a name since he worked so hard to get back in regular rotation …

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Toronto, Canada (GMT+5)

    I sometime call my circa 2004 Brain Bag "Abby Normal ..." :)
    This was the first TB item I got and it was from Ebay as well. If you have some basic sewing skills, you can retrofit a lot of the current Brain Bag upgrades. I did this for mine - see the link below:

    How to Modernize your Brain Bag

    I also added the loops for the Cache with Rails (note that you can get vertical Caches in addition to the horizontal ones). I added rails to my Brain Cells too and they work now as a TSA compliant setup I can use.

    Have fun with your Brain Bag - they last so long, even a 11 year old bag like mine has lots of good life in it!

    Last edited by tpnl; 09-10-2015 at 11:12 PM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  3. #3
    Forum Member sujo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Fort Worth, TX
    Thanks tpnl! Your tips in the link are great but I'll have to build up the nerve to attempt some of that.

    My sewing skills leave much to be desired. I can kinda, sorta fix a hem or a tear in clothing but you can definitely tell they are DIY fixes. :)

  4. #4
    Forum Member sujo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Fort Worth, TX
    I am continuing to tweak my set up and so have come up with a couple of hacks for better accessibility.

    I acquired a vertical 4Z cache with rails and used the double carabineers to create the rail system. I hooked one carabineer to each of the annex clip web loops then to the gate keeper clips on the cache rails. This works great. I really like having a vertical cache (was using a horizontal one), so I don't have to remove it every time.

    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_cache-make-shift-rails-jpg

    I also bought a Red Oxx pin-mount key clip for the front logo pocket. That's where I hang my keys now. I was going to try a tpnl hack but those required more skill than I possess. This works good but I do wish they made a smaller version. Also, I had to go through material, which I was OK with since the pocket integrity has already been compromised, but others might not want to do that.

    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_pin-mount-key-clip-jpg

    Breathing New Life into an old Brain Bag-bb_pin-mount-clip-attach-point-jpg

    I am really liking the Brain Bag. Brian and I are new best buds.

    I cinched the shoulder straps up so that it wasn't carrying so low and this has made all the difference in the world! The shoulder straps don't slip off my shoulders and I can even carry it on one shoulder. Plus, I got to give it a work out during a long work session. I didn't have to travel but we were working in a room, rather than in an office. So I got to test the mobile office setup. Passed with flying colors.

    I really think I made the best choice. That said, I still believe there is a Tri-Star in my future ...

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