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Final hesitations on the Smart Alec before I buy

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    Final hesitations on the Smart Alec before I buy

    Ok I need some enabling here... I'm very close to decided that I need a Smart Alec. I finally admitted to myself that I'm not as ultralight a packer as I want to pretend and my Synapse 19, as much as I adore it for EDC, isn't big enough for travel - I've used it but it always requires a decently sized second bag like a Medium Cafe Bag or Large Shop Bag and I want to go one bag or at least one bag + Side Effect for easy access. I'm about to destash my Synapse 25 (too long for me and I don't like how egg like it gets when the main compartment is packed, so I haven't used it in almost a year). And so the Smart Alec has caught my eye... Just booked my travel back to the east coast for the holidays so would love to get it for that trip since I'll likely have a decent amount of stuff (bulky winter clothes, holiday presents, etc).

    First question, does anyone have experience using Eagle Creek Spectre cubes in there? How do they fit? What does it look like space-wise with two full size ones in there?

    I'm also having some color angst. I almost always go with neutrals and my instinct is to go with Black/Black but I'd really prefer Iberian over Steel for the lining. Also I've been loving my Grey/Iberian S19 so was tempted by the Black/Steel/Iberian until it recently disappeared (but maybe it'll come back?). I can't quite convince myself about the Black/Navy/Iberian (too patriotic?) but maybe some nice photos would do the trick. Thoughts?

    Also, trying to decide if the Upper Modular Pocket would be better in Black or matching the secondary color in Steel or Navy, if I end up with one of those - anyone have thoughts on this (or photos)? Does it only come with a Steel lining? Has this always been the case? Any chance of finding an UMP with an Iberian lining?

    Thanks for any help!!

    The Spectre cubes will fit no problem, the SA just swallows them right up. I only have 2 full size but I bet you could fit 4 of them in there. You would lose some of the storage space in the side pockets but if you avoid bulky items you should be OK.

    Have you considered Dyneema? My SA is Steel D/Wasabi not my ideal lining but the Steel Dyneema is pure sex. I really like the Iberian and would jump on that as an interior myself. Come on you know you want to press the complete purchase button.


      I'm looking at a Navy/Iberian Smart Alec right now and it's not really that patriotic, in my mind. The bag is really mostly black, and I think that the look of Iberian against Navy Ballistic isn't quite as rah-rah-U-S-A as Iberian with Navy Cordura. It's really dark here but I will try to remember to photograph the bag in the morning.

      No modular pockets in my house at the moment, but I honestly think that either Black or a color to match the panel would be equally nice. I think (for no rational reason) that a contrasting color (so, Black against the Navy panel) would be nice looking for the bottom pocket, but maybe Navy on Navy would look better for the top. As far as I know, the modular pockets only ever came with Steel interiors, but since they're quite small you shouldn't have too much trouble seeing inside of them.


        I have a black/steel/Iberian Smart Alec and I love it more than I loved the navy/Iberian version I returned. Navy/Iberian, even with all the black sides and bottom, was too much color for me. But I do have a navy/northwest sky Aeronaut 30, so I'm also a hypocrite. My steel SA has a burnt orange upper modular pouch, because orange is NOT too much color.
        Ha! I'm no help.


          Just in case it helps, here is a photo of both a full sized Eagle Creek specter cube and a very full 15 inch folder organizer in the SA, and they fit easily even horizontally, though when they are in horizontally, it makes it more difficult to fit big items in the side pockets. You can still fit a water bottle, but you may want to leave the side pocket unzipped, since it has the built in expansion, and I have never had a bottle fall out that way.

          I like the option of a contrasting lower pocket, though I have kept a matching upper pocket.

          The SA is my favorite travel bag, and I think you will appreciate its organizational flexibility if you decide to try one.

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          ETA: I would recommend a bright interior for the interior, as it is much easier to see things given the bag's cavernous nature.
          Last edited by NWhikergal; 11-21-2015, 10:07 AM.
          "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
          "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller


            Now that the forum wonkiness has abated, here's a couple pictures. I apologize for the lighting; the weather decided to turn bad over the last 24 hours. The last photo shows the Navy/Iberian next to the Black/Iberian.

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            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


              Thanks everyone!

              @Muni_Jedi Wow 4 full size Spectre cubes?? That's more spacious than I was imagining even! I can't think I'd want more than 2 in there (only have 1 set of them (1 each full, half, quarter size) right now, but considering buying another set. While I love a happy Dyneema interior, it's just not for me as an exterior fabric (I could see some potential temptation if there was a Black Dyneema/Iberian option but Wasabi is a big no for me).

              @Badger Thank you so much for the photos! So jealous of those bags! The Navy looks pretty classy and probably not too much with the Iberian. I'm feeling increasingly tempted since I think having the Iberian interior is a big thing for me.

              @Rocks Colors are so hard! Sometimes a particular combination just sings to you in a particular bag...

              @NWhikergal Great photos, especially with the cubes in there, I'm starting to get a really good sense of the capacity and I'm loving it! And I like the tip that you can leave the side pocket unzipped with a water bottle in there - I like easy access to my water so that's a big plus!

              I'm leaning towards the Black/Navy/Iberian now actually but have my eyes on some ebay auctions too... wondering if I should wait for the Nov 30 debuts too since I think it is likely I may be tempted by something then... but I'll be kicking myself if there aren't any Smart Alecs with Iberian interior available then...


                Thank you everyone for the advice - I just won a Black/Black/Iberian Smart Alec on ebay which was my original color preference so I'm very excited about that! Plus saved a bit of money over buying it new so that may help justify buying some of the new releases when they're out on Monday (and, you know, I might need an upper modular pocket anyway so better to do that all in one order, right?).


                  Originally posted by ClaireJ View Post
                  Thank you everyone for the advice - I just won a Black/Black/Iberian Smart Alec on ebay which was my original color preference so I'm very excited about that! Plus saved a bit of money over buying it new so that may help justify buying some of the new releases when they're out on Monday (and, you know, I might need an upper modular pocket anyway so better to do that all in one order, right?).
                  Congrats, @ClaireJ, I saw that item on auction, and I think the Black/Black/Iberian color combination is great for the Smart Alec. Definitely a winner.