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  1. #1
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    Can the Brain Bag a) open fully clam-shell b) stand-up by itself? + other questions..

    I'm looking at the Brain Bag for travels... I'm thinking of using the external pockets for the 3/1/1 toiletries bag (Transparent cube), keys, phone, headphones, the rear compartment empty when not carrying a laptop, and the main compartment for packing cubes.

    I'd get the BB already but a few things about it BAFFLE me, which is what I hope these questions above will answer:
    * Why are the two compartments the same size? Why not a narrow one for laptop/paper/notebook etc... and a larger one for packing cube, clothing, camera?
    * From what I see of videos, most quite old, the middle compartment only opens up about two thirds of the way. Why not full clamshell? This doesn't make any sense to me...



    Hence my questions:
    * How does it look, compressed slightly, on someone not too tall? I'm about 5'9. The 25 looks fine on me when not stuffed, if the BB's of similar size (important)
    * If using only one of the main compartments, is there any wasted space, or can they compress into one another without much loss of available capacity? (important)
    * Can the middle main compartment open FULL clamshell, which would make this a KICKASS travel bag? Maybe on newer versions? (EXTREMELY important)
    * Will one of the side-pockets fit a Transparent organizer cube? (important)
    * Will one of the side-pockets fit a Side-Effect? (not so important)
    * Will it stand-up on its own under most/all circumstances? (one of two main gripes I have with the S25...)

    For context, here are my current travel packs:
    * GreenRoom136 Rainmaker (Medium, receiving a Large this week): comfy and with AMAZING organization, but looks too squat on me. The Large will fix some of this. It's 27L, opens clamshell, but isn't the most elegant strapped onto me due to its general shape
    * Timbuk2 Jet: love it. A big rectangle with just-right organization. I don't like the mesh curtain in the main compartment though which is 100% useless and just impedes loading
    * Topo Design Core Pack: GREAT packing, awesome zippers and organization, but looks a bit off on me too
    * Synapse 25: only works if I under-use it. Because each pocket has its own space, but can't fit much stuff useful in them (I don't travel with small items which would fit in them), I always end-up with a bulging S25 which doesn't stand-up on its own, has slippery straps, and gets too heavy...
    Its only salvation was when giving it to my girlfriend for a short weekend. When under-packed it's very comfortable, besides the slippery strap, which is what gives me hope for the BB...


    Cheers for any tips!

  2. #2
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    The BB compartments are not really Clamshell at all but true top loaders to me.

    They were designed this way to use the Brain Cell computer sleeve to carry your laptop in an era back then when the computers were much bigger and heavier than they are Today in general.
    The Brain Cell was a rigid sided sleeve with an genius neoprene sling inside to suspend the computer above the floor of the sleeve so that if dropped the computer would not hit the floor!
    I guess they did not sell well anymore and were given the Axe but this is the bag and sleeve combo that put Tom Bihn on the map for me and many others and like many great concepts does not really exist anymore except in some of our Bag Retirement Communities.

    Thus the Brain Cell slid easily into the Brain Bag!
    You could get 2 in there with both compartments.

    The Brain Cell has been discontinued though as have the hulking computers of that time for practical reasons more than anything else but the BB endures without the inserts that provided the context needed to understand its name.

    I have 3 of them and am not planning on changing this anytime at all but the bag is tough at times to load and unload too.
    Otherwise it is still a great bag and I do have several Brain Cells left too!
    Pun intended for sure.
    Last edited by AVService; 06-13-2018 at 05:03 AM.

  3. #3
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    I'll try to answer some of your questions...

    Quote Originally Posted by pott View Post
    * How does it look, compressed slightly, on someone not too tall? I'm about 5'9. The 25 looks fine on me when not stuffed, if the BB's of similar size (important)
    I'm about 5'5" and the BB fits me extremely well. Husband is 6' and he likes it also. You can see it on me here, but it's pretty stuffed.
    https://forums.tombihn.com/packing-l...lor-stuff.html

    Quote Originally Posted by pott View Post
    * If using only one of the main compartments, is there any wasted space, or can they compress into one another without much loss of available capacity? (important)
    I'm not sure what you mean by "wasted space." Any compartment not used is wasted space, but I often use only one main pocket. The compression straps are fabulous and I wish TB would add them to the other backpacks like Synapse.

    Quote Originally Posted by pott View Post
    * Will one of the side-pockets fit a Side-Effect? (not so important)
    Yes with room to spare unless both bags are overstuffed.

    Quote Originally Posted by pott View Post
    * Will it stand-up on its own under most/all circumstances? (one of two main gripes I have with the S25...)
    No. The back padding is ample but this is still a soft-shell bag. Unless it's packed well and weighted correctly, it often curves in on itself.
    Last edited by Tonya; 06-13-2018 at 07:39 AM. Reason: correct quote coding

  4. #4
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    Thanks both! Great info. Looks like the BB wouldn't be it for me then.
    I'm bummed-out. my TB stuff always FEELS amazing, but isn't very practical overall. It's close in terms of quality, but far in terms of usage... Hoping I can salvage my S25 at least with the frame.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pott View Post
    Thanks both! Great info. Looks like the BB wouldn't be it for me then.
    I'm bummed-out. my TB stuff always FEELS amazing, but isn't very practical overall. It's close in terms of quality, but far in terms of usage... Hoping I can salvage my S25 at least with the frame.
    Yeah I think the frame is necessary with the S25, but IMO the BB doesn't need one. It's got more structure and doesn't turn into a fat sausage when stuffed. It's 2-inches shorter than the S25 so it sits well, but it expands much more outward and is easy to overfill. I use it solely for car trips and carrying stuff when en plein air painting close to my car. I don't even like it on day hikes because the back padding is too hot.

    I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for, but have you looked at the Daylight BP? The S25 slip fits in it perfectly, and if it's packed well, it sits up by itself. This is my fav commuter and urban bag because it hugs my body and is such an effortless carry.

    One warning: If it's empty, it's nothing more than a slip of fabric so it really has no structure. It needs a slip or cache to give it some strength and protect one's back from pointy things. But it's square, roomy, and probably my fav TB bag thus far.

  6. #6
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    Take a look at the Tristar it is a true clamshell bag that can be worn as a backpack, it stands by itself, even loaded weirdly.

    I second Tonya kudos about the Daylight Backpack, well loaded it is a wonderful day and light travel backpack.

  7. #7
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    The Daylight BP looks like it wouldn't even fit my laptop, and I don't mind something less minimalist for the sake of organization and convenience.

    For every day commute I'm these days going between a Brown Buffalo Conceal (PERFECT pocketing, but lacks comfort due to overly clingy straps), Evergoods CPL24 (pockets are on the wrong side, lacks a better quick-access pocket, but it is Oh So Comfortable!) and right now the GreenRoom136 Rainmaker Medium (comfortable, amazing organization, just a little overkill and squat-looking on me).

    The Daylight would likely be my first choice for one-and-a-half-bag travel: if my travel bag is larger than I'd like, it'd be nice to have as backup.
    But since I travel with 25 to 30L typically, it's not too bad usually. I don't have any larger bags these days.

    I gave the Tristar/WF consideration years ago for one-bagging but it's REALLY not for me... It's just not at all how I pack or travel...
    Last edited by pott; 06-14-2018 at 12:09 AM.

  8. #8
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    I actually like the top-loading setup of the BB. For me, it makes it easier to get things in a cramped space and helps prevent things spilling out our accidentally due to the zippers going down only halfway. It also makes the bottom more protected against water getting in and dirt from the floor / ground getting on your bag. Note that when opening a clamshell bag all the way, you generally will need to lay the back part of the bag on the possibly dirty ground (the part that will also touch your back when wearing).

    The BB does stand up by itself (the new 525 Ballistic version especially so) in general as the bottom is flat and the back foam is pretty rigid.

    It is interesting comment about having different compartment sizes. It might be good but I think the fact that the divider between the 2 compartment is fabric and therefore flexible allowing some "stetch" is the compartment size mitigates some of the need for different size compartments.

    The compression strap do a great job compressing any empty unused space in the main compartment. Here a picture of my older 2004 BB as my EDC (as you can see, the back compartment is nicely compressed:




    But, to each their own! - how you like to pack things really plays into your decision.

    Hope this helps
    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 06-14-2018 at 12:42 AM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  9. #9
    Forum Member TRD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pott View Post
    The Daylight BP looks like it wouldn't even fit my laptop
    ...
    It would.

    It may look flimsy and small but the DLBP holds a ton and is awesome. I bought one thinking I’d use it as a day bag for Disneyland and bought two more because my family kept “borrowing” the one I had. I use it for trips up to a week.

  10. #10
    Forum Member TRD's Avatar
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    10 years ago the Brain Bag would have been my go-to. Sadly I can’t stop myself from overpacking and my back complains quickly.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pott View Post
    I'm looking at the Brain Bag for travels... I'm thinking of using the external pockets for the 3/1/1 toiletries bag (Transparent cube), keys, phone, headphones, the rear compartment empty when not carrying a laptop, and the main compartment for packing cubes.

    I'd get the BB already but a few things about it BAFFLE me, which is what I hope these questions above will answer:
    * Why are the two compartments the same size? Why not a narrow one for laptop/paper/notebook etc... and a larger one for packing cube, clothing, camera?
    * From what I see of videos, most quite old, the middle compartment only opens up about two thirds of the way. Why not full clamshell? This doesn't make any sense to me...

    * If using only one of the main compartments, is there any wasted space, or can they compress into one another without much loss of available capacity? (important)
    * Can the middle main compartment open FULL clamshell, which would make this a KICKASS travel bag? Maybe on newer versions? (EXTREMELY important)
    AVService gave the history of why the compartments are the same size, but I want to add that both compartments can easily fit a fairly large packing cube or a camera. In fact, I specifically checked with the TB staff on the pocket dimensions to make sure it would take my DSLR camera in an Ape Case before I purchased my BB. The divider doesn't float between the compartments, but as others have mentioned, you can reduce the excess space because of the cinch straps (a very nice feature).

    Like tpnl, I appreciate that the bag is not a full clamshell, both because it provides better containment and because it doesn't take up as much space when you need to open it. The only issue this might cause is if you have some smaller items buried at the bottom of the bag. (For these types of smaller items, I might recommend either putting them in a Freudian Slip that can be removed or in a container attached to an o-ring with a key strap.)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterlogged View Post
    AVService gave the history of why the compartments are the same size, but I want to add that both compartments can easily fit a fairly large packing cube or a camera. In fact, I specifically checked with the TB staff on the pocket dimensions to make sure it would take my DSLR camera in an Ape Case before I purchased my BB. The divider doesn't float between the compartments, but as others have mentioned, you can reduce the excess space because of the cinch straps (a very nice feature).

    Like tpnl, I appreciate that the bag is not a full clamshell, both because it provides better containment and because it doesn't take up as much space when you need to open it. The only issue this might cause is if you have some smaller items buried at the bottom of the bag. (For these types of smaller items, I might recommend either putting them in a Freudian Slip that can be removed or in a container attached to an o-ring with a key strap.)

    Pretty much exactly how I pack mine too.
    I usually slide packing cubes or sleeves right into the compartments and then the Snake Charmers/s sit right on top of those.
    I have carried both small and large SLRs this way and while I can not really work easily right out of the bag I also can just slide a small shoulder camera case in and out lie a any other packing cube. I also have a few camera inserts that do the same thing but are designed just to store camera gear for travel and sort of turn as much of a BB into a camera pack as you want to dedicate to that.

    The great thing about the BB though is that unlike mot camera bags is that next it can slide 2 20" monitors in one easily to transport them and the next day load back up bugout bag stuff for use on a trip!

    The BB is pretty flexible really for me which is why I keep one for each car ready to go.

  13. #13
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    I'm going to piggyback on your question thread -- does anyone have water bottle recommendations for the middle back compartment, that can clip into the hook? I was thinking about this: https://www.kleankanteen.com/collect...ant=1533725379

    I want to use it for water or coffee at my desk, but I'm biking to work so I want to keep it secured during transit.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by brandonhines View Post
    I'm going to piggyback on your question thread -- does anyone have water bottle recommendations for the middle back compartment, that can clip into the hook? I was thinking about this: https://www.kleankanteen.com/collect...ant=1533725379

    I want to use it for water or coffee at my desk, but I'm biking to work so I want to keep it secured during transit.
    The 20oz Hydroflask is probably about the same size as the Klean Kanteen and works well with the clip on the front of the BB. As an added bonus, I've found that i can just twist the bottle to unclip it and then maneuver it out of the straps.
    Attached Images Attached Images Can the Brain Bag a) open fully clam-shell b) stand-up by itself? + other questions..-20180616_140844-jpg 

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by brandonhines View Post
    I'm going to piggyback on your question thread -- does anyone have water bottle recommendations for the middle back compartment, that can clip into the hook? I was thinking about this: https://www.kleankanteen.com/collect...ant=1533725379

    I want to use it for water or coffee at my desk, but I'm biking to work so I want to keep it secured during transit.
    I have nearly all Kleen Kanteens and they all fit into the pocket/holder with room to spare. The smaller (16 oz non-insulated) ones don't quite reach the clip, but unless i do cartwheels, it's secure. I hardly ever use the clip, even with my taller bottles. It's just extra effort and I'm lazy. However, if I ever take up skydiving...

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