Space and Access
At 19.8L the Paragon confidently wants to be your default grab’n’go EDC bag. It’s big enough to fit everything you need to carry throughout the day. And even capable of being your daypack on a trail or during travels.
In essence, the Paragon is a half-zip bag with one external horizontal pocket. The shape of the bag maximizes the usable space inside.
Opening up the main compartment is straightforward, granting enough visibility and access to the bag. When putting in larger packing cubes that take up most of the internal space, I found myself wanting a bit wider zipper opening. But for most of the time, I was fine with it. The rain flaps do get in the way sometimes. I wonder if the team at Tom Bihn has considered removing them altogether to allow the zippers to move without anything getting in the way. Personally, if I were designing this bag I would remove the rain flaps altogether and make the zippers go to ⅔ of the side of the bag.
Pockets and Organizing
In itself there is very little organization to speak of and I find it refreshing.
The front outer horizontal pocket actually has some volume and can be used to store not just flat items (I am looking at you, GR1). At the same time, it can also become tighter depending on how full the main compartment is.
The main compartment has one zippered pocket and an integrated laptop sleeve which is sufficiently padded to protect your precious machine. I did find the laptop sleeve to be suspended. But since the bottom of the bag is not really padded I would not advise dropping the bag with your laptop in it on the ground.
A very light, compact bag coupled with the best straps Tom Bihn has made to date equal unquestionable comfort. The fabled Edgeless straps, introduced recently in the Synik line (one of the most recognizable and famous bags made by TB) almost feel like overkill on such a small and lightweight bag like the Paragon. However, I would argue that there is no such thing as too much comfort when it comes to backpack straps. Unlike many bags, these straps feel incredible even when rubbing against the skin, not an easy feat to achieve.
The straps are not too thick or too thin. They feel just right and can carry a heavy load without a problem.
No wonder that TB is scaling up and using the same strap design in more and more bags (Synik, Synapse, Shadow Guide V2, and now the Paragon).
If I were to nitpick, I could mention the straps are somewhat slippery but you get used to this quickly. The sternum strap also helps to keep them in place.
The back of the Paragon features a closed-cell foam that gives the bag structure. It also prevents the stuff inside from poking you in the back. There is no air ventilation on the back because it is just a flat nylon surface with no air channels. But in my experience using the bag it was not an issue.
Ballistic nylon used as an outer fabric offers excellent weather protection. All external YKK zippers (to the main compartment and the front pocket) are protected with the rain flaps so you can be sure your precious contents are safe inside.