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Personal Item Analysis Paralysis

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    Personal Item Analysis Paralysis

    I've asked a few bag questions here lately and been reading older threads. I'm so grateful for these forums, but still struggling to find the Tom Bihn bag(s) for me. I hope by posting a few combined thoughts here that some of you friendly forum folks can help me make some sense of my options. I also hope this isn't too long or repetitive. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    First, I'll say I've known about Tom Bihn for years, but only sprang for an absolute strap 5+ years ago. I should have gotten the Tri-Star then, but ended up picking a similar MEI travel bag for less $. Sometime after that I switched back to a roll-a-board + backpack and was settled in my ways until forced to check my international-wide roller (pre-security) last month. I hadn't felt the crack down that I now realize started in 2014. I'm back to Tom Bihn now because I don't want to worry about a severe airport checker with a sizer at the security line or gate. I just read the blog about what bags fit the UA sizers from a couple of years ago - and realize I'm not alone - just late to the party.

    I travel regularly for work in the US and to Asia, and occasionally get over to the Continent. I love to ride trains when I can, and it's important to be able to walk distances with my gear. I'd like to be a one-bagger on travel day, but I also want something with my laptop, power supply, jacket, and other daily essentials. I'd like my day bag to look professional with business wear - casual to jacket/suit, but not be standard/generic if possible. That's one of the big appeals of Tom Bihn bags.

    When traveling with my MEI recently, I found using the the backpack straps were necessary for walking any distance - even with the absolute shoulder strap it's just too heavy. Carrying a second backpack was also awkward. Backpacks are handy and can fit what (more than) I need, but looking more professional and not having two packs seems like two strikes against another day pack. I like having a daypack on some trips, but it has to be packable - unless someone can explain the secrets of carrying a day pack with a Tri-Star or A45.

    Someone pointed me to the DLBC (+DLBP), but unfortunately the DLBC is probably too small for my 14" Lenovo laptop (13 x 9 x .75") - and maybe too small for my other stuff. The Cadet or Founder's Briefcase look good, they seem to push the limits of a personal item carry-on. That worries me. Has anyone been stopped with a Founder's briefcase at the gate? Both of these briefcases could fit in my MEI, but would they fit in the Tri-Star or A45 or A30 I'm also looking at next? Sliding the Founder's Briefcase into my carry-on would solve my big worry at the airport. The Pilot also intrigues me, but I'm hesitant about the looks (Ha! - maybe I should ask my wife since her opinion matters most). I wish I was closer to Seattle and could see in Pilot in Balistic or Halcyon. If they had a smaller Founder's Briefcase that was more personal-item-compliant and fit my laptop I would be first in line.

    This is probably too open ended to ask, but I appreciate any feedback on how people are traveling with a briefcase and a carry-on. Thanks again for your help.

    Slbear

    #2
    The DLBC should fit your Lenovo as it does fit my Dell E7440 (13.3" x 9.1" x 0.8") in a Thule Case (14" x 10"). You cannot carry too much else but here is a picture of what I could carry:





    I do not have a Founder's Briefcase so I cannot comment. I have a Cadet but have never used it for travel. I will double check the dimensions to see how well it would fit a personal sizer

    When I travel (usually 4-5 days), I carry a Tri-Star and a personal item that is either an S25 (if carrying 2 laptops) or a Ristretto (just the above E7440 laptop) and it works well. See this picture of my S25 /TriStar in the sizers.



    If carrying the S25, I will stick the empty DLBC or Pilot in the Tri-Star to use as a briefcase when I arrive. If you like the vertical briefcase style, I really like my Ristretto (it is my everyday EDC) and it surprisingly does hold a lot more than the DLBC.



    (Laptop is not shown but is in the built-in padded compartment)

    The Pilot would work perfectly if, as you indicate, your wife liked the look

    Also, I have seen pictures of a Founders Briefcase put in the middle compartment of the Tri-Star (very full but it can be done). See this link by @Trailhiker:

    Founder's Briefcase in a TriStar



    BTW - in terms of carrying a heavy weight using the Absolute Shoulder Strap, I found that shorting the length of the strap helped when carrying a heavy TriStar. When the strap length is long, a slow shock-absorber / bouncing action seems to occur due to the neoprene characteristics that is uncomfortable. Shortening the strap reducing this a lot making it more comfortable to carry. Perhaps this could be applied to carrying your MEI bag.


    Hope this helps
    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 07-14-2016, 02:22 PM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

    Comment


      #3
      Hi tpnl,

      Thanks for the quick reply. Very good to hear the DLBC may fit my laptop and other stuff I carry. Matthew at Tom Bihn suggested the 6Z sized Cache would scrape the zippers of the DLBC, but I'm wondering if I can squeeze my laptop into the next size smaller cache (12.8 x 8.9 x 0.7 is pretty close) - what's a few 10ths of an inch in a stretchy thing - right?

      Also good to hear how you pack the DLBC (or Pilot?) in your Tri-Star. Did you mean the Ristretto you said you liked best, or you have all 3 - DLBC, Pilot and Tri-Star? The Ristretto wasn't on my radar. That's not making it easier to choose.

      I see how it fits the sizer even though the dimensions suggest it's too big - that's good reinforcement. When you travel with the S25 and Tri-Star do you put one on each shoulder, or one on your back and the other carried in hand? I appreciate the tip on shortening the absolute strap.

      Thanks again for your help.

      Slbear

      Comment


        #4
        Personal Item Analysis Paralysis

        I waited a long time before getting a Pilot but now I think it might be the most brilliant design I have tried to date!
        It has no real padding and so will carry so much more than I think every tine I use it.
        Also slides right into the TS if needed but either way they are a great easy carry pair if it will hold your computer.
        Also not sure if you covered this but the TS is an amazing backpack when needed too.
        Something not to be underestimated.


        Sent from my iPhone don't expect too much

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by slbear View Post
          ...
          I'm wondering if I can squeeze my laptop into the next size smaller cache (12.8 x 8.9 x 0.7 is pretty close) - what's a few 10ths of an inch in a stretchy thing - right?
          ...
          I do not have any experience with a cache but there is a recent thread discussing this:

          cache too tight -- solutions?

          YMMV but, just my thoughts - it will be hard to remove for a while but will loosen up over time. Note also that the cache is not anchored at the bottom. This means, because of the tight fit, you will probably pull out the cache before you can remove the laptop unless you can "pinch" hold the bottom of the cache while still in the bag.


          Originally posted by slbear View Post
          ...
          Also, good to hear how you pack the DLBC (or Pilot?) in your Tri-Star. Did you mean the Ristretto you said you liked best, or you have all 3 - DLBC, Pilot and Tri-Star? The Ristretto wasn't on my radar. That's not making it easier to choose.
          ...
          I actually have all three - DLBC, Pilot and Tri-Star as well as the Ristretto.

          I like the Ristretto option best as I like the vertical messenger style and the fact it can hold a lot (almost as much as the Pilot). But, YMMV and some do not like the more vertical style. I think it looks fantastic in a business environment with the ballistic nylon. The vertical style has the advantage in a crowded area as you do not bump you bag on people all the time.

          The Pilot however is super functional as @AVService posts. I love the middle water bottle compartment

          The DLBC is super slim and I love the front vertical slash pocket to stash my phone

          All are great over the shoulder or cross-body ... am I making your choice any easier

          Originally posted by slbear View Post
          ...
          When you travel with the S25 and Tri-Star do you put one on each shoulder, or one on your back and the other carried in hand?
          ...
          When I travel, I use the S25 as a backpack and the TS as a briefcase. A funny story - on one of the smaller flights, the flight crew made an announcement that all carry-ons would be gate-checked except for briefcases. When it came to me, they let me through with both items as the TS looked like a briefcase (I am 5'11" - so it looks proportionally correct on me) and the S25 a personal item.
          When we landed, it was raining and everyone had to wait on the tarmac for their gate-checked carry-ons. I, however, was able to just go straight through and get a taxi without any delay.

          Hope this helps
          Cheers!
          Last edited by tpnl; 07-14-2016, 06:18 PM.
          TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks again AVService and tpnl.

            Great info, but not helping! Now I'm looking at S25, DLBC, Pilot, and the Ristretto. I've ruled out the Founder's Briefcase for now, and the Ristretto is not available in black for the moment so the urge is less.

            I'm leaning to the S25 I could also use for an upcoming cruise travel and excursions with the family, and also when I need a little more packing space than my one-bag can handle.

            Comment


              #7
              I was under the impression that you were steering away from a BP and towards a Briefcase?

              If I had to choose just one Bihn bag I think it would be the S25 for me.

              Does that help?

              Everyone has different ideas about what does or does not look appropriate for their needs and for me the S25 is just fine.
              It also offers the flexibility to carry EDC stuff the most easily so if it is right for you it will be just right.....right?

              Originally posted by slbear View Post
              Thanks again AVService and tpnl.

              Great info, but not helping! Now I'm looking at S25, DLBC, Pilot, and the Ristretto. I've ruled out the Founder's Briefcase for now, and the Ristretto is not available in black for the moment so the urge is less.

              I'm leaning to the S25 I could also use for an upcoming cruise travel and excursions with the family, and also when I need a little more packing space than my one-bag can handle.

              Comment


                #8
                I HAVE been steering away from a BP except the packable ones after my experience with a big and medium backpack last time.

                However I packed my EDC stuff into a decently small sized messenger, and not convinced it's any easier to carry that and my MEI vs an S25 and MEI.

                Plus I'm thinking the backpack is more versatile for EDC to my office and on day trips where I don't want to look like I've just walked off the trail. I have a Zimmerbuilt Quickstep for trail hikes.

                Unless someone tries to talk me out if it, I need to consider colors now. Sounds like progress.


                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                Comment


                  #9
                  BTW...i should have said, "It does help," and "Right!"


                  Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Wow, people use an S25 as a personal item? I always thought it would be too big. I've used mine as a carryon but never tried it as a personal item. Innnnnnnteresting. @tpnl, how full was it when you put it in the sizer? Would it fit if pretty stuffed?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Hi Abby,

                      This was my concern all along with various Bihn (and other) bags. Almost anything that carries a 14" laptop and stuff for the day (trains, taxis and walking while on bus travel), seems to exceed that 17 x 10 x 9 rule in one dimension or another. All it takes is a line checker or gate agent having a bad day or that doesn't like your look to ask you to prove compliance or check. Only happened to me once, but I can vouch that even a million miler on AA doesn't get the time of day for consideration on this aspect. Once they decide to crack down on you, they will line up on the policy and support the checker. The friendly smile and appearance of leisure (not burdened or stressed), along with not over-stuffing your bags is clearly the best strategy.

                      Actual Bihn bag owners certainly know better if their bags were "sized" as personal items, and how they fared. I'm probably worrying too much. I would think the backpacks and pilot would fare better (morph better into the rectangular cube) than the larger briefcases that are more structured (Founder's Briefcase or Cadet). Purely speculation, but it affected my decision process.

                      I struggle (as it seems many have) between S19 and S25. I think I can limit my packing on travel day, especially outbound flights. I'm leaning towards the S25 (Black Halcyon) in case I need a little extra for non-flight days. Even the S19 is oversized, as are a lot of other bags that would be traditional personal items. This Blog includes the S25 and many others as "Upper Limit Personal Items"

                      The Pilot, or maybe now Ristretto, would be the best choice if I don't get over my worries, and both probably great companions to the S25 on shorter trips - and I doubt anyone would approach me to check either of those. That being said, if I was heading down a path to acquire both S25 and Pilot bags (I see there are many that have both), do I really need both H and V Cache(s)? If you were going to buy one Cache and use it in both S25 and Pilot, which would you buy?

                      Thanks,
                      Slbear

                      Comment


                        #12
                        S25 in Black Halcyon + Iberian

                        Hi All,

                        S25 in Black Halcyon with Iberian interior, and Vertical 6Z Cache ordered today. Wow that was hard to decide. I got a mini Halcyon Organizer Pouch and a clear 3D Organizer Cube to round out the order. Soooo excited!

                        Feedback from the wife was - as expected. S25 was fine, and she likes my current messenger bag more than the Pilot, and otherwise lost interest quickly in the details that I have to analyze before making any purchase like this. Fitting the Pilot into the carry-on is really not on her radar of important things - and I understand that. I'm taking her on a trip soon to Amsterdam and then a cruise to Norway. We will check a bag, and carry on some. I'll be carrying the S25 on travel day and on day-trips around the city and from the ship.

                        I know the S25 will be a great EDC daypack for commuting to work, family vacations, and probably for business travel with the tips I received here. That's not to say the Pilot and Ristretto and/or DLBC isn't still calling to me, but that is for another day to worry about.

                        BTW...Cat told me over the phone she thinks a few people pick the S19 over the S25 so as to not overpack. I've gotten my EDC and travel day stuff down a lot from where I started and my current pack is not stuffed on travel day. I think I can avoid the trap of filling every square inch of the S25. But on a day trip, it's nice when you have room for stuff you might pick up along the way. That was my thinking that won the day for the S25. And if it looks too big on arrival, I'll have just enough time to get the S19 to replace it before our trip.

                        In any case, (get it?) thanks all for your answers and feedback.

                        Best,
                        Slbear

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Excellent!

                          That is the exact color combo I have now - Black Hali / Iberian! Just for reference, this is my S25 used as EDC - I actually can fit everything except the laptop in the front compartments. Only the laptop is put in the main compartment. I like having the option to put in more in the main compartment if needed. This is usually what I take to work when I need more room than my Ristretto - still very professional IMHO.



                          To an earlier question from @Abby as to what the "Personal Item" sized S25 looked like and contained (it was about 80-85% full), I have attached some content pictures. YMMV, but the S25 is oval and so usually the side and top are not filled when carrying rectangular IT equipment and therefore "shrinks" to the size that fits in the personal sizer. Also note that the personal sizers are "sized" 1" larger usually than the limit - don't know why, but they are.




                          I basically have 2 laptops (15.6" and 14"), PCSB with emergency clothes (if I loose my carry-on for whatever reason), supporting electronic accessories and basic personal items.

                          (Note - the above 2 pictures are my earlier S25 - a Black Cordura / Iberian backpack - in case you are confused with my current Black Halicon one)

                          Enjoy!

                          Cheers!

                          Edit:
                          YMMV, but I like the S25 as a personal item because I can pack it "thick". Briefcases may fit the length and width limit of the personal item sizer but usually there is 2-3" of extra depth not used but is allowed - e.g. the limit is 9" depth but most briefcases max out at 6" deep. With the S25 , it has a 9" max depth so it is a more effective bag to max out the limit. Note that my S25 above fit easily in the sizer.
                          Also, the S25, in particular, is very streamlined and seems to not get the attention of the gate-checking people. Add to this matching backpack color to the outfit you are wearing and it really is a stealth backpack!

                          One other thought @slbear - you might be able to fit your messenger bag in the S25. If so, you could just take it out to bring to meetings if you needed a briefcase (or get a Pilot / DLBC / Ristretto ... but for another day as you say )
                          Last edited by tpnl; 07-15-2016, 06:43 PM.
                          TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            S25 and other gear received today. The size is perfect for me. The feel of the halcyon is tougher, more rigid than I expected, and I like that. When I'm ready for a pilot or larger bag I won't hesitate to pick the same.

                            Thanks all for you help.




                            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                            Comment


                              #15
                              You might want to rethink the halcyon in an another bag like the pilot. There is a thread on Flyer talk where the zipper comes open and papers or lost in the halcyon fabric. There is talk of the back pocket sagging. I do not like the halcyon or any soft like fabric for the exterior I like the ballistic material. The soft fabric is great for the interior of the bag and for the stuff sacks, and such. I found it hard to believe that the zipper would open on it's own, but I tried it on my bags at home. They do open up with just a touch of a finger.

                              Comment

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