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  1. #1
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    Is the Empire Builder the Right Bag for Me?

    Greetings all:
    The following bags are in my Tom Bihn arsenal:
    Black/Black/Steel Ristretto for 13" MBP
    Black/Black/Steel Imago
    Black/Iberian Aeronaut
    with packing cubes and numerous pouches and a cache.

    I am a teacher and trying to carry all of my grading, books, and laptop is a tight squeeze in my Imago. Granted, I could stop assigning work and never grade anything, but a teacher's life is not as so.

    I'm planning on adding a new bag devoted solely to the carrying of my teaching essentials--a stack of papers for grading, my pens/highlighters/sticky notes/etc, my notebook, my lesson planner, a teaching book or two, and my MPB with charger.

    I've been looking at the EB and was wondering if that is the right bag for me. If you have any suggestions, comments, thoughts, experiences with the EB or another bag you think would solve my carrying woes, let me know.

    Thanks all!

    tm

  2. #2
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    The Empire Builder was my first TB acquisition. It's also my least used bag at the moment. For many people I'd say it's larger than they'd need as a daily laptop bag - there's so much more space than laptop/brain cell, if you don't fill the bag it can be a little unbalanced. The Empire Builder comes into its own when combining laptop with large quantities of paperwork. I've also used it as an overnight bag for travel - laptop and clothes all in one. It's certainly more professional looking than most backpacks, but you get into the ergonomics of carrying the weight of a laptop and paperwork over a single shoulder. If you're going to rely on public transportation for commuting, perhaps a Brain Bag would be more appropriate.

  3. #3
    mjb
    mjb is offline
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    I love my Empire Builder. Here's what I carry in it:

    - 11" MacBook Air (in a Cache)
    - portable printer (about 12" x 7" x 2")
    - pouch w/ power adapters, other supplies
    - various file folders, papers, envelopes -- varies, but bigger than a ream of paper
    - notepads, pens, etc.
    - a couple of pouches w/ office supplies (paperclips, rubber bands, small stapler, etc)
    - portable hard drive
    - iPod
    - tissues, earbuds, other small stuff

    The biggest benefit to me is the foam structure -- the printer doesn't have its own sleeve, so the bag itself provides good protection on planes, on the bus, etc. I travel a lot, so this is really important to me.

    Loaded down, it's definitely a bear with just the Absolute strap, but not unreasonable to deal with over short distances.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by teacherman View Post
    Greetings all:
    I am a teacher and trying to carry all of my grading, books, and laptop is a tight squeeze in my Imago. Granted, I could stop assigning work and never grade anything, but a teacher's life is not as so.

    I'm planning on adding a new bag devoted solely to the carrying of my teaching essentials--a stack of papers for grading, my pens/highlighters/sticky notes/etc, my notebook, my lesson planner, a teaching book or two, and my MPB with charger.

    I've been looking at the EB and was wondering if that is the right bag for me. If you have any suggestions, comments, thoughts, experiences with the EB or another bag you think would solve my carrying woes, let me know.

    Thanks all!

    tm
    Hi,

    Try taking a look at the quote from Iceblink in my post on Practical Hacks Reviews the Absolute Strap and click on the arrow beside his name to read the original post. Be sure that you use this bag with an Absolute Strap. There's also a smaller version of the Empire Builder called the Zephyr. Look at the first and second posts by Zasky to compare the two.

    moriond

  5. #5
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    I have both the E.B. and Super Ego and I switch between them constantly depending on what I carry and where I am going.

    As you have found with the Imago you can only fill it till its full and then what?
    So I gave it to my Dad who is a Teacher.....Ha!

    I don't see the problem having extra space in a bag compared with having too little?
    The E.B. is great and flexible and I like that the space in it is structured and has a rigid form to it. There are also the dividers in it that could come in handy I would think to keep your various papers more organized and the structure will help keep everything clean and pristine where in the S.E. papers can get bent and floded more easily.
    The E.B. will also sit upright ad not fall over usually which can be a nice touch.

    The S.E. is more loose and less structured and sometimes I prefer that.

    There are also smaller versions of both bags to consider.

    Either way I can not imagine being unhappy with any of the 4 bags here and when I need to carry more I am glad it is as huge inside as it is.

    Ed

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    I don't see the problem having extra space in a bag compared with having too little?
    The E.B. is great and flexible and I like that the space in it is structured and has a rigid form to it. There are also the dividers in it that could come in handy I would think to keep your various papers more organized and the structure will help keep everything clean and pristine where in the S.E. papers can get bent and floded more easily.
    The E.B. will also sit upright ad not fall over usually which can be a nice touch.
    Either way I can not imagine being unhappy with any of the 4 bags here and when I need to carry more I am glad it is as huge inside as it is.

    Ed
    Hi Ed and Others,

    I didn't mention this in my post, but the Empire Builder is the first of my acquired Tom Bihn bags that I sold, and it was actually based on the experience of trying to carry it around on a trip to China (nod to teacherman). However, the issue was that the proportions of the bag didn't work out so well for me compared to other bags because of my height (5'4"). I found that with a moderately loaded bag, even with the Absolute Strap, it was too bulky (not too heavy) to work well as an easy carry -- the width made the balance point feel off. I suspect that may not be a factor if you're even a few inches taller than I am, and the organizational features of the EB are very nice, especially with a Horizontal Freudian Slip. This was a couple of years before they designed the smaller Zephyr. It probably won't be a factor in teacherman's evaluation, but this is one of the reasons I added links to the comparison discussion of the Empire Builder and Zephyr. Today I'd probably use my Synapse instead for a similar situation.

    moriond

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Hi Ed and Others,

    I didn't mention this in my post, but the Empire Builder is the first of my acquired Tom Bihn bags that I sold, and it was actually based on the experience of trying to carry it around on a trip to China (nod to teacherman). However, the issue was that the proportions of the bag didn't work out so well for me compared to other bags because of my height (5'4"). I found that with a moderately loaded bag, even with the Absolute Strap, it was too bulky (not too heavy) to work well as an easy carry -- the width made the balance point feel off. I suspect that may not be a factor if you're even a few inches taller than I am, and the organizational features of the EB are very nice, especially with a Horizontal Freudian Slip. This was a couple of years before they designed the smaller Zephyr. It probably won't be a factor in teacherman's evaluation, but this is one of the reasons I added links to the comparison discussion of the Empire Builder and Zephyr. Today I'd probably use my Synapse instead for a similar situation.

    moriond
    I hear you the E.B. is a larger bag,not an issue for me but maybe the smaller version is more manageable?
    What I really like about both the E.B. and S.E. is that they can be lightly loaded or carry 3 computers and loads of other stuff but always stay composed as long as I can pick them up!
    Just can not go wrong with either.

    What shocked me though was just how little the Imago could carry compared to them. I just could not get close to what I need to in the Imago.
    Somehow though my father like it and he used to lug around huge shopping bag sized canvas totes full of papers and books before?

    Ah....Too many bags,too little time


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