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autumnmist
02-15-2009, 04:09 PM
Most of the week, I carry my laptop in a Brain Cell, 1 L water bottle, lunch, and miscellaneous items (charger, cell phone, keys, wallet, etc.). However once or twice week, I'll usually head straight to the grocery store from school and get groceries for the week (usually including a gallon of milk, maybe 0.5-1 gallons of orange juice, etc. and these go into my backpack to be carried home) I currently have a Swiss Army/Victorinox Sorbonne backpack which is ok for my uses so far, but the middle/secondary compartment isn't nearly as sturdy as the main compartment and my vertical Brain Cell does not fit well at all.

I'm trying to decide between a Brain Bag and a Smart Alec (been saving money for a purchase for a while now). It looks like the Smart Alec might be too small for my uses... but I'm only 5'1" so I'm really hesitating. Any insight or photos of a Brain Bag on a smaller person?

Shiva
02-15-2009, 07:14 PM
I have the same question too--I have been eyeing the Smart Alec/Brain Bag--and can't tell. I am small made--and my shoulders are quite narrow too...and am just 5 feet tall!!!

bluedawg
02-15-2009, 07:33 PM
i was actually waffling back and forth between a buzz and a smart alec (with similar concerns... need a bag big enough for my laptop and some stuff, but small enough for my frame), and i settled on the smart alec two days ago. i'm 5'3" at most, and i'm worried that it might be a big larger than i want, but i really need to stop carrying messenger bags and be kinder to my back and shoulder(s). here's hoping it's perfect!

Samonid
02-15-2009, 08:13 PM
First of all, I'd like to go on record saying that I may not be qualified to answer this question as I'm a 6'3" 220lb gentleman. However, I am a brainbag owner and have one sitting right next to me. Looking at the way I have it configured for my frame, it seems as if it has ample adjustability to suit frames far smaller than mine. The adjustability that I'm referring to is in the shoulder, waist and chest straps, all which can be cinched down quite a few inches past where they are for me. For me, this is where the BrainBag might become ideal for someone with a smaller frame. The bag is 14 inches wide and 18 inches tall.

I have a few petite classmates, so if there are no pictures posted when I'm in class next, I'll see if I can get a couple of people to model it for me.

My gut feeling is, if you can handle the weight that you put in it, the brain bag will do as good a job as anything making sure that weight is distributed well across your frame.

MagicTiki
02-16-2009, 07:23 AM
I second Samonid's assessment! But I am also alarger human at 6'1", 210 lbs. So....

When I was researching which backpack to choose, I heard from several people with smaller frames that praised the Brain Bag and the ability to adjust it to your individual size.

I think it really comes down to your comfort level with wearing a large backpack. If you're good with that, despite your size, then the BB is a winner!

Darcy
02-16-2009, 02:20 PM
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I think it really comes down to your comfort level with wearing a large backpack. If you're good with that, despite your size, then the BB is a winner!

MagicTiki nailed it. Judging from years of watching women come into the store and try on Brain Bags, what it comes down to is how comfortable they are using a big backpack. I've seen petite women 5'1" try on the Brain Bag and love it - and it looked great on them. I've also seen women 5'5" try the Brain Bag, and because they felt it was too big, it looked awkward: it just wasn't right.



I have a few petite classmates, so if there are no pictures posted when I'm in class next, I'll see if I can get a couple of people to model it for me.

That would be really cool!

Personally, I'm 5'5" and fairly petite, and I find the Brain Bag to be too big. But that's probably in large part due to the fact that I seldom need such a large bag - the Smart Alec or the Synapse are the perfect size backpacks for me. I do think you could fit two 1-gallon cartons of juice or milk in the Smart Alec along with your Brain Cell, though that would take up the entire main compartment. (Small stuff and water bottle would have to go in the side pockets and zippered pockets.)

Radio bug
02-16-2009, 02:22 PM
I am also a smaller woman (5'1") but I love the Brain Bag that I received in December. However, I don't mind larger backpacks. I always have quite a lot to carry, so I need a way to carry it effectively. I don't think that being small is a sole reason for not getting a Brain Bag.

Just my two cents!
Good luck with your decision!

autumnmist
02-16-2009, 02:29 PM
I am also a smaller woman (5'1") but I love the Brain Bag that I received in December. However, I don't mind larger backpacks. I always have quite a lot to carry, so I need a way to carry it effectively. I don't think that being small is a sole reason for not getting a Brain Bag.


You don't happen to have a picture of yourself with the backpack on your back do you? Thanks for the advice!

timarelay
02-17-2009, 06:24 AM
I'm 5'3" and planning on buying a Brain Bag as soon as my tax refund comes in/my brother pays me back/I get paid for next month, whichever comes first. Or really soon if my boyfriend finds time to stop by the store while he's Seattle Thursday/Friday. I'll post pictures soon as I have it.

I've hesitated on buying the Brain Bag for two years now, because I was worried about the size, and because I thought they were making a smaller Brain Bag (which turned into the Synpase which I think is too small for what I want). I want a bag for carrying heavy/bulky stuff without hurting my back, and as a travel bag. Yes I could get an aeronaut (which I really want!) or a western flyer, but I want something that is actually designed to always be a backpack. Because I'm small and not very muscular, it doesn't take much weight before things I'm carrying start to stress my back/shoulders.

mrae
02-19-2009, 02:59 AM
I'm about 5' and find my Brain Bag too large for daily use. I mainly use it for weekend trips.
Still planning on getting the Synapse but right now I use my solar bag as a general carry all.

timarelay
02-19-2009, 06:48 AM
I'm about 5' and find my Brain Bag too large for daily use. I mainly use it for weekend trips.
Still planning on getting the Synapse but right now I use my solar bag as a general carry all.

Yeah, I'm not planning on using mine as a daily bag. My Imago still works for day to day use, but I need something to travel with and I'm not sure about the actual travel bags because I want something that's really comfortable on my back and designed to be worn on my back.

But we'll see when it gets here! I might find it too big anyway.

You're using a shop bag as your general bag? I'm debating getting one or a swift as a general tote. Wish I hadn't missed the small batch of Saphire ones.

dclawyer
02-20-2009, 12:22 PM
I am a 5' 5" tall man and my Brain Bag just feels too big for me. It's very rugged but honestly it just sits. I keep thinking of selling it on eBay but I admire its workmanship too much to part with it. I like bags. What can I say? :)

timarelay
02-20-2009, 06:46 PM
I am a 5' 5" tall man and my Brain Bag just feels too big for me. It's very rugged but honestly it just sits. I keep thinking of selling it on eBay but I admire its workmanship too much to part with it. I like bags. What can I say? :)

Ack! I'm having second thoughts again now. =(

eta: And my tax refund just came through and I'm under budget for the month so I can go ahead and make my order but I'm not sure anymore... Hm.

mrae
02-21-2009, 02:17 AM
Yeah, I'm not planning on using mine as a daily bag. My Imago still works for day to day use, but I need something to travel with and I'm not sure about the actual travel bags because I want something that's really comfortable on my back and designed to be worn on my back.

But we'll see when it gets here! I might find it too big anyway.

You're using a shop bag as your general bag? I'm debating getting one or a swift as a general tote. Wish I hadn't missed the small batch of Saphire ones.

I love the swift but the shop bag is so light that I use it when I don't have too much to carry. I love the dyneema material. I use the Swift when I have larger loads. I've switched from the Imago to the Swift using the clear quarter packing cube - in solar of course- for extra internal storage.

peregrina
02-21-2009, 11:17 AM
I think the Brain Bag would be ideal for traveling. I'm currently trying to decide on a backpack but I think I'll get the Smart Alec instead of the Brain Bag. I'm tall (5'11") but have a very small torso. I'm comfortable with big bags but my problem is that I tend to fill whatever bag I carry so I'm afraid if I had a brain bag, I'd simply carry too much weight around which would not be good for my back. The Smart Alec would make me think twice about the stuff I need to carry around on a daily basis...

timarelay
02-21-2009, 02:33 PM
I love the swift but the shop bag is so light that I use it when I don't have too much to carry. I love the dyneema material. I use the Swift when I have larger loads. I've switched from the Imago to the Swift using the clear quarter packing cube - in solar of course- for extra internal storage.

I think I am leaning toward getting a shop bag, and I think I'm actually going to buy the Steel. The Solar is pretty but I'm not sure it'll match well with my wardrobe. As for the Swift, I keep hesitating. I can afford it right now and it would be nice for traveling as my companion to my Brain Bag. I do want a tote bag or shoulder purse to pair with my back pack. But I'm not sure. I wish there were more pictures of people wearing it. I'm not sold on the aesthetics of it.


I think the Brain Bag would be ideal for traveling. I'm currently trying to decide on a backpack but I think I'll get the Smart Alec instead of the Brain Bag. I'm tall (5'11") but have a very small torso. I'm comfortable with big bags but my problem is that I tend to fill whatever bag I carry so I'm afraid if I had a brain bag, I'd simply carry too much weight around which would not be good for my back. The Smart Alec would make me think twice about the stuff I need to carry around on a daily basis...

Ah, I'm good at not overstuffing, and I like having extra space things aren't jammed in too tightly. My current backpack's main problem is that it's uncomfortable, but its second problem is that I tend to 'lose' things in it because it's tall and narrow with only a top opening, like the Smart Alec (which is admittedly much better designed though). I like the two compartments of the Brain Bag and the use of zippers.

My boyfriend thinks I should go with the Brain Bag (in Olive; we both agree on that), and I think I will. Now I just need to decide what else I'm getting. Definitely some Nikwax. Probably a Steel Shop Bag. Probably some organizer pouches even though I have enough... Maybe a Swift in Black/Crimson or Black/Kiwi?

peregrina
02-21-2009, 09:56 PM
Looooove the solar shop bag - but then, I love bright colours... As for a purse, I can't recommend the medium cafe bag enough. I love shoulder bags like the swift but for traveling, nothing is better than a purse you can wear across your chest. It's safer, keeps your hands free for handling your camera, and its sturdy buckle should keep the pickpockets away...

backpack
02-21-2009, 11:13 PM
I second the Cafe Bag/Brain Bag Combo for plane travel, I have used it many times and it is great!

However, I am thinking that next time, I will either place my Cafe Bag in a Swift or a Shop Bag.
There is room to spare under the seat but the Large Cafe Bag has to be lain on the side, or bunched up, which I don't like.

For longer plane trips I plan use a Brain Bag and another TB carryon (to be determined.)

For other travel modes of transportation, I use a Brain Bag, Large Cafe Bag and Swift.


Just like peregrina, many forum members and people who have posted their pictures on Tom Bihn flicker site or blog, I strongly recommend a Cafe Bag of some sort for doing touristy things, long walks and shopping.


I would also recommend adding a Convertible Packing Cube Backpack, it acts as one more long pocket in the Brain Bag and if at all possible a Convertible Packing Cube/Shoulder Bag which is like a long short pocket inside the same bag.
Because they are both made in Dyneema, they weight nothing, yet give you two more removable "pockets" and can also be carried by themselves.
I use The Convertible Packing Cube/Shoulder Bag as an inner zippered compartment on my Swift, one can do the same with the Shop Bag.

timarelay
02-22-2009, 09:24 AM
Looooove the solar shop bag - but then, I love bright colours... As for a purse, I can't recommend the medium cafe bag enough. I love shoulder bags like the swift but for traveling, nothing is better than a purse you can wear across your chest. It's safer, keeps your hands free for handling your camera, and its sturdy buckle should keep the pickpockets away...

hehe, I'm not a bright colors person, and I'm also more of a red/blue/green person. Orange is okay. Yellow is... nearly nowhere to be found in my life. I have a large cafe bag already and I did use it once on a weekend trip. I'm just now realizing that it is a great option to use when I travel this summer! For some reason I don't like traveling with my Imago. I actually would love a smaller cafe bag but it feels a bit wasteful to buy another when this one's okay, just not ideal. I've tried to give it to my boyfriend but he won't use it, which confuses me. He'd rather use his similarly sized no pockets or pouches cheap bag from a south american market. I might try to give it to him again and if he takes it, I will buy a medium or small cafe bag to replace it. The large is generally too big for what I want it for.

When the mini cafe bag comes out however, I almost definitely will buy that.


I second the Cafe Bag/Brain Bag Combo for plane travel, I have used it many times and it is great!

However, I am thinking that next time, I will either place my Cafe Bag in a Swift or a Shop Bag.
There is room to spare under the seat but the Large Cafe Bag has to be lain on the side, or bunched up, which I don't like.

For longer plane trips I plan use a Brain Bag and another TB carryon (to be determined.)

For other travel modes of transportation, I use a Brain Bag, Large Cafe Bag and Swift.

Just like peregrina, many forum members and people who have posted their pictures on Tom Bihn flicker site or blog, I strongly recommend a Cafe Bag of some sort for doing touristy things, long walks and shopping.

I would also recommend adding a Convertible Packing Cube Backpack, it acts as one more long pocket in the Brain Bag and if at all possible a Convertible Packing Cube/Shoulder Bag which is like a long short pocket inside the same bag.
Because they are both made in Dyneema, they weight nothing, yet give you two more removable "pockets" and can also be carried by themselves.
I use The Convertible Packing Cube/Shoulder Bag as an inner zippered compartment on my Swift, one can do the same with the Shop Bag.

I have some packing cubes already so I don't think I'll be buying any of the tom bihn ones yet. I also don't think I'd ever carry the convertible ones on their own. I don't travel quite enough for that.

Thanks both of you for reminding me that the cafe bags are excellent for traveling! I forget that while my Imago does not sit well over a backpack, smaller across the shoulders bags do! I think I would rather use a Brain Bag + Cafe Bag to travel with than a Brain Bag + Swift...

So I think I'm buying the Olive Brain Bag, a Shop Bag in Steel, sapphire stuff sack, a few more organizer pouches, and maybe a new cafe bag. Whether or not I'll buy a Swift remains a mystery to me. I'm tempted to order one just to see it!

backpack
02-22-2009, 03:33 PM
The good thing is that if the Swift doesn't suits you, (I doubt it, it is such a cute and well designed shoulder bag) you can send it back.

autumnmist
03-11-2009, 04:58 PM
Ok, I caved (got tired of having to force/stretch/pull my old backpack over the top of my 4Z Brain Cell).

I'll post pictures later tonight, but I'm keeping the Brain Bag even though i's a bit bigger than I would like (both tall and wide), but it kinda needs to be tall to accomodate my Brain Cell/Macbook Pro, I like the two roomy outer pockets and the mesh pocket to hold my water bottle. The mesh pocket is a lot taller than the average water bottle pocket which usually only comes halfway up my 27 oz Klean Kanteen. The BB mesh pocket reaches above the Klean Kanteen logo.

I'm also pleased to finally own a backpack with a chest strap (much better than being easily pulled backwards by the weight of groceries in my backpack). The compression straps are nice too for keeping the BB to a slightly more manageable size. Love the umbrella strap on the outside (no more dripping on my textbooks!)

Right now, the material/nylon is a bit stiff and rubs uncomfortably right now and I hope to break it in before I switch to short sleeve shirts.

timarelay
03-11-2009, 05:44 PM
Ok, I caved (got tired of having to force/stretch/pull my old backpack over the top of my 4Z Brain Cell).

I'll post pictures later tonight, but I'm keeping the Brain Bag even though i's a bit bigger than I would like (both tall and wide), but it kinda needs to be tall to accomodate my Brain Cell/Macbook Pro, I like the two roomy outer pockets and the mesh pocket to hold my water bottle. The mesh pocket is a lot taller than the average water bottle pocket which usually only comes halfway up my 27 oz Klean Kanteen. The BB mesh pocket reaches above the Klean Kanteen logo.

I'm also pleased to finally own a backpack with a chest strap (much better than being easily pulled backwards by the weight of groceries in my backpack). The compression straps are nice too for keeping the BB to a slightly more manageable size. Love the umbrella strap on the outside (no more dripping on my textbooks!)

Right now, the material/nylon is a bit stiff and rubs uncomfortably right now and I hope to break it in before I switch to short sleeve shirts.

Oh wow. I'm impressed that you like it even though it's so big! Looking forward to seeing your pictures. =) I'll probably be returning mine.

autumnmist
03-11-2009, 11:10 PM
Here's the pictures of me. For reference, I'm 5'1" more or less. As I said, a bit wider than I'd like but I'm ok with it. My previous backpack was pretty large too. I need the space for school (laptop in Brain Cell plus lunch plus books/papers/etc and for groceries.