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  1. #1
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    Initial thoughts on the Zephyr

    I just got a new job, and found myself needing a laptop bag that is more professional-looking than my Timbuk2 backpack. I agonized over the choice between the Zephyr and the Empire Builder. But from everything I read here and elsewhere, it sounded as if the Zephyr is huge and the EB is extra-huge.

    Ultimately I chose the Zephyr (used from eBay since they're not available new since last August). It's big enough, I think, but it's not that huge. I have it pretty full, and that's with a MacBook Air in a neoprene sleeve; if you had a 15" laptop in a Brain Cell I don't think there would be a lot of room left for anything else.

    On the plus side, I did get everything in it, and it's pretty heavy. If I'd gone with the EB, I surely would've loaded it up even more and made it even heavier.

    Anyway, I just wanted anyone making the same choice to know that these bags aren't as enormous as my reading led me to believe. I'm still not sure I made the right decision, but I'll give it a little time. I can always try for a bag swap with someone who got an EB and finds it too big, or just resell the Z and buy an EB new.

    Not that this advice matters too much, since again, the Zephyr isn't available new at this time. I wonder, is it ever coming back?

  2. #2
    Forum Member adalangdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cujo View Post
    Not that this advice matters too much, since again, the Zephyr isn't available new at this time. I wonder, is it ever coming back?
    Crap, can't find the post but Darcy said very recently (I think within the last week or so) that it will be coming back soon... albeit briefly. I wonder if that will be the Zephyr's swansong.

    I remember finding it pretty heavy too, which is why I passed it to my partner. If your Z has the file dividers, you could remove them (we have never found them useful and my God, they are deadweight). And unless you really need a BC, you could try the Cache. It's usually good enough protection unless your lappy gets knocked around a lot. Just my n00by $0.02.

    ETA- Aaaahhh, found the relevant post. See #6.
    Last edited by adalangdon; 02-28-2015 at 04:46 AM.

  3. #3
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    Interesting. I wonder if they're going to reboot the "heavyweight" laptop briefcase design?

    Thanks for the advice about the file dividers. I removed two of the three, and that free'd up a surprisingly large amount of room, and not an insignificant amount of weight too.

  4. #4
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    Yeah, I immediately pulled the dividers out of mine...paper is so passe Roll Eyes (Sarcastic)

  5. #5
    Forum Member adalangdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cujo View Post
    Interesting. I wonder if they're going to reboot the "heavyweight" laptop briefcase design?
    Yeah, I'm hoping they are! Also wishing for a muscle briefcase that looks good on smaller people.

    We removed the dividers and replaced them with large OPs or paper file folders. Works better, weighs a lot less.

  6. #6
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    Zepher for EB

    Quote Originally Posted by cujo View Post
    Anyway, I just wanted anyone making the same choice to know that these bags aren't as enormous as my reading led me to believe. I'm still not sure I made the right decision, but I'll give it a little time. I can always try for a bag swap with someone who got an EB and finds it too big, or just resell the Z and buy an EB new.
    If you decide you want an EB instead, let me know. Mine has been sitting in my closet for a while since i found myself wanting a smaller version but not enough to incur the wrath of my wife about having another bag ... Cool

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cujo View Post
    Interesting. I wonder if they're going to reboot the "heavyweight" laptop briefcase design?

    Thanks for the advice about the file dividers. I removed two of the three, and that free'd up a surprisingly large amount of room, and not an insignificant amount of weight too.
    Isn't that what the Pilot was designed for -- a "heavier weight" laptop brief case? Based on a comparison of dimensions, I see that the Zephyr is larger and heavier, so I'm wondering what the advantage of it is?

    Regarding the ID -- this was my first TB purchase from years go. Surprised they're bringing this back (perhaps, with a design tweak). Was not a fan of the first iteration of this bag -- awkward handle, not much space beyond a laptop, and uncomfortable shoulder strap. Loved the color schemes and admired its design, but utility was sacrificed.

  8. #8
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    For me, the differences between the Zephyr and the Pilot in terms of Laptop carry that makes the Zephyr a "Heavyweight" briefcase is:

    1) Built in serious padding on 5 sides
    2) Ability to easily fit a 15.6" laptop (common size for PC based machine) and 15" MBP - the Zephyr is roughly a bit more than 1" bigger in every dimension compared to the Pilot. The Pilot can just fit a 15" MBP but takes up most of the room in the main compartment.
    3) Keeps its shape when empty (due to padding). The ballistic Pilot does keep its shape but not as well or perfectly as the Zephyr.
    4) Outer quick access zip pockets
    5) More a Messenger Style with the Front Flap

    I am sure I am missing some other differences, but that is what comes to the top of my mind.

    Basically, if I want superior protection in the smallest package, it is Zephyr. The Cadet is second with padding on 3 sides.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 03-04-2015 at 01:31 PM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  9. #9
    Forum Member adalangdon's Avatar
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    They're quite different. In addition to what @tpnl said, the Zephyr and EB have these 'bellows' at the side that allows the bag to open up more and hold a heck of a lot more than the Pilot (e.g. The Zephyr can hold 4 3" books with ease, but not the Pilot). It can do this because it's basically one giant main compartment plus a flat flap front pocket. In contrast, nearly half the depth of the Pilot consists of the front pockets, which I'm guessing is because it's meant to be a quasi-luggage bag.

  10. #10
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    As a few people have said above: The Zephyr is more padded, more substantial, more structured than the Pilot; in fact, it feels perhaps the most like a "traditional" briefcase / conventional laptop bag of any TB product. For a long time, I used my Zephyr as my "documents" holder -- important bills, records, etc, were all in there, with separators. (Once I bought a house, and the company I work for changed names a few times, I found that I needed a bigger, less handy filebox Wink)

  11. #11
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    Just to follow up: After using it for a week, I've concluded that the size is fine. If I end up replacing it, I'll replace it with a backpack, not an EB.

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