We're glad you are here. This is the place to ask for bag advice, help other people out, post reviews, and share photos and videos.

TOM BIHN Forums Statistics


Topics: 14,770   Posts: 190,603   Members: 6,653   Active Members: 262
Welcome to our newest member, bulletproofcharm.


No announcement yet.

Wow part 2: Shadow Guide 23 vs 33 test packing

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Wow part 2: Shadow Guide 23 vs 33 test packing

    The Shadow Guide 23 arrived at my door about 90 minutes ago, and since today is debut day let’s get going!

    A lot of people will want to know how it compares to the SG33. As someone who is 5’7”, I did too (spoiler: the 23 fits me great). This post will mirror the same sort of test packing I did with the SG33. I’m going to quote my full review of the SG33 at the end, and you can click the little up arrow at the top right of the quote to go to that review.

    Let’s get started.

    The first thing I notice is that proportionately it looks just like the SG33. I’d say it was a little smaller in each dimension. Definitely a few inches shorter.

    Similarly, the top pocket and the under pockets are just a little smaller in each dimension and you can see that the buckles that hold the top pocket on are slightly closer together on the 23.

    I am very VERY happy to find that the top pocket of the 23 holds a PCSB or an Icon, just without the extra space around it. Zips closed comfortably though.

    My 13” MacBook fits but doesn’t have a generous space around it as it did in the 33.

    My bike helmet fits! I did angle it to get it in the 23 but once past the opening it had plenty of room.

    Now for the real test pack. In the SG 33 I managed to fit 4 PCSBs, a Clear Quarter Packing Cube and a Spiff Kit in the body, with a 3DOC in the top pocket.

    In the SG23 I can fit 3 A30 Packing Cubes, a CQPC, a Spiff Kit and a 3DOC in the body of the bag. The A30 cubes fit a little better than the PCSBs and have a bit of wiggle room around them because they aren’t as tall. You can use the space to fit the Spiff Kit and 3DOC down the front, and then put the CQPC on top.

    Here is what I consider to be the optimal load:

    Whereas in the 33 you can fit at least one more layer/PCSB:

    What I would say is, don’t try to ram the body of the bag totally full to the top because it pushes the top pocket up in a ridiculous way that distorts the pocket when you buckle the straps down, and encroaches on the top pocket space.

    So the biggest mystery of this bag is, how can it be 23L? This is the 23 between the 20L Night Flight Travel Duffel and the Aeronaut 30.

    And just the 23 with the A30:

    See what I mean? It is a BIG 23L.

    Overall, I would say this would make a great one-bag bag for all but the tallest of travelers. As someone who is 5’7” and usually chooses larger bags, I would say the 23 fits me much better. It would be especially great for those who want a bag they could walk around with, as it looks like a backpack, not a piece of luggage (sorry A30).
    It isn’t even a question. This is a great bag.

    Please feel free to ask any questions, and I will answer as soon as I can.

    Edited to add: This is what my sofa looks like right now [emoji1787]

    My SG33 review:
    Originally posted by Cristina View Post
    lt arrived Tuesday. It’s gorgeous. It’s all black. It’s... the Shadow Guide 33!

    Before I say anything, I’m not normally a fan of top-opening bags, nor of big black hole bags. I mean, my favorite bag of all time is the Parental Unit, which has the most pockets of any TB bag! The Shadow Guide is so simple and efficient and beautiful that it has already won me over.

    The top pocket will fit a full Packing Cube Shoulder Bag or an Icon, with some room to spare. If I were traveling with this bag I might keep my EDC bag inside this top pocket.

    Icon in top pocket:

    PCSB in top pocket:

    On the underside of the top pocket there are two flat zippered pockets with an o-ring inside, for a map or tickets or other documents. There is also a grab handle under the top pocket to make it easier to get things in and out of the main compartment.

    I like to have special pockets for important things and I like these pockets a lot. A Small Ghost Whale Pouch fits comfortably.

    A Passport Pouch is a little too big but could still fit if you fold the fabric around the Passport.

    The zipper pulls! They are more like zipper pulls I’ve seen elsewhere, with a one-piece textured pull on a thin cord loop. I really like the way these feel in the hand and if they are available separately I will for sure add them to my next order.

    The laptop compartment is big and very easy to access.

    You could also put a normal size wooden cutting board in there, if you’re traveling (I would be more likely to do this than carry a laptop [emoji1787]).

    The main compartment is massive.

    If you wanted to add a little organization to the main pocket you could add a Side Effect to the two O-Rings with double carabiners. It’s so big that my bike helmet fits in with ease.

    (I don’t have a motorcycle or BMX helmet so I am not sure about those)

    I am surprised this is 33L because it feels bigger. Here it is next to my A30. Keep in mind the top pocket comfortably fits a full 4.5L PCSB or an 7.5L Icon.

    This bag holds a ton! In the precious pic it is packed with four full Packing Cube Shoulder Bags, a Spiff Kit and a Clear Quarter Packing Cube in the main compartment. I could have jammed in a bit more.

    I can envision a few scenarios for this bag:

    1. A travel scenario with clothing packing cubes and shoes at the bottom, toiletries on top, and EDC and electronics in the top pocket.

    2. A day hike and picnic scenario with a large picnic blanket in a stuff sack at the bottom (LLBean waterproof fleece blanket if you’re interested) and a large cool bag on top with provisions. Essentials and first aid in the top pocket.

    3. A school/university/work bag where you’re carrying oversized folios, large books and folders, and a laptop. A Brain Bag can handle the normal sized stuff but if you have some truly odd bulky items or you keep trying to find a Smart Alec on eBay, this your bag.

    4. Building on #3, maybe some sports equipment? If you need some versatility to go from work to the gym and you need to carry a helmet or boxing gloves, this would probably work well. Maybe even roller skates if they’re in a bag to keep the dirt out of your SG!

    Possible negatives:
    -Anyone choosing this bag should just make sure that their packing style works here. It’s a massive vertical black hole. You need to have a sharp packing strategy and make the most of the top o-rings and/or subdivide the interior space with packing cubes or another bag-in-bag approach.
    -The 1.5” waist strap attachments are interesting to me. I have a 1” attachment padded hip belt that I use for my S25/S30 but that won’t fit on here so I’ll be using the included webbing waist strap instead. I am curious to see how much of a difference the padding makes. I suspect my clothing will determine that.
    -This is a big bag and as such, the shoulder straps aren’t a great fit on me, particularly compared to my S25, and the bag is a bit too big fit-wise. I am 5’7” but my back and shoulders are quite narrow. Given the choice I typically prefer a more spacious bag for travel over one that fits my small back, so I would probably choose this bag again, but I am so curious to see what the smaller SG will hold.

    Concluding thoughts:
    I think this bag would be great candidate for people who just want One Bag. It is gorgeous. Looks-wise it could be a daily bag or a travel bag. It holds a laptop. It is incredibly capacious for travel or bulky stuff like sports equipment. It’s versatile. It’s a bit of a chameleon.

    If you’d like to know “does X fit in it” please ask and I’ll do my best. I don’t have any of TB’s briefcase-type bags but I do have a ruler so I’m sure I can figure it out [emoji1787]
    Last edited by Cristina; 11-30-2020, 08:03 AM.

    I love this review, thank you! This looks like it would have been a perfect bag for when I was cycling to work. A big black hole of a bag is great when you need to carry extra jackets and things (going to work in the cold morning and coming home in the warmer afternoon).


      Thanks Cristina, I was debating between the SG33 and SG23, after seeing the pictures I’m glad I went with the SG23. I think it will be a better daily carry bag and a good compromise between enough room and not too big; I’m 5’3 on a good day and a Guide’s Pack if I need more space for say groceries.


        Cristina, can you do a comparison between the Smart Alec and the SG23? I am interested in seeing how the same things that fits in the SA fit in the SG23. I love, love, love my Smart Alecs, especially the halcyon ones, but I am intrigued by the SG23. I wanted to read reviews and see pictures of it in action before I actually pull the trigger. The SG23 seems, well, big.
        Seeking Solar shop bags and Solar packing cube shoulder bag Also coveting an Iberian Synapse or Copilot


          pammy Here is a comparison with the SA: https://aknitterarylife.blogspot.com...-view.html?m=1


            Originally posted by b1gsky View Post
            Awesome! Thank you for the link. The review is extremely helpful and tells me exactly what I wanted to know. Jennifer always does such a great job reviewing TB products and I love her pictures for visual comparisons.
            Seeking Solar shop bags and Solar packing cube shoulder bag Also coveting an Iberian Synapse or Copilot


              Originally posted by b1gsky View Post
              Thank you very much for the link! I had forgotten that there was a Smart Alec in there, which is a relief since I don’t have a SA. It’s a fantastic review.


                Here is the SG23 on its first trip out, appreciating the view of the English countryside: