Review: Tom Bihn Imago
The Tom Bihn IDis a pretty nice messenger bag, especially if you have to carry a lot. What if you want something a little smaller, say, for just your laptop, a few papers, and an iPod? Most people would buy a generic laptop case, but many times the messenger bag component is left out. The $85 Imago is essentially the ID’s “little brother”, but offers a design that might appeal to the younger crowd and is available in two “types”—Yin and Yan.
Just like most of Tom Bihn’s other bags, you must buy some sort of laptop sleeve to use with the bag. The Brain Cell serves as a standalone case or a sleeve for $50, and the Soft Cell is a $30 sleeve for those who want something a bit less expensive. As this makes the price of “the whole deal” at least $115, some might complain, but these products are very well-made and designed to withstand daily use.
Imago Inner Pockets
So, what’s the difference between the “Yin” and “Yang” varieties? In terms of pockets, storage capacity, and overall design, they are the same. The interiors are made of 500 denier Cordura. The exteriors are made from different materials and have slightly different designs. The “Yin” version features 1000 denier Cordura and is available in Cocoa/Cocoa/Wasabi, Plum/Crimson/Steel, or Olive/Steel/Wasabi. The “Yang” is made from 1050 denier Ballistic nylon (like the ID) and is available in Black/Black/Wasabi, Steel/Kiwi/Deep Blue, or Crimson/Steel/Crimson.
The Imago includes microfiber-lined pockets on either end. Unfortunately, they’re a bit too small for iPods if you use a case and devices of that size (naked iPods fit fine, as do nanos), but there’s also two pockets beneath the flap on the bag. One has a zipper and the other is open, good for writing instruments, notes, and digital cameras. In addition to that, there are two pockets on the inside compartment of the bag.
On the top of the bag, there’s a strap for carrying it over your shoulder, but no handle. The strap is nonremovable, like the ID, too. On the strap is an adjustable grip/cushion. Another removable strap is located across the back to go around your waist and provides a bit of extra support when carrying a lot of things or when on a bike/motorcycle.
The back of the bag features a large pocket for papers, magazines, folders, clipboards, or just about anything else. It doesn’t close, so be careful what you stow in there—it could be exposed to the elements.
The Imago doesn’t hold much, but without any laptop sleeves, it can hold two binders, or some books, or anything else. With the sleeve thrown in, you can carry any laptop with a 12″ or 13″ screen (size 5 or 6). If you have a beefier computer, consider picking up the ID instead.
Overall, the Imago/Brain Cell or Imago/Soft Cell combos are great for most people who want to carry a laptop, their gadgets, some papers, and a few accessories. The durable construction, lifetime warranty, and eye-pleasing design are icing on the cake. With two versions, people will be sure to find a version they like.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
The Imago takes the best qualities of the ID and shrinks them down into a smaller, more “fun” version.
Pros: Quality construction, quite a few pockets, flap design, waist/hip strap, splash-proof zippers, lots of colors
Cons: No real padding, side pockets small, laptop sleeve extra