So, in the quest for a new daily carry bag, every road leads me to a Tom Bihn bag. While I save my pennies, I figured the best people to talk to would be you, the users of Tom Bihn bags! Or Tom's Bihnions I've dubbed you over the last month of reading these forums and other reviews. Not sure if that's been used or coined already, but I felt clever none the less, so I'll pretend it was an original thought.
I am in need of a new daily carry bag and I've narrowed down my choices, but having no experience with a Tom Bihn bag or held one, thought I'd list what I carry, the bags I'm considering and asking for your input as to if it will fit comfortably.
The bags I'm considering is either the Empire Builder, Zephyr, or the Pilot.
I plan to eventually have a Pilot + Tristar combo for airline carry for myself and possibly the same for my fiance. This is something to keep in mind in regard to packing cubes.
I currently have a severely uncomfortable cheap nylon buckling briefcase style bag and a separate lunchbox. I'm tired of having loaded hands and a crowded work station.
I work for a television station doing IT work. I live in Florida but my work station and the control room I work in is kept at 65 degrees (lots of equipment running 24/7, can't afford anything to overheat), a light jacket or hoody is a must.
What I need to be able to fit into the bag:
Lunchbox - Ebag Slim Lunchbox, link provided for reference. Amazon.com: eBags Slim Lunch Box (Titanium): Kitchen & Dining
Multitool(s) - Leatherman Wave, extender + bit kit. Possible another Multitool or two (making sure I have all functions across a few different tools so everything I need is a grab from the bag away).
Work stationary - pens, highlighters, Sharpies, White Out roll of strip tape.
Spare toiletries - I like to keep a toothbrush, toothpaste, small bottle of cologne, etc. I'm always paranoid of coffee breath, as well as being a cigarette smoker, so I like to keep some essentials on me so odors don't offend coworkers and others I associate and talk face to face with.
Coffee tumbler - carry coffee into work and toss in my bag when it's empty.
Spare change of clothes - generally just a pair of shorts, tee shirt and light shoes, usually sandals. Often I'll stop at friends houses or meet at a pub for a drink, I like having a change of clothes as my work attire is generally a collared shirt, under shirt, slacks, dress shoes. Not comfortable for outdoor venues in Florida. I need room in the bag for the light change of clothes as well as room for the heavier clothes from work to exchange space with.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 in an Otter Box - Sleeves or cache aren't necessary for purchase at this time, thanks to the Otter Box. I don't want to use a bare tablet pulled from a cache as I carry my tablet around the control room and to the equipment racks and don't want to risk dropping a naked tablet.
First Aid Kit - Medicines, bandages, antiseptic etc. I have a small one currently but planning to buy a new one for a better fit and organization. (recommendations?)
Paperback books - I carry a book or two with me for occasional reading material, nothing too big but fills space none the less when considering a new bag.
Charger cables for cell phone and tablet.
Eventually I will be purchasing a new light laptop, more than likely a 13 inch. PC platform, planning to keep it to a light thin travel laptop to possibly go into this bag. Charger and mouse would be added to the daily carry when the laptop is acquired.
Would like to be able to stuff my light jacket or hoody in the bag when I walk out of the building. Going from 65 degrees inside to 98+ outside, I want my jacket as far away from me as possible. Not wanting to drape it over my arm.
Files - I come home with random paperwork from work sometimes. I need room to keep some legal files for papers to go into to stay in tact and not get folded/crinkled in transit (current bag buckles really easy so papers are sometimes compromised, I hate being the guy having to ask for fresh copies due to this).
Legal pads/notebook - jotting down notes
A pistol - I will sometimes need to be able to put my daily carry pistol in a holster sleeve into this bag, not looking for a CCW compartment but something to take into consideration when thinking of what will be filling the bag space.
Hopefully a bit of space leftover for random items possibly acquired in a day. Stop by the store on the way home, etc. My goal is to have just one bag for everything. Obviously not everything will go in there, but when on a motorcycle occasionally, I'd like to just stuff my couple random items into the bag for easier carry.
I've read the Empire Builder is big, will it fill my needs? Is it not quite big enough? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but until it's in front of me to put my stuff down into, I'm kind of in the dark. Considering the money spent on a Tom Bihn bag, I'd like to make sure I get the purchase right the first time and not have to pay for return shipping.
I have no interest in a backpack style at this time, I try to keep it professional at work. I could get away with a backpack, but I'd rather not. Also, the flap of messenger bags are unwanted. I would get one if it's what's needed, but I'd like to avoid it. I like the solid structure and easy access that the Tom Bihn briefcases offer.
Would the PILOT be able to handle this load? I don't think so, but considering I'd like to get one eventually as a personal carry on bag to go with a Tristar, I'd kill two birds with one stone by acquiring the Pilot now.
What pouches/organizers would you recommend from the Tom Bihn store? The options are a bit overwhelming, so just looking for some feedback from other members. Basically, what would you use to pack this load up? What packing cube(s) do you recommend to carry my spare clothes/shoes in?
Again, eventually I do plan to get the Pilot + Tristar for myself and either the same setup for my fiance or the Copilot + Western Flyer for her. Packing cubes from the Tristar would be great for compatibility later down the road. We get married at the end of the year and plan to do some traveling/sight seeing across the country before we start a family and travel plans are put to a halt. :P
Thank you for your help and advice in this matter, again just trying to make sure I buy the right bag the first time and not have to pay for return shipping.