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Tom Bihn Forums: Community discussion on travel bags, laptop bags, and backpacks. Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags since 1972. The best materials and innovative construction.

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  1. #1
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    Mar 2008
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    Portland, Oregon, USA
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    14

    Brain Bag as sole bag for a weekend trip

    On my most recent trip, I was concentrating on whether or not my Soft Cell would be checkpoint friendly, but I also achieved another milestone: a longer-than-overnight trip with just my "laptop bag".

    I'm really pleased with the second slot of my Brain Bag, and how much roomier it is than the "daypack" of my Eagle Creek rollaboard (the bags that are now relegated to permanent dust-collecting in the corner of my room).

    As an experiment, I decided to forgo the usual "laptop bag plus clothes bag" routine for this recent 5-day trip. Keep in mind that as a guy in relatively warm weather, I can get away with a single pair of pants and a few short-sleeve shirts for a 5-day trip, counting my "all black day-of-travel spill hiders" as one of the sets.

    I recently purchased the Convertible Packing Cube to replace my Eagle Creek-equivalent for holding my toiletries, and double as a fanny pack for the light day trips at my destinations. I normally stick this in one of the end slots of my Aeronaut.

    I also purchased the Convertible Packing Cube/Backpack to replace the "main" cube inside my Aeronaut. I'm intrigued by this unit again for its dual-nature... it would seem to be not much more bulk than the large packing cube (in which I'd held my shirts and pants), but double as a light day pack on the road, for those days where carrying the entire Brain Bag would seem like overkill. (I often find myself carrying just my laptop and partial loadout of camera gear onto a cruise shore-excursion for picture taking and cheap internetting.)

    So for this 5-day trip, I loaded up the Convertible Packing Cube with my toiletries (no liquids!), and my CPC/B (Tom Bihn needs a better name for this) with 3 t-shirts (from http://scottevest.com) and undergarments. Those two cubes fit comfortably in the second slot of my Brain Bag (sitting below my Snake Charmer for the electronics cables), and my laptop and Soft Cell were happily in the first slot already. I was concerned that this would make the laptop unwieldly large or overly heavy, but neither turned out to be true.

    I happily made my journey from PDX to ATL and back for a 5-day trip, using just my Brain Bag to hold all of my laptop gear and clothes. Yeah! Thanks to Tom Bihn for making the most out of a little space!
    Last edited by merlyn; 09-08-2008 at 01:12 PM. Reason: small corrections

  2. #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Texas
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    379
    Randal:

    Yep! The Brain Bag makes a great size for 5 days if you willing to go with only one pair of pants. I'm far from fastidious, but I spill things (or unknowingly sit in gunk) too often to trust that, but one more pair of shorts works as insurance.

    I was at OSCON this year with a checked bag -- which I, as planned, left in Seattle after taking Amtrak there, part of the world's slowest move west -- but flew back to the east coast with the Brain Bag alone. It would have been a good bag for the whole week, if not for [my problem with / penchant for] interesting swag. Between a few O'Reilly T-shirts, some SourceForge doodads, and (just a small handful of!) books from Powell's,* I was carrying a pretty full duffel bag, a Brain Bag, and a Super Ego until I got to Seattle The difference is that the Bihn bags were pleasant to carry, while the duffel bag kept tempting me to toss it in various rivers, manholes, utility closets, etc. Sore, chafed shoulder, too -- I ended up with a t-shirt stuffed underneath the nylon handles, which I was trying to use as a shoulder sling. To be fair, the duffel was never meant for the awkward job I'd given it -- for a bunch of laundry, or carrying for a short way an awkward item that would stick out of either Bihn bag, it would have been fine.

    The Brain Bag is also small enough that you can comfortably bike around with it; I wish I'd had a bike to ride around Portland!

    timothy

    * My plan had been to avoid buying anything at Powell's, since I'll soon enough again live just a few hours north. But my train to Seattle was delayed, and delayed again, and I got into a conversation with one of the drivers about how the pedicab system works. This led to a very well spent $5 trip (heavily loaded with bags) by pedicab, where I ended up with a few books anyhow. Oh, well.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    564
    I'm not sure I could pull this off. I'd need a smaller laptop for starters but I think I'd need an extra pair of pants too. My biggest issue would be saying no to any kind of workout gear as shoes are the worst offenders when trying to pack light. I'd have to say no to the DSLR too. But as a new BB owner I can see it being great for something like this. The double chamber design is perfect for a one bag approach.

    I never heard of the http://scottevest.com place. That is one funky website with some funky products.

    One thing I am learning is how important having a bag within a bag can be. I like to pack a small backpack with me on trips for hikes or shopping. It's an LL Bean bag that folds into it's own pouch to the size of maybe two paperbacks end to end. This ends up being small but still takes up space. The TB cube / bag options are tempting but so far I'm not too pleased with they way they look. But the concept is genius since you get a bag to use when you arrive and take up zero space.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2008
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    Portland, Oregon, USA
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    14
    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelb View Post
    My biggest issue would be saying no to any kind of workout gear as shoes are the worst offenders when trying to pack light. I'd have to say no to the DSLR too.
    Well, if you've met me, you know I don't work out (other than making multiple trips back to the buffet), so that's never a problem for me.

    And on this trip, I took only my point-and-shoot... not the full DSLR. For a multi-week trip with my DSLR, I need to pack the Brain Bag and Aeronaut to the max capacity.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2007
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    564
    Quote Originally Posted by merlyn View Post
    Well, if you've met me, you know I don't work out (other than making multiple trips back to the buffet), so that's never a problem for me.

    And on this trip, I took only my point-and-shoot... not the full DSLR. For a multi-week trip with my DSLR, I need to pack the Brain Bag and Aeronaut to the max capacity.
    I've often thought when I'm getting up at 4am to go jog or tired at 8pm because I got up at 4am ... "Wouldn't life be easier if I just quit this jogging obsession?" Then I remind myself that it does tend to keep me out of trouble.

    I'm often torn on the DSLR vs the P&S debate. A DSLR alone takes up so much room and is so bulky it's a travel nightmare really. And that doesn't begin to touch taking extra lenses with you. My P&S work well with my Imago but I can't handle a DSLR in the Imago. Life is easier with a P&S.

    But it seems like there always is a shot that I just cannot get with the P&S. I think the problem is that I started to have success with my DSLR when I switch to prime lenses which work well in low light. Now that I know what can be done I'm upset when I realize that my P&S can't handle a shot without a tripod or flash. Oddly enough it may be that I'm not a good enough photographer to handle a P&S.

  6. #6
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    May 2008
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    Texas
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    "But it seems like there always is a shot that I just cannot get with the P&S. I think the problem is that I started to have success with my DSLR when I switch to prime lenses which work well in low light. Now that I know what can be done I'm upset when I realize that my P&S can't handle a shot without a tripod or flash. Oddly enough it may be that I'm not a good enough photographer to handle a P&S."
    My P&S is a Casio Exilim, and I carry it (sometimes in a sock, sometimes shamefully loose -- it *should* be in a neoprene wrapper of some kind) in that top-back-center pocket of my brain bag. But it's true, the lens will never be a an f1.4 prime. I keep mulling (and then hitting myself with the obvious that used, years-old, consumer-grade electronics are probably not a good investment) purchasing via eBay or similar an Olympus C5050, the last of that series to be powered by AA batteries (a personal obsession). (One review: http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/c5050.html) One of those would easily fit in that pocket, quite well padded in neoprene / outer case, and it's got what's supposed to be an honest f1.8 lens on the wide side (a less-impressive f10 on the other). Heavier than my 2-AA-powered Casio, and fewer pixels, but I've seen a lot of shots from a C5050 which impress me with its ability to shoot by candlelight.

    If I do give in and get a good SLR (I do have a hybrid-type fixed-lens Fuji SLR), it may be one of the AA-based Pentax models -- I loved my K1000. that would lure me into the new Bihn camera-protector, too.

    timothy

  7. #7
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    Mar 2008
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    127

    For all you camera geeks...

    ... this might be an interesting development from Olympus.

    http://www.four-thirds.org/en/microft/

    A mirrorless but interchangeable lens camera in an SLR style. I've often wondered why it hasn't been done yet...


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