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Bags you owned before Discovering Tom Bihn

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    Bags you owned before Discovering Tom Bihn

    Just curious: Over the past year and a half I've bought, used, and ultimately sold a bunch of different backpacks and messengers before coming across the Synapse. I've been using my S19 daily for the past month, and I haven't come across any shortcomings that make me want to abandon it, which is HUGE for me, so I took the Plunge and ordered an S25 to have the option of a larger sized backpack when needed. Just curious what other bags people have been through before Tom Bihn? For me, it's the following:

    Chrome Messenger Bags (Citizen and Mini Metro) Well built, cool styling, but hurt my back when carrying a heavy load. I also don't ride a bike, which is more along the lines of what I believe these are designed for. Pain in the butt getting stuff in/out of the bag quickly. Sold them

    Seagull Nightshift Backpack: Very nice bag, roomy, well made. The Cordura would shred certain articles of my clothing. Great waterproofing and zippers. I liked this bag until the synapse came around...Not much in terms of pockets, or organizational space. Just a front pocket, and small inside pocket that didint' really hold anything securely. Everything would fall to the center of the bag, only to be lost in the abyss. Still a nice bag, just not for me.

    Defy Recon Messenger bag: Cool design, nice layout, and rugged bag. In the end, the weight of the truck tarp it was made of was very heavy, and the strap cut my neck when carrying a heavy load. Sold.

    I have held onto a Mission Workshop Sanction backpack, as well as a Defy backpack made from truck tarp which I now use as a gym/outdoor carry bag. The Mission workshop sanction is a nice backpack, but it's styled more like a rucksack, so unless you put items in the front pockets, it's tough to quickly retrieve anything due to the depth of the bag. I will likely still use it from time to time so it made the cut of bags I decided to keep. The Defy backpack actually carries nicely and distributes weight well......But the material is not malleable, making it difficult to stuff underneath the seat in front of you on an airplane.

    Timbuk2 Q laptop bag in cordura. It's a really nice bag, well designed and comfortable. It isn't very capacious though, and when I'm caught out in the rain I always run the risk of my stuff getting wet. It's now been completely replaced by my S25. It really is the absolute perfect backpack.

    I also used to use a Waterfield Muzetto bag in waxed canvas for a 13" laptop. Aesthetically, I think it's a beautiful bag. All their bags are handmade in the US with a lot of attention to detail. High quality stuff. BUT. As pretty as the bag is, I just do not find it either comfortable or practical. It's size and bulk are deceiving, it really can only fit a laptop and very few essential extras. And this could be a personal thing, but I don't find vertical laptop bags to be very comfortable to carry. I do however still use their Indy iPad bag, which I love. It's the bag I carry when I really don't need to take much with me. Otherwise it's either a co-pilot or my synapse.


      Oh so many bags loved and lost

      I have a fondness for Crumpler bags. I have Crumpler wheeled luggage as well as a laptop bag that I still use sometimes. I've tried a variety of bags including Timbuk2.


        I suspect many of us can be classified as “Bag Geeks” and have probably owned a lot of different bags over the years. Just for fun I thought I’d include some of the highlights or lowlights of bags I’ve used for EDC.

        Hartmann Belting Leather Computer Bag – actually a very nice looking bag capable of carrying a ton of stuff. The leather develops a nice patina after a little use and the bag held up very well. However, the bag was sort of heavy even empty and the size enabled my over packing way too much.

        Jack Spade Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag – a fairly nice classic messenger bag. It looks pretty nice and was capable of holding a good bit of stuff. However, it lacked any real organization and was really larger than I needed on most days.

        Assorted bags from Maxpedition and 5.11 - tried a number of bags from these companies and all of them were ok, but none was ever just right. They’re all rugged and had plenty of organization, but I quickly tired of the military look.

        At the end of the day the Tom Bihn bags just seem to hit the sweet spot for me in size, appearance and quality. I also like the culture of the company and the great customer service.


          My main kitbag for years was an original Oakley 'Icon' backpack. The very first version, it didn't even have a laptop sleeve. I still have it, and it's still usable - it seems to be made of a very similar ballistic fabric to the stuff TB uses, and did daily duty for over 10 years without quitting. My main beef with it is that it's not big enough as anything more than EDC, has very limited internal organisation (but lots of pockets and flaps on the outside) and its cavernous inside is pitch dark to the point that it's very easy to lose stuff. I had a very nasty moment in the middle of Schiphol airport years ago where I couldn't find my passport - it was there but had slipped down underneath something and it was so dark in there that I ended up having to almost empty the bag to find it. The other thing which periodically annoyed me was that if I put the thing down, open, it had a tendency to flop open and roll onto its belly making loading and unloading difficult. I wouldn't buy a new Icon pack, the quality isn't there on the new ones any more.

          A slightly smaller EDC which didn't last long was a 19l North Face 'Megamouth 19' hydration pack. It wasn't really big enough and, unlike the S19, was quite difficult to pack and an awkward shape.

          Before that I had a variety of odd backpacks for EDC. Around the same time I got the Oakley, I was travelling a lot for work and used a Samsonite small wheeled hard suitcase for clothes, plus a Samsonite laptop briefcase (at the time the laptop was a very lovely, but very big, 16" Sony device (a GRX-316MP if anyone remembers those) which took a lot of space). For a while I was trundling around with a wheely case with the laptop briefcase strapped atop it, and the Oakley on my back. I gradually downsized, and for a while put the laptop in one side of the wheely case; then lost the wheely case entirely, downsized the laptop to a 13" macbook, and used the Oakley plus a separate freebie holdall (no-name) for clothes which wouldn't fit in the backpack.

          These days it's either A45, A30, S19 or Pilot depending on usage. A45 and Pilot covers me for the biggest loads, and so on down depending on what I need to carry.


            I am a total bag geek - spend hours online looking at bags - don't let me come across a brand I've never seen.....

            Started with LeSportsac - simple design, simple colors. Loved the small handbag with one main compartment and outside zippers on both sides. Of course they no longer make that design and ones on ebay are awful colors or too expensive.

            Timbuk2 - have a mini messenger bag - great size but needs outside pocket and zipper to close main compartment. Still have it...just can't let go. Have a few of their 'dime bag' pouches. Love the size and one is a great green color - will be a keeper forever.

            Eddie Bauer - have many pouches and one small black backpack - perfect for stuff to leave in the car during day trips. Extra jacket, water bottle, etc...

            Eagle Creek - have a couple of their day pouches - don't like the vertical orientation and/or flaps. Have a camera bag still in use, mostly for storage. Was using a small Side Effect type bag with a flap - great size but the flap made me want to throw it out of a moving car window. AGHHHHHHH!!!!!

            Right now have a Targus tablet bag - black with green accents. Also a keeper - don't hate the flap on this one because it stays out of the way when main compartment open. Great organization with slots, pockets, and padding for tablet.

            EDC bag right now is TB 3DOPC in black - just a little bit too small but will keep me happy until SE purchase next year - come on tax return!!!
            never skate faster than your guardian angel can fly....black and gold til I'm dead and cold....
            be nice - until it's time to not be nice.......what separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize...


              I have have been a big fan of Tumi, and would have to majorly resist the urge not to walk into a Tumi store or hang out on the website. But since I've started buying TB stuff, I haven't even opened the emails about their sales. I still think they are high quality, but in examining all my bags, I find TB stuff to be far superior in quality, price, and CS. Plus, they are made in the US and their employees are treated with dignity. I have two Tumi bags that I will keep (and one Tumi accessory).

              I have also been a fan of Michael Kors designer totes, but am now preferring my Swift. I will probably only keep two of them and get rid of the rest.

              Tech EDC I've gone through a number of brands. Kensington, roller computer/overnighter that is on my "keep" list and a smaller REI daypack. I also have a Highway N/S bag that is really pretty and lightweight. The rest are history for me... STM, Wegner, Targus, Victorinox and Hartmann wheeled luggage/duffle that need to be rehomed. Lots of Coach bags needing new homes too. I have way too many bags!


                High school - JanSport with two side zips and leather base. That backpack lasted me for years and was the only one that could handle heavy textbooks without the corners giving way.

                College and beyond - various messenger bags from the campus bookstore

                Most recently - Timbuk2 cargo tote (the big one), but regrettably I Freecycled it a while ago, Patagonia Mini Mass (a goodie, and one that lasted me a couple of years before I started experiment with TB bags)

                I still do the canvas totes thing, so I end up looking like a coathook or baubled tree with a bag for lunch, a bag for work papers, a bag for farmer's market loot (we have one weekly at work, it's a great convenience). Only now more of the bags are Tom Bihn bags!

                And for travel I still occasionally use my Victorinox tote, which is going strong and can hold massive amounts of stuff, but is only shoulder carry and therefore not 100% convenient.


                  Haiku bags for purse/small crossbody bags. I like some of the designs, but they are very heavy, even when empty. Not so comfortable to carry.

                  Some cheap backpacks for school that ended up wearing out in a year or so.

                  Trader Joe shop bags! The fabric ones, for around I think $2-3, which I still have and use, alongside TB shop bags. I like that I can throw them in the wash every so often, if I feel like they're getting dirty.

                  A little pink Harris tweed bag that I love and use for going out, and a small Longchamp bag of similar dimensions in a dark purple colour. I don't think I would get rid of either of these, though I don't use them every day. The longchamp bag goes inside the S25 sometimes, if I think I need a purse.

                  Rather large Tumi suitcase with wheels from my mom. I keep this in case I have to check stuff in -- on my upcoming trip, it will likely be filled with stuff for other people.


                    I love bags. I love them so much that at one point I had an entire 2nd (small) closet dedicated to them. I've been through a number of no-name brands, and before I found TB bags ended up with an obsession for Timbuk2 and Crumpler bags.

                    These days, my TB S19 is my EDC, and I'm hopeful that my new PU will be my new camera/day/trip shoulder bag to complement my beloved Western Flyer. When I'm not using TB bags, I stick to the following:
                    Crumpler Million Dollar Home Camera bags - I have a 4, 2 5s (different colors) and a 6 MDH. Most of the time these days, though, I end up putting the camera in whatever regular bag I'm carrying.

                    Crumpler Considerable Embarrassment laptop bag - mine is more than a few years old, and comes in a beautiful periwinkle purple with tan interior. It's large enough to hold laptop, snacks, water bottle, essentials, and maybe even my dSLR. (Much as I love my new PU, the CE is probably what I'll take on next week's work trip, with one of the below rolling bags, because the laptop will fit better.)

                    LL Bean Carryall Rolling Luggage - after a trip with a too-small suitcase on a too-long trip, I sprung for the full set of this from LL Bean: 4 sizes of rollers, plus shoulder bag and toiletry kit, monogrammed, in "plum" which is very close to the TB Aubergine. Thanks to shoulder issues I can't backpack through large airport terminals, so the underseat and "medium" rollers are my go-to bags for most air trips because I can strap a small laptop or shoulder bag on top and just roll my way through the terminal. For longer trips I step up to the Large for a checked bag, but then I have to be careful not to over pack.

                    Timbuk2 Messenger bags - on the rare occasion I carry a messenger bag (I tend not to, as it aggravates shoulder/back problems these days) I still have a custom Small Classic Messenger, and a beautiful gray waxed canvas Proof messenger (one of my favorite bags ever, but ever-so-slightly too small.)
                    Rambling On. . . . .


                      Originally posted by Meglet View Post
                      These days, my TB S19 is my EDC, and I'm hopeful that my new PU will be my new camera/day/trip shoulder bag to complement my beloved Western Flyer.
                      You forgot to mention your WF is the lovely Aubergine/Steel.


                        Originally posted by Pokilani View Post
                        You forgot to mention your WF is the lovely Aubergine/Steel.
                        Yes it is, and while it's friendly with my Steel/UV PU, it's really, REALLY hoping for an Aubergine/Steel PU that will be its forever love.
                        Rambling On. . . . .


                          Somebody on here said "I have found my people." Well this is the first place where I don't fear the reaction when I say "I Love Luggage."

                          My favorite non-TB bag is "Little Stubby" -- a 17" roller from Delsey -- at least 15 years old and been through everything. That's where I learned I could pack light. I have owned countless rollers of various sizes and even an adorable set of matching suitcases (no wheels back then) received as a high school graduation present.

                          I have a couple of inexpensive Mango Tango laptop bags, acquired when I finally realized I would prefer carrying a lightweight bag up and down stairs in the airport to dragging a heavy wheeled laptop bag. The MT's are fine but not very high quality material and don't afford much room for anything besides the laptop and some folders. A Mobile Edge checkpoint friendly bag (too heavy) and a number of very heavy laptop rollers, including Travelpro.

                          I'm ever so glad to have found TB.


                            My favorite non-TB bag is my Tour de France Timbuk2 messenger bag (think cheery red polka dots). It's bigger than I normally need, though, so I only use when I need to haul around the big laptop (which is pretty rare). I also have a couple of small custom Timkuk2 messenger bags that I like and a huge tote made from recycled plastic that I bought in Senegal. And before I discovered TB, I had some LL Bean bags that were similar in shape and size to the SCB (forget the name) -- I liked those quite a bit, but traded them in for SCBs because they were pretty rugged looking.

                            ETA -- @orangboys I also love luggage and bags! To the point where my husband mocks me for it. But whatever, i can handle it.


                              Originally posted by Orangeboys View Post
                              Somebody on here said "I have found my people." Well this is the first place where I don't fear the reaction when I say "I Love Luggage."


                              I'm ever so glad to have found TB.
                              @Orangeboys, I didn't comment in the thread where new users introduce themselves, when @brendabethman posted

                              As I said to a friend recently, "I have found my people." I'm definitely now Team Tom Bihn for life :-)
                              but I felt like posting her and others to the first post by forum member @Yoda Sloth, where her daughter made a similar comment. She posted:
                              (BTW, I showed my daughter a couple of forum posts, and she said, “Oh, mama, you found your people…”)
                              I referenced this post in a thread titled TB lingo at the beginning of August, so it's likely that you and @brendabethman didn't read this thread. It's a lot of fun to read (but @Yoda Sloth's post is in the Just for registered members section of the forum, so you have to be logged in to access it).

                              OK, this isn't technically about bags you owned before discovering Tom Bihn, so I'll bow out. I enjoy reading this thread, but the disadvantage of having found Tom Bihn earlier on is not having such good current stories to provide.