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Thread: Desire says Brain Bag; Common Sense says Smart Alec

  1. #1
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    Desire says Brain Bag; Common Sense says Smart Alec

    Just purchased a 13" Macbook Pro Retina and want a good backpack for everyday commuting and occasional traveling. I will also carry an Ipad Mini, on-ear headphones, glasses, sunglasses, Nintendo 3DS XL (I'm a Luigi fan) and work documents. Based on everything I can find about the Smart Alec, it appears to be the right size for everything. However I just can't pull the trigger because I am so impressed with the Brain Bag styling. I'm concerned that if I use the Brain Bag it will be cavernous and difficult to find equipment quickly. Someone familiar with the bags, please give your opinion as to which would be the best option. Also, would including a Freudian Slip and Verticle Brain Cell make the Brain Bag more managable? Look forward to getting some great insights.

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    Registered User dnarud13's Avatar
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    I have a BB with Brain Cell and Snake Charmer that I've used and loved for edc for 12 years. With a couple 3D Cubes, I've never had a problem with 'losing stuff at the bottom'. When it came time for a weekend trip, it would swallow the clothes, shoes and stuff for that also.

    I had considered getting the SA at the time, but felt the external pockets of the BB allowed for more organization, and the cinch straps would keep better structure on smaller loads. (With all respect to my TB bretheren, I'm sure it's as awesome as all things TB, but the SA always looked like big sack with shoulder straps to me.)

    Now, having said that... I got the BB to lug around a 12lb laptop with it's 3lb brick. Todays tech is so much smaller and lighter that the BB is rather overkill. I now use it for day hikes to carry 5 peoples stuff and business trips when I'm taking the office laptop. (new edc is a Co-Pilot!) To tell you the truth, I'm thinking that one of the Synapse's is more in line with what you want. I've never had one, but the size sounds right for your loadout.

    But if you really think you would need the extra space, than the BB will do ya.

    I'm sure someone with an SA will chime in with some salient points for you to consider...
    [2003] Brain Bag (w/Snake Charmer & 3 Monolith/Brain Cells)
    - [2010] Aeronaut (w/Absolute, 1lg/2sm Packing Cubes, Travel Tray & 3D clear cube)
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    - - - Small dyneema Shopbag
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    I have both. I use the BB the most. The best thing about the BB is that you can cinch down the sides. If it's just carrying a laptop, you can really squish the bag down and have a slim profile. The SA on the other hand will always look/feel loaded. If I don't completely fill up the SA and just carry a book inside, the book will rattle around and it's not very pleasant. Since it's basically like a bucket type backpack, it doesn't slim down as nicely. I tried to tie the cords down to squish it up, but it's just not the same. Whenever I travel, I use the BB. The BB can expand and collapse as you need it to. It's not a good day pack (walks around the park), but it's fantastic for travel and to use as a work bag.

  4. #4
    Registered User cucciasv's Avatar
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    Two Great Tech Bags

    I also use both a Brain Bag (Steel) and the Smart Alec (Black/Navy/Iberian). I give lots of technical presentations at various venues so I use the two interchangeably depending on the gear I need to carry with me. They both excel as tech bags for me.

    To me, the best feature of the Brain Bag is that there are TWO compartments. This cuts down on the "cavernous" aspect. The compression straps are also very handy. Believe it or not, the best feature of the Smart Alec is the Upper Modular Pocket (Navy) purchased separately which carries my EDC-type items.

    I also use a Freudian Slip interchangeably. For the Smart Alec, my 15" MacBook Pro sits in a Vertical Cache, though the bag can also accommodate a Vertical Brain Cell. In the Brain Bag, I keep a Vertical Brain Cell as a permanent resident.




    Someone please help me!
    I have BAS (Bihn Acquisition Syndrome)!!

    Last edited by cucciasv; 04-27-2013 at 04:10 AM.

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    Have you considered the new Synapse 25? It's nearly the size of the SA (25L vs 26L) and I think it would easily fit the load that you listed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tlacltme View Post
    Have you considered the new Synapse 25? It's nearly the size of the SA (25L vs 26L) and I think it would easily fit the load that you listed.
    That was also my thought. The Synapse 25 is large enough to carry the items that were listed, but has more organization. It will also fit a vertical Freudian Slip. Unless I'm likely to need the extra carrying capacity (33L for the Brain Bag), I prefer to use bags that are sized to my actual loads. Of course, many people like to use the Brain Bag for travel/luggage purposes, too, and it can hold the Camera I/O, while the Smart Alec and Synapse 25 are not large enough to do this. But I simply don't carry around as much stuff as I could pack into my Tri-Star on a daily basis. YMMV.

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    I have looked at the Synapse 25. I like the organizational layout and using a cache to make the bag TSA approved. But I have a few problems with the bag itself. First, I don't know if I like the idea of having the water bottle inside the bag. If it leaks will it seep through to other compartments and is it hard to get access to the water bottle. Also, I like the idea of putting a Freudian Slip in for organization and a verticle brain cell (not listed as options on the Synapse). Few other questions about the Synapse -- Will it hold an Ipad Mini without a second cache and will a pair of on-ear headphones fit in the bottom pocket? My last concern is "form over substance", the BB has such a unique look, especially in camo, that it would get a lot of attention. From the pictures, the Synapse looks more like a traditional backpack. What has been your take on the Sy

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    Swb162, go with your desire for the Brain Bag. You will not be happy without at least trying it. You can always send it back if you find out that it will not work well for you. But it is probably just the right bag for you.
    Synapse 19, Co-pilot, Travel Tray, PCSB, Western Flyer, all in Dyneema, Side Effect and pouchmania

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    Thanks for all your input. After looking at the features and what I need, I ended up going with the Synapse 25. Looking forward to getting the backpack on Friday and flying out-of-town on Monday.

  10. #10
    Registered User rlandis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    It will also fit a vertical Freudian Slip.
    When I ordered my Synapse25, the TB customer svc rep told me it would NOT fit a vertical Freudian Slip. Are you sure it will fit? My only complaint about the S25, so far, is carrying papers neatly.
    Owner, Fool On The Hill Recording, Nashville TN

  11. #11
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlandis View Post
    When I ordered my Synapse25, the TB customer svc rep told me it would NOT fit a vertical Freudian Slip. Are you sure it will fit? My only complaint about the S25, so far, is carrying papers neatly.
    We don't recommend using the Vertical Freudian Slip with the Synapse 25. Technically, it does fit (meaning you can put the Slip in the Synapse 25 and zip the bag shut) but it's not a good fit. The top corners of the Synapse 25 are tapered and the more square corners of the Freudian Slip push those tapered corners out/distort the shape of the bag.
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  12. #12
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlandis View Post
    My only complaint about the S25, so far, is carrying papers neatly.
    Use a Large OP. That's what I do in my 19 and it works a treat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Badger View Post
    Use a Large OP. That's what I do in my 19 and it works a treat.
    Me too! Exactly. It works well, though I am just apparently lazy enough to wish for a vertical loading large OP...

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    Traveling this week with the 25 and love it! Carrying work laptop , personal 13" MacBook Pro in a cache with rails (so easy going through TSA), ipad mini and stuff. I bought a Snake Charmer for the front lower pocket, but moved it to the bottom of the main compartment to not let mini and docs fall to bottom. Would like to see some accessory ideas to maximize space. Thanks for all the suggestions.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badger View Post
    Use a Large OP. That's what I do in my 19 and it works a treat.
    What's an OP?

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