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Choosing My First (But Not Last) Tom Bihn Bag

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    Choosing My First (But Not Last) Tom Bihn Bag

    I've been pondering which Tom Bihn bag to purchase for several months. Finally, Santa Claus has agreed to bring me one for Christmas, so it's time to make the final decision.

    What I really need is two laptop bags, one for "lots of stuff" days, and one for "minimal stuff" days. Right now, I'm only focusing on a larger, do-it-all bag.

    <b>A little about me and my bags:</b>

    I'm 34 years old, and have used backpacks for most of my life. I used a messenger-style bag for a while back in 2001 and 2002, but that specific bag (a Brenthaven) didn't suit me because it was too small.

    While I carry a bag with me almost everywhere I go (usually with a lot of stuff), I've never had a laptop bag that I've really liked. They've all served the purpose, but only barely. I'm currently using a Kelty backpack with a soft-sided InCase sleeve for my MacBook.

    Here is what I would like to hold on a "full" day:

    MacBook 13" (I'll definitely purchase a Brain Cell for this)
    Power Supply
    Portable Hard Drive & Necessary Cables
    Canon Digital Rebel SLR Camera in a soft, form-fitted case
    1 or 2 Magazines and a Paperback Book
    Notebook & Pens
    Loose Papers/Files
    Plastic Water Bottle
    Cellphone & iPod Nano
    Small Digital Camera in a case
    A Sweatshirt
    Various small things (battery chargers, card readers, flashlight, hand sanitizer, pocket knife, pocket change, etc.)

    I'm confident that the Brain Bag would hold all of this (and hold it well), but unfortunately, it just doesn't appeal to me on a gut level the way other Tom Bihn bags do. I think it visually reminds me of other backpacks I've used in the past. It's a silly thing, I know, but on a gut level I don't think I'd enjoy the Brain Bag as much. (That might change if I saw it in person, but I live in Atlanta and can't visit the Tom Bihn store.)

    I *love* the look of the Smart Alec (particularly in sage, but I'm too late), but I'm afraid it might not be big enough to hold everything. One of the things I love about the Smart Alec is its clean outside look -- but my daily "stuff" might require more pockets. (Even with the optional Freudian Slip.)

    Like I said, I've never been a messenger bag person, but again, that might be because I've never had the right bag. So I'm considering the Super Ego. It looks like it can consume everything I have, while magically keeping everything close at hand. (And I think it would look GREAT in black/black/steel with a crimson strip and a seat belt buckle.)

    My biggest concern is fitting the Canon Digital Rebel and a size 6 Brain Cell (for the MacBook) in the same bag. Any idea on how well the Smart Alec and/or the Super Ego will handle both items?

    Any other advice from Smart Alec or Super Ego owners? Right now I am leaning toward the Super Ego.

    Oh, and I would *love* to use the Buzz for my "minimal stuff" days, but it's too small for the MacBook. I remember a forum post from long ago where Tom Bihn suggested the possibility that the size of the Buzz could be slightly increased to accommodate MacBooks. Has there been any development on that front?
    Aeronaut (Original in Hunter Green), Aeronaut 30 (Forest), Smart Alec (Hunter Green), Pilot (Forest), Co-Pilot (Coyote), Synapse 25 (Black Dyneema), Two Large Shop Bags (Iberian and Steel), Passport Pouch (Iberian), Two Travel Trays (Solar stays in the Aeronaut, Iberian stays home), more than a dozen accessories.

    #2
    One other quick question -- How does the strap on the Super Ego compare to the Absolute Strap? The Absolute Strap sounds fantastic (my camera has a similar after-market strap with some "give," and I love it), but it looks like the Absolute Strap isn't compatible with the Super Ego.

    Does the Super Ego strap have any "give" to it?
    Aeronaut (Original in Hunter Green), Aeronaut 30 (Forest), Smart Alec (Hunter Green), Pilot (Forest), Co-Pilot (Coyote), Synapse 25 (Black Dyneema), Two Large Shop Bags (Iberian and Steel), Passport Pouch (Iberian), Two Travel Trays (Solar stays in the Aeronaut, Iberian stays home), more than a dozen accessories.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by BJ Nemeth View Post
      I've been pondering which Tom Bihn bag to purchase for several months.
      [snip]
      Here is what I would like to hold on a "full" day:

      MacBook 13" (I'll definitely purchase a Brain Cell for this)
      Power Supply
      Portable Hard Drive & Necessary Cables
      Canon Digital Rebel SLR Camera in a soft, form-fitted case
      1 or 2 Magazines and a Paperback Book
      Notebook & Pens
      Loose Papers/Files
      Plastic Water Bottle
      Cellphone & iPod Nano
      Small Digital Camera in a case
      A Sweatshirt
      Various small things (battery chargers, card readers, flashlight, hand sanitizer, pocket knife, pocket change, etc.)
      [snip]

      I *love* the look of the Smart Alec (particularly in sage, but I'm too late), but I'm afraid it might not be big enough to hold everything. One of the things I love about the Smart Alec is its clean outside look -- but my daily "stuff" might require more pockets. (Even with the optional Freudian Slip.)

      Like I said, I've never been a messenger bag person, but again, that might be because I've never had the right bag. So I'm considering the Super Ego. It looks like it can consume everything I have, while magically keeping everything close at hand. (And I think it would look GREAT in black/black/steel with a crimson strip and a seat belt buckle.)

      My biggest concern is fitting the Canon Digital Rebel and a size 6 Brain Cell (for the MacBook) in the same bag. Any idea on how well the Smart Alec and/or the Super Ego will handle both items?

      Any other advice from Smart Alec or Super Ego owners? Right now I am leaning toward the Super Ego.
      I can't help you on the Super Ego, because that bag is probably way too large for my height and build (5'4"), but I can point you to some links for pictures. There are often some great links to reviews that show up in the Tom Bihn blog, but which aren't otherwise easy to find.

      Originally posted by BJ Nemeth View Post
      One other quick question -- How does the strap on the Super Ego compare to the Absolute Strap? The Absolute Strap sounds fantastic (my camera has a similar after-market strap with some "give," and I love it), but it looks like the Absolute Strap isn't compatible with the Super Ego.
      Does the Super Ego strap have any "give" to it?
      On the issue of the strap, see this recent post.

      Hope this helps; you can probably get more helpful answers from people who have used both these bags for similar purposes.

      Comment


        #4
        i think you may be able to fit everything you are describing into a smart alec with a freudian slip. my only concern is the slr camera you are going to carry. whether you can carry the camera in the smart alec will depend on the physical dimensions of the lens and what else comes along with the camera.

        i'd like to go through your list and provide some suggestions.

        MacBook 13" - verital brain cell will hold this and protect it very well. if space is a concern, consider the soft cell instead - you'll be trading protection for space.

        Power Supply

        Portable Hard Drive & Necessary Cables - consider a 2.5" firewire model which does not require a separate ac adapter, and takes far less space than a 3.5" drive. check out the G-Drive Mini.

        Canon Digital Rebel SLR Camera in a soft, form-fitted case - an SLR brings with it many other things. what is your everyday lens? are you using an external flash? are you using a diffuser on your external flash? are you carrying additional compact flash cards? are you carrying a card reader? are you carrying a lens cleaning cloth and spray? are you carrying additional batteries for the camera/for the flash? if there is a lot of other stuff that is going to come along with the slr, put it in a separate bag.

        1 or 2 Magazines and a Paperback Book

        Notebook & Pens - how large is the notebook? if you can work with something small, check out Moleskine Notebooks in 3"x5".

        Loose Papers/Files - how thick?

        Plastic Water Bottle - you can fit a 1 litre water bottle in each of the side pockets of the smart alec.

        Cellphone & iPod Nano

        Small Digital Camera in a case - how large? will you carry this at the same time you carry the slr or as an alternative?

        A Sweatshirt - how thick? consider some of the technical wear that is out there that provides considerable warmth without the bulk.

        Various small things (battery chargers, card readers, flashlight, hand sanitizer, pocket knife, pocket change, etc.) - put these into small color coded pouches for easy access.

        maverick
        -m

        Comment


          #5
          Latest buzz on the &quot;Buzz&quot; and MacBooks

          Originally posted by BJ Nemeth View Post
          Oh, and I would *love* to use the Buzz for my "minimal stuff" days, but it's too small for the MacBook. I remember a forum post from long ago where Tom Bihn suggested the possibility that the size of the Buzz could be slightly increased to accommodate MacBooks. Has there been any development on that front?
          See today's blog for a reference to a Buzz prototype that will hold the MacBook (Pro).

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for the help! You've definitely got me reconsidering the Smart Alec as a viable option. I wish I could get both bags (the Smart Alec and the Super Ego), but alas, that's not an option right now. I may add both to my wish list and let my personal "Santa" decide.

            Maverick -- It has been a long time since I seriously reassessed what I carry, and your comments really got me thinking. As a result, I've decided to do a thorough item-by-item re-evaluation once my new bag arrives. (Siquid mantica non capit, domi relinquendum est, right Darcy?)

            Moriond -- Thanks for the great links. I regularly check the Tom Bihn blog, and had already read about his work on a redesigned Buzz. That's *great* news, and I hope it is released to the public sometime in the spring when I'm ready to make my next bag purchase. That would be a perfect fit for my *light* days.
            Aeronaut (Original in Hunter Green), Aeronaut 30 (Forest), Smart Alec (Hunter Green), Pilot (Forest), Co-Pilot (Coyote), Synapse 25 (Black Dyneema), Two Large Shop Bags (Iberian and Steel), Passport Pouch (Iberian), Two Travel Trays (Solar stays in the Aeronaut, Iberian stays home), more than a dozen accessories.

            Comment

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