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Thread: Video Review of the Empire Builder Bag

  1. #1
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    Smile Video Review of the Empire Builder Bag


  2. #2
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    This thread should be posted in the "photos & video" Bihn forum as well.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    Hi Dufus:

    I was looking at your video. Nicely done. My only confusion was about the Absolute Strap. As far as I know, it does NOT have to be under the bag at all when you sit it up. You can move the strap entirely out of the way---by moving it out from underneath. The reason the hang points are located diagonally across, I would think, is to distribute the weight better; and allow for the bag to hang better. When they hang from the sides, they flop around. This is a better design.

    I would suggest that you can just move the strap from out under.

    s

  4. #4
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    When you carry the bag, the strap naturally "hangs" under it, then when you sit it down, it sits on the strap. Of course you can always fiddle with it to move it, or for that matter, remove the strap. What I posted is my "experience" using the bag.

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    I agree, good video. Brings up a few interesting points, on a bag I was considering, but mostly your points were minor for me, I think.

    I do kind of have to point out something, somewhat funny, maybe not, but how can the strap naturally hang under the bag when you carry it? If you are using the strap to carry it, the bag would be hanging under the strap, not the other way around...of course, if you are carrying it by the hand straps, why not remove the strap, if you aren't using it?

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    I normally use the hand straps, but on occasion use the shoulder strap. I leave the shoulder strap on all my bags.. Who wants the hassle of taking them off and on all the time? I *don't* have this strap problem with my other bags. Again, this is how I *use* the bag, hence the issues. Your milage may vary.

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    Just an update that this bag is still performing very well, despite it's minor issues. The build quality still makes it look like new. I'm looking to buy another Bihn bag when finances allow.
    dorayme likes this.

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    Bag Size

    No matter how big your bag is it always need to be bigger. Like you I think that the Empire Builder bag needs to be a little bigger. Maybe an extra large size is needed. Like you I always need another thing inside. The straps have not been a problem for me as when I set the bag down the straps are always on top. Like you I agree that the brain cell seems to be mount going the wrong way.

    To work around the size limitations of the Empire Builder I've added a Tri-Star bag to my line up. I also have a Brain Bag which is larger than both, but is not padded as is bak pack only. Some times it makes you not look so professional, but it is large. The Try-Star is sold as a piece of luggage, but with one or 2 Brain Cells installed it is just like any other laptop bag. But still different. The laptop(s) are now in the middle. I carry customer files, Mac AL extended keyboard, Kensington trackball, 3rd party AC/12V charger, thumbs drives, 2.5" hard drives & soon maybe even an iPad 2. Just like any other bag it too can be too small. In dark colors it looks very professional. Mine's in a brighter blue so it fails there.

    I'm for a bigger Empire Builder. So with your vote & my vote maybe they'll design a new bigger model. Oh, wait the Empire Builder is already the bigger model. Maybe we need a bigger, bigger model with some of your other ideas incorporated into it.
    dufus likes this.

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    I just wanted to add this and say that recently I've had to jam my bag full of stuff and it really makes me appreciate the Absolute Strap. The bag still looks great with zero problems.

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    This was a great review, thanks for taking the time to make it.

    I was seriously considering getting one of these, but I agree with you about the placement of the strap attachments. I think that would drive me nuts over time, haing the strap hanging down in front of the bag and impeding the ability to lift that flap. I also question the design wisdom of placing them there. My Tumi had the attachments on the top of the bag at the ends and it hung beautifully and the strap was never in the way of any compartments. This absolutely looks like a design flaw to me.

    Also, I agree with you about the orientation on the brain cell. I'm guessing the attachment points for the brain cell needed to be on something sturdier than the inner side of the outside material, so now you have the choice between clipping the cell into the bag as designed and having the flap of the cell in the way of the material of the bag, or flipping the cell around and not clipping it in. I think that might drive me a little crazy, too.

    For me, it's the little things over time that either make me appreciate a piece of gear or bug the heck out of me. One little thing that is a minor annoyance that I now have to deal with 3 times a day for the next 5-10 years becomes a major annoyance that detracts from my experience with the bag.

    Bummer. I was excited about possibly picking one of these up, but while the issues you had with the bag might not bug anyone else, I think they would bug me.

  11. #11
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Shiva is correct about the logic of placing the two shoulder strap attachment points at opposite corners of the Empire Builder: it's to keep the shoulder strap directly above the bag's center of gravity (CG). Because the main zipper of the Empire Builder goes right down the center of the bag, we can't place those points on that line. If the zipper didn't go all the way down the sides, we could have placed the shoulder strap attachment points on the sides/edges of the bag, at the end of the zipper, as we do with the Cadet. But the design criteria for the Empire Builder was to have the main compartment open as wide as possible, hence the long zipper.

    This can seem like somewhat of a compromise, and some people who find the placement doesn't work so well for them. But overall we've found this solution to be excellent.

    In regards the strap dropping below the bag when the Empire Builder is carried by its handles, we can't exactly see that this is related to the placement of the shoulder strap attachment points and seems that it might happen on any bag, depending on the length to which the strap is adjusted and maybe other factors. But it's an interesting phenomena and Tom will see if, in future, he can come up with a design that answers that.
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

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    That makes sense, I just think it would drive me nuts over time.

    Just scored a Super Ego on ebay. Going to see how I like it. If I fall in love with it, I'll either keep it, or turn it around on ebay and buy a new one in my desired color combo (this one is all black).

  13. #13
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by conejo23 View Post
    Just scored a Super Ego on ebay. Going to see how I like it. If I fall in love with it, I'll either keep it, or turn it around on ebay and buy a new one in my desired color combo (this one is all black).
    Woohoo! Congratulations.
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

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    1,000 views and climbing. Thanks to all.


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