Initially, I was excited about Brain Bag. Looking at some pictures, it looked ugly.
I've been looking at backpacks for some time, and still haven't made up my mind or committed any funds (money is really tight now) for a new one. So I'm in the same boat as Hasib.
Bottom line is that if you're looking at dedicated backpacks on the Tom Bihn web-site, your choices are the Synapse, the Smart Alec and the Brain Bag. The Ruk's Sack is currently unavailable, so that's off the table for now at least.
Another possibility would be the ultra-expensive Airborne C-Ruck backpack from Red Oxx. Lots of room and a wide-open mouth on that specimen. There's also a smaller version of it called the Roadster Mini-Ruck. Both are more targeted for the outdoorsy, hiker/hunter types. As far as finding a backpack that is not "ugly", that's a very subjective consideration. If you want a hyper-stylish backpack, Timbuk2 has some colorful offerings on their web-site.
I've been not just looking but bought few as well and like I said, not fully satisfied with any. And with Synapse being 19 ltrs, and Smart Alec not great in showing my content (thanks to top opening), I'm to where I was - still looking. Red Oxx, looked onto this. They are overpriced and definitely not close to what Tom did in offering various pockets, etc.
Let me check Timbuk2
Specimen is correct, I realize that there must be a market for their products, but you could purchase a Synapse AND Smart Alec for a few more bucks than ONE RO: Ruck's.
Originally Posted by MtnMan
I take exception to the "Hyper-Stylish' backpack comment. I personally think it's hyper-tacky to make a comment like that on TB's super-cool forum, but that's just me..
Originally Posted by MtnMan
hasib-Note the TB return policy -->The Tom Bihn Lifetime Guarantee
I would order both bags and actually see and hold them and determine if one of them is right for you.
Honestly I couldn't wrap my head around the Brain Bag until I actually got my hands on it.
Just my $0.02
Hey there, Sailor.
People make decisions I disagree with all the time. Usually, they're wrong and I'm right, but try telling them that.
Somebody is buying Red Oxx, and I see a lot of Timbuktu bags here in New York. And the products on the Timbuktu website do seem to have been designed with style in mind. I prefer the sleek look of the Smart Alec to the outside pockets of the Brain Bag, but I bought a Brain Bag, too, eventually (because somebody here made the point that "you can't buy more space," and someday I may need that space in a hurry). Now I'm carrying the SynapseŚnot as high-concept as the Smart Alec, but better-sized for my needs these days, and tailored-looking in black. MtnMan wants a Ruck's Sack; I hate that outside pocket that sticks out.
For all I know, the Red Oxx is a good value for the money. It has gotten good product reviews. I don't know how long-lasting the Timbuktus are.
I don't think MtnMan's remarks were out of line. I think your advice to hasib is excellent: to order both and then decide. There is no substitute for hands-on experience; hasib has not had that experience with TB products, so he can't appreciate their quality. I wouldn't be surprised if he decided to keep them both. Once you've gone Bihn, there's no going back.
Last edited by gmanedit; 12-17-2009 at 12:49 AM.
Reason: to fix ital coding
Guys, you are great. let me tell you this.
First, I totally agree with Gman....I hate those outside pocket sticking out and not sure if its worth fork out 200+ for Red Oxx. Liked what I saw on TImbuk2 and probably end up getting one.
Special thanks to Sailor.
Finally, Gman, I was surely going to get Smart Alec if it wasn't the top opening thing. I checked the video of smart alec few times which reminded me all the trouble I had in Europe with my macpac - not being able to see all my stuff, take out everything to find an item..
IMO, Red Oxx stuff tends to be over engineered unless you are visiting some pretty rugged areas of the world for very long periods of time. If traveling light is your primary goal and urban travel even on an international basis is your thing then stick with TB gear.
@hasib - I've sent you a private message
After reading the thread over a couple of times, I am not really sure what you mean when you say you "can't see all your stuff"? The point about having organizer pouches and the O rings is precisely that you do NOT have to fish around for stuff. I find the O rings and pouches totally handy. I sort them out by color and kind and use it to keep passport, money, cards, medicines, basic toiletry, cables, receipts etc. organized and separated. And you can hang two or three from one O ring.
If you are the kind that "dumps" everything into a bag, then I am afraid the only thing that will work would be a suitcase style opening..which is going to make the bag not very sleek. In my experience, if you spend a bit of time organizing your stuff in the Smart Alec, and deciding what you want to access and when, you can pack it very efficiently.
I put stuff that I don't need at the bottom; use organizer pouches for most everything else. You can also put your camera into a pouch! I do not have a Synapse, but that does seem very organized.
For daily use on the streets of India: not sure I would carry anything much bigger than a Synapse anyhow!
Have a great trip.
I'm getting organizer pouch. What do you mean by O ring?
Hasib: All TB bags have little "O rings" sewed in from which you can hang or attach organizer pouches. Many of the videos by Maverick--including the excellent one on the Smart Alec--show you how to use the O rings. This allows you to attach pouches and to avoid fishing for stuff in the bag.
The bag opens quite wide..and you can easily see into the bag--cos of the light colored interior. In fact, oddly enough, you can see stuff easier in the Smart Alec than a traditional backpack where you have to fish for things. Think of the Smart Alec opening like a "round opening" ---that allows you to look into a hole or something! Did you watch Maverick's video on the Smart Alec?
Also, with o-rings and straps, you can pull items out (e.g., a glasses case) and let them dangle outside, knowing that you're not going to put them down and forget them.
Originally Posted by gmanedit
I mostly agree with your analysis, however, it seems to me that mtnman has a trend of always pointing out the Red Oxx bags with favorable mention, even though he does not seem to purport he owns one, and by reading his own posts only owns an Ego and has never touched a TB Backpack. If I didn't know better, I'd say RO is paying him for promotion . (I mean seriously, I just think it is bad form.)
That is all, I'm off my soapbox, I just couldn't overlook it again.
NOTE: Upgrade to 3-Day shipping this weekend for $8.00! WHO HOO!!! Thanks TB! --Great deal folks, get 'em ordered, only 2 TB Shopping days left for cheap shipping, that is of course unless you live closely.
See this Blog Post
Last edited by SailorWA; 12-19-2009 at 01:26 AM.
Reason: (the Seam vs. Seem pun wasn't clear, ha I thought it was obvious :)
Hearing your opinion and looking at the videos, it seems Synapse is the closest to what my need is. I
Hey Hasib: great. I think you will be happy with the Synapse for an everyday backpack. It seems less obvious and obtrusive overall. I assume you have travelled in India before; if not, smaller is better! Ask Maverick!
I do possess a Red Oxx --the smaller one. It is HUGE and not small by any means. It is a very different styling: much more "camp like," and very much a traditional backpack design (of the kind favored by Europeans). It holds a ton: the drawstring opening with an extra closure on top is versatile if you are having to bring home a huge loaf of bread and a couple of bottles of wine! I bought it before I knew of TB.
I would say that I find myself taking the Red Oxx when I want a bag that can be used to lug groceries; lots of books from the library; needs to carry jackets and such (lashing straps are nice)--although the Smart Alec does that too.
They have good customer service: both Jim and Amanda there worked a lot with me to customize the backpack straps for me on the Mini Ruck and did not charge for that. I think that is outstanding. I just think it is not a style of bag that I would carry for work, that is all.
They are heavier bags overall, and their quality is fantastic. Be warned: the backpack straps are not modern: they are made like old paratrooper style--so you do carry the weight on your shoulder.
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