“The diminutive Pilot bag isn’t cheap, but if you travel a lot like we do, it makes a great investment. It’s made well of high-tech materials, designed to last a very long time. I’ve never been able to wear out a Tom Bihn bag, no matter how much abuse I pile upon them.
On the plane, you should be able to get away with calling this a “personal” bag, like a purse, so that you can also carry another carry-on bag into the plane with you, which you can store in the overhead compartment while you keep the Pilot below the seat in front of you.
It works great for what it’s designed to do, and it’s a welcome bag to have by your side on those long flights. If you travel far and frequently, you’ll appreciate this bag.”
Eric sent us the following email — thought you all would appreciate it as much as we did.
Tom and Crew,
I kinda had an emotional reaction reading the description of The Guide’s Pack. I have an old REI toploading rucksack that really looks similar, though it has the dreaded black plastic accessory strap holders, which have all failed. I’ve toted that thing for one purpose or another for the better part of 30 years. One of my favorite packs.
Anyway, reading the description of The Guide’s Pack, well, it almost brought a tear to my eye. Tom’s obsessive desire to get the design right really flies off the page. It’s like he took my old REI pack that I love, and made it better, with all the benefits decades of technological improvement.
I don’t know when I’ve ever had such a strong reaction to a product description. I did with this thing though. It’ll take me awhile to come up with the scratch to get it, but get it I will. Can’t wait.
More broadly, thank you for being such a damn great operation. Over the years my wife and I have wound up buying a few different bags from you, all of which have exceeded our expectations. And the fact that we’re buying from a local manufacturer, with local employees really counts for a lot.
Okay, I’m putting the tissues away and gettting back to work. Congratulations on another job very, very well done.
Luke emailed us a review of his Aeronaut and we had to share it with you guys:
I am not usually inclined to write up a review, but had to brag about my new Aeronaut. Just spent three weeks in India, my third time back in three years. This time was planes, trains, taxis, buses, and rickshaws on a 2k mile odyssey from Chennai up to Delhi. Last two trips I took a sturdy wheeled carry-on that awkwardly converted to a backpack. I’m not going to lie, it did serve me well, but this year I challenged myself to find the most painless way to do the trip, and that included researching a new bag. That’s when I found Tom Bihn.
I won’t recap the quality of the bag and it’s remarkable versatility/utility that are touted in the website videos. I do have anecdotal evidence from the field though. I very comfortably packed all I needed for three weeks that ranged from hot and humid to chilly and damp. The bag held up well strapped to the top of a van barreling through the jungle, and wasn’t phased getting knocked around bus stations or stuffed in train cots. The zippers and tightly weaved material kept the contents clean and dry, and I easily lived out of it while it lay open on a hotel chair, hostel shelf, or dorm bed. It was super easy to break down at security checkpoints and was the only bag I’ve ever had that I wasn’t worried about getting to fit in an overhead bin.
I really love this bag, and am glad about my new investment in travel comfort and utility!
Photo courtesy of kkintea.
“My pilot came! The UPS man came and I snatched the box from his hands. I love the size. It is perfect. Big enough but not too big.” —atarango1
“As far as size, I think this could easily be a bag to use for a 3 to 4 day trip, especially if the trip is to a warmer climate where you have no need to dress up. I’m not sure how/where I’d squeeze in an extra pair of shoes (as light as I pack, I always like an extra pair) but I bet you could squeeze in a pair of flip flops for the beach very easily. But of course, this bag is really the ultimate size for a personal carry on and will certainly be able to hold enough stuff to keep you occupied even on the longest of flights.” —WMW40
“I can’t wait to start packing it for my upcoming conference. I specifically want to see if I can get away with only taking the Pilot. I will have to look “professional”, travel by plane (thus I will want to bring knitting), and will have to carry stuff with me all day (hotel is offsite from main events).” —gochicken
“It crosses over nicely from travel bag, overnight bag, work bag, knitting bag, and EDC. Of course, to each his own. That’s why I love Tom Bihn. He makes bags that appeal to many different types of people for all their varying needs!” —Mausermama
“I carried the Nordic pilot to a business meeting where everyone was wearing suits, so formal end of the spectrum. No one seemed to find it unusual. And the color really popped against my black suit. ” —Yoda Sloth
“This Pilot is sick!! I am able to fit more than I imagined and the Eagle Creek large packing sac, which can fit a change of clothes, fits like a dream in the Pilot. I am more than happy with this bag and so glad I splurged on the absolute strap.” —MelissaL
“I love my new (Navy/Solar) Pilot! It’s perfect for every day carry for my 11″ MBA plus some misc. stuff. It also works decently well (though not as well as a Packing Cube Messenger Bag (PCMB) would!) in the center of a Tri-Star. Alternatively, I can fit my (Lumix GH1) micro 4/3 camera in a small Crumpler Haven AND MBA in there without it looking too funny. Finally, I did a test pack, and for a casual 1-2 night trip (without the camera, but with the laptop), I can get everything I need. It’s like 4 bags in one!” —jmoz
“I got my Pilot yesterday – Black/Wasabi. It’s early, but my first impression is that it’s wonderful. It’s exactly the size I hoped for to use as my work bag.” —smj
“When I reviewed the Synapse 19, I wrote, “As long as you tend to travel light, and you’ve got a 13-inch (or smaller) laptop, this is a superb, and superbly versatile, bag.” With the Synapse 25, those caveats no longer apply: It’s just a superb, versatile bag. The Synapse 19 is still my everyday bag, because I like to travel light and its smaller size forces me to do so. But I have to admit that I’m envious of the Synapse 25. It’s a little bit more of everything that’s great about the 19, and the Cache/rails system is fantastic. The 25 is one of the most versatile bags I’ve seen, and though it’s not inexpensive, my experience with its smaller sibling—four years of heavy use and still going strong—suggests that you’re getting what you pay for.”
“So many different places claim to have “the best” of something. The best french fries. The best customer service. The best wine. Of course “the best” can really depend on personal preference and everyone may not agree. All that aside, I feel confident in proclaiming this to be the best carry-on bag and hopefully many of you will agree if you have one or buy one. ”
New forum member jwiegley recently posted a remarkably thorough review of the Smart Alec, attesting to the quality of the backpack’s construction and the surprising comfort of the straps. They write:
“My first thoughts on opening the box were that this is certainly a well-made product. My second thought was that the back straps seemed a little skimpy compared to other bags I’ve used. However, usage, and education about seam-stitching and bar tacks, has completely reversed me on that second thought. Simply put, these are the best back straps I’ve encountered, and the most comfortable that I’ve used on any bag. In fact, they are not just comfortable: my back actually feels better with the pack on than off! I’m not sure how that works exactly, but I look forward to putting it on each day. It has come to be one of my favorite things about the bag, which I would not have expected from the beginning.”
“Finally got around to my first ever TB video. It went a little long because, like others on the forum, I’m a nerd when it comes to describing my gadgets.”
“The retro styling is cool, it has great modular organization with the addition of the side pockets and non-proprietary diamond lash points, and in general it’s great to have choices depending on different carry requirements.”
Read the full review at LoadedPocketz.
The Man’s Man
“The Guide’s Pack is a high quality backpack that looks great and can hold a lot of gear. The structure of the bag is made to align itself with the natural spinal shape. The bag is customizable and can be restructured according to the user’s preference.”
“There is a lot of beautiful architecture to the Guide’s Pack and the Lead’s Pockets, giving yourself time to allow it to wash over yourself as you sort thru and absorb it. (I ordered an olive Guides Pack and 3 Leads Pockets) It’s like moving into a large home..”
Trailhiker’s Guide’s Pack threads:
Initial impressions after just receiving my Guides Pack!
Lead’s Pocket Comparison Photos
Guides Pack out in the wild
“I received my Tom Bihn Tri-Star bag about 3 weeks ago and wanted to share my initial impressions of it. What really surprised me was how substantial it was, when you pick it up you know it’s something special. I also ordered some packing cubes and the absolute strap.
I haven’t used it yet, I’m heading to Thailand in about a week and I plan on putting the Tristar through its paces. I chose Steel and Iberian, it’s a beautiful gray that’s not too light or too dark with a nice sheen. I could take it on a weekend trip wearing jeans and a t-shirt or carry it on a business trip wearing a suit and it would look appropriate for either occasion.
The Tristar’s 1050d exterior feels super tough, I think the only way to damage it would be to take a sharp blade to it or throw it off a mountain top. The interior dyneema is light but tough. The construction is impeccable, you can tell a lot of care went into the crafting of the bag.”
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