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Brain Bag: A short review after 7 days of heavy use

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    Brain Bag: A short review after 7 days of heavy use

    They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but in this case the Brain Bag has looks only Tom's mom would love. It looks inelegant and kind of odd but one thing's for sure, it gets the job done.

    I picked up my Brain Bag just a few weeks ago since my job often has me carrying a lot of equipment and occasionally that includes a couple (or a few) laptops. Sadly, for work, I can't carry as light as I wish I could. The BB is meant to replace my beloved Goruck GR1 as a travel backpack. The BB is a lot more flexible in it's configuration and it's also larger coming in at 36L vs. GR1's 26L.

    This past week I was asked on an assignment with very little notice, with an undetermined time-frame and with an unclear scope of work. Me, being the pack dude that I am, already knew the BB would be coming along and had an idea of what I wanted to try.

    Worth noting is the fact that I only thought of doing this write-up on my way back. So the load-out you'll see is a lighter one than the one on my way out there. Main differences are the fact that I took around 15-20 magazines on my way there (I save old, unread issues to take with me on long trips) and an extra set of clothes (in case my luggage doesn't make it).

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    The compression straps were cinched pretty tightly at this stage of travel.

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    I am a big Kifaru fan and their Ultra Light Pull It pouches. Their smallest one fits perfectly on the outside, middle pocket. I attached it with an S-biner and a 4" TB strap to the inside of the pocket to allow the pouch to hang wherever without fear of losing it.

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    Within the pouch, I kept small toiletries that I would need for the flight along with any meds.

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    Within the first main compartment, I attached a TB stuff sack (can't remember the size - it was from someone in the forum). This pouch held a small battery pack, a short iPhone cable as well as a micro USB cable. Throughout the trip, this pouch held a bandanna, a GPS, a flashlight and many other items as needed. It was very convenient having it attached there.

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    Hard to see, but also within this compartment I had my Sea to Summit travel "wallet" (which was also attached with an S-biner - better picture coming up), Bose headphones and a kindle.

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    Here's where I keep my Passport, yellow card, business cards, blank checks and spare change.

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    This is the secondary primary compartment. Here you can see a TB laptop sleeve, folder with some documents and a Tumi case I use for my laptop's charger and mouse.

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    One of my pet peeves is the bottle holding section. I'll talk more about this later.

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    Finally, a picture of everything I had in the pack on the return home (sans magazines I tossed along the way).

    After using the padded hip belt, I found myself not needing it at all. I actually took it off after a while. The straps looked like they would be uncomfortable, but wound up handling heavy loads like a champ.
    The bottom of the pack feels like it needs a bit of padding. I didn't feel like my items were well protected if and when I placed the pack on the floor.
    My biggest pet peeve is the bottle holding system. My bottle was floating and it just didn't adjust right. As you can see from the pics, the bottom part didn't do much but prevent the bag from swinging. I wish I had a better idea to improve this design, but I'm coming short.

    Pros:
    • Versatile
    • Easily compressed
    • Easily expanded
    • Comfortable
    • Spacious
    • Different than any other bag
    • Unique looking


    Cons:
    • Unique looking
    • Bottle Holder
    • Lack of padding on the bottom of the pack


    Final thoughts:
    Overall an incredibly pack. Looks like I'll be putting my GR1 to pasture. The BB is much more versatile and it does a great job hauling stuff.
    Virtus junxit, mors non separabit.

    #2
    Great review!! Looks like the Brain Bag can hold a lot of stuff, which would definitely be good for traveling. Can you tell me if the inside of either large pocket has an elastic section like the Synapse 25? Also, do you think the outer water bottle carabiner / velcro area would hold a larger Camelbak Chute?

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Nostradamion View Post
      Great review!! Looks like the Brain Bag can hold a lot of stuff, which would definitely be good for traveling. Can you tell me if the inside of either large pocket has an elastic section like the Synapse 25? Also, do you think the outer water bottle carabiner / velcro area would hold a larger Camelbak Chute?
      Hey there!
      Thanks for the compliment!

      Neither one of the main compartments have an elastic "kangaroo pouch" type section, sadly.

      I do not own a Chute but judging by some pictures I've seen online I'd say maybe.
      The straps expand and tighten well but the carabiner may not clip comfortable to the Chute.

      Every picture I have seen for the Chute shows a loop that is not topside and aimed up, but on its side.

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      Chute

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      Kleen Kanteen

      Let me know if this helps.
      Virtus junxit, mors non separabit.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the info Sose; that helps. I was hoping it had the "Kangaroo Pouch", but even without it, it's not a deal breaker. I'm still in the honeymoon phase with my Synapse 25, but the Brain Bag is definitely on my radar.


        Sent from a van down by the river...

        Comment


          #5
          Most welcome.

          I love my S25 and would use it if I'm going on a short trip. However, for a longer haul... the Brain Bag is king, IMO.

          Good luck!


          Originally posted by Nostradamion View Post
          Thanks for the info Sose; that helps. I was hoping it had the "Kangaroo Pouch", but even without it, it's not a deal breaker. I'm still in the honeymoon phase with my Synapse 25, but the Brain Bag is definitely on my radar.


          Sent from a van down by the river...
          Last edited by sose; 05-11-2016, 10:19 AM.
          Virtus junxit, mors non separabit.

          Comment


            #6
            Side note: love the topo map (?) on your Klean Kanteen!

            Comment


              #7
              Thank you!

              It's my favorite bottle and has taken a beating. Been to quite a few countries with me!

              It's from Triple Aught Design: Topo Skull Kanteen.

              Should've linked the Kifaru Ultra Light Pullouts. These are awesome.

              I should order more, come to think of it.
              Virtus junxit, mors non separabit.

              Comment


                #8
                I'm green with envy, sose. Thanks for the great review and great photos.

                I love these kinds of reviews. The photos make it so much nicer and easier to see and understand. I don't know if your into video, but it would really be neat to see a video version of an unpacking like this.

                I don't think there are any hard and fast rules here about posting reviews, but there is a separate photos & reviews sub-forum that would be perfect for your review. I don't know if the mods would be interested in transferring this thread or not.
                Owner of: Brain Bag backpack (Black), Field Journal Notebook (Blue), Snake Charmer (Small, Orange), Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

                Comment


                  #9
                  What is the coyote colored long pouch next to your Kanteen? Looks like it might be a perfect toiletry bag for those of us who more or less take only a toothbrush, paste, deodorant and soap.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by MtnMan View Post
                    I'm green with envy, sose. Thanks for the great review and great photos.

                    I love these kinds of reviews. The photos make it so much nicer and easier to see and understand. I don't know if your into video, but it would really be neat to see a video version of an unpacking like this.

                    I don't think there are any hard and fast rules here about posting reviews, but there is a separate photos & reviews sub-forum that would be perfect for your review. I don't know if the mods would be interested in transferring this thread or not.
                    Thank you for the kind comment. That is the very first review I have been compelled to write and being the gear bum that I am, choosing the TB BB is a compliment. Didn't consider video, but I'll keep that in mind when I do another write up.

                    I totally messed up by not posting in the right section. Thought I did when I was writing it up.

                    Mods, please move if necessary.

                    Thanks!
                    Virtus junxit, mors non separabit.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by benh View Post
                      What is the coyote colored long pouch next to your Kanteen? Looks like it might be a perfect toiletry bag for those of us who more or less take only a toothbrush, paste, deodorant and soap.
                      That is a Tumi pouch that I picked up a number of years ago. I never thought I would find it after seeing your question, but I nailed it.

                      Here's a link to it. It retails for $35 and I use it for my laptop charging brick, a small travel mouse and I sometimes throw in a spare battery or two (although I do use other things to store batteries).

                      Hope that helps.
                      Virtus junxit, mors non separabit.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Outstanding, thanks.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Does it have an elastic strap covering the top of the laptop pocket to keep the laptop snug against the bottom of the backpack?

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