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...