Let this Tom Bihn bag be your traveling Co-Pilot
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Let this Tom Bihn bag be your traveling Co-Pilot

As I've mentioned before, my goal of using my iMac as my main computer and an iPad with a keyboard as a secondary system for writing articles, checking email, etc., just never panned out. I simply missed having an Apple laptop.

So now I own an 11-inch MacBook Air (standard except that I sprung for the 128GB solid state driver rather than the 64GB model). I use my iPad for media consumption (surfing the web, watching videos, reading ebooks, etc.) and my MacBook Air for creating (writing articles, doing research, responding to email, etc.).

This means that I when I travel, I need two cases -- one for my iPad and one for my MacBook Air, right? Wrong. Not with the Co-Pilot from Tom Bihn (http://www.tombihn.com). It's a small, personal carry-on travel bag designed to fit the essentials -- items that you want close at hand and easily accessible during your flight or at the airport.

The Co-Pilot isn't cheap at US$110. But, to me, it's worth it. For one thing, it's very spacious. I have no trouble fitting both the MacBook Air and the iPad (even in a case) inside it. Not only that, but I can also fit even more stuff inside.

The Co-Pilot has three front pockets and one main, back compartment. The main compartment of the Co-Pilot is wide, open, and ready for larger items. Such as my iPad and MacBook Air.

The front left compartment has an Ultrasuede-lined pocket sized to fit your iPhone or iPod (one of the new iPod nanos easily slipped in). It has one o-ring that connects to a strap for keeping your keys securely tethered to the Co-Pilot. Additional key straps and organizer pouches can be purchased if you need even more room.

The middle front pocket of the Co-Pilot is designed to fit a small water bottle or compact folding umbrella. One nice touch: the bottom of this pocket has an eyelet so that any condensation, spills or leaks won't puddle in the bag. And since the pocket is in the middle of the bag, the weight of the water bottle doesn't throw the bag off balance.

Want still more storage?The back of the Co-Pilot features a wide, open-top pocket for a magazine or newspaper. The bottom of this pocket zips open and shut so that you can slide the Co-Pilot over the handle of rolling luggage.

What's more, the Tom Bihn case is tough, which is especially important to me since I'm lugging not one, but two, Apple devices inside it. It's made with an exterior of 1050d U.S. ballistic nylon, which, according to the folks at Tom Bihn, has twice the abrasion resistance of 1680 denier fabric, and an interior of ultra-lightweight Japanese Dyneema/nylon ripstop fabric. (A version of the Co-Pilot with an exterior and interior of the Japanese Dyneema/nylon fabric -- which weighs 35% less than the ballistic nylon version -- is also available.)

The front of the Co-Pilot features piping to help it keep its shape no matter how full or empty it is. The travel bag features #8 YKK splash-proof zippers with metal pulls. Included with the bag is are five Cord Zipper Pulls, allowing you to add them to the metal zipper pulls or replace the metal zipper pulls entirely. What all this means is that this is one tough little (12 x 10 x 5 inches and 17.2 ounces) bag.

Stuff the Co-Pilot to the brim with your gear, and it's still comfortable to lug around, thanks to the handle that's padded with Poron foam, centered above the center of gravity. Shoulder Strap attachment points are on the left and right sides of the Co-Pilot. The Standard Shoulder Strap is included with the Co-Pilot. You have the option of upgrading to an "Absolute Shoulder Strap" for an extra 20 bucks. Unless you're going to be lugging the Tom Bihn case a loooong way, I think the standard strap will suffice.

The Co-Pilot is available in a variety of "flavors": indigo/solar, crimson/steel, steel/solar dyneema, black/steel, steel/solar, and Iberian/steel dyneema. I prefer the clean, sleek look of the black/steel, but whatever style you choose, you won't be disappointed in this little workhorse of a travel bag.

Macsimum rating: 9 out of 10

-- Dennis Sellers

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