8th coolest laptop case

ProductDose lists my laptop bag as the 8th coolest laptop case. It was their “pick for the ‘normal’ laptop bag of the lot.”

Empire Builder Steel Crimson

Nice to know I’m normal.

Tom Bihn Bags

I’ve used Tom Bihn bags since before their infamous “Treason Tags”. (The Empire Builder and Brain Cell that I bought two years ago have those tags on them.)

But the reason I like Tom Bihn bags isn’t the label, it was the fact that Tom Bihn is one of the few companies still manufacturing bags in the United States. Their quality, in a word, is bulletproof.

The first time I purchased from Tom Bihn was a laptop hammock back in 2001 for the newly introduced Powerbook G4. That product is now called the Horizontal Brain Cell (Size 4). (One difference is back then, it used metal snap enclosures, now they have a much slicker and simpler buckle enclosure.)

I inserted it into a regular Tumi T2 messenger bag I got on closeout. It was a spiffy combination. Even Steve Jobs was eyeing it—though I think he was noticing the copper-threaded T2 bag, not knowing that there was Apple G4 laptop sitting comfortably in it’s hard-cased hammock.


This brings me to my major complaint of Tom Bihn: it’s not my style. The stuff is overbuilt and utilitarian, but it isn’t sleek or cool. It’s as practical as hiking gear, but not hip like downhill skiing.

The grey cover in the Empire builder actually, over time, has turned an olive green. Bleah! The inside is still a nice, bright red. (Good laptop bag tip: make sure the interior is the most garish color possible. The contrast will make finding shit in it much easier.)

With the brain-cell in there, there isn’t much room in the main compartment for other things (like my Nikon D200). Yes, it is completely bulletproof (two years of daily use and all the zippers work and nothing is fraying), but that sort of thing has its price.

Finally, the bag is absolutely gigantic. I’m not a big guy and I’m absolutely drowning in bag when I carry it around. My ex-girlfriend used to be amazed how I could carry it on my bicycle commute since I’d actually start off lopsided and then do that “reach back and tap” thing to right myself. (Those of you who who bike commute with messenger bags know what I mean.) It’s just that big and heavy.

Now this isn’t a big deal, and when you buy a 17″ laptop, you’re a beggar who can’t be much of a chooser. As laptop bags that safely carry 17″ laptops, folders, and accessories/gadgets go, this is a great one. While this didn’t exist at the time, I’m still not sure I’d have bought something “cooler” looking like the Booq Folee XL.

Booq Folee Black

Instead I’m probably going to go back to 15″. The bag choices are much nicer. 🙂

Timbuk 2 Blogger bag (in silver white silver)

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