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  1. #1
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    Pilot - issues with single handle?

    Hi - I've been searching for an EDC/Office/Travel laptop bag to replace a well-loved 7 year-old Victorinox vertical brief. I came across Tom Bihn and after some debate, narrowed it down to the Pilot. I also ordered a couple of Tumi bags for comparison. My laptop is a 13" Macbook Pro, so I'm looking for a more compact bag. I got the Pilot a few days ago (black ballistic/island), along with a cache, and few a straps and pouches. It's a very impressive bag - seems well thought out and durable - and just the right size. I loaded it up with everything I would take on a typical business trip and it fits perfectly. The three pocket design in the front, with one dedicated for a water bottle is genius. I do wish the main compartment zipper came down further on the edges, but it's workable.

    The biggest issue I'm having on whether to keep it is the single handle. With it fully loaded up, carrying it by the handle seems awkward as the bag tips to one side. It's almost crying out for another handle on the back seam by the main compartment zipper. Handle vs shoulder strap carry is probably about 60/40, so I'm concerned about both the longevity of the single handle and the overall annoyance factor over time as I like to have one bag that I'll keep for several years. I can see how the single handle would work for the smaller Co-pilot, but it feels almost unfinished without it.

    Has anyone had any issues with the single handle over time when used as an EDC bag?

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    I've never had trouble with the single handle, but I carry the Pilot almost exclusively by its shoulder strap when I'm out and about, and just use the handle to move it from room to room. I haven't noticed the lack of balance you're talking about--is it unbalanced front to back or side to side? Might it depend on what we have each packed in the various sections?

    As far as durability over time: it's basically the same handle as the Ego had, and my Ego's handle is still going strong after I don't know how many years. (Literally I don't know how many, since I bought it used.)
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  3. #3
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    I have a Pilot, use it as a travel briefcase, and would much prefer two handles. With one handle, the balance is not ideal, as you mention. It's not a deal breaker for me, but yeah.

  4. #4
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    I just use the handle to pick up my Pilot. I use the absolute strap for actually carrying it around. I use it more as a travel bag than as an everyday briefcase, although it doubles as a briefcase when I need one.

  5. #5
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    I'm also using a ballistic black/island Pilot as my EDC work briefcase, and would agree that the single handle can make for an awkward carry when the load isn't evenly balanced between the front and main pockets. Not a dealbreaker for me, because the rest of the bag is so functional. +1 on the Absolute Strap.

  6. #6
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    I think the placement of the single grab handle on top of the Pilot and Co-Pilot was a very conscious decision.

    If you wanted to place two grab handles, consider how you would place them. One could go on the fabric panel behind the zipper of the main compartment. The second one, you would want to place at the top front of the bag, close to where the zippers of the side front compartments finish. The result would impact not only access to those side front compartments, but also to the water bottle compartment.

    The Stowaway has a similar capacity to the Pilot, and the design enables the placement of two grab handles on top (which is generally how I find myself carrying it between my home, car, and office).

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
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  7. #7
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    Never had issues with the single handle on the Pilot. That said, I regretted having not bought the Cadet (that has two handles) instead of the Pilot, but not because of the handle(s)—I found I prefer most of my things in a single compartment and not having to open at least two zippers when I want to get a book and a pen(cil) out; so the compartments setup is actually not working for me that well (mind you, I also own a co-Pilot, but that one is an ideal bag for being a tourist-about-the-city when traveling).

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by maverick View Post
    I think the placement of the single grab handle on top of the Pilot and Co-Pilot was a very conscious decision.

    If you wanted to place two grab handles, consider how you would place them. One could go on the fabric panel behind the zipper of the main compartment. The second one, you would want to place at the top front of the bag, close to where the zippers of the side front compartments finish. The result would impact not only access to those side front compartments, but also to the water bottle compartment.

    The Stowaway has a similar capacity to the Pilot, and the design enables the placement of two grab handles on top (which is generally how I find myself carrying it between my home, car, and office).
    This is a good explanation.

    My problem with Stowaway: too many zippers.

    I would love a bag similar in size to Pilot, but with one central compartment and with front pockets a-la Tristar. That would enable two handles. It would also have a little more space in the main compartment, which would make it easier to pack some shirts/trousers along with the laptop.

  9. #9
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    Been using the pilot as my every day office bag for a bit over a year now. Also brought on a trip to Italy and Ireland as my EDC. The front water bottle pocket came in extra handy during my Italy trip to carry my stainless water bottle (yay fountains in Italy) and Ireland to carry my compact umbrella. Honestly, my favorite feature of the Pilot is that pocket. I never have an issue with the single handle, but as others mentioned, I generally carry via the absolute strap. I do carry by the handle on occasion, but not often enough for it to be a concern.

  10. #10
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    Same here: I've been using my Pilot as an EDC bag for nearly a year. I LOVE the thing!

    The single grab handle works brilliantly, I think. TB did a great job balancing it so that the padded side of the handle falls where it should. Like other Pilot owners, I find I only use the handle for short periods of time anyway--basically only to grab it quickly. Thank goodness it has a handle--my previous EDC bag was a Timbuk2 messenger--it lacked a handle, thus was awkward to lift from under the seat in front of me, from an overhead bin or even from the floor board in the back of my car.

    The Pilot is a brilliant bag (though admittedly, I've come *so* close to snagging the Stowaway too!

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