REVIEW: Tom Bihn Super Ego Notebook Bag

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Date: Monday, December 4th, 2006, 11:00
Category: Luggage

tom-bihn-super-ego-1-250.jpgThe Tom Bihn Super Ego (US$140) is a hybrid messenger/shoulder bag that is designed to fit all sizes of their Brain Cell laptop insert and a lot of other of stuff.
I call it a hybrid because it combines the best feature of a shoulder bag (being able to access contents from the top) and the cool flap unique to messenger-style bags. The bag pictured is the Super Ego in Black/Steel with the Blue seat belt buckle strip.
Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags for over 20 years. The daypacks he made when he was 13 years old are still in use and in Santa Cruz, California, where Tom grew up, his laptop cases and book bags are almost legendary.
Tom is a bit of a renegade too…


tom-bihn-super-ego-1-250.jpgThe Tom Bihn Super Ego (US$140) is a hybrid messenger/shoulder bag that is designed to fit all sizes of their Brain Cell laptop insert and a lot of other of stuff.
I call it a hybrid because it combines the best feature of a shoulder bag (being able to access contents from the top) and the cool flap unique to messenger-style bags. The bag pictured is the Super Ego in Black/Steel with the Blue seat belt buckle strip.
Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags for over 20 years. The daypacks he made when he was 13 years old are still in use and in Santa Cruz, California, where Tom grew up, his laptop cases and book bags are almost legendary.
Tom is a bit of a renegade too as evidenced by the company’s famous “treason tag” (image). The company caused a controversy in April 2004 when new “care instruction” tags were attached to many of their bags. The last two lines of the french version read “NOUS SOMMES DESOLES QUE NOTRE PRESIDENT SOIT UN IDIOT. NOUS N’AVONS PAS VOTE POUR LUI.” Which loosely translates to “We’re sorry our president is an idiot. We didn’t vote for him.”
According to Snopes.com the company maintains that “message began as an inside joke among seamstresses and staff at the Tom Bihn factory, and was apparently intended to poke fun at company’s founder and president, Tom Bihn”
tom-bihn-super-ego-2-250.jpgThe Super Ego’s flap makes it look like a stylish messenger bag, but the large top zipper is more akin to a traditional shoulder bag. Let’s face it, sometimes you don’t want to open a large (and loud) velcro flap just to grab a pen, some papers, even your MacBook Pro. Ever had to unvelcro a messenger bag in a quiet room?
The Super Ego is well built of high-quality materials. My favorite feature, not available in other bags I’ve seen, are the #8 and #10 YKK Uretek “splash-proof” zippers. They keep the moisture and dirt out and give the case a futuristic look.
The large main compartment closes with a #10 YKK Uretek zipper across the top. Under the main flap are two #8 YKK Uretek zippered pockets that are accessible with the flap open or closed. Behind the zippered pockets is a large open pouch for your pens, phone, iPod and a key snap.
The bag itself is large enough to accommodate a 17-inch MacBook Pro and some gear, but it fits other notebooks as well. The notebook fit options depend on what type of insert your choose. Although the back and bottom of the main compartment are padded, you’ll need a laptop insert or “sleeve” to protect a portable computer in transit.
tom-bihn-super-ego-3-250.jpgTom Bihn’s Brain Cell (US$50-55) notebook insert is designed to protect your notebook computer from the bumps and bangs that come with everyday travel. The Brain Cell has two small handles so that it can be carried on its own and even features a mesh pocket for some papers or a magazine. The rest of it is constructed of 8mm of foam padding and a 4mm hard corrugated plastic insert that protects from the front, back, and bottom. The hard plastic makes the Brain Cell one of the toughest notebook inserts I’ve ever seen.
The sides are protected by dense cross-linked closed-cell polyethylene foam. It closes on the top, like a cereal box, with two padded flaps. It even has D-rings on each end so that you can attach a shoulder strap and carry the insert on its own.
Size 1 fits the 17″ MacBook Pro, size 4X fits the 15″ MacBook Pro, size 6 fits the 13″ MacBook. For all other laptops, consult their Fit Guide.
tom-bihn-super-ego-4-250.jpgThey take the straps pretty seriously at Tom Bihn:

The adjustable shoulder strap is made of 2″-wide heavy-nylon webbing and has a 1/2″-thick foam pad girded by a non-slip fabric on the underside. The handle is constructed of Ballistic nylon — wrapped around high-quality, 0.5″-thick Poron foam — with a “just right” center of gravity so that you’ll carry the Super Ego as effortlessly as a typical briefcase.

Specifications:
Volume: 1680 cu.in. / 27 liters
Weight: w/plastic buckle: 2 lb., 10.7 oz. (w/seatbelt buckle 3 lb., 3.1 oz.)
Dimensions: 17″ x 14.5″ x 6.75″ / 370mm x 435 mm x 175 mm
The Super Ego comes in one size and is customizable with Brain Cell notebook inserts (mentioned above). There are plenty of colors to choose from at Tom Bihn. The Super Ego comes in eight color combinations including Black/Black/Steel, Black/Steel/Deep Blue (pictured) and Black/Kiwi/Steel.
tombihn-strips.jpgA decorative strip attached to a 2″ wide heavy-duty plastic buckle closes the flap. Strips can be swapped out to suit any mood or occasion. Additional strips can be purchased for US$5 in Steel, Plum, Olive, Deep Blue, Crimson, and Wasabi (nylon fabric colors), or Blue Glitter and Grey Glitter (Naugahyde colors).
For extra style points swap out the plastic buckle for a cool Seat Belt buckle for US$15 (which adds 5.4 oz.) and add a cat eye reflector for US$12
I really like the Super Ego’s hybrid design and sealed zippers. It’s also very roomy, so you can cram a good amount of gear in it if needed. The Brain Cell notebook insert may be one of the best features. It addition to having great protection, it attaches to the inside of the bag with a unique locking clasp.
The seat belt buckle jingles a little bit when I carry this bag, so I prefer the plastic buckle. There are plenty of strip options so most people will find a color they like.
The Super Ego is a great bag for someone looking for a stylish bag with lots of pockets and access points. The Brain Cell insert offers the best protection of any that I’ve seen. If this particular style doesn’t suit you Tom Bihn has a number of other backpacks and bags that accept their unique insert – which is one of the best reasons to buy a Bihn Bag.
tombihn-super-ego-retail-photo.pngSuper Ego (U$140)
Black/Green with the Blue seat belt buckle.
Additional strips are available for US$5 each.
Tom Bihn, Inc.
2203 1st Ave S, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98134
1-800-729-9607 (US & Canada)
1-206-652-4123 (Other Countries)

http://www.tombihn.com/

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