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Monday December 11, 2006 5:14 am

Tom Bihn ID Bag Review

Tom Bihn ID ReviewTom Bihn recently released an update to their mid-sized messenger bag, the ID. The updated ID has several notable improvements and makes for a great everyday bag for anyone with lots of stuff to cart around. Gear Live took it for a spin and compares it to the Imago which we recently reviewed. Click through for the full review.


The ID is Tom Bihn’s mid sized messenger bag - It’s larger than the Imago we reviewed a few weeks ago, and smaller than the Super Ego. It’s designed to comfortably carry a 15” laptop, along with cameras, phones, PDAs, and other gadgets that we all “need to have.”  The ID has 1,100 cubic inches - 18 liters - of storage space (compared with 600 and 1680 cubic inches for the Imago and Super Ego respectively).

The ID features the two ultra-suede lined compartments with the headphone cord-friendly zipper that first appeared on the Imago, along with several other compartments laid out similarly to the Imago. In addition to this large rear compartment the smaller pockets that the ID shares with the Imago are slightly larger and wider.

The ID also features more internal top down pockets to make putting small items neatly inside and keeping pens/pencils organized. The smaller front pocket fits a hard bound paper notebook perfectly allowing for those that prefer pen and paper to laptops to have quick and easy access to their tools of the trade.

The ID’s layout is similar to the Imago, but with a wider format, and a large stiffly backed compartment strapped onto the back. The large rear compartment features a stiffly padded back panel to keep what’s inside safe, and prevent irregularly shaped contents from pressing into your back while carrying it. The large pocket has no inner dividers or separators and gives the user flexibility to put a variety of objects in. This gives it significantly more storage space than the Imago and an ability to hold a much larger laptop.

It should be noted that the ID lacks a specific laptop compartment but features mounting points for Tom Bihn’s other laptop bags to be clipped in. If you have a laptop and carry it with you everywhere then getting a Brain Cell is strongly recommended to keep your laptop safe and sound in it’s hard shelled padded techno-womb.

The ID features a webbed handle on its outside, and a smaller fabric handle on the inside. This allows for briefcase like handling with the bag securely closed, and quick and easy carrying with the bag open. This may not seem like a big feature, but with with bags “top down” design it makes it easy to carry the bag quickly from location to location without closing it. This enables quick access to it’s contents when the security of a latch-closed bag is not required. The first generation ID lacked this internal handle but after a recommendation from the Tom Bihn forums they added this nifty little feature.

Finally the ID features two external pockets. The first pocket is on the back of the bag and opens to the top. This pocket is clearly designed to carry documents or other thin items. It is on the same panel that features the stiff padded back to the large compartment on the ID so it will help prevent getting your papers crumpled. It should be noted that this pocket does no close directly and thus could get documents inside wet in the rain.

The other external pocket is a zippered enclosure on the front of the bag. The front pocket has a vertical zipper which this reviewer found slightly awkward to use, but others commented on how much easier the vertical zipper made the pocket - your personal tastes may vary.


The ID is solidly put together from 500 denier Cordura and ballistic nylon. Like all other bags in the Tom Bihn line that Gear Live has reviewed, the build quality and stitching is impeccable. We have no doubt that this bag will stand up to the rigors of rough use for many years to come. All the external zippers are of the highest quality and feature rubberized sheaths to help prevent accidental splashes or light rain from getting to the bags contents.

The ID comes standard with a sturdy and comfortable shoulder strap. As an option the bag can be outfitted with an Absolute Strap which is made from soft neoprene and offers more comfort when carrying a heavy load. It should be noted that the default strap allows the bag to slide around your body while keeping the shoulder pad in place, but the Absolute strap is fixed into position - if you rotate your bag around your body to access its contents frequently you may find the original strap more convenient, abet slightly less comfy when carrying heavy loads over long distances.


If you are looking for a high quality messenger bag made with technology in mind you can’t find a better bag than the ID. Between it’s solid construction, well thought out pocket placement, and clean simple looks it’s a clear winner in the messenger bag arena. At $130 MSRP it’s a great deal on a bag that will provide many years of reliable service and comes with a lifetime guarantee on all materials and workmanship.

DescriptionIf you find a smaller bag is more to your tastes then try the Imago (which won’t fit larger laptops), or for a larger bag which will fit any laptop, and tons of other gear to boot, try the Super Ego.  This picture shows the size relationship between the Imago on the left, ID in the middle, and the Super Ego to the right.

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