I picked a bag: Tumi T-Tech Presidio Filbert T-Pass Organizer Laptop Briefcase

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31 May 2012

(See my previous post for context.)

What? Seriously? Tumi T-Tech Presidio Filbert T-Pass Organizer Laptop Briefcase? Let’s break that name down:

  • Tumi: The company who makes the bag. Well known for making quality, well-designed bags.
  • T-Tech: The “collection” (i.e. all the bags in the T-Tech line share key features and styling).
  • Presidio: Uh… an even more narrowly-defined “collection”.
  • Filbert: The model name of the bag. (Really, Filbert? Someone thought that was a good name? As my wife says, this bag is royalty!)
  • T-Pass: The brand name they use for their “checkpoint friendly” feature.
  • Organizer: It has dividers for paper.
  • Laptop: It is designed to hold a laptop.
  • Briefcase: It is carried by handles and/or a shoulder strap, and doesn’t have a flap over the top (in which case it would be called “Messenger”).

So yeah, their marketing department needs to be sacked. What I bought was the Tumi Filbert Laptop Bag. But apparently that wasn’t confusing enough.

On the other hand, their product design department seems quite healthy – this is a great bag. Let’s review the criteria:

  • High Quality: The bag seems well made and unlikely to break, and Tumi has a reputation among online reviewers for making quality bags. They also have a very good (but not great) warranty.
  • Protects Laptop: Yep, it seems padded enough.
  • Light Weight: Yep, quite light.
  • Big Enough for a Work Laptop: Yep, just the right size for it.
  • Small Enough for Airplane Use: It’s almost exactly the same size as the “2.0” bag that I loved, which tucked nicely under airplane seats. This one is “landscape mode” and the 2.0 bag was “portrait mode” which was actually better for pulling a laptop out from under the seat, but this one isn’t so big that it will cause a problem.
  • Big Enough for 2 People / 2 Laptops: It’s great for this. It has enough room normally to easily carry my work laptop, all my stuff, plus my MacBook Air and its power adapter, and still have some room left over. But even better, it has an expansion zipper that lets the bag get about 2” thicker, so I can carry the bag in the compact configuration normally but expand it as needed for special trips.
  • Small Enough to Limit My Options: Just right for this. It’s basically a laptop pocket + paper pocket + stuff pocket, and the stuff pocket is only just big enough to hold all the things I usually carry.
  • Fast at Airport Security: This has the checkpoint friendly feature, plus the zipper opens at the top to allow easy access to the laptop(s).
  • Never Frustrating: Yep, per all the tests I could think of, especially the one about each pocket keeping to itself.
  • Professional Appearance: Spot-on what I was looking for.
  • Suitcase Handle Pass-through: Yep
  • Light-colored Interior: NO, DAMMIT. This is the one big negative to this bag; more about this below.
  • Reasonable Price: Yep, it was on sale for $188. That’s probably a lot more than most people would spend on a laptop bag, but maybe not if they’ve ever heavily used a $50 bag :)
  • Good “Always Carried” Pockets: Kinda. It has great pockets for most of the major things I carry (power cord, notebook, pens, headphones, medicines, business cards, phone charger, …). But I couldn’t find a good place to tuck thumb drives and an extra phone battery I carry. That might be because I don’t have my mini umbrella in the dedicated umbrella pocket, because my umbrella is about 2” too long for it. Maybe a smaller umbrella would solve both problems. The 2.0 bag had two main pockets that served this purpose, and I liked that division; this one only has one “stuff” pocket.
  • Loose Paper Stash: Yep, just what I was looking for.
  • Power Cord Stash: One downside to the checkpoint friendly feature is that you’re supposed to put the power cord in a different pocket than the laptop, which means opening two zippers instead of one to get both out. But there is a good pocket for the power cord.
  • Won’t Dump My Stuff: Perfectly designed for this. Gussets on the sides, some zippers don’t go all the way down, the handles bridge the major compartments, and so does the strap.
  • Ticket / Passport Stash: Not really. It just doesn’t have a great solution for this.
  • Secret Pocket: Kinda. There is an inside zippered pocket that is a close analogue to the one on the 2.0 bag, but on this bag, that zipper is quite visible (which I’m sure was intentional).
  • Converts to Backpack: Nope, not at all. And I’m sure I won’t miss it.

As with most things in life, it isn’t perfect. No ticket stash, a little odd with the power cord, a little fussy with the always-carried stuff, and A DARK INTERIOR. I still can’t believe I bought a bag with a dark interior (even the backpack got that one right!). Given how perfect this bag is, I can’t believe they made it with a dark interior. I just don’t understand it.

But here’s why I bought it anyway: I was shopping for clothes and it was right there on a display in front of me.

Yep, it all comes down to product placement. In this case, though, the placement provided a bunch of serious advantages:

  • I knew I could find Tumi bags at the Tumi store nearby, but I don’t really have time (2 kids!) to go there, and I didn’t know if they’d have the specific model (the Filbert) that I was interested in. Having it right there in front of me solved that problem. (But even then I only had about 5 minutes to make up my mind.)
  • For the other three brands I was interested in, I had a really hard time finding anyone locally who carried any of them, let alone the specific models I was interested in. And all three brands have websites that do a poor job explaining the detailed features of their bags, so I didn’t have much trust in buying online. Seeing the bag up close let me check all the things I cared about.
  • I was at Nordstrom, and buying the bag there means I don’t have to care about Tumi’s warranty – if anything ever goes wrong, Nordstrom will just make it right.
  • Tumi was sponsoring a 20% sale on all T-Tech bags (e.g. the Filbert) that ended the day after that day.
  • The bag was… tighter… than I expected it to be from the pictures. It looks and feels compact and well-engineered, and that’s something I care about, but didn’t think of when I made the list. It really made me want it.

Since I bought this bag, I compared its measurements to all the other options I was considering, and after trimming out the ones that were larger, I was left with only a few specific alternatives, none of which were perfect, spec-wise. (Here, have another comma: ,,,,,) So (after the fact) I’m quite sure that I got best available bag for my criteria.

Now hopefully I’ll love the bag just as much after traveling with it (in a few weeks).

P.S. – to tie in with this insanity, I’ve also switched wallets. I loved my old wallet, but it was starting to feel too big for the few things I need to carry these days. So my new wallet is this (in Dark Coffee Brown, of course) and so far I love it.

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