Introducing The Travel Cubelet

The Travel Cubelet

In Production in Seattle, Washington, USA

Ready To Order / Ships On…
Friday, October 27th at 8:00am Pacific Time

Island Halcyon, Northwest Sky Halcyon, Viridian, Mars Red, Grass, Black, Alphaviolet, Dawn

Sign Up To Be Notified When The Travel Cubelet Ships
Go to the Travel Cubelet page, click on any In Production color combination, and add your email address to the input field that appears below.

Shipping Options
U.S. — UPS Ground ($10) or USPS First Class or Priority Mail for orders under $49 ($7)
International — UPS Expedited ($30) or USPS First Class International for orders under $49 ($14)

Meet the Travel Cubelet—we humbly present it to you as the elusively perfect mini travel purse (maybe not so humbly after all…). ​It’s not too big…and not too small. It has ​lots of pockets—four, to be exact, including the main compartment—but not so many pockets that they would confound in use.

But wait, let’s go back to the beginning of the story! This summer, we introduced the Cubelet, a new style of Organizer Pouch. You guys liked it as much as we did, and gave us some feedback too: “The Cubelet is great. I’d like one that’s slightly bigger to fit my phablet” and “maybe with a little more organization” and “can you make it fit my 15-inch MacBook Pro?”

When we heard all that (well, except for the last one), a lightbulb went off: perhaps a larger Cubelet, with more organization, could be our elusive mini-travel-unicorn-bag?

Prototypes were made. Prototypes were tested. And we found our answer: yes.

It’s amazing how much can fit in the Travel Cubelet. In the photo above, it’s packed as an in-flight amenities bag.

The flight is over, you’ve reached your destination, and a few items are swapped out to make the Travel Cubelet your main carry.

The Travel Cubelet needn’t be stored away waiting for its next trip: it can also be used as an every day carry.

The First Bag I Made

Tom Bihn's G.I. Joe External Backpack and Ice Axe

When I was first learning to sew, I made backpacking equipment for my G.I. Joe. I was about ten years old at the time, and I had already moved on from “playing” with G.I. Joe: he got dragged out of early retirement as a model for my first attempts at making outdoor gear.

He was one of the “up-to-dated” versions of GI Joe, more or less as pictured with the flocked hair instead of plastic, and a matching flocked beard (see this article about the evolution of Joe).

I made a sleeping bag for Joe too. I don’t know what happened to that; I do recall it was a bit snug on Joe and its half-length side zipper barely closed.

Fast forward to 2015. As we embarked on the redesign our Seattle Factory Showroom, we decided to devote the only real wall in the showroom to our history: early designs, a down jacket I made, photos from over the years, and even the collection of letters of recommendation I received from various jobs that I had before starting my own business making bags. (Though you’re always welcome to come visit our factory, there is an online version of the History Wall just in case you can’t make it.)

Darcy asked me if I could remember the very first bag I ever made, and I shared the story of Joe’s pack. She asked if the original might be around somewhere and I said no. Seldom willing to take no for an answer, she then asked if I could make a replica, and I said sure.

When I set out to recreate Joe’s external frame backpack for the history wall in our Seattle Factory Showroom and headquarters, I had nothing but my memory to go on. On eBay I scored a G.I. Joe action figure of the same vintage of the one for which I had made the original. Having Joe back brought more memories of the pack itself, and I was able to re-create something thematically quite similar. I couldn’t help adding the tiny label, which of course the original lacked, and when I found some very small side release buckles, my internal 10-year-old couldn’t say no.

(And eBay yielded another tiny item which I’m pretty sure I never had: a GI Joe ice axe. It was too good to pass up, so it got incorporated into the new version as well. Interesting to note that I was only 13 – a few short years later – when I got my own ice axe for a backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington: it’s an ice axe I still own and occasionally use.)

The 21st century version of the pack is yet an homage to that era as well: I made it from our 420 Parapack fabric, which back in 1970 was becoming a ubiquitous backpack fabric.

Tom Bihn's G.I. Joe External Backpack and Ice Axe

Tom Bihn's G.I. Joe External Backpack and Ice Axe

One Month In Italy

Zeke, the filmmmaker behind many of our videos, documented a 30 day trip through Northern Italy with his wife and son. In this post, Zeke shares an essay about the reasons for the trip, as well as the videos he captured: how his family packed for the trip, their favorite travel hacks, and their tour of Italy. 

The Videos

Episode I: How To Pack For 30 Day Trip Without Checking a Bag

Episode II:  Zeke’s Top Travel Hacks

Episode III:  One Month In Italy

The Essay

Ten years is a long time. That’s why my wife and I wanted to do something really special for our 10 year anniversary. We took a 30 day trip through Northern Italy with our 7 year old. With our 7 year old? Yes. Turns out, spending a month in a foreign country, changing towns every 3 to 6 days, and bringing along a 7 year old can sometimes make 30 days feel longer than 10 years! Of course, that’s nothing a bit of gelato can’t fix!

We started our adventure in Venice. Now, as a filmmaker and an entrepreneur, I’ve traveled all over the world, but Venice is unlike anyplace I’ve ever seen. At times it felt like we were in the middle of movie set, or a weird dream. Other times it felt like if we sneezed all the buildings would crumble to dust around us. Everything was beautifully old. The buildings and bridges that carry foot traffic over the canals are held together with what look like iron staples. There aren’t any cars. I mean, none. No bikes—at least, we didn’t see any. Everyone, and everything, moves around on foot. Everything about Venice was magical.

From Venice we took the train to Bellagio. If I could pick any place in the world to live all year long, it would be Bellagio in the summertime. It had all the magic and charm of Venice, but with 100 times the beauty. The town climbs out of a giant lake that is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Stunning. There’s no point in me describing it in detail. Watch the video. One of my favorite moments from the entire trip was when we were taking the ferry boat from one side of the lake to the other. A massive rainstorm rolled in on top of us. It turned the lake black. Most people on the ferry ran for cover, but I decided to stand out in it, getting soaked and soaking up the incredible views that surrounded me.

From Bellagio we went to Milan, then up almost to the northern border of Italy where my wife had planned a surprise. After a long drive, we started winding up a hill and arrived at a castle. Like going from one dream to another, we got to spend two nights IN a castle. It once belonged to one of the first kings of Italy. There are only a few guest rooms there, so it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves.

We were in Italy during Ferragosto, a holiday where most places close and most of the people go away on vacation. This was perfect for us as it meant small to no crowds almost everywhere we went. Enough stores and restaurants were open that we never went without. We were in Parma at the height of Ferragosto. So instead of crowds, it was mostly empty. The food in Parma was—never mind. I don’t want to rub it in, and it’s making me hungry just thinking about it. Parma was lovely and charming and that’s where our 7 year old realized that he and his friends at home all dress like slobs—his words (superhero T-shirts and silky basketball shorts). He decided from that point forward he wanted to dress sharp like the people he saw all over Italy. We bought him his first suit and that was that. It’s almost a year later now, and he has worn a blazer and a tie or bow tie nearly every day since. If you look close in the video, you’ll see the moment he went through this mental change. It’s when he’s trying on a suit for the first time. It’s become so much of his personality, I’m really happy that I caught the moment on film.

There’s really too much to write about: a 14 hour lightning storm in Tuscany where we stayed in a 500 year old tower, a view of ancient ruins from our balcony in Bologna, the food—everywhere. So much more.

During the few moments a week that my brain isn’t focused on what’s in front of me, it quickly drifts off to vivid memories from our 30 day trip through Italy. The moment is always followed by a deep feeling of peace and happiness. A smile. I’d do the trip all over again at least 100 times.

You asked, so here’s a list of some of the bags and accessories that Zeke and his family took on their trip. — TB Crew

Aeronaut 45
Night Flight Travel Duffel
Synapse 19
Shop Bags
Spiff Kits
3D Clear Organizer Cube
Side Effect
Key Straps
Clear Organizer Pouches
Packing Cubes
Clear Quarter Packing Cube
RFID Passport Pouch

Summer 2017 Debut Guide

June 2017 Debut - TOM BIHN

Today’s Debuts
Stowaway Personal Carry-on Convertible Travel Briefcase / Backpack
Stowaway Packing Cubes
Luminary Backpack
Yeoman Duffel Packing Cubes
Airplane Baseball Cap, Cotton or Wool
Updated (O-ring placement was changed to accommodate the new Pouchkins) First/Second Aid Pouches with optional new First/Second Aid Pouchkins

And last but not at all least… two new fabrics in many new colors!
525d HT ballistic nylon
210 HT ballistic nylon

525 colors: Mars Red, Deep Blue, Black, Cloud, Alphaviolet, Olive
210 colors: Viridian, Dawn, Canyon, Grass, Cloud, Black

Debut Items That Are Ready to Ship…
Yeoman Duffel Packing Cubes
Airplane Baseball Cap, Cotton or Wool
First/Second Aid Pouch
First/Second Aid Pouchkins

Debut Items That Are In Production…
The Stowaway (Estimated Shipping Date: Early August)
Stowaway Packing Cubes (Estimated Shipping Date: Early August)
The Luminary (Late July)
Synapse 19 in 525 / 210 HT ballistic nylon (Late August)
Synapse 25 in 525 / 210 HT ballistic nylon (Mid-August)
Shop Bag in 210 HT ballistic nylon (Early September)
Small Cafe Bag in 525 / 210 HT ballistic nylon (Late July – Mid-August)
Medium Cafe Bag in 525 / 210 HT ballistic nylon (Late July – Mid-August)

New Videos
maverick’s Stowaway video
Stowaway Features
Luminary Features
First/Second Aid Pouch + Pouchkins
Small and Medium Cafe Bag Features
525d HT Ballistic Nylon video for our Materials Glossary
210d HT Ballistic Nylon video for our Materials Glossary

The Debut In Photos


The Stowaway | TOM BIHN


The Luminary | TOM BIHN


The Cubelet | TOM BIHN

Small Cafe Bag in 525 / 210 ballistic nylon

Small Cafe Bag in 525 ballistic nylon | TOM BIHN

Medium Cafe Bag in 525 / 210 ballistic nylon

Medium Cafe Bag | TOM BIHN

First Aid Pouch with Pouchkins

First Aid Kit | TOM BIHN

Second Aid Pouch with Pouchkins

Second Aid Kit | TOM BIHN

Airplane Baseball Cap, Cotton

TOM BIHN Cotton Baseball Cap

Airplane Baseball Cap, Wool

TOM BIHN Wool Baseball Cap

Yeoman Duffel Packing Cubes

Yeoman Duffel Packing Cubes

Design Update: Aeronaut 45

TOM BIHN Aeronaut 45 Design Updates

You know us: we can’t leave good enough alone. Our Aeronaut 45 maximum carry-on travel bag has been updated with a couple of new features and a few materials updates.

All Aeronaut 45s available for order have these new features.

#10 YKK Aquaguard Coil Zippers with Lockable Sliders

We’ve changed the #10 zipper sliders on the main compartment and both end compartments of the Aeronauts to be the same #10 YKK Aquaguard Coil Zippers with lockable sliders found on the Hero’s Journey — you can now easily add a luggage lock to any or all of these compartments. You might want to do this to add some security when your Aeronaut is unattended or out of sight. For example: leaving it with a concierge, walking with it on your back in crowds, or checking it with the airline. We recommend any of the commonly available TSA certified luggage locks. Don’t ever lock your bag? Es bueno — simply don’t use this feature.

TOM BIHN Aeronaut 45 with Locking Luggage Zippers

#8 YKK Aquaguard Coil Zippers

The diagonal end pocket zippers now feature #8 zippers, which are a bit easier to open and close than the #10 zippers. Nice when you’re trying to access those pockets when your Aeronaut is wedged into an overhead bin or under a seat. They’re still water repellant AquaGuard zippers, so we’ve got you covered.

TOM BIHN Aeronaut 45 #8 YKK Zipper

Interior Grab Handles

We added two simple webbing loop handles that are accessible only when the main hatch is unzipped. Tom noticed he wanted grab handles when he needed to move his Aeronaut in the middle of packing/unpacking it, like from the bed to the bureau. They drop to the inside and are only there when you need them.

TOM BIHN Aeronaut 45 Interior Grab Handle

3/8″ / 10mm Thick Removable Back Panel Foam Padding

The back panel foam padding is now 3/8″ / 10mm thick (it was originally 1/4″ / 6mm): this will provide you a bit more comfort if you’ve any pokey items in your Aeronaut. The additional thickness also translates into a tad more vertical stability/rigidity — it’s not an internal frame, but will provide a more comfortable carry when carried as a backpack. The foam wraps around the bottom a bit more as well, which yet again adds a bit more comfort when it’s on your back. It also is removable/swappable (thanks to a zipper hidden inside the lining) so you can replace it if it ever gets creased or crushed (unlikely, but foam can age over time with lots of heavy use), and/or remove it entirely if you don’t find you need it and want to save the weight/bulk.

Aeronaut 45 Padded Back Panel

#5 YKK Vislon® Molded Tooth Zippers

Finally, the short zippers that create and define the interior compartments are now molded tooth Vislon rather than coil. You’ll find they are a bit easier to zip and unzip, in case you do that sort of thing much.

#5 YKK Vislon® Molded Tooth Zipper TOM BIHN Aeronaut 45

The new Aeronaut 45 is also the first bag to mark the return of our Portable Culture logo label; more on that here.

Design Update: Parental Unit

TOM BIHN Parental Unit Design Updates

Tom has made several design updates to our Parental Unit diaper bag inspired by feedback posted on our Forums, shared with us by friends and family who use the P.U., and Tom’s observations of it in use.

All Parental Units available for order include these new features and updates.

We’ve also introduced a new accessory — Wheelchair or Stroller Straps — that allows one to hang the Parental Unit on the back of a stroller. As the name indicates, the Wheelchair or Stroller Straps can also be used to hang a bag on the back of a wheelchair. The straps work with any of our bags that have 1-1/2″ d-ring shoulder strap attachment points; see the Wheelchair or Stroller Straps page for a complete list of those bags. We’re working on photos and videos that demonstrate this new accessory in use with both strollers and wheelchairs: stay tuned!

Interior Handles
The updated P.U. has two simple 1” / 25mm webbing handles, just inside the zipper of the main compartment. These two handles give you an easy way to grab and move or carry the P.U. while its main compartment is zipped open. This is mostly to use while loading/unloading the Parental Unit, moving it from kitchen to nursery for example. Because the handles are sewn inside, they politely disappear when you zip the bag shut; they give you a nice way to hang the P.U. up on a coat hook as well. (New Aeronauts have similar handle loops to facilitate moving while packing.)

TOM BIHN Parental Unit Design Updates: Interior Grab Handles

Longer Main Compartment Zipper
Tom has extended the length of the main compartment zipper by over 4” / 100mm. This will not only make packing and unpacking your stuff easier, but allows a better view as you down into the depths of the bag. That main zipper now has two sliders as well.

TOM BIHN Parental Unit Design Updates: Longer Main Compartment Zipper

Snap Divider Becomes Zipper Divider
The main compartment divider has changed from a snap closure to a zipper closure, much like the one in the front compartments of the Western Flyer and Tri-Star. This closure, as you may recall, joins the two interior pouches together to form a divider: if you choose to use it, the main compartment of the Parental Unit goes from one big expanse to four smaller divisions – depending on your packing style, it can be an nice option. It’s a #5 YKK Vislon® molded tooth zipper, in case you were taking notes.

TOM BIHN Parental Unit Design Updates: Snap Divider Becomes Zipper Divider

A Little Wider, A bit More Volume
The bottom of the original P.U. was about ~7.1” / 180mm thick; we pushed that out to ~7.9” / 200mm. This of course gives you a tiny bit more room (13.5 liters / 825 as opposed to 13 liters / 795, and depending on what you pack and how you pack your P.U., it will now tend to stand upright better on its own.

TOM BIHN Parental Unit Design Updates: More Volume

Debut! Side Kick, Little Swift, Snake Charmers, Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack

November 28th Debut | TOM BIHN

Side Kick
The Side Kick is a larger version of our Side Effect, a bag that evolved directly from user feedback (mostly from folks on our Forums). Though twice the volume, the Side Kick is still of modest size, and is overall a highly useful little bag. We’ve added more internal pockets for further organization, and we’ve nudged the O-ring placement around a bit to better match the design of our Organizer Pouches.

Little Swift: Encore, Encore!
The Little Swift is the smaller version of our Swift knitting bag—a shoulder bag specifically for knitters and crafty types, designed by Tom in collaboration with the readers of Knitty® magazine. Though it was officially retired in 2014, we’ve decided to bring it back for one more production run. To make this encore extra fun, we’re offering the Little Swift in a ton of special color combinations

Snake Charmer: Design Update and New Sizes
Originally intended to organize small electronic accessories, our handy two-compartment Snake Charmer can be used in umpteen other ways: ad-hoc toiletries kit, tool bag, or even as a nifty lunch kit. We’re now offering the Snake Charmer in two sizes—Small and Large—and have updated its design: we tweaked the shape, swapped the #8 zippers with metal sliders with #5 zippers with plastic sliders, and added an extra O-ring to each compartment and a triangle snap-hook on one end.

Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack
The Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack is a lightweight pack that can be used in-transit as a Packing Cube inside of our Aeronaut 30 convertible travel bag. Once you’ve reached your destination, it can be unpacked, turned right side out, and carried as a backpack, sling bag or waist pack.

Three New Sizes of Yeoman Duffel
The Yeoman Duffel is about to get even more useful now that we’ve introduced it in three new sizes: Mini, Small, and Medium. The Yeomen nest together perfectly when they’re not in use; when you’re ready to embark on your next adventure, they will be at the ready to cheerfully schlep all the necessary gear.

What can’t this size be used for?! It’s a great bag for stowing car gear: first aid kit, snacks, chargers, sunscreen, water bottles. Or use it as a basic needs overnight bag with a change of clothes, a few toiletries, and a phone charger. It’s also the perfect size for hauling kid treasures—and because it’s made of tough 1050d Ballistic nylon, it can withstand being dragged around.

We know folks who use the Yeoman Duffel, Size Small as a golf bag or a small gym bag. We’ve used ours to pack food supplies for trips to the cabin. It’s also great as a family day trip bag: pack your sunscreen, jackets, hats, binoculars, tablets, coloring books/art supplies, snacks, and be on your way.

You can fit a surprising amount of gear into the Yeoman Duffel, Size Medium. And, honestly, one of the great things about it is that you can unceremoniously toss stuff into it when you’re in a rush. There’s no small compartments or pockets on the inside to get in your way. Toss in your gear and go! The Medium is a great size for two people to share as a travel bag: let your stuff co-mingle, or use color-coded Packing Cubes to keep “mine” separate from “yours.”

We used our Yeoman Duffel, Size Large to pack and check on our flight (those lockable luggage sliders came in handy!) a three-person tent, four sleeping bags, four sleeping pads and a first-aid-kit for a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It can also hold enough linens for a queen sized bed: sheets, duvet/comforter, and two pillows—perfect for toting to family reunions or holiday gatherings when you know there won’t be enough bedding to go around.

Travel Tray, Small
The Travel Tray, Small joins our original size of Travel Tray (now named size Large). This was a last minute addition to the items debuting today: we designed, made, and tested this new size of Travel Tray in under two weeks. It was inspired by Saltgirl of the TB Forums, who kindly agreed to swing by our Seattle Factory Showroom and test the prototype that we had made. With her approval and that of Tom, Nik, and the rest of the crew here at the factory, the Travel Tray, Small was made.

Bags in Island Halcyon 200d
Back in early 2016, members of our Forum voted to make Island Halcyon 200d a regular offering. We’re excited to re-introduce Island, which will join the existing Halcyon 200d lineup: Iberian, Wasabi, Ultraviolet, and Northwest Sky. Starting today, look for Island as a bag lining and color option for accessories—click here for a list of specific items.

Bags in Sitka, Monarch, and Fjord Halcyon 200d
We thought we had used up all of these three Limited Edition fabrics in early spring. Imagine our surprise when we found some of each tucked away in a corner! This happy discovery led us to make some bags and accessories in Sitka (emerald green), Monarch (dark orange), and Fjord (dark teal). A detailed list of which bags and accessories are available in Sitka, Monarch, and Fjord can be found here.

Encore, Encore: The Little Swift

Little Swift Encore | TOM BIHN

Lulu, Andrea, Candi and Edelmira model the Little Swift.

Though we officially retired the Little Swift in 2014, we’ve decided to bring it back for one more production run. The Little Swift is the smaller version of our Swift knitting bag—a shoulder bag specifically for knitters and crafty types, designed by Tom in collaboration with the readers of Knitty® magazine. Welcome back, Little Swift: it’s been a long few years without you!

The Little Swift will re-debut (in more than a few surprise colors) as part of our November 28th debut alongside the Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack (New Design), Side Kick, and a number of Surprise New Designs. To be notified the exact moment all of the new designs debut, you can sign up for the notification email lists on those “Coming Soon” pages (sign up here for the Little Swift), sign up for our general email mailing list, or simply keep an eye on the website, Forums, and Blog.

You might be wondering why we decided to bring back the Little Swift, and there’s no one answer:

• First of all, our crew here in Seattle are big fans of the Little Swift and many of us have them: we selfishly wanted to see more of them in the new colors that have been introduced since the Little Swift was retired.

• We feel graced by the kindness and generosity of the knitting community since we debuted The Swift way back in 2006. You guys know that neither I (Darcy) nor Tom knit and yet you’ve welcomed us outsiders with open arms and shared your feedback, encouragement, and expertise with us. We’ve heard your requests to bring back the Little Swift, and what better way to express our appreciation than a special holiday re-release of a well-loved and classic design.

• Tom still loves the size and proportions of the Little Swift—he smiles big-time when he sees them around. Having just had rotator cuff surgery, we figured he could use something more to smile about. 🙂

• Lastly, the new, top secret small backpack design (code name: Muse) that Tom has been working on for the past six months is pretty much done, but we’re still waiting on cutting dies and some specialized materials to make the first production run. Sadly, this means the Muse won’t be ready for the November 28th debut (more like February or March). We’re very excited about this new design here at the factory, and it was a bit of a let-down to realize we wouldn’t be able to offer it in 2016. So we wanted to cheer ourselves up (and hopefully you too) with some new colors of an old favorite.

We’ll end this post on a sobering note. We’re a small company that offers a lot of different designs, colors, and sizes. Add them all up, and suddenly you have thousands of unique options, all made by our expert crew in Seattle. Inevitably, we find our imaginations tempered somewhat by reality: we choose a certain amount of complexity because it’s representative of the chaos of creativity in which we indulge, but our finite size keeps us practical and pragmatic. We can’t keep adding without, at times, subtracting.

That’s all to say: expect more designs, colors and fabrics to be retired in 2017 as we make room for all the new and wondrous stuff that’s in the works.

Introducing The Hero’s Journey Travel Backpack

Introducing The Hero's Journey Travel Backpack

It’s here! The Hero’s Journey is in-stock and ready to ship in colors Black Halcyon/Northwest Sky and Nordic Halcyon/Northwest Sky. Colors Black Halcyon/Iberian and Nordic Halcyon/Wasabi are in production with an estimated shipping date of mid-November.

Our new Hero’s Journey is convertible travel luggage that allows you to fly to your destination, and then backpack or hut hop, all without checking baggage. If you are familiar with our Aeronaut 30 and 45 travel bags, you’re already aware of the advantages of a carry-on bag that can be worn as a backpack: unlike wheeled bags, a backpack frees you from the smooth sidewalk and the paved path, allowing you move adroitly over any surface your feet can handle. The Hero’s Journey takes this mobility even further, encouraging you to realize the dream of a fast and light escape to wide exotic mountain vistas and windswept highlands.

The Hero’s Journey is actually two bags that work both together and alone: when properly configured and reasonably packed, the main bag meets the maximum FAA recommended dimensions for carry-on luggage, and the smaller Top Pack easily qualifies as a “personal carry-on item.” Upon reaching your destination airport or the beginning of your hike, zip the two components together, attach the hip belt (and optional Side Pockets if desired), and you’ve got a 55 liter internal frame pack, suitable for short-to-medium range backpacking trips or hut hopping.

More Photos
NWHikergal’s Hero’s Journey test trip report
gochicken’s photos in the Forums
Ilkyway’s photos in the Forums
mrbrown’s photos in the Forums

More Videos
How To Configure Your Hero’s Journey
Tom’s Backcountry Pasta
An Interview With Tom About The Design Process

Introducing the First and Second Aid Pouches

Introducing First and Second Aid Pouches | TOM BIHN

Every time you get on a plane and the flight attendants walk everyone through the safety procedures, you’re instructed to “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” Of course, the logic behind this is that you are of no use to yourself or others if you’re not breathing!

The ability to take care of yourself first is especially important if you’re somewhere far from help, hiking, skiing, trekking, or even cross-country driving. The outdoor education and conservation organization The Mountaineers poses two questions to would-be adventurers: “Can you respond positively to an accident or emergency? And can you safely spend a night (or more) out?”

To help backpackers and hikers prepare themselves for self-sufficiency in the wild, The Mountaineers devised a list called the Ten Essentials, vital items to bring on every hike. Since the list was first generated back in the 1930s, having the Ten Essentials and knowing how to use them has been considered part of responsible hiking.

When backpacking—and in many other situations—it’s a powerful thing to know you’re ready to take care of your needs, as well as equipped to deal with the unexpected. But consider that level of preparedness extended to help others: what if the emergency to which you’re responding isn’t just about saving yourself, but helping someone else avoid potential disaster?

For example, when Tom goes hiking, he packs the Ten Essentials for himself, and some extras in case he meets anyone who needs something. Sort of first aid for himself, and second aid for others. Similarly, Darcy packs extra first aid and comfort items for any humans or canines she might meet on the trail who have forgotten theirs (see her packing photos below).

Taking care of ourselves and others is the idea behind our First and Second Aid Pouches. The First Aid Pouch is red, and that’s where we keep the usual first-responder, medical-related stuff. The blue Second Aid Pouch is where we keep stuff that is intended to provide urgent care and comfort to others, often stuff that is earmarked to be lent or given away.  They’re both large enough to hold and organize many items, but not so large that they’re burdensome to carry. Just as we instinctively dive for the red pouch when we need aspirin or a bandage when we’re out and about, the blue pouch is our go-to when we encounter someone with non-medical, yet still somewhat dire, needs.

You’ve probably guessed already that the concept of First and Second Aid extends far beyond the hiking trails. Anyone who goes to professional conferences knows how helpful it can be to have a little stash of pens, tissues, sheets of paper, painkillers, and mints or cough drops. Having a few extras can enable you to help someone without depriving yourself of something you might need later.

Whether you’re a commuter, traveler, cyclist, urban explorer, parent, babysitter, dog walker, or student, chances are that you do a whole bunch of stuff that requires its own Essentials. The First Aid Pouch is designed to hold Essentials for you; the Second Aid Pouch holds Essentials for others. What will you put in yours?


Second and First Aid from TOM BIHN on Vimeo.

Darcy's First Aid Pouch | TOM BIHN

Darcy’s First Aid Pouch. Items of note: the tick key (works on humans and animals alike), and especially the extra diphenhydramine, which Darcy has carried ever since she and Lily went on a hike and Lily stuck her whole snout into a wasp nest in the ground. After being stung many times, Lily’s nose and mouth began to swell; luckily, Darcy had diphenhydramine in her first aid kit and was able to dose Lily before her reaction became too severe. (Please consult your veterinarian as to whether diphenhydramine is safe for your pet and if so, the appropriate dosage.)

Darcy's Second Aid Pouch | TOM BIHN

Darcy’s Second Aid Pouch, hiking edition. Previously, Darcy’s First and Second Aid items were carried in 3D Organizer Cubes; that worked just fine, but these pouches make it more obvious which pouch to grab, as well as easier to organize or find particular items.

Darcy's Other Second Aid Pouch | TOM BIHN

Darcy’s Second Aid Pouch, everyday edition. Note the emergency dog leash and small Nalgene of dog treats. Having found many lost dogs over the years (as well as helping people capture their dogs who were having too much fun, and were unwilling to get back in the car and go home after a hike), Darcy has learned to carry these two items to make that whole process a little easier.

News Briefs

We posted a very early heads-up on our March 1st, 2019 (roughly 6%) price increase in the Forums along with news of Shop Bags in 210d ballistic nylon.

Ben Brooks has published a review of Nik’s Minimalist Wallets and @everydaycommentary posted about his every day carry step up (hint: it includes a Minimalist Wallet!)

Our 2018 Holiday Schedule is up. Check it out for important shipping deadlines and our holiday hours. P.S. Our Seattle Factory Showroom will be open the rare Saturday on December 8th from 10:00am until 2:00pm Pacific Time.

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