If you have been shopping for a laptop bag (or any bag at all) recently, you probably have heard of Tom Bihn. Tom Bihn is known for their high quality bags which are actually designed and produced in Seattle. Not only does the company participate in fair labor practices with all US made goods, they also are environmentally conscious. How can you go wrong with a company that cares and makes excellent products?
I received the ID messenger bag along with the Brain Cell to protect my MacBook Pro. As a student it is very important to have a sturdy bag to carry my computer in. After using the bag for about a month it still looks exactly the same as the day I got it and it has saved my computer multiple times.
The ID messenger bag ($140) can be used alone or with the Brain Cell. The front flap has a pocket with a splash-proof zipper and both sides have small electronics pockets lined with ultrasuede material and closed with splash-proof zippers. All three of these pockets were very useful, especially the electronics pockets for things like my iPod and sunglasses. The zippers even have a tiny opening so you can pass your earbud cord through without worries of damage. The inside of the bag has two pockets, an organizer pocket for pens and other small items and a large main pocket. The main pocket can be used for holding books or it can hold a Horizontal Brain Cell which can be locked in place using the built in (and removable) annex clips.
When the Brain Cell is installed, the main pocket is full so you just have the front pocket to work with. While this is enough to hold pens, pencils, and some computer accessories, there is no room for books. With the Brain Cell removed, the bag can hold one average sized textbook or a few novels, folders, and a binder.
The ID is also ultra-customizable. The shoulder strap is removable, allowing different straps to be attached. You have a choice of the standard strap, Absolute shoulder strap ($20), or the Q-AM shoulder strap ($15). While the standard strap is excellent, I really liked the Q-AM strap. Q-AM stands for Quick-Adjust Messenger and it is exactly that. It includes a stabilization strap that hooks to the bag to keep it on your back, making it ideal for riding a bike. I also found it useful to keep the bag out of the way while riding the bus. The Absolute shoulder strap has a soft, neoprene pad and with a specialized stretch backing for extra comfort.
A few other useful accessories that can be added to the bag are organizer pouches ($5-$10) and key straps ($2) which clip onto rings inside the smaller inside pocket and help keep your small items organized.
The Brain Cell ($60) case allowed me to safely carry my MacBook Pro in the ID messenger bag. The Brain Cell is hard sided and has plenty of soft padding inside to make me feel safe while carrying my laptop on the bus, to class, and to the library. The top has a secure velcro closure, and the case even features handles and D-rings (for attachment of a strap) if you want a minimalist (but still extremely protective) laptop case.
Overall I was highly impressed with the quality, durability, and protection of the ID messenger bag and Brain Cell laptop case from Tom Bihn. The ID is a great medium sized messenger bag either alone or with the Brain Cell and I highly recommend the combo.