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  1. #1
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    Seeking Advice: Minimalist EDC for Work and Play (DLBC / Co-Pilot / Pilot)

    Greetings, Tom Bihn Forum People!

    I'm a longtime lurker and first-time buyer who is interested in replacing a 15 year old Timbuk2 Classic Messenger (size small) with a messenger-style bag that is lighter and more versatile. I have tried and returned the MCB due to size concerns (too small), and have narrowed down my options to the following:

    1. Co-Pilot
    2. DLBC
    3. Pilot


    I am looking for a small and/or low profile bag with zippered openings, and I am interested in accommodating the following tools and toys:

    • 12 inch laptop*
    • Small mirrorless camera with a single prime lens (Fuji X-E2 and 27mm pancake to be specific)**
    • 9 oz. Corkcicle canteen
    • Small folio to hold 8.5" x 11" documents (10-20 sheets max)
    • Kindle Paperwhite
    • Lunch (packed in re-usable containers)
    • Folded lightweight jacket or long-sleeve flannel shirt
    • One pill bottle (think 300-count bottle of Ibuprofen gel caps)


    *Laptop stays at home ~95% of the time
    **Camera will be with me on most days

    Here are my thoughts on the bags listed above:

    Co-Pilot: this is my bag of choice. However, some forum members have mentioned that the zipper layout can impede access to documents, etc. Can anyone chime in on the ease (or frustration) of packing and removing 8.5" x 11" documents from a bag of this size?

    DLBC: more appealing due to price and form factor, but how do I pack a lunch with this type of bag? Skinny vertical containers?

    Pilot: I believe that this bag will accommodate everything, and then some! However, it is also larger than I prefer and significantly more expensive than the DLBC, especially after upgrading to a more comfortable strap...

    I think the ultimate limiting factor here is the ability to efficiently carry lunch to and from work... I'm curious to know if anyone here has experienced issues with this, and if anyone can recommend an appropriate bag (and possibly a space-efficient food packing solution) that meets my needs.

    Thoughts?

    PS - for the record, I am not interested in a "flap and buckle" bag (i.e., Timbuk2 Classic Messenger or Maker's Bag... been there, done that), and I have a strong preference for the halcyon fabric (it's soooo lightweight and cool!).

  2. #2
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    Of the bags you listed, I only have experience with the pilot, which I don't think will be too large, and perhaps the opposite, actually. I often have to wedge my lunch containers into the main pocket. Of course, ymmv depending on what you use. I also don't travel with a laptop or camera.

  3. #3
    Forum Member sturbridge's Avatar
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    My husband has the DLBC and I have a Pilot. I think the DLBC would be too small to carry a laptop, an extra shirt AND lunch. Best case, you'd be able to fit 2 out of 3. For lunch containers, I'd look to bento boxes, they come in all kinds of form factors including narrow and long that would fit into one of these bags.
    Proud owner of: Pop Tote in cloud, Aeronaut 30 in steel/iberian, Travel Cubelet in Dawn, Travel Cubelet in Nebulous Grey , SE in steel parapack, SSB in black halcyon, Pilot in steel dyneema/steel, , Truck in Nebulous Gray, Small Zipped shop bag in black, Small Zipped shop bag in Dawn numerous pouches, 3D cubes, Q kits and straps, Cubelets and Ghost Whales!

  4. #4
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    DLBC
    I have a DLBC and I like the design a lot. I used it for my computer (in a cache sleeve) with an iPad, note book. The biggest issue I have with this bag is that it's pretty small (8 liters) and it's very flat so there isn't really a place for a water bottle or lunch in the bag. I tried some layouts, but if you have a reusable container, you almost have to put it on its side, which makes me nervous about spills. Because I needed to carry more items, I went with a Synapse 25. I feel like the DLBC is the same depth of a MCB but wider and has a zipper closure.

    Co-Pilot
    I have a Co-Pilot too. I think it will fit a 12" MacBook, but without a sleeve or any protection. I think it will fit everything else you have listed and you will have more options for your lunch and a water bottle. I really like the compact shape, square of the Co-Pilot. I think it's one of the best bags TB makes.

    Pilot
    I don't have this bag, but I believe it will fit everything above. Obviously, it's the largest bag and that sounds like is less than idea.

  5. #5
    Forum Member bltkmt's Avatar
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    I am also very curious on the ability for the Pilot and Co-Pilot to hold 8 1/2 x 11 papers in some sort of file folder.
    --------------------------------

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturbridge View Post
    My husband has the DLBC and I have a Pilot. I think the DLBC would be too small to carry a laptop, an extra shirt AND lunch. Best case, you'd be able to fit 2 out of 3. For lunch containers, I'd look to bento boxes, they come in all kinds of form factors including narrow and long that would fit into one of these bags.
    Bento boxes - great thinking!

    I've already measured and can confirm that my laptop will fit in the DLBC (Google Pixelbook, which measures 11.4" x 8.7" x 0.4"). For work, I won't be carrying my laptop, which should free up enough space for lunch and a spare shirt... I think?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by icarusrex View Post
    DLBC
    I have a DLBC and I like the design a lot. I used it for my computer (in a cache sleeve) with an iPad, note book. The biggest issue I have with this bag is that it's pretty small (8 liters) and it's very flat so there isn't really a place for a water bottle or lunch in the bag. I tried some layouts, but if you have a reusable container, you almost have to put it on its side, which makes me nervous about spills. Because I needed to carry more items, I went with a Synapse 25. I feel like the DLBC is the same depth of a MCB but wider and has a zipper closure.

    Co-Pilot
    I have a Co-Pilot too. I think it will fit a 12" MacBook, but without a sleeve or any protection. I think it will fit everything else you have listed and you will have more options for your lunch and a water bottle. I really like the compact shape, square of the Co-Pilot. I think it's one of the best bags TB makes.

    Pilot
    I don't have this bag, but I believe it will fit everything above. Obviously, it's the largest bag and that sounds like is less than idea.
    Thanks for your input. Having tried the MCB (also 8 liters), I'm hesitant to order the DLBC. Co-Pilot seems like the smartest compromise, but I am having a hard time visualizing the 2L difference in volume... And if an 8.5" x 11" -ish folio will be troublesome to pack and remove.

    I don't commute with a significant amount of paper, but I can confirm that the ability to occasionally transport standard-sized sheets is important. This is something that my Timbuk2 cannot do without folding or crumpling paper.
    Last edited by memoryman; 08-29-2018 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Missed a word

  8. #8
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    It seems obvious that you need the Pilot as it will accommodate paper without issue.
    My favorite feature of the {Pilot might be just how perfect it is both bursting full and almost empty and for me everywhere in between!

    Last trip I carried 3 computers in one for 2 weeks through Colorado and used the Pilot as my EDC between the truck and Hotel room the whole time.

    Then on the road had it stuffed further with receipts,tools,radios,lights,binoculars and food/snacks along the road.

    That load would not fit in the Co-Pilot at all.

    At the same time I can carry 1 computer,a few Magazines,Coffee and some personal items in the Pilot and it feels just perfect to me too.

    I would always rather have space and not need it than the other way around.

    I love the Co-Pilot but am CRAZY for the Pilot,it has really become the perfect bag for me many days.

  9. #9
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    I carried 8-1/2 x 11 sheets, usually 20-25 pages, in a folder that was 8-3/4 x 11-1/2 with slightly rounded corners and it just barely fit in the Co-Pilot. I moved from Co-Pilot to Pilot as my EDC because this didn't work very well for me.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    It seems obvious that you need the Pilot as it will accommodate paper without issue.
    My favorite feature of the {Pilot might be just how perfect it is both bursting full and almost empty and for me everywhere in between!

    Last trip I carried 3 computers in one for 2 weeks through Colorado and used the Pilot as my EDC between the truck and Hotel room the whole time.

    Then on the road had it stuffed further with receipts,tools,radios,lights,binoculars and food/snacks along the road.

    That load would not fit in the Co-Pilot at all.

    At the same time I can carry 1 computer,a few Magazines,Coffee and some personal items in the Pilot and it feels just perfect to me too.

    I would always rather have space and not need it than the other way around.

    I love the Co-Pilot but am CRAZY for the Pilot,it has really become the perfect bag for me many days.
    Quote Originally Posted by kfraser View Post
    I carried 8-1/2 x 11 sheets, usually 20-25 pages, in a folder that was 8-3/4 x 11-1/2 with slightly rounded corners and it just barely fit in the Co-Pilot. I moved from Co-Pilot to Pilot as my EDC because this didn't work very well for me.
    Thanks for the detailed reply... I agree that the Pilot bag might be my best solution. Looks like I'll be saving up to purchase a larger bag that is guaranteed to meets my needs (and then some).

    Funny side note: I live close enough to visit the Tom Bihn Seattle/SeaTac store, but my work schedule does not permit me to do so. I'm about ready to schedule a vacation day, in order to visit and lay hands on the bags in question.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by memoryman View Post
    Thanks for the detailed reply... I agree that the Pilot bag might be my best solution. Looks like I'll be saving up to purchase a larger bag that is guaranteed to meets my needs (and then some).

    Funny side note: I live close enough to visit the Tom Bihn Seattle/SeaTac store, but my work schedule does not permit me to do so. I'm about ready to schedule a vacation day, in order to visit and lay hands on the bags in question.
    Isn't still a bit smokey up there? *Cough cough*

  12. #12
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    Seeking Advice: Minimalist EDC for Work and Play (DLBC / Co-Pilot / Pilot)

    DLBC Pack EDC with short bike commute and life on a large campus.

    I use a Cache for 13 MacBook Pro or iPad Pro. Papers fit next to cache or even in the cache for more protection. A SCB Freudian Slip sits vertical between the Cache Rails for pens, battery, cables, etc. Umbrella and 16oz Nalgene bottle or Contigo hot bottle flanking the SCBFS.



    The SCBFS addition is really what defined the space on the interior backside.

    Front split pockets for wallet pouch, OP, padded OP with tablet do jour in the front slash.



    Back pocket holds lunch in bento box-ish thing (I can squeeze an apple in the main compartment to complete the meal), Headphone case for Shure SE 215 in-ears and wired Apple buds, and any quick grab stuff.

    Ballistic 525 Black. Great balance of look and strength.

    Its amazing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by johntubbs; 08-30-2018 at 07:53 PM.

  13. #13
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    My bad for missing this reply! I'm still waiting to make a purchase, and settled on the DLBC earlier this week (waiting for the Nordic Halcyon production run to be completed).

    Your carry needs are almost identical to mine. Two questions for you:

    1) How does your DLBC fare in wet weather, and have you experienced any issues with water entering the main compartment via the DLBC's top zipper? I spoke with Tom Bihn Customer Service last week, and in my opinion, the lack of a waterproof zipper is a bit of a concern. Being located in WA, I must always account for the possibility of rain (and the need to protect my camera and/or computer on days that I carry them). Us Washingtonians balk at the idea of carrying an umbrella, despite the predictably wet weather

    ...to add to this, I'll be purchasing a 13C cache for my computer, and will also be adding a Tamrac camera insert to protect my Fuji. Both should add an extra level of moisture protection, just in case...

    2) I see that you're using the Absolute Strap. Is this a creature-comfort for you, or more of a necessity, given the weight of your daily load?

    I won't be carrying a computer often, and will likely stick with the "stock" strap for a while... Given the weight of my Pixelbook, and the minuscule size of my Fuji camera, I'm having a hard time imagining a need for the Absolute Strap.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by memoryman View Post
    2) I see that you're using the Absolute Strap. Is this a creature-comfort for you, or more of a necessity, given the weight of your daily load?

    I won't be carrying a computer often, and will likely stick with the "stock" strap for a while... Given the weight of my Pixelbook, and the minuscule size of my Fuji camera, I'm having a hard time imagining a need for the Absolute Strap.
    Friends don't let friends use non-absolute straps. Ever.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomGault View Post
    Friends don't let friends use non-absolute straps. Ever.
    Ha! I'll keep this in mind!

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