Portable Culture Portrait: ceepee

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.

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee Fantastic Four

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.

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee Moveable Feast
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.

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four.

My basic EDC consists of:

  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Keys
  • Tissues
  • Hand wipes
  • Flashlight
  • AirPods
  • Notebook & pen
  • Battery pack
  • Cable/s
  • Food (flapjack, cereal bar or other, non-melty, snack)
  • Eating implements
  • Comb
  • Umbrella
  • 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.

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee Side Kick
All packed up.

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee In My Bag
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
  • Qliplet
  • 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.

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee Brain Bag
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
  • Clothes
  • Folding water bottle (replaces my usual stainless steel insulated bottle)
  • Passport (if required)

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee Q-Kit
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.

TOM BIHN Blog | ceepee Charging Kit
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.

Last Week in Photos

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.”

Posted in the Forums by Mausermama


“Multi-tasking: working on epp while watching football (thanks for the tv JetBlue!) at thirty thousand feet cross country.”

Photo by @spinster.revival


“Back on the road again with my Steel collection.
Tri-Star, Cadet and Ristretto (car travel so didn’t need to pack light). Now if I could just find that elusive Steel Western Flyer…. “

Posted in the Forums by Perseffect


“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.”

Posted in the Forums by panda2mama


“My Hero’s Journey and Ristretto accompanied me to Norway earlier this year.”

Posted in the Forums by ottermatic


Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland with the Maker’s Bag
Photo submitted by Mary


“Loving these bags by Tom Bihn in Alphaviolet 525 denier Ballistic Nylon! Clockwise from top left: Pop Tote, Luminary, Cubelet, Travel Cubelet“>Travel Cubelet.”

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.”

Posted in the Forums by gochicken


“My S19 helps me carry only the bare essentials. Nothing expect the most vital items for my day to day life.”

Posted in the Forums by edward.dennihy


“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!”

Posted in the Forums by bartleby


Synapse 25 classin’ up the joint at the Charles Hotel, Boston.”

Posted in the Forums by AmyMo


allen with his Synapse 25 at Ayers Rock in Australia
Photo submitted by allen


How to Choose a Bag to Give as a Gift

How To Choose A Bag As A Gift | Made in USA Gifts | Made in Seattle Gifts
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 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.

Shop Bags
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.

Travel Tray
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.

Daylight Backpack 
A lightweight backpack that fits bigger kids and most adults, the endlessly-customizable Daylight Backpack is great for day trips, overnights, and daily carry.

Side Effect
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, or give us a call at 1-800-729-9607 (U.S. & Canada) or +1-206-652-4123 (other countries).

Last Week in Photos

Here’s a few photos you’ve shared with us this past week! Thank you!

Cynthia’s pup on the Skookum Dog Camp Mat
Photo submitted by Cynthia


“Two bags for the three-month journey in Japan.”
Photo by @houraisan_kaguya


Jennifer and her Small Cafe Bag with what looks like a lovely morning.
Photo submitted by Jennifer


“Note taking by the river.”
Photo by @jennifermcmahonwrites


“With my little princess.”
Photo by @kinglamleehk


 “Part Where and part Wow…
My small travel tray had been biding its time as a drawer organizer until recently being granted wings. I’d read the words and seen the snaps but now I say on my own — What a simple and super helpful TB item! Love love love it. Bits and bobs were gathered together in my backpack while enroute and now it sits on my desk with charger hooha, vitamins, meds, lip balm, a nano pouch with earphones, and a stack of temporary tattoos that I brought to give away. Awesome…”
Photo posted to the forums by KmK


“Instead of me carrying the Sidekick and him the SCB, my hubby used the S25 for all our stuff including space for some shopping. On the streets in Shanghai. Waiting for Xinjiang lamb skewers. Buying pomegranate juice at a roadside stall (I did not drink any, not going to risk my life for this) at Fuzhou Rd.”
Photos posted to the forums by panda2mama


“A sunny day at the capital with my new travel cubelet.”
Photo posted to the forums by sboussios


psvenndex and his Synapse 19 at the Grand Canyon
Photo submitted by psvenndex


“S25 arrives in Innere Stadt Vienna …”
Photo posted to the forums by GrussGott


Hiking Mt. Charleston with a Synapse 19.
Photo by @curt_nova


“My a href=””>Small Cafe Bag at a café (okay, Starbucks, but still…)”
Photo posted to the forums by chaimonkey

Last Week In Photos

Here are a few of the photos you’ve shared with us last week! Thanks!


“Working on YingYang Kitty socks with the kitty.”

Photo by @whiskey__chick


“First snow of Autumn 2017 on my hill. Captured during the “sunrise” walk at Pleasant Pine Plantation. It started snowing immediately after I got up. I usually carry my Tom Bihn “Brain Bag” backpack when I go on these early morning hikes. I bought this pack off of eBay several weeks ago. Bihn, based in Seattle, produces high-quality, high-durability, thoughtfully designed premium luggage.”

Photo by @walt.atwood


“I probably could have fit a few more skeins of yarn than the 8 I bought. They did stay nice and dry while walking to and from bus stops in the rain.”

Posted in the forums by Senua


“Loving this merino yarn in methanol blue from Mad Tosh purchased at Uncommon Threads.”

Photo by @ryanludman


“It’s going to be another good weekend with Timmy and The Nics.”

Photo by @meggrollstation


“Morning latte with the Mars Red Travel Cubelet. :)”

Posted in the forums by maverick


“A beautiful day for a dog park with my pups. Travel cubelet for my personal stuff like a wallet, phone and keys, and packing cube shoulder bag for my doggies.”

Photo by @lifeisshort_liveitup


“Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong.”

Photo by @kinglamleehk


“When your friends think like you do – travel light.”

Photo by @hatmaker4


“Yes, I really did fit all this into the Luminary.”

Photo by @brendabethman


“Ready for a super-duper chill B-Roll session.”

Photo by @wigideaboxoc


Hike on the north island of New Zealand in Tongariro National Park.

Photo by @bettierides


Alexander and his Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack in Prague.

Photo submitted by Alexander

Last Week In Photos

“Here’s my fully packed A30 on the Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Karuizawa. It fits very neatly in the luggage rack.”

Posted in the forums by Denises


“My Luminary arrived just in time for the Bitter and Twisted beer festival in the old Maitland Gaol, with a photo opportunity at the new Newcastle Interchange train station. The slim profile of the bag is great for getting around festivals and was the perfect size for the day. The only problem I have with the Luminary is that I now want it in 20L.”

Posted in the forums by gregcswanson


“I took my son for a walk today with my wife, he is only 10 weeks old and we found a rainbow.

My Side Effect was great for all I needed on this little adventure.“

Posted in the forums by JonC


“My family (3 adults, 3 teens) is heading off for an 8-day trip today, and the attached pic is the luggage we brought. We look like a Tom Bihn annex store, haha. I am Team New Nordic, my niece is Team Navy,etc…
(Looking at the pic, it’s amazing to think it all started with me and my sister ordering a Co-pilot for me and an S19 for her. What can I say? We LOVE the thought and care your company provides, from design to manufacturing to customer service!)”

Photo by TB customer dot and kiko


“Here’s my new SA on the way to work. Love the color.”

Posted in the forums by louisvilledanahys


“Got my first shipment today, it’s all fabulous. Here’s my three year old son demonstrating some new uses for the travel tray.”

Photo by TB customer Meera from Brisbane and Sebastian (age 3)


“Shop bag at the beach.”

Posted in the forums by NWhikergal


“DLBPs took a friend and I to the Kongobuji Temple complex in Koyasan, the Nembutsu-ji Temple at Adashino and a host of other places in Japan last month.”

Posted in the forums by Walker


“At Lujiazui in Shanghai, facing the Huangpu river. It was a blue sky sunny day.”

Posted in the forums by panda2mama


“Took my new S25 through the new Singapore Changi Terminal 4. It contains all my stuff for my 15-day trip to Shanghai. The SK containing my EDC stuff. The LSB contains a cake, gift for a friend. Hubby is carrying the SCB. He likes the size.

Once I got to the hotel, I took out most of the stuff from the S25, keeping my water bottle and other stuff I want to bring with me. Hooked the SK inside the S25 using 2 carabiners.

The bags transiting in Hong Kong.”

Posted in the forums by panda2mama


“Monarch PCSB with SE inside, waiting at the clinic on Saturday for the boys’ flu shot :)”

Posted in the forums by RDR3


Veteran’s Day

Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause. — Abraham Lincoln

Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on and express our gratitude for the people who serve and have served this country—those we know as friends, family, and co-workers, and all veterans. The best way we can think of to honor their service is by determining how we can also contribute, serve, and add value. The way we see things, all of us serve each other: our friends and family, our communities, the environment and world around us, and everyone in it.

We believe service makes room for grace, humility, compassion, awareness and strength, and that service begins with gratitude. So even though a mere “thank you” can’t convey the depths of our gratitude, we offer it, humbly, nonetheless.

Portable Culture Portrait: sea_otter3

Our Portable Culture Portrait blog series features TOM BIHN community members, the bags they carry, and the items they carry in their bags. It’s inspired by our Portable Culture tagline. This edition features sea_otter3. The previous editions featured community members NWHikergal, widepipe, platisc, Rocks, JonC, cdh, Badger, haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.

TOM BIHN Blog | Antonia Sketch Kit

What’s the most useful item that you carry?

That’s the 3D Organizer Cube. In fact I have four of them – the Wasabi one is for all the small items in my daily carry, so I can easily move these little essentials from bag to bag as needed. There is an Iberian one for geocaching supplies. The Island one is the perfect size for my travel sketching kit. A Burnt Orange one is for geocaching trackable items. Second to the 3D Organizer Cubes, on a daily basis I could not be without my large Shop Bags. Their cheerful colors make me feel better about having to go shopping, and they hold a lot of stuff!

TOM BIHN Blog | sea_otter3 Shop Bag

What’s your most treasured item?

From Tom Bihn – that’s a tough one, as I have lots of TB items, and all have their individual parts to play in my daily carry or on particular adventures. The flexible, modular nature of TB bags and accessories is one of the things I most love about them. However, my most treasured item has to be my Synapse 25 in Navy/Solar. This was my first Tom Bihn purchase, several years ago. It’s a color combination I love, and as a person with less than perfect eyesight who has scared herself silly on many occasions by losing her wallet in the dark and fathomless depths of other bags, I really appreciate the light-colored bag interiors that TB offers. The Synapse 25 has proven a faithful and indispensable companion on trips to Germany, Italy, and Iceland. It’s acquired a bit of character along the way (haven’t we all?), and it’s as sturdy and reliable as it was on day one. Although the bags feel quite secure, if I’m in an urban area I will put a small padlock on whatever bag I’m using.

In my daily carry, my most treasured non-Tom Bihn items are fountain pens. I love the aesthetics of them, how they make writing a pleasure, how they make my writing more legible, and how they are more environmentally friendly than disposable pens. I try to ink up and use all the pens in my collection. At the moment I’ve got a Kaweco Brass Sport, a Lamy 2000, and an Edison Nouveau Premiere in rotation.

TOM BIHN Blog | sea_otter 3EDC

Here are some of the items on rotation in my Medium Café Bag. Usually all the smaller bits and bobs go into the Wasabi 3D Organizer Cube. If I need to make a cut-down version of that, I’ll put the most crucial things into the Cubelet.
Daily carry contents:

  • GeoKnots nano log roller (to make rolling up tiny geocache logbooks much easier)
  • Fountain pens: currently in use are the Lamy 2000, Edison Nouveau Premier from Goulet Pens, and Kaweco Brass Sport. They live in a Nock ‘Sinclair’ pen case. I keep a wee box of ink cartridges and a notebook in there too.
  • Hobonichi Weeks planner
  • Traveler’s Company ‘passport’-size notebook
  • Santitizer
  • Lip balm/floss/comb to make me presentable
  • Paracetamol for when life gives you a headache
  • Victorinox SwissCard Lite multi tool
  • Change purse
  • ‘Qliplet’ carabiner/hooks by Lulabop (thanks Perseffect for bringing these to my attention!)
  • Tisserand lavender essential oil roller
  • Gardener’s Hand Therapy by Crabtree and Evelyn
  • Microfiber cloth, lens cleaner, and mini screwdriver for glasses
  • Fisher Space Pen in lime green

TOM BIHN Blog | sea_otter3 Medium Cafe Bag

Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?

The Daylight Backpack, which I take on many of the same trips as the Synapse 25, to use as a daily backpack at my destination. It’s the perfect size for a small excursion. It’s light, comfortable, holds a surprising amount, and is very sturdy. When I met Suzanne, an American friend, for the first time, we immediately bonded over our Tom Bihn bags and matching lime green Fisher Space Pens – we even took a picture of them together on the steps of the Bodleian Library in Oxford!

TOM BIHN Blog | sea_otter3 in Oxford

An utterly crucial travel item is the Travel Tray. At the end of a long day’s travel, it’s great to have a safe place for small, easily lost items and bits of jewellery, or things that I may need at night. The Travel Tray will happily accept all that stuff. It’s also a great yarn bowl, for the knitters and crocheters amongst us.

TOM BIHN Blog | sea_otter3 Knitting

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in the south of England, and work in both public and academic libraries. I love coffee, rain, knitting, and books. I love animals, too, and have a golden retriever and two Siamese cats. This year I’m doing Country Walking magazine’s challenge to walk 1000 miles in 2017. On Instagram I am @sea_otter3.

TOM BIHN Blog | sea_otter3 Clementine

Week in Photos – Nov. 3, 2017

Here are a few photos you’ve shared with us this recently! Thank you!

“Oh yeah. New TOM BIHN travel cubelet fits perfectly on the side of my Parental Unit. It now has all my personal effects so I can easily take just that little bag when I go out sans kiddos. Bliss!”

Photo by @sparrowlight


“My husband and I are massive fans and own the Aeronaut 45 and the Synapse backpack.

My gorgeous family added to my TB collection with your new Makers Bag, yarn stuff sacks, tool wrap and some clear pouches for my recent birthday. I LOVE THEM!!! The Makers Bag is outstanding, so many pockets, wide self supporting base, and I love the grab handle on the bag. Thank you so much for creating such a brilliant craft bag.

Better than that though, my Makers Bag has doubled as my travel hand bag for the 5-day work trip I’m on. Between that and my Aeronaut, I’m all set. All conference material fits in the full width pocket inside, my purse and phone are tucked in pockets, drink bottle in a pocket. Lap top and note paper in the main compartment.”

Photo by TB customer Skye in Australia


“Thanks for the corgi pin @tracertron.”

Photo by @sethygrams


“Island and grass travel cubelets arrived today. I’m looking forward to discovering all the possibilities.”

Photo by @purple_sage66


“After lots of business travel this year, in Thailand for a break.

We checked one large wheeled suitcase but carried on a Black Halcyon/Iberian S25 and Navy Cordura Ristretto 11. The Ristretto in particular is the perfect day bag for either touristy bits and pieces or for the occasional laptop and iPad carry to do a bit of ‘online stuff’.”

Posted in the forums by Perseffect


“A month-old S19 in the lab before workday starts. The red is muted, not too bright, yet easy to see when I’m on my bike.”

Posted in the forums by nuin27


“My daughter is carrying a small Shop Bag with her swim gear backpack style.”

Posted in the forums by Ilkyway


“On the way home, one navy Yeoman is missing in this picture.”

Posted in the forums by Ilkyway


“The ultimate Dad bag even has a balloon holder.”

Posted in the forums by GoVols


“Using my Packing Cube backpack during my walk in Tokyo, Japan. Picture was taken at Blue Bottle Coffee, Aoyama. I have many other pictures, stay tuned for my upcoming review about the TriStar combined with the Packing Cube Backpack :)”

Posted in the forums by fatih


“Lakeside, with Breezee, Bihn & pals, on a gorgeous Autumn day.”

Photo by @cjh_ny54


“Every six weeks I spend 5 days in Silicon Valley to visit my employer’s mothership (Google). The Pilot / TriStar combo is the best ever, going strong for over a year now! Lots of TB sub-organizers inside of course. :-)”

Posted in the forums by bcollsuss


Portable Culture Portrait: NWHikergal

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 NWHikergal. The previous editions featured Forum members widepipe, Rocks, JonC, cdh, Badger, haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.

What’s the most useful item that you carry?

The most useful item that I carry is my iPhone. Whether checking emails, mapping a run or bike ride, using travel apps, checking TB forums, or trying to beat the terrible Seattle traffic with navigation apps, I have likely grown way more reliant on it than I would have ever imagined. And I use it multiple times a day for quick photos of myriad things, which I can easily text, email, or post online. I also have to carry a work phone, which is less of a blessing! Even though I rely on my iPhone often, I am extremely grateful when I have the opportunity to disconnect from emails when I am out of cell range or enjoying the outdoors, though I still snap pics.

What’s your most treasured item?

I would have to say several photo albums of older non-digital family photos, as well as a book of family recipes that my mother gave me. Those are irreplaceable items. While I may have many items of greater financial value, these have the most personal value.

Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?

Tom Bihn shop bags! I honestly don’t think one can have too many. I use them every single day for everything from grocery shopping to travel/road trips to dealing with the miscellany that pops up each day. And no matter how much weight I load them with – even items like heavy cat litter and cases of cat food in one bag – they never struggle. I can throw a large shop bag over each shoulder and haul away, which is particularly handy when I am bulk shopping or moving lots of items and don’t want to make tons of trips up the stairs.

One item that I did not anticipate using as much as I do is a kiwi Clear Organizer Wallet. While I do not use it for daily carry, it accompanies me for all of my adventures on land and water, whether I am hiking, biking, paddle boarding, or traveling. It gives me peace of mind to bring the basics with me in it: driver’s license, insurance card, one credit card, and a little cash. I don’t have to worry about dragging around things I do not need, but I have enough items to cover most scenarios. I keep the cards in one section, cash in another, and I can put receipts in the other if needed.


My weekend carry bag is a navy parapack/solar Synapse 19, and during weekdays I generally carry a medium café bag (previously original halcyon/wasabi, now mars/dawn), though I have recently alternated this with a black/fjord Little Swift.


For work travel I tend to use either a halcyon Co-Pilot or a halcyon Maker’s Bag for all day meetings, depending on how many items I need to carry. And I use a Smart Alec for my clothing items.


My daily carry items include:

  • Allett women’s ultra slim wallet
  • Revo sunglasses in cheery aftermarket case
  • Lipstick, lip balm and small hand sanitizer in a kiwi mini Q kit
  • Tissue packets
  • Small first aid kit (I recently switched my FAK items from a small double organizer pouch to a mars cubelet)
  • EpiPen
  • Work cell
  • Personal cell
  • Fenix E12 flashlight
  • Keychain
  • Benchmade Mini Griptilian knife (unless I am flying/headed to places where I cannot bring it)
  • Work ID on paracord quick release lanyard
  • Miir 27 ounce water bottle
  • Miir 8 ounce tumbler for coffee – as needed
  • Either small or large shop bag – as needed

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I currently live in Northwest, and in my spare time I try to get outdoors as much as possible to enjoy the mountains, water, and scenery the area offers. I also love sampling the local cuisine, discovering new restaurants/food trucks/coffee shops/microbreweries, as well as returning to old favorites. I travel occasionally for work, but I prefer traveling for fun, and I have lived throughout the U.S. and worked overseas. If I could have a fun second job, I would love to be a full-time gear tester!

News Briefs

We’re retiring our Road Buddy Duffel 36 and Road Buddy Duffel 60 to make way for new designs. If you’ve been thinking about a Road Buddy, you may want to order soon, as we won’t be making further production runs.

We’ve updated our Planet page with additional efforts: we’re operationally carbon neutral, members of 1% For The Planet, we offer a vegetarian company lunch, and over 80% of our materials are bluesign® and/or OEKO-TEX® certified.

Mark your calendars! Our Seattle Factory Showroom will be open the following Saturdays: Dec. 14th 2019 and, in 2020, March 21st, June 20th, and September 19th.

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