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First Time Poster - Transitioning from Backpack to Empire Builder Questions

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    First Time Poster - Transitioning from Backpack to Empire Builder Questions

    I have been reading these forums for a few months now after discovering the Aeronaut 45.

    For several years I have worn a backpack for my tech job (Ogio Newt 15 slimline, 1050 cubic inches). The ogio has been just about the perfect size, but I have been forced from time to time to overload it, which lead to broken zippers, and some light tearing. Now that I am in banking, I wanted something along the lines of a modern briefcase with a personality and found the Empire Builder.

    I mainly need a briefcase that will take an ipad air, several file folders, a few magazines, tech organization, and the occasional 15 inch MBP. I would occasionally stuff it with overnight travel essentials, but a majority of the time, it would only be loaded halfway or so by my estimation. I will add that I would not be carrying it for a long time (no long commute with it on, etc).

    The EB appears to be the perfect size that adds a little bit of space compared to the bag I am coming from. Could I be missing out on any other alternatives before I buy?

    Thanks for any help in advance.
    Last edited by K.E.P.; 10-03-2015, 09:06 AM.

    #2
    EB is comparatively heavy and bulky because of its rigid structure. I think it would be overkill for your usual carry, personally. How about a Pilot? The softer sides make it more adaptable, and it better accommodates smaller items and clothes while still having a large area for laptop, tablet, and files.

    Comment


      #3
      I was going to suggest the Pilot until I got to the 15" MBP. However, with the Empire Builder you'll be hauling around a lot more weight on a daily basis in order to get that "sometimes" functionality. Personally, I think I'd be likely to go for two bags: a Pilot for everyday, and a Western Flyer for those times when you need to carry the larger computer and/or pack overnight stuff... but that really depends on your lifestyle and how much advance notice you get of either use case.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by catherder View Post
        I was going to suggest the Pilot until I got to the 15" MBP. However, with the Empire Builder you'll be hauling around a lot more weight on a daily basis in order to get that "sometimes" functionality. Personally, I think I'd be likely to go for two bags: a Pilot for everyday, and a Western Flyer for those times when you need to carry the larger computer and/or pack overnight stuff... but that really depends on your lifestyle and how much advance notice you get of either use case.
        I will rarely need to carry the 15 MBP, but from time to time I will have to throw it in. For car or air travel, I will have an Aeronaut 45 or an eagle creek tarmac 22 on that side.

        I would not be opposed to a messenger bag, but still like the clean lines from a briefcase.

        Thanks so much for the answers thus far.

        Comment


          #5
          If you are not in a big rush, I would suggest waiting till Tuesday's debut of new products. I have no inside information, but there is mention of a new big bag, so perhaps this would be worth waiting for.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by GoStanford View Post
            If you are not in a big rush, I would suggest waiting till Tuesday's debut of new products. I have no inside information, but there is mention of a new big bag, so perhaps this would be worth waiting for.
            Thank you very much. I will and had no idea they were introducing some new bags. They actually have the EB back in stock, but not the color combo I like.

            Thanks again for the info.

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              #7
              I like @catherder 's suggestion of a Western Flyer (WF). I actually think you could use this AS your briefcase.
              Here is my logic:

              You are already looking at an Empire Builder (EB) as the right size. The WF is actually just a bit smaller than the EB even though it has more volume (26L for the WF) vs 22.5L for the EB)
              The WF has a convertible bag - ie it has hidden backpack straps - so you do not have to give up your backpack carry option.
              The WF is 30% lighter than the EB so is better if you are thinking about weight issues.
              The WF, like the EB is best used with a Brain Cell for laptop protection and adds more rigidity to the WF.
              The WF is perfect for overnight travel and one-bagging it.
              You can add a Horizontal Freudian Slip in the WF for some pen / paper organization
              The WF has been known to be passed off as personal items for flights (YMMV and the Dyneema version is probably best for this)
              The WF compresses to be quite thin IMHO (I was surprised how small a footprint is has when I first got it) when not fully packed (bottom bag is WF, Red bag is a TriStar (TS) and the top is an Aeronaut 45 (A45):



              While there are many advantages of the EB (ie superior built in protection, stands up on its own very well, organizer panel, etc), the WF is an excellent alternative.

              If thinking to go a bit smaller and still have the "overnight" flight option, have you looked at the Founder's Briefcase? It has a packing cube that you can put in it to carry some clothes and build-in sleeve for a 15" MBP and lots of built-in organization. I do not have one yet but it might work for you. Here is a good video by @itsablur:

              Itsablur's Founder Briefcase review

              Hope this helps

              Cheers!
              Last edited by tpnl; 10-06-2015, 07:30 AM.
              TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by K.E.P. View Post
                I will rarely need to carry the 15 MBP, but from time to time I will have to throw it in. For car or air travel, I will have an Aeronaut 45 or an eagle creek tarmac 22 on that side.

                I would not be opposed to a messenger bag, but still like the clean lines from a briefcase.

                Thanks so much for the answers thus far.
                Welcome to the forums, @K.E.P. If the retired Zephyr were still around, I'd strongly recommend that bag in preference to the Empire Builder for your usage profile. I understand the appeal of the "clean lines" of the Empire Builder as a briefcase, especially for work in a field like banking, where the appearance of this bag, in contrast to the Pilot, has advantages. I agree with both @cara and @catherder that unless you regularly need the capacity of the Empire Builder (e.g., you regularly need to carry thick files and binders, possibly along with your laptop) and/or you want the extra degree of protection afforded by the padded walls of the Empire Builder for your laptop (e.g., you're the sort of person who carries his laptop in a Brain Cell and wants the ultimate in additional protection for the bag it's carried in, so you can be secure in the knowledge that in major accidents your securely stored laptop will survive and continue to function), the 4 lbs empty bag weight of the Empire Builder make this pretty heavy for this bag to be your optimal daily carry.

                Here's a rather different suggestion: take a look at the ID Bag (20.9 liters/1275 cu in compared to 22.5 liters/1375 cu in. of the Empire Builder that is about twice it's empty weight -- 4 lbs vs 2 lbs 3 oz). Like the Zephyr, this bag is being slated for retirement, but is still available. It handles a 15" MacBook (and even larger laptops) much more gracefully than the Pilot. Unlike the Pilot and the Empire Builder, it presents a much slimmer profile if not fully filled. You have the option of using the organization of pockets in the front section, or adding a horizontal Freudian Slip. The ID Bag is a messenger bag, but it also features a padded handle like the one used for the Pilot, as well as a variety of shoulder strap options. I most frequently would use the Absolute Shoulder Strap (and when I had the Empire Builder, that was always the strap I used for the weight), but if you want to carry the bag using the Quick-Adjust Messenger Strap, it's also designed for this. (Note to @tpnl: this setup with the ID Bag is more comfortable than the arrangement for the Pilot).

                I think the ID bag is closer to your outlined usage profile than the Western Flyer (which is a great bag that I use for travel, but would definitely not use for a briefcase; but if you're tall enough you could get away with it). It can definitely be used as an overnight bag, or as a complement to your Aeronaut 45. (I can't imagine carrying a Western Flyer along with my Aeronaut 45). It has a dedicated water bottle pocket at the side, which you could repurpose to hold an umbrella if you don't like to carry a water bottle or thermos outside the bag.

                By the way, if you're really undecided about bags and their accessories, and you're in the U.S., consider ordering the items you want to evaluate and returning the ones you don't select for a $10 UPS shipping charge. (The return label is generated automatically, and the charge is deducted from the amount credited back from the returned items.)

                HTH

                moriond
                Last edited by moriond; 10-06-2015, 06:33 AM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks everyone. I am 5' 10'' for reference.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I'd love to hear from the experienced one around about the founders briefcase. Only the one color or were there others? Shows that it will be back in stock and the exterior simplicity with the cool interior is intriguing.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by tebnewyork View Post
                      I'd love to hear from the experienced one around about the founders briefcase. Only the one color or were there others? Shows that it will be back in stock and the exterior simplicity with the cool interior is intriguing.
                      @tebnewyork, The Founder's Briefcase debuted in all the Parapack colors: Navy, Olive, Steel, and Black. You can do a search of the blog pages to find most of the articles about its debut, and also a blog entry about the video review that @itsablur did of this bag. (Sorry, but the way to run searches for old blog posts is not so evident in the redesigned blog pages, and requires a few steps. You have to click on the "Menu" in the top right corner and select "Archives and Search". Then you need to click into the text box to the right of the magnifiying glass where is says "SEARCH ARCHIVES" and type in your search terms (e.g. "Founder's Briefcase"). To examine the individual blog posts, you have to click on each result youwant to view.
                      Quick background: The Founder's Briefcase and the Guide's Pack were both designed with 420d High Tenacity Parapack Nylon. Like Ballistic Nylon and Dyneema, Parapack has to be custom-ordered in large lots, because you basically need to bankroll a production run in order to get your supplies of this material -- at least for the material specs and colors that are used for the Tom Bihn bags. So these materials can run out. They generally keep Steel Parapack around to line many bags (like the Daylight Briefcase and for the pockets of the Daylight Backpack, and for the Brain Bags, I think), and they use Black Parapack for the Freudian Slips, so these colors may be more easily available.

                      HTH

                      moriond

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks everyone. After reading things over and over, I think the ID messenger is going to be the choice. I like the empire builder, but think it is too much for my actual needs. I am going to order one of the three colors left over and see how it works.

                        Again, thanks everyone for the great communication and comparison. This is actually pretty fun with the exception of my wallet!

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