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Previous version of Smart Alec, compare to current

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    Previous version of Smart Alec, compare to current

    Hello all,

    For past few days, there has been a few offers in the e-wild of previous version of Smart Alec. One of them got my attention, but I am still doing justification.
    Hence, I hope I could learn more objectively from you all, about the previous version of Smart Alec compare to current version.

    @tpnl had got me started and directed me to an Official Tom Bihn Blog Post, dated 19 November 2012 Tom's Smart Alec Design Update.
    The blog Post read the news of the updated (also known as the current) design and it also illustrated the enhancements.

    Quoted from the Link
    The details:

    1) Tom nuanced the shape of the front of the Smart Alec. It’s a little bit slimmer at the top, which means it zips easier, and the front holds its shape better, even if the bag is empty.

    2) More loops were added to the front top of the bag, making a total of 13. This means there’s more places and ways to use the included reflective front bungee (remember: you can also remove it entirely if you don’t want to use it) to secure a rain jacket, umbrella, yoga mat, or bike helmet to the front of the bag. In the near future, we’ll be offering accessory straps and modular pockets that attach to the front via these loops. Ride your motorcycle or bike or walk at night with your Smart Alec? Add a 5′ / 1.5m Glowire kit which you can weave through these new loops. Scott, our Shipping Lead, has been testing both the modular pocket and the Glowire kit on days he commutes to and from work on his bike, and both are working out great.

    3) Tom replaced the 1000d Cordura bottom of the Smart Alec with our 1050d high tenacity ballistic nylon: it’s just as durable, but less abrasive and less likely to attract lint and dog/cat hair.

    Last but not least: the 1000d Cordura back has been replaced with a Breathable Drylex Aerospacer 3D mesh back panel. Tom uses his Smart Alec as a dayhiking pack and one thing he always wanted to add was a breathable mesh back panel.

    These design changes were made in this latest batch of Smart Alecs, so all Smart Alecs available for order now have the design updates. Note: Black/Black/Steel has already sold out and is available for backorder with an expected shipping date of late February 2013. Other colors may also soon sell out.

    Note: these improvements do add materials and labor costs to the Smart Alec. On Monday of next week, we will increase the price of the Smart Alec from $150 to $160. We know some of you have been waiting to order the Smart Alec until it was back in-stock and wanted to give you a heads-up so that you could order before we increased the price.

    Tom's Smart Alec Backpack Design Update
    The changes may not be a long list, but I felt they are quite significant to the Quality especially the #3 1050HT Ballistic for the SA's Bottom and as well as the Breathable Drylex Aerospacer 3D mesh back panel.

    For those in the Forum have both version or ever try on both. What you think? In terms of Backpacking Comfort, Versatility, or any of your experience.
    Or you felt there are others changes that not being listed, please do share as well.

    One last question though, would you (if you are in my position, just assume they are favorite color bag) grab the chance to get? Though a previous version of SA.
    Solar/Yellow: A45 Navy, CP Black, SA Black, SCB
    Steel/Grey: UMP Steel 400d, PU Coyote, DLBC, PCSB, TC
    Olive/Green: A30NWS, SCBCanyon, SKIsland
    Mars Red/Red: SENordic, SKCanyon, DLBCCanyon, SCBDawn


    BrainCell Size1 M4800, Cache 13"MBPR E7240

    ~Live Long & Prosper by Vulcan

    #2
    I have had the old version (in beautiful Sage!) for about 10 years now. I've seen the new version in the store many times. To me, they are different bags. I love my SA because it is sleek and beautiful and doesn't look like a backpack, more like a jet pack! Adding the attachment points for the Glowire and the modular pockets ruins this effect (for me). I understand that it's functional and wonderful, I vastly prefer the old version.

    The only changes I would have liked are the Dyneema interior and the zipping pockets in the inner front panel (the top ones are useless without zippers, the bottom one is okay if you use it with a pouch or something that fits well in the space). But I'll give those up to keep my clean exterior.

    I've used it as a travel pack mostly, not as a hiking pack, so I have not needed the Drylex back. I can't tell you how many airplane trips I've made with just the SA. I used to commute between the Bay Area and Seattle every 2-3 weeks for three years. In the Bay Area, I took public transit all the time. The SA was my grad school bag. It was a great mix of not looking like the usual schlubby backpack but functioning like the best backpack around.

    I have not once been tempted by the new version. I have a S19 and will get an S25 next. But I also don't want a Brain Bag, which I've tried on at least half a dozen times in the store, so I guess I prefer a specific style of backpack.

    Cordura bottom is plenty tough, by the way. I don't think that should be a dealbreaker unless you have pets and can't stand the Cordura/pet hair issue. The Drylex back depends entirely on how you plan to use it.

    I love my old style Smart Alec. Don't ask me to pick favorites among my TB bags, but I fell in love with this one hard in the store -- had never liked the SA in pictures, had no intention of even buying a backpack that day. But I saw it on the way out and it took me all of five minutes to take it home with me. And we've been happy ever since.

    Comment


      #3
      @weirdguy, The "previous version" Smart Alec that @readmore is talking about looks like this:





      These are @Sacharissa's post of her Smart Alec in Sage, with two different pictures to illustrate her comment "Here are a couple of shots of my Sage SA. It really depends on the lighting. Sometimes it looks very green -- a lovely, silvery green -- and sometimes it really looks grey.

      Take a look at @Maverick's thread, A smaller Smart Alec?. This has some discussion of the previous and current models of Smart Alec (with pictures of some of the old colors in my post.

      The lines are cleaner on the old Smart Alec (no modular pocket attachments). Color of the interior is simply black Cordura and whatever color Ballistic Nylon you got, so the current separate Dyneema linings are easier to use. I personally like the Drilex back pad (adopted from the Synapse design), but it's not a deal breaker. The upper modular pocket access of the current Smart Alec is convenient (no need to open the main compartment of the bag and top the lid back to access some of those items).

      Why don't you take a read through some of the external bag reviews from before and after the update?

      HTH moriond

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by readmore View Post
        I have had the old version (in beautiful Sage!) for about 10 years now. I've seen the new version in the store many times. To me, they are different bags. I love my SA because it is sleek and beautiful and doesn't look like a backpack, more like a jet pack! Adding the attachment points for the Glowire and the modular pockets ruins this effect (for me). I understand that it's functional and wonderful, I vastly prefer the old version.

        The only changes I would have liked are the Dyneema interior and the zipping pockets in the inner front panel (the top ones are useless without zippers, the bottom one is okay if you use it with a pouch or something that fits well in the space). But I'll give those up to keep my clean exterior.

        I've used it as a travel pack mostly, not as a hiking pack, so I have not needed the Drylex back. . . .
        Me, too! Around my house, we call it the jetpack! And I agree so much about the clean lines.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by ilikepie View Post
          Me, too! Around my house, we call it the jetpack! And I agree so much about the clean lines.
          I find it odd that so many of you have the previous version Smart Alec in sage. I remember Darcy's earlier post that asked, in a somewhat bewildered tone of voice:

          Originally posted by Darcy View Post
          Everyone loves Sage! What is it about Sage that you like?
          Then there was the Attention Sage Fans! thread at the end of 2006, announcing that only limited quantities left.

          FWIW, my older style Smart Alec is crimson (as is my Lux (tote) bag, and my Aeronaut; I also have the ID bag in Black/Steel with a Crimson interior, and Brain Cells in Crimson. But I have the Aeronaut Breve in sage. The Aeronaut Breve is the model of the Aeronaut that was made with the backpack straps placed closer together for smaller builds.)

          Here's the picture of the earlier model Synapses in my linked post in @Maverick's thread discussing the Smart Alec:


          That thread discussion did mention the cleaner lines of the older bag. Colors are Crimson, Black, and Sage (top row) and Grape, Kiwi, and Steel (bottom row).


          HTH moriond

          ETA: BTW I did order a Lux (tote) bag in Sage, but the color balance of the Ballistic Nylon doesn't look as good on this bag as on the Aeronaut Breve and the Smart Alec. It's more like Steel with a greenish tint.
          Last edited by moriond; 09-08-2014, 08:24 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            Sorry for my a bit late reply.
            It had been quite a busy day though I did tried to read and "like" in between.

            Actually, "the" previous version that I intent to ask here is a bit newer than your shared photos. There are loops on the front but not on top where (with the current version) you could secure a UMP to. For easier illustration, I had attached a sample photo.

            Click image for larger version

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            Source of Photo: The Best Diaper Bag, May 15 2012 by The Brooks Review Link

            Nevertheless,

            Thanks you @readmore for your great review. Even though your SA version is different from the above, I am still able to relate some of your points such as Drylex back doesn't impact you as you use the SA mostly as Travel Bag. This really get me thinking as I pointed out in my first post that Drylex is one of the two significant update.

            My current backpack - Defy Bucktown (Exterior made of M35 Tarp Material) doesn't have a Drylex or alike. I did once backpacking it all-day during my trip in Singapore which is normally sunny and humid. Although I stay in indoor (shopping complexes) most of the time, my back will get soak easily due to body heat gradually built up on my back. I wasn't complaining much though. Just wondering whether Drylex will really help significantly in this scenario.

            While on other features that you mentioned - Dyneema Lining and Zipping Pockets in the Inner Front Panel. The above version definitely has dyneema lining and if I am not wrong, zipping pockets in the inner front panel is available as well.

            Ahah... Sadly, I have a cat roaming around and he sure know to spread his fur.
            Can I assumed the exterior black is Ballistic, while the middle (navy/steel/black/cardinal) is cordura?

            Thanks @moriond for the external bag review. I never thought of that.
            Just sharing, I found this informative review The Bag Collector - Review: Tom Bihn Smart Alec - Review: Tom Bihn Smart Alec (Black/Iberian; similar version as above; also listed in the external bag reviews)

            One thing though, I now begin to really understand (like many said) how handsome is the SA's Black/Black exterior.
            Solar/Yellow: A45 Navy, CP Black, SA Black, SCB
            Steel/Grey: UMP Steel 400d, PU Coyote, DLBC, PCSB, TC
            Olive/Green: A30NWS, SCBCanyon, SKIsland
            Mars Red/Red: SENordic, SKCanyon, DLBCCanyon, SCBDawn


            BrainCell Size1 M4800, Cache 13"MBPR E7240

            ~Live Long & Prosper by Vulcan

            Comment


              #7
              weirdguy I add my thoughts maybe they help: I have only the current version BUT I would hate not to have the Upper Modular Pocket. It is a great place for all the little bits and bops you might frequently need without having to dig into this huge cavern of backpack. You might think the side pockets are enough for that. But if you stuff the main compartment full the side pockets do not have much space left. So for me the Upper Modular Pocket makes this Backpack to the one I would never give up: you have a huge main compartment which can hold nearly everything and you have the organization on top for stain on top of your world. And this Upper Modular Pocket does not add much in terms of exterior measurements. Not like the Lower Modular Pocket which adds a LOT of footprint.

              So my advice: do not miss out on the option for that upper Pocket that can be added whenever you are ready to take the leap.

              Ilkyway
              “Ankh-Morpork people considered that spelling was a sort of optional extra. They believed in it in the same way they believed in punctuation; it didn't matter where you put it so long as it was there.”

              By Sir Terence David John Pratchett from The Truth

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Ilkyway View Post
                I would hate not to have the Upper Modular Pocket. It is a great place for all the little bits and bops you might frequently need without having to dig into this huge cavern of backpack. You might think the side pockets are enough for that. But if you stuff the main compartment full the side pockets do not have much space left. So for me the Upper Modular Pocket makes this Backpack to the one I would never give up: you have a huge main compartment which can hold nearly everything and you have the organization on top for stain on top of your world. And this Upper Modular Pocket does not add much in terms of exterior measurements. Not like the Lower Modular Pocket which adds a LOT of footprint.
                Totally agree. The LMP has the following disadvantages compared to the UMP, IMHO.
                - Hard to unzip because the zip is (naturally) stiff and you have to unzip around a curved surface towards the side
                - Good for long things (there's no better place for umbrellas, water bottles, pencil cases etc.) but may be too long or narrow for other stuff. UMP, despite the slim profile, can accomodate a wider range of stuff shape-wise.
                - Adds a lot of bulk to the SA as @Ilkyway said. It sticks out a lot compared to the UMP! Although the S25 is a taller bag at 20", the SA looks like a bigger bag on a short and thinnish person like me when the LMP is attached.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks you both @Ilkyway, @adalangdon for your thought.
                  I share your similar thought as well, the convenience of UMP.

                  While on the LMP, you two are correct as well. It really added a dimension-bulk to the overall.
                  I suddenly wonder whether I could squeeze in my Hiking Shoes into the LMP. Lol. This is another topic. You may just ignore this sudden thought.

                  I do own 1 400d Steel UMP since early/mid August and been using it everyday, 8 working hour straights (minimum, except Sunday). I love it.

                  1- Yes, I would definitely wish to have the top's Loops, as it looks more complete. I believe it look great as well, especially with LMP attached. With LMP hooked, I kinda felt the SA look awkward.
                  2- Practically, I don't think I would mind without the Top Loops. I personally prefer to carry the UMP cross-body style all the way. Because I can access to all my frequently used stuffs just swinging the UMP to my chest and zip open. Once done, then swing the UMP back to my side - a 4"-5" below my armpit. Or you could leave it on the chest for security/safety reason.
                  3- Haha. I wonder @tpnl has any modification idea to add loop to the top.

                  Also, @Ilkyway, @adalangdon, what do you two think about Drylex?
                  You two may own a Synapse.

                  Thanks again,
                  Solar/Yellow: A45 Navy, CP Black, SA Black, SCB
                  Steel/Grey: UMP Steel 400d, PU Coyote, DLBC, PCSB, TC
                  Olive/Green: A30NWS, SCBCanyon, SKIsland
                  Mars Red/Red: SENordic, SKCanyon, DLBCCanyon, SCBDawn


                  BrainCell Size1 M4800, Cache 13"MBPR E7240

                  ~Live Long & Prosper by Vulcan

                  Comment


                    #10
                    weirdguy I would love to see a picture of your UMP-Setup. Just saying...

                    As for the Drylex... I have never done a real side by side komperison (same weather, same clothes, same weight on the Backpack and same length of walk) so what I say here is totally subjective: I compare a Daylighter (without Drylex) with a Synapse 19: when thinking about which bag to choose for the day I never take in account the Drylex because after some length of time my bag gets dump with ether of this backpacks. So I only decide on color, pocket-layout and impulse. The upsence of the Drylex would not prevent me from buying a pack although it stands to reason that it will help a bit with the sweating. I'd rather pack another shirt if need be.

                    Ilkyway
                    “Ankh-Morpork people considered that spelling was a sort of optional extra. They believed in it in the same way they believed in punctuation; it didn't matter where you put it so long as it was there.”

                    By Sir Terence David John Pratchett from The Truth

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by weirdguy View Post
                      Ahah... Sadly, I have a cat roaming around and he sure know to spread his fur.
                      Can I assumed the exterior black is Ballistic, while the middle (navy/steel/black/cardinal) is cordura?
                      Actually, the black side panels are Cordura and the colored area is Ballistic Nylon in both versions of the Smart Alec. The one exception is the versions of the current model Smart Alec that were made in 400d Dyneema, where the side panels are made of the same Dyneema material. You can find pictures on the blog, or look at @Ilkyway's thread:


                      The Adventure to send a parcel (or two) to USA - Tom Bihn

                      And you could probably carry sandals or flat shoes in the LMP, but not bulky shoes. The "previous version you describe is actually the version of the Smart Alec @tpnl has (takes the LMP but not UMP without modification). He's probably "the expert" on this bag.

                      HTH moriond

                      Comment


                        #12
                        @llkyway, yes! I am planning to do share a few photos of my UMP setup or video. Very soon.

                        Thanks for the link again, @Moriond.
                        Hm, that's really weird. I hoping thought the black part will be Ballistic while the colored part is Cordura.
                        The Black Cordura easily a fur magnet. But it is alright. I could simply put my Bag elsewhere, away from my cat usual spot.
                        I wonder the next refresh of SA may switch the materials, or perhaps even 420d Parapack.

                        @llkyway, it is awesome Nordic/Steel SA you have there. Even more awesome, with "Portable Culture" tag.
                        I would prefer a Steel with Solar lining. Hehe.

                        Thanks everyone for your many inputs. Will make decision with e-wild soon.
                        Solar/Yellow: A45 Navy, CP Black, SA Black, SCB
                        Steel/Grey: UMP Steel 400d, PU Coyote, DLBC, PCSB, TC
                        Olive/Green: A30NWS, SCBCanyon, SKIsland
                        Mars Red/Red: SENordic, SKCanyon, DLBCCanyon, SCBDawn


                        BrainCell Size1 M4800, Cache 13"MBPR E7240

                        ~Live Long & Prosper by Vulcan

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Ilkyway View Post
                          I never take in account the Drylex because after some length of time my bag gets dump with ether of this backpacks. So I only decide on color, pocket-layout and impulse. The upsence of the Drylex would not prevent me from buying a pack although it stands to reason that it will help a bit with the sweating. I'd rather pack another shirt if need be.
                          Yeah, I also pack an extra shirt when I know I'll be running about a lot. TBH, I haven't felt any difference in comfort between my SA, S19 or S25 and my previous backpack which didn't have Drylex! Regarding the back padding, I mean.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            @weirdguy, more temptations for you :P
                            http://forums.tombihn.com/just-regis...html#post79100
                            Last edited by icebeng; 09-11-2014, 05:22 AM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              @icebeng, (adui...) thanks. It is even harder to choose now.
                              Solar/Yellow: A45 Navy, CP Black, SA Black, SCB
                              Steel/Grey: UMP Steel 400d, PU Coyote, DLBC, PCSB, TC
                              Olive/Green: A30NWS, SCBCanyon, SKIsland
                              Mars Red/Red: SENordic, SKCanyon, DLBCCanyon, SCBDawn


                              BrainCell Size1 M4800, Cache 13"MBPR E7240

                              ~Live Long & Prosper by Vulcan

                              Comment

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