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Brain Bag organization, and vs. Synapse

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    Brain Bag organization, and vs. Synapse

    My girlfriend, seeing how ragged my 20+ year old bag is and knowing how much I love Tom Bihn's travel bags (I have an Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Pilot, and two cafe bags), got me the Brain Bag for Christmas. But the reason I never got one for myself is I don't see how it fits with my packing style. I'm hoping the forum can give me some guidance.

    I use the bag practically every day. I carry my laptop to and from work. Most days I also carry a bag of gym clothes (with a cedar insert for odors). I also live in NYC, so the bag often gets filled with random stuff I need to carry. Groceries, for example. (I think of my backpack as the closest I'm going to get to a trunk.) My old bag got pretty full, but it was getting a little cramped.

    There were two things I liked about my old bag (from the defunct Spire, a Volt XL):
    1. There was a pocket in the back that the laptop sleeve comfortably fit in. I could velcro their sleeve in, but even my everyday sleeve, which my employer gave me with the computer, fits snugly and securely.
    2. The large front pocket, which I used to store all the random, non-book/paper/pad stuff. I often carry a usb battery, my eyeglass case, a mini q-kit, a kindle, chargers, a re-usable grocery bag for grocery shopping, bottles of water, and a travel surge protector/power strip, and a small umbrella.

    The organization in the Brain Bag seems very lacking (by design). I can't imagine using this bag without getting the vertical Freudian slip. Plus, it seems big enough that I think things are going to move around a lot. I can picture when I put in a paperback text book, it getting damaged from the movement. How do people secure things inside it?

    Is there a way to secure a computer protection sleeve (i.e. a non-Tom Bihn cache) in the large compartments? I have a gotten a number of them over the years. I'd hate to get rid of them all.

    It seems very tall. Are there some organization hacks to use all the vertical space? The snake charmer page says it was designed to sit on the top, but how well does it attach? And what size to get? What else are people using the snake charmer for other than cables?

    Would the Synapse 25 be a better fit?

    PS: Also, I often take the bike share, and having a place to attach my helmet when I'm walking through stores would be nice. The triangular clasp on the brain bag doesn't work as well as I had hoped for it. It's too big for the ratchet at the back of the helmet, and if I buckle the straps instead, they get caught when I try to take them off. Do people have a better way? (A cheap carabiner perhaps?)

    No, there isn't a way (unless you hack your own "rails" like the Caches use -- which I've tried and failed miserably) to attach a sleeve. Maybe use a key strap to clip it, if you can, to an O-ring?

    How I typically use the BB large components when I travel:

    Back compartment holds clothing, or my behemoth of a Dell laptop if I'm traveling for work. I don't have a cache or sleeve for it, so I roll a pair of pants or jeans and place that at the bottom of the compartment, and rest the laptop on top of it. If I'm storing clothing in there, I use the large A45 laundry packing cube, which takes up most of the vertical space. There's room on top for my small Travel Tray, or my 3-1-1 toiletries bag clipped to an O-ring.

    The front compartment usually has various travel snacks (Chex Mix bags and Twizzlers are my go-to for long flights) and my small Cafe Bag, which is my personal item on flights, containing everything I need when airborne. Once I take that out of my BB, the BB goes in the overhead compartment, and doesn't come out until the plane lands.

    I've never really packed the BB as less than fairly full. I would imagine you could consolidate things into one compartment and use the side compression straps to tighten it down, that might prevent things from shifting too much.

    Like you, I've never found a good use for the front clasp; it's supposed to be for water bottles but I hate using it for that.


      "I've never found a good use for the front clasp; it's supposed to be for water bottles but I hate using it for that."

      I find the central straps quite useful for attaching an umbrella. I've never needed to use the snap hook though.


        I like the front straps of the BB for a rolled up sweater/sweatshirt/light or rain jacket. It's easy to get to and for soft goods can be very secure.


          The Brain Bag was designed to be used with the Brain Cell computer sleeves back when we didn't really have computers as small as we do Today.
          The Brain Cell attached to the inner walls of the BB with Snaps at first and then GateKeeper clips as they evolved and the hard sided Brain Cell would stay right where you clipped it inside the bag.
          I used to carry 3 or 4 computer easily in a BB both in Brain Cells and just naked in the bag and I stuck some foam in the bottom to provide a little cushion if not using a Brain Cell.
          The Brain Cell suspended the computer in neoprene above the floor of the cell so that even if dropped the computer would just sling in place and never hit the floor.
          I guess they stopped selling so Bihn stopped making them but the idea of a Brain Bag and no Brain Cells seems odd to me and funny too of course.

          So it says right in the Brain Bag product page that the Cache will strap to the inside of the BB,have you not read this?

          It seems odd to me that there is not a single pic of the inside of the bag on the BB page and I wonder just what provision is in there to make this happen?

          Like I said mine have the older style snaps and/or clips and I can not really tell what yours may have there instead?

          Also the Snake Charmer would easily just sit atop the Brain Cell and I never had to do anything else with them,I used mine for cables and anything else that I needed to organize in the bag.

          Clearly if you are having trouble organizing the carry I would look for organizers of some kind that will slide into the pockets so you easily retrieve your stuff depending on its makeup and general shapes?

          there are packing sleeves and cubes everywhere for sale,have you laid out the stuff you want to normally carry and then looked for cubes to fit it into?
          it is a process but should also be fun and once figured out should make using the bag every day much easier.