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  1. #1
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    Bag for grad school residency?

    I've decided to return to graduate school. I'm in a low-residency MFA program that requires two weeks on campus per year. During residency, there's a lot of walking from the dorm to the student center, to the bookstore, to classrooms--a radius of about six blocks. I will need to bring a notebook (which could be a Moleskine as big as 8.5" x 5") and may have some 8.5" x 11" handouts (which could certain be folded in half). I also carry a bottle of water, a couple of snack bars, a small travel wallet, my hardshell eyeglass case, sunglasses in a soft case, small amount of cosmetics, small container of meds, room key, small phone. I will probably also need a hoodie because some of the classrooms are overly air-conditioned.

    @TavaPeak had suggested the Synapse 19, but I'm not a backpack person and it's a little more than I can afford to spend right now. Her other suggestion was the Pilot, which I'm not totally opposed to. My original TB choice was between the Co-Pilot and the Swift, and I chose the Swift.

    I'm looking for maximum flexibility in using this bag, since I'm on a low budget (those of you old enough to remember, shout: What did you say? I'm on a low budget! Say it again! tee hee)

    Once in a while, I take a day trip/bus trip and would like to have s/thing I can take on such a journey. Something lightweight. While I love my Swift, and it is roomy, I think it is too heavy to haul around all day long. I'm afraid the Co-Pilot would be too formal/large for that sort of thing.

    Suggestions, anyone?

    I'm thinking of the PCSB and/or the PCBP. Because the BP isn't as big or expensive as "regular" backpacks.
    Last edited by ladyinblack1964; 05-27-2015 at 07:49 AM.

  2. #2
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    I think a Co-Pilot would work for both situations. But if it seems too formal, a Medium Cafe Bag would probably work too depending on the size of the hoodie. The benefit of these two bags over the Swift is that they can be carried cross body, which helps cut the weight some. The Large Cafe Bag would also be an option. It is more similar in size to the CP, just with less built-in organization. With it you would have the ability to change the strap if you wanted to and it would be less formal.

  3. #3
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    @Shanisol, I like the idea of a cafe bag. As long as it's not bouncing off my hip, I can deal with it. In the past I had some less-than-ideal messenger bags.

  4. #4
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    If your budget allows, you may want to consider the Daylight Briefcase (DLBC). It costs $80, published volume is between the Pilot and the Co-Pilot. I have 1 of each - all in black dyneema.

    Nothing beats the Pilot/Co-Pilot in organization. I love the bottle pocket in particular - it is genius.

    I flipflop between the DLBC and the CP as EDC. A regular folder does not fit in the CP. The DLBC does not have a dedicated pocket for a water bottle. But its lighter weight and the fact that I can carry a regular folder is why I got it.

    I have a MCB - it does not get much use, unless I carry something that fits better in its vertical orientation. I am very short. I learned from my TB bags that horizontal bags work better for my height and also for the stuff that I normally carry in my bags.

    I have a PCSB. It is floppy and has one main compartment. Solution is to carry something flat that provides structure. If TB put pockets in its main compartment like the SE, it will be ideal for my use.

    Hope you find the bag that works best for you soon.

  5. #5
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    I am 5' 8" and have a large frame, if that helps anyone make a recommendation. I'll check out the DLBC! Thank you.

  6. #6
    Forum Member adalangdon's Avatar
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    Just some random musings on the CP-- if you use a small and thin cardigan, and don't need a thick file, the CP may work. Also, the dyneema version has quite a different look and feel. I have Cardinal and Iberian CPs (yeah, I, er, like red) and they feel like quite different bags-- the dyneema feels a lot more casual and un-luggage-like while the ballistic feels a lot more office-ready even in non-traditional colours. Dyneema also accommodates a lot more, which is helpful in a small bag like the CP. Also, the water bottle pocket in the CP or Pilot may be less necessary if your bottle isn't breakable.

    Here are a couple of links to the Pilot/CP capacity issue. In this link (scroll down to see some pics I took for @weirdguy), you can see that the CP can actually accommodate A4 papers and thin books. This other series of posts may also help you get an idea if the CP will work for your papers.

    But if you ask me, there's no beating the Daylight series for value and weight (and if you don't mind the lack of strap padding). PCSB seems rather spartan for your purposes... JM2C.

    ETA: Sorry, the post about your height only came after I had posted the above. The CP may not be such a good idea if you need outerwear, then.
    Last edited by adalangdon; 05-27-2015 at 09:39 AM.

  7. #7
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    Regarding your handouts, you should consider the Clear Organizer Pouches. If you want your papers folded in half (and depending on your bag) get medium. If you don't want them folded, go for large.

    Also, still consider the DLBP. You indicated you don't like backpacks, but the DLBP is very light and can easily be worn on one shoulder. Dyneema is also light. It doesn't "feel" like a backpack, but has nice organization.

    And if you get a cafe bag, a waist strap will keep it from bouncing around. Organizer pockets/small stuff sacks help keep things corralled.

  8. #8
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    Also, check into the PU. Massive organization and it conforms to the body nicely. If you get it with the absolute strap you're in business!

  9. #9
    Forum Member ncb4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyinblack1964 View Post
    I am 5' 8" and have a large frame, if that helps anyone make a recommendation. I'll check out the DLBC! Thank you.
    I'm your same height, and though I used to swear up and down that I was not a backpack person, when I got the DLBP last year I was hooked. It carries a great deal, and even though it's not padded at all, it is incredibly comfortable to wear. This may be because I have neck and shoulder issues, but although I love my Co-Pilot, Swifts, and my Red Blend MCB, I far prefer to use the DLBP now over any of them. It sounds like you want to carry a fair amount of stuff with you, so you may also find that the DLBP works better for you.

    Two notes: first, for those moments when you want quick access to something, I've found that the DLBP is not only comfortable when carried temporarily on just one shoulder, the strap stays fairly securely on my shoulder when I do do. Second, you may want to consider carrying a Side Effect as well, if you need immediate access to your cell phone or wallet or what have you. I don't do that, but I know that many folks here on the forum do.

    Good luck with your decision, which is always hard because there are so many great TB bags that you want them all!

    ~Nancy
    Last edited by ncb4; 05-27-2015 at 12:48 PM. Reason: Changed all references to DLBP: the backpack

  10. #10
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    I'd love to see some DLBP reviews. I looked on the external review page but didn't see any. Unless I'm missing s/thing?

  11. #11
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    I am running around with a DLBP today - couple photos on the thread "Where Did Your TB Bag Lately" under Photos, etc.

    I prefer it to the PCBP. What makes the difference are the 2 pockets in the main compartment. Makes a huge difference in organization as well as distributing load along the vertical length of the bag.

    I like its light weight compared to my Synapse 19. It is comfortable for me to carry, but my load is about 5 lbs.

    I used it once to carry 2 Nikon Monarch 7 binoculars (was testing to decide which one to keep) plus my SE, a sweater, prescription eyeglasses in hard case, prescription sunglasses in semi-hard case and a bottle of water (1.5L). It was not ideal or comfortable. Perhaps the shapes of the load were part of the discomfort, given that the back has no padding.

    But for the stuff I am toting today, it is very comfortable and light. I dropped my car off at the car shop between appyts, took the metro to another appt. Will take metro back to car shop. The DLBP carried well from the metro to my appt - less than a mile walk one way.

  12. #12
    Forum Member ncb4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyinblack1964 View Post
    I'd love to see some DLBP reviews. I looked on the external review page but didn't see any. Unless I'm missing s/thing?
    If you're looking for some external reviews of the DLBP, I did a quick Google search and found these for you:

    1. Carryology

    2. Jeremiah Rogers

    3. LoadedPocketz

    4. Brooks Review

    There may be more; these were the top four hits. The first two have lots of photos, so that may be helpful.

    ~Nancy

  13. #13
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncb4 View Post
    I'm your same height, and though I used to swear up and down that I was not a backpack person, when I got the DLBC last year I was hooked. It carries a great deal, and even though it's not padded at all, it is incredibly comfortable to wear. This may be because I have neck and shoulder issues, but although I love my Co-Pilot, Swifts, and my Red Blend MCB, I far prefer to use the DLBC now over any of them. It sounds like you want to carry a fair amount of stuff with you, so you may also find that the DLBC works better for you.

    Two notes: first, for those moments when you want quick access to something, I've found that the DLBC is not only comfortable when carried temporarily on just one shoulder, the strap stays fairly securely on my shoulder when I do do. Second, you may want to consider carrying a Side Effect as well, if you need immediate access to your cell phone or wallet or what have you. I don't do that, but I know that many folks here on the forum do.

    Good luck with your decision, which is always hard because there are so many great TB bags that you want them all!

    ~Nancy
    You are referring to the DLBP or the DLBC? I THINK you're referring to the backpack, but it's unclear.

  14. #14
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    Also, to add organization, you can put the S19 Freudian Slip in the outside front pocket, or the S25 FS inside. If the S25 is your choice, it does take away some space. But it allows you to organize and carry papers without wrinkling.

  15. #15
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    I'm an undergrad right now but plan on graduate school when I'm finished. I chose the CP as a work/class bag being that it looks much more professional (IMO) than a backpack does, and I've always been a firm believer in the "dress for the role/job you want" mantra. In the roughly ten last days of my summer classes I've carried my FJN and 11" MBA in the main pocket as well as full size papers and an 11"X8.5" text in the back pocket. Although there are mixed reviews on being able to carry a full size folder in a CP, I've done it with great results. Mine is plastic, though, and holds up a little better against the tight squeeze.

    I have an Absolute Strap on mine, and carry it on my shoulder rather than cross body. Just today I was marveling at what a difference this strap makes. It adds a sort of springy-ness to help offset the weight.

    Someone above mentioned both the Dyneema and Ballistic being two different animals, and I would really love to get my hands on a Dyneema one to play with. I wouldn't mind a smidgeon more volume to my CP, but worry that a Pilot would be slightly too big. All in all, I can see maybe swapping out my Ballistic CP for a Dyneema, and adding a Ballistic Pilot to the mix somewhere down the line. For now, I'm in love with the CP.

    PS: I used my black Swift for just about three years as my previous EDC. It looked as good the last day as the first, and worked like a charm. My only complaint was the bottomless black hole that things would escape into, and no amount of organization seemed to help me with that.

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