Tom Bihn is in the business of making laptop bags and pride themselves on a reputation of providing a high quality product with design based on customer feedback. The Super Ego is a messenger style bag that can carry your laptop, of any size, along with a whole bunch of other stuff -- this is a big bag. You're also able to customize the color and strap style so you can be as suttle as you want or as loud and obnoxious as you like with your oversized messenger bag.
About the company
Tom Bihn is the name of a guy and the name of the company he runs in Seattle, Washington. You can see more about him here: http://www.tombihn.com/tombio2.html. The company makes and designs their products right there in Seattle. They use high quality materials and construction and cater to folks who like to be able to customize things and hate to just have another black bag that looks like the rest of 'em. They seem to be pretty popular with the Apple crowd, but their bags of course work for any laptop.
Super Ego Bag Specs
Super Ego Backpack with metal seatbelt buckle (view larger image)
The Super Ego is constructed of a very rugged ballistic nylon material and you won't find a loose seam anywhere. If you do you can return the bag and they'll fix it, satisfaction is guaranteed (http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=001&Category_Code=_GUAR). The bag is also treated on the outside with a water repellant and inside a Cordura lining helps prevent water from getting in. Special splash proof zippers on two front pockets keep things such as passports and tickets dry. The bag is not waterproof, just water resistant for those times you have to dash through the rain to get to shelter. You'll get wet, your valuables will not.
When you walk into a retail store such as BestBuy and look at the selection of bags, the color choice is usually black, black or black. And this is a fine color to have for a bag, it hides dirt and looks professional. But who wants to look like the next guy, the next guy and the next guy? On the Super Ego Tom Bihn allows you to customize strap colors and the main bag color too. Do you like green and want a kiwi and olive colored bag? No problem:
Wassabi and olive color bag with plastic buckle
The bag above has a plastic buckle, you can opt for the seat belt style metal buckle:
Super Ego bag with blue strap and seat belt buckle
The seat belt buckle is certainly eye-catching and looks cool, but it adds a pound to the overall weight. I have this bucke and love the retro look it gives, but it makes noise and jangles a lot too as you walk and so I would recommend going with the lighter and less noisy plastic buckle. However, if you're into aviation or race car driving and see the seat-belt buckle as a way to express yourself, by all means go ahead.
If you want to buy an extra color strip to put in the front strap area, so you can change color with your mood or the season, a color strip costs $5 and are available in colors from plain black to plum.
So design and looks are great, but how well does the bag do in actually carrying your laptop and the rest of the stuff you carry around on a daily basis? The quick answer to that is, very well.
The Super Ego is big, so big in fact that a petite girl would look pretty odd carrying this thing. Even a small guy might look a little funny carrying it. I'm exactly average as far as height goes for males (5' 11 or so, a smidge under) and if the bag were much larger I'd feel petite. But the point is you can fit up to a 17" screen laptop -- which means any laptop fits until somebody releases a 19" screen notebook next year (it'll happen). Even with a large laptop inside you'd still have room for much more stuff in the pocket areas, document storage areas and even main compartment. Messenger bags often won't fit the 9lb+ beast sized notebooks we see today, but this bag does.
If you've got a lot of stuff in your bag, you're going to need some good shoulder protection with that weight you'll be supporting. Luckily the Super Ego shoulder strap offers a 2" wide nylon strap that is nicely padded by 2.5" wide foam protection where it meets your shoulder. If you need to rest your shoulder, the briefcase style handle that consists of ballistic nylon wrapped around Poron foam is a sturdy and easy to grip alternative carry method. There's also a waist strap on the back of the bag that you can use for extra security, if you don't want it (as I didn't), you can simply remove it.
So it's a hot and humid day (like it is today as I type this) and you'll be lugging around a large laptop, PDA, and unfortunately a text book. That'll make you sweat. Good job there's two areas to put a water bottle in this bag, you'll need two just to stay hydrated. Oh, and sweat all you like, the water protection coating on the bag should keep those loose papers dry from your sweat (ewww!).
Tom Bihn Super Ego bag with the front flap up (view larger image)
Once you lift up the front flap on the bag you'll find two front pocket areas that you can toss in such things as your keys, passport, calculator, tickets or anything else you'll need fast and easy access to. The the sides of these pocket areas have the zippers if you want to store things more securely and in a more water resistant area. The passport or wallet might be better off in such a place. The zippers are secure yet nice and easy to pull, so fast access isn't too much of a problem.
Behind this pocket area is a bin that's about 13" wide and can fit something like a paper spiral notebook or some loose documents. There's a row of holder thingies of various sizes along the back of this bin that will hold your pens and pencils, a PDA an MP3 player or whatever other small gadget you might carry.
A look inside the front main pocket area (view larger image)
A look inside the main comparment of the Tom Bihn Super Ego (view larger image)
The main compartment of the bag is where you can put your laptop. It's a huge area that'll fit just about any laptop, it's easily accessible and you don't need to have the front flap of the bag up to get to it. There's a lot of space inside the compartment, but not a whole ton of padding in this area, so I'd recommend getting the optional Brain Cell laptop sleeve/carry protector that will fit inside this area and offer superb protection for your laptop. Here's a description of the Brain Cell as taken from the Tom Bihn site:
The Super Ego will accept all six sizes of the Brain Cell and, therefore, 99% of existing laptops. Inside the Brain Cell, your laptop is cradled in 8mm thick soft foam padding, and hangs suspended in a 4mm hard corrugated plastic insert that protects from the front, back, and bottom. The sides are protected by dense cross-linked closed-cell polyethylene foam. This offers the toughest protection you can get for your laptop in a case that is still light and minimalist.
Link to Brain Cell product page: http://tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0300
Removable clips inside this main compartment that correspond to hooks on the Brain Cell allow you to secure the Brain Cell in place so your notebook doesn't jostle and bump around inside the bag. Don't forget, if you ever need to go anywhere in a minimalist fashion with your laptop, the Brain Cell functions as a stand alone carry case as well.
Brain Cell front profile (view larger image)
A view above the Brain Cell, you can see a laptop would fit snuggly in and be protected (view larger image)
On the back of the case is a loose flap style pocket with no zipper or anything that you can throw some papers in you might need fast access to. You know, the notes from that meeting or class you missed that's causing you to have to run down to the local copy shop to make copies from your friend that was more punctual.
Stupid President Washing Instructions
This may or may not be a selling point for you, but something that is good to be aware of. If you like our current President (only 40% of the country does right now apparently), then be aware you're buying a product with a washing instruction label that has a "bit extra" about our President added to the French language part of the instructions. Below the English instructions are the French instructions that contain a line that say "NOUS SOMMES DESOLES QUE NOTRE PRESIDENT SOIT UN IDIOT. NOUS N'AVONS PAS VOTE POUR LUI." Which en anglais means "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him." Tom Bihn the company claims this "president" is Tom Bihn the man (company president) that's being referred to, I think it's quite obvious it's referring to George Bush here. The company claims it was a prank that certain employees slipped by the radar. I find the label quite funny, others may not, others will buy the bag purely because of the label. Tom Bihn explains this label here: http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/CTGY/CARELABEL
The Super Ego is a very well constructed bag, thoughtfully designed messenger style bag that provides oodles of room. It's probably a bit big for anyone with a 12" or smaller notebook, your notebook might drown in the room available and you'd have to dig to find it. But if you'll be carrying text books and a small laptop, or just a really big laptop, or just a lot of text books and no laptop (you get my point) then this bag will fit the bill. The bag is pricey, it starts at $140. That's the price you pay for customization, a satisfaction guaranteed warranty, high quality materials and small company that designs and produces their own bags locally. If you buy the bag, I recommend saving on weight and going with the plastic buckle, the choice of colors -- well that's up to you!
Where to Buy:
Direct from TomBihn.com: http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/300/TB0825
Visit the Tom Bihn retail store in Pioneer Square Seattle, WA or the flagship store located at 108 West First St., Port Angeles, Washington
more than 100 focused websites providing quick access to a deep store of
news, advice and analysis about the technologies, products and processes crucial
to the jobs of IT pros.
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2000 - 2013, TechTarget | Read our Privacy Statement