The Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase is a compact, lightweight messenger bag that's simple and easy to use. It's ideal for daily use if you often travel with a tablet, Chromebook, or small books plus a few other items. You can also purchase add-ons to customize and personalize your organizational preferences. This is not a bag that can be overstuffed or carry your gym clothes and shoes, but we used it daily for around-town errands, bus rides across town, and evenings out with friends. If you don't need a large, bulky bag, this award-winning model is an excellent, affordable, and highly durable option.
Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase Review
Cons: Too small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separately
Manufacturer: Tom Bihn
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Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase
|Price||$80 List||$119.98 at Backcountry||$169.00 at REI|
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|$43.99 at Backcountry|
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|$120.00 at REI|
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|Pros||Compact, lightweight, customization options, simple||Versatile, durable, stylish, fun to use||Waterproof, comfortable, lightweight, highly durable, ambidextrous shoulder strap||Durable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizable||Durable, weatherproof, comfortable|
|Cons||Too small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separately||Not weatherproof, less classic messenger design||Tips over easily when set down, doesn't have very many pockets, expensive||Minimal features for electronics||Heavy for size, no top grab handle, less versatile|
|Bottom Line||This messenger bag is very small and lightweight, and useful for trips with a tablet and a few items.||Transitions seamlessly from backpack to messenger to briefcase.||This sleek, comfortable, and lightweight bag is highly durable and weatherproof with minimal yet thoughtful features.||A great messenger bag but has a lot of thoughtful competition in the industry.||This is an excellent, rugged, and stylish messenger bag that is on the heavier and bulkier side.|
|Rating Categories||Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase||Mountain Briefcase||Arc'teryx Granville 10||Timbuk2 Classic||Chrome Mini Metro|
|Packing & Organization (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Wear & Tear (10%)|
|Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)|
|Specs||Tom Bihn Daylight...||Mountain Briefcase||Arc'teryx...||Timbuk2 Classic||Chrome Mini Metro|
|Measured weight (pounds)||0.99||2.26||1.15||2.19||2.39|
|Measured volume (L)||8||13||10||16||14|
|OGL Volume/Weight Ratio||8.1||5.75||8.69||7.3||5.85|
|Dimensions (inches)||14 x 10 x 4||13 x 11 x 4.5 in||16 x 10.5 x 5||14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1||20 x 12 x 7|
|Shoulder preference||Either||Either & both w/ backpack straps||Either||Either||Left|
|Number of Compartments||1||1||1||2||1|
|Number of Large Pockets||5||1||2||6||2|
|Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items)||0||3||0||4||3|
|Number of Zipper Pockets||3||2||2||3||1|
|Reflective Material?||No||No||No||No||Yes on straps|
|External Side Pocket||No||No||No||No||No|
|Sleeve Fits Laptop||Yes - 13 inch||Yes - 15 inch||Yes - 12 inch||Yes - 15 inch||Yes, not padded|
|Stabilizing Cross Strap||No||No, has backpack straps||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Available Sizes||One Size||One Size||10L and 16L||XS, S, M, L||One Size|
|Size tested||One Size||One Size||10L||Medium||One Size|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Daylight Briefcase is not loaded with comfort features, but it still scored well above average in this metric. It's hard to be very uncomfortable with something so lightweight and small. This, of course, is a tradeoff between carrying capacity and comfort — the bag doesn't have a whole lot of features, and it's small, which prevents overpacking it into an unwieldy or cumbersome load.
If this bag were any more substantial, the shoulder strap would not earn high marks for comfort. It is a simple, durable, and wide strap, which is nice and functional, but it has a stiff and small plastic shoulder pad. Even on this little bag, we weren't a huge fan: if we threw the bag on in a hurry and didn't line up that pad right, it sometimes fell awkwardly on our shoulder. Additionally, for smaller users, when you cinch the shoulder strap to keep the bag in close, the buckle might fall on the bony part of the top of your shoulder. The rigid plastic of the shoulder "pad" on the Daylight Briefcase is too stiff to slide over the buckle.
The Tom Bihn is not a classic messenger bag in that it does not feature a cross-body stabilizing strap. We were, however, able to cinch the shoulder strap sufficiently tight to secure the bag close to the body when commuting. The small profile of the bag ensures that it doesn't swing around excessively, even without that stabilizing strap.
The Daylight Briefcase does not have a lot of organizational features — just a few zippered pockets and a couple of internal sleeves. We imagined this to be a hassle for organizing things like pens and pencils, but the bag is so small and simple, it's nearly impossible to lose anything inside. You can toss your pens in the large internal pocket or one of the two external zippered pockets, and even if you forget where they are, there aren't many places to check before finding them.
Overall, the organization scheme of the Daylight is sufficient. You can separate books from a tablet in the main compartment, slide your wallet in one of the two external pockets, jumble chapstick and other small items in the other one, and slip your phone into the sideways zippered pocket. Three of the four pockets also feature double two-way zippers. This design allows you to choose which side you want to make more readily accessible.
Finally, Tom Bihn designs their bags to be customizable, with six o-rings that allow you to attach a key strap, pouches, cubes, and other add-ons for your organizational preferences.
The Daylight Briefcase is not optimized for electronics — at least not in its stock format. Tom Bihn offers a neoprene "cache," however, which can be purchased separately. It comes in many sizes and attaches to the interior of the bag using a unique "rail" system. In this way, you can use the sleeve inside the bag to protect and pad your tablet or small laptop, and then slide it out at TSA security checkpoints in the airport. It's a very clever and functional design.
For those who have their tablets in a robust case already, save some cash and skip the cache. If you need the neoprene cache, Tom Bihn provides precise measurements of their offerings online. You just need to measure the device you want to protect and double-check that it will fit.
Ease of Use
The Daylight is an exceedingly easy bag to use, thanks to its compact size, basic features, and overall design. The main pockets all feature double-sided zippers which allow access on either side, and they are smooth and durable. Tom Bihn includes zipper pulls which you can install on the zippers if you want to — this changes the look a little, but can further personalize how you access the contents.
The rail system for a tablet "cache" inside this bag is also slick. It may not be useful for everyone, but it works well if it suits your needs. It's great to know that you can easily add organization pockets and sleeves if you so desire. Additionally, the top handles on this bag are well designed and executed. They're light and flexible enough to not be in the way while still being easy to grab when you're on the go.
Wear & Tear
This bag is made of ultra-durable 525-denier ballistic nylon. In our testing, the outer fabric proved to be extremely robust, barely showing any wear and tear after over a month of regular use. The light color we tested also didn't stain, snag, or get abraded easily, so it stays looking new long after other bags start to show wear.
In our weather tests, the non-waterproof zippers proved to be, indeed, not waterproof at all. This is not a bag to carry in a downpour without a plan to keep it dry (like putting it under an umbrella or jacket). The zippers, especially the one on top of the bag, let in plenty of water. Water even got through both zippers to wet the contents of the tablet "cache." The main body material, thankfully, does not do this — just those zippers. It helps that this is such a small bag because it's easier to tuck under a jacket or small umbrella in case of rain.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Daylight is not a large bag. It is, in fact, among the smallest and most compact in this review. It still performed well in our volume to weight test, however, due to its streamlined and lightweight design. This makes it an excellent bag for a myriad of uses, and one to throw in your duffel for a long weekend adventure without it taking up much room at all.
On its own, this bag weighs a hair under 1 pound on the scale. With the additional protective sleeve we purchased for a tablet, the weight increased to 1.28 lbs.
The Daylight bag is an excellent value for the price - hence the Best Buy award! It is so useful for daily missions that the price tag feels well worth it. It's also highly durable, so we are confident it will continue to please for the long term.
Tom Bihn designs simple and elegant bags for a variety of travel uses and the Daylight Briefcase is no exception. We really enjoyed this bag. It is one of the smallest and most compact in our review, but the simple and thoughtful design make it easy to use daily, whether you're commuting to the office or adventuring around town. It's a great bag for those days you want to get a little work done at a coffee shop, or take a wander with a good book or your favorite art supplies and still feel light on your feet. Overall, we like how this bag fits into an active urban lifestyle as well as the excellent value it offers!
— Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti