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Thread: First TB bag: Pilot or larger?

  1. #1
    Kay
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    First TB bag: Pilot or larger?

    Hello! I've been eyeing TB bags for years and want to take the plunge with an everyday bag. The Pilot looks almost perfect for my needs except that it might be a bit too small. Having spent several evenings now reading through these forums and ogling photos (what crack for a bag addict!), I'm somewhat convinced that the Tardis effect might kick in and make up the difference, but I think I best just ask to be sure. Thank you in advance for any comments or help!

    Currently I carry this as my everyday bag/purse/life-over-my-shoulder piece:

    eBags Kalya Town Square Bag - eBags.com

    I like a lot about it--the organization, the wide and padded strap, the lightness--but it's starting to look worn around the edges and the messenger flap never bowled me over. As a short (5'2) female, the sizing is good, as I can get nearly 1200 cubic inches over my shoulder without the bag dwarfing me. I carry it 99.9% of the time; the only times I carry a purse instead are for special occasions out. For daily use, general casual meals out or meeting up with friends, or running errands around town, this is what I use. The Pilot appeals to me since it seems like it could similarly straddle the half-briefcase-half-messenger-bag line.

    I'm a grad student just finishing up my PhD and have a regular teaching position as a part-time adjunct. I carry a fair number of books and binders, which is where I worry that the Pilot won't fit my needs. Using the Kayla bag listed above:

    *The front flap catches all my junk: pens, pencils, white board markers, keys, little packets of almonds or other snacks, coin purse, sunglasses, phone… I shove a lot in there, and it isn’t really well designed for most of it. I’ve tried corralling much of this stuff in another organizer pouch, but the majority of it I like to have immediately at hand.

    *One side pocket perfectly fits the small travel umbrella I always carry, and the other side has a packet with an epi pen, inhaler, small bottle of liquid Benadryl and some antihistamines.

    *The main compartment has two big pockets sewed to the inside; I keep my Filofax planner/wallet (~8”x5”1.5”) in one and a similarly sized organizer pouch in the other that holds things I like to have with me but don’t need at hand quickly.

    All of the above stay in the bag all the time.

    *That leaves the open section of the main compartment for stuff that I pack based on the particular day. A typical load would be my Macbook Air, a binder or two (usually 1” or 1.5”), maybe a large-sized textbook, one or two smaller trade paperback sized books, a bottle of water, and sometimes a small lunchbox. The current bag swallows all that and still zippers, but I’ll also sometimes stuff in a sweater, or a fat file folder, extra books, or something else that takes up enough room so I can’t shut the main compartment.

    I'm thinking that the Pilot, at 800 cubic inches, will be fine until that last bullet point. The Synapse 19 looks like it might be better sized for my needs, but as a 32-year-old on the young-looking side, I'm already occasionally mistaken for one of my students. Plenty of tenured folks carry backpacks, but I think I better stick to a shoulder bag until I grow out of the comments about how I don't look old enough to be a professor yet (meant kindly... but still!).

    Should I got with the Pilot and carry a reusable grocery-style bag for overflow days? Consider the Synapse more seriously? Something else entirely?

    Thank you for reading!

  2. #2
    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    I don't have a Pilot myself, so someone else may be able to comment, but it seems to me that it's 300+ cubic inches smaller than your current bag. That fact, combined with photos I've seen of the Pilot, suggests to me that at least some of the books/binders/laptop would have to be carried separately. I guess it depends on how much you want everything in one bag.

    Another option (albeit one that has a similar flap to your current bag) is the Ego. It seems somewhat similar in configuration but is 200+ cubic inches larger and is pretty much bombproof. Mine is just under a year old, used daily, and still looks brand new.

    You might also look at the Empire Builder, Zephyr, etc, but I haven't got any experience with them.

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    +1 for @terayon's recommendation for the Ego if looking for the closest replacement for what you have today. Here is link to how it fits:

    Tom Bihn Super Ego and Ego Messenger Bags :: The Gadgeteer

    If still wanting the Pilot, perhaps supplementing with a Side Effect or Packing Cube Shoulder bag may work if needing more room. I am also sure you could hook the SE and Packing Cube Shoulder Bag piggy back style to the Pilot using some double carabiners, etc.

    Another option might be a Swift at 950 Cu. in.?
    Knitting Bags and Accessories - Bags designed for knitters and crocheters - TOM BIHN

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot/Cadet (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

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    I really love the Pilot for conference and work carry. Unless it is underpacked, there isn't room for a sweater I think, but a small shop bag or little swift could handle overflow. Also depends on whether the Pilot functions as your purse. Sometimes you may want to leave your office to get lunch or something without carrying the whole Pilot.

    This might be a case where ordering the Pilot and something else like the Ego and practice packing at home would help to decide.

  5. #5
    Kay
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    Thank you everyone! It sounds like there's general agreement that the Pilot will be too small. I'm a little wary of the Ego because of the size (thanks, tpnl, for the Gageteer link! it gives a good idea of size), which I think will look really large on me. It's also a little sportier/strappy than I'm looking for. But that recommendation did get me looking at the ID, which I was starting to come around to... until I realized it's out of stock. Same thing for the Cadet. I'll see whether I have the patience to wait.

    The Zephyr and Empire Builder look good size-wise, but look more like dedicated briefcases than I think I'd be comfortable carrying everyday. And finally, the Swift is a nice looking bag, but I want something that zippers shut on top. So maybe the Pilot plus something additional for heavy load days will be the way to go.

    I might have to order several and practice packing as suggested. But I need to make sure I actually send the others back at the end...

    Thank you!

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    You've got your reasoning, of course, but I think the Ego would be my choice given your requirements. I have a Super-Ego, and it's great. My only regret is that it's got the regular strap, rather than Absolute. I have occasionally wished it was the Ego instead, because it's easy to take advantage of the size and overpack in the Super-Ego, but that's not really a complaint about the bag. I think the Ego / Super-Ego is what Indiana Jones would carry, which is IMO a good way to choose bags

  7. #7
    Kay
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    Quote Originally Posted by timothy View Post
    I think the Ego / Super-Ego is what Indiana Jones would carry, which is IMO a good way to choose bags
    You all are convincing me! I might well order the Ego and give it a fair comparison. One thought: does the strap shorten enough to carry it over just one shoulder? It looks like it might be meant specifically for cross-body wear, which isn't always my favorite choice as a woman.
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    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kay View Post
    You all are convincing me! I might well order the Ego and give it a fair comparison. One thought: does the strap shorten enough to carry it over just one shoulder? It looks like it might be meant specifically for cross-body wear, which isn't always my favorite choice as a woman.
    I am 5'2" and I use the Absolute strap. You can make it very short. I use cheater-d and metal snap hooks, which means I can't shorten it as much as with the original configuration (see product page), but it's still fine for me on one shoulder. I occasionally carry it cross-body, but not often.
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    I think that you might be finding your ideal Every Day Carry might be the Synapse 25 or the Western Flyer.

    Synapse 25 - Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Backpack - TOM BIHN

    Western Flyer - Carry-on travel bag can be used as a briefcase or backpack - TOM BIHN

    Below is the link to one of the most useful post about petite people wearing Tom Bihn Bags.
    The poster is the Lovely Dorayme who models many Tom Bihn Bag with the most stylish hairdo and wardrobe. Her comments are also very insightful, they and her pictures inspired 5 pages of comments in that post.
    So you will find the perspective of many other petite persons.

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    Yeah, I use a synapse 25. I am a college professor, and it is the only bag that comfortably carries everything I need day in and day out to the office, books, computer, stacks of exams to grade. I know maybe you don't want to go backpack, but I jacked up my shoulder with a cross body bag after a while, and I am soooooo glad I got the synapse 25.

    I also keep a large heavy canvas bag in my office-- I think it's llbean or lands end, and that's my library bookbag for when I need to haul books to and from. But yeah synapse 25 all the way.

  11. #11
    Kay
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    Below is the link to one of the most useful post about petite people wearing Tom Bihn Bags.
    The poster is the Lovely Dorayme who models many Tom Bihn Bag with the most stylish hairdo and wardrobe. Her comments are also very insightful, they and her pictures inspired 5 pages of comments in that post.
    So you will find the perspective of many other petite persons.[/QUOTE]

    I'm not sure whether the link came through, but I think you meant this one: Who says short people can't carry big bags?

    Which is AMAZING. Thank you for pointing me toward it. Dorayme seems to have a very similar body type to mine (not only height, but shape), so this is really helpful. I might well consider the Western Flyer too, based on this.

    Thank you!

  12. #12
    Kay
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    Quote Originally Posted by atarango1 View Post
    Yeah, I use a synapse 25. I am a college professor, and it is the only bag that comfortably carries everything I need day in and day out to the office, books, computer, stacks of exams to grade. I know maybe you don't want to go backpack, but I jacked up my shoulder with a cross body bag after a while, and I am soooooo glad I got the synapse 25.
    That does sound like the most comfortable option... very tempting. I might have to rethink my stance on backpacks. So many good choices!

  13. #13
    Registered User adalangdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terayon View Post
    I am 5'2" and I use the Absolute strap. You can make it very short. I use cheater-d and metal snap hooks, which means I can't shorten it as much as with the original configuration (see product page), but it's still fine for me on one shoulder. I occasionally carry it cross-body, but not often.
    Hm, could anyone point me to photos of a slightly-built person carrying an Ego? Or... maybe post a couple of photos? I've been searching, but haven't had any luck. Again, my thanks in advance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adalangdon View Post
    Hm, could anyone point me to photos of a slightly-built person carrying an Ego? Or... maybe post a couple of photos? I've been searching, but haven't had any luck. Again, my thanks in advance.
    Search for gadgeteer and ego/super ego. However I agree - even more photos of the ego on a small frame would be useful!

  15. #15
    Registered User adalangdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoStanford View Post
    Search for gadgeteer and ego/super ego. However I agree - even more photos of the ego on a small frame would be useful!
    Oh right, those. Have seen them (and a couple others) already Yes, "more" should be the operative word here. Also-- and I suppose this was the main thing on my mind-- I'm wondering how it looks with a QAM strap done up tightly. On a small-framed person, that is!

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