Initial ID Impressions
Finally got the Black/Steel/Cayenne ID the other day, and I'm really happy with it. Thanks to Darcy, Josh and forum posters for helping me decide.
Here are my first thoughts after three days with the bag:
ID: The fabric and colors on the bag are great - much more vibrant than shown on the website. The new cayenne color is orange with a touch of brick red, but still bright enough to provide contrast against the contents of the main compartment. And though I was most looking forward to the cayenne, the black/steel combo of the exterior of the bag is just as dazzling. The ballistic nylon that Tom uses is smooth without being slippery and looks as if it will hold up to years of abuse. Even the dyneema looks better in person than on the site.
The placement of the two handles is well thought-out and has the effect of making you feel like you're picking up a piece of luggage rather than a sack of material. Due to the construction and foam-lined back, the bag holds its shape well and still yields enough to hug your back or side. When the brain cell is strapped in it's noticeably stiffer, but still comfortable against your back.
There are no exposed fabric edges anywhere in the construction. This is something I didn't consider in my old bag until I realized that cheaper seamwork is a nice place for dust and dirt to live in, and bits of nylon thread would ended up clogging the velcro. Also, I love having a bag with no velcro! The single-snap enclosure is bigger than I expected, and as a result, it's easy to open or close with one hand.
Q-AM strap: I don't know how I've gone this long without adjusting my strap on the go. I must have cinched and released the strap a dozen times on the way home, just because I could. I'm still making adjustments and trying to find the best balance point, but the quick-adjust feature alone is worth the upgrade. The padding on the Q-AM is comfortable unless the bag is packed to capacity (along with macbook.) Then it gets a bit heavy and I find myself thinking about the Absolute strap.
Organizer pouches: I had written these things off as a needless accessory until reading the Imago Metrics review, and now I feel like I need about ten of them to plan for different gear setups.
- There seems to be a bit of a left-shouldered bias - I wear messenger-style bags on my right shoulder, and have been bumping my right arm on my coffee mug in the water bottle holder (though I'm still playing around with strap adjustments.) I experimented with wearing the bag on my left shoulder, and found both the flap pocket and key ring easier to access from this position, but after 8 years with my previous courier bag on the right shoulder, that transition seems doubtful.
- I want more o-rings! Realizing the cool factor of Tom's pouches, I find I could use another attachment point on the bottom right side of the organizer pockets and one or two inside the main compartment.
- no Tom Bihn stickers? What gives? ;)
I'll post pictures when I get a chance, and probably end up posting a "month with the ID" review in time. If anyone has specific parts of the bag they want photographed, or particular items in the bag, please let me know and I'll try to satisfy requests.
I also recently got my B/S/Wasabi ID, thought I might chime in.
I actually think there's a right shoulder bias! The water bottle holder is just by my right hand with the QAM strap down, so that I can just lift my Nalgene out for a quick drink without needing to fiddle and look around. I looped my keys to the o-ring closer to the water bottle holder with the 16-in strap, so again I can just haul the keys out of the bag without looking while the bag is still on my back.
I also quite like the double-handle design. It allows me to get a good grip on the ID when the flap is open.
The flat back pocket, due to the padding, also keeps any folders and papers I need for quick access relatively free of wrinkles.
If I had my choice of o-rings, I would probably also go for one or two in the main pocket, and I would mirror the o-rings in the outer pocket for a total of four on the outside. I think at present I have three pouches dangling from 6-in straps on the poor remaining o-ring on the outside pocket (one padded mini for the iPod nano, one mini for change, and one small for miscellaneous items). Still trying to figure out what to do with the o-ring under the zippered outer compartment.
The material is great, and the overall stitching refined enough that my girlfriend toyed around with my "man bag" for a short while before deciding she would take a look at the Tom Bihn website after all, lol.
Thanks for the plug RE:
"Organizer pouches: I had written these things off as a needless accessory until reading the Imago Metrics review, and now I feel like I need about ten of them to plan for different gear setups."
I can't live sanely without the organizer pouches! Labeling them becomes a given after you have 5 or more.
On the subject of shoulder dominance...
It's a great idea (at any age) to train or retrain yourself to practice alternate shoulder use. There are plenty of studies that suggest that single shoulder or arm dominance in load carry can lead to significant muscle strains. The human body, being bilaterally symmetrical , benefits greatly from symmetrical carry or balance rather than single side dominance.
I paid my dues in this as a photographer and in my 40's started to balance carry loads.
Originally Posted by Zephyrnoid
Thanks for the tip, Zephyrnoid. I'll have to start experimenting with swapping sides every few weeks!