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  1. #1
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    Downsizing to Smart Alec

    I've owned a Brain Bag for six or seven years now, but it now spends more time in my closet compared to my other travel and EDC choices: Pilot, Synapse 19, Aeronaut 45 and Tristar. My travel and packing schemes have changed. I've learned to travel lighter, ditched boxy and heaver laptops for ultrabooks, and I do less field work so am not carrying along decent clothes plus clothes that get beat up. (I work in agriculture in the tropics.)

    So I am thinking about downsizing. Has anyone out there moved from a Brain Bag for EDC or travel, or both, to a Smart Alec? What do you think you gained or gave up? Any regrets?

    I like my Synapse 19 and it fills a nice niche, but I don't think I would want the same style in a larger bag--Synapse 25--to fill the gap between the S19 and the A45 or Tristar.

    Thanks for any suggestions and ideas.

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    The SA is definitely a good option if downsizing from a Brain Bag. The Guide's Pack is also another option. If you are ok with the different packing style of both the SA and Guide's Pack, it should work for you IMHO.

    A couple of features I really like about the SA:
    • The zippered pockets in the top flap. Easy to get at items when I am sitting down with the bag by my legs. Adding the Upper Module Pocket (UMP) adds even more organization
    • The backpack stands up on its own due to the padded bottom
    • You can carry bigger bulkier items (e.g. square items) than you can in the larger BB
    • With packing cubes and pouches for organization or a FS, the SA can really rock.
    • When wearing over one shoulder, it is easy to swing the bag forward and access the side pocket and the top flap without taking the backpack off. The side pockets open up and towards you and do not let things spill out. I do not find this the case with the Synapse twins or BB
    • I like the Bungie Cord to hold long or irregular items e.g. power cord, jacket, mat, tripod
    • I can design how I organize things
    • For my frame, it is the most comfortable backpack
    • It is the most streamlined of the backpacks if packed well
    • LOVE the padded Poron handle
    • Almost all Ballistic Nylon construction
    • @Ilkyway showed how to fit a DLBP into the SA to get even more organization and versatility
    • Great for outdoor work as you can just put things in the back and not have to arrange things as much
    • You can add extra volume with the 2 Modular Pockets (total of more than 350 Cu. In. could be added)
    • Best built-in padding for laptop use
    • Can hang pouches off the gatekeeper loops (can do this on other TB backpacks as well)


    A couple of things to be aware of (IMHO):
    • Can lose its shape / look lopsided / look “grump” if not full or not packed well. Essentially the center of the bag can collapse on itself. But, I find that packing cubes help stop this
    • The side pockets will “eat” into the main compartment space or vice versa. So packing one space full will imping on the other space
    • Can look like a barrel if really stuffed
    • While the middle and bottom are Ballistic Nylon, the sides are Cordura


    I cannot speak to the Guide’s Pack but looks to have similar benefits and a bit larger in it's base form

    There are other forum members here that can speak better than I on its use while travelling. Check out @bchaplin ‘s postings and a few of the recent SA thread.

    Hope this helps
    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 05-03-2016 at 07:44 AM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  3. #3
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    This thread says, I believe, everything it is possible to say about the Smart Alec.
    Last edited by bchaplin; 05-03-2016 at 07:27 AM.
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  4. #4
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    Thanks @tpnl for the tips and opinions. And thanks @bchaplin for the link. I have read earlier posts from both of you and they have been extremely helpful. Fortunately I have some time to decide (I will sell the BB; that's for sure) between the SA and the S25 which has not been ruled out. I need to think about my future travel and carrying needs and which one of those two bags is most appropriate.

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