New Designs

New photos + videos + shipping updates on the 12/2 Debut


Photo from bartleby’s review thread December 2019 debut: These iconic handy little things (Icon & HLT 1 and 2)

Option to hold + add to your order until 12/3

We decided to split the 12/2 debut so that people with varying work/life/family/school schedules would have more of an opportunity to order (just in case some of the debut items sell out). On Monday, December 2nd at 8:00am PT the first 1/2 of the stock will be added to the website; at 1:00pm PT the second 1/2 of stock will be added.

Splitting the debut means it’s possible some items will sell out in the morning and be available for order again in the afternoon. Because of this possibility, we’ve added an option in the shipping choices during checkout called “Wait! Hold My Order Until 12/3” that will allow you to choose to hold your order until 12/3.

“Wait! Hold My Order Until 12/3” is live now until Monday 12/2 at 1:00pm Pacific Time.
“Add To My Held Order (Shipping 12/3)” is live now until Tuesday 12/3 at 6:00am Pacific Time.

So, basically: if, during checkout, you choose Wait! you can place additional orders to add bags to your first order up until 6:00am PT on 12/3 — and we’ll ship your order on 12/3.

Worth noting: it can take up to 60 seconds for the “Add To” option to appear after you’ve placed the first order.

For additional information, see this post in our Forums.

New Q&As about and photos of the debut items

The volunteer moderators of the TOM BIHN Forums have been answering questions and sharing their own insights and photos on the P.I.K.A., Icon, Pick-Up Truck, Monster Truck, Shepherd’s Wool Utility Cloth, Handy Little Thing, and 630d and Color Zipper Ghost Whales. Here’s handy links to a few of the threads and posts:

HLT2 with craft supplies
Pick-Up Truck – First Impressions
December 2019 debut: These iconic handy little things (Icon & HLT 1 and 2)
P.I.K.A as boarding bag
Monster Truck – car trunk bag
HLT1 – Handy Little Thing 1 Pouch – first impressions
Question on new color Logic Blue
Marsupialising with the Pika
Marsupial Icon?
12/2 debut: news + stock + more

There’s additional photos and reviews over in the TOM BIHN BST & Discussion group on Facebook.

New videos of the debut items

Spencer has video reviews and overviews of the debut items up on the My TOM BIHN reviews site. Here’s our favorite:

These two videos were posted by bartleby in the Forums:

12/2 Debut: Icon, HLT Pouch 1 and 2, P.I.K.A., New Trucks + Ghost Whales, Wool Utility Cloth

The Icon messenger bag
The Icon in Black/Island Zippers.

This new stuff will be stocked and available for order on Monday, December 2nd at 8:00am Pacific Time (first 1/2 of the stock) and 1:00pm Pacific Time (second 1/2 of stock) in our last design debut of 2019. We recommend signing up on the product pages linked below to be notified via email the moment the item you’re interested in is stocked and available for order.

Here’s a category page with links to all of the new items.

Videos

 
Video of the Handy Little Thing (HLT) Pouch Size 1 and 2, Icon, Pick-Up Truck, Monster Truck

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Full Descriptions of New Bags, Pouches, and Accessories

The following bags, pouches, and accessories are will be stocked an ready to order on December 2nd:

Icon

The Icon is a cross-body or over-the-shoulder bag. Tom designed the initial prototyping and rough patterning for the Icon in about three hours. It looked promising, so he spent the next two weeks nuancing the shape, adding a few features and perfecting the pattern. It’s a playful expression of a spontaneous inspiration and it doesn’t take itself too seriously: if there is a Muse of Bags, we can say with some certainty that Tom was so visited.

But you know us: even in the most simple of designs, we make an effort to sneak in a bit of innovation. The Icon is the first bag to utilize the Rabbit Hole design solution engineered by Tom that hides excess shoulder strap length; instead of dangling down or doubling back on the strap, the excess webbing of the Icon’s shoulder strap gracefully disappears down into a hidden rabbit hole in the side of the bag.

Colors:
Note: all colors will have a Cloud grey interior lining
Burnt Orange 525 Ballistic/Ultraviolet Zipper
Logic Blue 630 Recycled/Northwest Sky Zipper
Black 525 Ballistic/Black Zipper
Mars Red 525 Ballistic/Northwest Sky Zipper
Nebulous Grey 630 Recycled/Iberian Zipper
Black 525 Ballistic/Island Zipper
Seapine Green 630 Recycled/Ultraviolet Zipper
Alphaviolet 525 Ballistic/Wasabi Zipper
Black 525 Ballistic/Rainbow Zipper

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P.I.K.A.

p.i.k.a. pouch

The P.I.K.A. is a pouch designed to hold your Phone (yes, even the biggest of phones), ID/wallet, Keys, and a couple of other small Accessories (chapstick, mini flashlight or utility knife, chocolate).

It can be carried over-the-shoulder or cross-body with its included lightweight and low-profile 5/8″ / 15mm shoulder strap. Or, detach the shoulder strap, and use the included 8″ Black Key Strap to clip the P.I.K.A. to an O-ring in your larger backpack/briefcase/shoulder bag.

Colors:
Black 210 Ballistic
Coyote 210 Ballistic
Seapine Green 630 Recycled
Wasabi 200 Halcyon
Nebulous Grey 630 Recycled
Iberian 200 Halcyon
NW Sky 200 Halcyon
Island 200 Halcyon
Logic Blue 630 Recycled
Ultraviolet 200 Halcyon

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Handy Little Thing (HLT) Pouch

The HLT (Handy Little Thing) is a sweet clamshell organizer pouch with four zippered pockets, plenty of interior elastic and webbing loops (to retain cords and tools), and some clever ways to carry it. You can clip it to your Synik or other bag, to the seat pocket on the airplane, or hook your hand and thumb through it and use it as a write-in notebook holder or work-out-of tool pouch. It can be worn as an impromptu waist pack, sling bag, or cross-body bag, and it’s available in two sizes: Size 1 (fits in the Synik 22 bottom compartment or clips to the main compartment) and Size 2 (fits in the Synik 30 bottom compartment or clips to the main compartment).

Colors:
Iberian 200 Halcyon
Black 210 Ballistic
Island 200 Halcyon
Logic Blue 630 Recycled
Coyote 210 Ballistic
Wasabi 200 Halcyon
Nebulous Grey 630 Recycled
Ultraviolet 200 Halcyon
NW Sky 200 Halcyon
Seapine Green 630 Recycled

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Shepherd’s Wool Utility Cloth

The Shepherd’s Wool Utility Cloth is a 27/70 cm square of 23.5 micron fine, lightweight wool woven and dyed in Scotland with wool from New Zealand and Australia. As a travel accessory, it is superbly useful: it’s an ad hoc table cloth, a (very) minimalist blanket on a drafty airplane, a wrap to protect an impromptu purchase of a bottle of wine, a flag to wave at parting friends (or maybe partying friends). Properly tied around one’s neck, it can be as warm as a bulky scarf, yet it takes up almost no space whatsoever when folded in your bag or backpack.

Colors:
Neela Blue
Half-Light Purple
Saffron Gold
Matter Grey
True Black
Glasglow tartan
Home Modern tartan

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Pick-Up Truck

The Pick-Up Truck is the smallest of three sizes of our Truck tote. Next size up is the original Truck, and if you’ve got a lot to haul, check out the Monster Truck.

The Pick-Up is a great size for library books, a modest picnic for two, groceries for one, or a tote to bring breakfast, lunch, and dinner to work (ah, modern life…). It’s a scaled-down version of the original Truck, so everything about the Pick-Up is smaller: the center compartment can (just barely) accommodate four bottles of wine or cider, and the front and back pockets are big enough for small hand-held device like an iPad mini. Wait, did we say everything about it is smaller? Truth is, its handles remain the same length as the original, so you can still carry it over your shoulder. Cute originally meant smart, clever, and the Pick-Up is certainly that, but it’s also cute like adorable. Though we’re not sure we had to point that out.

Colors:
Dawn 210 Ballistic
Alphaviolet 525 Ballistic
Black 525 Ballistic
Coyote 210 Ballistic
Mars Red 525 Ballistic
Aubergine 525 Ballistic
Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic
Island 210 Ballistic
Burnt Orange 525 Ballistic
Grass 210 Ballistic
Viridian 210 Ballistic
Deep Blue 525 Ballistic

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Monster Truck

The Monster Truck is a great tote for when the universe tasks you with carrying a lot of stuff: it’ll swallow it all whole, like a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant.

The Monster Truck is, as you might expect by the name, a bigger version of the original Truck. Comparing it to the original, we can tell you that the Monster is wider and deeper, though not taller. Fully loaded, a person of average height can still carry it by hand or on their shoulder. However, depending on the contents, one might want to consult their chiropractor first: at 38 liters of volume, one could easily fill it (say with river rocks or beach sand) so that it’d be impossible to pick up. We’re not sure why you’d want to do this, but if you did, rest assured the fabric, handles and stitching would take it in stride. A more prosaic and hopefully more plausible load might be a large motorcycle helmet and two gallon jugs of milk, or a week’s laundry.

Colors:
Black 525 Ballistic
Mars Red 525 Ballistic
Deep Blue 525 Ballistic
Burnt Orange 525 Ballistic
Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic
Aubergine 525 Ballistic

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Color Zipper Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches

Our Color Zipper Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches are the same as our original Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches and 50% Recycled Nylon Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches…. except they are made exclusively out of black scrap fabric or mesh and feature Iberian, Wasabi, Ultraviolet, Northwest Sky, Island, or Coyote zippers.

Colors:
Iberian Zipper
Wasabi Zipper
Ultraviolet Zipper
Coyote Zipper
Island Zipper
Northwest Sky Zipper

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630d Recycled Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches

Our 50% Recycled Nylon Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches are the same as our original Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches and Color Zipper Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches… except they’re made out of our new 630d 50% pre-consumer recycled nylon fabric. (There’s other items available in our 630d as well: Travel Cubelet, HLT Pouch, P.I.K.A. Pouch.)

Our 630 denier nylon fabric is woven of 50% pre-consumer recycled nylon; both the recycled and non-recycled fiber is sourced in South Korea, and the fabric itself is woven, dyed and treated there in a bluesign® mill.

When the opportunity presented itself to utilize a 50% pre-consumer recycled nylon, we jumped on it: we received swatches, Taber (abrasion) tested them, performed various other tests, made sample bags, and were quite pleased with the results.

Previously, the only recycled fabrics out there have been recycled polyester. It’s not like we have something against polyester (PET) per se: it’s a very useful plastic for many applications, and its recyclability is great — endlessly turning pop bottles into fleece pullovers and back again is pretty cool. However, polyester’s performance as a bag/backpack fabric is notably subpar when compared to nylon.

Colors:
Logic Blue
Seapine Green
Nebulous Grey

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Travel Cubelet in 630d 50% Recycled Nylon

The same great Travel Cubelet, now available in 630d 50% Recycled Nylon options!

Colors:
Logic Blue
Seapine Green
Nebulous Grey

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Tom’s Firewood Carrier

Back in the mid 1970’s, I made a firewood carrier for my father and a couple extras for friends. The design was nothing new or revolutionary, but it did its job: schlepping 3-5 firewood logs from the woodshed to the hearth. When my father passed away in 2016, I inherited the original carrier I had made all those years before. Now, over 40 years later, I use the thing almost daily in the winter months.

Darcy posted a photo of the original firewood carrier on Instagram and a few people asked us if we’d offer it someday — so here it is. Just like the original version it’s made of heavy cotton canvas — a material I’ve been re-learning recently.

— Tom

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New Materials

This also marks the debut of two new materials:

 
630d 50% Recycled Nylon in colors Nebulous Grey, Seapine Green, Logic Blue

Our 630 denier nylon fabric is woven of 50% pre-consumer recycled nylon; both the recycled and non-recycled fiber is sourced in South Korea, and the fabric itself is woven, dyed and treated there in a bluesign mill.

When the opportunity presented itself to utilize a 50% pre-consumer recycled nylon, we jumped on it: we received swatches, Taber (abrasion) tested them, performed various other tests, made sample bags, and were quite pleased with the results. Previously, the only recycled fabrics out there have been recycled polyester. It’s not like we have something against polyester (PET) per se: it’s a very useful plastic for many applications, and its recyclability is great — endlessly turning pop bottles into fleece pullovers and back again is pretty cool. However, polyester’s performance as a bag/backpack fabric is notably subpar when compared to nylon.

We’re excited to offer a more environmentally friendly fabric, without sacrificing the long-term durability of nylon.

 
Color Zippers in #3 and #8 in Island, Wasabi, Coyote, Northwest Sky, Ultraviolet, and Iberian

So, why the Color Zippers, and why now? Here’s the scoop: though we continually work towards reducing fabric scrap — small pieces of fabric that are the result of cutting the fabric to make larger bags — we still generate some scrap in the process of making those larger bags. All of the color scrap that’s big enough to make Organizer Pouches is readily and hungrily consumed by our Clear, Fabric, Mesh, and other Organizer Pouches. Yet, at the end of the day, we find ourselves with a surplus of black fabric scrap — solid black Organizer Pouches just aren’t as popular as the color versions, and we understand why: a brightly colored Organizer Pouch is going to be easier to see and retrieve from the inside of a larger bag.

Tom’s solution: we use our black fabric scrap to make Ghost Whales with brightly colored zippers — this way, you get an easily visible pouch (you can even color organize/color code by zipper color!) and we get to use every piece of scrap we can. Win win, or so we hope!
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FAQ

Things we guess you might be wondering about:

 
If any of the 12/2 debut items sell out within the first few days, will you be able to make additional production runs that will ship with guaranteed delivery by or on 12/24?

That will be our goal. We’re still waiting on materials to make additional production runs of some of the debut items. If any of them sell out, we will post timely updates on when we’ll be able to restock them.

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Will you be offering these new designs forever?

Here’s where things are getting interesting: our production capacity will likely remain stable, and yet Tom and Nik are designing tons of new bags. Big bags, small bags, all kinds of bags. And we’re bringing in more fabrics, more colors, trying new stuff. It’s a lot of fun. And at the same time, we already make a large variety of colors, fabrics, and designs for a company our size.

We of course saw this coming, and have implemented various efforts to help us manage this. One of those efforts was the pre-order system; that system allows us to semi-retire some designs and bring them back for occasional pre-order production runs (if our data indicates it’s worth the production time to do so and we have the materials necessary).

Anyway, this is all to say: the 12/2 debuts will be available at least into early 2020 and possibly beyond. And at some point in 2020, it is likely we will retire or semi-retire some designs to make way for new designs that will be coming. We’ll give plenty of heads-up before retiring any designs.

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Will you offer other bags in 630d 50% Recycled Nylon?

Yes: we plan to offer more bags like the Side Effect, Side Kick, and Cafe Bags in 630d in early 2020.

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Will you offer other bags with color zippers?

We don’t have any plans to offer other bags or pouches besides the Icon and Color Zipper Ghost Whale Organizer pouches with color zippers. As you might imagine, between all of our colors of fabrics and color zippers, there could be a lot of options… too many options for our small company to manage, in fact!

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2019 Holiday Shipping & Showroom Schedule


A photo from our Not Very Successful Holiday Photo Shoot.

Expert Gift Giving Advice
Want help figuring out which bag to give? Give us a call (1-800-729-9607 U.S. & Canada or +1-206-652-4123 other countries) or emailus@tombihn.com. Our Bag Experts—Cody, Kat, Matthew and Mike—are here and glad to help. Helping people find the right bag is one of our favorite things to do and it’s extra fun when it’s a gift.

Seattle Factory Showroom December Hours
We’re open Monday through Friday from 6:30am – 3:00pm.

We’ll also be open a rare Saturday on December 14th from 10:00am until 2:00pm.

Gift Certificates
Available for purchase 24/7, 365 days a year, Gift Certificates can be a great spontaneous “thank you” or last minute gift. You can even choose to have a gift certificate emailed directly—and instantly—to the recipient (with a gift message, and be sure to click the checkbox that asks “Email directly to the recipient?”).

Holiday Shipping Schedule
Orders received by 12:30pm Pacific Time are shipped same day; orders received after 12:30pm Pacific Time are shipped the following business day. Exception: in preparation for the last guaranteed UPS Ground day for orders shipping to the East Coast, we will be working a late shift on December 13th. All orders in by 4:00pm will ship the same day.

Wondering if you can place your order after 12/13 and still receive it by or on 12/24? Consult this UPS Time-In-Transit map, which calculates the transit time for orders shipped from our Seattle factory, but know that UPS can add one or two business days to any orders shipped in December, depending on the volume they are experiencing.

November 28th
Happy Thanksgiving! We’re closed today.

November 29th
Happy Leftovers Day! We’re closed today too.

December 2nd
The entire crew is back at work for our last debut of 2019. The first 1/2 of the debut will be stocked at 8:00am Pacific Time; the second 1/2 will be stocked at 1:00pm Pacific Time. Splitting the debut helps give folks with varying work, life, school and family schedules a chance to order.

December 13th
Last day for folks on the East Coast and in the Mid-West to place an order with UPS Ground ($10) as their shipping method with delivery by or on Tuesday, December 24. Place your order by 4:00pm Pacific Time to have it shipped same day. And remember: you can still place an order and choose expedited shipping ($20 and up) for December 24th delivery up until Monday, December 23rd.

International orders: order today with UPS International Expedited delivery as your last best bet for receiving your order by Tuesday, December 24. Note: UPS does not guarantee this service, but it is estimated at 2–7 days.

December 14th
Our Seattle Factory Showroom is open today from 10:00am until 2:00pm. We’ll have homemade cookies, hot coffee and tea, and bags, of course.

December 16th
Contiguous US orders: last day to select USPS First Class Mail and USPS Priority Mail (an option for small orders $49 or under and for Alaska / Hawaii / APO addresses) for delivery by December 24th.

December 19th
US orders: last day to select UPS 3 Day Select with guaranteed delivery by or on Tuesday, December 24.

December 20th
US orders: choose UPS 2nd Day Air as your shipping method for delivery by or on December 24.

December 23rd
US orders: choose UPS Next Day Air as your shipping method for delivery on December 24th.

December 24th-25th
We’re closed. We’ll be back at work on Thursday, December 26th at 6:30am.

The Guide’s Pack is back with Edgeless EV50 1/2″ Shoulder Straps

After being sold out for the last few months, The Guide’s Pack has been restocked today with two updates:

Edgeless EV50 1/2″ Shoulder Straps in Coyote

Conformity is overrated — except, perhaps, when it comes to shoulder straps. The edgelessness of this new strap allows it to more softly conform to your shoulder; we find that this increases comfort. Yet the straps aren’t too soft: the 1/2” thick EVAZOTE® OEKO-TEX® certified foam means the strap is robust enough to carry a heavy load. They’re the ideal straps for a large daypack like The Guide’s pack.

Our new Edgeless EV50 1/2″ Shoulder Strap is quite similar to the strap of our Luminary backpack — it differs in that it’s thicker and the contour is adjusted to be more proportionate to a larger backpack — and first debuted with the Synik 22 and Synik 30.

A new shoulder strap design is a big deal, and we spent a lot of time testing these (and having various people test them for us and provide feedback). While it’s impossible to make a strap (or bag, or world, or whatever) that everyone will unanimously love, so far, most folks who have been using the Synik seem to find the Edgeless straps quite comfortable. We personally love them, and that’s part of the reason we decided to make this next batch of Guide’s Packs with the Edgeless straps.

Updated Padded Hip Belt

A minor update, but a worthy one: the optional Guide’s Pack Padded Hip Belt will now attach via two 1-1/2″ Gatekeepers instead of four 1″ Gatekeepers. That’s two less Gatekeepers to fiddle with!

New: Strap Keepers

Our Strap Keepers are designed to be the lowest-profile and easiest to use solution out there for bundling and securing excess backpack shoulder strap webbing. They can be used with any brand of backpack that uses 1″ webbing; of course, they’ll work perfectly with all TOM BIHN packs.

It’s one of those to-may-to or to-mah-to kind of things: some folks don’t like the excess webbing from our backpack shoulder straps or waist straps and some of folks don’t even notice it.

Those of you who aren’t into the excess webbing have been asking us if we could offer a solution to wrangle it. We’ve been experimenting with different parts and options for a while now, and our Strap Keepers are by far the best option we’ve used. But that’s us: to make sure the design we came up with would work for a majority of people, we sent a complimentary pair of Strap Keepers to a variety of customers (through our Forums; and also to those who pre-ordered a Synik 22 / Synik 30 and received a pre-production batch bag) and asked for feedback. The feedback came back to us via email and in this thread in our Forums; overall, people liked the Strap Keepers enough that we’ve decided to offer them as an official design.

Strap Keepers. $5 for a pair of two.

NOTE: If you pre-ordered a Synik, don’t order a pair of Strap Keepers! Why? Because we’re going to include a pair at no charge with your bag when it ships.

2nd Synik Pre-Order Opens 08/15

Stand up meeting to discuss Synik Pre-order
Above: Lisa, Nik, Mike, Fong, and Ben meeting to discuss the production schedule, materials inventory, and other considerations related to offering a second pre-order for the Synik.

Our new Synik 22 and Synik 30 backpacks sold out in less than 12 hours — that’s much sooner than we expected. It made for a very exciting day here at the factory: we’ve all been working hard on the project of the Synik (see our Credits) and that all of you liked what we were putting out there enough to order it means a lot to us.

At the same time, it was understandably a bummer for those who wanted to place a pre-order but didn’t get the chance.

We’ve determined we can offer a second pre-order for the Synik 22 / Synik 30 tomorrow, Thursday, August 15th. In an effort to better acknowledge that people are in different time zones and have different work schedules, we will split the offering of this second pre-order:

6:30am Pacific Time: we’ll add the first 1/2 of the pre-order quantity to the website for order.
1:00pm Pacific Time: we’ll add the second 1/2 of the pre-order quantity to the website for order.

It’s possible that the first 1/2 of the pre-order won’t sell out before 1:00pm. If that’s the case, we will still add the remaining pre-order quantity and pre-order can remain open until 08/20 or until it does eventually sell out. It is also possible that the entire second pre-order will sell out. Like you, we will see what happens when it does.

Note that the ship date for the second pre-order Syniks is one month later than the first pre-order — late November instead of late October. We know late November probably seems forever away -— we’re going to make every effort we can to make and ship those bags sooner, but can’t make any promises at this point because we’re working our production schedule to the max.

Looking ahead, our production capacity is such that we don’t envision we will be able to offer a third pre-order. Our goal after this second pre-order will be to focus on building enough Syniks over the coming months that we can put them in-stock and do our best to keep them in-stock.

We welcome your feedback, thoughts, questions, or anything you’ve got to share; respond here in the comments or emailus@tombihn.com

The new Synik backpack (pre-order opens 08/13)

The Synik 22 Backpack

The Synik — available two sizes: 22 liters or 30 liters — is a variation of the original Synapse 19 / 25 and it was designed by Nik in collaboration with Tom. It includes many of the features some of you have been asking for; we added some additional features as well.

Pre-order opens 08/13 and closes 08/20; sign up on either the Synik 22 or Synik 30 pages to be notified the moment the bags are available for pre-order.

One of our goals is to give you as much information as possible about our bags so that you can make an informed decision as to whether a bag is right for you– or not. If you buy a bag from us, it will last you quite a long time, so it’s important to choose the right one. There’s a lot of information about the Synik; we’ve created the directory below to help you get the answers you need in the most efficient way.

You’re always welcome to skip over all of this and emailus@tombihn.com, call us at 1-800-729-9607 or 1-206-652-4123, or live chat with your questions.

Directory

[WHAT’S DIFFERENT / WHAT’S THE SAME IN THE SYNIK VS. THE SYNAPSE IN BRIEF]
[PRE-ORDER TIMELINE]
[FULL DESCRIPTIONS OF DIFFERENCES]
[VIDEOS]
[FAQ]
[REVIEWS SO FAR]
[CREDITS]

What’s different / What’s the same in the Synik vs. the Synapse in Brief

(click to read more about each difference)

Release Timeline

August 6th
Info release. The following pages and videos are now available:
Synik 22 page
Synik 30 page
Synik FAQ
Videos: Synik 22 features / Synik 30 features / How to Remove the Synik frame

August 13th
Pre-order opens sometime 7:00am – 9:00am Pacific Time / remains open until 08/20 unless either size of Synik sells out. You can sign up on the Synik 22 or 30 pages to be notified the moment pre-order opens.

August 20th
Pre-order closes.

Late October
Pre-order Syniks ship.

Full Descriptions of Differences

Full clamshell AKA panel zipper opening

The main compartment of the Synik can zip fully-open — clamshell or panel-loader style. That means the main compartment zipper (it’s a beefy #10 YKK Aquaguard) zips all the way down and around the bottom edges of the bag.

What’s cool about a clamshell zipper opening? Mainly, you can pack your bag like a suitcase. As in, place it on your bed/table/floor and fully zip it open to arrange everything you’ll be packing. That visual access can make it easier to step back and assess/contemplate what you’re packing and whether you’ve forgotten an item or can pare down the packing list entirely. You get to choose exactly how far to open your bag — you can zip open just the top, or mid-way, or lower, or fully open. And the #10 YKK Aquaguard zipper we use on the Synik prevents the zipper from continuing to open on its own: the waterproof material on the interior of the zipper provides just enough resistance to prevent that. So, you really get to decide how far your bag opens (or doesn’t).

And what’s less than cool? If you don’t secure the stuff in the main compartment, it can fall out when you fully unzip the bag. This, we think, makes clamshell bags less suitable as a hiking pack (you don’t want all of your gear splaying out on a narrow trail or tumbling down a scree slope!) See our original Synapse 19 and 25 for the original non-clamshell version of the Synapse.

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Removable internal tie-down straps & Padded Bottom

We made two minor yet worthy-of-mention updates to the design because of the clamshell opening: first, we included a set of two removable tie-down straps in the main compartment. So, you know, you can strap down clothes or even a Packing Cube without it falling out if you fully unzip the main compartment and open the bag clamshell-style. Second, we added padding to the bottom of the Synik to protect the zipper sliders and chain on the bottom of the bag; that’s a serious potential wear point and, while we’re always glad to repair bags to keep them in service for longer, it’d be rather silly to avoid an opportunity to prevent the need for repair in the first place.

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Two-point access suspended laptop compartment

The Synik features a built-in laptop compartment with minimal padding (less bulk, less weight, less of a bummer it’s there when you don’t carry a laptop).

The compartment is suspended off the bottom of the bag, and that means your laptop is suspended off the bottom of the bag, too. That suspension is much more effective if you use the Synik internal frame: a soft, frameless bag offers nothing from which to suspend the laptop. Worth noting: the bottom of the Synik is padded, so there’s that extra peace of mind as well.

The Synik 22 fits laptops up to the size of the 13” MacBook Pro (but not the older MacBook Air); the Synik 30 can fit laptops up to 15” like the MacBook Pro Retina Touchbar or Microsoft Surface Book 2 15″.

You can stow (or remove) your laptop from the dedicated laptop compartment of the Synik from two access points: the first is a zippered compartment within the main compartment of the Synik. The second is a zippered exterior side access on the left side of the bag (like the Luminary backpack.) It’s no biggie in practice, but note you’ll need to do a two-point turn to fit the bigger laptops in the exterior side access to the laptop compartment (not necessary if using the internal laptop compartment access).

We wanted to offer you two access points to stow/remove your laptop because it gives you more options. Picture yourself on the airplane with the Synik under the seat in front of you: in this context, using the internal laptop compartment access will allow you to remove your laptop from the bag without pulling the bag all the way out from under the seat. Now, picture yourself at work where you just want to quickly get access to your laptop; this is when you’d unzip the side access to the laptop compartment.

You may be wondering why the internal laptop compartment access closes with a zipper: it’s on the inside after all, so why not leave it open-top? Let’s say you’ve left the main compartment of the bag zipped open and the laptop compartment is open-top; if you put your laptop in the bag through the side access point, you could conceivably push it all the way through and out of the top of the main compartment. The zipper in the internal laptop compartment is a speed bump to remind you not to do that. If you’re not worried about doing that, just leave the laptop compartment zipper unzipped, and it’ll effectively be an open-top laptop compartment.

P.S.: Both the zipper and the slider are plastic and are unlikely to scratch your laptop. Note that the main compartment has a metal zipper that could scratch your laptop, so easy with that one.

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Our new Edgeless EV50 1/2” shoulder straps

Conformity is overrated — except, perhaps, when it comes to shoulder straps. The edgelessness of this new strap allows it to more softly conform to your shoulder; we find that this increases comfort. Yet the straps aren’t too soft: the 1/2” thick foam means the strap is robust enough to carry a heavy load.

Our new Edgeless EV50 1/2″ Shoulder Strap is quite similar to the strap of our Luminary backpack — it differs in that it’s thicker and the contour is adjusted to be more proportionate to a larger backpack.

A new shoulder strap design is a big deal, and we spent a lot of time testing these (and having various people test them for us and provide feedback). While it’s impossible to make a strap (or bag, or world, or whatever) that everyone will unanimously love, our hope is here that we’ve made a strap a lot of people will find pretty darn comfortable.

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Included, fully integrated yet removable internal frame with aluminum half-stay

For the Synapse, we came up with a clever way to attach an internal frame to a bag that wasn’t originally designed to accommodate an optional internal frame.

With the Synik, that functionality is seamlessly built-in. Its removable internal frame slides in and out of the back panel through an opening at the top of the panel; you won’t see the frame itself unless you’re adding it or removing it. Some may initially wonder about the opening at the top in which the frame inserts — we did too and thoroughly tested this part of the design and could find no material concern.

The Synik Internal Frame is made of die-cut .055” thick High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), with a nylon webbing sleeve sewn down the center that encases a 8-1/4″ / 210mm tall and 1/2” / 13mm wide 6061 aluminum stay. Most of our bags have featured a 1” wide aluminum stay; we made a frame with a 1/2” stay to see if it added the same stability but with 1/2 the weight savings. And guess what: it did.

We considered making the internal frame of the Synik optional (as it is with the Synapse) but ultimately decided to include it for various reasons, namely:

While our original hope was that the existing Synapse internal frame could be used with the Synik (so those of you with a Synapse frame wouldn’t need to buy a Synik frame) it didn’t really work out that way in practice. While you can make the Synapse internal frame work in the Synik, it’s a bit kludgy and feels more like a “hack” than something intentional.

The internal frame of the Synik assists in ensuring a laptop stowed in the laptop compartment is suspended off the bottom of the bag and ensures there’s a firm barrier between the laptop and a rolling luggage handle that’s inserted through the luggage pass-through slot.

That said, because the Synik frame is removable, you can, you know, remove it if you’d rather use the bag without a frame.

Additionally, we have adjusted the curve of the aluminum half-stay. The previous curve worked for most folks but we did get feedback from one person that it didn’t work for them — and we think the new curve will be even more of a universal fit. In our research, we learned that most people don’t adjust the curve of the aluminum stay — they stick with our factory default. So, we wanted to make sure that the factory default curve is as universal to comfort as possible.

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Rolling luggage handle pass-through

Some of us use rolling luggage: maybe because we need to pack more formal attire for a work trip, or because it’s more comfortable for us to carry some, but not all, of the weight of our luggage. You guys have been asking us for a backpack with a luggage handle pass-through for quite a while, and you’re probably wondering why we didn’t do this sooner. The answer is: we took our time because we wanted to come up with a solution that worked better than the quick-answer of an elastic strap sewn on to the back of a backpack.

While we wanted to come up with a solution that worked better in function and practice, we didn’t want that solution to add bulk or weight to the bag. It occurred to Nik that there was already an opening at the bottom of the back panel through which the internal frame could be inserted or removed — so what if he added an opening at the top of the back panel? He made a prototype, we tested it, and it worked: the internal frame remained securely in place (popped into its corners on the inside of the bag) and the bag was able to slide over the handle of rolling luggage with the handle popping out of the top opening.

Note the following:

We recommend making sure that the internal frame is closest to the bag itself and the handle of your rolling luggage is on the outside of the frame. This ensures that there’s a barrier between the laptop compartment and the luggage handle.

There are, of course, different sizes of rolling luggage with different handle lengths. If you’d like to place your Synik 22 over the handle of your rolling luggage, that handle will need to be at least 400mm / 15.75″ in length. For the Synik 30, the handle will need to be at least 470 mm / 18.5″ length.

So, what’s the solution then if you have rolling luggage with a very thick, wide handle that can’t fit through the luggage pass-through on the Synik? There’s two we can offer:

This is admittedly a bit of a hack, but everyone’s got what they need for it and it’s free. Okay, here goes: remove the included webbing waist belt off the Synik. Connect the two Gatekeeper clips together: now you’ve got a long strap with a male/female buckle closure. Use that strap and wrap it around the middle of your Synik as it’s on top of the rolling luggage with its back against the handle of the luggage; clip the buckle around the rolling luggage pole. Photo coming soon!

We made a purpose-built version of this strap: it’s basically 1-1/2″ webbing with a male/female buckle closure and we’re calling it a 1-1/2″ Side Release Lash Strap. It will be available for purchase for $10. We imagine people would buy this strap if they’d rather not remove the webbing waist belt or want a more elegant/less hack solution. This strap will also work with *any* of our backpacks.

While it’s not as elegant as the dual-purpose internal frame/luggage handle slot on the Synik, we do like the following about this strap-around-the-bag solution:

1. The backpack — Synik, Synapse, Guide’s Pack, whatever pack we offer, or even a pack from a different brand — will be secured to the rolling luggage handle in such a way that it won’t spin around or slide off. It feels super sturdy. It still works better than a webbing or elastic band sewn on the back panel of a backpack.

2. It’s a solution that’s not built-in to the bag: it can be used when you need to use it or left at home when you don’t.

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Updated grab handle

Does the new handle look familiar? It’s the beloved side grab handle from our Tri-Star travel bag. The depth added to the shell of the Synik gave us the real estate needed to add a more substantial grab handle. Emphasis here on grab, not so much on carry: it’s our position that because the Synik is meant to be carried as a backpack — and a streamlined looking pack at that — the addition of a thick or heavily padded handle would be overkill.

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Label moved to lower right corner

This was mostly a change made for our production and shipping/warehouse crew. While our bags are tagged and coded, the ability to visually recognize and identify a bag quickly can improve efficiency and reduce errors. Moving the label to the bottom right corner helps us differentiate the Synik 22 from the Synapse 19 and the Synik 30 from the Synapse 25, and we liked the looks of the label here too.

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Waist strap attachment point lowered to work for more people

As with all of our major backpacks, we include adjustable and removable sternum and waist straps with leave-no-trace hardware: if you don’t like or don’t use your waist or sternum strap, remove them and leave (almost) nothing behind. There’s also an optional 1″ Padded Hip Belt. Worth noting: we slightly lowered the waist strap attachment point on the Synik so that it better fits a wider range of heights (and tall folks in particular.)

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Deeper/thicker main compartment

A deeper/thicker main compartment is a great way to add a little bit of extra room to the bag and let it play better with packing cubes while the clamshell is unzipped all the way. Not only that, it let us make changes like adding the more substantial handle.

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A couple more o-rings

With more room comes more opportunities for o-rings! We added two additional o-rings in the main compartment of the Synik 22 and 30 compared to the Synapse 19 and 25.

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And here’s what we didn’t change…

There’s reasons why so many people use and appreciate the original Synapse, and we didn’t want to mess with that.

Front Exterior Organizational Pockets
With the Synapse, Tom set out to design a bag with intuitive organization — organization that even the less-organized amongst us would use and appreciate, even without thinking about it.

And it’s an abundant amount of organization: the exterior of the bag has five exterior pockets. The pockets are designed and patterned in such a way that they don’t steal space from each other and they look good (not too caved in, not too bulgy) whether full or empty.

The water bottle pocket is intentionally in the center of the bag and is integrated into the design of the other pockets; the former ensures what’s likely to be one of the heavier objects in your bag is balanced in the middle — resulting in a more comfortable carrying experience — and the latter maintains a clean, straight-forward exterior aesthetic.

One thing did change with these pockets, and it already changed with the original Synapse 19 and 25: in early 2019, Tom and Nik came up with a way to construct the Synapse that avoided the creation of two small gaps inside the bottom corners that previously existed for construction purposes. Those gaps didn’t cause a problem, but occasionally folks would call to ask why they were there. This was impetus for us to figure out a “solution” — the problem wasn’t with the design or construction, but that we made something that caused a fair number of people to spend a little time out of their day asking “Why?” It took us a little while, but we found that solution.

Interior Banded Open-Top Pocket
Ever-useful, this one stayed exactly as is.

Same Durable Materials + Expert Construction
No bag lasts forever, but choosing the best and most durable materials and taking care not to abuse it (no washing machine or dryer!) can help a quality bag serve most people well (with maybe a repair or two) for up to 10-20 years.

This bag requires significant skill to sew and construct; it’s not just any sewing factory who can pull this off and do it well, it’s ours, and it’s because of the talent of our crew. It helps that both Tom and Nik do their own pattern work and sew the first prototypes; they’re less likely to ask Lisa and Fong (our Sewing Supervisors) for the crazy or impossible when it comes to manufacturing. That said, Lisa and Fong are the experts when it comes to making sure Tom and Nik’s designs can be made in an ongoing practical fashion.

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Videos

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You’ll find answers to questions from “Why is it called the Synik? There’s also a “Nik’s Minimalist Wallet”. Does Nik have a really big head/ego/whatever?” to “Will the Synik 30 look/feel too big to carry as my EDC bag at my work conference?” and “Why did it take you so long to make a pack with a clamshell zipper and a laptop compartment?” over at the Synik Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

Reviews So Far

All Spoken Hands on w/the Synik 30 and a comparison of the Synik 30 vs 22
Pack Hacker first look / full review
Spencer’s Synik Unboxing and Spencer’s Full Review
mrbrown
Ryan on YouTube as LivingOneHanded
JonC on Dynamic Bento
Jon on (No)Mad Creative
Rosemary Orchard’s Full Review
Dan Gold’s First Look + Review of the Synik 30
Brooks Review on the 22 and 30
Bemused Backpacker reviews the 30
Chase Reeves review of the 22 and 30

dan
bchaplin
tuskegee7294
imagineez
Cristina
bartleby
Aloha’s Synape 19/Synik 22 compartive review
G42’s Aeronaut 30/Synik 30 (and Smart Alec) Comparative Review
heygreggie
natemic

Credits

Design
Nik, Tom, Darcy

Manufacturing Engineering and Efficiency
Lisa, Fong, Victor, Nik, Tom, Ben, Mike

Manufacturing (Joining)
Sau Ling, Rudi

Manufacturing (Binding)
Zhong, Tao, Tam

Manufacturing (Various Assembly)
Tianying, Victor, Ying, Edelmira

Manufacturing (Various Sewing)
Honguyen, Wing, Ling, Hong Hai, Trung, Xue Xia, Trang, Luming, Chun, Rudi, Zhong, Thuy, Yanhua, Canh, Dau, Sheng, Mo-Fong, Di

Manufacturing (Fabric Cutting)
Irma

Manufacturing (Bartacking)
Kieu, Tam, Victor, Long

Manufacturing (Die Cutting)
Ben, Long

Materials Inventory/Ordering
Ben

Quality Assurance
Aravelia, Lulu

Project Management (of Design, Testing, Incorporation of Feedback)
Darcy

Project Management (of Manufacturing)
Lisa, Fong, Mike, Darcy, Nik

Project Management (of shipments to testers/reviewers)
Mike, Kat, Matt, Tim

Pre-Order Management
Matt, Tim, Mike, Kat, Cody, Matthew

Pre-Order Systems
Nik, Darcy

Descriptions + FAQ + Blog Posts
Darcy

Proofing
Cody, Matthew

Formatting
Matthew

Data Management (Accounting, Manufacturing, Inventory)
Kim, Mike, Nik

Page creation + entering of specs and data
Matthew

Studio Photos
Jenny

In Use Photos
Des and David

Features/Overview Videos
Zeke Kamm

Testing and/or Feedback
Everyone listed above as well as our volunteer Forum moderators. There were many others who helped us test the Edgeless shoulder straps and the Synik itself; to that secret group of trusted testers and feedback givers we offer many thanks. (Note: people are asked to test our designs by our invitation only.)

Coming Soon: The Synik 22 and Synik 30 Backpacks


An earlier version of the Synik. Photo taken in April 2019.

Over the past week or so, the updated pack design Nik has been working on for the past year has been (somewhat) revealed. It’s named the Synik (here’s why). The Synik is a version of our Synapse 19 / 25 backpacks that includes many of the features some of you have been asking for; we added some additional features as well, which include:

Full clamshell AKA panel zipper opening
Removable internal tie-down straps
Two-point access suspended laptop compartment
Our new Edgeless EV50 1/2” shoulder straps
Fully integrated yet removable internal frame with aluminum half-stay
Rolling luggage handle pass-through
Updated grab handle
Label moved to lower right corner

Timeline for release:

August 6th
Pages for the Synik 22 and 30 go live. The pages will have an abundance of information — description, specs, photos, videos, an FAQ — to help you decide whether the Synik is the right bag for you (or not).

August 13th
Pre-order opens / remains open until 08/20 unless either size of Synik sells out. See our Pre-Order FAQ if you’re wondering how our pre-orders work.

August 20th
Pre-order closes.

Late October
Pre-order Syniks ship.

Learn more:
Synik 22 / Synik 30 Questions & Answers

External Reviews:
All Spoken Hands on w/the Synik 30 and a comparison of the Synik 30 vs 22
Pack Hacker
Spencer’s Synik Unboxing
mrbrown
Ryan on YouTube as LivingOneHanded
JonC on Dynamic Bento
Jon on (No)Mad Creative

Reviews posted on the TOM BIHN Forums by:
dan
bchaplin
tuskegee7294
imagineez
Cristina
bartleby
Aloha’s Synape 19/Synik 22 compartive review
G42’s Aeronaut 30/Synik 30 (and Smart Alec) Comparative Review
heygreggie

New! Super Mini Ghost Whale, Nik’s Wallet #5, and new bags in 210d ballistic


Packing Cube Backpack + Spiff Kit + Travel Stuff Sack + #5 Minimalist Wallet in 210d ballistic.

We’ve got a few new-ish items available for order today. Have questions or feedback? Post here in our Forums or emailus@tombihn.com

Super Mini Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch

We die-cut the fabric to make our various organizer pouches using a die press and that means we order a specific size of die for every organizer pouch. When we ordered the die for our Mini Ghost Whale Pouch, our die maker goofed and sent us a die that was smaller than the Mini — lucky us (and perhaps you as well). This is probably the smallest size of Ghost Whale we can ever make.

Nik’s Minimalist Wallet #5

Nik's Minimalist Wallet #5 | TOM BIHN

The top requested variation on Nik’s original minimalist wallets was: make a #3 wallet but replace its urethane clear plastic pocket with a fabric pocket. Done. And here it is…

Bags now available in 210d ballistic nylon
Some of you have asked us to make more bags available in 210d ballistic nylon. As you wish:

Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack
Aeronaut 45 Packing Cube Backpack
Tri-Star/Western Flyer Packing Cube Backpack

TOM BIHN Packing Cube Backpacks in Dawn and Island 210d ballistic nylon

TOM BIHN Packing Cube Backpack Aeronaut 30 in Black 210d ballistic nylon

Black
Coyote
Dawn
Island
We will continue to offer the Packing Cube Backpacks in 200d Halcyon Northwest Sky only. Colors Iberian, Wasabi, Ultraviolet and Island will only be available in occasional production runs.

Travel Laundry Stuff Sack (both sizes)
Black
Coyote
Dawn
Island
Viridian
Grass
Cloud

Spiff Kit (Standard and Deluxe versions)

Spiff Kit Deluxe in Black 210d ballistic

Black
Coyote
Dawn
Island
Viridian
Grass
Cloud

Travel Stuff Sacks (all sizes)

Travel Stuff Sack in Cloud | TOM BIHN

Black
Coyote
Dawn
Island
Viridian
Grass
Cloud

Travel Tray (both sizes)

TOM BIHN Travel Tray in Black 210d ballistic

Black
Coyote
Dawn
Island
Viridian
Grass
Cloud

With the exception of the Packing Cube Backpacks, all other bags will continue to be available in all five 200d Halcyon colors: Northwest Sky, Island, Wasabi, Ultraviolet, and Iberian.

A note on the various hands of our 210d ballistic nylon
“Hand” in fabric refers to the feel of the fabric as you handle the item – most folks would relate to hand as a “soft vs. stiff” thing. Variances in weaving, and ever-progressing changes in treatments and coating due to evolving new, more environmentally friendly processes, can result in different colors or batches of fabric having slightly different hands. We’ve experienced a somewhat greater than usual variance in our 210 ballistic fabric, so here’s a quick guide to the hand of each color of our current batches of 210d ballistic nylon:

Most structured hand: Black
Medium structure: Dawn, Viridian, Cloud, Grass, Island
Least structured/most similar to 200d Halcyon: Coyote

So many colors and options!
There’s now even more colors from which to choose: makes color-coded organizational packing even easier.

Top Three Things We Learned In Self Defense Class

Seven Star Women's Kung Fu teaches the TOM BIHN Crew self defense

We asked the instructors at Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu to come to the factory to teach us a two hour class on self defense basics. Our instructors — Michelle, Julie, Ellen, Martha, Susan — were awesome and made time to ask us what we wanted to learn about or situations in which we might feel less than safe.

Here are our top three takeaways. Obviously, none of this is a substitute for taking your own self defense class. We aren’t experts (though we’d love to keep taking more classes!) This is just what stood out to us. And we didn’t include all of the super cool stuff we learned about strikes, kicks, targets, and getting ourselves out of grabs and holds: you can see some video of that practice below, but that’s the stuff you’ll want to learn directly from an instructor.

Practice Being Loud and Taking Up/Holding Your Own Space

We found out that many of us don’t have a lot of practice shouting in a firm voice because it’s not something we normally do. Yet it’s something we want to feel totally confident and ready to do in a moment’s notice and without hesitation if we find ourselves feeling less than safe. Practicing being confidently loud in a self defense class was great — and we realized that after class we could continue practicing with friends and family members. Once we realized we could do it, we knew we could do it.

Same goes for taking up and holding our own physical space. In situations that call for it, take a wider stance, put your hands on your hips or cross your arms or put both hands up with your palms facing the person, and make direct eye contact. You own your own physical space and if someone encroaches on it you have a right to tell them that’s what they’re doing — and to stop!

Practice saying “No”, “Go Away”, “I don’t know you”, “Back off” and “None of your business”

We practiced both shouting “No!” at an attacker or potential attacker and we also practiced saying no even in more everyday situations — a family friend persistently asking for money, a creepy stranger asking our name, or a stranger offering/insisting upon help we don’t want. In these situations, we may get a threatening or yucky feeling right from the beginning, or that feeling might come after we respond with a polite but firm “no” and the other person persists in their request.

When it doesn’t feel right and we say no, we don’t need to explain ourselves or apologize — we can repeat our “no” and issue our own request: “I said no. Don’t ask again.” or “That’s none of your business.” or “I don’t know you and I don’t need to tell you anything!”

Worried about being rude? You’re not alone! That said, know this: your top priority is your safety, and any reasonable, rational person that doesn’t mean you any harm would gladly agree. You’re responsible for you and they’re responsible for them. We’re giving you (and ourselves) permission not to worry about being rude.

Take more self-defense classes and bring friends and family to them!

The class was fun, empowering, and we learned so much that we’d encourage everyone to take a class if they’re up for it. Some of us were totally excited to take part in the class from the first moment we heard about it and others amongst the crew felt a little unsure — in the end, everyone felt it was worth their time and that it was an empowering experience.

Thanks again to everyone at Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu, to the TOM BIHN crew for being so excited and up for taking the class, to our amazing interpreters who provided translation for the class, and to the customers visiting our Factory Showroom that day who were cool with looking at bags while we practiced shouting, strikes, and kicks just 20 feet away!

If you’re in the Seattle area, consider attending one of Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu community workshops. Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu provides martial arts and self defense training to individuals who identify as women (age 13+), and non-binary/genderfluid folks comfortable training in an all women environment. They provide self defense training to all populations and offer childcare, ASL interpreting, scholarship and work study. Next workshop: Sunday, June 9th, 1pm – 3pm. Another option is Z Ultimate Self Defense Studios — this studio provides a variety of classes for men, women, and families with young kids.

News Briefs

Now available for the first time in 525d ballistic nylon: Aeronaut 30 and Maker’s Bag. Coming soon: Aeronaut 45.

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.

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