Tom Bihn Smart Alec and Monolith Computer Bags Review
two schools of thought on bags intended especially for carrying around computers
and like-wired accessories. Either you got it for free when you bought your
notebook, or you went out and specifically found a designer bag that a.) looks
decent, and b.)
is bound to be another colour other than black.
face it, most of us are pretty cheap
and tend to use whatever the store is 'giving away' at the time we bought our
"precious...." (notebook that is). These default standard computer bags tend to be
pleather, pretty utilitarian, and the equivalent of the 1980's brown Columbo
trench coat. In other words, they get the job done but you end up looking like
just another computer geek toting around a 20lb black rectangular bag make from
plastic cows that don't mooo.
there are better options
out there; bags that will protect a notebook from bumps, hold more
wires and cables, and frankly look a damn-sight cooler. The Tom Bihn Smart Alec and
Monolith bags are just two such options. The "Smart Alec" is
the knapsack, and the "Monolith" is the specially designed semi-soft
shell case that snugly protects a notebook inside the cavernous bay of
The names may be a little kitschy,
but the bags themselves are well made and fairly well thought out. And if
you can step past the nomenclature that makes you feel like you're in a Toys
'R' Us buying Playschool accessories for a 4 year old, you begin
to see the two separate items as a complimentary pair of layered protection
for your digital investments.
They can be used independently, but function best
when the Monolith is locked to the inside of the Smart Alec knapsack.
First let's look at the
Smart Alec, then we'll move onto the Monolith...
The Smart Alec comes in a Life
Savers roll of colours including; Crimson, Grape, and Charcoal (red, purple,
gray), and retails for exactly $100USD through the www.tombihn.com online store.
Are you a Smart
A measure of the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon
yarn that relates to the thickness of the fiber. The higher the denier,
the stronger the fibers.
The Crimson Smart Alec knapsack we looked at measures
18.5" x 11.75" x 7.75", and has a capacity of approximately 1475 cu. in., or 24 liters. The bag itself is constructed from 1000 denier Cordura and 1050 denier Ballistic Nylon.
The two smaller side compartments on either side of the Smart
Alec use #9 YKK zippers, and the
large bay uses a rubber coated water-resistant #10 YKK zipper that should handle
the stress and strain for many years.
The arm pads of the Smart Alec break from
traditional thick-padded knapsacks, and are a slightly slimmer 1/4" thick. The
Smart Alec tends to ride high on the back, so adjustable sternum and waste
straps are also provided for a better body-fit. Tom Bihn recommend the bag for
people up to about 6'2" in height, so most folks, even those in the 5'2" range,
can wear it comfortably without looking silly.
inside of the
main bay is lined with gray 500
denier Cordura, which does double duty by protecting the internal waster resistant urethane
coating on the external layer of fabric. The bag is not waterproof
in the sense you could take it diving, but it has more than a few precautions built
in to ensure electronic gear stays dry during a heavy rainfall, for example. As
any university student will tell you, after a while all water resistant coatings
tend to wear down though.
Speaking of which, carrying
odd shaped and pointy objects (like physics books, or a bundle of
power bars) is made much easier thanks to a layer of padding on the
backside, and bottom of the Smart Alec knapsack.