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Thread: Need Advice on Labtop/Briefcase options

  1. #1
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    Need Advice on Labtop/Briefcase options

    Hi all,

    I am a recent purchaser of a tri-star (+ some related accessories) but at the time I decided to hold off on briefcase/laptop holders for a few reasons. I now realize that I can't truly one bag it without going the whole way and buying some more stuff.... which is fun for me and good for Tom

    Problem is I am a little stuck on where my interests meet the products. Their are so many different briefcase models that I am a little lost and would love some real world experience on how some of this stuff integrates. I currently have a nice labtop backpack which has been great so far, but it's very big and doesn't fit in my tri-star which ruins my 1 bag method of travel (not too mention both are backpacks, so it forces me to carry the tri-star).

    The most simple solution is to buy nothing, I know my laptop will fit in the middle of my tristar - but of course then their is no protection (which is a deal killer in and of itself) but also then I would have nothing on my trips to actually put my labtop in when going to the customer sites.

    I should preface this by saying I currently have a very large and heavy 17" Dell desktop. I expect (hope) that soonish I will have a mac book pro in addition, which I plan on travelling with... so I will probably delay any purchase until I know for sure I am getting that from my office - but ideally it would be cool if whatever I end up with could support both (not necessarily at the same time though)....

    My next instinct was to get a brain-cell. I have two issues with this and maybe someone can put these fears to rest?:
    1) Given the tri-star is meant to be carried or backpack worn - which is best, horizontal or vertical? Seems to me you have to know your preferred method ahead of time and I'm not sure I do.... also even if i picked vertical because I usually plan on wearing it on my back, would that then render the 60$ (70$ with shipping) braincell useless if I ever got a regular horizontal type briefcase? Basically, regardless of which one is picked, is it still secure when clipped in the 'other' mode?
    2) It might protect the device well, but doesnt seem to do much more then that, and it concerns me it wont be enough of a briefcase to actually keep all the other nick-nacks that one usually throws in there... like power supplies, mouse, usb drives, maybe some paper, pens, etc.... This is leading me to think I need a real briefcase.

    So now i'm perusing the briefcase page of this site and i'm totally drowning in options. There are so many bags that seem so similiar, some are clearly the same just different sizes, but some seem so similiar its hard to tell the functional difference... Here is where I really need some advice:

    Is it safe to say the following is true or false?

    Zephyr is just a smaller empire builder with the same type of organization options, just less volume.
    Cadet is smaller still and doesn't have any option for a brain cell to fit inside of it.
    Co-pilot is too small for any labtop.
    Now where I am a bit more confused is the messenger bags on the same page...
    What is the purpose of ID, EGO (or Super Ego) compared to the briefcase bags? I'm not sure I get the difference... seems like they can carry a labtop as well... so it just a style issue of if you like the 'front flap' look, or is there a bigger functional difference?

    Finally, there are the Ristrettoes and caches (clearly not a bag - but alot cheaper) If a bag + cache is safe enough, then maybe this is a way to save some money vs. brain cell?

    If you've read this far, thanks.... Finally, let me just list some of the requirements I feel will fit my needs and maybe some of you guys that have a lot more experience could help out with a ranking or comments:

    1) Must fit in the middle component of the tristar - or I can't one bag it.
    1a) As travel friendly as possible (security checkpoints, etc).
    2) Must fit at least a 15" mac book pro
    2a) Would be nice if it could fit a 17" labtop too, even if maybe no brain cell was used and/or 2 caches needed to be bought.
    3) Must be usable as a customer facing bag for non-formal bizness meetings. (I'm not a suit and tie guy, just a techie)
    4) When not travelling, would be very cool to be a EDC to and from the office type bag.
    5) Would like some organizational type properties.
    6) If a brain cell is purchased - which type vertical or horizontal. I like this idea for the options....
    6a) If i know i wont need a bunch of other stuff, I could just take the braincell to a site or back and forth from home.
    6b) The main bag could fit a braincell and the tricell could fit either, so i would have a few options of how/what I needed depending on trip... would be ideal.


    Thanks for any and all advice!

    ps. Love the tri-star so far, though oddly, havent travelled nearly as much since i got it .

  2. #2
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    (cracks knuckles)

    Brain cell would need to be a horizontal to mount on the guardian clips in the tri-star- its storage is pretty limited beyond the computer.

    T and F section

    Zephyr is indeed a smaller Empire builder - it is still quite large- cavernous in fact

    Cadet maxes at 15 inch laptops and uses a special Cache with rails so you could take the Cache out and put a brain cell in the Cadet but not lock it down.

    Co-Pilot will just hold a MBA11, but that is it



    I currently carry my MBP and MBA in Caches (Cachi?) and am pleased with the protection

    A bag that fits in the Tristar center section and will hold a MBP15 and has some organization is bit of a challenge. I think you might be better off with a horizontal Braincell that you could slot into the Tristar when you Onebag or a Zephyr when you are office bound.

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    Jeff - thanks for the reply. Follow up question(s).... if the braincell must be horizontal - then how secure is one's computer when carrying the tri-star on your back?

    Would the zephyr never fit in the middle section? Is it too big?

    Is it futile to try? Will nothing but a braincell fit in the tristar? FWIW, I really don't need to pack alot of clothes most of the time so I could probably get by leaving the 3rd section empty, so if the "briefcase" expands the middle a bit, I think i'd be okay with that.... so long as it can be stuffed in there to begin with....

    Finally, if you only use the cache for your computer... what do you carry your power cable, etc in? I guess you must have another bag for taking it all to the office then...?

    Thanks.

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    I’ve been going through the same process looking at briefcase/messenger type bags and have sort of decided to hold off on making a purchase. Basically I narrowed my choices down to the ID or the Zephyr, but neither seemed like quite what I was looking for.

    While I love the design of the Zephyr I really wish there was a color option other than black. The ID has the same limited color palette with only black or black with a steel accent. Also, in pictures the ID just looks bulky, but it is sort of difficult to really tell from photos. I’m sure a visit to the TOM Bihn store would help the process, but not really an option for me.

    I suspect I’ll end up getting a Zephyr since it seems like the best option and who knows maybe they’ll offer it in steel, navy, olive…

  5. #5
    Registered User tpnl's Avatar
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    There was a similar discussion on another thread: "Briefcase to fit within Tristar". It was in the Questions about Bags or accessories section.

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    If you are going to carry a 17" machine then I think the choices are a lot easier?
    There are only a few options really and there is not a lot of room to think about it either.

    I am on the road right now with my 17" MBP and I have both a Super Ego and TriStar and both take the horizontal Brain Cell that fits the giant MBP.
    I usually bring the SE as it is a briefcase and for all the reasons
    you list and question is a better briefcase than the TriStar which is just not one.

    Then of course I need a bag for my other stuff and the TriStar is great for trips with the SE for sure.

    This time however I brought the just TriStar instead and while it is OK for my needs this trip I can see that I would not be happy having to drag it with me everywhere I need the computer on other jobs.

    The Brain Cell is also huge obviously and can hold a decent load by itself in the front stretchy pocket but I prefer to carry an actual briefcase for the variety and depth of what I can pack.

    So to sum it up,you clearly need all of them!

    Also I have to know......WHAT IS A LABTOP?

    Ed
    jeffmac likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    If you are going to carry a 17" machine then I think the choices are a lot easier?
    There are only a few options really and there is not a lot of room to think about it either.

    I am on the road right now with my 17" MBP and I have both a Super Ego and TriStar and both take the horizontal Brain Cell that fits the giant MBP.
    I usually bring the SE as it is a briefcase and for all the reasons
    you list and question is a better briefcase than the TriStar which is just not one.

    Then of course I need a bag for my other stuff and the TriStar is great for trips with the SE for sure.

    This time however I brought the just TriStar instead and while it is OK for my needs this trip I can see that I would not be happy having to drag it with me everywhere I need the computer on other jobs.

    The Brain Cell is also huge obviously and can hold a decent load by itself in the front stretchy pocket but I prefer to carry an actual briefcase for the variety and depth of what I can pack.

    So to sum it up,you clearly need all of them!

    Also I have to know......WHAT IS A LABTOP?

    Ed
    RE/ LABTOP --- ha, i make that mistake constantly! It's like my fingers are just wired wrong

    Thanks for the advice. I take it when carrying the SE and the tristar then you are actually 2 bagging it? Perhaps I just need to accept i will always be 2 bagging it and stop trying to fit one in the other.

    Let me ask you why did you choose the SE over a zephyr (IE: Messenger over briefcase style). What about that form/function appeals to you... I'm having trouble picking....

    Also, somethine no one else has commented on.... is the horizontal brain cell secure in a tristar when in 'vertical' mode: IE: when utilizing the backpack straps?

    Thanks for the reply...

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    Q for Moderator --- Are you seeing my replies? Is there a technical reason or is there something wrong with the content that they aren't being 'approved' for public consumption? Thank you...

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    Quote Originally Posted by vaterp View Post
    Q for Moderator --- Are you seeing my replies? Is there a technical reason or is there something wrong with the content that they aren't being 'approved' for public consumption? Thank you...
    For your first 5-6 or so posts, a moderator must approve each one; it has nothing to do with the content. Once you cross a certain posting threshold your posts will be accepted automatically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vaterp View Post
    RE/ LABTOP --- ha, i make that mistake constantly! It's like my fingers are just wired wrong

    Thanks for the advice. I take it when carrying the SE and the tristar then you are actually 2 bagging it? Perhaps I just need to accept i will always be 2 bagging it and stop trying to fit one in the other.

    Let me ask you why did you choose the SE over a zephyr (IE: Messenger over briefcase style). What about that form/function appeals to you... I'm having trouble picking....

    Also, somethine no one else has commented on.... is the horizontal brain cell secure in a tristar when in 'vertical' mode: IE: when utilizing the backpack straps?

    Thanks for the reply...
    I also have an Empire Builder which I had before both the SE and TS!
    The simple answer is that the 17" MBP does not work for me in the EB.

    I was trying to 1 bag it this trip and was hoping for an easy ride but I already suspect it will not work for me.
    I need to carry too much tech crap all the time which just kills the whole thing.

    As it tuned out I also brought a Patagonia bag like the Aeronaut but much bigger and piled clothes in it too!
    I drove to where I am but need to fly back which is always tough to plan for.
    Add to that the tools I needed to bring this time and I just plan to ship 1 huge pelican case and the Patagonia bag back home ahead of me and carry the TS on the plane with or without the Synapse that I could not leave home either.

    It is a Sickness!

    If I could have used a 13" or 11" Mac on this trip it would have been different but the 17" is the only machine that I can use on this particular job so I was sort of stuck carrying huge.

    Otherwise I will carry the TS and Synapse during the day.

    I also have never had a Brain Cell move anywhere that I did not plan it to,they are held in place too well.

    Ed
    Last edited by AVService; 10-14-2013 at 04:50 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by vaterp View Post
    What is the purpose of ID, EGO (or Super Ego) compared to the briefcase bags? I'm not sure I get the difference... seems like they can carry a labtop as well... so it just a style issue of if you like the 'front flap' look, or is there a bigger functional difference?
    The main difference I see between my Ego and MrDaisy's EB is that the Ego is a messenger style bag - meant to be carried primarily by the shoulder strap. It fits my 13in macbook and all tech stuff quite comfortably.

    The EB's handles are more robust than the padded grab handle on the Ego and that bag is more suited to a traditional "briefcase" carry style.

    The internal storage functions are actually quite similar.

    Mr Daisy uses his EB for a 17in MBP - it's a heavy beast which I wouldn't carry any further than to the car myself ...
    List under construction ....

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    If you're willing to forgo having a bag with organizer pockets for your laptop, go with a laptop sleeve. I got a Built NY sleeve for my MacBooks, and it is all the protection I need for carrying the laptop inside of any of the three compartments of my TriStar. Since it is water-resistant (the zipper would be the entry point for spills) and padded, the laptop is safe. Having a zipper on the side, it is also checkpoint-friendly.

    There are some neoprene laptop sleeves with pockets and strap attachment points on them. They are still slim enough to fit into the TriStar. Unfortunately, the inclusion of pockets makes them checkpoint un-friendly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    I also have an Empire Builder which I had before both the SE and TS!
    The simple answer is that the 17" MBP does not work for me in the EB.
    .....

    I also have never had a Brain Cell move anywhere that I did not plan it to,they are held in place too well.

    Ed
    Thx for the reply.... Carrying the 15" would be the primary purpose, the 17" would just be gravy... so if a super optimal solution existed to 1 bag it for 15", i would forego 17" desire anyway... would that change your answer?

    Also, i assumed the braincell wouldnt move anywhere, but i meant is the computer secure? Could it fall out of a horizontal braincell held in the vertical position? If so a cache/sleeve seems safer because you dont have to worry about what way you hold it...

    Thx

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    Quote Originally Posted by vaterp View Post
    Also, i assumed the braincell wouldnt move anywhere, but i meant is the computer secure? Could it fall out of a horizontal braincell held in the vertical position? If so a cache/sleeve seems safer because you dont have to worry about what way you hold it...

    Thx
    I doubt it would fall out - the velcro closure on the braincell is quite strong (one of the few places TB uses velcro - for which I'm very grateful)

    However the braincell is designed to "suspend" your laptop in a sling, so its dependent on the braincell being the right way up.

    Turning it sideways will remove that protection, but you will still have nice protection front and back - a bit of added padding at the less protected edges in your TS or WF would help I think.

    The suspension sling seems to be adjustable - although I've not tried it on mine - so you could ensure as snug fit inside the braincell so that changing its orientation wouldn't result in your labtop moving around inside it .... :-)

    Given that TB sells the TS with a horizontal bc AND backpack straps - I suspect that the horiz <-> vertical change with the bc on board is considered acceptable use.
    List under construction ....

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    So do any of these bags, besides the braincells fit in a Tri-Star? I kinda expect the answer is no for the ego and zephyrs but what about ID, Ristretto, or Cadet? (For 15" computers only). One can assume they aren't that stuffed to the gills in this 'carrying' mode...

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