Co-Pilot Pre-Review Review
Sorry to beat some of you to it, but I now have my Co-Pilot! Indigo/Solar, with the basic strap. After 24 hours of carrying it about (loaded and unloaded), here are some preliminary thoughts. About a month from now, after I've given it a thorough workout in daily use, I'll post a review of the Co-Pilot versus the Red Oxx Gator.
Up-front thoughts: Joy, mostly. I always carry water or something to drink, and there's just no room in my medium Cafe for a bottle of diet Dr. Pepper with the netbook in tow. The Co-Pilot not only holds a 24-ounce bottle of Aiethajuice, it also holds my .5 liter Zojirushi Tuff Slim thermos. Ah, back to the joys of hot Darjeeling with my lunch! (For those in Seattle, Uwajimaya has the bottle in dark blue, very close to the indigo, light blue, and other colors including silver, only $23. SV-GG50 is the one I have.)
However, I had one quibble within 5 minutes. The OR building (Tom Bihn's on the second floor) is perhaps 3 blocks from the northbound bus shelter. I wasn't a block on my way before I was cursing the strap pad on the basic included strap.
It slid on my microfiber jacket. It slid on my t-shirt. It wasn't very comfortable. It, alas, reminds me of a particular Eagle Creek strap on an old, much-beloved briefcase now gone to Cordura death and replaced by a Zephyr lo these many moons ago. I HATED that strap.
It's not the strap; it's made of the same webbing that the Cafe bag straps are. It's the PAD, that %@#$R&)A&$%!! PAD. Have I kind of made it clear I hate the Co-Pilot's new shoulder pad? Bad thing is, unless I want to cut either the pad or the strap, there's no getting rid of it. I know it was an attempt to keep people happy with a non-sliding strap, but it's back to the drawing board with this one. I'd have rather had a Strap Wrap with a tacky strip added 1" wide lenghwise, or a tacky soft surface like the bottom of the Absolute. Anything but what's on there. I swapped out the strap for one of my Absolutes as soon as I got home. The beefier strap is overkill on 6 pounds of loaded netbook bag, but at least it's comfortable and won't slip.
Second, I've already modified the bag, a la seam ripper. The Co-Pilot has four pen slots. Two pens, or a pen and pencil, I can carry. Four? I immediately took a seam ripper to the innermost pen divider seam, making one big pocket next to the water bottle pocket. I left the outermost 2 pen pockets alone. Now I can carry an oversized lip balm, a nose spray (which I never travel without), or two thumb drives, or extra rechargeable batteries and more camera cards in it. I may add a velcro dot to the top just so I don't lose my SDs.
Third, I was surprised to see mesh on the sides of the water bottle pocket. I thought it would be lined with Dyneema for water resistance. Time will tell if the condensation from my soda/steam from my tea passing through the mesh affects either my camera in one side pocket or my phone in the other.
However, these are minor quibbles on an otherwise perfect bag! I now can carry: Netbook in Cache, a wireless mouse/headphones/Skype microphone in a small padded pouch, a small Dyneema pouchtypo with comb/glasses cloth/nail fine/etc., two Larabars, a clear organizer wallet with my bus pass and my most-used schedules, a phone, a pen, a lip stain pen, nose spray, lip gloss tube, old Pocket PC (book reader), another organizer wallet with id and cards, a change purse, a 24 oz. diet Dr. Pepper, a folding tote bag (not my Shop Bag, a teeny fabric one), and it's not full yet!
Save the strap pad thing, I love this bag! For those of you thinking about ordering a Co-Pilot, if you don't already have an Absolute, pay the extra $20 and order one with it. Save yourself the aggravation of the included free strap.
If yours is on order, it won't be long until you see the 'out for delivery' email, I expect...
Another Brief Co-Pilot Review
Piggy-backing on what has already been written - I received my co-pilot today (steel/solar) and I have to say it is the cutest bag I have ever seen. I really cannot think of a better way to describe it. It seems so small in real life - I had a cognitive image of the size of the bag given the measurements and descriptions of what would fit. The reality is that it really seems just too small ... until you start to put stuff in it. I did some "test packing" in it a little while ago and, as always, I am amazed by what will fit. (No pics at this time - sorry) I put an iPad in a pretty zaftig cover/case which essentially doubles the size the the iPad - it slipped right in. In the same side I also put a full size jacket (a Scottevest) which has far more bulk than a simple windbreaker, and two medium pouches which have earphones, thumbdrives, etc. I also put a standard paperback (about 3/4 in thick) in the same pocket. On the other side, I put a 3/4L water bottle in the center compartment. On one side I put my standard 3-1-1-bag, a few pens, keys, two small pouches filled with eyedrops, aspirin, and other travel meds (Benadryl, immodium, and other "just in case" things). On the other side (with ultrasuede) I put my phone, chargers, cables, regular reading glasses and sunglasses.
With all that, there was still some room! TO respond to a question elsewhere in the forums, a standard letter-size folder will not fit in the slash back pocket. It is about 1/2 inch too long. A folder will, however, fit in the full size compartment - it is a tight squeeze, but it will fit!! A regular size magazine (like Time or Newsweek, or Vanity Fair) does fit nicely however. The zipper on that pocket works well and it opens the pocket nicely for a wheeled bag handle.
The strap which has received some complaints seems to be the same strap I have on my Ristretto - it works - it is not great but it does what it should do. I do have an absolute strap I could use but this seems like overkill for such a small bag.
I am doing some traveling in a couple of weeks and plan to use this as my personal item - I think it's small size will be great under the seat giving me much more room for my legs and feet than I typically have using one of my other bags. (It will also be the first time I am traveling with my iPad as a substitute for my laptop computer - it should be an interesting trip!!)
First trip with the Co-Pilot
I just got back from a 6 day trip using the co-pilot as my personal carry-on item. The bag was perfect for plane travel. It allowed me to have lots of leg room, even in an aisle seat with an entertainment box taking up some of the space. I was on a plane for as much as 10 hours (9 in the air) at a stretch. It was great to have what I wanted/needed in a nice, small convenient bag.
In the bag was my iPad and case, inflatable horseshoe pillow, small moleskin-type notebook, clear packing cube with phone and ipad chargers and cables, 3-3-1 bag, 2 pair glasses in cases, phone, medium TB pouch with in-ear phones, 3 flashdrives, aspirin, and eyedrops, 8-pack of gum, snacks (4 Larabars), travel documents. There was plenty of room for more - I could have put my light jacket in the bag but decided it was better wearing it or using it as a blanket - the planes were unusually chilly. (I never did use the water bottle section - just left it empty and everything still easily fit.)
The bag was great, got lots of interest and was really easy to carry using the handle or the shoulder strap. (I also used the wheeled bag slot on occasion when I was feeling especially lazy).
My only suggestions would be to consider a zipped/flapped pocket across the back (outside of the wheeled handled pocket) for tickets and other documents that you don't want to fold too much, or increase the long measurement by 0.5 to 1 inch. This would allow for a standard size file folder to be put into the main compartment. Just a thought....