Please help me choose
Please help me choose a bag! I'm mostly trying to decide between the ID, the Empire Builder, and the Western Flyer.
I basically need a briefcase to carry books/files/pens/small electronics and sometimes a laptop that looks solidly professional day-to-day (although a sleek backpack would not be out of the question). I am not doing a lot of air travel right now but might ramp up at some point during the life of the bag.
I'm not particularly fond of the flap and collapsing contours of a typical messenger bag, nor do I want something that looks boxy like a typical laptop bag. The ID looks interesting (despite its messenger bag foundation) and I particularly like the water bottle holder (having a water bottle kicking around inside a briefcase is awkward, tends to rumple papers/books, and is an accident waiting to happen). I like the Empire Builder but wonder if it isn't too structured/boxy, looking too much like a laptop bag, esp. with that big plastic clip in front (also lacks the water bottle holder). The Western Flyer is sleekly attractive (and the backpack straps useful for big loads/long distances) although it lacks obvious places for pens/biz cards/etc. (water bottle) and I wonder if it isn't just too big and "suitcasey"-looking for "briefcase" use. Further complicating matters, the Brain Bag looks nice but probably is too big and if investing in a backpack I would probably go for something more geared to hiking use.
If the Empire builder were a little bit sleeker (no big plastic clip), had a place for a water bottle like the ID, and hidden backpack straps like the Western Flyer, I would probably be sold immediately. Instead I need to figure out what to compromise.
Thanks for input.
It may be costlier, but a Western Flyer (backpack straps,bottle) plus a Brain cell (laptop), Freudian Slip (pens,cards), and a couple of organizer pouches (more organization) clipped onto the WF's o-rings could satisfy your needs.
I strongly considered using my Tri-Star as a laptop/briefcase before just buying a (just arrived!) Black/Indigo/Steel Empire Builder. The Tri-Star's 3 "skinny" compartments would be less than convenient for my needs. You may not have that issue with the 2 compartments of the Western Flyer.
I often put a water bottle in the diagonal open pocket on the front flap of my Zephyr. It holds a 10 oz bottle nicely.
I imagine the Empire Builder pocket would hold a larger bottle.
The above is exactly what I was going to suggest based on samovar's needs and preferences stated in the original post.
Originally Posted by PanicKing
+3 for the Western Flyer with the accessories mentioned above. You get a fully functional briefcase that can be turned into a travel carry on if/when your needs change.
Originally Posted by Just
The Freudian Slip is very useful even by itself and a brain cell no longer used for a particular laptop is extremely handy to protect any valuable electronic.
I have the same setup with the Brain Bag.
In know in my Empire Builder I rarely clip the Brain cell in as it would leave me with useless space on both sides.
So I offset the Brain Cell and then stick a water bottle next to it.
Fit is great and I have taken countless trips this way without incident of any kind between the water and electronics.
I can also get a fairly stuffed Snake Charmer in this way next to a BC.
If I had any bigger laptops I guess I would clip the BC in but so far it has not happened.
I think the Western Flyer is not too big or boxy looking for your needs. The horizontal Freudian Slip would work to keep loose papers, pens, pencils, and other stuff organized. Personally, I just clip pouches of various sorts, including the pen/pencil pouch into bags and often do not necessarily want pen holders etc., --since it is easier if I am switching bags to simply swap out various pouches than redo everything.
Water bottle: you could put it inside the front compartment of the WF without too much hassle. If you get a leak proof one it should not be a problem.
WF is by no means big. In fact, its dimensions if not fully packed or loaded is no bigger than most standard briefcases. In fact, it looks less bulky underpacked than the Waterfield Designs briefcase (the Cozmo) that I also own. I have mine in steel and it looks really sharp. And it is a great carryon.
Of all TB bags, I think the WF and the Imago are by far my favorites, and they can do lots of different duties and are versatile.