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  1. #1
    Registered User raemer74's Avatar
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    Shadow Guide 33 preview

    I would like to thank Tom Bihn for the opportunity to test out the new Shadow Guide 33. I choose black 525 ballistic over the URSA brown, which was a hard decision because both fabrics look great on the product page. Once it arrived and I opened the box, I was very impressed. It is a big pack no doubt, but for me it is the perfect size. (I am 6í 210 lbs.).

    My main use for a bag this size is work and personal travel. I am an engineer, and typically travel multiple times throughout the year. Each trip is about 1 week, and I never check a bag. My current travel preference is a one bag setup in the Synik 30. By packing minimally, I can get everything I need into this pack.

    Since I am not traveling right now, I did some test packing with the Shadow Guide to compare it to the Synik 30. My typical load for the Synik would be: 5 work shirts, 2 jeans, 5 + days of socks & underwear, sleeping attire, vanity kit, MacBook, tech kit, med kit, first aid kit, work planner, and other small EDC items. I use an A45 packing cube for most of the clothes, ghost whales for EDC, and a standard spiff kit for toiletries. With this load, the Synik is very full, and I always wished for just a little more room. I was curious to see how the Shadow Guide works in comparison.







    I took everything out of the Synik, and quickly noticed I was going to have to shift packing strategies. The Shadow Guide main compartment is like one giant stuff sack. It opens wide, stays open, and is easy to load. Since it is a wide-open space, packing cubes and stuff sacks work well in many combinations.

    I was able to squeeze the A45 packing cube into the main compartment (I would recommend a smaller cube however). I moved the socks and underwear into size 2 and 3 stuff sacks. I also dropped the spiff kit into the main space. I believe this pack out strategy worked well, because everything in the main compartment is not really needed until I would reach my destination. The accessories keep everything separated and tidy.






    This leaves the top pocket storage area a perfect place for items I need to access quickly during travel. I placed my loose EDC items, tech kit, etc. into a small snake charmer and HLT1Ö. side by side. This left some generous room at the back, which would work well for placing my phone, wallet, keys when going through TSA. Under the flap are 2 small pockets for thin items.







    Lastly, I put my MacBook 16 into the laptop compartment. It seems quite a bit bigger than the Synik 30, or at least the opening is. It went inside effortlessly.



    After loading the pack, the biggest surprise was putting it on my back. To me, it feels much more comfortable than the Synik 30 with the exact same load. The Synik felt like it was trying to move away from my back (I believe this is a consequence of packing it so full). The Shadow Guide naturally rests into my lower back. I donít normally use the waist straps but gave them a try. It made an improvement in the stability of the load side to side (I may add the padded hip belt at a later date).



    Minor suggestions: 1. The Logo Ė I prefer the retro plane tag to the stealth tag on this pack. 2. Grab handle Ė This is a very heavy bag when loaded and it looks to have the same handle as the Luminary. I think a Synik or Brain Bag handle would be a nice change. 3. Zipper pulls - I like the normal full zipper with the option to remove and install the new style. 4. Water bottle Ė This is not deal breaker for me, because I donít pack one in my bag, but if you always carry a water bottle, they Synik 30 has a perfect place for it.



    In summary, Iím in love with the Shadow Guide. The test packing went really well. The bag looks great and feels great on my back. I believe it will be an ideal companion for 1 bag travel, and I cannot wait to try it out. Thanks to Tom Bihn for all you do in making such awesome products right here in the USA.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  2. #2
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    Fantastic review - thank you for all the details and photos!
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  3. #3
    Forum Member imagineez's Avatar
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    Great photo and loadout comparison of the two bags! Thanks so much for this.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Great review and very helpful photos. Let us know how the bag works for you after your next work trip!

  5. #5
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    Thank you for the review @raemer74 . Do you find is it easy to load / remove items from the bottom side flap pockets when the top pocket is fully loaded?

  6. #6
    Registered User raemer74's Avatar
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    They are not the easiest pockets to access. It helps if you leave the zipper pulls out. Hard to explain so I made a quick video.

    https://youtu.be/h5fDNrkQhic


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by raemer74 View Post
    They are not the easiest pockets to access. It helps if you leave the zipper pulls out. Hard to explain so I made a quick video.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    That post was very helpful to watch, both the examples of accessing items from the smaller pockets in the top pocket when the bag is loaded, and especially the last bit where you show a Medium Cafe Bag Freudian Slip inserted sideways into the top pocket. Iíve changed the way this is embedded using the web format option for videos, so this is easier to view (in TapaTalk I have to first choose the option to display this in web format before I compose a reply)

    moriond

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the video -- I appreciate you going to the effort. I see what you mean about the pulls, but good to know stowing items is still possible.

  9. #9
    Registered User raemer74's Avatar
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    Moriond- thanks for the tip!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the review! The comparison to the Synik 30 was especially helpful.

    On the subject of packing cubes: In 2019 I did three trips with the Shadow Guide v1 as my main bag (three weeks in Colombia; a week each in Peru and Seattle), and I found that the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag worked beautifully for organization.

    On a typical trip I'd have two in the bottom of the bag, stacked front to back with rolled clothes: merino wool tops in one, travel pants and shorts in the other. On top of that, an A30 travel stuff sack with socks and underwear. That left the top half of the bag for various other things, most of them in stuff sacks or other organizers.

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