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Thread: I need a good general use bag with specific needs

  1. #1
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    I need a good general use bag with specific needs

    Hi,

    I'm looking for a backpack style bag. My wife has some monsterous Vera Bradley diaper bag with some obnoxious colors that just doesn't work for me. When I take my son out for daytrips I'd like to have something more palatable for me and also easier for me to carry; my own daddy diaper bag. I could easily solve this with any number bags-- dedicated diaper bags or any old pack at a big box store. However, I've been riding a messenger bag kick (timbuk2) the last few years and and no longer have any good backpacks. I'm strongly considering overbuying and getting a high quality backpack that will last a long time and serve me in far more than just daddy diaper duties. My aggressive internet searches have led me to Tom Bihn bags, but I'm stuck on which bag is the best for my situation. Maybe I can get some help here.

    First, I'm a big guy-- 6'6" and about 250 lbs. Many backpacks don't fit me all that well and/or look like I'm carrying a kid bag. If I'm going to plob down some serious cash for a bag, I want it to fit.

    Most important and super easy is that I need this as to work as a diaper bag. My primary goal is to have something that will work for one day excursions. If I need more than a day, I can bring the mothership (wife's diaper bag) and leave it in the car. That being said, if the best bag for me holds enough for more than a day, great, but its not a need.

    Here is the tricky part. I also want to carry some camera gear around with me. I'm not a pro, but I do have a nice DSLR, a few lenses, accessories, and tripod. I would like to be able to use this as a camera bag. Two scenarios here: 1) using the bag just for photo gear 2) be able to safely, and easily carry a limited amount of camera gear (camera + 1-2 lenses) when using as a diaper bag. That part was probably pretty easy, but I'd also like to be able to carry a tripod with the bag too. I've got super small(think gorillapod), medium (travel size) and a more regular sized tripods. I'd prefer to be able to carry something more than the super-small guy.

    Those are the primary roles for the bag right now: 1) diaper duty, 2) camera bag, and 3) diaper + limited camera

    In addition:
    1) I commute by train into NYC daily. If I like the bag alot, I may want to start using it in this capacity and give my timbuk2 messenger a rest.
    2) Use as my personal bag during air travel (if its not already being used for camera gear)
    3) Depending on the bag, I may want to take it on day hikes or weekend trips (if its not already being used for camera gear or as a diaper bag).


    I've spent hours looking at the Smart Alex, then the Synapse 25 and now I'm starting to look at the Brain Bag. I originally thought the Brain Bag was too big for my needs, but then stumbled across an FAQ for the Smart Alec where one of the questions asked about how the bag fits different sized people, and the answer suggested that the Smart Alec was designed mostly for people up to 6'2" and indicated that the Brain Bag may be more appropriate for larger people. It seems that the Brain bag would do a good job of meeting my needs, but I just wonder if its too big.

    I appreciate any help or advice you have. Thanks.

    -- Bryan

  2. #2
    Registered User vivelly's Avatar
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    The Brainbag came to my mind first when I read about your requirements. I think it would be a good choice (or the Smart Alec) but since I dont have either of them I am not really the right person to advice. :-)

  3. #3
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    I think the Brain Bag is probably better for you.
    It has 2 main compartments which you can assign camera and diaper duties to, so you can keep both types of stuff separated. Should you only need it for 1 function for the day, the compressor straps at the sides can be tightened to make the bag less floppy and dangly. This may also help with your concern that it is too big.
    Also, since you mentioned the need to carry tripods, the Brain Bag has straps in front for you to attach TB Quivers securely, great place to stash your tripods. Actually, I think you may be able to hold your tripods there without the TB Quivers if you wanted to.

    At 6'6", I think the Brain Bag should fit you just fine.

    Oh, are you in the US? And do you have strict discipline when shopping?
    If the answer to both is 'yes', why don't you order both or all 3 bags to see what fits you the best?
    You can always return the ones you do not find suitable.
    It would probably be the best way to find out short of making a trip to the store itself.

  4. #4
    Registered User Ilkyway's Avatar
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    My first thought was: Synapse 25 with the Snake Charmer as a diper-kid in the bottom pocket (Someone here is doing this and there are pictures but I cant find them: moriond for the rescue please).
    My husband is 6,6 too and he likes to carry my Smart Alec and he will get a Synapse 25. Both have the same measurements in the strap-area. I just set them both back to back and compared them.

    But as you describe all the further possible uses I think, like vivelly and icebeng, the Brain Bag would be best. tpnl has some good pictures about how to strap it tight when not so full and maverick took his for a weekend just now. Both seem very satisfied, maybe they have something to ad as I too do not own the Brain Bag. You probably have read this already: Traveling with the Brain Bag on page two tpnl posted a link to his Brain Bag. Thous two will make me buy one myself. If you go with the Brain Bag you could add to it and tell us how satisfied you are and maybe even share some pictures... ;-)
    eWalker likes this.

  5. #5
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    Brain Bag would be a cheaper one-stop solution. Smart Alec could be a more versatile one if you also get the Camera I/O, a couple of modular pockets and GateKeeper straps (for carrying the Tripod), but that would total out to more serious expense.

    I find the Brain Bag to be too ugly, but that's probably just me. Also, I've found that having a smaller item (that can be up-sized with some additional pockets) is better than always hauling around a large thing (especially when there is no specific need for having a LARGE bag on me). So that's your options to consider. Ultimately, it will be your choice

  6. #6
    Registered User dorayme's Avatar
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    I don't have the Smart Alec, but do have the other backpacks, and for your intended uses, and physical size, I would definitely say the Brain Bag. I chose the a Brain a Bag for my DH and he loves it!
    You can add the camera I/O, quiver, and Snake Charmer for additional organization and protection of your gear. You may also want to add a travel stuff sack or to for bottle containment/sweat and leak prevention, and the laundry sack for keeping jr.'s change of clothes and dirties separated. Down the road, if you are carrying a laptop, or tablet, a cache, or Brain Cell may be in order.
    With the Brain Bag, you have many options as mentioned above to carry a little, or a lot.
    Best of luck, and we would love to know what you end up choosing, and how it works out.
    I really, really like TB Bags!

  7. #7
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    Btw, the Brain Bag is slated for an update. There will be some minor upgrades made in its design. And it's price will increase after the update as well. From USD$160 to USD$190. Here's the thread with the info, it's the 1st post.
    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/just-r...ce-update.html

  8. #8
    Registered User flaneuse's Avatar
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    Definitely get yourself a brain bag before the price increase. You will easily be able to use one section for the camera equip, and the other for the baby gear. IMO it looks best in solid black. Plus, it can make an awesome bag for one bag carry, or personal item. My next pick would be the synapse 25, where, if you are minimal with the baby stuff, you could fit the quiver 360 and some camera gear in the main part, then use the bottom and side pockets for say a diaper kit in a SE and baby food/bottles/whatever in the side pockets. I use the S25 like that for long days out at the park. Both are great bags.

  9. #9
    Registered User Moose's Avatar
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    Like dorayme I don't have a Smart Alec but I do have a Synapse 25 and did have a Brain Bag. I've also raised a child. I know that what you start out with in the morning is not what you end up with at the end of the day. Things seem to accumulate as the day goes on. For me the BB was just way too big. It holds a lot of stuff and got really heavy really fast. That said, you have about eight inches on me and you weigh more than I do. My guess is you won't even notice the weight.

    I did like the cinch straps on the BB. When it wasn't full I could cinch them down and made the percieved size a lot smaller. A BB would easily carry everything you mentioned and then some. I would strongly suggest packing cubes and or stuff sacks to keep things somewhat contained. I could see a laundry bag for clothes. A packing cube for diapers and wipes and stuff sacks for snacks, toys and bottle or sippy cup.

    With regard to the camera equipment some kind of padding will be necessary. The BB alone will not offer much in the way of protection.

    I love my Synapse 25 but I just don't think that in the long term it will be enough for you. I'd see things differently if you didn't carry the camera equipment.

    Please let us know what you decide and pictures are always appreicated.
    Moose
    Last edited by Moose; 07-05-2014 at 06:46 AM.
    haraya and Ilkyway like this.
    List exceeds allowed characters. So I'll just say I'm plum and kiwi loving FOT!

  10. #10
    Registered User taminca's Avatar
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    Bryan, the great feedback here seems to point to the BB for you, but if it will help, I can try to do some test packs and post photos for you since I have all 3 bags -- SA, S25 and BB. The BB is a used Black/INDIGO which I just acquired and am still too intimidated by its size to use, so the test packs would be helping me too!

    I have the camera and tripod gear you listed. However, not having children, I do not know what goes into a diaper bag (well, besides diapers) and I doubt that I would have those supplies around the house. Perhaps you could give me an idea of how much volume is involved and I will try to simulate using what I have.
    "Inside everyone is a great shout of joy waiting to be born."
    -- David Whyte

  11. #11
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    bbig199, TOTALLY take taming up on the offer of pictures--you will not believe the amazing outcome that will result!!

  12. #12
    Registered User Ilkyway's Avatar
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    Well one thing is clear: when taminca starts making multiple scenario pictures of her Brain Bag that will through me over the edge. Well to be honest I am on the other side of the edge but I am waiting for the new design in a purple variety. I like to have as many O-Rings as possible. But PLEAS PICTURES taminca. Is California not on the "right" side of the USA (when thinking about Tom Bihn)? Maybe you wanne reconsider your carrier and become a bag guru? You'd have all the bags in all the colors and do all the awesome "how to use" pictures you can think of. Just something to think about ;-)

  13. #13
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    I have used the Brain Bag for this type of duty,sort of a lot on the past.
    No diapers but photo gear and tripods and endless other stuff at the same time.

    It is ideal except that it can hold so much that I often wish I had not loaded it up so much once I am out with no way to change my mind!
    Good problem to have I suppose?

    I would also look hard at the TT Shape Shifter,I like mine for a lot of the reasons I like the BB really and it also will not look silly small on a big guy.

  14. #14
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    I use my S19 on the weekends as a diaper bag. I'll try and post photos of my setup as soon as I get a chance. Basically one packing cube for the diaper change stuff, one with extra clothes in the main, plus changing pad in the slot. TB clear organizer for extra stuff in the bottom front pocket. Water bottle in its place. And this leaves the two side pockets for my stuff, keys, wallet, leatherman, glasses case, etc.

    I probably could fit my d70 in it with the dad stuff, but it's definitely maxed out at that point.

    I have an S25 incoming, which is roomier all around. I'm guessing that would fit your needs.

  15. #15
    Registered User RhoFro's Avatar
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    BBig119 - sent a PM to your dashboard.

    Also, the brain bag is not currently lined with parapack. It's a typo on the website.
    ~ one of virtually everything ~ Happy victim of Tom Bihn mind control

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