Last night, I finally took the plunge and.....
cut the tags off my Brain Bag, Freudian Slip and Vertical Brain Cell. The decision is final, this is my new laptop backpack. I posted on another thread about my quest to find the perfect pack. I demoed 4 other packs. Well, 5 if you include the Smart Alec my wife just got. After getting the Brain Bag I was reasonably sure that was 'the one', but wanted to wait until her Smart Alec arrived before making the decision final.
This is just a great bag, beautifully constructed, functional, tough as nails but still has a beauty to it. It's such a unique design, it doesn't look like any other backpack out there, which I think is part of its appeal.
Someone asked me on another thread to compare it to the Smart Alec. They're really VERY different bags. I couldn't be happy with the Smart Alec. I need the vertical brain cell and the freudian slip, and once those two things are in the main pocket, it's not that you don't still have room to put in a bunch of stuff, but given that there's only one main compartment, access to that other stuff is a bit too cramped for my tastes. The Brain Bag's dual main compartments gives me options. I will say, I found the Smart Alec to ride more comfortably on my back and shoulders. It's a very comfortable pack. My wife is still in the evaluation stage, but so far she feels good about this pack.
One final note.....
In my searches, I tried a number of very well made and well designed backpacks. But as most of you already know, there is just 'something' about a Tom Bihn bag. I was thinking about that, and here's where this 'review' wanders a bit into the metaphysical. Now bear in mind, I'm a pragmatic guy. I'll be 51 in May, I own a small business, have a family. But here's my thinking on this.
First, there's the obvious. These bags are beautifully designed and constructed by expert craftsmen using world class materials, and supported by a customer service group that is second to none. No doubt about that. All the physical attributes are in place to create and support an exceptional product.
But there's something else. And I think that something else is heart and intention.
From everything I can tell about this company and the people who comprise it, these bags are designed, crafted, sold and serviced by people who genuinely enjoy and care about what they're doing, who genuinely want to create something exceptional, and to bless the people who receive these creations. They've invested THEMSELVES into these bags. They aren't thrown together in a factory in China or Vietnam by people who I'm sure are perfectly nice people but for whom this is "just a job", and who really don't care all that much about the product or the people who receive it.
Maybe this sounds nuts. Maybe it is nuts. But there's something special about these bags, and it's a genuine pleasure to use something that was created with a high level of not just craftsmanship, but with care and pride. In a marketplace where all too many products are just commodities, bland materials going into bland designs constructed by people who genuinely don't give a rip, it's a joy to use something that is the result of love and intention. I can feel the passion of the Tom Bihn company for this product every time I slip it over my shoulders.
Thanks to the Tom Bihn folks for striving for excellence, and giving me the opportunity to add something special into my normal day. One of my favorite books, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", talks about the greek word "arete", and its rich meaning regarding excellence in the pursuit of fulfilling a destiny or mission. This product is truly "excellent" and it's a joy both to use it, and to find a company that still cares enough to go the extra mile to create such stuff.