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Travel bags, laptop bags, and backpacks. Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags since 1972. The best materials and innovative construction.

Vertical Brain Cell - Tom Bihn backpacks

The Vertical Brain Cell, like the Horizontal Brain Cell, provides superior hard-sided protection for your laptop. The construction offers the toughest protection you can get for your laptop in a case that is still light and minimalist. Your laptop will be protected from every angle.

Inside the Vertical Brain Cell, your laptop hangs suspended, cradled in a sling of 10 mm (3/8") thick, soft foam padding inside a 4 mm thick, hard corrugated plastic shell that protects from the front, back, and bottom. Below the padded sling, fixed to the bottom of the corrugated plastic shell, is a 12 mm thick strip of memory foam (manufactured to our specifications in the U.S.A.). This memory foam acts as an extra layer of cushion as well as an effective shock absorber. The sides of the Vertical Brain Cell are protected by 6 mm (1/4") of dense cross-linked closed-cell polyethylene foam. The case closes on the top, like a cereal box, with two padded flaps that seal with Aplix® strips (like Velcro®, only longer-lasting).

The Vertical Brain Cell is designed specifically for use inside two of our backpacks — the Smart Alec and the Brain Bag, which come with removable clips that secure the Vertical Brain Cell in place. If you already have a favorite backpack, chances are the Vertical Brain Cell will fit inside it. Be sure to view our Laptop Bag Fit Guide, which lists the interior and exterior dimensions of each size of the Vertical Brain Cell, and compare the exterior dimensions of the Vertical Brain Cell to the interior dimensions of your backpack to make sure it will fit.

The Vertical Brain Cell has two front mesh pockets (designed to fit your power supply and other small accessories) as well as attachments for a shoulder strap, allowing you to use it as a stand-alone laptop bag.

We offer two different shoulder straps that can be used with the Vertical Brain Cell: the Simple Shoulder Strap, a great choice for those who carry smaller, lighter laptops, and the Absolute Shoulder Strap, which offers the ultimate combination of a nonslip underside with the comfort of neoprene and an internal control-stretch system: a layer of elastic is sandwiched between layers of neoprene foam — the elastic controls the stretch.

The Vertical Brain Cell comes in multiple sizes to fit a wide range of laptops: four sizes designed specifically for Apple laptops (Size 4Z = 15" MacBook Pro, Size 6Z = 13" MacBook Pro, Size 1 = 17" MacBook Pro) and multiple different sizes for PC laptops. We recommend using our Laptop Bag Fit Guide to determine which size of Vertical Brain Cell you need for your laptop. If you can't find your laptop in our Laptop Bag Fit Guide, or if you have further questions, feel free to email or call us.

Please note: In order to get the most laptop protection from the Vertical Brain Cell, it must be carried in the vertical (portrait) position. Therefore, it is best to use this bag with the Smart Alec, Brain Bag, or your current backpack. If you require a protective laptop case to use with a briefcase or messenger bag, in a horizontal (landscape) position, please see our Horizontal Brain Cell.


500 denier Cordura® exterior
Heavy-duty stretch mesh pockets
Aplix® hook and loop closure
Plush brushed tricot interior
.375" / 10 mm open-cell foam padding in sling
.25" / 6 mm closed-cell foam padding on sides
.5" / 12 mm memory foam padding on bottom
Corrugated polypropylene front, bottom, and sides


Made in USA
100% finished seams


For the interior and exterior dimensions of each size of Vertical Brain Cell, click here.

Videos and Customer Photos

External Reviews

people who have the Vertical Brain Cell say:

Brain Cell for MacBook Pro 15.4
"I bought the Brain Cell with one thing in mind - protecting my investment. I'm by no means a rich man, so when I spend three grand on a notebook, I'm going to do whatever I can to keep it safe. After an exhausting search on countless review sites and forums, it was clear to me that the Brain Cell was leading the pack in notebook sleeves. The stiff corrugated plastic inserts and the internal foam sling combine to give this case a rugged, yet extremely lightweight feel. Sliding your hand inside the case to feel the cushy 8mm foam immediately dispels your fears of scratching the notebook's exterior. On the outside, the tough 500 denier Cordura shell feels (and IS) extremely resilient. I've only had mine a month and it's already weathered some sharp corners and edges without leaving a mark. The real beauty of this bag however is in the internal foam sling design. It works like the shock absorber on a car absorbing the impact of drops and falls with the bottom layer of plastic while keeping the notebook safely suspended inside." — posted by brown

Read more customer reviews posted in our forums.

Post your review in our Forums, on our Facebook page, or email it to us.

Vertical Brain Cell

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Tom Bihn bags are made in the USA Always Made in U.S.A.

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Horizontal Brain Cell
Horizontal Brain Cell: $65.00
Smart Alec
Smart Alec: $180.00
Brain Bag
Brain Bag: $190.00
Camera I-O
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Cadet: $185.00