First Impressions of Empire Builder
I'd been looking for a nice semi-formal bag that I could use as an everyday bag, formal enough for work but casual enough for the weekend. The aussie dollar has been great against the US recently, so my upcoming birthday was a great excuse to splurge.
Like many here, I agonised about the Zephyr/EB decision. I plan on using it as a work briefcase, probably not carrying the laptop frequently, but one of my considerations was to be able to use it as a one-bag travel solution. It was probably this that pushed me towards the EB.
So, my impressions - first up, the delivery time was incredible. Ordered Friday evening and arrived 10 days later (on the 2nd Monday after). The postage is expensive (a third the cost of the bag), but this is the quickest I've ever received anything from the states.
The bag is excellent. My wife did say to me three times in the first 24-hours "Gee, it's big", and it is a biggish bag, and is reasonably heavy even without the braincell and laptop. I bought it with an Ultimate Shoulder Strap, and this makes it not too much of a chore to carry. I need to do some more fiddling with the strap, as carrying the bag in what I think is the most comfortable position means the padded bit of the strap sits over my clavicle, and stops half-way across the top of my shoulder.
It looks great, holds heaps and is very comfortable. It does tip forward a little, especially if you load up the front pocket.
I bought a Freudian slip to go with it, that with hindsight, I probably didn't need - the front pocket has all the pen pockets you need. I'll keep using it though, as it makes a handy removable organiser.
So, in answer to the question everyone wants to know - would I have been happy with a Zephyr?
Probably, but I don't think it would be as good as a travel bag solution.
My shoulder isn't going to fall off carrying the extra weight (although, as mentioned, I don't generally use it fully laden), so I'm extremely happy with my EB.
I'm sure either would be fine.