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Tom Bihn Forums: Community discussion on travel bags, laptop bags, and backpacks. Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags since 1972. The best materials and innovative construction.

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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    1

    Red face backpack vs messenger bag

    I'll be going to uni soon, and will be getting an Apple iBook 12'' ... I'm finding it hard to decide between a backpack and a mesenger bag... In college I usually carry a handbag filled with everything I need that could fit in it, and carry my files/books with my free hand... What I can remember about messenger bags is someone advising me to stay away from it, since when you carry it the weight is concentrated on only one side of your body, which could cause some health-related problems... Backpacks are more balanced of course, but I'm not sure it'd go with my style, since I prefer something more elegant... I was thinking of getting a Brain-Cell/Monolith first, then i'd have to decide whether I want to use a vertical backpack or horizontal messenger bag first! help, anyone?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    261
    It sounds like you're going to match the kind of bag you get to the braincell/monolith. Since the larger bag is the most important decision that seems like going about it backwards.
    There are a lot of reviews of the id messenger and it sounds like it goes across the chest rather then putting the weight on one side.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    32
    Hi there!

    I have a 12" Powerbook and have had the chance to carry it in numerous situations with varied loads in different Tom Bihn bags. I would think your options are 3-fold. Either the Smart Alec or ID Messenger bag with a size 5 Brain Cell (or a size 5 Monolith with the Smart Alec if you can wait until late July when it debuts.) Or you might want to consider the Buzz sling bag which has a padded compartment which accommodates a 12" Powerbook or iBook. Both Tom and I routinely carry our 12" Powerbooks and daily accoutrements in a Buzz. It depends on how much other "stuff" you intend to carry and which style bag you prefer. For a college student with books etc., I would think the larger capacity options (ID or Smart Alec) would be better. When I carry the ID, I do carry it across my body with the bag resting against my back, rather than on one side or the other, and find it to be quite comfortable. The Smart Alec is also a very comfortable backpack to carry and you can fit quite a bit into it. Those are my observations at this point. Hope it's helpful.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Carrboro, NC
    Posts
    8
    It depends on your body size. I've wrestled with this question a lot because I have a small upper body (think size 6) and walk a lot on campus and around town. For me, I've gone mostly with backpacks because I wanted the weight distributed evenly. The problem is that most of them are too big for me, either too broad in the shoulders or too long in the torso and after a time using them my shoulders really hurt.

    Last year, i ran into another problem. i got a 12" thinkpad, which at the time was the thinnest lightest notebook available. Bags designed to be laptop backpacks didn't work because the laptop floated around too much and the backpad ended up buckling because of it. So now, i use the size 5 mitre with the large cafe bag and wear it across my body. I like it because I can place it so that most of the weight is on my back (rather than hanging below my waist) though it did take some effort to get the strap short enough. The problem is that it isn't big enough to carry more than a laptop and a textbook so I end up with a 2nd bag when I want to carry more stuff.

    I've been eyeing the ID bag. Can anyone tell me if it would be feasible to wear it across body with most of the weight against my back?

    I did try the Buzz but had to return it because it couldn't hold much more than the laptop. The cafe bag has the advantages of the slingback in that it is easy to switch the bag forward to get stuff out without taking it off though it doesn't distribute the weight quite as well as the Buzz.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    16
    Tessa,

    I can't answer your ID question, but I do have some insight into the backpack issue.

    I had the same problems with backpacks, especially laptop backpacks, which all seem to be made for 6' guys. I got the Smart Alec a couple of months ago and am really happy with it. The bag is short enough to fit my torso (5'4" and about a size 6 on top) and the computer hangs from back of the bag so the weight is near my shoulders rather than my bum. I haven't had any shoulder/back problems since I got the bag. (Note that I always attach the sternum strap so that the shoulder straps don't move around so much.) The bag itself always seems to hold just one more thing and the side pockets are very nifty. I also like the fact that the bag stands upright by itself, which makes loading it up much easier.

    Good luck resolving your dilemma!

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    84
    I carry the ID in the manner mentioned by Tessa -- crosswise with most of the weight on my back. You have to keep the strap cinched up shorter than the way most people wear it, but it works fine.


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