This post is in no way endorsed or sponsored by the companies whose products are mentioned. These are my own uninfluenced thoughts.
I discovered Tom Bihn bags from a post on the Rands in Repose blog. A lot like me, its author is a bag geek. I devoured all the different scenarios and reasons he is picky in selecting a bag. I nodded my head at all of his points, and by the end was picking apart my existing backpack and immediately had a bad case of bag envy. I was sold on the thought of a new bag, and behold, his post linked off to a few possibilities.
Before picking up the Tom Bihn Buzz Sling Bag, I must admit I was guilty of carrying a bulky backpack. I didn't have much of a choice when my previous laptop was a behemoth 17" MacBook Pro, but when I downsized to a 13" MacBook Air in Summer 2012 I wanted a bag that also matched the streamlined nature of the Air.
My (new) criteria for a daily computer bag includes the following:
The Tom Bihn site has a limited selection of bags, making it easy to pick one simply based on core bag size. Choosing the Buzz bag over the others was an easy choice.
I could weave these thoughts into prose but they are fairly easy to skim:
Shoulder Strap - well formed and fit for the bag. It's wide and sturdy enough, but relatively thin in its thickness, so it doesn't add much bulk when slung over the shoulder and chest.
Shoulder Strap - a little uncomfortable at first and stiff out of the box. I was hoping for thicker padding on the side against the body. When fully loaded (laptop + charger + a thick book + all random cables and gadgets) it weighs unevenly on my shoulder and causes some discomfort.
Shoulder Strap Buckle - a heavy duty plastic buckle fastens the upper strap to the lower strap near the base of where the strap affixes to the bottom of the bag. The buckle is solidly built and makes a satisfying click sound when fastening. The buckle makes it extremely easy to slip out of the bag without lifting it over your head.
Shoulder Strap Thumb Loop - There's a sturdy loop near the phone/wallet pocket on the shoulder strap to insert your thumb and support the weight of the bag after unlatching the buckle. The placement and size of the loop feels very natural when using it. It is easy to then sling the bag somewhere or hold it up to reattach the plastic buckle.
Shoulder Strap Contour - At first the bag didn't feel secured to my body no matter what length I extended or retracted the shoulder strap. After a few months of repeated daily use the strap gave a little and felt more contoured.
Shoulder Strap Pocket - Perfectly cradles my iPhone 4S (with thin case) or my Slimmy wallet. It has enough padding to where I wouldn't be afraid putting it in there and flinging my bag around under normal circumstances. But I find it's my permanent home for my wallet when on the go with my bag.
Shoulder Strap Pocket - Pocket flip-cover is just the right size to still allow a set of normal earbuds to plug into the top of an iPhone 4S or 5 while secured in the pocket.
Side Pocket - A tight fit to accommodate my admittedly large 750mL Nalgene water bottle. The pocket looks like it's more made for a thin aluminum water bottle or small travel umbrella.
Zippers - Two words: HEAVY DUTY. They almost seem to be more heavy duty than a low-profile bag should be. They are perhaps the most durable piece of the bag and I could see them continuing to zip perfectly even after years of use. Not to mention they have a waterproof lining over them. If I were caught in a moderate rain shower I wouldn't be fearful of water seeping in.
Zippers - Both outside pockets offer dual-zippers that zip both ways.
Waist Strap - Would be useful if I planned on using the bag during a more active activity like hiking. The straps hang too low off the back when not in use to tolerate it being attached at all times. Not to mention it looks sloppy hanging off the bag, and goes against my "no useless straps" requirement. My primary use case is transporting my laptop between home and destination so I removed it. It unbuckles after some moderate pressure on each of the metal-hinge plastic connections to the bag.
Large Pocket - Has a great padded separator between the laptop compartment and the main bag compartment. My 13" MacBook Air with Encase padded sleeve comfortably fits in the bag. It could easily accommodate a 15" MacBook Pro, too. The other side of the padded separator is a great place to stash larger cables, a tablet, a medium sized book (400 pages, hardback) or even a second laptop. Even with those compartments full, the bag does not appear bulky.
Small Pocket - Well-angled slots to add pens. They slip in almost sideways and fit like a glove with two normal-sized pens in each slot. There is a bigger pouch for other things, but it feels awkwardly sized. Perhaps it's meant to fit a normal-sized wallet, but I find it's not well secured. I can place a pack of gum or chap stick in there but might find them removed from where I packed them when I arrive. There is also a 6-inch strap with clips on both ends: one to affix it to the bag, one to easily clip your keyring so it doesn't get lost in the clutter.
Flying - When flying with the bag it works perfect as a "personal item" by fitting up under the seat with plenty of room to relax your feet on the bag.
I wish the very front of the bag had a stash pouch for small items such headphones, pack of gum, chap stick, nail clippers, etc. Instead I keep several Ziplock bags, one with cables and connectors, another with over the counter medications and similar. I can open the full front zipper pocket and dig deep into the bag without things tumbling out, but wish it was easier to store things more quickly.
Overall I'm still very happy with this bag. Its streamlined look and low profile make it great for a daily carrier from point A to B or even when flying. It doesn't offer the quick-access pouch I came to rely on with previous bags, but this bag is a keeper and will be my primary bag for years to come.
Sadly this bag design has been "retired" and is no longer available for purchase from the vendor. But if this bag is any indication of the quality of their other bags, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another model.
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