The Super Ego Messenger Bag

by Tom Bihn

Filed under: , , , , , by: TRuC

On a recent google inquiry of "What is Seattle known for," I found that the Emerald City is known for many, many things. From the obvious and infamous rain, fish tossing of Pikes Place, the Space Needle, to the almost immediate access of the incredible panorama of sea, sky and mountains of the Pacific Northwest; Seattle definitely ranks high on the tourist allure scale.

What I failed to find on my research, was the undeniable fervor and support for local business. When I first moved here, my long time friend and Seattle resident explained to me that despite its size, Seattle lends itself to creating a small town feel.
It's been about a year now and although I haven't been able to totally find that feeling, I have learned that Seattle has more locally owned businesses than any city I have lived.

There aren't any Wal-Marts on every corner (there's just one that's barely on the cusp of the Seattle border) and a person could drive a single street everyday for months without knowing that they passed several independent shops, restaurants and other businesses.


With that said, in a 7 story building where almost every floor is run by the company I work for, there's a secret floor
that I passed everyday for over 6 months. I had heard rumors of a small business gig that made awesome products. Operating mostly online, you couldn't get into this place unless it was on the one day of the month the showroom was open, or by special appointment. I finally made contact a couple months ago...















For 20 years, Tom Bihn (TB) of Seattle has been cranking out a unique brand of bags that carry the image and reputation of durability and reliability as well as distinctive designs. I met up with June (VP of Production) and Casey (Shipping) one afternoon to tour their shop and to pick a bag for my review.
When I exited the elevator, I was immediately drawn to the fact that TB operates solely out of their office in Seattle. The production area is adjacent to the showroom complete with machines, cutting tables and assembly. No overseas production here. June and Casey were more than happy to let me review one of their bags and basically cut me loose like a child in a candy store to determine which one I wanted.

I chose the Super Ego to satisfy my requirements for a large capacity, do-it-all and take-everywhere needs...some would probably argue that I chose it to match or surpass my own ego.
The Super Ego (SE) is TB's biggest messenger styled bag, boasting 27Litres or 1680Cu.in. I chose this bag because 1) I prefer messenger bags for their easy access 2) its lower profile despite the large, accommodating capacities 3) less back coverage = less sweat 4) I think I favor messenger bags a lot based on my cycling days 5) backpacks remind me of being back in elementary school.

While writing this, I'm constantly reminded of the onslaught of messenger bag styles. From the generic boxy designs of private school book sacks to the strange and somewhat functional pregnant inner tube look, I find that I need to discern the TB designs over the rest:

Quality and innovative materials. The exterior of the SE is made of U.S. 1050 denier Ballistic nylon - the thick, tough stuff. I've taken this bag climbing, runs to the store and on my daily commute via motorcycle and can't make it even appear to be dirty or used. It still looks brand new! I even accidentally shut it in the door of my truck and drove around the city for a day and didn't even kink it. In addition to the bomber materials, I'd suggest also checking out their cork-made materials...pretty cool indeed.The splash-proof zippers never jammed and are more than enough to handle a deluge. It hasn't been raining here much since I got the bag (yeah, believe it) so I took it to the backyard R&D department at my home and hosed it with max pressure. Inevitably, some things got wet after I focused the nozzle onto the zipper to simulate an event that I end up swimming with it.

The fit is pretty comfy. For a bag this size, I was surprised that with my daily work commute load (rain pants, jacket/shell, notebook a wealth of papers and miscellaneous crap I have been too lazy to go through and sort or throw away), this bag felt like nothing on my back. Even on a recent hardware store run where I carried about 10lbs of nails, screws, two tubes of caulk and a jigsaw (yes, a jigsaw), I felt unhindered by the weight or had anything poking into my back- thanks to the incorporated padding.


There are three different shoulder straps available for the SE: The Standard Shoulder Strap (included) is a 1-1/2" wide heavy nylon webbing strap with a comfortable, wide foam pad designed to conform to the shoulder and back. The Absolute Shoulder Strap is designed to alleviate pin point strain on the shoulder by incorporating a stretch/shock absorbing feature in the internals of the strap itself.
Adjustments aren't complicated to make and I couldn't live without their Q-AM Shoulder Strap - a great solution to stabilizing the bag to stay on your back.

One of the major features that sets TB bags apart are the details and the focus for accommodating the user. My other messenger bags were essentially big, unorganized, bottomless pits. The SE has compartments for just about everything. Underneath the cover flap, a big organizer pouch sandwiches a larger main compartment, which is then heeled by a totally separate compartment that is zippered for quick access without having to open/unbuckle the flap. Within the zippered pocket are two bomber clips for the super cushioned TB Brain Cell - Tom's laptop carrier. This is where we could begin a whole new path of discussion...but we won't. This design definitely appeals more to the business side of things where organization is important and to be honest...organization is always a welcomed application to my lifestyle. However, laziness always got the better of me and bypassing the organizational apparatus and treating it as a 'bottomless pit' was just as convenient.
Finally, another noticeable feature worth mentioning would be the reflective strip on the front of the bag. On the front flap of the SE is an interchangeable strip that has a dual purpose of form and function. The strap is pretty cool and available in 19 different colors and different materials (Cork?!). The strip also serves as the buckle for closing the main cover flap. While riding on my motorcycle, I felt a bit more comfortable that this strip was there for added visibility. It almost felt as though this bag was designed for the motorcycle rider...or maybe it's the business minded person that refuses to carry a briefcase...or the urban bike rider...or the guy that just wants a bag that can do it all and carry it all!

So my journey to one of Seattle best kept secrets has landed me in a cool place where bags are a lot more than some chic accoutrement. Quality craftsmanship and a vision towards purpose and dependability puts Tom Bihn in a rare niche outside of the 'planned obsolescence' arena.

2 comments:

On December 8, 2016 at 3:59 AM , Alfaj Ripon said...

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