Good bag for hiking
Just wondering if anyone on this forum has used Tom Bihn bags for hiking. My husband and I are planning to do the Camino de Santiago next year, which is a six-week hike that basically involved walking from one town to the next - so no tent, cooking tools, or food beyond what you nibble on the walk is necessary. The basic advice of most people who do it to aim to carry no more than your body weight and some people actually manage keep their bag to around 12 pounds (6 kg). Some sample packing lists can be found here and here. We are basically talking about a couple of changes of clothes, 2-3 pairs of socks, water, some minimum toiletries (the amount that would fit as allowable in airplanes), a pair of sandals, fleece jacket and either a light rain poncho or rain jacket.
Would this kind of volume fit in a Smart Alec? Or would a Brain Bag be more the case here. How well do those bags distribute weight? Has anyone wore them for hiking?
I was going to get a Deuter bag but now I'm re-considering...
Wow, I wish I could help more because that sounds very interesting. Sadly I haven't tried those bags for long hikes but I will tell you what I can.
I use my Brain Bag now for work everyday and I have used it as a carry on for trips. The main advantage of the BB is it's size. I can hold a lot. A whole lot. My old work laptop was a beast and I also take a large thermos of coffee and a 32 oz Sigg bottle of water when I go to work so right off the bat I had a need for a large bag.
But I really liked the Smart Alec better, I think mostly because it seemed to look nicer to my eye. The smaller size felt better on my back too. It was more difficult to get at items in the SA because the mouth of the bag seemed smaller so you could not look and grab at the same time. But I think you could manage to pack what you needed in it.
One thing I noticed was that the BB seemed to sit lower than the SA on me. At first I thought this was incorrect but after researching some more I read that a bag should fall on your lower back or hips more than the shoulders for best comfort. So I'm more used to putting weight on my shoulders but for a long hike that might be worse than putting it on my hips. I'm not sure if I could have adjusted the SA to sit lower but I do know it was impossible on me to make the BB sit higher - it was just the difference in height that made them feel different.
Sadly I think the key to this decision is all ergonomics and what fits you best. I'm no expert on backpacks when it comes to hiking comfort but I think it can be like trying to find a pair of shoes that fits you best.
Tom uses his Smart Alec exclusively for hiking. In the past, he has used the Brain Bag as a backpacking (multiple day hiking) pack.
I use the Smart Alec for big hiking trips (18 mile day hikes) and the Synapse for shorter trips (3-10 miles).
Both bags are more comfortable for me than any other backpacks I've used for hiking - I especially love the shoulder straps on the Smart Alec and Synapse.
I'd definitely steer you towards the Smart Alec - I think it will be plenty big for what you need. I'll ask Tom to post a list of what he carries in it, because he carries more in his than I do in mine!
That's really helpful; thanks pretzelb and Darcy.
if Tom could make a rough list of what he manages to fit in his Smart Alec, I'd be very interested!
I'll probably be ordering a SA sometime before April (need to get my tax returns first)... any news on uploading pictures of the new Solar interior?