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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb 3 bears: Empire is too big, Daylight is too small... which one is just right.

    I am new to the Tom Bihn world. I have been a loyal Tumi guy for 20 years. But the service and the quality has won me over... at least almost.

    First, I work in banking/consulting. I cant carry a backpack it would be way outside our cultural norms... I know silly, but it is what it is.

    So I looking at the laptop bags. I bough a daylight, which my wife told me looks like im carrying a purse... ouch. Then I ordered a empire builder, which is awesome... but Im on 4-8 flights per week. and I have already had 2 where it would not fit under the seat and I had to beg and bribe for them not to check....

    What I LOVE about the Empire Builder.... I am super OCD.... I like when everything has a spot. The Empire builder is heaven for me. I love the organization I can create in it. Its like it was created for me.

    So my options are just continue to travel with the EB... Im leaning toward this as regional flights are not the norm for me. Larger planes= no problems with bag. Or is there a better option that satisfies my OCD, does not make me look like Im carrying a purse, and is large enough?

    Thanks In advance!

  2. #2
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    There must have been something blocking your EB to not fit under the seat. Why did you not put it in the OHB, (overhead bin). I have a backpack with about the same Liters/ cubic inches as an EB. it fits fine under all the seats. On an RJ I just put it in the OHB. I have been thinking quite hard about the EB, but have not pulled the trigger on it. No-one has ever approached me about checking my A45. Why would they ask you to check a laptop bag? The next largest bag is the cadet at around 825 CI as the EB is around 1300 CI. Stick with the EB if its fits your needs.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by travelman View Post
    There must have been something blocking your EB to not fit under the seat. Why did you not put it in the OHB, (overhead bin). I have a backpack with about the same Liters/ cubic inches as an EB. it fits fine under all the seats. On an RJ I just put it in the OHB. I have been thinking quite hard about the EB, but have not pulled the trigger on it. No-one has ever approached me about checking my A45. Why would they ask you to check a laptop bag? The next largest bag is the cadet at around 825 CI as the EB is around 1300 CI. Stick with the EB if its fits your needs.
    Both were Dash8's. Did not fit overhead.

  4. #4
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    I'll be following this thread and hope you find the right bag. I have similar parameters for a bag for my husband. The DLBC is the perfect size for his travel stuff but the "looks like a purse" issue has me worried. Sorry I can't help more, but I do sympathize!

  5. #5
    Forum Member GrussGott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sesteph6 View Post
    I cant carry a backpack
    I bough a daylight, which my wife told me looks like im carrying a purse
    Then I ordered a empire builder ... it would not fit under the (Dash 8) seat
    Ah, the PLO (purse-like object) problem ... well, you can try to solve by going big, but that's not an option, or consider a size/design combination. If you haven't ran through this already, here are your options:

    • Empire Builder: 18.25" x 12.75" x 7", 22.5 liters
    • Cadet: 16.25" x 12.5" x 4.5" , 13.5 liters
    • Pilot: 15.4" x 11.4" x 5.1", 13 liters
    • Co-Pilot: 12" x 10" x 5", 10 liters
    • Daylight Briefcase: 14.1" x 10.2" x 3.9", 9 liters

    (note: I'm excluding the cafe bags and the founders briefcase as I'm guessing they don't work for you but the FBC might)

    It's interesting that whatever the aesthetics were, you jumped from a 9 liter bag to a 22.5 liter bag, but didn't mention a capacity (or laptop) requirement ...

    In any event, I just bought a Black Halcyon Pilot which easily fits my 13" MBP and also my 15" Dell corporate doorstop - both at the same time if needed. It's got lots of built-in storage and you could also add any of the Freudian Slips from the small, medium, or large bags if you wanted more storage and pockets (as well as packing cubes, organizer pouches, or Q-Kits)

    I think it's both large enough and designed to be non-PLO, as does my wife, but YMMV ... IMO the Bihn stuff trends metro and Tom's style probably means we'll never see any of his bags in black camo cordura (despite the fact that it's awesome). The question is, will it meet your space requirements? It's quite a bit smaller than your EB so I would hope so, and in black halcyon it's pretty flexible.

    Edit: Here's a good blog post: Pilot vs. Co-Pilot vs. Night Flight: Personal Carry-On Item Showdown

    Maybe the Pilot would work? Black Halcyon is a bit more swank, but also could be seen as more metro so you could go black 1050d ballistic nylon too. It has the word "ballistic" in it and that's pretty testy ...






    Here's a pic of the DLBC vs the EB



    And the Pilot again



    Good video between the Pilot and the DLBC



    and a good pilot review / demo:

    Last edited by GrussGott; 09-11-2016 at 03:24 PM.

  6. #6
    Forum Member Perseffect's Avatar
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    One option not yet mentioned (unless I missed it) is to pick up a second hand Zephyr. These are essentially a slightly smaller empire builder and are no longer in production. But I've owned one in the past and I think it fits what you are looking for.

    Alternately the pilot in ballistic black nylon would be my other recommendation.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Aeronaut 45 (Navy/NWS), A30 (Black/Island), Tristar (Steel/Island), Western Flyer (Steel/Island), Pilot (Steel/Island), Synapse 25 (Mars Red/NWS), Synapse 19 (Black/Island) & (Burnt Orange/Steel), Ristretto 11 (Navy/Steel), Small Cafe Bag (Navy/Steel) & (Mars Red/Dawn), Daylight Briefcase (Cloud/Dawn), Side Kick (Mars Red/Dawn), Travel Cubelet (Mars Red)

  7. #7
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    Cadet looks most business-like to me. Or what about the Founders BC for a retro look?

  8. #8
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    Awesome post and a big help.... so to clarify.

    I bought the daylight bag, because I pictured myself carrying only my Ipad pro. Ditching the IBM laptop, and basically being a ultralight, business ninja... Then my wife slapped me with the "you look like your carrying a purse" comment. So I called Tom Bihn for some assistance. I was so blown away by the customer service, as well as the quality and design of the product, that even though I sent the Daylight back, I decided I would break a long tradition of Tumi Purchases (alpha 2, Alpha Bravo back back, Tumi roll aboard luggage, etc) and buy a Tom Bihn for my day to day business travel. Went with the EB, loaded with all the upgrades they had... love it. First flight from PHL to BOS, on american (operated by piedmont) and my bag wont fit under the seat or in the overhead. So here I am.... asking strangers for advise. I love the pilot idea. Perhaps thats the ticket. I may end up sticking with the EB... and write this off as an anomaly.

  9. #9
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    I've got a discontinued Zephyr -- black with red lining (it was a rare color combo in its day). I've *never* used it. Too briefcasey -- I ended up with a ristretto. Now every time my wife looks in the closet she sees it and sighs. Let me know if you're interested. It's got some extra removable folder dividers too for that file-cabinet effect…
    A youtube review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNVTJgtJqGc
    But it's essentially a small Empire Builder.

  10. #10
    Forum Member Lani's Avatar
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    I'd recommend the Pilot, personally.

    I wish I could fly that often! I love to fly.

  11. #11
    Forum Member Rocks's Avatar
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    I don't think the Daylight Briefcase looks like a purse, FWIW. Not that there's anything wrong with looking like a purse, or any gender carrying any bag. Smilie
    By the way, I'm a woman who never carries anything like a purse, and I'd use the DLBC if I had one!

  12. #12
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    I would go cadet all the way. I replaced my tumi with it and will never go back

  13. #13
    Forum Member Artdime's Avatar
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    Another vote for the Cadet. Love mine! Keeps me organized nicely and plenty of space for files/laptop/tablet. Unless you are carrying a water bottle I would definitely consider it.
    Today is a good day for a good day!

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