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Thread: Super Ego vs Empire Builder, and the winner is......

  1. #1
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    Super Ego vs Empire Builder, and the winner is......

    For me, Super Ego.

    I thought it was going to be the Empire Builder. Was about to order one and then won an ebay auction for a Super Ego. Used it for a week and really liked it, but wanted to try an Empire Builder and see if I'd like that better. So, ordered a new one and transferred everything over and carried it around the house, unpacked and repacked it, tried different usage scenarios, etc... For me, the bottom line is, while the Empire Builder is a really nice bag, there were some things about it that just bugged me to the point where I would not be happy with it as my EDC.

    First, and this was discussed on a different thread, the attachment points for the strap mean the strap is in the way when you lift the front flap up. For many people this may be no big deal. After 2 days of test-using it around the house it was already bugging the heck out of me. Had to manually, consciously move the strap out of the way before I could lift the flap. That was just not going to work.

    Second, is the Empire Builder allergic to o-rings? I honestly don't understand why there are virtually none of them in this bag? Every place I'd expect them to be, there they aren't. The 3 pockets in the front? Not a one. The main compartment? Nope, nada. I don't get it, not sure if it was intentional or an oversight, but if intentional, it makes no sense to me. Regardless, for the way I pack stuff it makes the bag significantly less functional.

    Third, I just couldn't find a home that felt right for all my stuff. For example, the sunglasses case for my Maui Jims. It could theoretically fit in several places, but didn't lay right in any of them. It just felt to me like the bag was missing some functional pockets. The ones in the front flap were too shallow to accommodate something bulky like this without awkwardly changing the profile of the bag. For some people, the pocket structure and organizational detail is probably perfect. For me, it just wasn't a great fit. I ended up having to make heavy use of pouches, and now I'm running back into the o-ring issue and either having to just drop them into a space 'free floating' or have multiple pouches attached to the same o-ring.

    The one thing I will miss about the EB was it's a very structured bag so it stood up on its own very nicely. And its nicely styled, it's a sharp looking bag.

    With the Super Ego, every single place I expected to see an o-ring, there was one. The multiplicity of pockets and organizational spaces fit my stuff much better than did the EB. And with a brain cell and freudian slip, the bag gets enough structure that for me it stands up almost as well as the EB did.

    And then there's just the size aspect. I was surprised to find that for me I didn't think the EB was as roomy as I expected it to be. The SE just seemed more appropriately sized. I'm used to having a bag where I can have all my normal stuff, and then if I need to throw something extra in for the day (maybe a sweater and an umbrella, for example) there is plenty of room. Didn't feel like I'd have that with the EB.

    One other thing. At first, I didn't really care for the styling/design of the Super Ego. But as I had both the EB and the SE sitting side by side each other through last weekend, I went from strongly favoring the EB to beginning to find the EB a bit on the conservative side and starting to enjoy the more free flowing look of the SE a bit more. I guess one way I look at it is, coming from the Brain Bag and looking for a horizontally oriented alternative, the SE was a more natural transition. It's almost like a horizontally oriented backpack.

    Both are great bags, and while the SE is a better fit for me, I'm NOT saying it's a better bag. Just some aspects of the EB I really didn't care for.

    So, I'm going to be returning the EB, and I'm actually going to be selling the SE I bought on ebay. It's all black and I decided I wanted the Black/Navy/Wasabi SE instead of the black/black/steel one. Ordered the new SE yesterday, can't wait to get it!

    So there you have it. I'll still use my Brain Bag for things like airport travel. Nothing carries all my stuff more easily than that bag. But for my EDC schlepping stuff to and from my office, I'm excited to start using the SE.
    Last edited by conejo23; 07-20-2012 at 04:38 AM.

  2. #2
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Nice review: I'm glad the Super Ego is working for you.

    We're going to add more o-rings to the next batch of Empire Builders. We agree with you on that point: there's just not enough.
    moriond likes this.
    Current Carry: 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

  3. #3
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Update: there were previously three o-rings in the Empire Builder. In the latest batch, which is just being finished now, there are six.
    Current Carry: 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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    So if I just placed an order today, mine will have six??

    That would be great!!

  5. #5
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acint24 View Post
    So if I just placed an order today, mine will have six??

    That would be great!!
    Yes! You will have six o-rings.
    Current Carry: 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

  6. #6
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    Outstanding! Just placed my order tonight!

    Are they in stock, or back ordered? The site says they are in stock, but there's an asterisk thingy next to the item in the pull down list...
    ----------------
    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.

  7. #7
    Registered User rlandis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    Yes! You will have six o-rings.
    I love the concept of the pouch system you guys have developed. As I sit and make a list of what I'm going to store, and count up the pouches I'd want to order, most of the bags could stand a few more o-rings. Why not have 6 in all of the bags??
    Owner, Fool On The Hill Recording, Nashville TN

  8. #8
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlandis View Post
    I love the concept of the pouch system you guys have developed. As I sit and make a list of what I'm going to store, and count up the pouches I'd want to order, most of the bags could stand a few more o-rings. Why not have 6 in all of the bags??
    We hear you! And we're often adding more o-rings to new batches of bags, but the exact placement of the o-rings is important and surprisingly tricky. We might not add an o-ring to X compartment because if a heavier item was attached to it, it could distort the shape of the bag. Or maybe an o-ring to X pocket wouldn't work because there's not a good place for it to be sewn/it might conflict with another element of the construction.

    And MagicTiki .... sorry, I didn't see your last question until now! But I know you do have your Empire Builder now.
    Current Carry: 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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