Mister Bihn, I must say you make great bags. But who are you? And why do you make bags?
Based in Seattle, Washington, Tom Bihn is the name of the dude who is behind the company featuring his own name. Designing and creating the bags on American soil, they use high quality materials to provide a tough build and offer full color customization so your bag can be unique and eye catching. Each and every bag they make and design has their blood and sweat in it, and with the bags designed based upon customer response and ideas, there are a handful of different bags to choose from, each of which can be customized from straps to colors, to sizes.
Tom Bihn's company logo and mascot (view large image)
The Ego, with various customizable straps, shoulder pads and locking mechanism (view large image)
I have owned the Super Ego for almost three years, the bag has served me well wherever I went with my Asus V6Va in it. The Super Ego is a massive bag, capable of holding a 15” to 17” notebook, as well as 3-4 binders and two textbooks. It's really that massive. However, it is not everyday that I would need to carry such a large load, and this is where the Ego came in. Following is a review on the Tom Bihn Ego messenger bag.
The Ego Specifications
Design and Aesthetics
Though the Ego is smaller than the older Super Ego, it can still carry a lot. It can support up to a 15.4” notebook, but a 17” would definitely not fit. Constructed of ballistic nylon, it's been treated with a water repellent so that you can always be sure your valuables inside will be safe and sound when you reach your destination, even if you've been out in the rain. With an impressive warranty, you can be sure that if anything goes wrong the people at Tom Bihn care and have your back.
The Absolute Shoulder pad, a patented neoprene shoulder pad (view large image)
There are various types of shoulder pads, and this is a very important aspect for messenger bags, as one shoulder carries the full weight. Because of this, the Ego supports and offers different types of shoulder pads for different types of people. The default is a soft foam pad which offers comfort while using the bag, as well as grip which makes sure it doesn't fall off your back. The Q-AM (Quick Adjust Messenger) shoulder pad is also offered, and it is as it sounds. You can quickly adjust the strap to conform with your back and shoulder as needed, as carrying a 14” notebook and binders is very different from carrying a single 12” notebook, so a quick adjust can provide comfort when needed. The strap that was included in the review was the Absolute Shoulder pad (ASP), and it definitely lives up to its name. Made from neoprene, this soft, yet firmly comfortable material stretches and adjusts to conform to one's shoulder. With a unique patented internal control-stretch system (which has received many positive comments, and has given it a well-earned reputation as the best shoulder strap available to all Tom Bihn bags), this shoulder pad can make a full load feel much lighter then it really is. After using the Ego, along with the ASP, I have to say it is as good as it sounds, and is worth the extra cost.
The side pockets for water bottles (view large image)
Back paper pocket. Make sure no physically large items are placed there, as it'll be uncomfortable when using (view large image)
The bag has many physical pockets, and the ones accessible without opening or closing the bag can be found at the back and at the sides. On the back there is a wide paper pocket, perfect for putting notes for last minute cramming before an exam. At the sides are two water bottle holders, which have adjustable straps for smaller drinks, such as a coffee holder for a cup of latte to go.
It's real cork! (view large image)
The seatbelt buckle (view large image)
With over twenty different strip colors and materials for the removable front flap, as well as six different color schemes for the bag itself, you don't have to be like every other dude with a notebook bag. Stand out with a Wasabi Steel color scheme and a reflective strip, or a Hunter green and Steel scheme with a cork flat (yes, cork!) and a seatbelt buckle. That too, is a very unique addition, the front flap can be opened if the seatbelt buckle is undone.
The front flap, opened (view large image)
The many pockets (view large image)
Mesh pockets for accessories and peripherals (view large image)
Opening up the front flap reveals more pockets, two quickly accessible front pockets, and two side zippered pockets. Now these aren't your usual bag zippers, they are high quality oversized and waterproof YKK #8 Uretek zippers. Along the side ends are mesh pockets for holding pens, pencils and highlighters. Further along, there are even more pockets such as mesh pockets for pens, calculators, mice, or any other accessory and peripheral one may own.
Removable pockets (view large image)
The removable pockets can be clipped on for organization purposes (view large image)
Included are four different sized and removable pouches which can be clipped onto the internal side clips. They can be used to organize accessories and peripherals, as well as accessing them quickly for the neat freaks out there.
Opening the Ego, the large zippers can be seen (view large image)
How to contact Tom Bihn (view large image)
“NOUS SOMMES DESOLES QUE NOTRE PRESIDENT SOIT UN IDIOT. NOUS N'AVONS PAS VOTE POUR LUI” Which, in English, translates to “We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him.” Whether it it was an employee putting up a cheap shot on Prez Tom Bihn, or for the current President of the United States, I wonder who? Tom Bihn explains it here (view large image)
Inside the main body, which is opened using the waterproof zippers, is a wide area, with the label and two hooks. The label isn't much – at first. It provides all the information you will need to contact the company, as well as clean the bag correctly. Of course, it also has a slightly controversial message. Is it? It's your call!
First thing to be seen when opening the bag (view large image)
The 'hooks' (view large image)
A binder and a textbook inside (view large image)
Now, the hooks may seem weird, but they are important when used with a Brain Cell. The Brain Cell is an optional accessory, a notebook sleeve. Made from 500 denier Dupont Cordura material, your notebook is cradled in 8mm thick soft foam padding, while being hanged, suspending the notebook in a 4mm hard corrugated plastic insert that protects from all sides; the front, back, and bottom. The sides are protected by dense cross-linked closed-cell polyethylene foam. The Brain Cell is the ultimate sleeve for all the Tom Bihn bags. Along with a mesh side for placing paper and accessories, as well as a tough nylon handle, the Brain Cell can be used by itself or with the Ego to carry the notebook. These hooks snap onto the Brain Cell, which provides a pull support system for the sleeve, while protecting the notebook inside the bag.
Comparing the Ego and the Super Ego (view large image)
The Super Ego swallowing the Ego, swallowing the Brain Cell. Yes, the Super Ego is that large (view large image)
The capacity of the Ego isn't very large, but it was never meant to be like the Super Ego. Being able to carry only two binders with a few textbooks, or a Brain Cell with two binders, it is the perfect bag for a quick lecture, study session or a long day at the library.
Using the bag
There is really not much to comment on. The Ego does exactly what it is supposed to do, and does it very well. It is small enough to not be a hassle while taking it out, yet large enough to carry a notebook. However, users of notebooks larger then 14” may find it a bit cramped and lacking space, as the Brain Cell would take a majority of the space inside, only leaving enough for a single binder or textbook.
After using the Super Ego for 18 months, the Ego was not a disappointment. It had every feature the Super Ego had, and the smaller size was a welcomed change. It was waterproof enough to last me through the wet and snowy seasons of Toronto (which wasn't much this year thankfully!), large enough to carry my books and binders through a deadly back-to-back-to-back-three-three-hour lectures one day last term, rugged enough to last through my abuse of dropping it periodically (with a notebook inside) and stylish enough to get me quite a few of comments and compliments about it.
With many uses, even without a notebook, the Ego is a great bag for anyone. Although on the expensive side, it's definitely worth the cost of it, it's not a mass produced bag made in another country, it's designed and made in Seattle. The customization, warranty, as well as the bag's quality itself guarantees a full lifespan. When combined with a Brain Cell, the Ego makes a great notebook bag, stylish yet with the utmost protection it can have. My Super Ego is almost three years old, and it doesn't even look old, it looks brand new, with no open seams nor scratches. I know the Ego will do the same.
Pricing and Availability
The Tom Bihn bag can be purchased direct via the Tom Bihn website, pricing starts at $130.
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