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  1. #1
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    Brain Bag Initial Impressions (and lots of pics)

    Hey, All!

    When I got home from work this evening, guess what I found on the dining room table?



    My brand new Brain Bag had arrived! I also ordered a Snake Charmer to go along with the bag. I thought some initial impressions would be good to post here, along with the obligatory "what fits in your bag" shots to help others who are still debating.

    First off, here's a picture of the Brain Bag next to his little brother, my beloved ID messenger bag. Just to give you a sense of size comparison between the two (I have posted a bunch of pics of my ID in prevous posts):



    My primary reason for getting the Brain Bag was to have a bag that could handle large loads. I work full time and go to school at night, so there are often occasions when I need to leave the house in the morning with everything I need for the next 12-18 hours (meals, school books, change of clothes, etc.). I love my ID and it is a great day-to-day bag, but it's just not big enough for these occasions.

    Boy, does the Brain Bag solve that problem.

    Here's a "typical" load on a school night for me. We have the following:

    - One IBM T60 with power brick & neoprene sleeve
    - Pair of sneakers
    - Pair of Jeans and t-shirt (we miss you, Joey!)
    - Heavy sweatshirt (it's cold in PA right now!)
    - Freudian Slip with several folders and notebooks
    - 1 6 by 9 sketchbook
    - iPhone and assorted charging thingys
    - Assorted sundries (sunglasses, business calculator)
    - Water bottles, lunch bag (not shown)



    And now... it's all gone!







    Amazingly impressive. And I am not even packing things carefully... I just stuffed it all in to see what would fit!

    Some quick initial impressions:

    - As others have reported in their reviews, this bag is deceptive. It does not seem as big when you pull it out of the box until you start stuffing. It really does swallow up all of your gear and patiently wait for more.

    - The strap design and weight distribution is excellent. Once you put it on it snuggles in firm and tight against your back and does a great job of comfortably distibuting the load.

    - The cinch straps are a really clever innovation. Pull them tight when you have less in the bag, and the extra bulk just disappears.

    - I also like how all the external zippers are "hooded" to protect your gear from the elements. Really nice feature that does not impede your ability to get into the pockets and compartments to get to your stuff.

    - As with every Tom Bihn product, the build quality is top notch right out of the box.

    I'll post more after I road test it for a few weeks, but my initial impression is that I have found an ideal travelling companion, and the perfect partner for my ID. Once again, I am impressed and thrilled with the Tom Bihn products so far!

    Hope this helps!

    --Bob
    ----------------
    Bob P.
    Magic Tiki Studios

    Empire Builder (black/steel), Brain Bag (steel), Small Padded Organizer Pouch, Clear Wallet, Soft Cell, Snake Charmer (cayenne) and assorted trimmings.

  2. #2
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    Nice pictures and review.

    I think I have the same sneakers... lol

  3. #3
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    Does the Horizontal Freudian Slip work well in the Brain Bag?

    Hi Bob,

    Nice pictures. The Vertical Freudian Slip was the original version of the Freudian Slip -- designed as an organizer for papers, etc. carried in the Brain Bag and Smart Alec. The Horizontal Freudian Slip was added in response to requests for a similar product for bags like the ID bag. (See this forum thread for details.) How do you find using the Horizontal Freudian Slip in the Brain Bag? Is it easily accessible or does it tend to slip to the bottom of the bag? The Vertical Freudian Slip is basically matched to the height of the Brain Bag and Smart Alec for easy access, and also has more room for pockets for small gadgets on the reverse side.

    Incidentally, while it's great that the Horizontal Freudian Slip fits into both the ID bag and the Western Flyer, it's unfortunately slightly too large for the Imago. Otherwise, it's a great way to transfer documents between bags.

  4. #4
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    Great looking travel ensemble you have there... and a nice review (as a Cowboys fan, I'll acknowledge the Eagles beanie conspicuous by it's placement within one of the photos).

    Karl

  5. #5
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    Oh wow. That really is impressive. I'm starting to think more and more about saving for a Brain Bag instead of waiting for the Synapse! The extra capacity is incredibly tempting. I can't believe it holds that much so comfortably!

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the great pictures Magic Tiki!

    They really show how a bag that kind of look flat and not that big can swallows stuff as fast as you can pack them.

    I use the exact same bag on every trips and while taking a textbook heavy
    class.

    That bag is the one to consider if you ever have to carry heavy loads.

    I got mine in 06 and it has seen a lot of ground and carried a lot of different things.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by timarelay View Post
    Oh wow. That really is impressive. I'm starting to think more and more about saving for a Brain Bag instead of waiting for the Synapse! The extra capacity is incredibly tempting. I can't believe it holds that much so comfortably!

    The Synapse is due really soon so you have nothing to loose saving for the Brain Bag while waiting.

    I think both bags could have their place in a Tom Bihn collection but for different reasons.

    I believe the Synapse is going to be a very soft and lightweight everyday backpack (sort of a backpack version of the Cafe Bag or Imago).

    The Brain Bag is an heavyweight, not for it's weight but for it's capacity, versatility and the places it gets in. Tom Bihn BB users have taken picture in Antartica, Irak, Afghanistan, Kilimanjaro, Newfoundland, Australia etc...

    And as I said before, it took me to the Urban and Airport jungle, I need to get out more...
    Last edited by backpack; 01-09-2009 at 06:07 PM.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the kind words, Folks!

    One day of use, and I am already loving the bag. It really does swallow everything you throw at it... but in ways that are smarter and more efficent than any other backpack I have owned. I have a big ol' Targus monstrosity that is comparable in size, but nowhere near as functional and comfortable to use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell View Post
    I think I have the same sneakers... lol
    I think they're ASICS Gel Nimbus somehtingorothers. Whatever they are, they are amazingly comfortable.

    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    How do you find using the Horizontal Freudian Slip in the Brain Bag? Is it easily accessible or does it tend to slip to the bottom of the bag? The Vertical Freudian Slip is basically matched to the height of the Brain Bag and Smart Alec for easy access, and also has more room for pockets for small gadgets on the reverse side.
    Interestingly, the Horizontal Slip fits in the bag in it's natural horizontal state. To your point, however, it's not matched to the height of the bag. It does the job in a pinch of protecting the documents, but I would probably buy a Vertical Slip if I needed it every day in this bag.

    Quote Originally Posted by KarlJ View Post
    Great looking travel ensemble you have there... and a nice review (as a Cowboys fan, I'll acknowledge the Eagles beanie conspicuous by it's placement within one of the photos).
    What??? How did THAT get in there? <Grin!>

    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    Thanks for the great pictures Magic Tiki!

    They really show how a bag that kind of look flat and not that big can swallows stuff as fast as you can pack them.

    I use the exact same bag on every trips and while taking a textbook heavy
    class.

    That bag is the one to consider if you ever have to carry heavy loads.
    I completely agree. You always need for a good, solid backpack for travel and occasions where weight or volume is an issue. I think this bag is the perfect companion for a smaller day bag (like my ID). With a combination like that, one becomes.... ninja.

    --Bob
    ----------------
    Bob P.
    Magic Tiki Studios

    Empire Builder (black/steel), Brain Bag (steel), Small Padded Organizer Pouch, Clear Wallet, Soft Cell, Snake Charmer (cayenne) and assorted trimmings.

  9. #9
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    I've had my Brain Bag since last April (reviewed at Brain Bag + Aeronaut = happiness). Still very happy with it... it's on my shoulder every single day as my laptop-plus-everything-else bag, and on my back on every airport-bound trip (along with the Aeronaut for the clothes and toiletries).
    Last edited by merlyn; 01-13-2009 at 06:34 AM. Reason: fix url link

  10. #10
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    I have the older version of the Brain Bag... and it's now hit 9 years. Not a seam has yet to pop. Despite fiddling with various computer style backpacks at times, I've always come back to my TB Brain Bag.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    The Synapse is due really soon so you have nothing to loose saving for the Brain Bag while waiting.

    I think both bags could have their place in a Tom Bihn collection but for different reasons.

    I believe the Synapse is going to be a very soft and lightweight everyday backpack (sort of a backpack version of the Cafe Bag or Imago).

    The Brain Bag is an heavyweight, not for it's weight but for it's capacity, versatility and the places it gets in. Tom Bihn BB users have taken picture in Antartica, Irak, Afghanistan, Kilimanjaro, Newfoundland, Australia etc...

    And as I said before, it took me to the Urban and Airport jungle, I need to get out more...
    I already have and love my Imago, and the reason I want a backpack is for times when I need to carry something heavier and want to be good to my back. I'll wait a bit longer for more news on the Synapse, but I think it is turning out to be much smaller and simpler than I was hoping. I had wanted something more like the Brain Bag, but sized for smaller people (I'm 5'3" and skinny; backpacks easily dwarf me).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by timarelay View Post
    I already have and love my Imago, and the reason I want a backpack is for times when I need to carry something heavier and want to be good to my back. I'll wait a bit longer for more news on the Synapse, but I think it is turning out to be much smaller and simpler than I was hoping. I had wanted something more like the Brain Bag, but sized for smaller people (I'm 5'3" and skinny; backpacks easily dwarf me).
    I went through the same thought process when I was looking for a companion for my ID. For me, the final decision came down to the ability to handle large loads if I needed it (you can't buy extra size). I am 6'1 and 205 lbs, however, so a big bag is not a problem for me.

    I have also found that the cinch straps on the side are great for managing the overall size of the bag when you don't need the extra room. They are also great for balancing the load. I'll post more pics when I have time.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by MagicTiki; 01-14-2009 at 06:36 PM. Reason: typo
    ----------------
    Bob P.
    Magic Tiki Studios

    Empire Builder (black/steel), Brain Bag (steel), Small Padded Organizer Pouch, Clear Wallet, Soft Cell, Snake Charmer (cayenne) and assorted trimmings.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagicTiki View Post
    I went through the same thought process when I was looking for a companion for my ID. For me, the final decision came down to the ability to handle large loads if I needed it (you can't buy extra size). I am 6'1 and 205 lbs, however, so a big bag is not a problem for me.

    I have also found that the cinch straps on the side are great for managing the overall size of the bag when you don't need the extra room. They are also great for balancing the load. I'll post more pics when I have time.

    Hope this helps!
    More pics are always great! Thank you for your input. "You can't buy extra size" = That's very true! I was just thinking this morning about how annoyed I am that my current backpack is too small to take on my overnight trip today.


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