The Brain Bag is a powerhouse of a pack and for those of you who have been on the fence over the (many, many) years we’ve offered it and are thinking of jumping on it now, this will be a run down of all the various bits and bobs that you can fit in its cavernous pockets (warning: it’s a lot!)
To start with, depending on what you’re using your Brain Bag for, you might need very little or no additional organization at all. Like many of Tom’s designs, there’s enough built-in pocketry that you might like using it au naturale. However, if you prefer having a place for everything (and having everything in its place), then here are some examples of what TOM BIHN accessories will fit where. It’ll be up to you to decide which, if any, you need – I mean you are after all the Cicely Tyson, of your Brain Bag organizin’.
First, let’s start with the main compartments. That’s right, compartments – with an S. The Brain Bag boasts two, count ‘em, two main compartments, both alike in dignity (and size!) Here’s how to fill ‘em up:
- Packing Cubes – We don’t make packing cubes specifically for the Brain Bag, but that’s ok – we don’t need to! The cubes made for the Techonaut/Aeronaut 45 fit great (the ones for the Techonaut/Aeronaut 30 fit well, too; they’re just a tad smaller). You can fit a Large and either a Small or an End Pocket Cube in each of the main compartments. If they’re super stuffed, you might not be able to get the Small/End Pocket cube in there, too – remember, in packing as in all things, moderation is the key.
- The Cache – Originally designed as a laptop bag, the Brain Bag still excels at that role, especially for folks who need to carry huge or multiple laptops. To protect your devices, you can attach any two Cache laptop sleeves to the Brain Bag (though it can hold several more).
- Cafe Bags – Either the Small or Medium Cafe Bags will fit in the main compartments, allowing you to carry a smaller bag to take with you if your adventures call for a more clandestine silhouette.
- Daylight Backpack – Same as above, but if you’d rather have a more svelte backpack option.
- The Pilot or Daylight Briefcase – I put these in the same entry as they’ll serve similar functions in the Brain Bag: modular briefcase units. If you bike to the office, you may need a good size backpack to carry everything you need on your back (panniers are cool, but not for everyone). This way you can carry it all in the Brain Bag, and have a fantastic briefcase with your laptop and work related accessories in a neat package that can be simply pulled out when you get to the office. The Pilot has a bit more volume (and a killer coffee tumbler/water bottle pocket), while the Daylight is sleeker and leaves more room for other items in the pack.
- Large Snake Charmer – A bit too big for the lower pockets (see the Small Snake Charmer down below), the Large Snake Charmer fits nicely at the bottom of either main compartment. Its original intention was to wrangle your cords, chargers, and other computer accessories, and it still does that job extremely well. Fun fact, the Snake Charmer was originally designed for the Brain Bag (note the distinctive curve of the top of the Brain Bag, and then the shape of the Snake Charmer.) The shape of the Charmer changed a bit over time, as its spot at the top of the Brain Bag (it used to ride on top of our old laptop case, the Brain Cell, Master-Blaster style) was no longer the best place for it, and we made it a bit rounder to give it more volume.
- Size 2 Handy Little Thing – The bigger of the two HLTs is a little large for the bottom pockets (see below), but works great attached to the pair of o-rings or Cache loops at the top of either main compartment. The HLTs come with a pair of Double Swivel Carabiners in black clipped to their backs to use for this, so you won’t need to buy any extra hardware.
- The Grab Bag – One of the relatively new accessory bags in our lineup, the Grab Bag is the same size as the Large Snake Charmer, but with just one big pocket instead the two divided ones, and full-fabric sides, rather than mesh. Great as a catch-all bag or toiletry kit, it rests nicely at the bottom of either compartment.
- The Standard Spiff Kit & Deluxe Spiff Kit – If you’re looking for a dedicated toiletry kit, we have ‘em! Both sizes feature mesh pockets, a hook for hanging (in case you have a towel rack, but no counter space), and a removable mirror. The Deluxe is bigger, and comes with four mini Nalgene containers attached with hook & loop to a fold-away shelf.
- A5 Ghost Whale Pouch, Medium Clear Organizer Pouch, & Medium Padded Organizer Pouch – The largest of the organizer pouches can clip onto the o-rings in the main compartments and handle larger items or lots of smaller items that you don’t want rolling around in the bottom of the bag.
- The Brain Bag Freudian Slip – The Freudian Slip is an organizational insert we make for several of our bags, shaped to fit neatly inside them. This one is no different, filling the 2D space in a main compartment, and providing a cavalcade of pen slots and a pair of mesh pockets on the front to fill with the little stuff in your life, while the back has four large open-topped pockets for folders, papers, devices, etc. Each pocket is a different depth, so you could totally put a (small) laptop or tablet in one and keep it off the bottom of the bag.
The main compartments are pretty big, and a lot of the things we make fit into them. If something I didn’t cover looks like it might fit in there, it probably will.
Now let’s get into the smaller pockets. The small top pocket is a great place for little stuff you need at a moment’s notice, and you might not need any extra organization in here at all, beyond a small Pouch. Here’s a list of accessories that fit:
- Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch – The Small, Mini, and Super Mini sizes fit up here, either loose or attached to the included 8” Key Strap, and thence to the o-ring in the upper left corner of the pocket.
- Mini Clear Organizer Pouch – Similar in function to the Ghost Whale, but in a slightly different form factor, the Clear Organizer Pouch in the Mini size would work great in here.
- Mini and Micro Padded Organizer Pouches – A padded version of our beloved organizer pouches, these tiny ones are useful for adding a little protection to whatever small, delicate items you might want to have easy access to.
- Nik’s Minimalist Wallet – All four styles of our Minimalist Wallets would be awesome up here; the #4 with its webbing loop allowing you to attach it to a Key Strap and o-ring, might be the awesome-est.
- The Cubelet – This little guy fits up here, but barely. If you really wanted a small 3D container up here for something specific, and you didn’t want that something to just hang out in the pocket, this one might work for you.
- Q-Kits – Another 3D option, and a bit smaller and easier to fit up here than the Cubelet, is the Q-Kit in either Small or Mini size. Shaped a little like a fortune cookie, it's adorable and highly functional, with a snaphook for o-ring attachment.
- Key Straps – All of the other items in the list for this pocket can be attached to the pocket’s o-ring with either the included Black 8” Snaphook/Snaphook Key Strap, or with one of the other colors/lengths/styles we offer. Get Nuts – With Key Straps!™
Next, we’ll go for the two side pockets near the bottom of the bag. They’re the same size as each other, but mirrored, and both have additional pockets and pen slots inside. Here are some smaller items that can help you further organize these already well-organized compartments:
- Small Snake Charmer – Once filled with cables, dongles, and the like, it’ll ride in either side pocket, though if it’s stuffed to capacity, it’ll fit better in a main compartment.
- Size 1 Handy Little Thing – The smaller HLT 1 fits great here, while the larger HLT 2 can fit, but it would need to be fairly under-stuffed. Again, like the Snake Charmers, the big one works better in the main compartments (see above).
- 3D Organizer Cube, Clear & Cubelet – These mini-cubes represent small, chonky, and frankly adorable organization that can hold a few things (or a very few things) neatly and compactly. They’re also kinda flat, which leaves plenty of room for pens and things in the slots and pockets in the two side compartments.
- Everyday Cubelet – The big sib of the Cubelet, it’s a tiny side-bag in its own right. Great to keep in a side compartment and retrieve when you just need something for your wallet, phone, sunglasses, etc. Comes with a slender shoulder strap – throw it on cross-body and go!
- Side Effect – Like the idea of a little cross-body bag-within-a-bag? Want it to be a little bigger? The Side Effect has it covered. Same slim shoulder strap as the Everyday Cubelet, but in a more horizontal format, rather than vertical. Also has loops to wear it as a waist pack with the optional Gatekeeper Waist Strap (you can use the slightly wider version that comes on the Brain Bag, too.)
- Ghost Whale, Clear, & Padded Organizer Pouches – The Small size and smaller of each style of Pouch fits in these pockets, and can clip to the o-rings within them, either on their own with their built-in snaphooks, or via a Key Strap.
You might have noticed the mesh pocket on the outside of the left-hand pocket and thought, "But wait! What can you put in there?!" The answer, my friend, is whatever you want. It's a great place for a water bottle, though it may unbalance your pack (the center between the side pockets, using the straps and triangle clip, is another good spot for a bottle that will keep you balanced). It's open-topped, though, so while a lot of the things that'll fit in a side pocket will fit in there, they can also not fit in there, if you catch my drift (my drift is that they could fall out or get swiped).
So there you go, a pretty comprehensive list of what-goes-where in the Brain Bag. Didn't see an item we make in the list and curious where it might fit? Have a Brain Bag yourself and have a great way to pack it? Drop a note in the comments below or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tune in next time when we cover…some other bag! Same BIHN time, same BIHN channel!
Bob Grenader - October 26, 2022
Wow, you’ve breathed new life into my Brain BagI. I am traveling right now with an Aeronaut, and when I get home, IO am going to see if I can get everything I have now into my BB!!