Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 25
Like Tree5Likes

Thread: Some questions please to help me narrow down the right bag

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    50

    Some questions please to help me narrow down the right bag

    Hey all,

    So i've done a lot of research of various bags and i've decided that Tom Bihn is the way to go.

    Problem is i'm having trouble finding the perfect bag from the lineup for me. First off I have a couple of very specific questions, then after that i'd like to describe the "perfect" bag for me and see what people might suggest.

    So some questions:
    • What bags are capable of holding BOTH a BrainCell for a 15" MBP Retina, AND a Camera I-O?
    • Can the Empire Builder be used with a Q-AM strap?
    • How usable is the Empire Builder when riding on a bike?
    • Is one of the keychain straps accessible on the Empire Builder with one hand? From the looks of it, it looks like you have to open up the flap first to get to the pockets that hold keys. I'm concerned about quick one handed access to my keys and fob.
    • The BrainBag looks like it holds a lot, but has little organization. How does it work out if you only put a few things in it? Looks like it would suffer form everything just piling up in the bottom


    My ideal bag?
    My ideal bag would have lots of pockets that force organization, rather than throwing everything in on pile. It would hold my laptop, iPad, SLR camera, 1 or 2 lenses, and assorted accessories for these items. Ideally it would be the messenger style bag, and would be easy to use both as a pedestrian, and a cyclist, as well as on public transit such as the bus, subway, ferry, and train. It would provide quick, easy access to small vital items such as keys, wallet, passport, etc. Ideally it would be versatile to handle both small everyday loads, and larger weekender loads.

    Right now i'm leaning towards the Empire Builder, but i've not decided yet.

    Thanks in advance to everyone!

  2. #2
    Registered User dnarud13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Vicenza, Italy
    Posts
    94
    The main reason I'd recommend the BB over any briefcase style is for comfort (and health) of extended carry.

    I've never had an EB but I bought my BB about 12 years ago because I quickly discovered the briefcase style laptop carrier that came with it was not good for more than 10-15 lbs for more than a few minutes. I worked at Harborview MedCtr in Seattle at the time and was lugging a 12lb laptop, lunch, clipboard, etc. around town and work. Though I'm a fit 6'/185lbs, the 15-25 lbs. of weight, suspended on one shoulder, was ergonomically a no-go. Any more than occasional carry of weight off center on the spine can lead to repetitive stress issues. Call me a wuss, but within a couple weeks I decided to distribute the weight on both shoulders.

    Enter the BB. The two front/side pockets are surprisingly roomy and have all kinds of pen and card/notepad pockets inside. A Monolith (Vert Braincell) fits in the section against the back and then there's plenty of room in the main compartment for misc. gear (cinch it up for smaller loads). Small packing cubes or a Snake Charmer are great to segregate/organize/stack smaller items in this area. A vert. Freudian Slip goes well in here or in the laptop compartment for further organization.

    Also, a backpack is ideal for riding/walking/hiking (centered weight again), though admittedly – the messenger/briefcase style is more quickly accessible.

    So, it comes down to your priorities. But my recommendation is >10-15lbs = backpack, <10-15 = messenger.
    [2003] Brain Bag (w/Snake Charmer & 3 Monolith/Brain Cells)
    - [2010] Aeronaut (w/Absolute, 1lg/2sm Packing Cubes, Travel Tray & 3D clear cube)
    - - [2013] Co-Pilot (w/ Cache, Clear Org wallet, S.O.S., 3D Clear & mesh cubes, Passport pouch)
    - - - Small dyneema Shopbag
    - - - - Various TB stuff (organizers, straps, whistles, etc.)

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    50
    Quote Originally Posted by dnarud13 View Post
    The main reason I'd recommend the BB over any briefcase style is for comfort (and health) of extended carry.

    I've never had an EB but I bought my BB about 12 years ago because I quickly discovered the briefcase style laptop carrier that came with it was not good for more than 10-15 lbs for more than a few minutes. I worked at Harborview MedCtr in Seattle at the time and was lugging a 12lb laptop, lunch, clipboard, etc. around town and work. Though I'm a fit 6'/185lbs, the 15-25 lbs. of weight, suspended on one shoulder, was ergonomically a no-go. Any more than occasional carry of weight off center on the spine can lead to repetitive stress issues. Call me a wuss, but within a couple weeks I decided to distribute the weight on both shoulders.

    Enter the BB. The two front/side pockets are surprisingly roomy and have all kinds of pen and card/notepad pockets inside. A Monolith (Vert Braincell) fits in the section against the back and then there's plenty of room in the main compartment for misc. gear (cinch it up for smaller loads). Small packing cubes or a Snake Charmer are great to segregate/organize/stack smaller items in this area. A vert. Freudian Slip goes well in here or in the laptop compartment for further organization.

    Also, a backpack is ideal for riding/walking/hiking (centered weight again), though admittedly the messenger/briefcase style is more quickly accessible.

    So, it comes down to your priorities. But my recommendation is >10-15lbs = backpack, <10-15 = messenger.
    Hi dnarud13,

    Thanks for your comments. I presently use a backpack, and while I like the ergonomics of such a carrying method, it falls short in accessibility. I live in downtown Vancouver, BC and walk, bike, bus, train everywhere I go. I carry everything with me, currently in my backpack. The problem though is it is so very hard to actually get to anything in the bag. Pretty much no matter what I need to get at, I have to take the bag off my back, set it down, open it up, and dig through it. I really need the ability to get at things quickly, easily, and preferably with one hand while on the move. The other problem with a backpack is you have to take it off to sit down on the bus/train.

    So i'm hesitant about the BrainBag for those reason, and also because every large backpack i've ever owned suffered from organization. Everything just ends up in a pile at the bottom of the bag.

    I have never owned a messenger style bag, so I may be completely wrong on my assumptions. However, looking at the videos and photos of the ones here, it looks like they have a lot more pockets and compartments that keep things organized and not all in a pile. They look easy to access things on the move.

    I do understand what you say about how you carry that weight though, which is one reason i'm wondering about the Q-AM strap. It looks like that allows you to hitch up the bag and wear it sort of like a backpack when desired.

    Like I said, i'm still trying to figure it all out, and maybe there is no perfect bag. Maybe I just need to make some compromises. But accessibility and mobility are my two priorities right now. I'd even settle for a smaller bag (no camera gear, just laptop, ipad, and a little extra room for "stuff") to get those features.

  4. #4
    Registered User dnarud13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Vicenza, Italy
    Posts
    94
    Ciao JW,

    I understand what you mean. That's why when I was able to downsize my computer (I'm now tablet based), I downsized to a Co-Pilot. I looked at a lot of messenger bags and concluded that I wanted to go with a horizontal rather than a vertical one for the same reason. One has to dig deeper with a vertical. When I need to carry more, I've still got the BB.
    [2003] Brain Bag (w/Snake Charmer & 3 Monolith/Brain Cells)
    - [2010] Aeronaut (w/Absolute, 1lg/2sm Packing Cubes, Travel Tray & 3D clear cube)
    - - [2013] Co-Pilot (w/ Cache, Clear Org wallet, S.O.S., 3D Clear & mesh cubes, Passport pouch)
    - - - Small dyneema Shopbag
    - - - - Various TB stuff (organizers, straps, whistles, etc.)

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    564
    This is a tough one. It is going to be a close decision that will only be settled by personal preference. I have a few thoughts.

    The closest thing I have to a messenger style bag is the Imago. I just can't imagine carrying a laptop messenger style. It just makes my shoulder ache thinking about it. Plus, every time I have put something with heft into the Imago I have been a bit worried about how quickly it swings. The messenger style is good for trying to do a quick draw wild west imitation but when you get bulky heavy items in there the speed at which your bag swings is concerning. Especially with a laptop or camera. Then again, they were designed for bike messengers so maybe I'm just a baby about it.

    One key is the items you want to access quickly. That seems to be your major issue with the backpack style. If you provide a list I can tell you what would work in the brain bag. The BB has some decent organization for it's size so I find it hard to imagine something that couldn't be stored in a way to get easy access to.

    I will say one thing about my Imago and QAM strap. It can be somewhat annoying to fish things out of it when you just try to sling it around. When I release the strap the bag will fall around my belly and I can't get easy access to the inside. It's just too close to me. There are times when I take the strap off my back and put it on the ground so I can fully open the bag and not have my elbows bent trying to fish something out. This probably depends on your body and will differ from person to person. Also, there is no way to get something out of a backpack while on the move so while a messenger bag might be annoying to operate on the move it is at least an option.

    I want to recommend the BB but if you are on the bike and want to get access to your bag then I can't see a backpack working. Messenger style may be the only way to go. It wouldn't seem comfortable to me though.
    Owner of : Imago, Aeronaut, Brain Bag, Smart Alec, Synapse, Co-Pilot

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    50
    Thanks for commenting pretzelb! Let me try to clarify a few things. I appreciate your help.


    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelb View Post
    This is a tough one. It is going to be a close decision that will only be settled by personal preference. I have a few thoughts.

    One key is the items you want to access quickly. That seems to be your major issue with the backpack style. If you provide a list I can tell you what would work in the brain bag. The BB has some decent organization for it's size so I find it hard to imagine something that couldn't be stored in a way to get easy access to.
    The items i'd like easy access to are: Keys on the keychain, wallet, iPhone, travel umbrella (if I can find a bag that holds one well), passport, and water bottle.

    I would like "convenient" access to my iPad, but I am sure this will by necessity be a bit harder than the above items.

    Also to clarify here, I don't foresee the need to have access to these items while riding the bike, or with the bag in "Q-AM Mode" necessarily. I am just trying to avoid how in-accesible items in a backpack are where you need to literally take the backpack off, set it down somewhere, then fish through pockets. If I can access the items I need from a backpack style bag without taking it off, or at the least by unhooking one strap and sort of slinging it around, then that is definitely an option i'd consider. I agree backpacks are a lot more comfortable to carry around.

    Also for those suggesting a BrainBag or similar, can you give some ideas on how to keep things organized in it without it being one big pile of stuff at the bottom of the bag? Also how well do these larger backpacks hold up if in day to day use I only fill maybe half or less of the bag?

    I've been trying to clarify my requirements with myself as well, to make my decision easier. I am trying to come up with a list of items I would plan to put in the bag, both on a day to day basis, as well as a more expanded usage for hikes, daytrips, and overnights. This is what i've come up with:

    Day to Day usage.
    Essentially back and forth between work and home. This is just a short 15 minute walk at the moment, but if I move it might become a longer walk with possible subway/bus usage.
    15" Macbook Pro Retina, charger
    iPad, apple bluetooth keyboard
    iPhone, keys, wallet, travel umbrella
    lunchbox, waterbottle
    extra room for misc items depending on the day, such as a book or two, papers, etc. Really just general storage for any misc items I might need since I don't have a car.

    Day trips
    It would be nice to be able to hold additional items for day trips, but these are more "nice to have" things, and may require me to own a different bag. The day to day use is the more important priority
    15" Macbook Pro Retina, charger, mouse, superdrive
    iPad, apple bluetooth keyboard
    iPhone, keys, wallet, travel umbrella
    lunchbox, waterbottle
    Would be nice to have a bag capable of carrying an SLR body and one or two lenses if possible for daytrips and hikes.

  7. #7
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    304
    I bike, walk, and take public transportation everywhere and will never go back to a messenger bag. Look at bike messengers nowadays--- a growing percentage use backpacks (probably as their shoulders start to give out, like mine did!) The comfort of carry far outweighs the ability to access your things without taking the bag off. I use a Synapse 19 most days. Without taking the bag off completely (slipping my left arm from the strap), I can access my phone in the side pocket and my wallet and bus card. I have my bus card in a pocket pouch attached to the key strap. As for keys, if they're not in my pocket, I hook them to the hydration S hook on the right backpack strap.

    I don't know if the camera I/O will fit, but have you considered the new larger Synapse? They are a marvel of organization.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    50
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocks View Post
    I use a Synapse 19 most days. Without taking the bag off completely (slipping my left arm from the strap), I can access my phone in the side pocket and my wallet and bus card.
    And this may be the compromise that I make. If I can get access to the most needed things without completely taking the backpack off, then I can live with that.

    I notice that the Synapse 25 uses a new form of laptop case, not the braincell, but something new that looks like it offers LESS protection. That is a little worrisome.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    2,787
    The laptop case is a Cache, it is very strong and very lightweight, a marvel of technology.

    The Cache is TSA compatible.


    Since you live in Vancouver and have a passport, maybe you could come visit Tom Bihn Inc factory store?

    I can assure you that it will be fun!

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    50
    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    The laptop case is a Cache, it is very strong and very lightweight, a marvel of technology.

    The Cache is TSA compatible.


    Since you live in Vancouver and have a passport, maybe you could come visit Tom Bihn Inc factory store?

    I can assure you that it will be fun!
    You know that might not be a bad idea, and seeing the bags might help me finally make a decision.

    I could take Amtrak down to Seattle. Wonder how close to the train station they are...

  11. #11
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Badger State
    Posts
    1,459
    I agree with Rocks—given the load you describe, the Synapse 25 sounds like a good bet for you. I imagine you could cram a vertical Brain Cell in there, but it would take up a lot of real estate inside the bag.

    What are you carrying your laptop in now? Chances are that the Cache with rails system offers the same amount of protection. TBH, I've always thought the Brain Cell was kind of overkill unless you're in situations where your computer could be damaged whilst in transit. I carry my laptop in a pretty flimsy case inside my Synapse and it's certainly fallen off the table or out of the car onto the ground, but nothing has been broken. The Cache is certainly better than the case I use in terms of padding and protection.

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    50
    I don't actually have the laptop yet. I'm buying it in about a month. This will be my first laptop, and I just want to make sure it is treated right.

    The Synapse 25 does intrigue me. Do those side pockets have o-rings for attaching the keychain or small organizers? Can you access those side pockets by simply slipping out of one strap and slinging the bag around to the front? IE not taking it all the way off.

  13. #13
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Badger State
    Posts
    1,459
    There are o-rings inside the side pockets of my 19, and I'm sure they are inside the 25 as well. If you look through the TB flickr pool, you'll see a picture of GeoCycle (Jon) using the 19 in just the way you describe. I can access the pocket zipper with one hand.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    50
    I can't find the picture, but i'll take your word for it. If you have a link the individual photo that'd be great.

    Right now though, thanks to all your help, i'm very heavily leaning towards pre-ordering the Synapse 25.

  15. #15
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Badger State
    Posts
    1,459
    Unfortunately, I don't have a link or the time to go searching. I tried to take a picture of myself doing it, but it looked really weird so I thought I'd spare you. Definitely take my word for it. The Synapse is my favorite TB bag and I really hope it pleases you as well.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0