Well, I finally have enough cash squirrelled away to order a new EDC bag for myself, which I’d like to do it before the holidays – so I don’t use my TB stash on gifts for others! The problem – and it’s a big one – is which TB bag of the many I admire is best suited for my needs?!? The bags I’ve been considering are the ID, Imago, Ristretto for iPad, Synapse, and as of last week, the Cadet. I’ve read a lot of information on the forum (and other websites) about these bags. Everyone has provided useful information – I’m just having trouble making it fit my personal situation. Also, there’s a chance a family member will generously gift a second bag to me as a Christmas or birthday gift in December. Provided I narrow down my choices before sharing our wish lists over Thanksgiving!
I’ve been carrying a messenger-style briefcase for a while, so I’m used to carrying a bag on a single shoulder (not cross-body). However, I’ve been out in the field a bit lately, carrying my boss’ hiking backpack with our tape measures, files, etc., loaded into it. Now, I’ve started seeing the advantages of a backpack-style bag – hence the inclusion of the Synapse on the list.
On a typical day, I carry the following: leather portfolio with 8.5x11” pad (portfolio is about 9x12x3/8”), 8.5x5.5” notepad, few paper files, several pens and pencils, multi-tool, checkbook in an aluminum cover, calculator, 6” long architectural scale, iPad 2 (in a Cache), iPod Classic, iPhone, Bose MIE2i earphones, chargers and sync cables, gum, TicTacs, wallet, and keycase. I also take either a 27-ounce Kleen Kanteen or a Lifefactory bottle and my lunch. I pack my lunch in a separate insulated soft-sided “lunchbox” I picked up from Lands’ End a few years ago, and I carry my water bottle separately. I wouldn’t mind carrying the water bottle in the EDC bag, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I probably will continue carrying lunch in the insulated bag; I dislike using the office refrigerator (grungy and far from my desk).
Once a week, sometimes more, I also carry a 15.4” MacBook Pro (in a Cache right now) and everal times a month I carry a 1.5” three-ring binder and a couple of spiral-bound notebooks with project notes for meetings out of the office. Occasionally, I need to carry the MacBook and the binder. When I carry the MacBook, I need to take along its charger.
Back in March, I ordered an ID; however, as my order was processed, the ID went out of stock. I was leaving for a trip in a few weeks, so I decided to try the Ego instead. When the Ego arrived, I found it way too big – especially the height. There was a lot of space at the top of the bag that didn’t seem to be good to hold anything – it was well above the height of my portfolio, notebook, and MacBook. This space just seemed to make the bag bulky and floppy, and the extra height didn’t hang very well on my body (I’m only 5’4”).
The ID. Likes –the water bottle carrier, ability to carry my 15.4” MacBook in its Cache, the soft-lined side pockets for iPhone, the multitude of pockets for organizing all the little things I carry. Concerns – too big for EDC? Confusion – the website lists the size as 15.75 x 12 x 5.5”, which doesn’t seem much different than the Cadet that’s listed as 16.25 x 12.5 x 4.5". Yet, the ID is listed as 1275 cubic inches and the Cadet is 825 cubic inches, which does see quite a bit larger. Is the ID size incorrect? Is the size difference between these two bags great? I’d love to see a photo of an ID next to a Cadet, I did a web search, but no luck; the Cadet’s too new.
The Imago. Likes – Overall fun yet classy style, compact for when laptop’s not needed, color selection. Concerns – not enough pockets to safely store little items, plus securely store bulkier wallet, checkbook, and keycase.
The Ristretto for iPad. Likes – no need to carry and keep track of the Cache, vertical nature great on planes and trains, doesn’t call attention to the fact it’s carrying an iPad (unless you’re a fellow TB fan). Concerns – not enough space for all the junk I carry daily. Does an 8.5x11” pad in a portfolio fit? That’s one item I can’t eliminate from my daily haul.
The Cadet. Likes – very clean, low distraction design; good for professional use; TSA friendly (although I don’t fly often). There’s a black/Iberian option, which matches my Aeronaut that I use when I travel (with backpack straps; I love it and use it a couple of weekends per month). Concerns – enough room for all my daily stuff? Work OK without the Cache and laptop on the several days per week I don’t take my laptop to work? Enough room for all the personal items I carry? Will the clean lines bulge when the front pocket is filled with chargers, wallets, and keys?
The Synapse. Likes – great for train and plane travel, multiple packing zones for good organization and separation; dual shoulder carry to ease the burden on my bad shoulder and back. Concerns – not professional enough when I meet with clients, larger than I need. Will it hold a 15.4” MacBook Pro in a 4Z Cache in its main compartment? I’ve looked on the forum for that, but didn’t find an answer.
So, I’m open to advice. I’d like to narrow my choices to the two bags that would be the most useful to me. Probably one for use as an EDC bag for when I take my iPad, portfolio and personal junk and a larger bag for when the laptop, binder, and more are needed.
Wow, I was long-winded tonight! I hope I didn’t bore all of you to tears. Maybe I helped cure someone’s insomnia?!? I’m open to your opinions as to which pairing of bags would best suit my light-duty and heavy-duty EDC bag needs based on the above data. Thanks to all.