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Tom Bihn Forums: Community discussion on travel bags, laptop bags, and backpacks. Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags since 1972. The best materials and innovative construction.

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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    2

    Can't Decide on Bag for College

    Hey everyone,

    I'll be heading off to college this fall and so I have been looking for a quality backpack, it seems I have found right place! Currently I'm stuck deciding between the Smart Alec and Brain Bag. Both look excellent although I prefer the aesthetics and top load design of the SA. I currently have a military surplus assault pack that is very similar to the design of the SA, however the SA is smaller. Mostly I am just worried about the size of the SA and whether it will be enough for an undergraduate engineer's needs.

    I would imagine I'd take something like this everyday:
    -15 inch MBP size vertical brain cell
    -power source unit for laptop
    -Freudian Slip filled with folders
    -2-3 textbooks
    -smaller novel sized book
    -water bottle
    -snacks
    -pencils/pens/small notepad
    -headphones
    -other small odds and ends

    I'd prefer an SA, but I dont want to be cramped for the next couple years and the BB does still look nice.

    Any help or experience would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    119
    I own a Smart Alec, and my partner owns a Brain Bag, so both are well-loved in our home!

    Based on your list, I think the Brain Bag would be more appropriate. In a Smart Alec, a Brain Cell + Freudian Slip will take up most of the space. It would be a very very tight fit if you wanted to carry multiple textbooks in addition. If you were willing to trade off on some laptop protection, you could do a Cache instead of a Brain Cell, but I still think it would be a tight fit with textbooks.

    For pics of a Brain Cell + Freudian Slip in a SA, check out Loaded Pocketz's blog post here.

    I think the BB would give you more options to carry more if you need to, especially multiple heavy textbooks. You can cinch the BB if you're not carrying as much stuff, so it doesn't look as cavernous. Your set-up *might* be possible with a SA, but it would require more thought in loading and unloading. As a busy student, time is precious.

    Need more convincing? A law student put posted a glowing Brain Bag review, including lots of pictures. The Brain Bag handled law school very well, textbooks and Brain Cell and everything.

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Badger State
    Posts
    1,597
    Given the size of engineering textbooks, I'd probably say err on the side of spaciousness and go with the Brain Bag. Most of the engineering undergrads on my campus have pretty large daily carry requirements, and I think the extra organization of the BB could be useful in corralling it all.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Registered User Tizi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    157
    Have you looked at the Synapse 25?
    Black/Steel TS, Black/Steel A45, Black Dyneema/Wasabi A30, Black/Black/Steel Brain Bag, Black/Steel Co-Pilot, Black/Steel Pilot, Black/Steel Synapse 19, Black Dyneema/Wasabi Synapse 19, Black/Steel Cadet 11, Black/Steel Imago, Black Dyneema/Wasabi MCB, Navy/Cayenne and Black/Solar SCB, Black/Wasabi and Navy/Iberian SE and many pouches in various sizes. Tom Bihnaholic.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    2
    Only briefly, the synapse 25 seems like it would be too small though. I think I'll probably go with the brain bag (with vertical brain cell and freudian slip) and if I ever need a top-loading, cavern-esque bag I'll use my assault pack. Maybe in a couple years when I'm out of college I'll go for an SA. Thanks for everyone's input!


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