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  1. #1
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    2 months in with the Parental Unit

    Iíve had the Parental Unit as my EDC bag for just under two months now and itís close to what I wanted it to be but not quite.

    Now my use of the PU is different than what it was primarily designed for but in researching the bag I saw that it can fill a lot of different roles. In this regard it reminds me of the Co-Pilot I had. You could run that bag up with very different load outs and it would handle them all.

    The top feature for me is that it allows quick and easy access to just about anything in it at any time and you can segregate items in a number of different ways depending on what youíre carrying. It handles all of the small stuff like a champ. The main drawback is that the size and shape of the main compartment can struggle with the combination of larger items that I carry. Hereís a shot of what Iíve had in my bag lately.


    PU 8
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    The main compartment of the PU is good sized but how much it can hold ends up be quite item dependent. The fact that the zipper does not run the full span of the top face of the bag deceives you a bit. You can get a larger item inside than you might think it would take at first glance but they donít necessarily fit well once theyíre all the way inside. My primary example is the lunch box I often take to work. Itís 9x6x3 and the sides are flexible. It has no problem going into the PU and turning to a horizontal orientation.


    PU 9
    by Nate E, on Flickr


    PU 10
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    It can make for a tight fit if the outer pockets on the PU are carrying anything bulky and the other things I can then fit alongside will have to be small and/or compressible. My water bottle can go in at one end along with a small snack item or two and I could roll up a spare t-shirt to go in at the other end. Something narrow could lay on top of the lunch box but there isnít really anything in my daily carry that fits that mold. The shape of the lunch box, or really any box or appreciable depth, is just not a great match to the shape of the main compartment.

    So what about larger items that are softer and more pliable? They tend to be easier to handle for the most part. Most of my clothes are XL size so folding up a jacket or sweatshirt to store somewhere still leaves a bulky item that can eat up space. If I want to put my sweatshirt inside I need to roll it up pretty tight.


    PU 11
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    I can lay it on the bottom and then put the lunch box on top.


    PU 12
    by Nate E, on Flickr


    PU 13
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    But now when I want to zip the bag closed the depth of the lunch box gets in the way. It may or may not be a problem for whatís in the lunch box but itís definitely an issue for the main zipper on the PU. I could take the plastic food container out of the lunch box and fit that in the bag more easily.


    PU 16
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    This presents its own issues though. If the container is holding a sandwich then Iím not worried about anything potentially leaking out. But if it had pasta and sauceÖwell, Iíd want that extra layer of protection the lunch box provides. I could put the plastic container in a disposable plastic bag but that runs contrary to why you have the reusable lunch box in the first place.

  2. #2
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    Another clothing item I might bring along is a rain shell.


    PU 18
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    It doesn’t roll as neatly at the sweatshirt but I can fold it up and get it in without a problem.


    PU 19
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    In fact, I can lay the rolled up sweatshirt on top of the shell and have both layers should the weather call for it.


    PU 20
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    But now there’s no room in the main compartment for my lunch. The food container by itself can go in the largest outer compartment but it’s tight and will get in the way of having much in the small zipped pocket.


    PU 21
    by Nate E, on Flickr


    PU 22
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    One thing that could free up room inside would be the capability to carry items on the outside. If along both sides of the bottom seam there were small webbing loops you could run shock cord or clip on some lashing straps to hold a jacket, sweatshirt, or whatever. It would not impede access to any other part of the bag and, as many other TB bags feature, could be removed when you are not using it.

    I do wonder what this bag would be like if the main compartment were 2” wider at the bottom. I know it’s not nearly as simple as making one dimension bigger and the rest of the bag just falls into place. And I know that the PU is designed around carrying many small items that have varying levels of flexibility and not so much around the one large inflexible item. Still, that additional depth could make a big difference in the types of items you could comfortably carry in the bag

    There was one other issue with the bag that caught me a bit off guard. The shoulder strap and strap pad did not work harmoniously in terms of being able to swing the bag from back to front and vice versa by sliding the strap through the pad. When I adjusted the triglide buckle on the strap to get the length where I needed it, the position of the buckle put it in the way of being able to slide strap the distance needed to get the bag from back to front. I tried flipping the strap so the buckle was on the other side of the center point but it still didn’t work. I tried the strap without the pad since my loadout isn’t that heavy but the buckle ended up hitting on my collarbone and being uncomfortable. Since the bag has no grab handle I needed a solution for a strap. I took an extra length of webbing I had and put in two buckles for adjustment nearer to the ends, leaving enough room free in the middle for sliding the strap though the pad the necessary amount. Happily, the metal snaphooks from the TB parts page fit on the PU’s hard mounts. It struck me as odd to have the problem since the Co-Pilot had the same style strap and pad and I never encountered any issues for swinging the bag around. Perhaps that strap was a slightly different length or its smaller size didn’t use up as much of the slack as the PU does for the length I wanted.


    PU 23
    by Nate E, on Flickr

    So now to the $64,000 question – if the PU is not quite the right bag then what is? I’ve got a small Cafť Bag and like it but the larger versions are not any deeper than the small one. The experience with the PU makes it clear that depth is the dimension making the biggest difference for what I carry. The only other choice seems to be the Makers Bag. It has more depth but in height and width it’s not much bigger than my old Co-Pilot. Having pretty much all of the small item pockets along either side of the front wall is also a concern. In one way it makes things simpler but with bags over a certain size I feel like I need more discrete storage areas. I look at older designs like the Ego or Id and wish they were still around. I browse other companies' messenger style bags and while many of them are nice they are not Tom Bihn. I know that the TB design and organization works for me. I don't want to try and force that into another bag because in the end I think I'll just be frustrated that I didn't buy TB in the first place. But for a shoulder bag that I feel would fit my needs there doesn't seem to be "the one" in Tom's lineup right now.
    Last edited by jujigatame; 10-11-2016 at 07:50 PM.

  3. #3
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    I also carry an llbean lunchbox, water bottle and sweater. The maker's is my daily bag when I leave for work. I carry a medium cafe when I don't need lunch or sweater.

  4. #4
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    How much room does the lunchbox take up in the Makers bag, and which way do you orient it?

  5. #5
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    I'm on a work trip by car so I have my cooler with me instead of the box, but I'll grab pictures tomorrow when I'm home.

  6. #6
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    That would be great, thanks.

  7. #7
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    Here's some pictures of my daily work load- because the mcb is my nonwork bag I use a medium freudian slip to attempt to organize my world. The small things in the third picture are usually tucked into the front pockets in the front of the bag.2 months in with the Parental Unit-img_4940-jpg2 months in with the Parental Unit-img_4941-jpg2 months in with the Parental Unit-img_4942-jpg
    Let me know if you need more details.

  8. #8
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Looks like I'd be in pretty much the same boat on the Makers Bag as I am with the PU. The small stuff would be fine. Lunch + 1 layer + water bottle is ok but adding a second layer or other larger/inflexible item to that load could present problems. And there's the same issue of no outside stowage. I think there's a million things the Makers Bag can do but what I need may not be one of them.

    Thanks again, this was very helpful.

  9. #9
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    I add a lunch bag to my MB by hooking a knitting stuff sack (with an exterior clip) to one of the o-rings on he bag. It hangs off the back end as I walk.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    That's an interesting idea. Makes me wonder if I could hack the water bottle carry to the outside of the Makers Bag like I did on the small Cafe. It does have the same loop for a waist strap.

  11. #11
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    Oooooooo. I never thought about a water bottle there. Did you connect it to something where the strap attaches and then at the bottom?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fulton View Post
    Oooooooo. I never thought about a water bottle there. Did you connect it to something where the strap attaches and then at the bottom?
    https://forums.tombihn.com/general-b...html#post99178

  13. #13
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    2 months in with the Parental Unit

    I also tried a PU as my EDC but it didn't work. I felt it should as it is a beautiful bag with amazing capacity for swallowing up much more than it looks like it will. Tardis-like definitely!

    I LOVED the outside pockets - they were perfect for quick access to phone, wallet, journal, etc.. while the depth of the pockets made them feel very secure.

    I also loved the shape of the bag - really beautiful curves.

    What didn't work was how wide it got with my lunch in and how big it felt if I wasn't carrying my lunch or jumpers.

    However a big part of this was that it was new in ballistic - I felt that it would soften and work better for me perhaps but I wasn't sure enough to try. If I could get one in halcyon or cordura (not made in latter), I'd love to try again, but meanwhile am sticking with MCB and Swift.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  14. #14
    Forum Member jujigatame's Avatar
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    I wish it had been available in one of the dark grid Halcyon fabrics when I got mine. I would have taken that option to get the extra flexibility. The ballistic is beautiful but the additional give of Halcyon would make some difference.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jujigatame View Post
    I wish it had been available in one of the dark grid Halcyon fabrics when I got mine.
    I agree--I've been keeping an eye on the Parental Unit, hoping that soon it will be available in black halcyon.

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