Our Portable Culture Portrait blog series features TOM BIHN Forum members, the bags they carry, and the items they carry in their bags. It’s inspired by our Portable Culture tagline. This edition features Forum member platisc. The previous editions featured Forum members ceepee, sea_otter3, NWHikerGal, widepipe, Rocks, JonC, cdh, Badger, haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.
What’s the most useful item that you carry?
Bellroy’s Phone Pocket is something that continuously satisfies me. It’s a combo phone case and wallet that often houses quick-grab documents like receipts or tickets. It’s a beautiful accessory that I enjoy holding in hand as much as tossing into the sling-accessible side pocket of my S19 or into the bottle pocket of my shop bag. I operate a small inn, so my work follows me onto sandy beaches and dusty trails long after I depart the office. I’m constantly in and out of this thing for my phone, responding to guest needs or inquiries, so I’d be hard-pressed to find something more useful outside of the phone itself. Carrying the device that keeps me connected, along with all my cash, coin and documents for the day has to qualify this piece as my most useful. Plus, it’s just always nice when the repetitive motions of everyday duties can be pleasant interactions.
What’s your most treasured item?
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a strange relationship with all of my material possessions. As minimalism and the art of de-cluttering have gained traction, my own goods have continuously been pared down in a quality-over-quantity ideal. As a result, I feel that mostly everything that I do own and use brings me great joy each time I reach for it – and if it doesn’t, I’ll start debating an upgrade! This leaves me in a space where I feel grateful for everything that I have, but don’t necessarily favor or treasure one thing over another. There is no pocket-watch that’s been handed down from generations, or secret diary that makes its way onto every trip (though I do journal quite often). My old Smart Alec kickstarted this philosophy (like any great backpack can), as the great thing that carried my things. It was my best friend, and accompanied me through many countries and great adventures, as I strived to fill it with contents that could match its subtle beauty and durability. Now, for the sake of picking a single item (outside of my Aeronaut 30 which is another best-friend type bag), I’d say my Outlier Slim Dungarees. I’ve always valued comfort and function in my clothing, even as a kid who complained that my jeans were restricting. I’ve worn my Slim Dungaree pants and felt comfortable and confident on airplanes, to formal meetings, at work, in the ocean, on the basketball court and beyond. Like my bags and gear, I don’t have much clothing, but the garments I do have definitely don’t restrict me anymore, and all follow the “Be Prepared” motto that I try to still live by.
Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?
My Small Shop Bag. I wrote a bit of a love-letter post when I received it because it instantly exceeded my expectations. For over a year, my Small Shop Bag functioned as my EDC bag, and it rested perfectly in my bicycle’s trunk to and from work. Now, its days are a bit more varied. I use it to transport large items like my tongue drum or a basketball. It’s always with me on trips to make ends meet if I overpack, purchase anything additional, or just want quick-access items under my airplane seat. Fearless, durable, and easily cleaned, it never ceases to surprise me – like when it happily smuggles in pizza slices to my local outdoor cinema. It’s now most often (and gloriously so) a beach bag, carrying with ease my phone, wallet, goggles, blanket, snacks + water, nook and more. It seems to hold whatever I need with a minimal footprint, and if/when not in use, it packs into a large Q-Kit perfectly. It’s just a bag that I love looking at and have used in so many different ways on all sorts of unexpected occasions. Love it.
Tech and Accessories
- 11” Macbook Air (in vertical cache, stowed in A30 backpack strap pocket)
- Nook GlowLight (in pouch)
- Medium Double Organizer Pouch (used for travel documents, receipts, etc.)
- USA /EU USB adapters, micro usb plug, lightning charger, Anker portable battery (inside a small Q-Kit)
- Assorted toiletries – thumbs up for Schmidt’s Deodorant and essential oils (inside a size 6 stuff sack)
- Bellroy Phone Pocket (phone, wallet, quick-documents), Bellroy Key Cover, Apple headphones, Moleskine notebook, Person sunglasses (inside Navy parapack Side Effect)
- Assorted toolset (often a multi-tool like a leatherman, this trip happened to have this set)
*NOTE* – Not pictured but typically packed is a stacked First Aid Kit inside TOM BIHN’s First Aid Pouch)
- Mission Workshop Orion jacket (inside a Pocket Travel Pillow)
- 2x Outlier Mojave Pivot short-sleeve shirt
- Outlier Air Forged Oxford
- 2x Outlier Runweight Merino Tee
- Outlier Ultralight Track Jacket
- Outlier Futureworks
- Outlier Slim Dungarees
- Outlier New Way Shorts
- Outlier Ultrafine Merino Magnetic Bandana
*NOTE*: pictured is a Medium eBags packing cube. I’ve since upgraded to TOM BIHN’s Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack, which I love.
- Darn Tough merino socks, assorted underwear and undershirts (inside an A30 Travel Laundry Stuff Sack)
Everything In Its Case
Home is where the bags go. I’m a Brooklyn born self-employed traveler at heart who currently operates a small inn on the island of Santorini, Greece. I make a point to love where I live, wherever I may be, and I find this easier to do so by bringing along only the gear and bags that I deem necessary to pick up and go. Everything (material) that I love and need fits into my bags, and so the philosophy of being able to pack and move at any notice keeps an adventurous fire underneath my feet, even though I adhere to the daily responsibilities of running a business. Winter months you’ll find me back in the birthplace of New York City and far beyond – taking my bags to new lands, seeing how they react to different environments and unexpected scenarios (my favorite). I have many friends, family, and a loving partner, and they all tease me about my relationship with my bags. I just hope I never lose the love I have for such reliable companions. A special thanks to Brooklyn-based Outlier for building unfailing clothing of radical quality, and of course to the TOM BIHN crew and community for creating such thoughtful and dependable designs for everyday living and beyond.
Every year, the TOM BIHN Ravelry group knits wearable gifts for our crew. Some years the wearables have been scarves or gloves, and this year it was hats. We know a thing or two about materials and quality craftsmanship, and we’re in awe of what the group makes for us. See for yourself below; we’ve photographed each and every hat that was sent to us.
From all of us here at TOM BIHN to the TB Ravelry Group: thank you! The wearables you make for us are a big part of our annual holiday party, and everyone looks forward to choosing an item. Special thanks goes to Annie, a knitter and Ravelry member local to Seattle who coordinates the whole effort and delivers the knitted items. (Annie is also the person who knitted G.I. Joe’s hat — see below.)
Even the replica of Tom’s first G.I. Joe got his very own hat.
Want to see previous years knitted wearables?
We polled the crew here at TB about their favorite cocktails and mixed drinks and shared that with
@icarusrex for inspiration. Here’s the cocktails he came up with (of course, we had to test the recipes, and yes they’re very good) plus a couple of amateur creations of our own, just in time for New Year’s.
TB Cocktail (Sweet & Spicy)
1 1/2 oz. bourbon whiskey (@icarusrex used Elijah Craig 12 Year; we used Woodinville Whiskey Company)
1/2 oz. Zirpenz Stone Pine Liqueur (see note below)
1/2 oz. real maple syrup
3 oz. ginger beer (@icarusrex used Goslings; we used Trader Joe’s)
Shake bourbon, pine liqueur and maple syrup with ice and pour in a glass with ice. Top with ginger beer. Substitute honey syrup for maple syrup for a different flavor.
Note: We had difficulty finding the Zirpenz Stone Pine Liqeur, so we got a little creative; we brewed Douglas Fir tea, made ice cubes out of it, and added that to the drink, replacing the liquid with…. more whiskey.
Northwest Sky AKA Seattle Seagull* or “tastes like you’d expect”) (our own amateur cocktail creation)
1 1/2 oz. Tito’s Vodka
Sparkling water to fill the glass
Salt the rim of a small mason jar, camping mug, or whatever you happen to have around. Add ice cubes, packed snow, or icicles. Pour in vodka and sparkling water.
*Years ago when Tom managed the AYH hostel in Santa Cruz, he met a laconic young man from Denmark who claimed to have been raised in Greenland.
“Wow… tell me something about life in Greenland. What do you recall from living there?”
After some moments of thought, the young man replied “I remember we ate seagulls.”
“So… what do seagulls taste like?” Tom had to ask.
After some further long moments of reflection, the young man shrugged and said “pretty much like you’d expect.”
Seagulls, it turns out, taste like you’re expect them to.
Ever since then Tom has used this story to illustrate a situation when something is more or less self explanatory.
TB Non-Alcoholic Cocktail
2 oz. apple juice or apple cider
1/2 oz. real maple syrup or honey syrup
3 oz. ginger beer
Mix in a glass of your choice. Garnish with curled lemon or orange peel.
Cucumber and Fir Non-Alcoholic Cocktail
3 Cucumber slices
Douglas Fir for garnish
Optional: Douglas Fir Ice Cubes*
Combine sparkling water with two cucumber slices and ice in a glass. Cut the third cucumber slice as a garnish and add it to the rim of the glass along with a piece of Douglas Fir. This very simple drink is quite refreshing, especially for those who prefer a less sweet taste.
*Douglas Fir Ice Cubes
To make: brew Douglas Fir tea. Either collect your own Douglas Fir spring tips (the very bright green, new growth of the tree; take care not to collect all of the tips from the same tree, or same section of the tree) in the spring and dry them for use year ’round or purchase this ready-to-go tea from Juniper Ridge. Let the tea cool and pour it in an ice cube tray. Freeze.
Many thanks again to @icarusrex. See also: his article on Mile High Bartending.
From all of us at TOM BIHN: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Here’s a few photos from last week’s holiday party at the factory. You may be asking: what’s up with all of the beautiful knitted hats? Each year the TOM BIHN Ravelry group knits hats for our entire crew. We’ll post more hat photos next week — stay tuned!
Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us!
The guest of honor: June Johnson, Production Emeritus. June was our Production Manager and retired a several years ago. Everyone misses her and tries to convince her to come back to work!
Much has been said and written about giving gifts that are not things, and about how experiences ultimately mean more to us than stuff. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve observed that more than ever before, I cherish time spent with family and friends, travel to new and old places, fresh air, wildlife, and nature more than a garage full of objects. With that in mind, I’ve in years past given movie, concert or opera tickets as gifts, or even a gift certificate for a massage or kayak rental. So far, so good.
As we set out to create a 2017 version of our Bags and Beyond Gift Guide, we realized we couldn’t improve much on the list of things already in it, and that some of us were giving other types of gifts this year – food, drink, experiences, and…. books.
I am very fond of books and I’ve begun to give them as gifts. The thing of a book is often more the experience of reading it than the possession of it. Coffee table books of art, wildlife, and photography, as well as illustrated works like Eric Sloan’s A Reverence for Wood or Roger Jean Segalat’s How Things Work series, (and yes of course graphic novels, my dear friend Erin the librarian) are exceptions.
My advice this year is: if you feel compelled to give a gift that is a thing, find your way to your local bookstore and buy books. If you see nothing there that seems appropriate to the person on your list, or if you’re like me and everything looks wondrous and beguiling, gift certificates are there for you. Shopping remotely for an out-of-towner? Go to Indie Bookstore Finder and then call the bookstore closest to your friend and buy a gift certificate. Seriously consider the local bookstore rather than the easy way out of online shopping — remember, if you don’t support your local bookstore, it may not be there the next time you look.
Now, back to where I was headed with this…
These past few years I’ve become rather addicted to audio books. I listen when I drive, while I do housework, and even in my studio as I’m working on a new design. I listened to 57 hours of Sherlock Holmes while designing The Hero’s Journey (though I guess I really ought to have been listening to Joseph Campbell); Anna Karenina and The Boys in the Boat while designing the Luminary; News of the World and A Brief History of Time while designing the Pop Tote; Far from the Madding Crowd and The Heart of Everything That Is while working on The Moveable Feast. When a story has really grabbed me, I’ve even been known to listen, unbelievable as this may sound, as I hike. (One must exercise some reasonable caution: as I listened to Sissy Spacek read To Kill a Mockingbird, I had to pull the car over and wipe the tears from my eyes.) I’ve always a few books in queue loaded on to my smartphone, along with some language lessons to break things up (Cantonese and Swahili: I just want to be able to say “hello” and “thank you”.)
I love my audio books.
So with that in mind, and in the spirt of giving things that are not things, this year I am offering up what is perhaps the simplest gift guide ever: after you’ve pillaged the local book store, give Audible.com subscriptions. Yes, I know they are part of Amazon.com, and are therefore somehow cahooting with Darth Vader, but it’s an amazing service: there are not enough hours in the day to ever make a dent in their selection. [Editor’s note: we sent Tom’s post out to our email newsletter list yesterday morning and reader H.C. wrote back to offer an independent bookstore equivalent of Audible — Libro.fm.]
Best wishes to all of you for a grand holiday weekend with friends, family, dogs, cats, and anyone else who is dear.
We asked around and here’s the books the rest of the crew here at the factory plan to give this year:
Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables by Joshua McFadden
The How Not To Die Cookbook by Michael Greger
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page
Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman
Coffee Table Books
Where The Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics by by James Cheshire, Oliver Uberti
Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapesby Thomas Rainer, Claudia West
The Philosophy Bookby Will Buckingham
Hey Seattle folks!
Join us for a rare Saturday opening of our Factory Showroom on December 16th from 10:00am – 2:00pm. We’ll have hot coffee, homemade cookies, and, of course, bags…
4750A Ohio Ave S – Seattle – 98134
Our Portable Culture Portrait blog series features TOM BIHN Forum members, the bags they carry, and the items they carry in their bags. It’s inspired by our Portable Culture tagline. This edition features Forum member ceepee. The previous editions featured Forum members sea_otter3, NWHikerGal, widepipe, Rocks, JonC, cdh, Badger, haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.
What’s the most useful item that you carry?
I would have to say my phone just because it is the single most used item I own. It has a place in my Side Kick but is rarely put away.
By far the most used app is Messages (2.7 hours in the past 24 hours, apparently). But it’s also my planner, notebook, reference library (Internet), eReader, music player, camera, photo album, financial planner, it gets me outside most days (PokémonGo) and I can even use it to pay for my shopping …… on very rare occasions I have been known to use it as an actual phone 🙂
I also never go anywhere without a flashlight, even in summer. It’s a well know fact that any dropped item will gravitate towards the darkest area in any given space.
Since my phone is also my camera, here’s a photo of my second most useful item instead ….. I attached a tritium fob to it so I can find it in the dark.
What’s your most treasured item?
I once spent several days scanning several shoeboxes full of photographs, before disposing of them to free up space. It wasn’t long after that I managed to completely lose them from my computer …… no back-up! Years of ‘memories’ completely gone! However, despite the initial tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth, it occurred to me that I didn’t really look at them that often anyway. I subsequently realised that nothing (as in noTHING) is really indispensable. Whilst I certainly have things that I am very grateful for or that are really useful, I can’t think of one item that I would feel truly devastated about if I lost it or that I value significantly above anything else.
Although …. I’d be quite miffed if I lost my phone.
I’m also partial to having the odd tchotchke hanging from my bag, usually small fluffy critters, often a gift or souvenir from somewhere recently visited. These are probably the closest I get to items carried for purely sentimental reasons.
My Side Kick is currently sporting Fluffy the unicorn and an Ankh Morpork City Watch shield.
Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?
Probably my passport. For a few years, when I was young(-ish), free and single my work required (and paid for) me to travel and it was Fun! For some reason, as I got older I developed an aversion to flying, which eventually turned into a phobia. It was so bad, I bought a car so that I could drive home (to the UK) from my posting in Naples, Italy, rather than fly!
So, it’s quite surprising just how often I’ve found myself bimbling off to Gatwick Airport during the past two and a half years. Thanks, in no small part, to the TOM BIHN forum which introduced me to the friends that I had to initially overcome my phobia in order to visit.
I will also chip in here about the Moveable Feast. I was loaned one to try shortly after they debuted, I was a little skeptical. So, I was very surprised that my partner, who does most of the weekly shopping, made it his shop bag of choice …… every trip, without fail. It has to be the single, most used Tom Bihn bag that we have ever owned. Sorry Ilkyway, it’s probably not coming back.
The only Tom Bihn bag my partner consistently remembers the name of!
What’s in your bag?
Currently, my main EDC bag is the Side Kick. When the weather was nicer, and I would spend afternoons in the local parks or wandering along the River Thames, it was my Brain Bag. For air travel I will switch to my Synapse 19 (it fits under the seats easily and so eliminates some of the anxiety associated with flying budget airlines; namely the scrum for overhead space). When I’m traveling by car, I’ll also take my Mini Yeoman for extra rummage space. I’m looking forward to the arrival of my Travel Cubelet and expect that these bags will cover me for all future eventualities. It’s taken a lot of trial and error (and eBay listings!) to get to this point though.
The Fantastic Four.
My basic EDC consists of:
- Hand wipes
- Notebook & pen
- Battery pack
- Food (flapjack, cereal bar or other, non-melty, snack)
- Eating implements
- Packable bag (tote or backpack depending on what the bag of the day is)
- Essentials Kit: Plasters (BandAids), antiseptic wipe, pain relief pills, lip balm, nail clippers, tweezers, Victorinox Swiss Card, sewing kit.
All packed up.
Everything bar my phone.
If my plans for the day warrant it, I will switch the Side Kick out in favour of the Brain Bag and add the following items:
- Water bottle
- Extra snacks
- Extra layer of clothing
- Waterproof jacket
- Folding cup (for takeout coffee)
- Matador picnic blanket
- Handkerchief/screen cloth
- iPad Pro, Pencil and Smart Keyboard
- Aid Kit: basically an extended ‘Essentials Kit’ with a few extras like wired ear buds, extra cables plus adaptors, AA batteries and extra first aid stuff like Neosporin and bandages.
This doesn’t even come close to filling the Brain Bag. But the side compression straps allow me to keep everything cinched up nice and tight for a comfortable carry.
For traveling I’ll add the following to my usual EDC items. These fit in the outer pockets of my Synapse 19, leaving the main compartment empty. If I’m not taking my Yeoman, the main compartment is where my clothes fit. I should mention that I generally stay where toiletries and towels are provided:
- Toiletry kit (if I’m flying I’ll opt for solid toiletries over liquid)
- Charging kit
- Folding water bottle (replaces my usual stainless steel insulated bottle)
- Passport (if required)
Small Q-Kits make excellent places to stash a mini toiletry or tech kit, and they fit nicely in the side pockets of the Synapse.
In conjunction with the battery pack I carry all the time, the MU International folding travel plug and micro-USB cable is all I need to charge any tech I travel with. It fits easily in a small Q-Kit along with a spare AA battery or two for my flashlight.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I left the Royal Navy a little over 3 years ago and we moved to Abingdon (just outside of Oxford) so that my partner (of 17 years) would no longer have to commute between here and Portsmouth every day. I’m originally from a small town just south of Nottingham, where my family still lives.
After 22 years in the military, I left with no idea of what I wanted to do next. So, I’m currently calling myself ‘retired’.
I spend a lot of time reading, most recently I’ve been enjoying, and feeling very motivated by books on minimalism and downsizing. I also like to travel (actually, it would be more accurate to say that I like to ‘arrive’, the actual traveling part is not so thrilling).
I discovered TOM BIHN whilst searching for for a way to carry my (original) iPad, the first bag I bought was the original Cordura Ristretto.
Just a few of the great photos you shared with us last week (thank you!)
“I spent the day at the hospital yesterday because my daughter was having surgery. She’s now home and comfortably resting. I switched all of my things out of my Pop Tote and into my Luminary because I suspected I would need to be hands free as much as possible. I was right, too. I had to carry my daughter’s things and help her maneuver to the wheel chair and into the vehicle.
I never cease to be amazed at how much this little bag can tote. I put in my Travel Cubelet, a 16 oz. water bottle, my knitting in the bag (embroidered by a friend), my Hobonichi A6 planner, my iPad, several documents, a large sunglasses case, reading glasses, and two or three TOM BIHN Small and Mini Organizer Pouches.
While my daughter was in surgery, I managed to knit quite a bit on her sock that I’m hoping to finish in time for Christmas.”
“Multi-tasking: working on epp while watching football (thanks for the tv JetBlue!) at thirty thousand feet cross country.”
Photo by @spinster.revival
“At Hangzhou for a weekend. I brought the Synapse 25 with the Side Kick inside. Hubby had his backpack and SCB. The LSB carried our shopping. I used the 1-inch padded waist strap to help distribute the load to the hips. Wore it under my T-shirt and jacket so it didn’t look obvious. The Synapse 25 looked like a regular backpack then.
We had checked out of the hotel and was still sightseeing before catching the high speed rail back to Shanghai.”
Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland with the Maker’s Bag
Photo submitted by Mary
Photo by @instachickengram
“Standing by the lake with frozen face.”
Photo by @shouraisan_kaguya
“I became a band “parent” this year when my DD joined the 300 member high school marching band. The Alphaviolet Travel Cubelet was perfect for carrying around my wallet and keys, iPhone, Band parent badge, gloves and hand warmers, flashlight, hand lotion, OPs with snacks, etc.”
“My S19 helps me carry only the bare essentials. Nothing expect the most vital items for my day to day life.”
“My Guide’s Pack on the way back home from a business trip. The vertical Freudian Slip helped me to organize the laptop and other office stuff. I absolutely love the style of this bag: clear lines, wonderful colors, distinguished materials and finish but still a down-to-earth appearance. And most important: it carries great!”
“Synapse 25 classin’ up the joint at the Charles Hotel, Boston.”
allen with his Synapse 25 at Ayers Rock in Australia
Photo submitted by allen
Watercolor by Dan Bransfield. And the bag in the watercolor? That’s the Shop Bag, one of our go-to bags to give as a gift.
For the longest time, when folks asked us for advice on which bag to get a friend or family member, our response was: “You can’t go wrong with a Gift Certificate!” Since then, we’ve expanded our range of designs to include bags that will be useful to just about everyone — see this list of our favorite bags to give as gifts. And you’ve shared with us your stories of choosing a particular bag to give as a gift and having it be a hit. And we’ve given countless bags as gifts ourselves. So, here’s our guide to choosing a bag to give as a gift.
Our first recommendation remains the trusty Gift Certificate. That way, the lucky recipient will get to choose the exact bag and color they’d like to have. You can choose to have the Gift Certificate emailed to you so you can deliver it yourself, or delivered immediately to the recipient via email.
Our second recommendation: ask us for advice! Send a note to email@example.com and or give us a call to talk with Mike, Kat, Matthew or Cody. We’re experts in helping people find the right bag for them and would be delighted at the chance to help you figure out the perfect gift! You can also crowd-source a winning gift by asking the kind and knowledgable folks in our Forums.
If you’re going the route of choosing the bag for your friend or family member, here are some things to consider:
Who is the bag for?
Think about your friend, loved one, work colleague or whoever you’re buying this bag for. What do they carry now? Do they pack their current bag to the brim, or do they have a lot of extra space? Do they currently carry a messenger bag or briefcase, or a backpack? Are they ultra-organized, do they wish they were organized, or are they happy with their joyful chaos of objects? Spend some time really thinking about the person for whom you’re buying the gift, and, if this isn’t a last minute thing, make a mental note to watch how they carry their stuff. Paying attention is how you can turn the good intention of a great gift into a “How did you know I needed this?! I didn’t even know I needed this!” kind of gift.
Do some sleuthing!
Ask the recipient of your generosity questions about their current bag and what they like and don’t like, and be sure to use a smokescreen so they don’t get the hint. Example: “Hey, Jennifer—I’m thinking of getting a new bag. Just curious… what would you look for in a new bag?”
What is the recipient’s organizational style?
Some people just throw their stuff in their bag, zip it up, and go. Others may prefer a lot of built-in organization, or modular organizers. How a person packs provides another clue about what bag style might suit them best.
Very generally, bags with larger and more open main compartments are great for people who like to cram or toss in their stuff, or for travelers who use the bundle packing method. Bags with multiple compartments can provide more structure, but may require more precise packing in order to look good and distribute weight evenly. Bags with lots of pockets, pen slots, and the like can keep small items organized. Bags of all types can be further customized and personalized with accessories.
Just sharing the love
If you’re still not sure what to get, or if all you really want is to be able to share TOM BIHN craftsmanship and design, we suggest choosing something that’s simple and widely useful.
The following bags and accessories are cited frequently as ones that Forum members reach for again and again. They’re designs we think many people will find useful and enjoy.
The zip-top Pop Tote is the new tote on the block. People have been requesting that Tom design a zip-top tote bag since, well, since before the turn of the century. He always thought it was a good idea, but none of his prototypes were substantially better than all the other zip totes out there—there were plenty of those, and if folks wanted them, there they were. But in the spring of 2017, Tom again applied himself to the task, and he came up with the Pop Tote, which, if we may say so ourselves, is the best zip-top tote in the world. Many people agreed and the first production run of Pop Totes sold out; more are being made and are estimated to ship by or on December 14th.
We designed the Travel Cubelet to serve as the perfect travel purse, and according to the early feedback and reviews, we just might’ve nailed it. (Shhh: our plan is to pack the Travel Cubelets we plan to give as gifts with our favorite travel-sized toiletries and necessities to create mini-amenities-kits.)
Because it folds up so teeny tiny, Pocket Travel Pillow is a great stocking-stuffer (or tuck it in a Travel Cubelet amenities kit — see above) for anyone who travels or commutes by bus, ferry, or train. The idea is this: take your down jacket or sweater and stuff it into the Pocket Travel Pillow. Voila!
Aeronaut 45 Convertible Travel Bag
Whether they travel by plane, train, or as part of a camel caravan, any astute adventurer will appreciate the durability of our three-compartment Aeronaut, which can be carried as a backpack, shoulder bag, or with the handles as the situation dictates. The 45 can hold a surprising amount of clothing and gear; if your recipient is a bit smaller in stature or wants to travel super light, we recommend the scaled-down Aeronaut 30.
Yeoman Duffel (sizes Mini, Small, Medium, and Large)
Hardworking and good-looking, the Yeoman Duffel is available in four sizes. You’ll be sure to find the perfect size to use for the gym, car or boat, or any time you need to haul gear. Made from 1050d Ballistic nylon, the Yeoman is prepared to survive almost anything, including the cargo hold of a plane.
Buying a gift for a person in your life who is outdoorsy, has dogs, and loves good quality gear? We recommend considering the Skookum Dog Camp Mat, Skookum Dog Citizen Canine and the Skookum Dog Road Duffel. Fun, functional, and Made in USA, these items are loved by canines and the human company they keep.
Cafe Shoulder Bags (sizes Small and Medium)
A quintessential “grab it and go” kind of bag, the Cafe Bag holds all of life’s little essentials. Comfortable to wear over the shoulder or cross-body, the Cafe Bag is available in a pleasing array of colors.
The Sprout Kid’s Backpack
Sized especially for kids between 4–8, the Sprout has all the thoughtful craftsmanship you’ll find in our adult-sized backpacks. It’s just smaller. And very cute.
Made of bright and cheery Halcyon fabric, Shop Bags come in two sizes and are equipped with handy side pockets and comfortable padded handles. Not only for shopping, they make great toy organizers, car totes, and beach bags. (If you think they’d appreciate a beefier bag, check out the sturdy wonder that is the Moveable Feast Reusable Grocery Bag, made of 1050d Ballistic nylon.)
For the hiker on your list, you can’t go wrong with The Guide’s Edition Synapse 25 or The Guide’s Pack. Both are classics and will stand the tests of time in both looks and form. Choose The Guide’s Edition Synapse 25 for the person who you think will also use it as their EDC or The Guide’s Pack for a pack totally dedicated to the trail.
The humble Travel Tray is a favorite of the TOM BIHN Forums: it holds all manner of little things you need when you travel; it’s flexible, squishable, and capacious, making it easy to tuck into your bag; and it’s brightly colored, so you won’t leave it behind on the hotel nightstand. It works well as a catch-all and organizer at home, too. And it’s now available in two sizes: Small and Large.
Travel Stuff Sacks
Available in four sizes, these stuff sacks can be used in any bag or around the house. They’re useful for color-coding different items, and are especially handy for holding things that don’t fit into flat or cube-shaped pouches. Great for stocking stuffers—or even serving as a stocking themselves!
A good friend to anyone who’s got lots of little things to organize, the Q-Kit comes in two sizes to fit any bag. The Q-Kit is good for stuff like earbuds, change, phone chargers, laundromat tokens, kid treasures, and even dog (or human) treats.
A lightweight backpack that fits bigger kids and most adults, the endlessly-customizable Daylight Backpack is great for day trips, overnights, and daily carry.
A small bag that can be carried over the shoulder, worn around the waist, or carried by an optional loop strap. Loaded with pockets, it can be used as a purse or an organizer inside another bag. It’s also great for holding in-flight essentials.
RFID Passport Pouch
Carry up to three passports in this handy pouch, which blocks RFID chips from being scanned or read without your knowledge. You can wear it around your neck or waist, or clip it into your bag.
Still can’t decide? Crowd-source a winner by asking our Forums, send a note to our bag experts Mike, Matthew, Kat, and Cody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 1-800-729-9607 (U.S. & Canada) or +1-206-652-4123 (other countries).
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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