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Tom Bihn gets personal with the Co-Pilot

The next big thing from Tom Bihn is…quite small. The Co-Pilot shoulder bag is Tom’s attempt at creating the ultimate personal-item/seat-side bag for the iPad/netbook era.  The 12” x 10” x 5”, 600-cubic inch bag is available in 1050 ballistic nylon or ultra-light Dyneema ripstop nylon, weighing in at 17 and 11 ounces, respectively. Like all TB products, it’s just a little bit different and truly multi-purpose.

The bag’s front panel is divided into three vertical compartments. The left compartment has a nifty ultrasuede-lined pocket for iPhone or other mobile device. The center compartment is made for a water bottle (up to 20-ounces, at least) and even has a grommet at the bottom to allow for spills to drain. The right compartment has pen slots.

The unpadded rear compartment is large enough for an iPad, netbook, printed material, or folded clothing. This compartment includes two large pouch pockets. On the bag of the bag is a flat magazine compartment.

This back should work well as a personal item for many and may serve as an everyday bag for netbook or iPad users, provided they have  a low-profile sleeve.

The bag’s Seattle pedigree is evident in its gasketed, splash-proof zippers.

Price is $110. Details from TB website.








Reader Comments (49)

Very nice bag, similar in size to one of their Cafe Bags, volume between the Medium and the Large, and as such, rather like my $50 REI Stratocruiser Bag, which, unlike a Cafe Bag, will sit on a flat surface without falling over.

Better yet, and currently relevant, Spirit Air will allow it as a carry-on for only $10 if you pay in advance....
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Birnbaum
More seriously, for all those folks who must fly Spirit Air, Tom Bihn might scale this bag up to 16" x 13" x 7", in the Dyneema nylon variant, perhaps including a 3" expansion gusset for 16" x 13" x 10" (without the expansion it wouldn't get into a CRJ overhead bin).
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Birnbaum
Me thinks I can actually use this as an overnight / weekend bag. I will have to wait until the mid-June shipment date before I can pack one for myself. I am intrigued.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
"3" expansion gusset" probably a BAD idea, as that would disrupt the balance of the bag. Probably it would be better to just put an elasticized expansion pocket on either side, to take a pair of Packing Cubes sized to fit. Or maybe....airlines will return to sane baggage pracitces...hah!
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Birnbaum
I'm with you Alan - I think this bag could become a little larger if conditions demand. TB has made moves like that before.
April 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
This, and a Scottevest, and Europe would be no problem.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBuzz
I agree Buzz. Lots of pockets plus this bag would be OK. You won't be packing dress shirts and extra shoes though.
April 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
Great pictures Brad! I especially appreciate the comparison photo with the Western Flyer, and the full interior shot. Your reviews are always precise yet detailed.

Hum? Ten days? Depending on the time of year, how many pockets I can manage to fill in a coat (wish ScottEVest would make more women's models, and something that looks more professional / "elegant") - would love to try. (Pretenidng that I can be allowed to bring a handbag too!) Alas, I also will have to figure out how to get purchases home, as I tend to go a little nuts in a book store, or any place that sells my favourite silk scarves! Shipping things home isn't always practical.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
Yes, Maria, I should have stated the obvious - time of year would be determinative. I do like to stay warm.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
I like the bag it is almost what I was looking for when I was in search of a nice day pack. What I filled that spot with was the BB107 of which you can read the review here.

However, unfortunately I must say as usual with TB, I have some reservations as to design choices.

First reservation. This is definitely in the big purse format, not in the personal item format. Although if you see what some ladies say is a purse, their purses are actually bigger than personal items. How is a personal item defined? A personal item is defined in two way by the airlines, none of them includes a direct size or weight limit. It is defined by the restriction that it must fit under the seat. It is defined by examples. The usual examples are: briefcase, photo bag, purse. So the Co-Pilot fits the personal item definition. The problem is that it is quite a bit smaller than the personal item definition would allow. So this is wasted space. Here are two things you need to consider when you determine the size of such an item. Firstly, you can check the airline policy for hardsided pet carriers. These must be under the seat in front of you. No other place to put them. So these dimensions will give you the limit of what is considered a personal item, even if the airlines do not spell it out for you. This measure is usually in the 36-41 linear inch category. The Co-Pilot measures only 27 l.i. it thus stays quite a bit under even the most restrictive personal item rule. Too bad! The other thing is that this minimum requirement is not likely to change, which is nice. Why will it not change? Because the underseat space is a perfectly efficient and save space to put stuff. There aren't too many other spot available in an aircraft as we all know. And since we are all getting fatter, the airlines won't be able to make the seat any smaller or they will lose customers. The electronic boxes for entertainment systems are likely to get smaller rather than bigger. Electronics are constantly getting smaller and smaller and lighter is good for the airline's profit. Thus, if anything, underseat space will increase because seats will have to be wider and electronics will take less space under them.

Second reservation. Now you will say why would I want all this volume and I will say you (we) are really in the minority if we are not asking for all the volume we can possibly eek out given the slew of restriction. Basically, if he made the bag just 1" wider (13 instead of 12) the Macbook 13 or a similar laptop would fit in a slim sleeve. Now that's a really huge missed opportunity. This bag could have been so versatile if it fit a decent size laptop and not only the sub-size class. So a definite marketing decision for lifestyle over practicality and versatility. All the more since their entry briefcase is a considerable step up in volume and price, the Zephyr is 17.5l vs. 10l for the Co-Pilot. So with just one inch more they could have sold this as a briefcase and as a personal bag. In fact, even the Zephyr is only 35 l.i. all around. But that's already a nice size. My fully packed Tumi 26141 is 15x12x7. You could use a bag of that size for the classic OBOW 10-days-in-Europe challenge. I'm afraid with the Co-Pilot it would become a 10-day exercise in asceticism. So again, TB doesn't develop the bag to the full potential.

Third reservation. As far as I can tell from the article and website this doesn't have a slip-through magazine pouch sleeve to slip it over the handles of a roller. A massive oversight. While TB doesn't make rollers, that doesn't mean people who use rollers wouldn't like to be able to use a TB bag with their existing rollers. WHY?

I guess we have to look for the reason in competitor products. The Co-Pilot seems to be heading for the Gator by RedOxx. Same measures, half the weight, similar layout, $5 more.

Personally, I wouldn't buy either because they both have the shortcomings described above. But if they made the Co-Pilot two inches wider and two inches deeper it might be serious contender.

After all, what is the justification for such a bag. It's too small as a briefcase or a laptop bag. It's really too small for a sensible carry-on volume as stand-alone bag. As a purse it's pretty big. But if I'm limited to two items I already want to try and max those out as far as possible and I'm really a light packer. If I were limited to ONE item only, it would be totally ruled out.

The sad thing is that even if the were to design a hook-on pack to increase volume, it wouldn't help the darn 12" length limit. That's the main shortcoming, literally.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
A comparable and competing bag, albeit very slightly larger and heavier, as well as being shaped a bit differently, but still a 12" long bag, would be the Redoxx Gator Carry-On.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Birnbaum
I won't be surprised if this bag has a big brother in a few months after we know whether the carry-on fees are going to spread and whether they'll finally be some uniformity for underseat carry-ons.
April 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
600 cubic inches? Maybe if they got rid of all the cruft you could actually fit it with stuff.

The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Duffel weighs 14 oz and has 2600 cubic inches of capacity.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Mesa
I agree with a lot of what Till has said above. I love the TB bag designs: have the Western Flyer which is amazing in design and fantastic for a small person like me to carry. This one is a wasted opportunity: I think many of us will continue to carry 13 inch notebooks, and this could have easily been both a briefcase/ and a personal item. I also feel it looks a bit too much like a lunch box!
I love the design of the Synapse--nice and clean; and been happy with the Smart Alec.

I just hope that TB will not go the way of so many other companies: too many products. They have been great because they have a few good well thought out products that are multipurpose and versatile.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershiva
I'm not surpised at the mixed reaction to this bag - it is smaller than I expected and quite different. But I've learned that the utility of TB products is not always immediately apparent. I didn't care for the Aeronaut when I first saw it, but what a workhorse it proved to be. Mr. Bihn spent a long time working on this bag (I first heard about it more than a year ago). He's usually quite good at identifying a need and addressing it. Or coming up with something that's so unique it creates a new need! We'll see.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
I like that it is horizontal rather than a vertical style / messenger bag. Granted, I'm not going to be carting around a laptop, however small. (I'm waiting for the next generation of I-Touch to come out!) Also, I'm NOT a back pack kind of gal. So for me - this seems closer to what I was hoping for!

This is a nice change from the other bags he has available. Tom Bihn has plenty of lap top bags and styles for briefcases, backpacks, and messenger bags. Yes, one more inch may have helped make this a more user friendly bag for lap tops, and perhaps a larger version will appear later on (witness the Tri-Star which is just a little larger than the Western-Flyer).

I like that it's more for a carry-on seat side bag and taking the minimal amount and yet still big enough to cart around a good deal for a daily bag if required. (And I know I can make it work for a weekend away bag, if not longer...) It's unusual compared to his other bags and styles. I've been waiting to place a Tom Bihn order until seeing this new bag. I look forward to trying it out for myself.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
I think people are missing the point of this bag...it's not for the "I carry a laptop for business crowd." He has plenty of bags for that. It's an I carry an everyday bag or leisure travel bag for those who leave the heavy electronics home and bring nothing larger than an ipad. It will hold the essentials for leisure travel and can be used as a personal item. Sure, it might fit a netbook but there are better choices for one.

And for those who pack well, it will easily fit inside his main travel bags such as the Aeronaut and Tri-Star.

I know when I'm on vacation, i don't want to lug a bag around with me that's big enough for my laptop. Or even if I'm running around town and want to carry a light jacket in case of rain as well as my cellphone, ipod, a bottle of water, etc. I don't need a laptop bag.

This bag was not planned with the idea of Spirit Airlines carry-on limitations as those were announced today and this bag has been in the works for months. It's a personal item bag for both men and women who don't need to lug a big laptop.
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBuzz
When did TB develop or bring out the Aeronaut? The first internet mentions I see are from November 2008.

The Mandarina Duck that I have and that is almost identical, except that the main compartment opens to the top when you carry the bag and it has no backpack straps, dates from 1988. Well, that's when I bought it but I think it was "invented" earlier.

I just looked it up; the Tank series came out in 1981. But I wouldn't be surprised if the actual bag design is derived from a military bag.

Unless they have already cut the material for hundreds of bags it might not be too late to make it an inch wider and thus MUCH more appealing and to give it a real edge over the Gator. Bihn has listened to customer input before. This time they should listen and act extra quickly.

BTW, Brad I totally dig your idea of using the Aeronaut backpacking cube together with a small bag as a really neat luggage combo. That is a great idea. I got the Aeronaut cube to go with my A. Saks bag. I must say I like it quite a bit and along with the Tristar, Freudian Slip and Braincell I think it is among their best products. But if they don't do something with this new bag, the CO-PIlot is literally not gonna take off, I fear.

The Aeronaut cube could fit an extra pair of shoes filled with underwear and socks in the small compartment. The big compartment can easily hold 2 pairs of pants, 1 sweater, 3 shirts and 2 t-shirts. Possibly even an EC 15" shirt folder but I'd have to check that. The hopefully upgraded co-pilot would get laptop, gadgets, 311 bag and miscellaneous items needed for the trip. Perhaps there'd even be room for a light hardshell jacket. Total luggage weight would stay under two pounds. And in the grey dyneema it would even look sharp. I think this is what Brad will try for the next ten day challenge, no? :)
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
Tom Bihn makes the following LAPTOP bags:

Checkpoint Flyer
Empire Builder
Smart Alec
Super Ego
Brain Bag

Why would he need to make another?

The co-pilot is the perfect LEISURE bag for people who DON'T CARRY A LAPTOP. (Sorry about all the caps but I'm trying to make a point. The only reason to make a bigger bag is to carry a laptop. it's not needed.) However, if someone needs to travel with their laptop, then this bag is not for you. There are plenty of others out there.

And as far as what can be packed in the Aeronaut, there's a section on the Tom Bihn forum where people post their packing lists. You'd be amazed what the bag will hold.

Remember, if a bag doesn't meet you requirements, it doesn't mean the bag is flawed or no good...it's just not right for you. Would Tom Bihn be in business this long if he made bags people didn't want?
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBuzz
I seriously wonder how some companies manage to stay in business and why some people buy their stuff. TB is not one of those cases, clearly.

What I'm saying is that there is a gap in the laptop bag range and there isn't a very big leisure range. And in between the leisure range and the laptop range there is nothing. This bag could fill the gap very nicely. That's why it's such a missed opportunity. And just because most people won't analyze it that way doesn't mean it isn't true.

Also, would it detract anything from being the perfect leisure bag if it were just one inch wider and COULD hold a laptop? No. But it would add so much functionality. Same with the handle sleeve zipper. It wouldn't detract from the bags functionality it has now. It wouldn't add greatly to cost or weight but it would add greatly to ergonomics. As you say, it is still roomy and when packed with gear can get heavy, so why not put it on the roller handles. Open up another group of customers instead of automatically excluding them

Lastly, ideas of leisure may be different but A LOT of people will bring their computer with them to play, listen music, watch videos, surf the net and stay in touch with loved ones. All of that are perfect leisure activities where a computer is necessary. And not everybody has the money to get a specialized bag AND a specialized computer for every type of function. Thus a universally usable bag is desirable.

I even found another small detail that could be easily changed. The main compartment zippers are not lockable. Some may say that won't be necessary but when I use the restroom in the plane I do like the fact that my valuables are not SUPER easy to access.

Among the most universally usable bags I have in my collection is the Valoroso VT18 six pocket tote. See here: http://www.londonluggage.com/andvt18.htm

18x12x7 inches large it can hold anything from sports gear to camera gear, thick books, a computer, a lot of casual clothes. It has plenty of organizational details, an attachment for roller handles and you know what? It is still right at 36 linear inch, hence at the lower personal item limit and it will fit under the seat. Having bought one for $59 instead of $275 makes the deal just the sweeter. :) Looks great, too. Almost the same color as the Bihn steel grey.

So here are the three changes I'd like to see:

1 inch wider
slip through pocket in the rear
lockable zippers

I bet that most users will agree that these improvement will only add to the bag and not distract anything at all. Cost to realize this is maybe $10. Is that asking too much?
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
"So here are the three changes I'd like to see: 1 inch wider...slip through pocket in the rear...lockable zippers"

Hmmm, sounds just like my REI Stratocruiser Bag. So far, I have used it just once, for a day-long birding trip, holding a variety of stuff ranging from a Cliff Bar to a spotting scope. Regardless of the exact bag, this is a good size, and a nice format to complement a larger carry-on bag,
April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Birnbaum
I'm a current owner of the Aeronaut which I love!

I agree that if it where versatile enought to fit my macbook pro 13" laptop it would be an absolute must have.

My main problem with most laptop bags are that they are too big and not clean looking.

I love the look of the co-pilot. Just wish it were slightly larger.
April 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacob Varghese
This bag is no better than lots of other ones in an already crowded market. I can't see the need to consider it.
April 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonte
I have to agree with Till. I think that as the laptops in the "thin and light" category continue to drop in price, while the "netbook" category continues to expand to include 12" screen models (which about as small as you can go and still provide a full size keyboard), and that there are a lot of tablet computers that are slated to be released in the near future, that there is a need for something that will fit something the size of a MacBook Air, while at the same time not screaming "I'm a laptop bag, please steal me" is needed. Making this just 1" longer (which is what I think you really meant, Till) would greatly increase this utility of this bag.

I don't like messenger bags because of the flap, and when I was shopping for a bag to use as my everyday briefcase, and well as something to put under the seat, I eneded up getting the RedOxx Metro, which also has the ability to fit inside the center compartment of my RedOxx Airboss. A slightyly longer Co-Pilot would still fit, and have the added utility of leaving enough room for a pair of shoes.
April 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLuke
I have to agree that this bag does not hit the sweet spot for me. But I'm sure that Mr. Bihn has forgotten more about bags then I will ever know and this will likely be another of his successes.

Part of my disappointment is probably due to the fact that I was hoping for an entirely different type of bag than this. Something to fit between their Tristar and Aeronaut.

My dream bag would basically be Air Boss size, but with Bihn materials and little tweaks. As much as people rave about their Tristars, I'm afraid that I'm not quite good enough at one bagging yet that I would enjoy going that small. Perhaps if it were 2 main compartments instead?
April 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
I'm glad I find more people agreeing with me especially on the size point. Yes, Luke, 1 inch longer is what I meant. 13" instead of 12" in the long dimension. I used the word wide because when you look at the bag from the front you see width, height and depth.

I think the Tristar is actually quite a good size. Again, 1" longer to make it 20" would be a it better to pack suits. I scoured a lot of airline websites to look at the diverse regulations. If you want a bag that can fly on ANY airline you have to look for the smallest LXHxD dimensions. You take the smallest posted length and combine it with the smallest posted height and depth. This will give you dimensions of 20x13x8. The Tristar is pretty darn close to that.

It is soft and light, has backpack straps for when shoulder carry gets too heavy and in black is fit for business, or maybe even in grey which I really like.

However, I can see how people would like a bag one up from the Tristar but not quite as big as the Aeronaut. The thing is if you have a bag with good compartments and organization as well as a little structure (i.e. not the Aeronaut) it doesn't matter if you don't pack it quite full. The contents will stay in place.
April 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
I'm gonna disagree with Till on this. I keep seeing the sticking point of not being able to handle a 13" laptop yet it seems to be designed to meet the needs of those who carry a netbook, not a laptop. I do see how netbooks are creeping up in size but for right now the distinction is between netbook and laptop seems to be near that 13" range. If netbooks do grow larger then obviously the bag will need to be redesigned but if the bag is supposed to handle netbooks, and netbooks fit, then it seems unfair to be critical that the bag can't handle laptops (even the smaller ones).

The larger issue seems to be the idea of pushing limits. I saw one comment about how the bag should be larger since it COULD be larger by most definitions of carry on. I think this misses on the philosophy here of NOT being larger but going as small as you can.

If your philosophy is to go small then you will look to a tablet or a netbook. If those are too small for you to enjoy then you've decided what is most important to you and maybe you pick the 13" laptop instead. That's fine but that is also making the decision to not travel as light or as small as you can.

It seems like faulting the bag for being this size is the same as faulting someone who buys a 13" laptop when a 10" netbook is available. Sounds crazy but the logic is similar. The difference is no one is questioning a person who wants a larger computer because it's their preference. Yet they are questioning a person who wants a smaller bag as their preference. Arguing the bag should be bigger is like arguing that anyone with a 10" netbook should upgrade to a 13" laptop.

I have the Red Oxx Gator and I love/hate that bag as my personal item. I can see this bag replacing it. I disagree that the bags are similar though. I think this one might be much more user friendly as opposed to the wide open design of the Gator.

As a side note, one thing I loved about traveling with my Gator was how easy it was to store in the seat in front of me and how easy it was to take in/out during a flight. I could store something larger, I've even fit my massive Tom Bihn Brain Bag under the seat. But having room for my feet and being able to constantly get at the bag was refreshing and led to much more pleasant flights for me.
April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
Matt you are right it is a philosophical question. If you want to go smaller, then you get a netbook and a smaller bag. Normal. But even in that group there might be people who would still like to max out the total volume of their personal item. Would it hurt to make the bag an inch bigger? No.

So from an economic and rational perspective of profit maximizing it makes sense for the user to choose a bag that maxes out the carry-on allowance. In practice, that is what happens with 90% of travelers because it simply makes sense.

It also makes sense for company to design a product that can be used by and is appealing to a large number of people. They would sell more if it could handle 13" laptops. Why exclude those people? The group of people who would like to take a 13" notebook is arguably bigger than that rare group of people who not only carry only a netbook but also don't want to maximize their personal item volume for philosophical light packing reasons. As I said, making it one inch longer will not hurt the netbookers and it won't hurt the very hardcore minimal packing crowd (i.e. 0.1% of travelers). The pack would still be severely undersized. But it would very much benefit the large group of 13" notebook users who might want a bag that is not huge, very much in the light packing philosophy.

So, I'm not criticizing the bag itself but rather the strange decisions and omissions that make the bag not realize its huge potential.
April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
I bet the people at TB are reading this. It would be interesting to hear their position.
April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
It seems that the intent of this bag is to target netbook users--as has been pointed out previously. Netbook buyers are one of the fastest growing segments of the computer buying population. It only makes sense that Bihn is targeting this group with this bag.
Regarding the much debated inch, I think there needs to be a demarcation between bags for ultra-mobiles and notebooks. Also, I feel the bag should be kept as small as is feasible. This means not catering to the 13" notebook crowd.
Since I have a 17" MBP, I'm more than happy to stay with my Tri-star--instead of wondering why Tom Bihn won't expand the Western Flyer.
April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEsther
Well, I'm ordering a Co-Pilot! (I'll blame Brad - his pictures really helped sway me...) The one inch debate will obviously not influence my decision. On a side note, would the one inch have swayed anyone here to actually then buy the item that is currently against it, or is it out of principle that the debate goes on? No need to answer by the way! :) However, I did note on the Tom Bihn Forum a mention from Darcy, a Bihn employee:

"Also - the Co-Pilot would have to be significantly larger to fit a 13" laptop. At a certain point, we have to keep bags the size that they are - otherwise, every bag would be as big as the Super Ego so it could fit everyone's laptops. :) There will be other bags out this year that will fit 13" laptops."


Brad - hope it's okay to post the above quote and link. Please delete if otherwise.

So Tom Bihn is not quite finished with new bag releases for the year! Ah, the debate will continue later I'm sure!

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
I use Tom Bihn's Large Cafe Bag to carry my 13" laptop when I'm not using a backpack.

My uninformed guess is that when the long-awaited camera insert comes out, the Co-Pilot is the bag it will fit perfectly. It just looks like a camera bag.

P.S. The Aeronaut now comes with internal compression straps, so the contents won't shift even if the bag isn't full.
April 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergmanedit
I'm not sure the logic of getting the most customers by appealing to more sizes works in this case, or in any case. As pointed out, it probably takes more that this so-called 1" to really fit a 13" laptop. So you end up adding 2 or maybe 3 and then I'm sure someone with a 14" or 15" laptop is going to have the exact same argument so why not make it big enough for them too? Meanwhile the netbook and iPad users are being driven away because they don't want a bag that is that big.

If you really want to take a step back you can even look at the TB Aeronaut and say "why did they make anything smaller"? If it fits in nearly all overhead compartments then why would someone get a smaller bag? And wouldn't TB be silly for making a smaller bag which would not be purchased by people who needed a larger bag? For a while TB only had the Aeronaut as an option but I guess he figured he could make more bags in different sizes and still make money.

I think the same concept applies here. He must run his shop well enough to support multiple products to appeal to different customers. Those who want to travel small and light now can with their iPad and this new bag. Those with the 13" laptops can still buy one of the other bags at TB that is made for laptops.

If this were the only bag offered by TB I could see the point but otherwise I'm not sure why it's a debate. The only other analogy I can think of would be for a person who travels a week at a time to question a bag made for the over night traveler. Would you complain that an overnight bag wasn't big enough for 7 days of travel? Then why complain that a bag for the iPad and netbook crowd isn't big enough for the laptop carriers?

I'm not sure I'll get a tablet or iPad but I like my netbook and I can't see going bigger than a 10" netbook. I can also see it being very nice to have a bag that fits the netbook snugly. I can fit mine in my backpack no problem but if I want to travel small and light this new bag might be nice.
April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
Maria and Matt, thanks for your excellent posts. I'm glad that others seem to think like me and have voiced their opinion on the TB forum. I measured my Macbook 13 alu: 32.5cm wide exactly. That's about 12 3/4" wide. So 13" should fit.

And yes, when I was looking for a daypack type bag that is a bit smaller than my Tenba messenger I would have loved to stumble upon the Co-pilot and would have gladly bought it. But being able to swallow my Macbook was a main criterion even then.

I recently got an EC Compass baggie for purse and organizer duty, basically as a packing cube. Otherwise I must say, being the rational person that I am, all my bags trying to max out given limits. Some bags try to max out the personal item limit, others try to max out the MLC limit and yet others the checked limit. All of them serve different packing scenarios but all of them are sitting at or around a certain limit. OK, not all of them. Out of the 30 some bags I have 2 are intermediate sizes; one is a 24" duffel and one a 24" equivalent wheeled garment bag.

Obviously, for a severe luggage nut job such as myself, to talk about waste of resources when you get bags in all kinds of different sizes is a bit ridiculous. I can see that. ;) So for me, size is part of the packing scenario but not the most important part. I'm totally fine walking around with a bag that's a bit too big as long as the access, comfort, protection and look are suitable for what I packed.

I am keen to see what else they have in the pipeline. But I maintain that 1" bigger would be nice for the Co-Pilot (no pun intended). And so far nobody has disputed that the slip-through pocket and lockable zippers are indeed total Fails on that bag.

Again, I'm not running Tom's business but the sheer plethora of models must weigh the production time and resources used down a lot. Asian car producers (or watch producers like Casio) have long recognized how to build a wide range of products with good variation based on a minimal number of modules to streamline the production. The Germans have kind of understood that. And even the American car producers are catching up. But with TB there is not streamlining in sight. It's all over the place. It's really more like a fashion designer than a luggage company. The only way TB can rationalize this and use it for marketing is to say that they make highly specialized tools for highly evolved people who use those specialized tools.

I guess I just come from a different workshop. :D
April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
Tom Bihn bags are always created with customer input, to meet customer's demand or new travel challenges, especially air travel.

Tom is a tall guy so he built big bags: The Aeronaut and the Brain Bag.

He also makes the Cafe Bags, the Large Cafe Bag attract the small messenger bag crowd and the Medium and Small Cafe bag, the purse crowd.

People shorter than 5'7" wanted travel bags smaller than the Aeronaut and backpacks smaller than the Brain Bag.

So Tom created the Western Flyer then the Tristar travel bags and the Smart Alec then the Synapse backpacks.

When the company realized that the knitting boom was sending customers clamoring for a knitting bag, they collaborated with Knitty magazine to design the perfect Yarn Art bag, the Swift.

The Stuff Sacks designed for skein and cone yarns, are bags of pure genius. They have been refined with the input of customers.

The Checkpoint Flyer and the 3D Organizer Cube were created to ease security check at the airport.

Customers and Forum participants asked for a reusable shopping bag and Tom created the Shop Bag, some wanted a bigger size Shop Bag, so, he made one.

As soon as a picture of a vintage Tom Bihn waist pack was shown on the Blog, people wanted a contemporary version, this is how the Side Effect was born.

Tom, Darcy and the whole staff at Tom Bihn Inc listen to its customers.

The "Mod Style" Co-Pilot is geared to people who need to have electronic toys everywhere they go. They are able to do so because of netbooks, e-readers, tablets, smart phones, small digital cameras and camcorders.
Due to the present luggage restrictions, the ugliness, dubious padding and huge logos slapped everywhere in traditional camera bags, the Co-Pilot has a market.

I love the fact that it can be girly but isn't, so a man can carry it; it can be customized to something else than an electronic gear carrier.
The water bottle holder had me see it as a cute lunch box, especially in ultra lightweight and spill resistant Dyneema.
It certainly beats the current offerings made of cheap nylon in pre-school colors.

It would make a great makeup kit for brides , which can be converted in a flash into an honeymoon kit, (with passports, medications, glasses/contact lenses, itineraries, emergency numbers and "other things")

It is the perfect size for front bike panniers.

I just love that little bag. It is so chic!
April 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbackpack
While I find it hard to argue against up-sizing this bag to near underseat limits thanks to the Spirit news, I think TB might be just a bit ahead of the curve with this one. When viewed as as an iPad/Tablet & small kit personal/day bag, the Co-Pilot as designed makes complete sense. And as tablet devices get more common, I think this bag will make sense to more and more people.

Frankly, I can easily see taking something like an iPad as a laptop replacement to conferences, or any situation where I'd just want to consume content and heavy notetaking wasn't necessary. The Co-Pilot as is seems to be able to hold a tablet/netbook with enough stuff to get through a day, plus is attractive, small, and light enough to not be much of a burden physically or have you looking like you forgot to drop your stuff off at the hotel. That's the vision I think TB has in mind for the Co-Pilot, and it's purposely not designed as a laptop or one-bag travel bag. I can't imagine using it as currently designed for one-bag travel of any duration in any case, although I'd like to see how Brad would fare using this on a trip.

That said, there is clearly demand (in this forum alone) for a larger version, and I'd love to see TB meet that request. With growing reasons for underseat carryons, a scaled up Co-Pilot would be a very nice option for one-bag possibilities.
April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
....This new bag is right on time for the Ipad trend. (and by extension netbook)
People behavior change with each Apple' product..... Looks like Tom is ready for this change
May 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie @ Harem
Till: your third reservation seems to have been addressed - see the TB site blog.
May 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbltkmt
Someone earlier asked if anyone held off buying one because the size is too small.
Well, me.
I was 99% certain I would buy one, until I read this thread. Now I'm not so sure, and I'll probably wait and see what TB unveils later this year.
May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEric
I pre-ordered a Co-Pilot even before I could see one; now that I've had a chance to (last Saturday at the Seattle store) I'm impatiently awaiting it. When it arrives I'm kicking my Red Oxx Gator to the curb post-haste. I'm even going to post a review of both bags on the Tom Bihn forums to explain why.

Those who carry laptops, more power to you, but my back and shoulders are getting older and more fussy about weight on them. I downsized to a netbook (a 10.1" Acer with a 6-cell battery) and haven't looked back once. There aren't many bags which carry a netbook which will also carry anything else, alas. The Gator was one such, even padded, but at nearly 2 1/2 pounds EMPTY, just too much to carry all day once full.

Right now I'm using a Medium Cafe Bag from Tom Bihn, a netbook sleeve (the Cache) and bemoaning the lack of a water bottle pocket. A one-liter bottle won't fit in the Cafe with the netbook and my phone in place. The Co-Pilot has one, and that's what sold it for me.. The separate phone/iTouch/other compartments and pockets are just gravy.

There are lots of laptop bags/backpacks/carriers on the market, but I think the Co-Pilot is about to corner the netbook daybag market. My lunch might be a tight fit (or no-go, if it's Subway) if I have books with my netbook in the main compartment, but all in all it's a better, more comfortable, dare I say more stylish choice than the Red Oxx Gator, which seems to be the only competition in this size class.

Don't get me wrong - this is not Red Oxx bashing. I have lots of Red Oxx at home. I just think the Co-Pilot is a bag in its own class. Look for me carrying mine - in Indigo - at an airport near you!
May 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlana
Well, now that I've used my Eastpak Madison for some time I can re-emphasize what I said in my first post on the co-pilot. This sort of bag is great as a purse replacement and a man bag. But it won't work wonders as a personal item on a flight. The lost space is simply too valuable given that we are allowed only a single personal item and that there are no weight restrictions for this but there are weight restrictions for carry-on size luggage in most cases. So the heavy stuff can go into the personal item bag, helping to keep the carry-on within weight restrictions.

BTW, the Madison is maybe not quite as thought out as the Co-Pilot but it comes in an array of colors and designs, has splash proof zippers, too, and costs only around $40 if you can find it. The only downside I see is that I can't put magazine in there without rolling them. Still it has been doing great man purse duty in these hot days in Paris and Berlin when it's impossible to carry a jacket and one still carries a fat European wallet (our documents and bills are bigger and we need more cash), a camera, glasses and a phone/ Ipod. If I were to stuff all of that in my trouser pockets I'd look like a clown, if I were able to fit it in my pockets in the first place.
July 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
OH, it's great to see they have addressed the slip through issue. That's wonderful. Kudos to TB.
July 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
Someone earlier said the RedOxx Gator would not accommodate a 13" note book. That simply isn't true. I use mine with a 13" Mac Book and Mac Book Air all the time. Here is a picture.
September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEd
if anybody has a Gator for sale..pls let me know

keithsnow@gmail dot com
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Snow
Does anyone know if a Macbook Air 11" fits inside the Co-Pilot? Maybe with a sleeve for protecting it.
Does the Co-Pilot fits in the center comportment of the Air Boss?
If it does, are there any pictures to see how much space it takes?

November 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo
If no one answers here, I suggest you go to the Tom Bihn forum and ask the question. It will definitely get answered.

November 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrank II
I haven't ordered one yet, but I will. I just finished a trip with my Western Flyer, and the Copilot would have been SO HANDY to have on the plane along with the Western Flyer. The idea for me would be to have my iPad, water bottle, snack food, vitamins, camera, phone, etc., in a small bag that I can put by my feet. My laptop rides in the brain cell inside the Western Flyer, iPad could go in this. I think it's too small for an "only" bag, at least for me. But I can see myself taking it as my "personal item" along with my small carry-on. And, it would be very handy as a shoulder bag to carry stuff around, including my iPad.
December 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug
I use the Co-pilot as my Everyday bag. I carry my wonderful Macbook Air 11", 8.5x11 folder for papers, mini toiletry pouch (small eagle creek zipper bag), eagle creek packing tube (packed with my Anesthesia emergency gear). All of that is in the back.

In the front I keep pens and keys wallet on one side, Snacks in the middle "water bottle" section, and a portable speaker for the O.R. as well as a small electronics pouch and wallcharger for the MBA in the other front section.

I'm very happy with the construction, fit and finish.

The fit is a bit tight for the MBA. If the bag were just 1/2" wider the laptop and folder would be easier to get in and out.
I wonder is a judicious amount of wall padding would add a bit of structure and protection to the back section without adding too much bulk.

I'm 6'4" and don't feel like this is a purse at all. It carries like a small briefcase.
I will also use it as a day bag while traveling.
A serious onebagger might make this work for a short trip.
January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDasher
We have a twelve day trip pending for spring, long airline trip there and back, daily travel by tour bus. The Co-Pilot just might be the right choice for this venture.
January 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B

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