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MtnMan
09-03-2009, 05:14 PM
Hooo-rah! I just got paid for a seemingly endless project I just wrapped up. Now, it's time to take care of some things I've been putting off for too long. If I'm lucky, I'll have a budget of about $200, give or take a few. I want to replace one on my aging bags with a new Tom Bihn bag. There are other necessary charges about to go onto my plastic first, notably some computer upgrades.

I will definitely not have enough money to replace all of my aging pack wares at once, so I'll have to choose one and get something minimal, maybe adding onto it later.

In this thread (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2208), you'll see pictures of some of my aging wares, and why I need to replace them. There are more images in this thread, (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2234) which discusses briefcases and notebooks. I've been thinking about which one to tackle first, and how to go about it.

Choosing between which bag to replace first is a bit of a headache. The one in the most ailing condition would be my backpack. That thing is really showing its age and foreign-made lack of quality. I was thinking of replacing it with a Smart Alec. Problem: if I bought a bag, any bag, I would likely want to buy a Brain Cell for my MacBook Pro to go with it. (It is my understanding that the Brain Cell can be snapped inside many TB bags using "annex clips", an extremely attractive safety feature for me.) That would jack to price up considerably. I doubt I could afford a Freudian Slip to go with it. (I do not know enough about this pending "field journal" as yet, so maybe I should hold off and see if I get more money down the road for a Freudian Slip and/or a "field journal". I will definitely not have enough money for other add-ons like Organizer Pouches, which I would really want to have, but I could always buy pouches at a later date, as I figure out how I could use them. A Guardian Light would also be nice, but that would also have to wait.)

Then there are other, competing interests. Despite the shape my backpack is in, I would be equally inclined to look at replacing two of my other bags first: the slowly deteriorating Kensington Saddlebag and my simple briefcase. The thought occurred to me that I could kill two birds with one stone here by replacing both bags at one time with a single Tom Bihn bag with a Brain Cell, the candidates being:

Empire Builder or Zephyr - an all-business-looking briefcase, which has built-in file folders (a HUGE plus; I could forego the Freudian Slip for the time being)

Ego or Super Ego - I'm not a huge fan of the styling, but I like the construction and capacities of these bags and I could always add a Q-AM strap to it down the road to make it into a quasi-backpack. These bags would make a Freudian Slip more of a necessity though, and I can't afford one now. The Super Ego would be a HUGE plus, beacuse it would have enough room for use as a semi-overnight bag.

If I went the breifcase/messenger bag route, I could not afford a Shoulder Strap, Organizer Pouches or a Freudian Slip right away, but having one of these would be a tremendous asset for business purposes.

What I really want doesn't seem to exist: I want an extra-large version of the Checkpoint Flyer that can be worn as either a shoulder bag, a hand-carried-briefcase or as a backpack with sternum and waist straps. Unfortunately, no such animal exists. Maybe someday.

Comments?

pretzelb
09-04-2009, 06:38 AM
What I really want doesn't seem to exist: I want an extra-large version of the Checkpoint Flyer that can be worn as either a shoulder bag, a hand-carried-briefcase or as a backpack with sternum and waist straps. Unfortunately, no such animal exists. Maybe someday.

Comments?

Wouldn't the Western Flyer be really close to this description? If you get it in black and carry it by the handle, I think it would be hard to tell it's not really a briefcase. In fact, it resembles a briefcase I used to own many years ago. Plus you have added flexibility of a bag that can be used for travel.

Regarding your earlier comment on the Smart Alec and Freudian Slip and Brain Cell, note that this combo takes up space fast. If you are constantly going in and out of your bag for items stored in various places, it might be better to lean toward something with separate zippers.

MtnMan
09-04-2009, 07:53 AM
Thanks for the reply, pretzelb.

The Western Flyer (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/500/TB0950) would be a great travel bag to have, but if I purchased it with a Brain Cell (http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=001&Product_Code=TB0300), you're talking $240 before shipping and tax, (please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that) and no Freudian Slip (http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=001&Product_Code=TB0345), Shoulder Strap (http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=001&Product_Code=TB0505), Organizer Pouches (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/ACC/TB0317) or any other accessories. There are also folks in this forum who say that while a Western Flyer or Tri-Star (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/500/TB0940) would be great to carry on your back in an airport, they supposedly are not meant to be used as dedicated personal backpacks for hikes, outdoor events, etc. I don't know if there are different camps on this question, but I assumed that the Western Flyer would be too rich for my blood at this moment.

Shiva
09-04-2009, 08:20 AM
Yes: the cost does add up especially with the accessories. I got the Western Flyer, the absolute shoulder strap, three of the organizer cubes for the WF, and a Ruck Sac. I also have the medium cafe bag. I also got 4 assorted sizes of the organizer pouches (small, medium, and the sack variety). I got the WF just before the prices went up by $20. Regardless, I blew close to $400 on all this. I was kind of in a panic when I first added it all up.
I lurked on these forums for months before I actually bought anything.
I have owned the following: an old rollaboard Hartmann; a TUMI; Eagle Creek--the first versions of the rollaboard with a zip off daypack; Samsonite--various iterations of it. Most of my travel is limited to conferences within the US; and travel abroad, particularly home to India with stops en route. Over the last 25 years of doing this, this is what I have found:
1. Softsiders ultimately last longer and better than any suitcase style bag however well constructed; other than those old dinosaur "true hardsiders" that literally weighed a kitchen sink!
2. Most bags "look alike"--by which I mean this: when I first got the TB Medium Messenger Bag I was disappointed. I was like, "wow..this does not look any different than the million other bags I have owned and carried...so what is all the forum fuss about." Until I started using it....I think it is only in USE that the design aspect of TB bags become clearer. I am a great believer in DESIGN: that is where the Danish rule, for example. Nothing unnecessary; no bells and whistles; a few elements cleanly done and all adding up to functionality and form.
It is in using the Medium Cafe bag that I appreciated the placement of organizer pockets--it is easy to reach and retrieve because they are on the OPPOSITE panel instead of the usual place (close to your body)--which makes it easy to spot and retrieve. The O rings are an ORIGINAL. I can not emphasize how much it has saved my sanity and life to have my life organized into various little pouches, and have them all clipped --easy to identify and to move around.
The O rings are a great example of design thought. Plenty of bag companies do a key tether; but no one else has this concept that allows it all to work together.

For the past 6 months, I have been routinely using and carrying the various TB bags. I am now in Austin visiting family; and I brought just the WF and Medium Cafe bag. Held all I need for a week. It was easy to trapeze thru airports --wore WF as a backpack and slung the cafe bag across. I am a small made person, and not particularly young..and I manage best with these bags.

No: the TB backpacks are NOT meant for hiking and such like. But then, I have been a die hard Patagonia fan, and a Mountainsmith fan--and in the past few years their bags have been dreadful. Patagonia's old design philosophy was closer to what TB is now.

Which brings me to my final request to Tom: please do NOT change. I have now watched companies like Patagonia and Mountainsmith--american originals--go down a certain path with pressures of consumer competition and keeping up with the market. While some of this is unavoidable, i just hope that TB continues to produce small batches of good quality, well thought out bags.

thanks for reading this very long post,

shiva

Darcy
09-04-2009, 10:07 AM
2. Most bags "look alike"--by which I mean this: when I first got the TB Medium Messenger Bag I was disappointed. I was like, "wow..this does not look any different than the million other bags I have owned and carried...so what is all the forum fuss about." Until I started using it....I think it is only in USE that the design aspect of TB bags become clearer. I am a great believer in DESIGN: that is where the Danish rule, for example. Nothing unnecessary; no bells and whistles; a few elements cleanly done and all adding up to functionality and form.

Shiva,

Are you talking about the Medium Cafe Bag? Before I started working at TOM BIHN, I saw people wearing the Cafe bags and noticed how distinctive of a design the off-set buckle was. Maybe it's just that since then others have copied this design. However, I still don't see lots of bags that look "just like the Cafe bag" out there. The shape of the Cafe Bag and the materials used to make it also add to its distinctive look. I admit I do have a habit of paying extra attention to bags people are wearing. I wonder why? Maybe it's the tradition that if you're out and about with a TOM BIHN colleague, the first to spot a person on the street wearing a TOM BIHN bag buys lunch. :)

Shiva
09-04-2009, 11:19 AM
HI Darcy:
I did not write as clearly as I should have, I suppose. What I meant when I said that there are plenty of bags out there that "look" similar to TB was simply that many companies sell bags in this price range that are smaller messenger bags/larger purses if you will. Yes: the offset buckle, materials etc., are distinctive; but I think many folks when they first see the bag just do NOT realize how different it truly is--and I do believe the difference is DESIGN more than anything else...the slight variation in pocket placements, size of pockets etc., all of which adds up.
Am I clearer?
i find myself reaching only for these bags over and over again--and that is worth the $ for me. I found I could no longer pack as efficiently using the Eagle Creek folders (which I have been using for 15 years or more) compared to the cubes.
So yes: you do have another convert around with me! I still think we need to do D-rings !!!
Thanks

pretzelb
09-04-2009, 12:33 PM
Thanks for the reply, pretzelb.

The Western Flyer (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/500/TB0950) would be a great travel bag to have, but if I purchased it with a Brain Cell (http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=001&Product_Code=TB0300), you're talking $240 before shipping and tax, (please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that) and no Freudian Slip (http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=001&Product_Code=TB0345), Shoulder Strap (http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=001&Product_Code=TB0505), Organizer Pouches (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/ACC/TB0317) or any other accessories. There are also folks in this forum who say that while a Western Flyer or Tri-Star (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/500/TB0940) would be great to carry on your back in an airport, they supposedly are not meant to be used as dedicated personal backpacks for hikes, outdoor events, etc. I don't know if there are different camps on this question, but I assumed that the Western Flyer would be too rich for my blood at this moment.

I will admit that the price can creep up on you. Only you can say what is comfortable for you so if that's what too much then that's cool.

I am having trouble with your requirements, which might be from me not reading your post closely enough. But I thought of the WF because it sounded like you were leaning toward briefcase style. In fact, it was a recommendation in direct response to your comment on wanting a large Checkpoint Flyer.

I do see where you are going back and forth on briefcase vs backpack. I would agree the WF is probably (I don't own one but I assume it similar to Aeronaut) not a hiking bag. So, if you decide to get a briefcase style bag but want something large-ish, then the WF might be good.But if you want to go backpack first, then the Brain Bag might be a decent choice. It's huge and would easily accommodate the Brain Cell and Freudian Slip. You might have to save up to buy accessories later but it will easily fit in the BB.

Hope that helps.

BigMikeD.
09-04-2009, 12:56 PM
MtnMan,

My suggestion is to go with the Brainbag. Looking at your current backpack and the requirements you put out there, I'd say replacing your backpack should be your priority. Is it going to solve all your problems at once? No, but you should be able to make do long enough to get you to your next bit of Tom Bihn gear. I carry a large 18" laptop in mine, protected by a Soft Cell. When I take it for a hike, I pad the bottom of the main compartment with a towel so I don't have to worry as much when setting it down. Looking at the amount of gear you carry, I doubt anything smaller than the Brainbag will suffice.

MtnMan
09-04-2009, 01:26 PM
So, it looks like here are my choices to date:

(Note that all potential choices must include a Brain Cell at a minimum.)

BACKPACKS

Western Flyer -- Too expensive when combined with a Brain Cell, but it would be a nice-looking unit with superior shape aesthetics even when worn on one's back. I'm told this would not make a good dedicated "backpack", though. I could see this unit being used as a "briefcase", but it would be too costly for me to afford a shoulder strap for it right away.

Brain Bag -- $40 less than the Western Flyer, making it easier to combine with a Brain Cell. Buying this unit would set aside my desire to have a briefcase for the time being.

Smart Alec -- $50 less than the Western Flyer, this unit would be significantly smaller than a Brain Bag but would still be able to hold a Brain Cell. This unit looks aesthetically better both setting down (loaded or empty) and while worn on one's back.

BRIEFCASES

Super Ego -- $30 less expensive than the Western Flyer, this could be a useful briefcase/laptop bag with extra style. I would not be able to afford a Freudian Slip right away, and I'm not sure I could afford a Shoulder Strap right away, either. This unit stands out for its outstanding volume.

Ego -- Same price as the Brain Bag, and about the same capacity. Still not sure I could afford the Slip or Strap for it.

Empire Builder -- $20 less than a Western Flyer, or $20 more than a Brain Bag. This would capture a serious "business briefcase" look, but could never be outfitted with a Q-AM Strap. One huge plus is that the unit comes with plastic file folders, plus it is legendary for its ample volume.

Zephyr -- $10 more than a Brain Bag, another "serious briefcase", sans Q-AM Strap.

moriond
09-04-2009, 02:57 PM
Hi,


So, it looks like here are my choices to date:

(Note that all potential choices must include a Brain Cell at a minimum.)

BACKPACKS

Western Flyer -- Too expensive when combined with a Brain Cell, but it would be a nice-looking unit with superior shape aesthetics even when worn on one's back. I'm told this would not make a good dedicated "backpack", though. I could see this unit being used as a "briefcase", but it would be too costly for me to afford a shoulder strap for it right away.

Brain Bag -- $40 less than the Western Flyer, making it easier to combine with a Brain Cell. Buying this unit would set aside my desire to have a briefcase for the time being.

Smart Alec -- $50 less than the Western Flyer, this unit would be significantly smaller than a Brain Bag but would still be able to hold a Brain Cell. This unit looks aesthetically better both setting down (loaded or empty) and while worn on one's back.

BRIEFCASES

Super Ego -- $30 less expensive than the Western Flyer, this could be a useful briefcase/laptop bag with extra style. I would not be able to afford a Freudian Slip right away, and I'm not sure I could afford a Shoulder Strap right away, either. This unit stands out for its outstanding volume.

Ego -- Same price as the Brain Bag, and about the same capacity. Still not sure I could afford the Slip or Strap for it.

Empire Builder -- $20 less than a Western Flyer, or $20 more than a Brain Bag. This would capture a serious "business briefcase" look, but could never be outfitted with a Q-AM Strap. One huge plus is that the unit comes with plastic file folders, plus it is legendary for its ample volume.

Zephyr -- $10 more than a Brain Bag, another "serious briefcase", sans Q-AM Strap.

I find a few of your summary comments a bit off from my perception of these bags. For example, while I don't have an Ego (23 liters), because I prefer other design styles (like the slightly smaller ID Bag (20.9 liters)), it''s a bag that I might get, while I've always considered the Brain Bag (36 liters) as an admirable bag, but one that is scaled too large for me (5' 4") to comfortably carry, and nowhere near the same size as the Ego. I do have a Smart Alec (26 liters), and also carry the Aeronaut (also 36 liters, but of more streamlined design than Brain Bag).

Similarly, you asked earlier about using the Empire Builder with a Q-AM messenger strap. It probably could be done, in the sense that I could attach my Q-AM strap to connectors that could clip on to the Empire Builder, but I would never carry that bag this way. Messenger style bags are designed to be more pliably carried against your frame (say, if you were on a bicycle). The Empire Builder is structurally stiffer, as described in this thread (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=1845&), so I wouldn't carry it that way. Also, the Empire Builder comes with file dividers -- not folders. Scroll down to look at the picture in this post (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?p=6778&#post6778) or this review (http://mobileoffice.about.com/cs/packyourgear1/fr/frempirebldr.htm).

I think of the Ego and Super Ego as messenger bags -- that I might carry with a Q-AM strap or Absolute strap, and I think of the Empire Builder and Zephyr as brief cases.

And here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tombihn/389653935/) is an example photo of what the Empire Builder holds.



HTH

moriond

MtnMan
09-04-2009, 04:47 PM
I like the Brain Bag idea, but I'm leaning more towards either a briefcase or a Smart Alec as a backpack because I like its simpler backpack design.

Nothing will be decided until next week at the earliest. I have to see how my other expenses are going to pan out.

Thank you for the input.

MtnMan
09-07-2009, 10:12 PM
As of Monday, I have not yet done any of the needed computer upgrades which are my top priority. Those computer upgrades must be completed before anything else.

Other baggage issues came to my attention last weekend. One bag I haven't bothered to mention on this forum is a video bag, which I use to house a MiniDV tape camcorder, tapes, recharging gear, and TV/playback connectivity gear/remote. I'm thinking about consolidating my backpack needs with a (non-Tom Bihn) camera/camcorder bag from a cam bag maker like NaneuPro (http://www.naneupro.com/) or ThinkTank Photo (http://www.thinktankphoto.com/), both USA manufacturers of pro bags. (I haven't completely ruled out the Medium Shootout Backpack (http://www.tenba.com/products/Shootout-Medium-Backpack.aspx) from Tenba) I plan to eventually migrate to an HDV or AVCHD professional or prosumer (most likely a tape-based Canon Vixia HV40 (http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=177&modelid=17996)) when $$$ permits.

For right now, I'll just make due with my aging cheap backpack.

Backpacks are not as important to my needs as finding a good, conservative paper-hauler briefcase like Tom Bihn's Empire Builder (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/700/TB0730) or Super Ego (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/200/TB0825). I say this because that simple, old briefcase I've been using is such a pain to carry around. (no handles, awkward to hold) Once, over ten years ago, I actually left it on the roof of my car and drove off, leaving it drop onto the road. A good samaritan from a nearby town found it, called me, and I picked it up from him. Since then, I've been convinced that if the thing was easier to handle, I would never have lost it and would get more use out of it.

The reason I'm thinking Empire Builder vs. Super Ego is the size and features of both bags. Both are the largest of each one's class. Both make a styling statement, with the Empire Builder being a very respectable-looking businessman's mobile office, while the Super Ego is almost like a stylish cross between a briefcase and a backpack. (It is a messenger bag, after all.) The Empire Builder has the lead because the bellows that shadow the main compartment would prevent spillage of the contents in the file folders.

Even though I would like to see a backpackable version of the Checkpoint Flyer, I'm beginning to wonder if simply unclipping and removing the Brain Cell (with laptop inside) from an Empire Builder or Super Ego for airport security would be as effective (and probably more practical, $$$-wise) than the current shoulder-mounted Checkpoint Flyer is. (I checked out the checkpoint-friendly Skooba backpack on the Tenba web-site over the weekend, and I was not impressed.

I know some people are going to swear that the Brain Bag offers superior volume for the money, but it's not built to be a paper-hauler. And I doubt I'd ever haul a Vixia HV40 or better HD camcorder around inside of one.

The real question for me would be usage of either the Empire Builder or the Super Ego as a briefcase/daypack or briefcase/overnight bag.

Can the Empire Builder-style "file dividers" (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/700/TB0504) be used in a Super Ego's compartment, or would it be best to consider those meant strictly for the Empire Builder or Zephyr?

Has anyone ever hauled a digital still camera around in either an Empire Builder or a Super Ego?

One point-and-shoot camera I use is a Canon Powershot A720 IS, which I carry around inside a Case Logic zipper pouch that looks a little like this (http://www.caselogic.com/compact_camera_flash_camcorder_case/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=133809), but with a carabiner to hook it to a belt loop or a D-ring on the outside of a bag. Are there any D-rings or anything similar to hook onto on the outside of either the Empire Builder or the Super Ego?

Has anyone ever used either of these bags as your one-bag-solution (assuming you do not own a Western Flyer or Tri-Star or that you just don't want to lug one around all day as a briefcase) on an overnight business trip? If so, what could you get away with including in that one bag?

Anyone ever use a packing cube in one of these bags for an overnighter?

moriond
09-08-2009, 02:28 AM
Can the Empire Builder-style "file dividers" (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/700/TB0504) be used in a Super Ego's compartment, or would it be best to consider those meant strictly for the Empire Builder or Zephyr?

Pasted in from the page you linked to, just below the ordering information at the left side:



With which bags can I use the File Dividers?
File Dividers are custom-built for us and only work with our Empire Builder and Zephyr briefcases. They do not work well with any other bags.

Both the Empire Builder and Zephyr come with three file dividers included.

Has anyone ever hauled a digital still camera around in either an Empire Builder or a Super Ego?

One point-and-shoot camera I use is a Canon Powershot A720 IS, which I carry around inside a Case Logic zipper pouch that looks a little like this (http://www.caselogic.com/compact_camera_flash_camcorder_case/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=133809), but with a carabiner to hook it to a belt loop or a D-ring on the outside of a bag. Are there any D-rings or anything similar to hook onto on the outside of either the Empire Builder or the Super Ego?

One of the links in a recent reply to you in your REQ: Briefcase/shoulder bag photos & videos (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2244) thread discussed using the Super Ego as a camera bag.

Ösince you're asking about other bags, like the Super-Ego, and since you're considering many different models in your Thinking about purchasingÖsomething (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2258) thread, here are some other links to check:

Look at the movies linked at this post (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?p=3383&highlight=movies%2A#post3383) about the superego.
Comment: other non-movie links on that page are to threads that discuss use of the Super Ego as a camera bag as explicitly noted in the linked post.



Has anyone ever used either of these bags as your one-bag-solution (assuming you do not own a Western Flyer or Tri-Star or that you just don't want to lug one around all day as a briefcase) on an overnight business trip? If so, what could you get away with including in that one bag?

Anyone ever use a packing cube in one of these bags for an overnighter?
Someone else will have to address these questions, since these aren't bags/functions that I use.

moriond

MtnMan
09-29-2009, 09:44 PM
My bag purchase has been delayed because my laptop upgrade turned out to be more expensive than I expected. But I am still intent upon replacing the old Kensington Saddlebag and briefcase with something that will combine the two into one highly functional shoulder bag. It will simply take longer than expected to raise the money.

I've been looking at other sites, and never found anything that compares to Tom Bihn bags. Then this evening I attended a meeting and one of the presenters had a briefcase unlike any I had ever seen before. He said it was an Orvis. I checked the company out on the web and the bag is called a Safe Passage Laptop Briefcase. I decided to compare the Safe Passage with Bihn's Super Ego:

TOM BIHN SUPER EGO (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/700/TB0825)

Capacity: 27 liters / 1680 cu. in.
Eye-catching styling, nice selection of colors
Exterior: 1050 d Ballistic nylon
Interior: 500 Cordura
Made in USA (HUGE PLUS!!!)
Lifetime Warranty (ANOTHER HUGE PLUS!!!)
O-rings and substantial selection of pouches and other accessories make this bag highly "expandable"
Available shoulder strap options, including Q-AM strap, make this into a urban quasi-backpack
Brain Cell option provides superior protection for laptops, all the way up to 15-17-inch sizes
Downside: all those options add up fast; fully outfitted bag could cost over $250 when equipped with Brain Cell, Freudian Slip, shoulder strap and pouches.



ORVIS SAFE PASSAGE LAPTOP BRIEFCASE (http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=96Y3)

Capacity: 1,768 cu. in. / 28.9 liters
Seems to only be available in green, but looks great
Foreign-made (Bummer!)
Lifetime Warranty (HUGE PLUS!)
No apparent o-rings or any expandability options
Comes with only one shoulder strap; no apparent Q-AM option
No Brain Cell option, no way to clip it in this bag if bought separately
Cheap at less than $100, but lacks expandability options, so low cost is misleading.


What do you think of my evaluation?

notmensa
09-30-2009, 12:41 AM
Hi MtnMn,
Good start on the evaluation. A few things to think about:

* Bag dimensions / volume - manufacturers' dimensions can be quite misleading. I got caught out buying a Smart Alec (26L) thinking it would be a similar size to The North Face Amira (19x13x7", 26L according to the website). The Smart Alec turned out to be much larger, and can carry almost 2 times as much as the Amira!! The Super Ego might be a little bigger than expected.

* Materials - I'm not familiar with the material Orvis uses for their bag, but I can say without question that TB's ballistic nylon is simply stunning. It's smooth and cool to touch and has a sheen that is quite sophisticated. I think it looks more professional and less "outdoorsy" than any other soft bag fabric I've come across (and I've owned a *lot* of bags!).

* Style - The Super Ego is the hands down winner here...

Good luck!

Darcy
09-30-2009, 10:27 AM
At a certain point, I don't think advice from us can provide much more help - you'll have to jump in, select a certain bag from whichever brand, and try it out. Good luck. :)

KarlJ
09-30-2009, 01:48 PM
You're looking for an objective opinion? Here???

Okay then, the evaluation is fine. I do agree with notmensa that other manufacturers' seem to take liberties with their dimensions and capacity claims. I think I've seen one of those bags in person, but it's a very generic design that in my opinion doesn't look as well-constructed or durable, but I admit that's subjective as only you know how you will use the bag.

I think a lifetime warranty on a $100 bag is worth exploring...

"... If the luggage is not repairable, we’ll give you a call to discuss possible options. We do assess a flat $30 fee to cover shipping and handling. Please note that our warranty does not cover airline damage. If the luggage is damaged by an airline, you should file a claim with the airline."

So it's costing you $30.00, and you have to ship it. In say... three years, will the bag be worth $100? $75? $25? And if your bag rips, and they can't repair it, what are these "possible options" they'll discuss with you? Ten percent off a new bag? (which by then will cost $125).

I'm sure it's a capable bag, but you've actually seen it, and are obviously impressed by it. How did the shoulder strap look? Shoulder straps on those types of bags are usually ghastly (of course, there is a singular solution for that uncomfortable shoulder strap!). And those bags are often so ill-balanced when you load them up. Lastly, I personally like a little more isolation for my laptop and like it nestled further within the bag as opposed to on one edge of it.

Just a few of my thoughts... but, good luck whatever you decide.

MtnMan
09-30-2009, 04:03 PM
I agree that you have to be wary of these foreign-made jobbies.

That's how I got burned during my trip to DC (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2231) last March.

I was simply trying to gain some insight from people in this forum who either have Bihn bags or at least have seen them in-person. I have not, but I've read many good things about them. Reading about Bihn's Checkpoint Flyer in MACWORLD magazine is how I found this site in the first place! :)

One thing strikes me about this kind of merchandise: I have no problem at all Googling reviews of USA-made bags from the likes of Bihn and Red Oxx; there's no lack of enthusiasm about them on the web. But when it comes to seeking out independent reviews of foreign-made bags like the Safe Passage, they're either not as detailed or they're much harder to find. I've read some comments from satisfied customers, but only a fraction of the enthusiasm is evident.

Now, I did like what I saw at the meeting the other night. The Orvis looked like a nice bag; judging from the images I've discovered on independent reviews of Bihn bags on the web, and comparing those images to what I saw in person, I'd say the Orvis had something at least vaguely similar to the kind of material used on the Bihn Super Ego. The exterior looked like it could be 1050 d Ballistic and the interior looked like Dyneema images I've discovered. I was impressed with how it looked. This did not so much sell me on Orvis as it impressed upon me what bags made of similar material from Bihn, Red Oxx and MEI/Genuine Gear might look like. Once thing I really did like about the Orvis specifically was the metal gear connecting the shoulder strap to the bag. Another thing is that the bag did seem to have impressive capacity.

On the negative side, I tried to imagine choosing this bag over a Super Ego with a Brain Cell on board. No thanks. Definitely a raspberry-buzzer there. My current Kensington Saddlebag cost me about $40 when I bought it new. If I'm going to spend more than that, I want something more than just good looks and great capacity. I want something with real style, American-made quality and superior protection and expandability options you can't get anywhere else. That puts Bihn's Super Ego in first place. Orvis may have cute bag there, and it may have a nice price, but it seems to me Bihn has the superior value on a number of fronts.

I figured there wouldn't be anything wrong with seeking out feedback here on the forum from Bihn customers who could give first-hand feedback... They may be a little biased, but that's okay... :)

DQBunny
09-30-2009, 05:27 PM
If you're that unsure, maybe order something small and see how you like it? That's what I did. I ordered a clear organizer wallet and a stuff sack. I was so impressed with those that I'm not hesitating on making more and larger purchases.

maverick
09-30-2009, 06:22 PM
One thing strikes me about this kind of merchandise: I have no problem at all Googling reviews of USA-made bags from the likes of Bihn and Red Oxx; there's no lack of enthusiasm about them on the web. But when it comes to seeking out independent reviews of foreign-made bags like the Safe Passage, they're either not as detailed or they're much harder to find. I've read some comments from satisfied customers, but only a fraction of the enthusiasm is evident.


i don't think the country of manufacture is the determining factor in the availability of reviews.

you generally will find that an experience at one extreme or the other (where one is extremely pleased with a product/service, or where one has an extremely negative experience with a product/service) that results in an individual going out of their way to share their experience. think about it - when one goes to dinner and has an average dining experience - good food, good service, etc., but nothing out of the ordinary - one says thank you very much, leaves a nice tip, goes on home from there, and that's about the end of it. on the other hand, if the meal is exceptional, if the service is exceptional, one is more likely to take the time to write a thank you letter to the restaurant applauding the exceptional customer service rendered by the waiter or waitress taking care of them, as well as the meal they enjoyed. they may go online and write a review about that restaurant. similarly, if one has an especially horrific evening, they are likely to speak with the management about what is happening.

also, one's interest in certain types of products/service results in them reviewing a variety of that type of product/service. for example, a food critic may go around town sampling a variety of different dining choices and rating and writing about them. here, also, you hear about the ones that are at the top. for example, washingtonian magazine rates the top 100 restaurants in the dc metro area each year. and folks pay attention to the ones at the top.

MtnMan
09-30-2009, 08:20 PM
As a matter of fact, I did recently make a (small) purchase from both Bihn (corded zipper pulls and "strapeez") and Red Oxx (cellphone belt clip). Am fully satisfied with both purchases. I look forward to shopping at both web-sites in the future.

As for Maverick's "top 100" message, I mostly agree. I do note, however, there is a special zeal among web reviews I've seen toward American-made, high-quality bags. They apparently are seen as something special, and I tend to concur.

backpack
10-01-2009, 08:29 AM
I understand how you feel MtnMan, I am very careful with what I buy and it takes me a while to decide.

But... when I needed a strong bag to carry two laptops, I was in the middle of organizing my first cross-country move.
For a couple of months, we had to keep two rentals at the opposite side of the country.
To say that money was tight is an understatement.

But, I was determined to find a bag that would be strong enough to hold my laptops and protect them.


I went all over town, San Francisco, to test many laptop backpacks in the flesh. I am sure you have similar offerings in DC.

I tested all the brands from the high end to the cheapest options at bargain places.


The Brain Bag, a Monolith (vertical Brain Cell ancestor) and a Soft Cell (Cache ancestor) won out.
I loved the feeling of strength that came out of the bag looks.

Darcy was a tremendous help during the ordering process: I wanted to make sure I got the right size for my laptops, I pondered on color, size of the bag...
She answered all my questions with a smile.



The Brain Bag and accessories was my second most expensive purchase on a bag and accessories.
I will not buy other brands of bags.

The other brand, a big name, has lost me as a customer, I paid top dollar for their stuff and it is low quality.


I am no longer a messenger/briefcase style person but I had my share of them. All duds, none a Tom Bihn bag.

Thoughts on the bags you like.

The green one is foreign made (I don't care what brand name is has on, it is a cheap job)
Design:
I have one word for the padding in the handles and strap, flimsy.
The zipper is the cheap kind.
The color is not professional looking.


I never took a good look at the Super Ego before because I am a backpack kind of person.
But the color are gorgeous and professional looking and you have a choice in the matter.

Look at the pictures of the (smiling) owners, search reviews on the site, read the blog, link to close up pictures of the Ego by a customer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefnoble/3001289718/in/pool-57753561@N00/

It is made in the U.S.A by Tom Bihn Inc.


You can order it with an Absolute Shoulder Strap, play with the bag at home, fill it up with stuff, try it on in front of the mirror and decide if it is right for you.
If not, return it and try the Ego or ID, if you don't like those either, don't keep them.


And go for the cheap job which will flake on you at the most critical moment:
right before an important presentation,
at the airport, in the middle of 2 hours long security line or on your way to an early flight.
on the metro, at rush hour,
Been there, done that, never again.

Whatever you do, keep the Absolute Strap, your shoulders will love you.

MtnMan
10-12-2009, 02:37 PM
Thanks for your perspective. Very informative. Loved the mega-group-slideshow. Especially the kitty in the bag.

If I had the money right now, I would buy a Super Ego, Brain Cell, Horizontal Freudian Slip, some Organizer Pouches, a Guardian Light, a Q-AM Strap, and maybe an Absolute Strap to keep on-hand as an option. This would replace my Kensington Saddlebag, and my briefcase, plus it would assume some of the duties now being done my my aging Wal Mart backbpack as well. I only have less than half the money needed to get everything I would want, so the purchase will be delayed.

I still like the Empire Builder briefcase and both the Smart Alec and Brain Bag backpacks, but anything like that will have to wait even further down the road.

The reason I ultimately chose a Super Ego is that I currently have a 15-inch MacBook Pro, but if I replace it with a new one down the road it will likely by the bigger 17-inch MBP (I do video editing with Final Cut) and this would rule out anything smaller than a Super Ego. I also ruled out backpacks, because after lugging my Kensington Saddlebag as a backpack when I visited Capitol Hill in March, I learned the hard way that backpacks and suits don't mix. It would be neat to have a premium-quality businessman's backpack, but nobody makes anything like a Saddlebag. Brain Bag and Smart Alec aren't even close. Think of a Saddlebag as a backpack version of an ID; you get the idea. (Well, the Kensington is much lower quality and versatility, of course.)

MtnMan
10-16-2009, 03:55 PM
I'm finally ready to purchase, (!!!) and I have a couple of lingering questions.

About o-rings...

How many o-rings are in each of these bags...

Super Ego
Empire Builder
Brain Bag
Smart Alec

I know I will not be able to affrord to buy any organizer pouches right away, but after seeing Maverick's excellent videos, I will build up money for pouches and other accessories the next time around.

Also...

How many pen slots and pockets are built into each of the above bags?

maverick
10-16-2009, 06:22 PM
I'm finally ready to purchase, (!!!) and I have a couple of lingering questions.

About o-rings...

How many o-rings are in each of these bags...

Super Ego
Empire Builder
Brain Bag
Smart Alec

I know I will not be able to affrord to buy any organizer pouches right away, but after seeing Maverick's excellent videos, I will build up money for pouches and other accessories the next time around.

Also...

How many pen slots and pockets are built into each of the above bags?

for the smart alec:

as mentioned in this thread (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?p=13657#post13657):



you'll find an o-ring inside of the main compartment of the smart alec...

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


as mentioned in the product page (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/100/TB0103), the smart alec's "side pocket has two pen slots." you can also see this illustrated in picture "k" from the product page (also reproduced below).

http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/images/smartalec0813.jpg

additionally, this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpb_GCv7Rg4) illustrates where the o-rings and pen slots are located.

MtnMan
10-16-2009, 07:12 PM
Thank you. Yes, I remember those references. So we know that the Smart Alec has 3 or 4 o-rings. What about the other bags?

I'm trying to get a feel for how they compare. Do any of other bags I mentioned ship without any o-rings? I was wondering how they compare because if I wanted to buy a bag now, I'd want to see if it's possible to add organizer pouches later.

KarlJ
10-16-2009, 07:50 PM
(This is exciting... I feel like I'm taking part in the Louisiana Purchase!)

In regards to the Brain Bag;

There are three o-rings. One each in each Main Compartment; and one in the Top Pocket.

The left pocket has:

Three pen/pencil slots
One business card slot
One storage pocket

The right pocket has:

Four pen/pencil slots
One storage pocket



http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/images/brainbag/bbpockets7.jpg

MtnMan
10-16-2009, 09:09 PM
Great! I didn't know that the Brain Bag had any o-rings. Thanks. :)

maverick
10-17-2009, 03:54 PM
Do any of other bags I mentioned ship without any o-rings? I was wondering how they compare because if I wanted to buy a bag now, I'd want to see if it's possible to add organizer pouches later.

all of the bags you have mentioned have o-rings and organizer slots for pens.

you don't have to purchase the organizer pouches when you purchase the bag - you can order those at any time.

you may want to call tom bihn at +1-800-729-9607 or +1-360-452-0115 during their business hours and someone can assist you with your questions and with completing your purchase.

MtnMan
10-23-2009, 05:04 PM
This afternoon, I went ahead and ordered a Super Ego messenger bag with the standard shoulder strap, Size 4Z Brain Cell for my MacBook Pro 15-inch, and a Horizontal Freudian Slip. Expected delivery date is 30 Oct. 2009, so no doubt I will have a Halloween unveiling party! :)

I have absolutely no regrets for taking my time in making a selection. In fact, I was seriously considering a further delay even beyond today. One of the reasons I held off so long was to await the results on an auction on a used Tom Bihn bag I recently discovered on eBay. If it hadn't gone for over $100, I would've tried for the used Empire Builder.

The only thing I regret is in not finding any demo online to explain the Q-AM Strap. If I could've found one, I might've included that in with my purchase. As it stands now, I'll try out the standard strap and maybe buy other straps with future accessories like organizer pouches. I will wait till I receive the Super Ego to post images before concluding this thread.

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Loki
10-23-2009, 05:06 PM
I bid on that bag! Small world

Rister
10-25-2009, 07:48 AM
Hmmm.
At first - I think Tom Bihn discovered how to slow down time. I'm waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ... and ... for my Zephyr. (I hope to get it next week).

But it was really nice to see that your considered your purchase from all points of view ( i did it also). So SALUTES to you.

Fact is that i dont know anyone who lives in states but I got a feeling that usual US citizens buys way too much stuff (what a heck - i buy 4 of those and 3 of those. I dont need em all, but they have different colors or something like that).

(PS! 2 facts before you shoot me - "If everyone consumed like Americans, we'd need 5,4 Earths to sustain us." - National Geographic. State of the Earth 2010. "23% of global energy is consumed by the United States, which has only 5% of the world's population." - National Geographic. State of the Earth 2010.

backpack
10-25-2009, 11:17 AM
Hmmm.
At first - I think Tom Bihn discovered how to slow down time. I'm waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ... and ... for my Zephyr. (I hope to get it next week).

But it was really nice to see that your considered your purchase from all points of view ( i did it also). So SALUTES to you.

Fact is that i dont know anyone who lives in states but I got a feeling that usual US citizens buys way too much stuff (what a heck - i buy 4 of those and 3 of those. I dont need em all, but they have different colors or something like that).

(PS! 2 facts before you shoot me - "If everyone consumed like Americans, we'd need 5,4 Earths to sustain us." - National Geographic. State of the Earth 2010. "23% of global energy is consumed by the United States, which has only 5% of the world's population." - National Geographic. State of the Earth 2010.


I live in the U.S, I was a geography/history major and became well aware of the devastation consumerism is inflicting on our planet.

Most of us, in the forum, have a somewhat limited budget and make sure that we buy quality over quantity.


I do have duplicates of Tom Bihn bags but they are in different colors. :)

I know that my Cafe Bags, Swifts, Brain Bags and future Synapses are going to last a lifetime, even if they are used everyday.

I also know that I love to have my needlework supplies all in one place, (a vintage Grape Lux) and my projects and yarns housed in color coordinated Swifts.
In a pinch, I can use a Swift as a purse, picnic basket, library books hauling device or as an extra piece of luggage during car or train travel.


Frankly, I wouldn't mind having an unlimited budget to buy every Tom Bihn bag and accessory.
I would be able to auction off the ones I cannot use to benefit my favorite non-profits. :)

I would also be able to come visit every month, see every prototype, play with bags live and get to know each and every person at Tom Bihn Inc.
I would also love a nice ferry ride to visit British Columbia.
Then, have a once in a lifetime experience every time I see whales on a boat tour or visit Olympic National park.


In real life, I have been dreaming about that Pacific Northwest trip for a long time, it is still in the imaginary phase.

MtnMan
10-25-2009, 07:12 PM
Well, here's something real to think about: my projected delivery date is the 30th. I plan on ripping open that box as soon as it arrives, unpacking everything and putting it to use. There will be no time wasted, and I will try to get pictures up as soon as possible. I'm hoping either the 30th or Halloween. If it's Halloween, I may get dressed up to pose with my new Super Ego.

MtnMan
10-28-2009, 08:25 PM
The Ruc's Sack web page (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/100/TB0102) displays an image of the backpack in the exterior color of Sapphire. But the pop-up selection menu does not offer Sapphire as an option. Why?

As I await my Super Ego purchase, I am thinking about purchasing a new backpack down the road. I would love to have a Ruc's Sack in Sapphire or some other bluish color. The same Indigo as used in the Tri-Star would look great.

gmanedit
10-29-2009, 04:27 PM
I'll jump in.

This is pure surmise: When a new product is offered, the range of colors is widest. As time goes on, the colors are restricted. The colors available at a given time are in the drop-down menu; the product images may or may not be updated.

I am surprised that only two choices are currently available for the Ruck's Sackóprobably all that's left of the last batch. You might want to ask Darcy or Katy what's planned for the next production run and when that will be.

I am also surprised that the blue for the Synapse is called Indigo. I thought Indigo was the ballistic blue (as in the Tri-Star) and Sapphire the Cordura blue.

Katy
10-29-2009, 05:15 PM
Not sure about the ruck's sack. We have indigo in both cordura and ballistic. It is stunning either way. It is one of my favorite colors, you know..aside from punch of course.

MtnMan
10-29-2009, 08:23 PM
Thanks, Katy.

The reason I started this thread is that the web page for the Ruck's Sac displays the bag in blue/Sapphire, but the pop-up menu for selecting a color does not mention any such color. Is this bag available in blue/Sapphire exterior?

Katy
10-30-2009, 07:27 AM
I'm looking into it for you. :) But I believe that what is in the drop down is what is available.

MtnMan
10-30-2009, 09:20 AM
FWIW, the best exterior colors for the Ruc's Sack:

Blue/Indigo/Sapphire
Red/Crimson
Purple/Plum
Steel/Grey

I'm shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that some of these colors were apparently never offered for this bag. I also get this weird compulsion to suggest Solar/Yellow, but that would look pretty loud, like something from Timbuk2 (http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/home)... kinda Gen Y-like.

Katy
10-30-2009, 10:17 AM
Thanks for your patience. We've checked high and low, and we are officially sold out of the Sapphire exterior Ruck's Sac. The available colors are (as on all product pages) the ones selectable in the drop-down color selection menu. Hope that helps!

MtnMan
10-30-2009, 11:03 AM
Drat.

Somebody please consider ordering the material for more Sapphire bags, or making more of them, or whatever.

backpack
10-30-2009, 01:51 PM
Drat.

Somebody please consider ordering the material for more Sapphire bags, or making more of them, or whatever.

Indigo has replaced Sapphire.

Tom Bihn factory is small. The company releases a bag, decides on the color, make the bag available for pre-order and fill that order.

In the meantime, another popular bag stock is getting depleted or has so much bags on back order, it is time to make a batch of bag A (depleted stock) or/and bag B (back ordered or in danger to be so).

Production depend on how much bag are ordered, in other words, already sold, to keep cash flow going.


It is very tricky, a bag or even an accessory that just got very good press, is most likely to be ordered and in danger of being back ordered within a short time frame.


Many people have been waiting for a Synapse for a long time and have pre-ordered one or many of them {you know who you are :) } but the demand for the Ruck Sack is, at the moment, not as strong.

So it makes sense that Synapses are produced right now but Ruck Sack production might be on hold.


As others have said, when one really really really wants a Tom Bihn bag in a particular color better order or even pre-order it, the minute the color is in the drop down menu, even before photos are posted.

MtnMan
10-30-2009, 04:06 PM
Just received my Super Ego, Horizontal Freudian Slip, and Brain Cell about an hour ago.

I immediately unpacked the units, checked them out, and tried them on. Then I took my old briefcase, emptied it out and moved everything into either the Super Ego or the Slip. My MacBook Pro went into the Brain Cell next.

I tried it on, fully loaded, and was impressed.

I will be taking pictures tomorrow.

gmanedit
10-30-2009, 05:09 PM
Welcome to the Borg.

BPritchard
10-30-2009, 05:22 PM
Welcome to the Borg.

Yes! Resistance is futile!

MtnMan
10-30-2009, 07:03 PM
Actually, I look upon Tom Bihn as the Federation. Cheap, Chinese-made junk is the Borg!

I just came from there, and I don't want to go back. :)

DQBunny
10-30-2009, 07:35 PM
Congratulations! I'm immensely happy that this worked out so well for you!

MtnMan
10-31-2009, 09:00 AM
It's raining here, and I was planning to snap my Super Ego pictures outside. I'll wait till it clears out.

backpack
10-31-2009, 05:41 PM
So happy for you!

Welcome to The Federation!

Now, we want pictures! :)

MtnMan
10-31-2009, 06:22 PM
I guess the pix will have to wait until either Sunday or Monday, depending on the weather.

MtnMan
11-01-2009, 11:38 AM
Here's a question that, I imagine, may have never been asked before:

I carry a pair of "walkie-talkie" handheld personal 2-way radios in my backpack. Sometimes, I get a nasty surprise when I go to use them: the batteries are dead because the radios were sloshing around in the bottom of the bag, the power/volume knob was somehow bumped, and at least one of the radios ran down while unattended.

Do Tom Bihn backapcks have some kind of carrying system that can better house these radios so they don't slosh around and accidentally get turned on?

My first thought would be to get a Ruc's Sack sometime down the road. They are half the price of a Brain Bag and I think a Ruc may have just the right capacity.

Loki
11-01-2009, 12:23 PM
I'm not sure about the size and shape of your walkie-talkies but my first impulse is to suggest an organizer cube of some kind (like a clear quarter packing cube). Putting them in securely might prevent them from getting turned on, and you wouldn't have to buy a whole bag, instead you would have a system that would move easily from bag to bag.

notmensa
11-01-2009, 01:26 PM
The Smart Alec might work well - either use the pockets on sides of the bag or the pockets in the bag's "lid". Organiser pouches attached to the o-rings might also work, as Loki suggests.

MtnMan
11-01-2009, 01:41 PM
And now, dear friends, we are gathered here today to celebrate a successful milestone in this long and tortured thread. I finally received my Super Ego with Standard Shoulder Strap and Horizontal Fruedian Slip late Friday afternoon. It was too late to snap any photos then, and it rained all day yesterday. The sun popped out just long enough this afternoon before setting in the Autumn sky to make some halfway decent photos possible. To wit:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/SuperEgo_1Nov09_12.jpg

This is me (would I lie about something like that?) posing with my new Tom Bihn SuperEgo, mostly loaded by sans laptop. I even found a new home for my umbrella.



http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/SuperEgo_1Nov09_01.jpg

Here's the Super Ego, sans vain owner, its brand-spanking-new premium nylon sheathing and reflector strip glistening in the setting sunlight.




http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/SuperEgo_1Nov09_02.jpg

Here's the "inboard view" of the Super Ego, already stocked with magazines and catalogues, plus a standard yellow Letter-size writing tablet (don't leave home without one!)





http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/SuperEgo_1Nov09_03.jpg

And here is a peak at the inside of the zippered laptop compartment, complete with (currently empty) Brain Cell and Horizontal Freudian Slip.







http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/SuperEgo_1Nov09_04.jpg

And here's the slip, after having been slipped out of the Super Ego. Already stocked with plenty of boring stuff, like pens, ruler, calculator, paper, etc.







http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/SuperEgo_1Nov09_06.jpg

And here's a snapshot of the outboard flap-access compartment, flapped open. This area is now home to all the laptop accessories that were at home in the old Kensington Saddlebag. Their arrangement here is by no means final, and by no means satisfactory. I have to figure out what I'm going to do with everything in all that myriad of pockets.

That's why I do not want to consider this thread closed quite yet. I'll have to return here to continue the discussion when it comes time to inquire about pouches and the like for storage. More on this later.

backpack
11-01-2009, 06:05 PM
Walkie talkies are found in a wide range of sizes.

Would you mind posting pictures of yours, next to a popular object for example a book or a CD/DVD case.

This way we can compare with the objects we have at home and can fit into

Accessories with Clear Windows

Clear Quarter Organizer Cube (as Loki suggested)
3D Clear Organizer Cube
Clear Bottom Tall Yarn Stuff Sack
Clear Bottom Yarn Stuff Sack

Snake Charmer (Accessory with mesh window)


All fabric Accessories.

Side Effect
Kit


Having your talkie walkies in one of those accessories will enable you to transport them securely by themselves and move them from bag to bag in their own little bag.


Most of the accessories above are available in a wide range of color and you can color code your belonging.

For example, I use a Grape Kit for needlework accessories, a Clear Quarter Cube for essentials and a small Sapphire Pouch for nickle and dimes.


Maverick has much better examples of organizing with Pouches in all of his videos. :)

MtnMan
11-01-2009, 08:27 PM
In this thread (http://forums.tombihn.com/showpost.php?p=13870&postcount=19), I show pictures of my current foreign-made cheap-but-not-so-cheap backpack (purchased at Wal Mart, and starting to disintegrate) and you can see one of the talkies down in the bottom of the bag (sixth photo down).

While I have not ruled out the Smart Alec, I'm leaning more toward the Ruc's Sack becuase (1: it's the lowest-priced Tom Bihn backpack available, (2: I like its simplicity and small size, and (3: I do not usually carry very much in my backpack, and (4: if I do get into carrying more in a backpack, there are always other larger bags like the Brain Bag, Smart Alec, and Red Oxx's super-expensive Airborne C-Ruck (http://www.redoxx.com/Backpacks-Daypacks/Airborne-Carry-on-Ruck-Sack-C-Ruck/91054-C%20Ruck/160/Product) that I could buy to suppliment a Tom Bihn Ruc's Sack.

backpack
11-02-2009, 07:29 PM
You are right about the Synapse and this way you wouldn't have to worry about buying extra Pouches or other accessories because of all the pockets.


I am just telling you about their availability because my Tom Bihn Bags are the ones with big compartments; Large Cafe Bags, Brain Bags and Swifts.

Those bags are perfect for people who, like me, enjoy the bags within bags and even pouches inside other accessories set up.

:)

MtnMan
11-02-2009, 07:48 PM
Here's a better picture of the walkie-talkies:

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w177/Wingsley_photos/WalkieTalkies1.jpg

That should give a clearer idea of their size and shape.

MtnMan
11-02-2009, 09:12 PM
When I flew to Washington, DC in March, I took my Kensington Saddlebag to carry my laptop, accessories and papers, plus I took a brand-new folding garment bag (cheap, foreign-made) that failed (zipper burst) just before checking out of the hotel before returning home. See trip photos here (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2231).

The garment bag was an obvious department store cheapie, made overseas and not built to last (even one trip).

Here is what I carried in the garment bag:

My shaving/toiletries kit (in ziploc bag)
Full suit: sport coat, ties, 2 pr. dress slacks, 2 dress shirts, 1 pr. nice shoes
Undies for 3 days & 2 pr. dress socks
Regular "civvie" clothes for return trip: jeans, t-shirt, regular socks
Trash bag to house "dirty" clothes after they had been worn

Since the hotel had a hair dryer and its own toiletries, I found I was in good shape in that department

To be fair, I did carry a little more on the trip back home than I did coming to Washington; I naturally picked up newspapers, literature, a couple of small souvenirs, but the bag was by no means stuffed. And some of these fit in the Kensignton, not the ill-fated garment bag.


NOTE: I have no immediate travel plans or funds to fly anywhere. That having been said, I will eventually travel to Washington again or some other cities, at some point down the road. This gives me time to think about what I would want to replace that miserable garment bag, which I returned to the department store that sold it to me.

I have spent some time looking at other sites, including some interesting discussions on "One Bag, One World". I have not chosen anything, nor will I for some time. But I have decided that it would be a good idea to compare certain bags to see which one(s?) might fit my needs.

In March, I was in DC from the 9th until the wee hours of the 12th when I had to catch my flight. So I stayed there three nights. I had to be dressed in my suit for 2 days. I did not do any laundry during my stay, and was gone from the hotel for so long each day that by the time I got back each night, none of their services were available anyway. I decided to use my March trip to DC as a model for what a future trip might look like in terms of what I would take and how long I would stay, just for sake of argument.

I have considered at least four possibilities of what could replace the cheapie disaster of a garment bag:

1: MEI/Genuine Gear's Executive Overnighter
2: Tom Bihn's Aeronaut
3: Tom Bihn's Tri-Star
4: Tom Bihn's Western Flyer

I already replaced the aging Kensington Saddlebag with a Tom Bihn Super Ego (http://forums.tombihn.com/showthread.php?t=2400).

For sake of argument, the Western Flyer seems a bit too small, so we'll put that on the back burner for now. I read a great article on the "One Bag, One World" site about MEI's Executive Overnighter, but let's set that aside right now as well.

Let's look at the Aeronaut and the Tri-Star. I'd like to hear from owners on how they differ, both in terms of carrying certain travel gear and in terms of how they are handled. Does anyone here own both? If so, how do you use one as opposed to the other?

Nana8
11-03-2009, 06:27 AM
Great photos! Thank you for posting them!!

MtnMan
11-03-2009, 10:35 AM
FYI, here's what I typically carry in my Wal Mart backpack:

LARGE MAIN COMPARTMENT
Canon PowerShot S2IS ultra-zoom camera, stored in Sportsman's Guide gun holster sling
(sometimes I carry an Olympus C3020Z digicam, in its own bulky padded case

SECOND MAIN COMPARTMENT
Small, zip-shut notebook organizer w/ mechanical lead pen
Pair of walkie-talkies
Jar of handi-wipes (always lost at the bottom of the bag, probably dried out by now)

TOPSIDE MINI-COMPARTMENT
Pens
Nametag on lanyard
Sometimes include pencils and handheld micro-pencil sharpener
Portable magnifying lens
Checkbook
Small, fliptop notepad


LARGE, LOWER ZIP-SHUT POUCH
Cell phone ciggie auto power adaptor
I used to also carry a flashlight in here, but it kept turning on and running its batteries down

UPPER ZIPPER POCKET ON POUCH
Mini bottle of hand sanitizer
Velcro-shut pouch containing ultra-portable 21x binoculars

LOWER ZIPPER POCKET
Nothing


The cheapie backpack also offers external netting pockets that look cheap and never see use. It also has compression straps with those buckle thingies; I attached one of them once and I've never been able to get it loose again.

MsMoon
11-03-2009, 12:52 PM
I think the biggest issue you will run into with MEI is customer service. I set out, intending to buy a bag from MEI, and went as far as contacting the company. They did get back to me in less than a week, but I read far to many stories about how difficult it was to maintain any sort of contact with them, let alone repairs after purchase, that I shied away.

Now that have purchased Tom Bihn, I don't see ever switching to anything else. I opted for the Aeronaut, and I love it. I had to send back my waist strap retrofit, as well as a packing cube for minor issues, and Darcy arranged to send them to me with the return packing slip. It was very seamless, and makes me want to stay loyal.

Just my two cents! I know you've recently made a purchase from Tom Bihn. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I do mine!

MtnMan
11-03-2009, 01:10 PM
I forgot one item in the Second Main Compartment:

Case Logic iPod Case, with iPod, cassette adaptor, and ciggie power adaptor

KarlJ
11-03-2009, 04:13 PM
I have both an Aeronaut and TriStar. But there are no hard scientific criteria I use to chose which Iíll use for a trip. Sometimes it comes down to a coin toss. Mostly because I donít carry a lot of stuff for the sake of carrying a lot of stuff. What I need, sure. But none of my bags has ever been loaded to capacity. I plan it that way to always have space left over for something else.

Sometimes it might be the length of the trip, but thatís less likely to be a factor because I plan laundry stops on any extended trip. Usually three to five days apart. Where Iím going, and when probably dictates the bulk of the clothing. If I need a suit(s), I can either use my rolling garment bag (which I check). Or, Iíll pack it in the Aeronaut and have it pressed at the hotel when I arrive. Weekend trips to the desert, I might have a change of clothes for day and for evening.

If Iím concerned about looking too ďtourist on holidayĒ I might opt for the TriStar (even though it is Indigo). My Aeronaut is Steel, so it looks pretty subdued based on how I normally dress when I travel. If Iíll be making use of public transit, Iím leaning towards the TriStar (if not my Brain Bag).

MtnMan
11-03-2009, 04:30 PM
What would the color of your Tri Star say, fashion-wise?

The reason I ask is that I love my new Super Ego with the Indigo flap color. I'm pleasantly relieved that it looks even better than I expected. I actually had mixed feelings about the overall looks of the Super Ego on the TB web-site. I bought it based on function and capacity, not style. It turns out to be better-looking in person than any high-end nylon briefcase I've seen; no fooling. If my Super Ego makes me look too casual, I'd just have to say "guilty as charged" :)

Out of curiosity, what kind of accessories do you use with your Tri-Star and Aeronaut bags? Have you ever carried a suit in one?

backpack
11-03-2009, 05:08 PM
I saw on the hem... Synapse thread that many forum enthusiasts have received their Synapses.

I am going to copy the link of this thread to the Synapse forum and see if any of the new owner can help you with gear distribution in the Synapse.

It might take a while for them to respond... :)

Now, you understand the feeling we all get while opening our Tom Bihn boxes and... when we first play with our gear.


Let me know if it is ok to copy this link to the Synapse thread and if not I'll delete it.

MtnMan
11-03-2009, 05:23 PM
I have no problem, and appreciate your input.

Be advised, though, that the Synapse has not been high on my list of options. It's not completely ruled out, but my first choice would be the Ruc's Sack and the second would be the Smart Alec. I suppose at this moment Synapse would be tied with the Brain Bag for #3.

backpack
11-03-2009, 05:47 PM
I have no problem, and appreciate your input.

Be advised, though, that the Synapse has not been high on my list of options. It's not completely ruled out, but my first choice would be the Ruc's Sack and the second would be the Smart Alec. I suppose at this moment Synapse would be tied with the Brain Bag for #3.


So sorry MtnMan, having 3 Brain Bags I can tell you that all you gear would beno problem for a Brain Bag.

Having said that I suggest adding size appropriate Pouches to house your gear in the Brain Bag.
It is deeeep! :)


I don't have a Smart Alec or a Ruck Sack so you might have to browse the blog, Tom Bihn flicker site and view Maverick's video of these 2 bags over and over and in slow motion. :)

You can ask him more questions when he comes back from his trip.

GaryS
11-03-2009, 07:16 PM
I'm probably not a good TB owner to respond as since retirement I never travel with a suit or even a sport coat. I also pack and wear clothes that I can wash out easily and will dry overnight. When ordering a bag sometime ago the important thing to me was "bag bloat" which to me means how the bag tends to go "barrel shaped" when loaded to the gills. Tom Bihn has done an amazing job in creating a bag, the Aeronaut, that holds its rectangular shape when packed. I was so impressed after receiving my Aeronaut (I had intended to look it over and send it back if it didn't work like I thought it would) I ordered one for my wife. Now we are both happy Tom Bihnners.:)

MtnMan
11-03-2009, 07:33 PM
The reason the Brain Bag is low on my list of candidates is because it costs twice as much as the Ruc's Sack. :)

And Maverick's video of the Ruc's Sack definitely helped me to push it to the top of my list. I had not ruled anything out, but your suggestion definitely reminded me that the Synapse does have something to offer.

KarlJ
11-04-2009, 12:49 AM
What would the color of your Tri Star say, fashion-wise?
In the fashion sense, I can't imagine it would say much. My main concern is avoiding unwanted attention to me or my belongings. So I counter that by looking the part of an average person on the street. If I were to do it over, the TriStar definitely would have been Steel or Black.

Out of curiosity, what kind of accessories do you use with your Tri-Star and Aeronaut bags? Have you ever carried a suit in one?
Again, it all depends. I guess as a rule: a 3D Clear Packing Cube (toiletries); and a Side Effect (wallet, phone, pocket stuff). If I'm taking a Notebook or Netbook, that along with a Snake Charmer (chargers, adapters, cables, etc.). Maybe an Organizer Pouch or two for the end/front pockets. Usually a large and maybe a small packing cube takes care of clothing for either bag. A sportcoat in the Areonaut, I might pack, but more often I'll just wear it.

If I really need a suit, I probably need more than one. In which case I travel a day, then whatever business takes place, then a travel day home. I prefer to just use my garment bag. I've had it for almost fifteen years, it stills looks and functions wonderfully, and carries my suits, ties, dress shoes, etc. very nicely. Because it's designed for the purpose, the suits look great when I get where I'm going.

backpack
11-04-2009, 07:17 AM
The reason the Brain Bag is low on my list of candidates is because it costs twice as much as the Ruc's Sack. :)

And Maverick's video of the Ruc's Sack definitely helped me to push it to the top of my list. I had not ruled anything out, but your suggestion definitely reminded me that the Synapse does have something to offer.


I am sure you know but let me list the volumes Ruck Sack Volume: 16 liters
Brain Bag Volume: 36 liters, it holds 3 times as much.
4 times if packed really well with packing cubes(for travel) or Vertical Freudian Slip, 2 laptops in their Vertical Brain Cells and/or Caches and Pouches to carry all the little extras.
It is a great stuffing it all in bag...
and the price is only twice as much.


However, I can see the attraction of the backpacks with the smaller volume but I don't own any.

Maverick, owns all of the smaller TB backpacks.
When he returns we can ask all the questions we wish and even ask for more videos. :)


The Brain Bag is perfect but at the mall or The Mall, especially on Capitol Hill, it looks big. But...I have seen how hefty the hard copies of laws can be.

maverick
11-04-2009, 07:35 AM
I am sure you know but let me list the volumes Ruck Sack Volume: 16 liters
Brain Bag Volume: 36 liters


indeed, the ruck's sac and brain bag are two completely different backpacks.

the ruck's sac was designed to be a backpack that could be used by those with smaller frames, even by kids.

on the other hand, there are people who can run their business out of a brain bag.



Maverick, owns all of the smaller TB backpacks.
When he returns we can ask all the questions we wish and even ask for more videos. :)


i'm back :)

MtnMan
11-04-2009, 09:01 AM
KarlJ,

What kind of garment bag do you use? I was thinking of the ones from Red Oxx (simple (http://www.redoxx.com/Briefcases--Garment-Bags/Gypsy-Suit-Cover/91036-Suit%20Cover/130/Product), top-of-the-line (http://www.redoxx.com/Briefcases--Garment-Bags/Flying-Fortress-Garment-Bag/91034-Garment/130/Product)) but people have been trying to persuade me to look at carry-on bags like the Aeronaut and Tri-star instead.

Red Oxx's Gypsy Suit Cover (the "simple" link above) is never going to be carried as a backpack, and doesn't even offer a shoulder strap. But it is only $75 and it can definitely carry a suit without any hassle. By contrast, the Aeronaut, Western Flyer and Tristar are all backpackable and carry-on ready, no hassle there. But they are all dramatically more expensive and I'm not 100% clear how effective they would be on a trip like my Washington safari. Then there's the monster of them all: the Red Oxx Flying Fortress, (the top-of-the-line), at over $300. It would never be a carry-on, but it would be an ideal garment bag and it does offer a shoulder strap.

Are you saying the TB bags aren't the answer?

I like the idea of replacing that ill-fated garment bag with a carry-on that's backpackable, but only if it would work.

KarlJ
11-04-2009, 12:27 PM
KarlJ,

What kind of garment bag do you use?
Briggs & Riley Carry-On Garment Bag (http://www.briggs-riley.com/category/productDetail.aspx?id=Carry-On-Wheeled-Garment-Bag_U374)


Are you saying the TB bags aren't the answer?For me, no they aren't always the answer.

MtnMan
11-04-2009, 02:35 PM
At this point, my thinking is that if I bought an article of non-carry-on luggage, it would probably be one of those garment bags from Red Oxx. For now, I haven't made any firm decision and I have not ruled anything out, but I'm leaning toward carry-on-style luggage. I want something that's easy to carry in the airport and to the hotel and maybe I can get away with carrying it onto the plane with me.

I know that none of these carry-ons are optimal for a suit, but I look at all luggage as a varying approach to compromise anyway. One thing I really want to avoid after a trip I made to Stanford U in 2003: no more rolling luggage. I wound up having to roll mine for about a mile over less than optimal sidewalks and the little wheelies weren't up to it. That pares down the options in a hurry, doesn't it?

BPritchard
11-05-2009, 11:03 AM
When I was looking for a TB bag to replace my cheapo backpack that I used to carry items to work, I used mockups of different bags to help me decide which one would fit my needs.

I used newspapers to create mockups of Ego, Super Ego, and ID. I just measured out the height, width, depth and taped them together. This forms a box shape without the top

I didn't mock up the flaps or dividers, etc.

This gave me a rough volume approximation of how my "stuff" would fit. And also how it would carry in relation to my size.

MtnMan
11-05-2009, 04:26 PM
I think I found two bags that offer things that I'm looking for, but they are from separate manufacturers. No one bag hits the Bull's Eye.

One bag would be either the Tri-Star or Western Flyer. The other bag is an unusual one I just found: a Patagonia MLC Burrito, Style #48115, (http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/product/mlc-maximum-legal-carry-on-burrito-suit-bag?p=48115-0-155) a maximum carry-on bag.

The Tri-Star is ingeniously designed, with plenty of zippered exterior pockets and with backpack straps built-in. It is also made in USA, and known for high quality materials and workmanship. But its compartmental nature makes it problematic for carrying a suit.

The Burrito is kinda shaped like an Aeronaut when closed. When opened, it rolls out like a garment bag to reveal impressive storage for a suit, shoes, and other travel goodies. Too bad there are no backpack straps and it's made overseas.

BPritchard
11-05-2009, 05:51 PM
At 44'', the MLC maximum may be too big for a carry-on.
The airlines are starting to get a bit cranky about the size of carry-ons.

For our trip to Seattle next spring, my wife and I are looking at replacing her wheeled carry-on with one the the size of the Aeronaut. Unfortunely, it won't be a TB bag since she needs a wheeled piece.

I'll be using my EGO as a carry-on to contain camera equipment, assorted electronics, tolitries, and three days of shirts,socks and underwear in case of lost bags.

MtnMan
11-06-2009, 10:57 AM
You're right. It does seem to big for a carry-on.

I think I'll set this thread aside for the time being, and pursue this topic from a different angle.

MtnMan
11-06-2009, 11:02 AM
Has anyone ever hauled the following items in a Western Flyer or Tri-Star for a 1-to-3 night trip by air?

Thanks in advance.

A shaving/toiletries kit
Full suit: sport coat, ties, 2 pr. dress slacks, 2 dress shirts, 1 pr. nice shoes
Undies for 3 days & 2 pr. dress socks
Regular "civvie" clothes for return trip: jeans, t-shirt, regular socks
Trash bag to house "dirty" clothes after they had been worn

If so, how well did you fit this manifest into either a Western Flyer or Tri-Star?

Shiva
11-07-2009, 10:20 AM
Hey MtnMan: i don't know what size suit you wear. I have the WF--a lot is going to depend on how you fold the jacket so that it does not crush. I would suggest you pack the suit into one of those simple suit carriers and that should fit easily into the WF. The rest of the stuff will fit in there quite easily. In general, I find the WF can carry a lot more than what its size looks like; and if you are carrying a laptop bag or backpack in addition, it should be more than fine.

MtnMan
11-07-2009, 12:12 PM
RE: "one of those simple suit carriers"... Do you mean the kind of protective sheathing they give you at the dry cleaners?

GaryS
11-11-2009, 01:42 PM
At 44'', the MLC maximum may be too big for a carry-on.

At 22" x 14" x 9", the Aeronaut is 45".

BPritchard
11-11-2009, 06:06 PM
At 22" x 14" x 9", the Aeronaut is 45".

Thanks. Good catch.

I was wrong, I was thinking of length, not the sum of dimensions.

toni
12-24-2009, 10:40 AM
I need to replace luggage; the piece i need to get has to be able to take slinging onto a canoe for a trip across a Surinamese river, as well as look presentable at a swanky Paris hotel, and it has to be carry-on. I think that the Aeronaut my fit the bill very well, the problem i'm having is that i can't bear the colors it's offered in...so, i may order an Explorer from Chapman Bags in chocolate and use the bespoke service to have backpack straps added...I'm trying to convince myself that the grey of the black Aeronaut will be fine, no luck thus far...