NOTE: Sadly this bag has been discontinued. I liked it a lot, so I’m hopeful that they will eventually launch a new version but for now I would direct you to the Think Tank Retrospective 30 for 15″ laptops and the Retrospective 7 for 13″ laptops.
The Best Laptop Bag for Photographers?
For a lot of photographers, being on the road is part and parcel of the job and that means having a way to easily carry around a laptop, along with hard drives, power cables, memory cards holders and maybe even a Wacom tablet. There are camera bags that allow for this, like the previously reviewed MindShift BackLight 26L for example, but in a world with ever decreasing carry-on limits it’s becoming ever more important to maximize the available allowances you are given. If you fly a lot, it makes much more sense to use your main carry-on bag for camera gear, and then take your laptop as your “personal item”. I also find it useful to have my “office in a bag”, because I can quickly grab it and head to a local coffee shop if I want a change of scenery while I’m editing or writing.
For many years I used the old Think Tank Airport Check-In shoulder bag, but this was eventually discontinued and replaced with the My 2nd Brain Briefcase, available in both 13″ and 15″ sizes. I’m not sure why they went with the awkward naming of the bag, but to all intents and purposes, this does replace the no-longer-available Airport Check-In bag. I have a 15″ Macbook pro so the 15″ model is what I purchased. I don’t find the bag to be particularly big, and to be honest, I’d probably recommend the 15″ size to people who use a 13″ laptop as well. If it doesn’t feel too big, I think it’s always useful to have a little extra volume for you to use when traveling.
The main difference between this bag and the older Check-In bag is that this one features way more internal organization. The array of internal pockets is really the defining feature of this bag, and it makes it easy to find a spot for all the small ancillary items that are necessary to carry with your laptop. Whilst the laptop itself goes into it’s own pocket at the back of the bag, there are still two full sized pockets inside the main compartment as well which can be used for documents, magazines, a Wacom tablet or even a second laptop if you had that need. For reference, a Wacom Intuos Pro Small fits like a glove into either of the larger internal pockets.
The array of smaller mesh pockets can be used as you see fit, although they are sized to fit an Apple Macbook charger and the Apple charger extension cable. My personal preference is actually to team this bag up with a pair of the Think Thank Powerhouse organizers. I use a Powerhouse Pro for my laptop charger and extension cable, and a Powerhouse Air for my USB and Thunderbolt cable collection. Side-by-side, these two fit perfectly into the centre of the bag’s main compartment. This then leaves the various elasticated mesh pockets free to hold my hard drives and card readers.
When I have all the necessary gear in the bag, it’s definitely full. You would never call this a big bag, and it’s unlikely that you’ll find extra space in it to store a lens or a camera body unless you’ve got nothing else in the main, central pocket. In a way, I’ve found this to be a good thing because it forces me to be clear about my needs, and leave any extraneous stuff back home in the office. If you want a truly big laptop bag that can also hold some camera gear then you’d want to look at their Retrospective models instead. The My 2nd Brain Briefcase is all about streamlining and organizing your laptop gear. It makes a perfect partner to Think Tank’s roller bags if you’re flying, or wheeling your gear into a press room.
In terms of price, I find this bag to be very good value at about $145 for the largest version. With the number of pockets this thing has, it must be extremely complicated to manufacture, yet they’ve still managed to keep the price really competitive with other much simpler bags, and way cheaper than something like the Peak Design Everyday Messenger which I have previously reviewed as well. It doesn’t cut corners to maintain this low price-point, though. The 2nd Brain Briefcase still has the same durable Think Tank build quality that we’ve come to expect over the years.
My 2nd Brain Briefcase Video Review
Don’t fancy reading all this? Check out the video.
Accessories for the My 2nd Brain Briefcase
Inside the main compartment of the Briefcase is a small nylon loop, designed to attach one of Think Tank’s memory card holders. So many people use these card holders that I probably don’t need to tell you how great they are.
Their range of cable management bags and cable ties is also useful when paired with the briefcase.
The My 2nd Brain Briefcase is a great replacement for my old Airport Check-In laptop bag. It feels a bit smaller, but I like the way it keeps me organized so much, that I even use it to organize things while it’s still in my office. When I need to leave, I just throw the laptop in and off I go. As I look at a collection of other shoulder style laptop bags in my closet, much more than the others, this one strikes me as great value. I would happily have paid another $50 for a bag with this kind of attention to detail and complexity of internal design. As long as you have no requirement to also carry some camera gear in your laptop bag, the TT M2B Briefcase is pretty darned perfect.