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Thread: Bihn backpack questions - backpack for business & pleasure

  1. #1
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    Bihn backpack questions - backpack for business & pleasure

    My parents are currently talking about replacing their aging first-generation white Macbook with a refurbished 2013 13-inch MacBook Pro i5 with Retina Display ("MBPR"). (They found a great deal at the right price and recently won a gun at a raffle, which they are now selling to pay to replace the old laptop.)

    They are (understandably) concerned about what they could get to carry the refurb laptop. One possibility I'd like to suggest would be a Tom Bihn backpack. While we aren't seriously discussing this (yet), I have no doubt it will come up down the road. The most immediate backpack possibilities for them would naturally be the Synapse models and the Smart Alec. This leads to some questions:

    1: Would a 13-inch MBPR fit in a Synapse 19 via Cache-with-Rails? If so, how well?

    2: I watched ScottE22's excellent business-oriented demo video of the Synapse 25, and Cache-with-Rails. I noticed that ScottE22 carried a 13-inch MacBook Air and at least one iPad Mini in a padded Cache in the water bottle pocket. Has anyone else tried out a configuration with similar payload to ScottE22's? How well does it work for personal or business?

    3: My mother recently bought a discount Android smartphone from QVC. are there any padded pockets/compartments in any of the Bihn backpacks where she could stash her phone and ciggie-lighter adaptor for charging on-the-road?

    4: Whether or not my parents would haul a laptop and/or other technology with them on a road trip, are either of the Synapses big enough to haul clothes, toiletries and other travel gear they may want to take? In essence, how well do Synapses work as travel luggage? How well does the Smart Alec work as luggage?

    5: I have an FCC amateur radio license, but my parents do not. There is the possibility that they may want to use business radios (this would require getting a business radio license). If they did this for business and/or non-profit purposes, can some kind of padded storage arrangement be worked out in a Synapse or Smart Alec to haul two-way radios around on a trip or a remote project site so the radios will be protected? In the past, I tried carrying civilian walkie-talkies in a cheap backpack and found them vulnerable, especially to banging around and having the power accidentally turned on and thus running the batteries down.

    6: One (remote) possibility for cargo in the mystery backpack would, once in a blue moon, be a portable digital projector. My family has occasional use for an Epson PowerLite projector (I'm pretty sure it is an EX7200 or 7210) for business presentations. I do not have the exact dimensions here, but I assume it is very similar to this 7220). Would something like this be able to fit in any of these backpacks? If so, how?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    After watching ScottE22's video of the Synapse 25, it prompted me to get a nearly identical setup.

    I carry a 14" laptop for work in a cache and it works perfectly. Also there is an iPad with a cache also on the other side.

    Added the Snake Charmer for lower outside front pocket with a Side Effect in the inside bottom.

    This setup is mostly in the car with me, but a took it on a recent flight as my personal carry on.

    For me this is the best setup that I have ever used and I have tried out a lot of backpack or laptop setups.

    Thanks....

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    Registered User scribe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    My parents...recently won a gun at a raffle
    My mind is now boggling at this concept

    OK, back to your questions! My S25 arrives tomorrow, but I won't be able to try it with a 13" MacBook until I go back into the office on Friday. For the scenarios you describe, though, I'd recommend the Smart Alec over the S25.

    1. It's great for travel. I've used mine three times this summer to travel by train to various conventions, and it easily swallowed enough clothes, toiletries, etc for up to five days. Its capacity can also be increased by adding the modular pockets, which is very handy.

    2. It's better than a Synapse for packing bulky items like the projector you mention. I find my S19 to be a bit awkward when stuffed full, whereas a much heavier Smart Alec was surprisingly comfortable.

    3. The Smart Alec's UMP would be perfect for stashing the smartphone and charger.

    Of course someone is bound to come along and present equally good reasons why the S25 is perfect...
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    Hoping for: FJN for iPad Mini; more bags in Aubergine; the return of Portable Culture!

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    Nothing has been ruled out, including the possibility of using a briefcase for the laptop instead of a backpack. (See this companion thread about briefcases.)

    It looks like the swap deal is going through; they'll know on Friday. If so, they'll be able to order a refurbished laptop the same day.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    Swap successful. Laptop ordered this morning.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scribe View Post
    The Smart Alec's UMP would be perfect for stashing the smartphone and charger.
    "UMP". What's that?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    Upper Modular Pocket.

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    If they got a backpack, it will probably be one without any external add-ons. So to start, assuming they go for one, it would be just the backpack and probably a Cache with Rails.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    RE: the Smart Alec...

    Has anyone here ever tried using, saying a 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina in a Cache-with-Rails-equipped Smart Alec? How confortable is this arrangement? What else did you carry with it?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    Registered User adalangdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    RE: the Smart Alec...

    Has anyone here ever tried using, saying a 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina in a Cache-with-Rails-equipped Smart Alec? How confortable is this arrangement? What else did you carry with it?
    I use a 6Z Cache, which is bigger than the one for 13 MBP Pro. It's plenty comfortable because the SA has a foam back. I still have space for a fulyl-stuffed TSS size 3, large DOP, 3" thick book, SE, with some space leftover for a small book or two. That's just the main compartment.

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    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    I use a last gen SA (no loops on the top flap) with a Brain Cell and I find it the most comfortable of the 3 backpacks I have - BB, SA and S25 - despite it not having a mesh back. It even makes me want to improve my posture. Even with the Brain Cell, there is lots of room in front. I am sure you could fit your projector easily or your radio equipment (not 100% sure as I do not know how big they are but there is lots of room). Here are some links to some ways I have filled my SA and they have always been supremely comfortable:

    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/attach..._side_view.jpg - this is my SA with BrainCell and 3-4" thick of EDC / books

    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/attach...n-top-view.jpg
    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/attach..._side-view.jpg - this is with a large CPAP machine

    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/attach...1170x1280-.jpg
    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/attach...-854x1280-.jpg - all the stuff in the 1st picture stuffed into the SA except for the power cord.

    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/attach...alec_yoga3.jpg - here is my SA and some workout stuff inside and illustrates the flexibility to hold a large yoga mat.

    Hope this Helps

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 09-27-2014 at 12:23 PM.
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), 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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    Got a new question/angle:

    If you look at ScottE22's video on using the Synapse 25 as a mobile office (see my link at the top of this thread), how adaptable would a Smart Alec be to this same setup? Would a Side Effect fit in the same way?
    Last edited by MtnMan; 09-28-2014 at 01:30 PM. Reason: typo
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    I think the Smart Alec is great too as a mobile office - it serves as one of my EDC bags. The 2 zippered pockets on the top flap are my favorite feature of the SA. IMHO, it duplicates the function ScottE22 uses the Side Effect for in his S25 video (ie. a conveniently located pouch near the top opening of the Backpack to get things quickly). Each SA top pocket is about 4x7 - so 2 3D organizer cubes could probably fit in there (I do not know if some can try this as I do not have a 3D organizer cube .. yet ) - though you can just put things in there on their own and still have the organization you need. Also, that bottom open interior pocket could hold a Side Effect. If getting a new SA, the UMP would cover what the side effect is doing in ScottE22's video. Also, the TSS sacks in the video can be hooked to the 2 side O-Rings in the SA main interior so they are easy to reach (if you do not want to put them in the side pockets).

    So, you may ask what differentiates the SA from the S25 in use ... The S25 keeps is shape even when not full (as it is in ScottE22's video). The SA would sag (I believe this forum as adopted the term "sad") if not full. The best use of the SA, IMHO, is when you want hold bulkier items (like your radio gear or projector, CPAP, subwoofer, etc). However, that being said, adding vertical structural elements like a Vertical Freudian Slip will go a long way to keeping you SA from looking "sad" no matter how light or heavy your carry is.

    If I have missed something in the video about the setup that you want to further investigate, let us know!

    Hope this helps!
    Cheers!
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), 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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    Here is a series of pictures of comparing my Synapse 19" (Iberian with grey interior) to my Synapse 25" (Grey with ultraviolet interior) and my cache that has 13" Retina MacBook Pro inside:

    1) 25" with Cache on rails pulled out
    2) 25" with Cache inside
    3) 19" Iberian on top of 25" Grey Synapse (to show size comparison)
    4) Iberian 19" with Cache inside (this one was before they had rails)

    Note: the strap on the Cache is velcro. We use it when putting it through security so it is harder to open. There is no issue with it falling out.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Seesul; 09-30-2014 at 11:55 AM.

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    Registered User Ilkyway's Avatar
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    Wow, I think this is the first Iberian Synapse I see. So it is not a Myth after all.

    Ilkyway

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