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||$85 List||$179.00 at Backcountry|
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|$53.40 at Backcountry|
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|$140.00 at REI||$127.20 at Backcountry|
|Pros||Compact, lightweight, customization options, simple||Waterproof laptop sleeve, weather resistant, easy to use, great features, ambidextrous, brightly colored interior||Durable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizable||Waterproof, comfortable, lightweight, highly durable, ambidextrous shoulder strap||Incredibly durable and weather resistant, ambidextrous strap, spacious|
|Cons||Too small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separately||Exterior water bottle pocket is small, shoulder padding can get bunched up, tips over easily when set down||Minimal features for electronics||Tips over easily when set down, doesn't have very many pockets, expensive||Stiff when new, boxy shape, buckle on shoulder strap is bulky, very loud to open|
|Bottom Line||This bag keeps it simple and small, making it a great everyday bag for folks in the tablet or small Chromebook crowd||This well-featured bag is feature-rich, fully ambidextrous, and highly weatherproof||This tried and true design continues to be one of the best simple messenger bags on the market||With thoughtful features and burly weatherproofing, it's comfortable, lightweight, and ready to be your go-to bag||Checks all the right boxes of what makes a great messenger bag, including looking super stylish|
|Rating Categories||Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase||Timbuk2 Especial Stash||Timbuk2 Classic||Arc'teryx Granville 10||Topo Designs Messenger|
|Packing & Organization (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Wear & Tear (10%)|
|Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)|
|Specs||Tom Bihn Daylight...||Timbuk2 Especial...||Timbuk2 Classic||Arc'teryx...||Topo Designs...|
|Measured Weight||0.99 lbs||2.18 lbs||2 lbs||1.15 lbs||2.66 lbs|
|Measured Volume||8 L||20 L||21 L||10 L||13 L|
|OGL Volume/Weight Ratio||8.08||9.17||10.50||8.70||4.89|
|Dimensions||14 x 10 x 4 in||17.5 x 12.2 x 4.72 in||14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1 in||16 x 10.5 x 5 in||17 x 12 x 6 in|
|Shoulder preference||Either||Either||Either but optimized for left||Either||Either|
|Number of Compartments||1||3||2||2||2|
|Number of Large Pockets||5||5||3||1||3|
|Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items)||0||4||5||1||1|
|Number of Zipper Pockets||3||3||3||2||3|
|Reflective Material?||No||Yes||Yes, on bottom straps||No||Yes|
|External Side Pocket||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Sleeve For Laptop?||Yes - 13"||Yes - 15"||Yes - 15"||Yes - 12"||Yes - 15"|
|Stabilizing Cross Strap||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Available Sizes||One Size||One Size||XS, S, M, L||10L and 16L||One Size|
|Size Tested||One Size||One Size||Medium||10L||One Size|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti