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Thread: Smart Alec + Top/Bottom Modular Pockets all in Steel Dyneema

  1. #1
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    Smart Alec + Top/Bottom Modular Pockets all in Steel Dyneema

    Finally pulled the trigger and went with the Smart Alec in all Steel Dyneema > see pics attached. I've got more pics that I'll attach in another post (seems I've reached a post size limitation...?).

    Lots of stuff inside... Pretty much self explanatory from the pics.

    Macbook Pro 17" Protection

    I also purchased a Size 1 Brain Cell, but found that it was too big, taking up too much valuable real estate on the inside - it's going back to Tom Bihn.

    Fortunately, my Think Tank Artificial Intelligence 17" laptop bag (artificial-intelligence-17-computer-sleeve) fits inside perfectly and takes up less space than the Size 1 Brain Cell (and I think it's much more functional while offering more than enough protection for my use). I also have a Macbook Pro 17" neoprene sleeve by Incase that works perfectly as well, and it takes even less space than the Artificial Intelligence 17". Both the Think Tank and Neoprene sleeve offer enough laptop protection for my use - global travel for business mostly inside/outside of airports, taxis, hotels, client conference rooms. I plan to use this for hikes, bike rides and snowboarding as well, but with out the laptop and related technology for these purposes. I also have a Canon 5D Mark II plus tons of "L" lens, flashes, etc. I tried putting select Canon gear (DSLR, 2 lens, 580 flash, small items) in my Think Tank Hubba Hubba Hiney bag (Hubba Hubba Hiney) and it fits inside with room to spare - note: it's not too much larger than the black Tom Bihn Snake Charmer that I also have.

    Was torn by the color combinations, but the Steel Dyneema has grown on me. I think it will work well for both business and pleasure!

    Hope this helps if you're considering the Smart Alec.

    Attachment 3779Attachment 3780Attachment 3781Attachment 3782Attachment 3783
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    Last edited by vanptang; 05-04-2013 at 01:01 PM.

  2. #2
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    Smart Alec + Top/Bottom Modular Pockets all in Steel Dyneema

    More pics...
    Attached Images Attached Images          

  3. #3
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    What's inside my Smart Alec Set-up

    What's inside:

    1) Macbook Pro 17" + accessories: I use a Think Tank Artificial Intellligence 17 V2.0 bag - very functional, fits very well. I also bought the Size 1 Vertical Brain Cell, but found that it was way too large, making the Smart Alec difficult to close the zippers. I also have an Incase neoprene 17" that is even smaller than the Think Tank, but prefer that for quick trips. The Think Tank comes in handy when inside the airport as I can carry my laptop separately and the built-in external pocket allows me to carry passport, ticket, power bar, etc. without the stuff being in plain view like the external pockets on the Vertical Brain Cell

    2) Fuji Digital Camera

    3) A4 size notebook stored in the back external pocket of my Think Thank Artificial Intelligence 17.

    4) Tom Bihn Snake Charmer: inside >> Jambox, Apple Magic Mouse, tons of wires, cables, chargers for every electronic item that I travel with.

    5) Tom Bihn Large Clear Organizer with my Monocle Magazine. I plan to store expense receipts, documents, etc. in this while traveling...

    6) Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube with my e-juice assortment for my vapor habit...

    7) Tom Bihn Travel Tray with small items like cuff links, wristwatch, iPhone charger, etc. Useful especially during airport security checkpoints as it keeps small stuff all in one place. Also useful in hotel room, making sure I don't forget the small stuff as I make it a habit to put those small items in the tray in my room. I can also put the tray in the safe when leaving the room for the day.

    8) 2 Tom Bihn Stuff Sacks (1 Size 2, 1 Size 3) for a sweater, down vest, etc.

    9) The Top Modular Pocket is perfect for what's shown in the pic... Could fit more too!

    10) The Bottom Modular Pocket currently has a pair of Lululemon Kungfu Pants, but I'll likely use this pocket as spare space during travel.

    11) Guardian Light > to be used on backpack when biking and inside when in the dark ;)

    Hope this helps if you're considering purchasing the Smart Alec. Btw, I was unsure about the all steel dyneema set-up, but it has since grown on me.
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    Last edited by vanptang; 05-04-2013 at 01:32 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    Oh, I just about starting drooling -- the all Steel Dyneema set-up would be ideal for me for traveling, since I can just manage the size of the Smart Alec (although I have an older version). Have you used this configuration yet? Do you hear any noise from the outside Dyneema pockets on the Smart Alec body's Dyneema?
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black Side Effects, steel/ultraviolet Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/ultraviolet (C) & steel/ultraviolet (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec, steel Brain Bag.

  5. #5
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    Great pics! Thanks for sharing them! I've been considering a Smart Alec as an alternative to an Aeronaut, which is what I want but is too big (I'm dinky), and a Western Flyer, which I also want but would use less than a dedicated backpack. I really like the steel Dyneema! I admire your set-up. Please keep the pics and updates coming as you use the bag. They're a big help.

  6. #6
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    Awesome post(s)! I had just asked in the announcement thread for some photos and these cover just about everything I could have possibly wanted! If only your Smart Alec was nordic... but beggars can't be choosers...

    Thanks for the review and all the detailed photos.

  7. #7
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    Swell set up. Thanks for the detailed photos. I AM drooling. Maybe trade my used-once WF navy/solar backpack for the SA steel dyneema??? It will pair nicely with the WF steel dyneema rolling luggage pocket model I got earlier this year. Hmmm.

  8. #8
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    vanptang - can you fit shoes in the front pocket thing? Do they fit in a stuff sack? (Maybe I'll start a new thread about that.)
    re: steel dyneema.
    The steel dyneema is growing on me too. I didn't like the dyneema options on the other bags, but on this one, it seems ok.
    Still unsure about it though, due to the busyness of the check. Would love an all-ballistic version of this bag.
    Last edited by thisisme; 05-04-2013 at 08:29 PM. Reason: spelling
    My little set of TB stuff:
    Western Flyer (steel/ultraviolet)
    Small Pouch (cork)
    Large Shop Bag (solar)
    packing cubes

  9. #9
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    Front modular pocket fits my Size 41 Birkenstocks with room to spare. I haven't tried other shoes yet, but imagine they'll fit most of my "normal" shoes (not boots or large hiking shoes). Stuff sacks also fit.

  10. #10
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    Wow vanptang. I didn't see the pics of the different colour combos till now. You must've added them after i saw your original post.
    Anyway - those pics were extremely helpful. I really like the all-steel look you chose. :-)
    My little set of TB stuff:
    Western Flyer (steel/ultraviolet)
    Small Pouch (cork)
    Large Shop Bag (solar)
    packing cubes

  11. #11
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    UPDATE: I decided to keep the Brain Cell after all. I tried using the ThinkTank Artificial Intelligence with the Smart Alec during my last trip to Johannesburg, S. Africa and Dubai, UAE. The combo worked well in general, but I think the Brain Cell would've offered much more protection than the Artificial Intelligence - albeit just a bit thicker. One thing I don't like about the Brain Cell is that it's so ugly compared to the Artificial Intelligence, and the material catches lint, pet hair etc. like mad. The Artificial Intelligence passes board room meetings and stays lint/pet hair free. I oftentimes carried only the Artificial Intelligence without the Smart Alec during my last trip, especially when going on short customer meetings outside of the hotel. Because the AI has zippered pockets, I could store essentials in there without fear of losing anything (dropping out of my bag). I'm not sure if I would do that with the Brain Cell since it has no zippered pockets. I'd likely be forced to take along the entire Smart Alec set-up, leaving behind other things in the hotel room safe. Speaking of which, the Smart Alec really has no reliable way of locking the zippers closed! I'm not looking for a locked vault, but rather a somewhat reliable way to lock it shut as a deterrent especially to hotel room cleaning crews. In summary:

    1) Kept the Brain Cell for it's added protection and integration components to Smart Alec. I think this will be useful someday, especially if ever I'm biking around town with my laptop inside Brain Cell and Smart Alec... won't likely happen much, if ever, but just in case.

    2) Won't use the Brain Cell by itself for day trip customer meetings outside the hotel. It just looks way too ugly for board room meetings and there are no zippered compartments to safely stowe away smaller items (think Mont Blanc pens, wallet, chewing gum, business card wallet, etc.). For this, I'm forced to take the entire Smart Alec + Brain Cell set-up. I might consider removing the bottom (and maybe top as well) Modular Component before heading out to a customer meeting just to make the bag look cleaner / neater, especially since I'm usually wearing suit and tie. Again - hassle since I couldn't just slide out the Brain Cell and take that to the customer meeting.

    3) I'm in search of a better solution to the Brain Cell and/or Artificial Intelligence. If anyone from Tom Bihn is reading, please give me a holler and let me know if this feedback even makes it back to Tom! ;) ...and if ever Tom were to redesign the Brain Cell, I'd love to be a volunteer tester. :)

    Cheers,
    V

  12. #12
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    Great pics and looking bag. I was recently trying to decide to go with the SA for its modular advantages or with the S25 with a cleaner look and built in storage. I decided to go with the S25 but am now debating on the dyneema version in steel like your SA or cordura. You mentioned that the Brain Cell picked up a lot of lint and hair from it being cordura which why I'm leaningmore towards the dyneema. I'm concerned about two things with the dyneema, the strength and professional lookin a business environment. How has it held up from your travels? And personally does it look professional enough where you would take the bag to your meetings. Thank you.

  13. #13
    Registered User Fat Crip's Avatar
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    I don't have either of the bags being discussed here, but my wife and I have been using the Aeronaut and Tri-Star in Dyneema for six months and they still look like new without a stitch out of place.

    As for the business look, anywhere where a rucksack would be acceptable, steel Dyneema would be fine and Nordic wouldn't raise too many eyebrows. With the T-S, if you were trying to pass it off as a briefcase with your grey suit and tie, you'd be better with steel or black (if you must) Ballistic. I never wear a business suit if I can help it, so my Cardinal Western Flyer makes a great pseudo briefcase!

  14. #14
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    Vanptang or any others that carry the SA with a full load, how comfortable is it? I have a S25 and notice one I start loading it up it becomes a bit uncomfortable during longer carry times. Its forced me to carry lighter loads which is nice sometimes but other times it's necessary for to me to carry more. Thanks.


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