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Review: Tom Bihn ID (Revision 2)

by on June 8, 2007

A little over a year ago, we reviewed the Tom Bihn ID, one of our favorite day-to-day messenger bags. Earlier this year, Tom Bihn gave the bag a slight revamp, complete with new options for the carry strap and a reconfiguration of the compartments.

Priced at $130 and available in a variety of colors, one would still have to buy a Brain Cell or other sleeve for holding your laptop. Considering that the whole package can be had for around $150, this is not bad. Although there are far cheaper laptop cases, both products are very well made and offer quite a bit of flexibility. The ID bag is made of 1050 denier ballistic nylon, with 500 denier Cordura nylon on the inside.

ID Placeholder
ID Front

ID Placeholder
ID Back

ID Placeholder
ID Inner Pockets

ID Placeholder
ID Strap Options (Top to Bottom): Standard, Q-AM, Absolute

Most of our original review applies, as the ID is still the same basic messenger bag, just with a few changes. First, the outside flap has seen a cosmetic revamp, featuring the “curve” design that has found its way into smaller products, such as the Imago. Also, the inside still features the rather large laptop/book/other stuff compartment, but changes to the other pockets include the microfiber-lined iPod/cell phone pockets found in the Imago. Sadly, just like the Imago, many cased iPods won’t fit in these pockets (nanos/minis shoould be fine). In between those is a zippered pocket for other items.

Since the ID is a messenger bag first, with laptop capabilities second, you can safely carry it around without advertising that there’s a $2500 ‘Book inside. The bag looks good, though, so you won’t mind carrying it around. It’s available in a multitude of color combinations, but still has a somewhat “mature” look, so it fits the 35-and-under demographic well (or anyone who acts like it).

The bag features a multitude of pockets—more on that later—as well as two straps. One is a very sturdy shoulder strap. Besides being well-padded, it also offers two adjusters, unlike one found on most cheaper bags. They also are somewhat tough to adjust when wearing the bag, but gave me the impression that they won’t slip when you’re carrying a bunch of stuff. 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. Also, a handle is located on the top for “briefcase mode”.

I especially like the flap, as it provides an added level of protection of keeping out the elements and makes the bag look a bit nicer. Besides a zippered outside compartment on the flap itself (it even has the water-resistant zipper, like the one found on the eM²), there are quite a few pockets inside for pens/pencils, PDAs, digital cameras, business cards, an iPod, or anything else you might have lying around. There’s also a little clip for keys. On the back of the bag, there’s an open pocket for magazines, papers, or the like.

The three-inch-thick main compartment features a zipper on top, as well as two clips along the back side. The two clips are designed for the Brain Cell—it locks in place to turn the ID into a very good laptop bag. The size 4 or 5 Brain Cell will fit in the ID. Also, the ID itself is not padded, except for one side of the main compartment, so it is a good idea to keep things in their cases inside the ID bag, especially a laptop with the Brain Cell.

Along with the Brain Cell, Tom Bihn offers the Snake Charmer and the Laptop Screen Protector, which complement the ID nicely.

Another welcome change is the inclusion of a bottle holder on the right side of the ID. It is adjustable and can take anything from a water bottle to a standard-sized travel mug. It also functions well as a holder for your sunglasses.

Finally, the biggest change (some will think) is the change to the straps that the toothed-slide on ID was 2″, but has now been changed to 1 1/2″. Although thhis might not seem like a big deal, this allows the ID to accept the standard strap (which comes with), the $25 neoprene “absolute strap“, or the $20 Q-AM (“Quick-Adjust Messenger”) strap. You can knock $10 off the prices of the straps if you order them with the ID, thus replacing the standard strap.

The Q-AM strap is an adjustable (obviously) strap that basically is designed to prevent the ID from swinging around while you’re doing things. It works by having a strap that feels much like a backpack strap and another one connecting it at another point underneath your opposite arm. Basically, you get a three-point attachment to the bag, attaching it more securely to you. This is also great for those bike-messenger-types.

Overall, the ID/Brain Cell combo is great for most people who want to carry a laptop, their gadgets, some papers, books, and a few accessories. The durable construction, lifetime warranty, and little extras are icing on the cake. With the revisions Tom Bihn has made, including more options for actually carrying the bag, we’re rather pleased with the result.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

The ID is a well-made messenger bag that can be used with our without a laptop, and the newest revision fails to disappoint.

Pros: Quality construction, lots and lots of pockets, flap design, new shoulder strap options, waist/hip strap, all zippers have pulls, lots of colors
Cons: Not much padding, Brain Cell extra, slight price increase
Rating: 9/10

The Facts

Product: ID
Company: Tom Bihn
Price: $130 (Brain Cell an extra $50-$55)

This post has been filed in 'Book Accessories, Reviews