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Thread: Decisions, decisions - laptop bag

  1. #1
    ceb
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    Decisions, decisions - laptop bag

    OK, I have a TriStar, Aeronaut and a RedOxx CPA (for my go-kit as two eBags large packing cubes fit nicely). I have a brain cell (the small one #5) for my laptop that I normally strap into my TriStar for normal travel.

    The TriStar works great most of the time but it is a bit large for EDC. I really dislike messenger bags as I hate having to open the flap to get to everything but an Empire Builder or Zephyr would be OK. I'm leaning a bit towards the western Flyer.

    OK, so this will go into the case:

    12.5 inch laptop - either in a sleeve or in the brain cell.
    Charger for laptop (probably one of the new iGo chargers - a little wider but thinner than most)
    4 cell chargers
    Handful of file folders - maybe 3/4-1" of files
    Monster Cable Outlets-to-go power strip
    1 Satellite phone
    1 large'ish cell phone
    Blackberry Playbook in an Otterbox case
    iGo int'l plug converter

    I also hate, hate, hate backpacks.

    Any ideas?
    Last edited by ceb; 02-11-2013 at 07:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceb View Post
    OK, I have a TriStar, Aeronaut and a RedOxx CPA (for my go-kit as two eBags large packing cubes fit nicely). I have a brain cell (the small one #5) for my laptop that I normally strap into my TriStar for normal travel.

    The TriStar works great most of the time but it is a bit large for EDC. I really dislike messenger bags as I hate having to open the flap to get to everything but an Empire Builder or Zephyr would be OK. I'm leaning a bit towards the western Flyer.

    OK, so this will go into the case:

    12.5 inch laptop - either in a sleeve or in the brain cell.
    Charger for laptop (probably one of the new iGo chargers - a little wider but thinner than most)
    4 cell chargers
    Handful of file folders - maybe 3/4-1" of files
    Monster Cable Outlets-to-go power strip
    1 Satellite phone
    1 large'ish cell phone
    Blackberry Playbook in an Otterbox case
    iGo int'l plug converter

    I also hate, hate, hate backpacks.

    Any ideas?

    CEB,

    I too have a Tri-Star, but I don't use it for EDC. The Western Flyer looks OK, but I can't justify buying it when the Tri-Star is essentially the same design only slightly bigger.

    I have been carrying the ID "messenger bag" (black/black/crimson) for several years now and I really like it. You have a similar load to what I typically carry, so everything should fit. The ID has excellent organization without being so big like the Empire Builder or Zephyr. I have a very large brain cell (size 3S) in the ID and I still would have room for the files you describe. So if you're OK with opening a flap to access the bag, the ID might be a good solution for you.

    Ironically, I am actually changing to a Smart Alec in the next few weeks - although not because of any deficiencies in the ID bag. My bag requirements have changed slightly since I got a new job last year, so a backpack actually makes more sense for me right now. You will likely see my ID bag up on EBay within the next month.


    Ryan

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    @ceb - The 15/13 Cadet might work without the Cache or Brain Cell - the front, back and base are padded, but the sides are not. The Western Flyer (which I use in conjunction with the Cadet on everything but the shortest trips) is a big step-up volume-wise - pretty much double the Cadet. If all you're carrying is the packing list above, I'd say the WF would be too much. Leave the 3/4-1" of file folders behind and I dare say the 15/13 Cadet with 13" MBP Cache would fit the remainder of your packing list.

    Stepping up from the Cadet, you'd probably be looking at the Checkpoint Flyer or the Zephyr. When I wanted to downsize from my Empire Builder, I called Customer Service. My chief considerations were empty bag weight and dimensions - I wanted something significantly smaller for ease of storing underseat in aircraft.

    Beau told me that the Zephyr wouldn't buy me much, as it's not that much smaller or lighter than the EB. He measured the interior of the Cadet and the 15" MBP Cache, as well as the laptop compartment in the Checkpoint Flyer. I use a 14" Lenovo T410 with extended battery, which makes it narrower but taller than the 15" MBP. I would have had to go with the 17" MBP variant of the Checkpoint Flyer, though, and I ruled it out for my needs. The dimensions of the Cadet/Cache were close enough, so I went with that and I've been very happy with it.
    Last edited by lotuseater; 02-12-2013 at 12:58 PM. Reason: typo
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    ceb
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    Quote Originally Posted by lotuseater View Post
    @ceb - The 15/13 Cadet might work without the Cache or Brain Cell - the front, back and base are padded, but the sides are not. The Western Flyer (which I use in conjunction with the Cadet on everything but the shortest trips) is a big step-up volume-wise - pretty much double the Cadet. If all you're carrying is the packing list above, I'd say the WF would be too much. Leave the 3/4-1" of file folders behind and I dare say the 15/13 Cadet with 13" MBP Cache would fit the remainder of your packing list.

    Stepping up from the Cadet, you'd probably be looking at the Checkpoint Flyer or the Zephyr. When I wanted to downsize from my Empire Builder, I called Customer Service. My chief considerations were empty bag weight and dimensions - I wanted something significantly smaller for ease of storing underseat in aircraft.

    Beau told me that the Zephyr wouldn't buy me much, as it's not that much smaller or lighter than the EB. He measured the interior of the Cadet and the 15" MBP Cache, as well as the laptop compartment in the Checkpoint Flyer. I use a 14" Lenovo T410 with extended battery, which makes it narrower but taller than the 15" MBP. I would have had to go with the 17" MBP variant of the Checkpoint Flyer, though, and I ruled it out for my needs. The dimensions of the Cadet/Cache were close enough, so I went with that and I've been very happy with it.
    I have mixed feelings about the checkpoint flyer. I haven't seen one in person but it seems to me that trying to feed the handle through the front flap at the checkpoint is more unwieldy than stuffing a laptop in a sleeve back into the top opening of a non-messenger style bag.

    Hit me up about the ID before you put it on eBay, but I haven't found a messenger yet that I really like, but my wife would like it.

    While I don't usually drag along a bunch of papers, I do want a bag that I can put the papers in when I go to a meeting and have a ton of handouts.

    I'm thinking of selling my Aeronaut as I don't find it that much larger than the the TriStar so I think the question is Zephyr, Empire Builder or Western Flyer. The adet is nice but it doesn't have room for papers.

    I'd also like to see a bag that has pockets on the end for power supplies. I'm always afraid that somebody will jam a bag into the overhead that will squish my power brick right into my screen through the lid. One end pocket could hold the brick and the other end pocket could hold the phone chargers and cords - it would be wider and slimmer than most cases and would protect better.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceb View Post
    The TriStar works great most of the time but it is a bit large for EDC. I really dislike messenger bags as I hate having to open the flap to get to everything but an Empire Builder or Zephyr would be OK. I'm leaning a bit towards the western Flyer.
    I have a similar load in an Ego - which although a messenger style in appearance, does have a top loading (no flap) main section for computer and files etc. The side front zipped pockets are accessible without lifting the flap, as are the side small open pockets (for pens etc).

    If you would like a less 'suitcasey" look, it might be worth considering.
    List under construction ....

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    I think the Zephyr sounds ideal based on my long time use of both an Empire Builder and Super Ego along with the points you listed as needs for you.

    The front pocket is plenty big enough to hold all of the random things you need and if using the dividers in the main compartment no power supplies will end up poking anything either. A divider against the wall between the main compartment and the front will protect the main compartment from intrusion from the front.

    The bags are deceptive in their ability to hold more than you want to carry when needed but carry less than full well too which is the kind of flexibility I require for an every day carry sort of bag.

    I would always rather have room I do not need more than I want more room than I have so I would rule out the Cadet and Checkpoint I think in favor of the bag I know will carry a little more than I will.

    I have used the EB many times as an overnight bag and more but it is not too big to feel silly when nearly empty either.

    I love my Tri-Star but it is just not my idea of an EDC nor is its smaller brother the WF.

    The other bag I find indispensable that would also carry your stuff is the Synapse. Maybe not really want you are looking for but I think this is the single Bihn Bag everyone should own!
    It IS just that good! And I hate backpacks too!

    Ed
    Last edited by AVService; 02-12-2013 at 06:41 PM.

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    Registered User TavaPeak's Avatar
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    Another vote for the Zephyr. It's the TB bag I use the most for work and teaching. The hard plastic dividers in the main section function very well to keep things sectioned according to what works for you. They provide some protection between items.

    However, the Synapse would be a smaller option. I also hate backpacks, but it's a beauty.

  8. #8
    ceb
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    Quote Originally Posted by daisy View Post
    I have a similar load in an Ego - which although a messenger style in appearance, does have a top loading (no flap) main section for computer and files etc. The side front zipped pockets are accessible without lifting the flap, as are the side small open pockets (for pens etc).

    If you would like a less 'suitcasey" look, it might be worth considering.
    Interesting idea because it does remove the negative of a messenger - the need to always open the flap. I hadn't realized that the Ego was like that - there are no photos of the main compartment

    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    I think the Zephyr sounds ideal based on my long time use of both an Empire Builder and Super Ego along with the points you listed as needs for you.

    The front pocket is plenty big enough to hold all of the random things you need and if using the dividers in the main compartment no power supplies will end up poking anything either. A divider against the wall between the main compartment and the front will protect the main compartment from intrusion from the front.

    The bags are deceptive in their ability to hold more than you want to carry when needed but carry less than full well too which is the kind of flexibility I require for an every day carry sort of bag.

    I would always rather have room I do not need more than I want more room than I have so I would rule out the Cadet and Checkpoint I think in favor of the bag I know will carry a little more than I will.

    I have used the EB many times as an overnight bag and more but it is not too big to feel silly when nearly empty either.

    I love my Tri-Star but it is just not my idea of an EDC nor is its smaller brother the WF.

    The other bag I find indispensable that would also carry your stuff is the Synapse. Maybe not really want you are looking for but I think this is the single Bihn Bag everyone should own!
    It IS just that good! And I hate backpacks too!

    Ed
    Thanks. Everybody seems to like the Synapse (and you can never have enough bags) but the Zephyr is heading to the top of my list now.


    Quote Originally Posted by TavaPeak View Post
    Another vote for the Zephyr. It's the TB bag I use the most for work and teaching. The hard plastic dividers in the main section function very well to keep things sectioned according to what works for you. They provide some protection between items.

    However, the Synapse would be a smaller option. I also hate backpacks, but it's a beauty.
    Yeah, those hard dividers are interesting. One can always do something similar in any bag but having it come that way is an advantage.

    Maybe I'll sell the Aeronaut AND the TriStar and go for a WF and a Zephyr... and a Synapse and an Ego of course...

    Sheesh. What an attempt to separate me from my hard earned cash.

    Thanks all. You have made my desision easier - I'll just buy one of each. - my lovely wife is
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

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    Registered User daisy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceb View Post
    Interesting idea because it does remove the negative of a messenger - the need to always open the flap. I hadn't realized that the Ego was like that - there are no photos of the main compartment
    I've just posted an image of mine taken from the top with the zip open
    In the photos forum HERE
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    ceb
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    Wow! Thanks so much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceb View Post
    Maybe I'll sell the Aeronaut AND the TriStar and go for a WF and a Zephyr... and a Synapse and an Ego of course...

    Sheesh. What an attempt to separate me from my hard earned cash.

    Thanks all. You have made my desision easier - I'll just buy one of each. - my lovely wife is
    No, no, no - that just won't do. Don't get seller's remorse and wind up buying newer and more expensive variants of the Aeronaut and Tri-Star As for the new acquisitions - get the pain over and done with once, rather than stringing it out over months or years. I can't tell you how many hours I've squandered reading the reviews and mulling over whether I should get this model or that. Looking back over the last 3 1/2 years I think I would have been smarter to order multiple bags at once, and figure out which fit my needs. Of course, then Tom goes and introduces a new or updated model and that throws my entire hypothesis out of the window...
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  12. #12
    ceb
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    Slightly new strategy. I'll be adding a 11x17 packing cube sized bag so I guess I'm doing the WF.

    Now, the color choices. Up to a few weeks ago I would have definitively said black (I wear a suit every day - almost always dark, often black or charcoal) so it needs to fit in but I'm intrigued by the lighter dyneema and the checkered pattern somehow seems like a pajama material. I haven't seen the steel dyneema exterior in person - can I pull it off with a dark suit or will it look like something I borrowed from my kid?
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    I love the new 400d Dyneema cloths, but with a dark business suit? No, I don't think so. On the other hand, it seems to me that to seek out a great company like Tom Bihn and then to select a bag that looks the same as every other company too lazy or penny-pinching to source, let alone have custom dyed, coloured fabrics is a shame. Even the humble steel, is 100 times more vibrant and alive that same-old-black. Ok, some of the more lively shades might be a bridge too far, but try not to be too conservative.
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  14. #14
    ceb
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    Good idea. Steel or navy should work.
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