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Thread: Super Ego vs. Brain Bag

  1. #1
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    Super Ego vs. Brain Bag

    Hello everyone,

    I'm ready to buy my first Tom Bihn bag, and I'd like your opinion as I try to decide between the Super Ego and the Brain Bag.

    Normally, I'd purchase the Super Ego, as I tend to prefer bags to backpacks. However, I'm concerned about the Super Ego's size and comfort level.

    The Super Ego is so large that I'm worried about purchasing it. Even when worn by taller persons - I'm six feet tall - it seems extraordinarily large. However, I'm also thinking the capacity futureproofs the bag - I couldn't have known three years ago that I'd carry my tablet and a laptop to work each day. Finally, I'm an IT consultant who regularly changes laptops and needs the flexibility to carry whatever I'm assigned by my client.

    I'm also thinking about the comfort level for these large loads. The Absolute strap is well-regarded, but it still seems to be a strain on your back if you're carrying a large amount of "stuff".

    I'm about to purchase the Brain Bag, but I know I'll be thinking about how much I'd prefer the Super Ego if I could address these concerns. Can anyone talk me out of the Brain Bag - or is the Brain Bag the better choice? I'd actually be happy with either one, but I'd welcome your opinions.

    Thank you for your help!

    Ted

  2. #2
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Welcome, Ted!

    Could you share with us your packing list? You're carrying a laptop and a tablet and what else?

    A backpack is always going to be more comfortable, period, because it distributes the weight evenly across across your back and shoulders. I (a 5'4" woman) carried a pretty hugely loaded Brain Bag on a walk in the snow yesterday and was amazed (as I am over and over again) by how comfortable it was.

    That said, the Absolute Strap is pretty amazing, and I've talked with several customers who happily carry some pretty heavy loads in the Super Ego, using the Absolute Strap.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    I'm a recent covert from messenger bag to two strap backpack and I'll never go back to a one shoulder bag! I wore my messenger bag just yesterday because I had a smaller load to carry and my shoulder tensed up right away. So I vote Brain Bag. Like Darcy says, a backpack is always going to be more comfortable to carry. In the end, though, go with your gut. If you're not backpack person, go with the Super Ego.

  4. #4
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    I think the Brain Bag is the way to go. I have a Super Ego with an Absolute strap which I love, and which is lucky because I have a huge laptop and the Super Ego is the only bag large enough for my Brain Cell. However, I don't think I'd want to carry two (or more) laptops in it, which it seems you might have to do as an IT guy. It sounds like you'll be using your bag mostly for work. I don't have a Brain Bag but from what I've seen it can comfortably fit alot - and the IT guys I know always have alot of stuff. Check out this Brain Bag review:

    Tom Bihn "Brain Bag" Laptop Bag Review

    And for carrying all those hard drives, USB drives, cables etc etc you might also think about a Snake Charmer - or even one of the packing cubes. I saw a great video with a guy packing a bunch of audio equipment for SXSW into a packing cube.
    Darcy and backpack like this.

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    I have a SE which is my main daily bag despite many,many other bags attempting to displace it.

    I also have 3 Brain Bag' and I use them mainly for hauling ginormous loads around all over the country but rarely really wear them as a Backpack.
    I am just not a Backpack person but I keep trying anyway. The BB is an amazing bag but not the easiest for daily in and out of the tools I use throughout a day. The problem I think is that the BB is more vertical and so anything packed above the computer will have to come out to get to the computer under it.

    I have carried the same crazy load of a 17" MBP in Brain Cell,Toughbook CF 30 and iPad or 13" MBP many times in both bags and in the SE I can easily work everything in and out without disturbing anything else. Along with assorted packing cubes and endless accessories I always have room in the SE for more and can easily access it all.

    The SE is a lot tougher to carry when loaded but also a lot easier to use as a work tool to me.

    Free advice and worth what you paid for it.

    Ed
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  6. #6
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    I have a friend who is an IT guy with a SE... He introduced me to my Tom Bihn addiction. I have been able to compare them both side by side, and either one will meet your large volume carrying needs.

    Having said that, I have to vote for the brain bag as well. For me, lugging large loads in a shoulder/messenger has become far too uncomfortable. I also like the flexibility of the BB. Between cinch straps and add on pouches/organizers, I can configure it for whatever I am doing.

    Hope that helps!
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    Like AVService, I have 3 Brain Bags, I bought the first one to carry 2 laptops (iBooks), associated accessories and external hard drives (regular size, not mini).

    Needless to say, that was an heavy load but the Brain Bag and associated Tom Bihn protective cases made it a breeze to get through airport security.

    That first West to East U.S coast trip and other subsequent trips with a Brain Bag have defined the expression "molds to one's body with ease and comfort", whether by plane, train, bus or car it is a joy to use.

    Fully loaded (for me around 40 pounds), I can run to catch a plane or walk briskly inside a train/metro/bus station or load/unload a Brain Bag fairly fast after a long car trip.

    I am a 5'7' woman, the Brain Bag fits me perfectly.

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    Wow, no love for the Super Ego

    Alright then, I am a 6'1" IT drone and I prefer the SE. I think that the courier bag is much more convenient to maneuver on my daily commute and when I am visiting sites. As for capacity, I have carried two laptops (one inside a brain cell, one without) + cables and a backup drive along with my regular gear with no issues. The heaviest I have packed my bag was carrying my full toolkit (PC and network tools) along with laptop and accessories. It was heavy, but manageable and I did not injure myself. The SE has taken everything I have thrown at it and been comfortable to carry with the Absolute Strap.

    The only downside to the courier style bag is that my work pants get worn down on the side I carry my bag. However, that has been true with every bag I have owned and it is not any worse with the SE that is has been with other styles.

    I say that if you don't like backpacks, there is no need for a Bran Bag. A Super Ego should be able to carry everything you need for day to day work.

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    I am pretty sure that I also plugged for the SE over the BB?

    I certainly meant to.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedBeard View Post
    Wow, no love for the Super Ego

    Alright then, I am a 6'1" IT drone and I prefer the SE. I think that the courier bag is much more convenient to maneuver on my daily commute and when I am visiting sites. As for capacity, I have carried two laptops (one inside a brain cell, one without) + cables and a backup drive along with my regular gear with no issues. The heaviest I have packed my bag was carrying my full toolkit (PC and network tools) along with laptop and accessories. It was heavy, but manageable and I did not injure myself. The SE has taken everything I have thrown at it and been comfortable to carry with the Absolute Strap.

    The only downside to the courier style bag is that my work pants get worn down on the side I carry my bag. However, that has been true with every bag I have owned and it is not any worse with the SE that is has been with other styles.

    I say that if you don't like backpacks, there is no need for a Bran Bag. A Super Ego should be able to carry everything you need for day to day work.

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    Hi everyone--

    I greatly appreciate all of the thoughtful responses, and they've led me to conclude I'm going to order the Brain Bag. Thank you for your help!

    Ted

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    I'm chiming in very late on this thread, and I'm sure the OP has purchased his product and is hopefully happy with his decision.

    Just one point about backpacks versus briefcases or messenger bags. As I've said on another thread, I run a clinic in Austin doing exercise-based postural therapy, working with people in pain. One of the biggest culprits is limited or repetitive motion that leads to distortions in our postural balance and position, which then leads the body to become increasingly dysfunctional and from there, symptomatic. Messenger bags and briefcases do your body no favors if habitually worn over the same shoulder. They aren't destructive, per se. Your body is absolutely designed to carry such a load. The problem is when you carry the same load on the same one shoulder day after day, for years.This will lead to a host of issues, such as the shoulder blade, spinal muscles and hip on that side becoming tighter and more habitually contracted than the ones on the other side. Our bodies are designed to be symmetrical, but if we habitually feed them motion demand with a left/right imbalance, we're asking for trouble.

    So if you have a messenger bag or briefcase, vary which side of your body you carry it on. Do NOT carry it consistently on the same shoulder every day. One thing I did when carrying a briefcase with a shoulder strap was to carry it on one shoulder on the way into my clinic, and the other shoulder on the way out.

    Hope that's of help to someone.

  12. #12
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    (So if you have a messenger bag or briefcase, vary which side of your body you carry it on. Do NOT carry it consistently on the same shoulder every day. One thing I did when carrying a briefcase with a shoulder strap was to carry it on one shoulder on the way into my clinic, and the other shoulder on the way out.)
    Hi Conejo23:

    I really appreciate your advice. I have been using a messenger bag for some time, always carry it on my right, but based on your comments I should vary which shoulder. Lately, I have to carry a lot with me and I am seriously thinking about the Brain Bag or Synapse or both and try each out. A back pack may be more comfortable. Thanks again for helping me realize my right shoulder may be paying a price for always carrying heavy stuff on that side.

    Marcus

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    Marcus, you're most welcome.

    But I want to make something really clear. It's not just your shoulder that pays the price. Do an experiment. Anyone who routine carries a bag on one side that has a reasonable amount of weight can do this. Stand up, preferably barefoot but shoes are ok. Without holding onto anything, close your eyes and just notice where your weight is. What is tight? What is relaxed? Is your weight centered? How do the muscles in your back feel? Now, put the pack on with its normal load. Stand there and close your eyes again. What has changed? What just happened with your weight distribution? Is it still even right versus left? I'll bet it isn't. On the side you're carrying your bag, what just happened to the muscles in your back and your hip, did they tighten up a bit?

    Your entire body responds and reacts to stimulus. Here's an example. I had a client with left knee pain. Was a runner but had to stop running because the knee was hurting. After putting them through a full diagnostic workup, here's the long story made short. They consistently carried a heavy bag on their right shoulder. They traveled a lot so would carry it through airports, as well as their every day carry. In response, the right shoulder got tight, but so did the muscles on the right side of their spine, as well as their right hip. As those muscles tightened up, it pulled the right hip up and forward, so if you looked at them from a straight on view, their right hip would look higher than the left, and it would be closer to you than the left. In this position, the right hip could not efficiently take weight, it began to feel unstable to the client because it was out of position. So what did they do? They shifted stabilization work to the left side, unconsciously. I put a pen on the floor and asked them to pick it up. They pushed off with their left leg. When they would just stand and talk, they'd shift weight onto that left side, and so on. Over time, the left side got tighter and tighter and that mispositioned the left femur (the big thighbone), which mispositioned the knee, and voilą, knee pain.

    We had them switch to a backpack so that on a daily basis they were presenting a more musculo-skeletally balanced load to their body, then gave them corrective exercises to put everything back where it's supposed to be, and they were running again a few weeks later, pain free.

    Look for ways to vary the motion in your daily routine. Change up where you park, change what shoulder you carry stuff on, or in what hand. Change up which leg you push off of to get out of the car. If you take neighborhood walks on sidewalks, change up which side of the street you walk on (many areas slope sidewalks towards the street for drainage, so if you always walk on the left side of the street your right side will always be lower than your left while walking), and so on. The more motion you can feed your body, and just as importantly, the more VARIETY of motion you can present your body, the better.

  14. #14
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    Oh conejo! You have made my day with this post! My coworkers will make fun of me when we travel by plane and are doing long hikes through the airport because I carry a backpack. My response is always that carrying a shoulder bag makes me ache and the backpack distributes the weight evenly so I don't feel it. They laugh and say I look like a college kid, not a professional. (Just because I am using a backpack, not the color/style of it). I am going to print out your response and show them! I knew I was doing something right all these years.

  15. #15
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    Right on, darbs. ALWAYS trust your instincts, your body knows.

    Keep on truckin', with your backpack!

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