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Brain Bag or Smart Alec

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    Brain Bag or Smart Alec

    Hey all. I'm a high school band director looking for advice on which backpack would work best for my needs. I have narrowed my selection down to these two and would appreciate some input. With work, I would need to carry a couple of small video cameras, various paperwork, jacket, shoes, my ipod, wallet, a 40 oz. Klean Kanteen, occasionally my 13" macbook, laptop charger and phone charger. I am also looking for a bag to accompany my Aeronaut on plane flights where it will carry my ipad, a change of clothes, ipod, chargers, 40 oz Klean Kanteen, and flight documentation. Thanks for any advice!

    hi Sdawg!

    welcome to the forum!

    based on what you describe, i would recommend the brain bag, though you might be able to fit what you describe into the smart alec.

    you can put the two small video cameras in protective sleeves into one of the two main compartments of the brain bag. tom bihn is working on a camera insert that would accommodate two small video cameras i imagine. darcy, can you confirm?

    i'm not sure how much paperwork you will be carrying, but have a look at the field journal when it comes out next week. if you'll be carrying more bulky paperwork, the vertical freudian slip will help keep not only your papers, but also other accessories and what not organized.

    a small packing cube can keep your shoes separated from other items in your bag.

    your 13" macbook can go into a vertical or horizontal brain cell, which can clip into either main compartment.

    your jacket, brain cell with 13" macbook inside, small packing cube with shoes inside, vertical freudian slip and field journal can all go into one of the two main compartments, while the video cameras go into the other main compartment.

    you may even be able to fit the horizontal brain cell in the same compartment as the video cameras, depending on how much space is taken up by the video cameras.

    there are organizer pockets in the front of the brain bag to keep your keys, wallet, ipod and other such things organized and easily accessible.

    there is also a place in the front of the brain bag for your water bottle.

    the co-pilot will hold your ipad in a cache, a change of clothes, your ipod, chargers, and flight documentation. the 40oz klean kanteen water bottle will be a little tall for the co-pilot's water bottle pocket. the co-pilot accommodates a 1 liter water bottle nicely. darcy also mentioned on the forums that tom bihn will soon be making a water bottle available that will fit in tom bihn bags.

    i hope this helps answer some of your questions. let us know if we can help further as you make a decision on a bag.


      I don't have a Smart Alec to compare to, but the Brain Bag is fantastic -- holds a ton, rock solid, highly configurable, and comfortable to carry even when fully loaded. I think it would carry and organize everything you've listed with no problem.


        The Brain Bag is awesome!! One of the best back packs I have ever owned. I'm actually using it this weekend for an overnight boy scouts camping trip. In the back main compartment I'm carrying the tent, sleeping bag, and pillow, and in the front main compartment I'm carrying a first aid kit, change of clothes for both me and my son, Toiletries, and some water bottles. The other small compartments, just some odds and end stuff.

        My wife could not believe that I was able to fit a tent and sleeping bag, and pillow in there and still have all that room. The tent granted, is a Kelty Teton 2 person tent, and the sleeping bag is a kelty too, rolls up small.

        But hey, this makes not only a great day to day backpack, but a great camping pack as well, oh, plus I can put my sleep bag mat in the front water bottle/umbrella holder pocket...


          Jacket, shoes, large water bottle, laptop—that's starting to be a lot of stuff. I think the Brain Bag—because you don't have to fill it up, but if you need the capacity, it's there—with a Freudian Slip for the papers.


            The Brain Bag is the roomiest, most comfortable and versatile backpack I ever owned.

            It can easily hold 2 full size laptops and all associated power bricks, 2 external hard drives and usb cable.

            It swallows tons of clothes, many big textbooks...

            As others have said, the Freudian Slip is really great for paperwork.

            I have 2 Brain Bags, my first was bought almost 5 years ago.
            It has been part of all my moves and my travels.

            The two front side pockets are so streamlined that they look small but each hold a size 8 dress shoe. (I found that out when I did not do most of my packing the evening before a return flight)

            As my main carry on, the Brain Bag has very handy side compression straps compress the bag to the exact size of what is carried, very handy to find a space in the overhead compartment.

            My standard second bag on flights is a Large Cafe Bag.
            Last edited by backpack; 09-27-2010, 11:53 AM.