Maybe a New Zephyr
I've been carrying an Ego for the past few months, but it's a little too large for my needs, and the floppiness of it is annoying. It's difficult to get it to stand up. I ordered a Zephyr for my boss, he really wanted an Empire Builder but it was backordered. I've been test driving his Zephyr and I like it. I might buy it from him and get him the EB. I'll save the Ego for days I need to carry more stuff, or for traveling.
Here is what I carry in "my" Zephyr:
Circa notebook, papers, very thick book, kindle, netbook, pouch with chargers and ac adapters, pouch with pens and pencils, meds, tic tacs, lotion, hair product, pouch with toothbrush and toothpaste.
The second photo is what it looks like full.
Next is the top view.
Last is the Zephyr side by side with the Ego. I wanted to stuff the Ego, so I put a pillow inside of it. Yes a full sized bed pillow with a pillow sham covering it. You can see it doesn't stand up well.
I'm liking the Zephyr, but I do miss the water bottle carriers on the ends that the Ego has.
Good comparison. I was torn between the Ego and the EB. I settled on the Ego, because I liked the style, and the bottle holders. I eventually want to get an EB for a more business like apperance (mainly for travelling), but my current job is very casual, so the Ego (even with seatbelt buckle) should not stand out too bad, amoungst the many backpacks or even luggage that some people use.
The issue of it standing up on it's own, may be annoying to me, we will just have to see. I don't think I'll be using the bag much, except when I'm going to and from work, so it probably will not be an issue. I do also wish that they had used d-rings on the Ego to connect the strap, other than having to have the strap attached to the buckle type attachment...but that is pretty minor.
I agree with your point about the straps. It is difficult to get the bottles into the bottle holders because of all the strap paraphernalia that is hanging around in those areas. You can see it in the last photo. Too much strapage.
I've had to resort to tucking the loose strap ends into the bottle holders.