My father takes a thin briefcase-like bag from EastPak (made of rough Nylon) when he goes to meetings. The bag must be at least 15-20 years old, so it definitely predates "the laptop era". It sat around in a box for years until I recently dug it out, cleaned it up, and told him he should use this for his meetings. It works perfectly for him.
The bag recalls a simpler time when people did not carry computers, other electronic gadgets and cables and accessories with them for business. It is a thin, fairly lightweight (for that era) one-main-compartment briefcase built for carrying papers and writing utensils, maybe a calendar and a small calculator. In essence, it's like you turned a Horizontal Freudian Slip inside-out and made it into its own self-contained mini-briefcase.
Why doesn't anyone make anything like this anymore? Does everything have to rotate around bulky electronics?
I would love to see what Tom Bihn would do to create what I call a Paper Chase: a small briefcase made for paper-hauling but not laptop-hauling. It would be sized and built to haul file folders and/or a Horizontal Freudian Slip like the Zephyr, but be slimmer and lighter. Think of it as having a mixture of characteristics derived from the Co-Pilot and Large Cafe Bag, as well as the Zephyr and/or ID. It would look more like a briefcase, but be lighter and thinner. It could have an outer shell made of 1080 nylon or maybe even Dyneema. It might even have a webbing grab-handle on top and hooks for a shoulder strap.
I wish Tom Bihn would make a mini-briefcase like that.
Here are some photos of my father's EastPak briefcase...
This is the front of the bag, with the "EastPak" tag on the lower corner. The bag has two outer zippered pockets, one goes almost the full depth of the front face (nearly full width) and the other is lower and goes most of the way down.
Note that I put a ruler, pencil and marker in the photo frame for reference.
This is the back of the bag.
Note that crummy shoulder strap; my father usually carries this briefcase by its handles.
Along the top edge of the bag is access to the main zippered compartment. As you can see, this pre-laptop-era briefcase is pretty free-form inside. Nothing fancy. Just a protective vessel for papers and such. There are no O-rings or interior pockets or anything like that.
At the moment, my father is carrying a clipboard with his papers in this briefcase.
Here's a view of the largest zippered front external pocket. I put the hi-liter inside to show the depth of this pocket.
Here's a view of the lower zippered external pocket. It's shallower and thus much smaller, but still quite wide.
Here's a view of the EastPak tag on the lower front of the briefcase. Note that it was made in USA.
I talked about this with my mother. She informed me that this EastPak bag is at least 25-30 years old.
I look at the Horizontal Freudian Slip that I carry in my Super Ego, and then I look at my black Side Effect. (The Side Effect is now my constant companion, I carry my wallet, glasses, cell phone and other items in it as a hip pack.) My view is that if Bihn can make a Freudian Slip for $35 a Side Effect for $30, and a Large Cafe Bag for $60 maybe Bihn can make a basic "Paper Chase" for $65-$90.
Tom has designed more than a few slim or micro briefcases over the years. He's already working on a new version. It may be available in early 2011.
That's great news! Thanks for the tip, Darcy.
My take on the concept, based on my father's EastPak, would be something that could either act as a kind of inside-out Horizontal Freudian Slip, or maybe could haul such a slip, or both. If you look at the structure of a Side Effect and you super-size it and add D-rings on the outside for an optional shoulder strap, that's kinda like what I had in mind.
To keep costs down, the exterior would probably all be one color. My first choice would be black. It could also be "steel" or "sapphire" or "kelly". I think the inside should be "steel".
Another possibility would be to make the whole bag out of Dyneema. I don't know what that would do to the bag's cost.
The bag definitely deserves Bihn's famous interior O-rings and pockets. Maybe an exterior front zipperless tuck-away pocket with an O-ring for keys and/or light. And maybe a back pocket for a newspaper or magazine.