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Curious -- folks who love their Side Effect …?

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    Curious -- folks who love their Side Effect …?

    Hey guys! I'm wondering what y'all think, especially those who've had more bags and for much longer than I.

    When I first discovered Tom Bihn, I initially settled on getting three "run around town" bags: A Medium Cafe Bag, for when I'm carrying around my larger iPad Pro or Macbook (i.e. for work); a Side Kick, for when I'm carrying my iPad Mini or an e-reader (i.e. for leisure or travel); and an Everyday Cubelet, for when I'm running around, say, a park or zoo or downtown or something, and just want to carry a few backup essentials: phone charger and battery, sunglasses, hand sanitizer and sunscreen, etc. (I also ended up getting an Aeronaut 30, which was perhaps the best decision of all.) XD

    The MCB and SK (and A30) have all been working out great for their purposes, but I find I just don't ever use the EC. Like, at all. I took it on one local nature hike and one day downtown when I first got it, and haven't used it since. I'm debating whether I'm just not inclined to carry a small bag like that, or if the vertical layout, organization, and shoulder strap just aren't doing it for me.

    I see people mention their Side Effects quite often, and I'm wondering whether I might be more likely to use one of those, instead. I could carry it over the shoulder, or I could try carrying it as a waist pack with the Gatekeeper strap and not feel like it's dangling or like I might set it down for a moment and forget it. Again, my typical carrying contents might include:

    - Anker pocket charger and a couple charge cables
    - Eyeglasses case with sunglasses
    - Tylenol and a few band-aids, maybe some lens wipes
    - A tiny notebook and pen
    - Airpods
    - Hand santizer and/or sunscreen, depending on the trip

    Anyone's thoughts? Is the Side Effect a much different carry than the Everyday Cubelet, or not really? There's a few Aubergine in stock and Burnt Orange is supposedly in production … but the SE is just at price-point where I'm second-guessing whether to purchase it or not. XD Thanks!
    My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
    Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
    With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

    I think it's a matter of whether you prefer horizontal/landscape vs vertical/portrait orientation, as well as whether the 1.5L capacity works for you in general (same for both bags). If you find yourself never using the EC, is it because of the space or the vertical vs horizontal storage?

    I usually use ECs in 210 ballistic or 200 halcyon (more flexible than the 525 ballistic) as bag-in-bag organizers. They're usually not attached inside the bag, but with an option handle loop attached to make yanking it out of the pack/bag easier. I also use one on my Smart Alec instead of a Lower Module Pocket because it's smaller, more compact, fewer fiddly Gatekeeper attachment points, and I can pop it off and use as a bag at destination.

    The SE was the first TB bag I ever bought and I sold it to replace with a SK because I wanted room for a 16oz Nalgene plus my Kindle, tissues, etc. and that all just works better in a SK. Since then, I've picked up a couple SEs to basically use as attached bag-in-bag (like I just showed on the Cambiata) and in place of the Upper Module Pocket on my Smart Alec.

    For both, they work as oh-by-the-way cross body backup bags when I'm at destination and it's convenient (I leave the strap rolled up inside the bag).
    Last edited by G42; 09-22-2022, 05:47 PM.
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...


      G42 and I better not ever play Jeopardy standing at adjacent podiums (at least not for my sake), because I just got beat to the buzzer on this one. Rats!

      I’ve tried both the SE and EC.

      What forces a lot of my decision making are key items I consider “everyday carry.” One of them is a fairly stout, but still smallish, camera - and because it’s an expansive piece of equipment, it gets its own protective case that goes inside another bag (think of it like a cache).

      In order for that camera to fit, I need a bag with top to bottom depth - or one with “portrait” orientation. The SE can barely fit that camera (sans case) in one of its two inside pockets, and ditching the case is problematic not only because it removes that protective layer, but I also store a spare memory card and battery inside the camera case.

      The EC worked best for me as a “theme park” bag on family vacations to Disney World. A magic band puck would get clipped into a key fob inside the front slash zipper compartment. A mini organizer pouch would let clipped inside the main compartment and tucked into the inside pocket. Four-color pen (duh) in the pen pocket. And the main volume fit a camera (stored safely inside its case) with a small amount of top-to-bottom room left over where I could tuck a small power bank, charging cord, and a pocket comb. In a pinch, I could also squeeze my sunglasses in there and zip it all up.

      The setup works GREAT at the mouse house, but back home, it’s not enough capacity for my daily carry and I would only occasionally take it out as a “camera bag” when my wife and I would visit a zoo, museum, garden, etc.

      The EC really excels - as G42 aptly puts it - as a “bag within a bag” solution. It’s a nice organizer that can double as a “just the essentials” bag for a walk around the neighborhood, trip to the store, etc.

      But what’s most interesting for me is that I found the depth of the EC was more valuable than the extra built-in organization of the SE - I could fit more in it because there was a smaller opening and less opportunity for items to fall out.

      I’m on Team Everyday Cubelet. I tried the Side Effect and just couldn’t get it to work for me because it’s so shallow.

      Let me add one last thing. This year I didn’t take the EC to Disney and used the new Bummer instead. It carried really well as a fanny pack but keeping the strap length at my waist measurement meant I could get it around my shoulder and chest in sling mode - I would have to loosen the strap every time I would want to switch carry modes. So I kept it as a fanny pack the entire trip, and when I got on a seated ride with a lap bar that forced me to take it off my waist, I hung it over my head like a Hawaiian lei and held onto it for dear life.

      I think the SE will fit your packing list, but my biggest question is what do you hope to accomplish with a smaller bag that you can’t with your SK?

      You might have some room left over in the SK after you’ve packed those things inside, but the nice part of that bag is it does tend to conform to the hip or the side of your body when under packed, as opposed to a mostly or a completely full SE, which won’t conform to your body in the same way.
      Last edited by Chicagoan; 09-22-2022, 06:18 PM.
      I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
      Everyday Carry: CP or SK
      Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
      Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
      Plane Travel: CP and WF


        I don’t have an EC, but I use my SE daily. It’s perfect on its own when I’m doing a run to the store or to pick up the kids. Things I carry in it: minimalist wallet; pen; pouch with extra meds, eye drops, nail clippers, band aids, etc; my phone (sometimes); a small pair of socks; and my keys. My sunglasses would fit in there too— I don’t have it stuffed full. I like the ability to carry as a hip pack for longer days (such as theme parks).

        On the days when I want to carry a little more, I put the SE into my medium cafe bag or the bottom pocket of my synapse 19. I appreciate not having to move stuff around and being able to know that I always have my essentials with me in the SE!

        I think that someday I’ll get a side kick, for when I want a little more room (an e-reader or a rain jacket, stuff like that). But most of the time the SE is perfect for me. But you have to find what works for you! I’ve thought about getting an EC because it comes in alphaviolet, but I think I would lose stuff in the bottom. I like being able to open up the SE and see everything that’s in there.


          I keep an EC in my desk at work in case I want to walk to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Phone, wallet, keys, sometimes sunglasses. The SE would probably work just as well for that, but I like the look of the EC's vertical orientation better.
          Bike commuting with the Smart Alec!


            My SE is my EDC and I prefer it to the EC. Although the EC is a little larger I've found that the SE actually fits more in it.


              This is a very interesting thread. In general, I'm an East/West girl i.e. I prefer horizontal carry purses, etc. But I do have both of these and never realized they technically hold the same amount (volume-wise). That said in my head and therefore in my usage (lol) I always viewed the SE as a "shoulder bag" and the EC as a "crossbody" The main issue I have for both of these is I cannot get my sunglasses in either of them. I have expensive wrap sunglasses that I don't toss around and always keep in a case - neither of these bags is nearly large enough to accommodate that unfortunately. I think the SE easily transforms into a packing pouch - especially for things like cords, battery packs etc. The EC to me doesn't really function as a "pouch" very well. As they say YMMV


                Originally posted by photocat View Post
                I think the SE easily transforms into a packing pouch - especially for things like cords, battery packs etc. The EC to me doesn't really function as a "pouch" very well. As they say YMMV
                I’d actually advocate for the EC as an interior organizer inside another bag because of the “portrait” orientation: it not only occupies less space and a smaller footprint at the bottom
                of a bag, but the height keeps the EC’s opening closer to the top of the larger bag it’s stored inside, and makes the items stored within easier to access. Best use case? The DLBC. It’s a wide (left to right) and shallow (front to bag) bag and the EC can drop
                inside the main compartment with plenty of room to spare. And the depth works well for sunglasses - I know you like to keep yours inside a case, photocat, but my Raybans (sans case) were able to tuck next to my camera pouch inside the EC, which was helpful because it gave me a place to store my shades on theme park rides.
                I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
                Everyday Carry: CP or SK
                Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
                Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
                Plane Travel: CP and WF


                  I have both EC and SE as well. The SE is excellent as a waist pack for bike rides and jogs. I don't use it as a bag in bag as its horizontal orientation makes it difficult to reach in and grab things. I use my EC as my inner bag for my MCB. Some times I really don't need to have all my stuff with me and it feels silly to have this big bag so the EC comes in handy as a smaller inner bag of my important things (keys, headphones, wallet etc). For day hikes I can take the EC out of my MCB and add it to whatever bag I need to.

                  I don't use the SE outside of my weekend rides and short jogs but it works so well for that purpose!


                    My current set up is a side effect as my purse-like-object. It holds my kindle paperwhite, headphones, small bottle of hand sanitizer, an extra mask, TB wallet and maybe a pen or two. I tuck the strap inside during the week, and carry it in the front bottom pocket of my Synapse 25- which is my current teacher bag. It solves a problem I have had forever- I don't tend to carry the same bag during the weekend as I carry to work, and it was annoying switching back and forth. I also carry two cubellets-one with a strap- and a q-kit in my backpack for the odd chargers, a glasses kit, medicine, etc. I like that I also can throw the side effect in a swift- which I did when I took my dad for a medical procedure, and I wanted a project with me. To me, the side effect is incredibly efficient and wearable as a cross-body by itself. But it is wildly useable inside the bigger bags too!
                    Last edited by Jlange; Yesterday, 01:29 PM.
                    Current favorites: I dig burnt orange, sangria, and moabthe best. <3