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MtnMan
08-16-2009, 07:07 PM
Here are some Smart Alec questions to kick around. Pun intended. ;)

Am I correct in assuming that the Brain Cell laptop protectors can be clipped into place in a Smart Alec backpack, but other Tom Bihn laptop protectors would be free-floating if installed in there?

What are the advantages of clipped-in as opposed to free-floating?

What is meant by referring to the Brain Cell as a "hard sided" laptop case?

If I had a Smart Alec and I installed a Brain Cell, and also stashed other small items in the same compartment, how easy is it for the other items to slip down and get caught in behind the Brain Cell, necessitating the Brain Cell's removal? Has anyone had this problem?

If I had a Smart Alec and a Brain Cell installed therein, how easy is it to slide a Freudian Slip in the backpack as well? Can/should a FS also be clipped in there?

If I had a Smart Alec and a Brain Cell clipped inside, are there still places to hang Organizer Pouches, Key Straps, Guardian Light, etc.?

In terms of pockets and other clever built-in places to store things, how does a Smart Alec differ from a Ruc's Sack and a Brain Bag?

Does anyone here use a Smart Alec to haul around items like a digital camera or camcorder, walkie talkies, binoculars, or other technical items? If so, how do you handle them?

If you wanted to haul around a container of handy-wipes in a backpack like the Smart Alec, what would be the best way to make the container accessible and keep it upright so it doesn't just slosh around in there and get buried so you can never use it?

How stable is the Smart Alec in terms of sitting it down somewhere and expecting it not to tip over or otherwise fall/roll?

If anyone wants to post pictures or video (better yet) of how they use a Smart Alec, especially images of how you wear it and how you pack it, that would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance to everyone who shares insights on the Smart Alec.

MtnMan
08-16-2009, 07:41 PM
Oh, I forgot to ask: does anyone take a Smart Alec with them on a hike, a picnic, or a day at a fair? If so, how comfortable is wearing for a day's outing?

maverick
08-16-2009, 07:42 PM
hi mtnman,


Here are some Smart Alec questions to kick around. Pun intended. ;)

Am I correct in assuming that the Brain Cell laptop protectors can be clipped into place in a Smart Alec backpack, but other Tom Bihn laptop protectors would be free-floating if installed in there?


you are correct. the brain cell (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/300/TB0390) can attach via the annex clips found inside the smart alec backpack, as well as several other tom bihn bags.

the soft cell (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/300/TB0374) would free float.



What are the advantages of clipped-in as opposed to free-floating?


the advantage of the brain cell attached to the annex clips is that the brain cell provides the most advanced laptop protection, and because the brain cell will stay in place and not move around inside of your smart alec. still, it is easily detached from the annex clips when you want to remove it from your smart alec.



What is meant by referring to the Brain Cell as a "hard sided" laptop case?


the brain cell is made from 4mm hard corrugated plastic shell. this provides great protection for your laptop inside.



If I had a Smart Alec and I installed a Brain Cell, and also stashed other small items in the same compartment, how easy is it for the other items to slip down and get caught in behind the Brain Cell, necessitating the Brain Cell's removal? Has anyone had this problem?


i've used brain cells and monoliths before that inside of the smart alec for more than 5 years, and have never run into this issue.



If I had a Smart Alec and a Brain Cell installed therein, how easy is it to slide a Freudian Slip in the backpack as well? Can/should a FS also be clipped in there?


the freudian slip fits nicely inside of the smart alec along with the brain cell. the freudian slip does not attach to the annex clips, but free floats inside of the smart alec.



If I had a Smart Alec and a Brain Cell clipped inside, are there still places to hang Organizer Pouches, Key Straps, Guardian Light, etc.?


you'll find an o-ring inside of the main compartment of the smart alec, to which you can attach all of the items that you mention.

there are also o-rings in the side compartments of the smart alec where these accessories can easily be attached.



In terms of pockets and other clever built-in places to store things, how does a Smart Alec differ from a Ruc's Sack and a Brain Bag?


i haven't used the brain bag, but i have used the smart alec and the ruck's sac. they offer different designs. both are very functional, but different. the smart alec is bigger than the ruck's sac.



Does anyone here use a Smart Alec to haul around items like a digital camera or camcorder, walkie talkies, binoculars, or other technical items? If so, how do you handle them?


i've used the smart alec to carry a macbook pro inside of a brain cell, and the canon 5d with the 24-70mm f2.8L lens and the 580EX flash. all of these items were in the main compartment of the smart alec with room for other stuff. this came with me on a flight from washington, dc to banglore, india, on a flight from bangalore to new delhi, india, and on a train from new delhi up to the punjab. this was long before we had the aeronaut, and it worked great!

you could place your walkie talkie in the side compartment of the smart alec. the binoculars should probably go in the main compartment.



If you wanted to haul around a container of handy-wipes in a backpack like the Smart Alec, what would be the best way to make the container accessible and keep it upright so it doesn't just slosh around in there and get buried so you can never use it?


i've seen the skinny packets of wet-ones and other wipes. you can put the open pack into the side pocket of the smart alec. place more in a medium organizer pouch in the main compartment, depending on how many you'll need.



How stable is the Smart Alec in terms of sitting it down somewhere and expecting it not to tip over or otherwise fall/roll?

If anyone wants to post pictures or video (better yet) of how they use a Smart Alec, especially images of how you wear it and how you pack it, that would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance to everyone who shares insights on the Smart Alec.

quite stable - let me see if i can shoot a little video.

maverick
08-16-2009, 08:18 PM
Oh, I forgot to ask: does anyone take a Smart Alec with them on a hike, a picnic, or a day at a fair? If so, how comfortable is wearing for a day's outing?

hi mtnman,

i've taken the smart alec for a hike and picnic at sugarloaf mountain, and it worked very nicely.

understand that this was not a huge outing - suitable for kids ranging from age 3 and up :).

Darcy
08-16-2009, 08:51 PM
Oh, I forgot to ask: does anyone take a Smart Alec with them on a hike, a picnic, or a day at a fair? If so, how comfortable is wearing for a day's outing?

Tom uses the Smart Alec as his day-hiking backpack. He's hiked 22 miles in one day wearing the Smart Alec. I used to use the Smart Alec as my day-hiking backpack (and I once hiked 18 miles in one day with it) but have since moved on to the Synapse. It's great for hiking, very comfortable.

MtnMan
08-17-2009, 02:52 PM
How will the Synapse compare with the Ruc's Sack and the Smart Alec, size- and amenities-wise?

maverick
08-17-2009, 03:05 PM
How will the Synapse compare with the Ruc's Sack and the Smart Alec, size- and amenities-wise?

i believe the synapse is sized somewhere in between the ruck's sac and the smart alec.

MtnMan
08-19-2009, 07:47 PM
The Smart Alec's two-tone exterior shell is easy on the eyes, but why is the "main body" color only black? Would TB be willing to consider making the SA available with Steel as the "main body" color? This backpack would look great with the exterior colored Steel with the stripe colored crimson or grape. Just my 2.

maverick
08-19-2009, 07:57 PM
The Smart Alec's two-tone exterior shell is easy on the eyes, but why is the "main body" color only black? Would TB be willing to consider making the SA available with Steel as the "main body" color? This backpack would look great with the exterior colored Steel with the stripe colored crimson or grape. Just my 2.

i like the idea of the steel 1000d cordura + crimson 1050d ballistic + steel dyneema!

marbenais
08-20-2009, 09:53 AM
The Smart Alec's two-tone exterior shell is easy on the eyes, but why is the "main body" color only black? Would TB be willing to consider making the SA available with Steel as the "main body" color? This backpack would look great with the exterior colored Steel with the stripe colored crimson or grape. Just my 2.

I would LOVE a Steel/Grape Smart Alec. That would be the best color combination, in my opinion :-)

Shiva
08-20-2009, 09:55 AM
Great answers as always Maverick...I hope your family is doing better; and I am still waiting for the Smart Alec video! :)

maverick
08-20-2009, 10:17 AM
Great answers as always Maverick...I hope your family is doing better; and I am still waiting for the Smart Alec video! :)

hey shiva,

check your forum private messages - i sent you a link to the unedited video. let me know if it didn't come across and i can resend it.

i should hopefully have the edits done this weekend.

marbenais
08-24-2009, 12:54 PM
Just throwing this out there -- what's the availability for the different colors for the Smart Alec right now? I'm still waiting for the Synapse preview to decide which one to get, but I want to know which options I'll have.

maverick
08-24-2009, 12:56 PM
Just throwing this out there -- what's the availability for the different colors for the Smart Alec right now? I'm still waiting for the Synapse preview to decide which one to get, but I want to know which options I'll have.

hi marbenais,

the smart alec is currently available in black/black/steel, black/crimson/steel, black/steel/solar, and black/indigo/solar.

marbenais
08-24-2009, 01:01 PM
hi marbenais,

the smart alec is currently available in black/black/steel, black/crimson/steel, black/steel/solar, and black/indigo/solar.

Sorry, I meant how many are available in each color combination! I wouldn't be placing an order before the end of the week, if the Synapse hasn't been announced by then.

MtnMan
08-24-2009, 01:05 PM
Maverick,

If you have the time, I'd really like to see you post your Smart Alec video.

Best wishes,

The Mountain Man

Darcy
08-24-2009, 01:08 PM
Sorry, I meant how many are available in each color combination! I wouldn't be placing an order before the end of the week, if the Synapse hasn't been announced by then.

I think you'll be OK waiting until the Synapse is announced, but I wouldn't wait that much longer than that.

marbenais
08-24-2009, 01:28 PM
I think you'll be OK waiting until the Synapse is announced, but I wouldn't wait that much longer than that.

Thanks! I'm trying to decide between the Black/Crimson/Steel and the Black/Steel/Solar for the Smart Alec -- the Synapse would be in Plum, of course, if that works out, but I'm leaning more toward the Smart Alec since my girlfriend got hers :) and it's not as huge as I thought it was from the pictures.

MtnMan
08-24-2009, 03:35 PM
Okay, I've been uploading pictures to illuminate my backpacking dilemmas. Right now, I use two backpacks: a Kensington Saddlebag I purchased through mail-order at least five years ago (receives only occasional light usage, and I'm very disappointed in how it is showing signs of wear) and a foreign-made cheap backpack (I'm guessing it to be the sized somewhere between a Synapse and a Smart Alec, but I'm not sure).

First, the cheapie backpack:

The cheapie backpack is an everyday bag I take to work on construction sites, on hikes, to picnics and public events, and wherever I travel by car. In this pack I typically carry at least one digital camera, walkie-talkies, a flashlight, pens, pencils, paper, binoculars, one of those small hand-sanitizer bottles, a plastic jar of handi-wipes, and maybe a cell phone, among other things. I also occasionally carry clothes. If memory serves, this backpack dates back to 2003 or 2004. Predictably for a foreign-made Wal Mart special, it is slowly falling apart.

Note that I never carry a laptop in this cheapie backpack. It has no padding or mounting clips for such a task.

First is a picture of the cheapie backpack and a camera sling-bag (actually a gun holster from Sportsman's Guide) for the digicam I took these images with (Canon Powershot S2IS ultra-zoom)...

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_8.jpg

Next we proceed around to the other side of the cheapie backpack...

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_16.jpg

Note: there are no sternum straps. Still, I love that top-handle. Nice and solid and meaty and easy to pick the bag up with and carry it even while the bag is open.

And here we can see signs of deterioration...

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_10.jpg

...and here we can see that one of the zipper-pulls for the back main compartment has failed:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_11.jpg




Here is a look in the back main compartment, where I usually keep a digicam:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_14.jpg

I have a small 5 x 7 - inch tablet stashed in there now, and it gets sloshed around and mangled quite a bit.



And here is a look at the middle compartment, or I suppose you could call it a front-main compartment, right nextdoor to the previous image. Here is where I keep the walkie-talkies, the handi-wipes, and other accessories. The handi-wipes are always residing at the bottom of the bag, and sometimes the talkies accidentally get turned on in there, so this is definitely not a good arrangement. Take a look:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_15.jpg


...I also tend to carry a Case Logic pouch for my aging iPod in the walkie-talkie compartment:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_17.jpg

I like the Case Logic pouch, even though it isn't especially wear-resistant and I tend to carry it around in other things.






There is also a tiny mini-pocket near the top of the backpack, next to the openings for the main compartments. I keep pens, pencils, nametags, small paperwork, and maybe I tiny 6 x 4 tablet (when I can find one) in there. Right now, you can also see an old-fashioned portable magnifying glass in there:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_12.jpg




Here's another pocket, located near the bottom of the bag:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_13.jpg

The pouch with the hook in it is meant for a cellphone; I tend to carry a flashlight there. The other mini-pocket is where I carry a bottle of hand-sanitizer and a pair of binoculars.

There is another tiny pocket on near the very bottom of the front pouch, which is a good place to carry a ciggie-lighter power adaptor for a cellphone while on the road.



This cheapie backpack has many, many miles on it, both in terms of road miles of places where it has been by car and in terms of hiking and getting tossed around in the dirt at work. It was never tough enough for what I need it to sustain/carry, and it is slowly letting me down.

Candidates for replacement may eventually include:

Tom Bihn's Brain Bag, Synapse, and Smart Alec. Bihn also faces stiff competition from the ultra-expensive Red Oxx C-Ruck (http://www.redoxx.com/Backpacks-Daypacks/Airborne-Carry-on-Ruck-Sack-C-Ruck/91054-C%20Ruck/160/Product).

MtnMan
08-24-2009, 04:21 PM
And now, on to the Kensington Saddlebag...


Here's the front of the backpack:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_4.jpg



...and here's the back of the backpack:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_5.jpg



Here's an image of the main flap open:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_6.jpg

The padded back main compartment is for the laptop. The padded middle/front main compartment is for other accessories. During my recent trip to DC (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2173), this bag was packed, stem to stern. Amidships I carried an extension cord, small cakebox of CD-Rs, some video DVDs I recorded, other cables, the La Cie Rugged HD, a camera card reader, and other goodies.

The laptop compartment also housed folders for paperwork handouts for Capitol Hill.

The front-most pouch typically houses little accessories, such as pens, Sharpie markers for the CD-Rs, Bluetooth mouse, VGA projector connector, USB hub, etc.




Note in this close-up of the laptop compartment that the foam padding is being exposed due to disappointing signs of internal wear:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_7.jpg


NOTE: Even though I started this thread to ask questions about the Smart Alec, whenever I build up money for a trip (or maybe before then) I would like to replace the Kensington with a new computer case. My first preference would be a backpack, which definitely makes the Smart Alec a possibility. But I also want the Kensington's replacement to be "checkpoint friendly" to avoid the BS I went through at security checkpoints in airports and on Capitol Hill. That would seem to suggest the non-backpackable Checkpoint Flyer.

I will post more photos of my DC trip in another thread.

maverick
08-24-2009, 04:42 PM
Maverick,

If you have the time, I'd really like to see you post your Smart Alec video.

Best wishes,

The Mountain Man

Hi Mountain Man,

Hopefully before the end of the week...

Thanks for your patience!

MtnMan
08-24-2009, 05:09 PM
Hello again folks,

Here is the photo thread of my DC trip (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?p=13876).


Signing off,


The Mountain Man

peregrina
08-27-2009, 05:29 PM
how's the shipping schedule on the smart alec? I want to order one...

Darcy
08-27-2009, 05:44 PM
how's the shipping schedule on the smart alec? I want to order one...

All colors are in-stock!

backpack
08-27-2009, 08:48 PM
Seeing everything you need to carry as well as your Washington pictures, it looks like a Smart Alec/Ristretto pair would be perfect if you want to keep the two bags option.

To replace the faulty garment bag, I think either the TriStar or the Western Flyer fit the bill.

I feel your pain about the bags falling apart.

Before I knew of Tom Bihn Inc, I made the mistake of buying an extremely expensive, very heavy (I could barely carry it empty and when it was full it gave my husband so much of a workout that it ended up being checked in every trip) garment bag.
Despite its high price, it could not pass the regular handling test nor the and the finish ended up pealing in various places.
The garment holding device was also faulty and gave out on the first trip. Our hangers and the suits on them ended up loose on the bag. We still have the contraption but we only used it to protect garments during moves.


If I ever have to take a long plane trip, I will be decked out in Tom Bihn bags only.







And now, on to the Kensington Saddlebag...


Here's the front of the backpack:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_4.jpg



...and here's the back of the backpack:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_5.jpg



Here's an image of the main flap open:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_6.jpg

The padded back main compartment is for the laptop. The padded middle/front main compartment is for other accessories. During my recent trip to DC (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2173), this bag was packed, stem to stern. Amidships I carried an extension cord, small cakebox of CD-Rs, some video DVDs I recorded, other cables, the La Cie Rugged HD, a camera card reader, and other goodies.

The laptop compartment also housed folders for paperwork handouts for Capitol Hill.

The front-most pouch typically houses little accessories, such as pens, Sharpie markers for the CD-Rs, Bluetooth mouse, VGA projector connector, USB hub, etc.




Note in this close-up of the laptop compartment that the foam padding is being exposed due to disappointing signs of internal wear:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/Baggage_24Aug09_7.jpg


NOTE: Even though I started this thread to ask questions about the Smart Alec, whenever I build up money for a trip (or maybe before then) I would like to replace the Kensington with a new computer case. My first preference would be a backpack, which definitely makes the Smart Alec a possibility. But I also want the Kensington's replacement to be "checkpoint friendly" to avoid the BS I went through at security checkpoints in airports and on Capitol Hill. That would seem to suggest the non-backpackable Checkpoint Flyer.

I will post more photos of my DC trip in another thread.

MtnMan
08-27-2009, 09:46 PM
If I had the money and the travel plans for a trip tomorrow, right now I would buy one or two of the following candidates:

to replace the garment bag, in order of leading candidates:
1: MEI/Genuine Gear's Executive Overniter
2: Tom Bihn Aeronaut
3: Tom Bihn Western Flyer

to replace the Kensington Saddlebag:
1: Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer, with Freudian Slip and Organizer Pouches
2: Tenba Shootout Mid-Size Backpack (http://www.tenba.com/products/Shootout-Medium-Backpack.aspx), with Tom Bihn Freudian Slip and Brain Cell or Soft Cell
3: Tom Bihn Smart Alec, with Brain Cell, Freudian Slip and Organizer Pouches
4: Red Oxx Airborne C-Ruck (http://www.redoxx.com/Backpacks-Daypacks/Airborne-Carry-on-Ruck-Sack-C-Ruck/91054-C%20Ruck/160/Product).
5: Tom Bihn ID or Ego, with Brain Cell, Freudian Slip and Organizer Pouches, and also a Q-AM Strap.

To replace the red backpack I carry around as an everyday bag:
1: Tom Bihn's Smart Alec or Synapse
2: Red Oxx Airborne C-Ruck (http://www.redoxx.com/Backpacks-Daypacks/Airborne-Carry-on-Ruck-Sack-C-Ruck/91054-C%20Ruck/160/Product).
3: Tom Bihn ID or Ego with Q-AM Strap.
4: Tom Bihn Western Flyer or Brain Bag.

Actually, I may be looking at more than one backpack down the road. I'm also a videographer and photographer, so the Tenba would come in handy as a camcorder case. If I did that, I doubt I would haul a Tenba Shootout backpack around for daily use. Any of the above bags could wind up being equipped with a Freudian Slip and maybe even one of these new TB "field journal" thingies if they tickle my fancy.

It's all academic at this moment. I'm just window shopping and preparing to set goals for myself so I know what I want to raise money for. You gotta dream big, right?

keb
08-31-2009, 08:24 AM
How breathable is the back panel? It seems that is just the padded straight ballistic nylon as opposed to a vented material. I know when carrying my aeronaut as a backpack the only (very) minor complaint I have is the "moisture" build up on the back of my shirt. Does that happen with the Smart Alec too? (And will it happen with the Synapse?) It seems the Brain Bag has a vented material in the back panel but I think it is too big for my intermittent back pack needs...

maverick
08-31-2009, 08:29 AM
How breathable is the back panel? It seems that is just the padded straight ballistic nylon as opposed to a vented material. I know when carrying my aeronaut as a backpack the only (very) minor complaint I have is the "moisture" build up on the back of my shirt. Does that happen with the Smart Alec too? (And will it happen with the Synapse?) It seems the Brain Bag has a vented material in the back panel but I think it is too big for my intermittent back pack needs...

the smart alec has 1000d cordura on the back side, and there is padding on the back side. i haven't run into the issue of moisture build up on the back of my shirt with the smart alec, aeronaut or other bag. and i sweat easily - it's my body's way of keeping me cool :). but my back doesn't end up sweaty i guess.

Tom Bihn
08-31-2009, 07:08 PM
I'll second Maverick's opinion here: I hike 50 - 100 miles every month with the Smart Alec, and while I sweat, the Smart Alec's back panel works fine.

keb
08-31-2009, 09:41 PM
Thanks guys. Tom himself! Cool as always. The times that I am referring to have been transit situations-- train stations, airport terminals, taxi lines-- which may have been a bigger factor than the bag itself, or it may just be a weird interaction between my back and the bag. A puzzlement. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my Aeronaut even more than I thought I would. I don't ever hike nearly that much, but I do like to have a backpack for certain trips. Looking forward to the Synapse vs Smart Alec vs both "trilemma".....