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Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase Review

Very small, lightweight, and useful for trips with just a tablet and a few other items.
Tom Bihn Daylight
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Price:  $85 List
Pros:  Compact, lightweight, customization options, simple
Cons:  Too small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separately
Manufacturer:   Tom Bihn
By Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti  ⋅  Jan 15, 2020
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Packing & Organization - 25% 6
  • Electronics - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Wear & Tear - 10% 6
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 10% 7

Our Verdict

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 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 model is an excellent, affordable, and highly durable option.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Daylight Briefcase is a small bag with some limitations, but it's durable, feature-rich, and well-priced. If you don't have highly technical needs, this is a great model to consider.

Performance Comparison


The Daylight Briefcase is an excellent companion for a long evening walk.
The Daylight Briefcase is an excellent companion for a long evening walk.

Comfort


The Daylight Briefcase is not loaded with comfort features, but it fares decently here due to being so lightweight and small. This is, of course, the tradeoff between carrying capacity and comfort — modest size and minimal features make it hard to overpack into an unwieldy or cumbersome load. If this bag were larger, the shoulder strap would not earn high marks for comfort. It's functional, but the small and stiff plastic shoulder "pad" isn't great. If you throw this bag on in a hurry and the pad isn't lined up correctly, it doesn't feel very good. Additionally, if the strap is cinched tight, the buckle can fall right on the shoulder bone, and the rigid plastic pad is too stiff to slide over the buckle.

If you desire a more comfortable shoulder strap, Tom Bihn has an Absolute Shoulder Strap. It's wider, and has a texturized rubber pad and two adjustable buckles on each end, eliminating the risk of the buckle falling square on your shoulder bone.

We liked the simplicity of the Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase. It proves you don't need a multitude of pockets to stay organized.
We liked the simplicity of the Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase. It proves you don't need a multitude of pockets to stay organized.

Packing & Organization


The Daylight 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 separate books from a tablet in the main compartment and slide your wallet or phone in one of the two zippered external pockets. 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.

Simple and streamlined organization on the Daylight Briefcase. The outer zippered pocket is divided in two  aiding in organization.
Simple and streamlined organization on the Daylight Briefcase. The outer zippered pocket is divided in two, aiding in organization.

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. Keep in mind that these additions are all sold separately.

The add-on cache is a nice feature for a tablet  and the key clipper is quite handy. Tom Bihn put six O-rings in this bag for any other add-on features you might want to buy separately to customize the bag for your uses.
The add-on cache is a nice feature for a tablet, and the key clipper is quite handy. Tom Bihn put six O-rings in this bag for any other add-on features you might want to buy separately to customize the bag for your uses.

Electronics


This bag is not well optimized for electronics — at least not in its stock format. However, Tom Bihn offers a neoprene "cache," 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 when at TSA security checkpoints in the airport. It's a very clever and functional design.

The Daylight fits our iPad Air 2 nicely with our burly Bluetooth keyboard case  but we had to remove it from the case to fit it in the optional cache (sized specifically for the iPad Air 2) that attaches to rails in the bag. This integrated cache rail system made it easy and fast to access our tablet and works very well for security checkpoints at the airport. If you have a beefy case and you want the cache  you may need to size it up!
The Daylight fits our iPad Air 2 nicely with our burly Bluetooth keyboard case, but we had to remove it from the case to fit it in the optional cache (sized specifically for the iPad Air 2) that attaches to rails in the bag. This integrated cache rail system made it easy and fast to access our tablet and works very well for security checkpoints at the airport. If you have a beefy case and you want the cache, you may need to size it up!

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. 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.

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. And while this bag is geared toward cycling with a cross-body strap, you can cinch the shoulder strap tight to secure the bag close to the body when commuting. The small profile ensures that it doesn't swing around excessively, even without that stabilizing strap.

Tom Bihn includes several zipper pulls if you want to attach them. It changes the look but improves ease of access.
Tom Bihn includes several zipper pulls if you want to attach them. It changes the look but improves ease of access.

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 after more than a month of regular use. Even in the light color we tested, it 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.

The durable Daylight Briefcase holds up well to rain  except at the zippers.
The durable Daylight Briefcase holds up well to rain, except at the zippers.

Volume to Weight Ratio


The Daylight is not a large bag, and is 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. On its own, it weighs a hair under one pound; with the additional protective sleeve for a tablet, the weight increased to 1.28 pounds.

Look closely to see if your tablet or small laptop will fit in the Daylight.
Look closely to see if your tablet or small laptop will fit in the Daylight.

Value


This bag provides excellent value for the price. 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 over the long term.

The Tom Bihn Daylight is great for an afternoon of errands  or an evening out on the town.
The Tom Bihn Daylight is great for an afternoon of errands, or an evening out on the town.

Conclusion


Tom Bihn designs simple and elegant bags for a variety of travel uses, and the Daylight Briefcase is no exception. 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 when 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. We like how this bag fits into an active urban lifestyle and it offers an excellent value.

Checking out the small planes in the hangar near Talkeetna  Alaska.
Checking out the small planes in the hangar near Talkeetna, Alaska.


Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti