View Full Version : Question from a TB newbie.

08-20-2017, 07:58 PM
Dear forum members, like you (I guess) I'm q bit obsessed with bags in general. I came here in the States for a two month trip with a checked bag and a backpack (Kata 3n1-33 for reference). I went to various states but currently am in CA (I'm writing this as I'm waiting to board on Caltrain with destination SF).
I was going to buy the S25 but then I kept on going back and forth between that and the BB. In an everyday scenario I pack a laptop some random electronics (raspberry pi, wifi dongles and two external drives), a notebook, my 3ds xl and occasionally a book or two.
When I travel I usually have my Canon 5D3 with the kit lens and a prime or two with me and a water bottle and maybe a jacket along with the previous aforementioned stuff. I'm also used to walking for quite some time like 8-10 hours daily and prefer something that would be comfortable.
Now while being in the States I am going for 3-5 days trips from LA using only that kata backpack but it's quite bulky and overpacked (and left stains on my clothes where it rubbed mostly) when I get all that and 2 changes of clothes on top mostly due to it's design, that's why I am going for a camera insert in a regular backpack.
I don't know which bag will be better for both scenarios. I was going for the S25 in the beginning but thought that the BB would be more versatile, while the BB would be overkill for just my laptop and a bunch of electronics. This is why I wanted to know how does the BB look when it is almost empty, if you cinch pretty well does it still have that much depth or does it resemble an average school backpack? Do you think the S25 with a camera insert could fit all that and have room to spare for that travelling time? Do you have any other suggestion to make?
Regarding materials I wanted to go for Halcyon but I read that being so stretchy, if you get like items with edges they tend to show when packed fully and I don't like that, I prefer it having a more schoolbag appearance. Is this true or am I overthinking this?
Thanks again and excuse the length of my post.

P.S. Is anybody in SF with either or both bags willing to meet up with me for a test fir or just to get a feel for the materials and/or bags?

08-21-2017, 08:44 AM
I have been using my BB for a few years at various levels of "packed" and feel that it is one of the better looking bags when it is under packed. I think the S25 might be too small If you're hoping to fit all of the things in it, but I always seem to overpack.

If you are looking for a more "school bag" look, I would say either bag fits that, but again the BB does better when underpacked or overpacked to maintain its look; there isn't any floppiness or weird edges that might poke out. As to comfort, I've only used a S25 for a day or two and find it and the BB to be similar in comfort.

08-21-2017, 09:14 AM
Have fun in SF area. I visited there only once (Aug. '03) to attend a continuing ed course on video editing at Digital Media Academy at Stanford. Did it all on a shoestring. Wish I had discovered Bihn back then, but it is always a challenge to commit $$$ to anything Bihn.

I would suppose matters of height and body may come into play here. What size backpack would fit you? I just bought a BB used off of eBay; awaiting its arrival. I see it as a big of a guy thing, a bit of a "mobile office" thing, a bit of "constant companion" so I "don't loose my brain" thing. I have an iPad Mini, a Canon Digital Rebel T3 (18-55 "kit" lens, also 75-300 telephoto), a packed TB Field Journal Notebook, a small TB Snake Charmer for small electronics, a full size datebook, and an assortment of loose pencils, pens and clothes.

Up until now, I have been hauling the Canon et.al around in a separate low-quality Canon 2400 Gadget Bag, which was inadequate from the get-go and longtime falling apart. Everything else has gone into a cheap Wal Mart backpack that is not up to the task, not designed to work and slowly starting to fall apart as well. Until recently I also used a separate briefcase to haul note-taking and document-hauling goodies in for business meetings. Grabbing and hauling THREE cheap bags and running for the car to get to an appointment always sucks. I look and feel like an fool.

I want a high-quality backpack that can contain everything and more and be ready to go instantly. I'm hoping that I can re-organize my stuff and find all the necessary accessories (like a camera insert, or maybe a used TB Cafe Bag and an aftermarket insert for the SLR) so the BB can be a kind of road warrior "hillbilly home away from home" I've always dreamed of.

Hope it all works for you, and for me, as well.

08-21-2017, 09:49 AM
Hey, mitseas,
A while back, @tpnl posted this really helpful picture that compares an under-packed and normally-packed Synapse 25 and Brain Bag (https://forums.tombihn.com/questions-about-bags/7994-new-brain-bag-updated-$190-great-burnt-orange-3.html#post72913). There's a lot of pics in that thread but here's just the Brain Bag:


As you can see, when under-packed the BB looks pretty much like a single-compartment backpack. With the external pockets, it also looks the most school-bag-like of, IMO, all the TOM BIHN backpacks. The nice thing about the BB is that the compartments are huge, rectangular, and mostly the same depth all the way from bottom to top. The S25, comparatively, is quite a bit deeper at the bottom than the top. This isn't a problem but it can be hard to squeeze things in and out if the bag is really full, which it sounds like it may be when you're in full-on travel mode. I really like the BB for hauling a combination of clothing and tech stuff; it's nice to keep things in their own compartments and only get into the one I need.

The BB is a large backpack at 36L, and it's really easy to get a ton of stuff in, as @DubbySmurf noted. For that reason, and since you tend to walk a lot, you might consider the hip belt (https://www.tombihn.com/products/bb-padded-waist-strap?variant=16645276551) made specifically for it. I tend not to use it when I'm just carrying normal EDC stuff, but when I've packed that mother full, the belt takes a lot of weight off the shoulders, increasing comfort.

Hope this helps!

08-21-2017, 05:41 PM
As I'm waiting in line for more sight seeing, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your replies. My biggest concern is that I think I prefer the looks of S25 and form factor yet I doubt it will fit everything for when travelling occurs, and that's why I wanted to try it out. I like that BB is shorter and can accommodate lots of occasions/stuff and I love how some took other TB bags and placed them inside as compartmentalization and another bag when you not need to lug everything around. But I was still going to see if someone from SF comes up so I can see those up close and personal and decide on materials too. I am not really fond of umbrellas or other pointy things sticking out too much. I'm leaning more towards the BB but I may buy both and return one in the end...Keep the replies coming!

08-23-2017, 07:01 PM
I just wanted to let you know that I couldn't wait, since the colour I wanted was already available so I did buy the Brain Bag. Unfortunately no freudian slip was available at the time neither the smaller spiff. Hopefully I get to use the Brain Bag grow fond of it and buy the rest when available. Now I need to search the forums for trips & hacks regarding the use of this bag and how to have the bottom a bit padded. Thanks again for the information you posted!