Mmmm, that new-bag smell....
It took me a very log time to decide upon which bag I wanted to buy. I researched many a messenger-bag site, looked in Army-Navy stores, you name it. What I was looking for was a bag that was/is:
- with tons of pockets
- stylish, something I could bring to work that is professional-looking
- but not garish or too teenage looking
- has good safety features (ie. harder-to-slash material, as I like to travel; or metal cording in the strap to prevent same)
I was hoping to get a bag to match the size of my current shoulder bag, which is a very tidy 12.5"x4"x9", but it was hard to find a bag of that size with as many pockets as I'd like (as my old bag had), and with more sense of security. Things I always carry include my camera (since I maintain two blogs and write travel reviews as well - never know when photo ops strike!), usually some kind of reading material(s), my keys, cell phone, wallet, backup batteries for my camera, sunglasses, all kinds of stuff. (Then every so often I go, "Why is my bag so darn heavy?" and I'm amazed at the stuff that comes out of it). So clearly I need a bag that can handle a good amount of stuff, and can be flexible enough to accommodate changes in my day - stuffing an umbrella or jacket into the bag, etc.
The other thing I was looking for was a bag that could double as a carry-on bag but which would not be *huge*; it had to be the right size to be a good day-to-day "traveling bag" - something big enough that I could stuff little purchases in when I'm playing tourist, so I don't feel like I'm bogged down with packages; but is equally useful as a bag for daily work use. (I rarely carry a laptop.)
In the end, I decided upon the Ego, which is sized more like a laptop bag or a smaller messenger bag. The Ego and its slightly larger SuperEgo are among the most stylish in the Tom Bihn lineup, and the attractive design makes the bag stand out. (The only other bag I seriously considered what Timbuk2's 'small' custom-classic messenger bag, which was the size I wanted, but lacked much in terms of extra pockets.) I would love to see to see a "Small Ego", as the "Id" isn't really a smaller Ego, it's a design of the same size, but different layout; and I love the look of the Ego/SuperEgo, as well as their bag layout.
Turn-around time to receive the bag was under a week, even choosing the "slow" UPS rate. Customer service at Tom Bihn was (is!) top-notch, answering all my questions. I was thrilled to have the bag arrive!
I admit the bag was slightly larger than I expected. But having extra space - especially in a bag you expect to use while traveling (and thus often need more space at unexpected moments) - isn't exactly a bad thing. The bag has a good heft (nearly 3 lbs empty, almost as much as my camping backpack!), so you can feel how solidly the bag is constructed.
The brand tag.
Front view of the Ego bag. I chose black/crimson/steel for mine, with a reflecting strip. That central strip can be changed to a wide variety of other strips. I placed a ruler and CD next to the bag so you have a little bit of comparison for size when viewing this.
My alternative cork strip, not installed on the bag in this picture.
I did change the strip later, and since the strip is backed with Velcro, I found it worked easiest for me to work from the top down to remove the strip. Then I inserted the new strip with the decorative side down, adjusted it into place, and flipped it over under the retainer strips. It worked quite easily on the first try, and I got it switched out in about three minutes, tops. I love this little bit of customization; I think the cork strip gives the bag a really nice, professional look.
The back side of the bag, with slash pocket, and waist strap visible. As you can see, the exterior pocket is pretty roomy, easily accommodating thicker books. The buckle you can see in the foreground is the 'messenger stabilizer' on the bag's strap, designed to attach to the waist strap to create stabilty-in-action with the bag. You can remove the waist straps if you don't want them. The back panel of the bag and the bottom of the bag are reinforced with a layer of foam, offering protection to your bag's contents as well as giving the bag some framework.
I compared their straps carefully before finally deciding upon the Q-AM shoulder strap, which is well-padded and quite comfortable. It took me a little bit to figure out how to get the 'Messenger attachement' attached to the waist strap, but now that I've got that figured out, the bag's weight is distributed quite nicely. I would still like to get an extension strap for the messenger attachment, however, as the bag will fit me quite differently when I wear it over a winter coat.
The side pockets are roomy, with buckles to tighten up as needed or to make the pockets lie flat against the bag, and openings on the bottom corners.
Front view of the bag with flap raised.
If it wasn't for the fact there's zipper pulls hanging off the bag, you might not even realize there were pockets there. The "key strip" on the left is designed to hang inside the larger outer pocket; it's handy enough that I want a whole handful of these strips!
As you can see, the "hidden" bockets are wide enough to accommodate a CD case. You could probably fit one of the larger iPods in these pockets no problem. The center area between the pockets is designed with tucks to give extra room to these pockets, which is a very nice design detail.
Large outside pocket, which the flap covers. A couple details to note here: You can see the heavy-duty plastic hook at the top; there's one on either side of the pocket. I stuck a magazine inside the pocket to show how spacious it is, plus to point out a design feature - the top corner of the pocket is sewn into the bag, which means a little bit more security for items in the pocket, and less chance of water getting into the pocket in inclimate weather.