By Amos Kwon
on 7.5.11
Photo by Renae Brossman

Messenger bags can either be a huge help or a huge pain for cyclists or commuters, depending on quality and design. We’ve been through my fair share of them in the past year to know what works and what doesn’t. Well, Tom Bihn has a formula that works and works wonders. Tom Bihn is a Seattle-based luggage and travel accessories company, priding themselves on keeping their products made with outstanding quality in America, which we love. We had the opportunity to take their fantastic Aeronaut to Vietnam last year and now we’re testing their versatile SuperEgo ($170) messenger bag on the work commute and bike rides. We were amazed by how much thought went into this bag, just as thoughtfully put together as the Aeronaut, if not more so. A full review after the jump.

First off, let’s take a look at the exterior design. It looks different from the ubquitous monochromatic bags you’ve seen. Available in multiple color combinations, it is a standout. Also, this is a large bag but it’s by no means overwhelming. The material itself is a high quality, dense nylon weave that stands up well to moisture and the elements. You’ll also take note of the interchangeable front strap insert, which adheres to the outer flap via velcro and elastic. With 19 color and material choices for this strap, you can customize your bag based on design preference and practicality. Choose black for a more subdued look, reflective for safety and even the rustic cork strap for your nature rides through the woods. One of the best aspects of this customizable feature isn’t just the colors but the option to add the Guardian Light or a seat belt clip. Any way you slice it, the one-handed clip operation makes life that much easier. Whether on the bike or trying to keep a grip on a large coffee on the morning train, interior bag access with two hands just isn’t an option.

This size of the bag is key. Utilizing the ingenious optional Horizontal Brain Cell, you can house up to a 17″ laptop in thick padded safety as you negotiate angry cabbies and oblivious pedestrians. You can even choose the size Brain Cell that works for you. Even with the Brain Cell safely clipped into the bag’s main compartment, there’s still plenty of room to carry all of your necessities with the large rear pocket and the underflap main pocket with multiple compartments and two clips for your keys. In total, the SuperEgo was able to carry a laptop, an iPad 2, two thick novels, a bevy of pens, a fixed blade knife, Android cell phone, iPod, glass case, two water bottles and four magazines without even trying. Okay, so the load was heavy, but everything was secure. There was even room in the optional Freudian Slip organizer that goes from desk to bag, so the slew of office documents wouldn’t get crushed. There was enough room for all of it.The YKK Uretek sealed waterproof zippers make sure any kind of spill, rain or leakage doesn’t make its way onto your precious goodies.

Details like the zipper pulls show the extra mile to which Tom Bihn designers go, and they make a difference. Even the two water bottle pockets have compression straps. A very nice touch. You wouldn’t want your raspberry Crystal Light to go hurtling through space just because you took a hard turn. Also, the removable webbing strap keeps your bag situated on your back during the most aggressive rides. Another nice touch is the outer flap, that tapers upward slightly, making you wonder what purpose it serves. Well, the flap can stay buckled, and you can still reach into the large front pocket to access keys, pens, etc. with a fair amount of ease. This feature was especially convenient when only one hand was free. Finally, if you’re as finicky as we are, you’ll be happy to know you can choose a shoulder strap that works best for you. Choose from the Standard Strap, to the Quick-Adjust Messenger Strap to the incredibly comfortable, shock absorbing Absolute Shoulder Strap, which moves with your body to handle heavy loads. On more than one occasion, the Absolute Strap saved my shoulders and my back.

In total, the SuperEgo was able to carry a laptop, an iPad 2, two thick novels, a bevy of pens, a fixed blade knife, Android cell phone, iPod, glass case, two water bottles and four magazines without even trying.

The SuperEgo isn’t just a messenger bag. It’s a well thought out commuter gear haven that the minds at Tom Bihn actually took the time to truly think about. If you’re looking for a messenger/laptop/commuter bag that is as tough as nails, solidly made and wonderfully personal, look no further. Tom Bihn’s got it nailed. It’s a SuperEgo stroke of the highest order. We suggest you take it for a spin. You won’t know what you did without it.

Buy Now: $170

Photos by Renae Brossman for GP

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