I've been looking for a backpack to take with me to college and my search brought me to Tom Bihn. I ended up ordering both a Brain Bag and a Smart Alec as I was having a lot of trouble deciding between the two without seeing them in person. Unfortunately, after handling, playing around with, packing and unpacking the two bags I decided that neither one is going to work for me. The quality of the materials is wonderful and the craftsmanship is clearly superb, but there was something about each bag that caused it to just miss the mark.
I love the Smart Alec, but I feel that the top-loading design just isn't suited for a book bag. If I were using it for something other than school it would have been great, but even moderately full it tough to put wider books into the bag - just tough enough that it would have driven me crazy.
The Brain Bag is great too and I almost kept it. However, no matter how I adjusted the straps, they just weren't comfortable. I don't know if it's the width of the straps themselves or the positioning of the straps on the bag, but something caused them to dig into me at the sides.
On a happier note, I did hold on to the large solar Clear Organizer Pouch and I'm looking forward to using it for papers (as backpack recommended) when school starts. I may also order a Medium or Large Cafe Bag in the near future.