View Full Version : Decisions, decisions

09-24-2003, 07:54 AM
I am now the proud owner of a brand new Apple 15" Aluminum Powerbook and I need a case to hold it. After doing hours of research on the web I've found that Tom Bihn bags seem to be the best around.

But which one?

I'm currently torn between the Brain Bag, the ID, and the Empire Builder. I'm usually a messenger bag guy, backpacks usually aren't my thing, but the Brain Bag seems like such a great bag. I also want to be able to carry around my extras - books, PDA, ipod, etc., but without having an enormous bag.

One of the things that I love about the selection is that I can pick up a Brain Cell and use it alone or with the bag, or leave it home if I don't need the laptop.

I'm not expecting anyone to make my decision for me, but I just appreciate having a great selection of options from a company that I can respect. Hopefully I'll be making an order soon...

09-24-2003, 02:37 PM
Thank you! I'm glad to work for a company that I respect :)

I'd suggest the ID - it's the smallest of the three bags, but should hold everything you mentioned (unless books = three giant textbooks.)

I carry a bag very similar to the ID every day and while sadly I don't have a laptop (congrats on the new Aluminum PB!!), I usually carry my iPod, books/magazines, the usual stuff (wallet, and a pen if I'm organized that day), a water bottle, a sweater....and it's not too heavy or big for me.

The Brain Bag and Empire Builder are both big bags, and may be just a little bit too big for what you need.

09-25-2003, 02:08 PM
Thanks so much for your quick response. I went ahead and ordered the ID. I was leaning that way to begin with and your endorsement helped seal the deal. I even managed to make a decision on the colors (Black/Silver/Sapphire, though the Black/Charcoal/Flame still looks very nice). I also included the Brain Cell, and a Standard Shoulder Strap in case I want to tote around the Brain Cell by itself.

As I mentioned before, I did a lot of research and looked at a lot of other bags, but your company was the one I felt most comfortable with.

Thanks for everything.

10-18-2003, 05:56 PM
I too am having difficulty deciding which bag to buy. I'm thinking about either the ID or the Smart Alec (I'd buy both, but since we grad students don't make that much, I can't afford to right now). Basically, I'm looking for a bag that can carry my computer (a 15" PowerBook) and the rest of my stuff. Currently I tend to put all the stuff into a rather abused messenger bag and then carry my laptop in a separate bag. As you can imagine, this is getting rather cumbersome and I'd like to consolidate into one bag.

So, here's what I tend to carry: a 15" PowerBook and it's power adapter, some papers (usually journal articles and whatever problem sets I'm working on for class), a notebook or two (these are little, 8"x10"x0.25"), two or three text books (considerably smaller than those mammoth organic chem/intro bio books -- more like the size of normal books), and lunch (lunch doesn't necessarily have to fit in the bag). Whichever bag I buy will end up being my primary bag and will make the daily commute with me from my apartment to my office/class. In addition, it will travel with me to professional meetings/workshops and to the field/sea as my carry-on on the plane, and as such will carry the work I plan to do since I won't be in my office, whatever additional things I need, as well and sources of entertainment during transit when I don't feel like doing work.

I'm leaning towards getting the Smart Alec to carry all this stuff because I'm not sure if it would all fit in the ID. In addition, I've learned that all the stuff I might try to carry could get a bit heavy to try to carry on one shoulder. Last year I took all the references I needed to finish writing my thesis plus all the grading I had to to for an intro Physics class to a week long meeting in France because my thesis was due a week after I got back and I was a few weeks behind in the grading -- all in all I think the stack of papers was about eight or nine inches thick and weighed a ton. My shoulder hurt after having to carry all that from the parking garage to the terminal in Boston, and even more after going through customs and then having to walk between the concourses at London's Heathrow airport (I'll never carry that much again, even though I did get all the grading done). My only hesitation about the Smart Alec is that it's 18.5" long and I'm only 5'2" (I keep dropping a tape measure down my back to see how this bag will sit on my back). If the Smart Alec will be ridiculously large on me, I know I'll find a way to make all my stuff fit in the ID (besides, its smaller size will keep me from trying to carry too much). Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. I plan on buying this bag soon because (in addition to wanting this new bag so I can abandon my current system) I'm going to be travelling again during the second week of November and would really like take this new bag with me. Thanks a bunch!

10-20-2003, 01:58 PM
Kori -

I'd say you're leaning towards the right bag - the Smart Alec. Carrying all of those things on one shoulder might be a bit much.

I'm 5'5" and use the Smart Alec, and it fits fine on me. I have a friend who is 5'1" and it works on her, too - so I don't think its length should be a problem.

If you get the Smart Alec and end up thinking you'd rather just have the ID, you can always exchange it hassle free. You do have to pay the return shipping costs, but other than that it's a pretty simple process.

11-05-2003, 02:14 PM
I'm tired of thinking. I've been going back and forth between the pages of this website and I'm even more confused now then I was before.

The facts: I'm a grad student looking for a new backpack to carry my stuff back and forth to school every day. I refuse to carry a backpack as well as a laptop case. I bought the Monolith a few days ago and found out it won't fit in my present backpack so now I need a new one that would fit all my stuff. I have a Toshiba Satellite Pro M10 (not exactly the lightest laptop ever made) which I need to take with me at least 3 times a week. On a daily basis I need to carry at least one box file with all my notes and lectures from courses, at least one text book. Oh, and campus is a 20 minute walk uphill from where I live.

The Brain Bag looks like it might be too big. The Smart Alec.. 1) I'm not too crazy about the look, but that can pass, and 2) It doesn't look like it can fit much in addition to the lap top and its accessories.

Your advice please.

11-05-2003, 02:25 PM

I'd recommend the Brain Bag over the Smart Alec. You will have extra room in the Brain Bag, but that usually ends up being a good thing - in case you go on a trip with your laptop, or you hit the store on the way home, you can carry extra things in it. The Brain bag is also exceptionally comfortable.

11-06-2003, 04:43 AM
But what if I dont want to use it for anything other than school? If I put my size 2 Monolith in the Smart Alec would it still have space for anything else? Let's say I don't carry any text books, all I'd need to carry would be the Monolith, cables, mouse, power supply, a ring binder and an umbrella (it rains everyday in Scotland). Would all that fit in a Smart Alec?

11-06-2003, 11:01 AM
That should all fit in the Smart Alec no problem. The only item you may have trouble with is the binder - exactly how big is it? Is it one of those huge ones? If not, it shouldn't be a problem.

11-20-2003, 12:54 PM
i also had trouble deciding on the right bag. but i finally went with the ID plus brain cell. i really love the bags. it all worked out extremely well. the only thing that is not as perfect as it should be is the shoulder strap on the ID bag. i feel there's just too much padding or something. very clunky and stiff. initially i wanted to add the absolute strap, (or something that has gel padding) but was informed that it won't work together at all. is there another choice that's more comfortable to use? i think my problem is also that i'm not that big of a person, so the current strap is a little "overwhelming" on my shoulders. thanks for your help.

11-26-2003, 05:29 AM
Oh my God I think i'm turning into a bag addict. I keep browsing sites looking for bags even though I don't need one. I've been using backpacks all my life and I've never tried a messenger bag. The ID keeps popping up on websites with lots of praise. I realize that though I always use backpacks I usually carry mine over just one shoulder, so now I'm thinking maybe I should give the ID a try.

I've tried getting out a measuring tape to visualize how big this bag is and came to the conclusion that I'm not a very visual person (just like I assumed that the Monolith would fit in my Jansport bag and it didn't). If I put my Toshiba M-10 15" laptop in a sleeve (a regular sleeve, not the Brain Cell) and carry it in the ID, how much space would I have for other things to carry, other than a mouse, powersupply and cables?

12-01-2003, 03:31 PM
Hi mux,

It really depends on how thick the 'regular sleeve' is, but I'd say you could fit everything you mentioned plus a book or two, notepad, magazine, etc.