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  1. #1
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    I hate my bag, please help me replace it.

    I've been looking at TB for quite a while now and need some help in choosing the right model. I'm an industrial field engineer with a responsibility area that covers all of North America. I'm on a minimum of 2 flights a week and have been carrying the ubiquitous Swiss Gear Ibex back pack as my carry-on for 2 years. For 2 years I have hated this bag. Too much useless space, low quality, and just plain ugly. With an upcoming trip to Seattle I am looking to upgrade. Here are the items I need to have in my carry-on:

    -HEAVY 15" HP laptop (company provided...no options)
    -Spiral 5 subject notebook
    -Graph paper notebook
    -Job specific paperwork (usually 1-2 thick manila folders)
    -Noise cancelling headphones & case
    -Pens/pencils
    -Passport
    -Car keys, chargers, business cards, and other small odds and ends

    I'm looking at messenger/ briefcase style bags and have been leaning towards the Empire Builder but would like to see if there are any other smaller or more efficient models you would recommend. I would like it to have an over the suitcase handle carry option and be TSA friendly. Thanks for helping out!

  2. #2
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    The EB sounds like what you're looking for. The Zephyr was a small version that is disco'd but they come up on Ebay fairly regularly.

    If you're intending to actually visit TB in Seattle, they're really cool about letting you bring in your actual stuff and test pack the bags.
    Even though you said a messenger style, if you do go to the store, try out the Brain Bag as well. It carries backpack style only, but would swallow your stuff and has cinch straps (which the other TB back packs don't) to snug it down to the load you're carrying.
    IMO, backpack will always be a better way to carry heavy loads, just from an ergonomic POV.

    Whichever way you go, let us know and have fun with it!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saines View Post
    I've been looking at TB for quite a while now and need some help in choosing the right model. I'm an industrial field engineer with a responsibility area that covers all of North America. I'm on a minimum of 2 flights a week and have been carrying the ubiquitous Swiss Gear Ibex back pack as my carry-on for 2 years. For 2 years I have hated this bag. Too much useless space, low quality, and just plain ugly. With an upcoming trip to Seattle I am looking to upgrade. Here are the items I need to have in my carry-on:

    -HEAVY 15" HP laptop (company provided...no options)
    -Spiral 5 subject notebook
    -Graph paper notebook
    -Job specific paperwork (usually 1-2 thick manila folders)
    -Noise cancelling headphones & case
    -Pens/pencils
    -Passport
    -Car keys, chargers, business cards, and other small odds and ends

    I'm looking at messenger/ briefcase style bags and have been leaning towards the Empire Builder but would like to see if there are any other smaller or more efficient models you would recommend. I would like it to have an over the suitcase handle carry option and be TSA friendly. Thanks for helping out!
    Yes, seconding the suggestion to visit the Tom Bihn showroom in Seattle! You'll be able to try out the bags and don't forget the accessories, pouches, caches, etc.

  4. #4
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    I donít know how much space you need, but I recommend bag you check the Maker Bag too. That had been my EDC and a repeated carryon.

    I use a carabiner to hang my headphones from the bag. But I can carry several inches of folders and some stuff sacks / travel trays / organizer pouches to hold cords, pens, etc.

  5. #5
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    I doubt that the Maker bag works with a 15" (heavy) laptop. I'd suggest Western Flyer / Tri-Star to the shortlist, too, if you prefer something that can be carried as a back pack but looks like a briefcase.

  6. #6
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    Re: I hate my bag...

    I agree with G42 — the Empire Builder is what you're after. Check out the Brain Bag as well (though I'm not sure if a backpack will work for you or not, based on what you posted).

    I happened to make a video showing the Empire Builder in comparison to the Co-Pilot and Pilot. It's here:



    Let me know if you have any questions; happy to help!

  7. #7
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    That will probably all fit in the Cadet. I carry my 15" work laptop, my business papers, a book (or two), assorted cables, passport, etc. Even packed pretty full, it feels...not quite slim, but not bulky.

    The headphones are the only thing there I think might be tight. If they're over the ear types, they'll either be tight, or require some external solution, like Fulton mentioned.

    ETA: I love my Cadet, and if it weren't for how much I also love my S25, it would be a no-brainer EDC bag.

  8. #8
    Forum Member sujo's Avatar
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    @brandon64 -- very nice video. I enjoyed that!

  9. #9
    Forum Member nukediver's Avatar
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    Another vote here for the Brain Bag. It is a champ at swallowing loads of gear, yet remains incredibly comfortable to carry. As I’ve gotten older, I find it much more comfortable to use a backpack instead of a shoulder bag, and I’ve noticed that most people now carry them (I work in a semi-professional setting, and have seen some shabby looking backpacks). The Brain Bag also has some pretty decent organization, and I love the ability to cinch it down when not full.
    Eat well, travel often.

  10. #10
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    I have a few bags, but my EDC is empire builder and my main travel is brain bag. So i have alot of days with both. For everything you are saying you need, I'd suggest the brain bag. It can swallow alot more then the empire builder (which I use more frequently), but moreso with heavy loads the brain bag is much more comfortable as it's a backpack. My 2 cents.

  11. #11
    Forum Member Lani's Avatar
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    @brandon64 -- I totally agree about the main compartment zippers on the Pilot and Co-Pilot making them constraining. Actually, I feel like ALL the pockets on those two bags are constraining for some reason. I think that might explain why, although I have a Co-Pilot, I rarely use it.

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