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  1. #1
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    Man bag / Airplane personal item

    Hi all!

    I've read the "Best man bag?" thread with great interest. I have a related question.

    I'd like to buy a Bihn bag that would serve well both as an everyday man bag, and as a personal item on the airplane.

    My Brain Bag has done great service as an everyday bag, but it's really much, much larger than I need for that purpose.

    My experience has been that even a backpack as small as my Smart Alec triggers the "second bag" alarms in the brains of airline staff, so I'd like to find something even smaller. Where I live, most of the flights out are on RJs, which means the airline staff tend to be even stricter about carry-ons. My normal strategy is to pack clothes and my CPAP into my Aeronaut and take a second smaller bag for under the seat, but several times I've ended up having to play the "my CPAP's in the red bag and my laptop's in the other one, so I can't check or gate-check either one" card. I'm kind of tired of those discussions, and of having to worry about them when I fly.

    This new bag may not need to hold my laptop any more. I'm planning to take my smartphone on future flights and leave the laptop at home.

    Any recommendations?

    Thanks,
    Tim

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimK65 View Post
    My Brain Bag has done great service as an everyday bag, but it's really much, much larger than I need for that purpose.
    Hi Tim,

    I can give a better response if you state what you will be carrying in the bag. That said, I have used a Medium Cafe Bag as an airline personal carry item, and as an EDC (Every Day Carry.) I also for a spell used a Large Cafe Bag as my EDC. The only people who ever gave me any ribbing about it where my nephews who delighted in a chance to rib their uncle, and their sister who chimed in for the shot. As far as the world of adults goes, no one ever gave me grief about my bag and several times I got compliments (the vast preponderance from women.)

    The airlines and security checks at the airport never batted an eye, even though I had another larger carry-on item, when I used my medium cafe bag for as a personal item.


    Here is a link to a series of photos I did on the Large Cafe Bag.

    Here is a link to a series of photos I took when using a Medium Cafe Bag as my EDC.

    Hope that helps you, Tim. Please let us know what you intend to carry and there may be more appropriate suggestions as needed.

    Good luck, and safe travels!
    Bags: Super Ego (Black/indigo w/cork seatbelt); Aeronaut (Crimson/Steel); 2 Medium Cafe Bags (Navy/Cayenne, Linen/Olive), w/an Ultrasuede Shoulder Strap Wrap; Large Cafe Bag (Cocoa/Wasabi) w/Absolute Strap; Imago (sadly lost to hazmat); a Brain Cell w/ another Strap Wrap; and a Shop Bag (Steel). Accessories: Bunches and bunches.
    Wanted: Zephyr or Empire Builder.
    " ...all [that] you have to depend on is yourself and your luggage." - The Luggage Salesman (Joe Versus the Volcano)

  3. #3
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    Hi Ex,

    You ask good questions that I hadn't really thought through...mainly the issue of how much I'll want to take in the bag.

    For everyday, it would be pretty minimal. I'm not the type who keeps their keys, wallets, etc. in their bag -- those things stay in my pockets. I'm thinking about what's in my Brain Bag right now (I'm at work), and there really isn't much in there that couldn't stay home. A lot of stuff has just gotten dumped in there and made itself at home. The one thing I really do like to have with me during the day, that rides in my Brain Bag, is pain reliever in case I get a headache at work (not common, but when it does happen, I don't want to be without my Advil or whatever). Beyond that, today I happen to have a pair of tennis shoes because a group of us at work walk every Tuesday and Thursday. That's really about it. So, something that will fit a pair of men's tennis shoes and a bottle of Advil, I guess.

    On the days when I cycle, I tend to bring more stuff, but on those days I'd just use either the Brain Bag or my Super Ego.

    On the airplane, I'd be looking at being able to take an E-reader (and not a large one -- the Sony PRS-300, which can be seen here), an iPod, a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones in their case, my 3D Clear Organizer Cube with my liquids, and my metal (including my smartphone) for when I go through security. After security, of course, the metal would come back out. On my last trip, I was using my Side Effect for the metal, so that gives you an idea of the volume; I was also able to fit some of the other stuff in it, including the Sony reader and my iPod. (This reminds me -- I need to practice using the Side Effect as a waist pack, since I think that would be very practical on the plane.)

    Does that help?

    Thanks,
    Tim

  4. #4
    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    The Synapse sounds perfect for what you describe. I am the opposite...I have a Synapse and wish I had gone bigger with the Brain Bag instead. The Synapse is very well thought out, with lots of organization and is typically TB cool. I just prefer a bigger bag in most cases.

    Wanna trade?

  5. #5
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    Hey bitkmt,

    I guess this, from my initial post, wasn't clear enough:

    My experience has been that even a backpack as small as my Smart Alec triggers the "second bag" alarms in the brains of airline staff, so I'd like to find something even smaller.
    I think *any* backpack is going to do this. And isn't the Synapse larger than the Smart Alec? Not that I haven't lusted for a Synapse! Maybe we should think about a trade. Hmm. What color is your Synapse? My Brain Bag is sapphire.

    Best,
    Tim

  6. #6
    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    No, the Synapse is quite a bit smaller than the Smart Alec...about 500 cubic inches I think. Mine is navy blue.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimK65 View Post
    Hey bitkmt,

    I think *any* backpack is going to do this.
    FWIW, I have traveled cross country and regionally on CRJs and regular jets a bunch over the last few months with my Synapse as a personal item. It has never gotten even a second look from the gate or flight crews. Fits easily overhead or under the seat, even when there is an entertainment unit. Much more easily than lots of other backpacks and standard briefcases. If you're considering the Synapse, don't let the size being too large for a personal item hold you back. I typically carry a Macbook, Kindle, power brick, adapters, cables and lots of papers/files, etc. (Still has a bunch of room in it.)
    Last edited by rabergnc; 03-23-2010 at 10:04 AM. Reason: just like to see my words on the screen - also clarification

  8. #8
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    Have you thought about the Imago? Because it's a horizontal messenger style bag, it looks more like a "personal item" than another backpack, but it holds more than a large cafe bag. It's my personal item of choice these days. You can put a magazine, newspaper, paperback, or standard paper file in the back pocket for easy access. I store my eyeglasses in one of the ultra-suede side pockets while I'm (trying to) snooze on the plane, with the other used to store a zip-lock baggie of stuff I want immediate access to--a set of ear plugs, some Ricola cough sweets, a small container of ibuprofen and antacids in case I need them, an eyemask, and a packet of tissues. In the outside zippered pocket under the buckle flap is my back-up stash of American cash (in case my ATM card fails to work abroad it will tide me over for a day or two) and one credit card (in case my wallet gets lost or stolen), a xerox copy of my passport and a list of phone numbers to call in case my bank card and credit cards go missing abroad. In the non-zippered pocket, I have my flight itinerary and boarding pass and my hotel confirmations and my 'freshen up' packet of lip balm, toothbrush, lipstick, and touch-up concealer and foundation.

    Inside there is plenty of room for my computer, Ipod, noise cancelling headphones, assorted pens, minipurse containing my passport wallet, a pad of paper, waterbottle, and miscellanuous snacks.

    It can carry a lot more than that, but that's my typical "personal item" configuration.
    Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.

  9. #9
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    Hmm. Now I'm back to the point of indecision! Synapse, Imago or Medium/Large Café Bag?

    Can I just mention something that's struck me before, but that I haven't had a chance to mention? I've just looked at all these bags on the main Web site, and I believe the photos of the Imago make it look MUCH smaller than it actually is. Tom Bihn folks, you might want to try to fix this.

    Anyway, how does one choose among these bags? Would it help y'all help me if I said the following things appeal to me:
    - The many many pockets on the Synapse.
    - For the Imago and Café Bag, the ability to access stuff without taking the bag off my shoulder. (This is one thing I love about my Super Ego as well.)

    Best,
    Tim
    Last edited by TimK65; 03-23-2010 at 03:37 PM.

  10. #10
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    Hi,

    For what you describe, I'd concur with rabergnc that a Synapse would do very well. Of the three bags you're considering, it has the largest an most flexiblly configurable storage capacity (as far as holding oddly shaped items like shoes). As bltkmt mentions, it's much smaller than a Smart Alec -- about half the volume, but looks smaller. Most people initially think it's rather small, but then are surprised at how much it holds.

    The inside is lined with Dyneema, which would also work better for carrying your tennis shoes, and you could fit a pair into the inside pocket in the main compartment. If you're not carrying a water bottle, I'd stash your eReader in the top center front pocket, which is where I carry my Kindle and iPod Touch. (If you look at this blog picture of the Synapse in navy, it's the pocket with the plastic tube emerging.) This pocket can also hold your iPod. The small, zippered pocket just in front of it could hold your Advil, or you could store that in one of the side pockets, and use that pocket for a Clear organizer wallet or other small pouch.

    The Bose noise-canceling headphones can go into the main compartment, and your 3-D Clear Organizer cube can go into the bottom front pocket of the Synapse, or you can store your Side Effect there.. (I usually carry one 3-D Clear Organizer Cube in the bottom front pocket and a second one inside the main compartment of my Synapse, along with my MacBook; they're a very convenient size for holding the power brick.) You can carry your Mobile phone in one of the side pockets (in the ultra-suede pocket) or, you could use that pocket for glasses. I also like the pen compartments in the side pocket -- which makes it easy when you have to fill out customs forms or documents.

    If you like Sapphire for your Brain Bag, you'll probably like either the navy Synapse (shown in the earlier linked blog post), or the Synapse in Indigo pictured in forum posts. My Synapse is Indigo, though I really like the Navy, too. I have a Sapphire Buzz, and I think I like both the Navy and Indigo colors even more than the Sapphire.

    moriond

    P.S. For another visual comparison of the sizes of the Synapse and Brain Bag, take a look at the pictures gmich posted in the Synapse and Side Effect in central NY snow thread. Relative size is difficult to calibrate, since he's 6 feet tall (wearing the Brain Bag) and she's about 5'2'' (wearing the Synapse), and neither is in the same picture. However, you can get a feeling of relative bag size by looking at the Side Effect that she's carrying. Or, you can look at the pictures an older forum thread called One-bagging with the Aeronaut where they're both wearing Aeronauts.

  11. #11
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    Hi moriond!

    In my mind, during the progress of this thread, I've kind of been leaning toward a Synapse simply because I'm more accustomed to using a backpack than a shoulder bag. Then again, I have to say that when I used my Super Ego for the first time right after I got it, I really liked the ease of access and the ability to bind it with the waist strap (something I've just never done with backpacks) and not feel like I was toting an elephant, but rather like it was part of my body, since it then moved with me. Of course the Synapse is small enough that I wouldn't likely get the "turn right, backpack swings left" effect to the same extent with it. And I like the flexibility of the Synapse that you describe.

    As for colors, my Brain Bag is in sapphire because when I got it, indigo was not an option. A friend who I've converted to the Church of Bihn got his Brain Bag in indigo and I was rather envious. So if I go with a Synapse, I'm definitely looking at indigo.

    Thanks!
    Tim

  12. #12
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    bltkmt,

    Are you really interested in possibly trading/selling your navy Synapse? I've been waiting to buy one but they've been back-ordered for quite a while.

  13. #13
    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    Yes. While I like it, I find it small for my needs. PM me if interested? Thanks.

  14. #14
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    Well, I ordered an indigo Synapse today. Now the wait begins.... Thanks to all of you for helping me with my decision.

    Best,
    Tim

  15. #15
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    Thumbs up

    Congrats TimK65; hope you post some pics!
    Bags: Super Ego (Black/indigo w/cork seatbelt); Aeronaut (Crimson/Steel); 2 Medium Cafe Bags (Navy/Cayenne, Linen/Olive), w/an Ultrasuede Shoulder Strap Wrap; Large Cafe Bag (Cocoa/Wasabi) w/Absolute Strap; Imago (sadly lost to hazmat); a Brain Cell w/ another Strap Wrap; and a Shop Bag (Steel). Accessories: Bunches and bunches.
    Wanted: Zephyr or Empire Builder.
    " ...all [that] you have to depend on is yourself and your luggage." - The Luggage Salesman (Joe Versus the Volcano)

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