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    I posted a little while ago asking which bag people thought would be better for college, the Brain Bag or the Smart Alec. I had decided on a Smart Alec and was just waiting for it to be back in stock in black/iberian or for for the new dyneema color to be released. Unfortunately, the waiting has given me time to continue thinking about the Brain Bag vs. the Smart Alec. And then I came across this thread: http://forums.tombihn.com/questions-...llege-bag.html in which the vote is unanimous for the Brain Bag as a college bag. There's the question of whether the Smart Alec will feel too cramped (especially with a computer in a brain cell) Vs. the question of whether the Brain Bag would just look and feel tremendous. The Smart Alec is probably big enough, but maybe its better to go with the Brain Bag which will absolutely no question always be big enough for me. So, if you don't mind me asking again, which bag do you think will be better for me on a college campus? I do plan to carry my laptop around (13" macbook), but not always. I know I'm probably over-thinking this, but it's my nature (it doesn't help that it's summer and I have waaaaay too much free time on my hands ).

    Hi there:
    I work on a college campus. A lot of your decision depends on what you carry about on a daily basis--and your age, frankly!!! I carry less and less these days to save my back and shoulders. When I was a student, I carried the world on my back it seems

    1. Brain Bag is much more of a traditional backpack style. You simply can not go wrong with it. It has TWO distinct compartments; so you can carry your laptop, books, gym clothes sorted out between the two compartments without a problem.

    2. It is a large bag, but cinches down really well. The Smart Alec does NOT cinch down, and personally, I do find that to be a problem.
    3. I have the Smart Alec and the Synapse; I am small made, so the Brain Bag would probably carry me! I don't find the Smart Alec comfortable as a daily pack; the Synapse is my favorite go to backpack. i can fit in a MBA 13 or a Macbook pro there without a problem.

    4. Getting used to the design of the Smart Alec--the top opening --does take some getting used to. I find it much better as a travel bag. If you are super organized with other cubes and folders, you will be fine, but not if you are the kind that also tends to throw stuff into a backpack.

    i would recommend the Brain Bag for you. It will also serve as your weekend getaway bag, and will outlive your grad school!


      I second everything Shiva says, the Brain Bag is a very versatile backpack, I have taken various classes and all my trips within the U.S with it, it has also been invaluable during moves.

      The Brain Bag will serve you way beyond your college years.

      One of the best feature is the ability to cinch the side straps in and out, depending on how large your load is.
      No matter how full or light it is, it is alway balanced and very comfortable.

      When you order the Brain Bag, you could get a couple of Large Organizer Pouches in different colors, it will help organize your handwritten notes and paper handouts by class. They are sturdy and will have many more use during and after college.

      Cordura Organizer Pouches (all fabric)
      [url=http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/ACC/TB0317]Organizer Pouches by: TOM BIHN[/url

      Clear Organizer Pouches (clear front)

      I think you should enjoy your free time.

      July is a great time to gather as much information on campus life and the city the college belongs to.

      Getting a bike or taking transit might alleviate the cost of parking.
      Finding out from the college website about study books and other assigned reading as soon as possible will save you time and money.
      If you have an independent office supply store in your hometown, gather a couple of comfortable, refillable writing instruments such as rollerballs and gel pens, they will alleviate hand cramps during handwritten exams.

      One fun activity is to check the reviews of grocery stores, farmer markets as well as take out and delivery places within a reasonable radius of your future residence.

      I hope it is ok to share those few little tibits of college life, I am just very exited for you!

      Please let us know the color of your Brain Bag and your Organizer Pouches.
      Last edited by backpack; 07-08-2012, 02:35 PM.


        Hopefully, this link works

        Cordura Organizer Pouches

        Organizer Pouches by: TOM BIHN


          Not to confuse you further but I have the Brain Bag and I have the 13" MBP. The Brain Bag will swallow that laptop up! The Brain Bag holds a lot which is both a blessing (having everything you need) and a curse (weight). It really does depend what you plan to carry routinely. If it isn't that much, for me I'd go Smart Alec as I prefer to use the smallest bag I can get away with (goes back to that weight thing again). Good luck!



            I do not have the Smart Alec, so I can't compare the two. But I am a former high school teacher and current grad student and my Brain Bag goes with me everywhere. As others have said, it can cinch down when you don't need the extra space, but the space is there if you need it. I carry a 15" MBP each day and it handles this with no problem.


              Hey, yeb,
              what I am sensing from you is a bit of uncertainty about whether to move away from a more traditional book-bag layout. I think that you will find the Brain Bag very intuitive to use, and that you will be able to use it to capacity when you are traveling and yet compress it for your day-to-day needs. I also imagine having the extra space will be handy when you are taking every.book.you.own to the library to study for never.ending.midterms.

              On the other hand: I have a Smart Alec, as I think I've told you before. It can hold a ton of stuff, and I don't find it that hard to organize. I think that because your computer is a 13", you'd probably have even more usable space to work with. Its cavernous quality took a little getting used to, but I appreciate it now. One of my undergraduate students is about to buy her first TB bag (aww, I know) and I believe she's chosen the Smart Alec over the Brain Bag. I'm not sure of her reasons, but I can ask.

              Is there any way you could buy both bags and then test pack them and see which you like better? I know it's a ton of money, but as long as you don't end up keeping both of them (ahem), you can rest easily knowing that you are comfortable with your decision.


                Originally posted by Badger View Post
                I know it's a ton of money, but as long as you don't end up keeping both of them (ahem), you can rest easily knowing that you are comfortable with your decision.
                Badger is handing out good advice, as usual. I've ordered and - gasp! - returned a two TB bags (an Ego and a Cadet 15"), although they were ordered months apart, not at the same time. When the bags arrived, I opened the box with excited, test packed, and then paraded around the living room prepared to be wowed and excited, but neither of the bags clicked with me, something was just off or missing with each. The Ego was too tall and felt cumbersome to carry, and while it held everything I needed for my heavy duty carry days, it was too large for 80% of my days. The Cadet, which I really, really, really wanted to love - and I did love the craftsmanship, styling, overall setup of compartmentalization were perfect - but the size was just a little too small. I needed a bit more depth in the main compartment for folders and books and a deeper front pocket for wallet, etc, to fit easily without bulging. That was a long-winded way to say Badger's right, if you can, order both and give them a try as it's the only way to REALLY know you're picking the bag that will work best for you.
                Aeronaut in Black/Iberian, Synapse in Black/Iberian, Small Cafe Bag in Linen/Steel, 4Z Horizontal Cache in Black, iPad Vertical Cache in Black, 3D Organizer Cube in Steel, Large Clear Organizer in Pouch Iberian, Medium Clear Organizer Pouch in Iberian, Mini Padded Organizer Pouch in Black, Mini Organizer Pouch in Iberian, 16" Key Strap in Sapphire, 8" Key Strap in Storm


                  Backpack, thanks for the suggestions. I really am enjoying my free time. I'm just the type of person who needs something to be doing or feel like I'm wasting the time I have for myself. I'm pretty excited for myself too.

                  Badger and Scattered, I was considering ordering both and the more I think about it the better the idea seems. Knowing myself, I will be happiest with my decision if I have the chance to see both bags in person. Otherwise I am likely to always wonder at the back of my mind if the other bag just might have been a better choice. Now I guess I just need to wait until the Smart Alec is back in stock.

                  As far as a color for the Brain Bag goes, can you guys tell me if the pictures of the different colors are pretty accurate?

                  Thanks everybody for your responses!