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  1. #1
    Registered User zuyzuy's Avatar
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    Need Help to create Brain Bag Review

    I need some help from this forum to create my review. The full review is probably not going to be finished before a few months after really challenging this bag. These are my thoughts so far... And I hope you guys can poke hole in my theories so I can make sure the review is covering all aspects of this product.



    Here is a little sneak peak of the review coming up for the Tom Bihn Brain Bag.

    The whole One Bag phenomena is lead by a few enthusiast and have almost a cult like following. Another ‘feature’ review is not going to add any value. There are plenty of those already out there.

    I am trying to tackle things that has not been talked about and really put the product through use and abuse.

    The reason I got a Brain Bag instead of a backcountry backpack that many folks are traveling with.. is that I find them very inconvenient to use. They are great for what they are designed for, which is walking long distances with heavy load. The shortcomings are quickly evident when:

    • You are moving in a crowd with a huge pack.
    • Using it as a carry-on on Air travel.
    • Are trying to fit the bag into buses, airplanes, under seats, on the roof for remote shuttle or even stacked with a bunch of other bags.
    • You stop and go, and take the bag on and off. It’s design likes best to sit snugly on your back with the hip loaders on. It’s almost a ritual getting the bag on and off. And its always a mess carrying it on one shoulder.
    • There are many small parts and straps that can easily get tangled or cut.
    • Due to the size its easy to over pack.
    • And sorry for saying this, you look like a dork and get labeled with the rest of the backpacking cult.



    These are some of the reasons why a backpack like that thrive best for what it is intended for. However, convertible travel backpacks are becoming more and more popular and they seem to solve some of the problems I mentioned earlier. However, these bags are going totally to the travel extreme resulting in that they have become hard to use for anything else.

    I was looking for a bag that could do it all.

    • Travel for 1 month
    • Backpacking and Hiking
    • Bringing My Clothes to the Laundry Mat
    • Going to Starbucks with my electronics
    • Bringing my gear to different activities: Snorkeling, Filming, Mountain Biking, Bouldering, Brazilian Jiu Jiutsu and to the Gym.
    • Be Utilitarian but still look classy.



    I believe the Tom Bihns Brain Bag can do all these things. It’s not a master of any of them, but rather a jack of all trades. This one bag can replace 5 others! Great Right?

    So far I have some thoughts:

    Price Point:
    The price on $160 is ‘steep’ for an everyday backpack. If you like to follow the newest fashion or have multiple bags for different uses, this price point may not be for you. You also have to take into account that backpack technology in terms of features, quality and fabric is rapidly evolving. (including Tom Bihns new Dyneema and different polyester blends are also gaining traction because they are more environmental friendly)

    Having said that. If you are the type that keeps your bags forever or have some extra money to burn, or maybe you are a minimalist that use your bag for EVERYTHING? the Brain Bag is a good deal compared to competing brands, weighing in size, features, material and workmanship. This bag is designed to last over a decade. With Tom Bihn you don’t pay inflated brand prices as with brands like Tumi etc.. its a price that gives you top notch quality for your hard earned dollars.

    Features:
    It’s divided into two large compartments with three outside pockets and an outside mesh pocket. You can get specialized inserts for your laptop and camera for maximum protection.

    It also has a carbine and straps in the middle that can carry anything from a water bottle to a tripod.

    You can also use the compression straps on the side to hold anything from a sleeping pad to a rain jacket.

    The bag also have the ability to shrink and grow depending on the load. In that way you can bring it to the coffee shop without looking like you brought a 50L backpack and the day after pack it full for a 1 month travel in Asia.

    It has a removable sternum strap and hip belt that is both removable. (I suggests you take those off on the days you know you are not lugging the bag for long distances)

    Material:
    The Brain Bag is made of 1000d Cordura lined with 500d. Its also treated with an outside water repellent and a urethane coating inside to withstand short Rain Bursts. (I recommend treating it with a little known product called “Ultra Ever Dry”. )

    The Cordura material feels more like normal nylon canvas without any of the synthetic texture of Rip Stop and Ballistic Nylon.

    Personally I am not fan of 1000d Cordura because it attracts dust and debris like crazy. When I put the bag down on the beach it attracted moist and sand like nothing I’ve seen. I’m likely to never set it down on the beach ever again.

    The good side is that the material age very good and become smoother with a lot of use and will attract less dust etc. as it wears.

    Just a short note on the lining on the inside. Not many bags at this price point comes with a lining. Most people think of outside durability on a bag, but when you load and unload the bag and carry all kinds of books, electronics or other gadgets.. you actually generate a lot of stress on the inside of the bag while you are walking around. The negative side is that the bag becomes heavier, which is the price you pay for durability!

    The Zippers are heavy and durable and the whole bag is reinforced with bar tacks stitches.

    Usability:
    The Brain Bag shines when it comes to diversity. It is truly a minimalists bag that can be used for a great variety. As I mentioned earlier the Brain Bag is not too big and not too small and can handle most tasks you throw at it. I will talk about this more later in the in depth review.

    Comfort:
    The first impression of the bag when I put it on was.. “Damn.. this is very uncomfortable”. I learned that when I adjusted the load and the straps it became evident that the bag was comfy and fit snugly on my bag.

    The best way to adjust my load was to avoid the “rug sack syndrome” where everything gathers and bulges out at the bottom.

    I laid the bag down on its back and packed everything so they would align vertically on top of each other when I carried it on my back. Then I used the compressions strap on the side to tightly keep the load in place. This allowed the bag to evenly distribute the load and I avoided the bottom heavy “rug sack syndrome”.

    I read somewhere that people love bottom heavy backpacks.. so I guess it’s all about personal preference.

    The carry handle on the top is also solid and it feels like it has a comfy firm foam padding inside it.

    The backpack straps are not foam heavy but they are wide and distributes the load well.

    I’m 6 Feet and 180 Lbs, this bag might not fit comfortably on a very small frame. I think it handles best for average size people. This is something I was not able to test.

    Please leave comments so I can learn from other people’s experiences and include it in my next review of this bag.

    I'm also waiting for the Tom Bihn Aeronaut to arrive any day soon!

    Brain Bag - Laptop Backpack with a Lifetime Guarantee - TOM BIHN

    P.S. This Timlapse was shot with GoPro Hero 3: White Edition using iMovie.
    Proud owner of: Brain Bag (Saphire), Synapse (Nordic Dyneema) and Aeronaut (Steel Dyneema)

    "What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?" Alan Watts

  2. #2
    ceb
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    A few suggestions.

    Never, ever create a "review" that has this many spelling errors and grammar issues.

    If you tout your review as "different" then say something different

    Don't ever recommend the use of a product like "ultra ever dry" when the manufacturer (and you might want to spell Tom Bihn correctly each time you use it) recommends a different product and you cannot guarantee the long term effects of using "ultra ever dry" on the materials. In addition, you should only recommend products that you've actually used on TB bags. Ever Dry is poorly suited for these fabrics as it leaves a white opaque finish.

    Be careful when using logos and markings that belong to others. You may be violating their rights and implying that your video is authorized by them.

    When using videos, be careful to use appropriate lighting. Right now you have an underexposed blob sitting on a beach chair for 50+ seconds.

    I don't mean to sound harsh and my suggestions will allow you to create a better review.
    Last edited by ceb; 03-18-2013 at 09:24 AM.
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

  3. #3
    Registered User zuyzuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceb View Post
    A few suggestions.

    Never, ever create a "review" that has this many spelling errors and grammar issues.

    If you tout your review as "different" then say something different

    Don't ever recommend the use of a product "ultra ever dry" when the manufacturer (and you might want to spell Tom Bihn correctly each time you use it) recommends a different product and you cannot guarantee the long term effects of using "ultra ever dry" on the materials that Tom Bihn uses.

    Be careful when using logos and markings that belong to others. You may be violating their rights and implying that your video is authorized by them.

    When using videos, be careful to use appropriate lighting. Right now you have an underexposed blob sitting on a beach chair for 50+ seconds.

    I don't mean to sound harsh and my suggestions will allow you to create a better review.
    Thanks for the feedback. It is indeed greatly appreciated.

    The Grammar is right out bad because I'm not English.. and yes my writing sucks! But, I'm sure people will extract value from it still!

    The tout of a different review is in the works, which I might want to explain better.

    If Tom Bihn wants me to remove the logo .. I will.. thanks!

    Regards to underexposed blob? MMMM.. not sure what that is.. Maybe a water dropplet on the camera? but since it is not a Hollywood production.. Maybe it will be good enough...

    Regards to the Ultra Dry, it is an after market product I used myself on lots of gears I have including a Red Oxx in Cordura.. So, I have no problem recommending that.
    Proud owner of: Brain Bag (Saphire), Synapse (Nordic Dyneema) and Aeronaut (Steel Dyneema)

    "What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?" Alan Watts

  4. #4
    ceb
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    Since Ever Dry leaves a white film on surfaces, I can't see where you'd want to use that on colored materials and in your response to my post you're now mentioning "Ultra Dry." Ultra Dry is a basement waterproofing system that includes a spray-on substance - surely you aren't referring to that. If you are, in fact, using Ever Dry, then where did you buy it? I work in the industry and know that you can't just buy this stuff at the local hardware store.

    If you want readers to take your reviews seriously then you'll want to get someone to proofread your work. You'll also want to contact a manufacturer for permission BEFORE you use their logo or a variation thereof. It is is your responsibility to ask - not their responsibility to seek you out and ask that you remove it.

    Finally - the whole bag in the video is underexposed and shows absolutely no detail. It may be "artistic" but certainly doesn't show off the bag in a "good light."

    Good luck. I look forward to reading the review once it is proofed.
    Last edited by ceb; 03-18-2013 at 09:46 AM.
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

  5. #5
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    Loaded Pocketz does some outstanding (non cult) reviews.

    http://www.loadedpocketz.com/

    Their review (multi-part) of the Smart Alec sets a great standard.

    As a reviewer (non-bag related) my guidance, in addition to what's been said, is to stay away from speculating on what others may or may not do, and avoid judgments that require deep industry knowledge / expert class (ie what type of stitching is best, etc). Stick with your experiences and how the bag performs for you, and you should do well.

    As far as pictures, writing, etc: "good enough to figure it out" isn't. You should set a standard for legibility and picture quality and stick to it.

    Or, just do some casual blog posts of your experiences with the bag.

  6. #6
    Registered User zuyzuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianI View Post
    Loaded Pocketz does some outstanding (non cult) reviews.

    Loaded Pocketz | The Unrelenting Search for the Perfect Bag (And Other Stuff)Loaded Pocketz

    Their review (multi-part) of the Smart Alec sets a great standard.

    As a reviewer (non-bag related) my guidance, in addition to what's been said, is to stay away from speculating on what others may or may not do, and avoid judgments that require deep industry knowledge / expert class (ie what type of stitching is best, etc). Stick with your experiences and how the bag performs for you, and you should do well.

    As far as pictures, writing, etc: "good enough to figure it out" isn't. You should set a standard for legibility and picture quality and stick to it.

    Or, just do some casual blog posts of your experiences with the bag.
    Thanks a bunch!
    Proud owner of: Brain Bag (Saphire), Synapse (Nordic Dyneema) and Aeronaut (Steel Dyneema)

    "What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?" Alan Watts

  7. #7
    ceb
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    So, where did you buy Ever Dry? I've been looking for this stuff in "less than industrial sized quantities" as it works well on surfaces where you don't care what it looks like. It also changes the texture and sheen of the material.
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

  8. #8
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    See how the sun is behind the chair? That's backlighting. If you turn the chair around and set it to face the sun, the lighting will be much better and you'll be able to see the bag. Good luck!

  9. #9
    ceb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocks View Post
    See how the sun is behind the chair? That's backlighting. If you turn the chair around and set it to face the sun, the lighting will be much better and you'll be able to see the bag. Good luck!
    As an alternative, if you want to keep background, you can use a reflector behind the camera to reflect existing light to the font of the bag or to add fill lights to get some definition on that bag.

    I would again suggest that you remove the logo until you get approval to use it from Tom Bihn.
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

  10. #10
    Registered User zuyzuy's Avatar
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    Some great feedback here at this forum. Thanks.

    The idea is that it will be a Video review not a written one. The Video I put up was just a placeholder for Youtube. I was just testing the time laps feature.. and did not really plan on using it for the review.

    I know I should probably have mentioned these things.. The participants in this Forum knows more about these bags than me, so I wanted feedback on some of the conclusions I made regards to the backpack.

    For the Ultra Water Repellent, I have to check when I get back to San Francisco in a few months, I'm out traveling and its in my garage.. I remember it had to be layered two times with different bottles. I got it recently when I bought a jacket from a guy that works at REI. They don't sell it he said. It’s something brand new?
    Proud owner of: Brain Bag (Saphire), Synapse (Nordic Dyneema) and Aeronaut (Steel Dyneema)

    "What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?" Alan Watts

  11. #11
    Registered User dnarud13's Avatar
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    I've had mine for 12 years and it has been all over the States, the Middle East and now is getting around Europe. Great airline carry-on, tech pack, light hike, daily carry, grocery getter, etc. The compression straps are a huge plus and it always amazes me how much it can hold when fully expanded. It's particularly useful when outfitted with some TB accessories like a Snake Charmer, Monolith, and 3D clear organizer cube.

    It was my one and only for 10 years; I've only just now started investing in specialized bags. The greater capacity Aeronaut now assists the BB with travel duties. And just today I received my Co-Pilot to take over as a lighter daily carry. (I bought the BB to haul a 12 lb. laptop. Tech has gotten lighter, so something smaller is in order for my Surface RT.) ... I'm eyeing other TB offerings as I type.

    So, I concur with your views on the Brain Bag; it is an excellent jack-of-trades. It's not the best at any single task but is very good with a broad range.


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