New Designs

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.

Restock: Luminary 12 + 15, Pop Tote, Ghost Whales, 3D Cubes, Maker’s Bag and more…

We’ve been busy! Here’s what’s been restocked in the last two weeks…

Backpacks

Luminary 12

Luminary 15

Synapse 19

Pouches / Other Stuff

Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches

3D Clear Organizer Cube

Passport Pouch

Second Aid Pouch

Clear Quarter Packing Cube

Synapse Internal Frames

Cross-Body/Shoulder Bags, Totes and Duffels

Pop Tote

Maker’s Bag

Medium Cafe Bag

Large Zip-Top Shop Bag

Small Zip-Top Shop Bag

Mini Yeoman Duffel

Introducing The Most Minimalist Minimal Wallet Ever Made


This is the kind of freedom you’ll feel with the Most Minimalist Minimal Wallet ever made.

Nik’s original Minimalist Wallets debuted in late 2018. Though many appreciated the original wallets, some asked for an even more minimal design. Nik went back to the drawing board — and to the shopping mall — and designed what we proudly claim is the most minimal minimalist wallet ever made.

The design of Nik’s original Minimalist Wallets was inspired by origami. His inspiration for the Most Minimalist Minimal Wallet was sourced from a different wellspring: the purely decorative pockets on women’s slacks, which provide all of the style features of pockets without the major drawback—namely, feeling obliged to store objects in the pockets, the accumulation of which can lead to unsightly lumpiness in one’s pants.

“There is no way forward in crafting an object to be more minimal. The path to true minimalism is backwards so that one may remove unnecessary additions; this eventually achieves the ultimate realization, that of stasis. My goal was to invite the consumer back to a simpler time — a time before currency and credit history existed — and to provide the experience of life lived without identification. Literally — as in, without government-issued ID.”
– Nik

Nik’s Most Minimalist Minimal Wallet features two “pockets” and holds nothing. It is priced at $1,000 due to its exquisite lack of utility.


R&D


Sketch after sketch drawn and discarded, countless prototypes sewn and tossed aside in frustration.


This wallet asks so you don’t have to: do I really need this? Can I purchase it?


How about I trade you this nifty wallet for my bubble tea?


Hi, officer. License and registration? How about just the latter?


When you love something this much, you set it free.


Darn. It came back.

Previous April 1st debuts:
New: Aeronaut 45 Tiny House
New: Flocculent by TOM BIHN
New: Cafe Bag for Jung’s The Red Book
New Design! The Synapse 3000
New Extreme Security Organizer Pouch
Our New Website Design

New: Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch

The Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch is one of the new versions of pouch we came up with after asking you guys how you use our Organizer Pouches/what you carry in them/what you like/what you don’t like.

What we came up with is an organizer pouch that features a gentle curved L-shaped opening with a #3 YKK Coil zipper. This allows you to zip the pouch open / access contents on just the narrowest side or zip it fully open, almost clamshell style (but not fully clamshell, lest your stuff tumble out of the pouch.) Like most of our Organizer Pouches, the Ghost Whale has a snaphook that allows you to secure it to the O-rings inside of our larger bags (photos below) and/or to Key Straps.

The name? Tom thinks the shape of the pouch resembles that of a whale (Melville is on his Audible wishlist.) Nik thinks the pattern of the pouch is shaped like a ghost. There you have it: Ghost Whale.

Something we hope you’ll be as excited about as we are: unlike our other Organizer Pouches, you can choose your preferred color/fabric from a long list of 210d or 525d ballistic or mesh options.

this is the first time we’ve offered an Organizer Pouch for which you can choose your p the color/fabric you’d like from a long list of available 210d or 525d ballistic nylon or mesh.

The Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch is available in sizes Mini, Small, and A5 and will be available for order on Tuesday, February 26th.


Left to right: A5, Small, Mini.


Small in a Packing Cube Shoulder Bag.


A5 and Small clipped in a Daylight Backpack.


A5 and Small clipped in a Small Cafe Bag.


Mini in a Travel Cubelet.

Pre-Order + Official Updates to the Luminary 12 and Luminary 15

The updated Luminary 12 and the new Luminary 15 backpacks are here! And, as promised, we’re also offering the much-requested Shop Bags, The Truck, and Packing Cube Shoulder Bag in 210d ballistic for order at the same time as the Luminaries (and before the March 1st 5th price increase). Details below…..

The following new designs and new fabric/color offerings will be available for order on Tuesday, February 26th:


The Luminary 12 in Aubergine.

Luminary 12
The Luminary is a small everyday backpack designed for an evening on the town, a day spent at museums, the commute to work and back, and traveling the world: wherever you go, the Luminary 12 has your back. This, the original Luminary 12, best fits folks 5’10” and under. It features several design updates that Tom made based on user feedback.


The Luminary 15 in Nebulous Grey.

Luminary 15
The Luminary 15 is designed to fit taller and/or broader folks. The bag itself is approximately 15% taller, 10% wider, and an inch or two more in depth (as it projects away from your back) than the original Luminary 12. Both of its side zippered pockets can fit phones as large as the iPhone Plus / XS or the HTC U Ultra and its dedicated padded device pocket can fit laptops up to the size of the Dell XPS 13″ or the Apple 13″ MacBook Pro.


The Large Zip-Top Shop Bag in Black 210d ballistic nylon.

Small Zip-Top Shop Bag (new 210d ballistic options)
The Zip-Top Shop Bag debuted in 2018 and has been popular ever since. We basically took our original, classic Shop Bag and added a much-requested zipper closure, which allows one to use this design as a tote bag or as an impromptu almost-duffel-like-object. At your request, we are now offering the Small Zip-Top Shop Bag for pre-order in our 210d ballistic nylon colors in addition to the usual 200d Halcyon options. Will we continue to offer the Zip-Tops in 210d ballistic? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how popular (or not) they end up being.

Large Zip-Top Shop Bag (new 210d ballistic options)
Same as above, but in a larger size to fit more stuff.


Original Large Shop Bag in Viridian 210d ballistic nylon.

Original Large Shop Bag (new 210d ballistic options; last production batch before this design retires)
The classic, the original Shop Bag is retiring due to the popularity of the Zip-Top Shop Bag design. We may make the rare production batch of the Original Large Shop Bag in the future if we can find the production time to do so and there’s enough demand.

You can sign up on any of the pages linked above to be notified via email the moment each bag is available for pre-order.

In addition to the pre-order bags listed above, the following bags will be in-stock available for immediate order. And yes, you can place one order that includes both pre-order and stock items: read all about it in our Pre-Order FAQ.

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag
The Packing Cube Shoulder Bag in Black 210d ballistic nylon.

Packing Cube Shoulder Bag
The classic Packing Cube Shoulder Bag is now available in Viridian, Dawn, Black, Coyote, Island and Grass 210d ballistic nylon in addition to Northwest Sky and Island 200d Halcyon; features an additional o-ring in the main compartment. Option of a new abrasion resistant and smooth webbing 1″ shoulder strap.


The Truck in Coyote 210d ballistic nylon.

The Truck in 210d ballistic nylon
As promised in our announcement of a price increase effective March 1st 2019 effective March 5th 2019, we will be offering The Truck in 210d ballistic nylon just like you’ve asked us to. It’s worth noting that we think The Truck is at its best in 525d ballistic nylon. Additionally, the 525d version of The Truck is by far the most popular. Still, there’s some of you who wanted the chance to buy it in 210d, and this one’s for you. And, hey: we probably won’t be offering The Truck in 210d again, so this is your last chance.

The Design Updates to the Luminary 12 and Luminary 15

Here’s the scoop on the design updates Tom made to both sizes of Luminary.

External Design Updates


Showing off that new zipper garage.

The zipper sliders for the side pockets now close to the top rather than to the bottom – some folks will find this makes more sense, as zipping a pocket shut to the bottom may have seemed counterintuitive, though arguably it’s somewhat arbitrary. We were able to achieve this by redesigning the clever way in which the main zipper morphs to become the pocket zippers: it was clever before, but now it’s even more cleverer. On the new version, at the juncture between the main zipper and pocket zipper, a small “garage” of fabric spans the width of the zipper (it’s actually just one zipper, with four sliders), more-or-less covering the small gap at the top of the “pocket zipper” and offering some weather protection for the contents.


Both zippered pockets on the Luminary 15 can fit even the largest phablets. The taller zippered pocket on the Luminary 12 fits the largest phablets; the other one can fit smaller phones.

And those side pockets? We nudged things around a bit to make them deeper (wider) so they can accommodate a wider variety of phones and phablets, notably the larger varieties. We still weren’t satisfied, so we made one of the side pockets a bit taller than the other, so even some pretty gigantic phones will now fit. All well and good you might say, but does that not mean the main opening is now a bit asymmetrical, zipping a bit further down one side than the other? My, you are paying attention aren’t you! Yes indeed, that main opening is now a bit off center, something you are likely not even to really notice in use, or perhaps you will notice and it’ll make you smile every time to recall that symmetry is totally overrated.

The piping (the trim that sits in the seam between the front panel and the top/sides of the pack) is now color-matched: not a functional change, but we thought it fit with the lean aesthetic of the overall pack.

Internal Design Updates


You asked and Tom added a small, zippered pocket to the interior front face of both sizes of Luminary.

We added a small (like, wallet-sized) zippered pocket to the inside upper front. Several of you asked for this feature, and though Tom was cranky about dropping everything when he was so close to wrapping up the new design, he realized he really ought to have thought of it earlier. Like we said, it’s a tiny pocket — it will not fit your 15” MacBook Pro — but it’s still quite useful for stowing away a Minimalist Wallet, iPhone, or small notebook and pen.

And more about the Luminary 15…


The comfortable shoulder straps of the Luminary 15 are designed to fit a wide variety of people.

The original Luminary 12 was specifically designed to fit folks of about 5’10” (178cm) and under: our intention was to offer folks short of stature and/or slight of build a super-comfortable everyday backpack. The Luminary 12 was well received, but folks who are taller/bigger wanted one too, so Tom set to work designing the Luminary 15. The L15 fits a wide range of people quite well — those who have tested or worn it for us ranging from 5’0″ to over 6’0″ tall have reported it’s quite a good fit.

The Luminary 15 is approximately 15% taller, 10% wider, and an inch or two more in depth (as it projects away from your back) than the original Luminary 12. You’ll get more capacity from the 15 of course (approximately 15 liters vs 12), and you’ll be able to carry a slightly larger device in the back pocket as well (think a small laptop like the 13″ MacBook Pro in the L15 vs a tablet like the iPad in the L12). While we designed the two sizes to best fit different sized people, we know some folks will choose the 15 simply for its greater volume, and that’s okay with us.

Timeline of the Luminary design updates / development of the Luminary 15


Luminaries in process in Tom’s design studio.

The Luminary 12 debuted in June 2017. One of the ways we know a design is going to be successful is when the people who buy it use it a lot and thus are able to provide informed feedback based on experience about its features. That was the case with the Luminary 12 (thanks for the feedback, everyone!) and Tom took that opportunity to spend the next year designing and incorporating updates to the original Luminary 12 in addition to making the larger, Luminary 15 designed to better fit broader/taller folks.

Samples of the new Luminaries were made and given to friends, family, and current/former employees to test; more feedback gathered and the designs were finalized. (A guest post by former TOM BIHN Bag Guru Hollie — the main tester/evalulator/feedback-giver of the Luminary 15 — will be published later this week.)

In May 2018, we posted this update on the progress of the new Luminary designs. And later, in September 2018, we posted another update. We shared some of the reasons behind the long design timeline of new Luminaries in this post: On The Design Process: Inspiration, Timeline, Testing

The PPB (pre-production batches) of the updated Luminary 12 and the new Luminary 15 were completed in mid-January. We’ll publish a post all about the PPB process later this week.

New: Nik’s Minimalist Wallets, Road Buddy Duffels, Shadow Guide + Tom’s Firewood Carrier


A true test of patience: the dogs wait for green beans as patiently as we’ve been waiting to share these new designs with you. In this photo: the Road Buddy 36 (along with a Yeoman Duffel).

Meet our latest designs….

Click the name to go directly to the pages for the new designs to see all the details: photos, specifications, full descriptions and more. Click “Full Summary” or keep scrolling to read on below for a summary of each of the new designs. You can also sign up on the individual pages for each new design to be notified the moment they’re made available for order.
 

Nik’s Minimalist Wallets
1 elastic strap, 2 halves, 3 wallet designs: everything you need and nothing you don’t.
(Full Summary)
 

Road Buddy Duffel 36 & Road Buddy Duffel 60
An ever-evolving duffel design; successor to the Skookum Dog Road Duffel and heir to the Road Buddy throne. A good amount of built-in organization.
(See also: the optional additional Road Buddy Lash Straps)
(Full Summary)
 

Shadow Guide
If the original Guide’s Pack is a fully realized sketch, the limited edition Shadow Guide is the version of the sketch with several brush strokes removed — what the sketch conveys remains clear, but with an end experience of true simplicity.
(See also: the optional Shadow Guide Padded Hip Belt)
(Full Summary)
 

Tom’s Firewood Carrier
The firewood carrier Tom made for his dad and his friends in the mid-1970’s.
(Full Summary)
 

All of these new designs are in production at our Seattle, Washington, USA factory. They will be available for order on Monday, November 26th around 8:00am-ish PT and will ship the same day if ordered before 12:30pm PT (as long as they’re still in stock).
 

Nik’s Minimalist Wallets

Nik's Minimalist Wallet

Not so long ago, Nik realized he wasn’t satisfied with his old leather wallet. Its exposed stitching was failing and, as Nik repaired the wallet, he realized he could design a new, more minimalist wallet that he’d be happier with overall.

In designing and making his new wallet, Nik’s main design criteria were to keep the design as simple as possible with as little bulk as possible so that the wallet could comfortably be carried in one’s back or front pants pocket (in addition, of course, to being carried in one’s bag).

Nik also wanted to keep the design clean, and to him that meant hiding as much of the typically exposed stitching as possible. He imagined and made real a series of internal folds that — after the final action of turning the wallet inside out post-construction process — created pockets for cards/cash and achieved that seamless look he was after.

Nik made three four versions of his wallets based on the feedback from the crew here at TOM BIHN and the Forums:

Wallet #1
Nik’s original wallet and the most minimalist of them all. Two interior fabric pockets. No exterior pockets.

Wallet #2
Two interior pockets — one pocket is fabric, the other pocket is clear urethane for your ID or any other card you might want to show off. No exterior pockets. 

Wallet #3
Two interior pockets: one is fabric, the other is clear urethane. And this time, there’s one exterior pocket. 

Wallet #4
Nik and Fong worked together on the day the wallets debuted to make this version in response to feedback from members of the TOM BIHN Forums. Wallet #4 is exactly the same as Wallet #3 except for one key (ha ha… meh) difference: a small webbing loop through which gives you the ability to securely and conveniently tether your Wallet #4 to any TOM BIHN bag with O-rings. You’ll need a Key Strap to do this, but given that all of our larger bags come with one 8″ Key Strap in Black, you probably already have one. If you don’t: see our various styles, lengths, and colors of Key Straps here

Status
In Production in Seattle, Washington, USA

Ready To Order / Ships On…
Monday, November 26th at 8:00am Pacific Time

Colors
Black, Viridian, Dawn, Grass, Cloud, Coyote, Island (210d ballistic) and Nordic, Black (400d Halcyon)

 

Road Buddy Duffel 36 and Road Buddy Duffel 60

Tried and proved true over 20 years (with a few updates along the way), the Road Buddy Duffel is our take on the go everywhere, go anywhere duffel bag: tough as nails, easy on the eyes, all with a good amount of built-in organization.

Three main compartments. Seven organizational pockets. Lash straps for securing a tripod, yoga mat, or Camp Mat to the outside of the duffel. Carry by hand or over the shoulder.

Available in two different sizes:
Road Buddy Duffel 36 Liters
Road Buddy Duffel 60 Liters

Status
In Production in Seattle, Washington, USA

Ready To Order / Ships On…
Monday, November 26th at 8:00am Pacific Time

Colors
Black, Navy, Verde, Steel Burnt Orange, and Aubergine 1050d ballistic nylon.

Also Available:
Road Buddy Lash Straps

 

Shadow Guide

Shadow Guide - a backpack with an internal frame

If the original Guide’s Pack is a fully realized sketch, the limited edition Shadow Guide is the version of the sketch with several brush strokes removed — what the sketch conveys remains clear, but with an end experience of true simplicity.

Two minor additions of webbing serve to add major functionality: first, interior loops to which you can secure the optional Cache laptop sleeve. (Note: all existing sizes of our Cache sleeve fit in the Shadow Guide — even the Cache 17B for the Razer Blade Pro.) And second, an unobtrusive webbing loop on the bottom to which one can affix a Guardian Light if biking or walking.

Status
In Production in Seattle, Washington, USA

Ready To Order / Ships On…
Monday, November 26th at 8:00am Pacific Time

Colors
Black 525d ballistic nylon / 1050d ballistic nylon

Also available:
Shadow Guide Padded Hip Belt

 

Tom’s Firewood Carrier

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

Status
In Production in Seattle, Washington, USA

Ready To Order / Ships On…
Monday, November 26th at 8:00am Pacific Time

Colors
Forest/Brown Heavy duty #8 Cotton Canvas

New: Freudian Slips in Grass, Island, Cloud

The Synapse 19 Freudian Slip in Grass
The Synapse 19 Freudian Slip in Grass.

Previously available in Black only, our Freudian Slip organizational insert will soon be available in three new colors: Grass, Cloud, and Island*

The new colors make it even easier to see the contents of the Freudian Slip inside your bag and offer you a chance to either match or contrast the lining color of your bag. Keep it neutral with Cloud or go primary with Grass or Island.

You can sign up now on the Freudian Slip page to be notified the moment we add them to the website for order (that’ll be around 10:00am Pacific Time this Friday, October 26th.)

*You may be wondering: why not also offer the Freudian Slip in 210 ballistic colors Dawn and Viridian? We’re saving our Dawn and Viridian fabric to make sure we can make enough of the bags those two colors are most popular in. It’s possible we might offer Freudian Slips in those two colors someday, but no guarantees.

TOM BIHN Freudian Slip in Grass


The Small Cafe Bag Freudian Slip in Cloud.

The Freudian Slip in Island
The Medium Cafe Bag Freudian Slip in Island.

The Freudian Slip in Island

Pre-Order, The Truck, Zip-Top Shop Bags, Original Small Shop Bag

There’s lots of news and information to share, so let’s get right to it.

New Pre-Order System

This debut’s offerings — The Truck, Large Zip-Top Shop Bag, Small Zip-Top Shop Bag, and Original Small Shop Bag — will be available for pre-order on July 24th with an estimated ship date of early September. All four bags will ship on the same day. Each bag will be available for pre-order from July 24th until July 31st OR until the maximum production batch quantity sells out.

Those of you who’ve known us for a while know that we used to offer new designs for pre-order. The world (and our shopping cart system) have changed since then and there’s a few key differences in the new pre-order system: first, your credit card will be charged for the full amount when you place your pre-order, and second, you’ll be able to add In-Stock bags to your open Pre-Order up until two days before your order ships.

We expect you’ll have a lot of questions about pre-orders and have done our best to answer those in a mini-FAQ on each pre-order product page and in the two blog posts linked below. As always, you’re welcome to give us a call, live chat us, or emailus@tombihn.com if you have additional questions.

Read more:
Pre-Orders: Frequently Asked Questions
Pre-Orders: Past, Present, Future
This post also goes into the details of why we’re offering pre-orders once again — and shares how, if our pre-order system doesn’t end up being all it’s cracked up to be for either you or us, we may not opt to offer new designs for pre-order in the future.

New Designs: The Truck, Large Zip-Top Shop Bag, Small Zip-Top Shop Bag

We present for your consideration three new tote bag designs. To learn more about our various tote bag options and learn the answers to questions such as “Why do you offer so many different tote bag designs?” and “If I knew I was going to be stranded on a deserted island, which tote bag would you recommend that I take with me?” see Tote Bags: Frequently Asked Questions.

The Truck

The Truck is a multipurpose carryall bag: it’ll haul groceries of course, but it might also become your go-to beach tote, laundry bag, work/tool bag, or gym bag. Like a pickup, you’re likely to find more uses for a Truck than you ever thought possible.

The Truck will look familiar to those who know our bags: it shares the basic design and layout of the Moveable Feast grocery tote. We saw that folks were using the Moveable Feast for more than just groceries, and how they appreciated its organization and utility. What if we made a simplified version of the Moveable Feast, removing some the grocery-specific features? How about making it a bit bigger? A bit shorter and shallower, to allow for longer handles so we could carry it over the shoulder? We made some prototypes, tweaked them a bit, and then made some more prototypes; we tested them ourselves and gave some to friends to use. The feedback was all good—and not just from the users, but from the baggers at the local co-op as well: the Truck was easy and intuitive to load up, and seemed to swallow far more than anyone expected.

P.S. You guys might prefer The Truck to The Moveable Feast or vice versa: we’ll just have to see. In the meantime, we’re holding off on making another batch of The Moveable Feast. You can still sign up to be notified via email when/if we make another batch on the Moveable Feast page.

More:
The Truck page
The Moveable Feast

Small Zip-Top Shop Bag

Large Zip-Top Shop Bag

Over the years, we received feedback here and there from folks who asked if we could add a zipper closure to the top of the Original Shop Bag. This was an especially common request from those who used the Shop Bag as a personal carry-on bag, every day carry tote, or lunch bag that would get stuffed into a locker or cubby. Darcy, who often carries an Original Small Shop Bag as her EDC, finally convinced Tom and Nik to tackle the project of adding a zipper to the Shop Bag.

Seems simple enough, right? Just add a zipper to an open-top tote bag so you can zip it shut. However, a zipper must have a beginning and an ending that must be engineered into the design. If that’s not carefully thought out, the zipper can constrict the size and utility of the very opening which you’re trying to close. We think we’ve managed to nuance these conflicting realities quite well in our Zip-Top Shop Bags. The zipper is longer than necessary, thus does not reduce the effective size of the opening. The fabric we added to the top of the bag on either side of the zipper (which allows you to close the bag even when its chock-full) drops graciously away from the opening when unzipped, and in doing so doesn’t encumber access to your stuff. And there you have it.

More:
Small Zip-Top Shop Bag page
Large Zip-Top Shop Bag page

The Return of the Original Small Shop Bag


Left to right: Large Zip-Top Shop Bag, Large Original Shop Bag, Small Zip-Top Shop Bag, Small Original Shop Bag. Photo by Ilkyway.

We announced the retirement of the Original Small Shop Bag in February 2018. Thanks to the new pre-order system, we’re able to offer another production run of what’s become a beloved design for many good reasons. Will there be another production run of the Original Small Shop Bag after this? Maybe, maybe not: part of that depends on whether you guys prefer the Original Small Shop Bag or the Small Zip-Top Shop Bag.

This is an example of one of the reasons we wanted to try a new Pre-Order system: it allows for the possibility of an occasional production run of a retired design. See “What’s all this about some retired designs possibly being offered for pre-order at a later time?” from our Pre-Orders FAQ.

More:
Original Small Shop Bag page
Original Large Shop Bag page

Last but not least….. three new colors

Three new colors are debuting for the first time in The Truck:

Aubergine 525d ballistic nylon
Nebulous Grey 525d ballistic nylon
Island 210d ballistic nylon

The second bag to be made in Nebulous Grey (after The Truck) is the Synapse 19:


The Synapse 19 in Nebulous Grey/Northwest Sky is In Production. Sign up on its page to be notified via email when it’s ready for order.

We’ll be offering various other bags in these new colors over the coming months. To be notified when more bags are available in the new colors, subscribe to the New Bags and Colors Ready To Order thread in our Forums.

On The Design Process: Inspiration, Timeline, Testing

Both Tom and Nik are designing various new bags and smaller items—everything from new backpacks to new travel bags to new organizer pouches. And that, of course, prompts questions: When will they be released? Will all the designs turn into real bags that will debut someday?

There’s an easy answer: we don’t know. But why do we not know? And further, how can we be comfortable with—and actually admit to—not knowing?

First, we might identify the various impetuses behind the new designs, as the origin of their inspiration does impact the design process and timeline of development.

The inspiration for Tom and Nik’s new designs is influenced by:

  • Taking and using bags (current designs or prototypes of new designs) on trips.
  • Observing other people traveling, hiking, or commuting with bags.
  • Feedback from people who use our bags.
  • The intervention of inspiration from an unknown, unidentifiable source. (Sounds lofty, but we’ve all experienced that in our work, haven’t we?)
  • A design problem or challenge that would be exquisite to solve.
  • An aesthetic drive: to first start with building something that looks good.
  • Life events. Best friend having a baby? We’ll make a diaper bag!
  • Recalling an incomplete design that was put aside years ago, and applying newfound knowledge and skills to complete the design.

The development timeline of new designs is influenced by:

  • How busy we are running our small business. Internal projects can sidetrack design. For example: over the past few years, we’ve designed and programmed our own inventory and production management software, implemented our new inventory scanning/tracking system, rebuilt nearly our entire website on a new platform, and reviewed, documented, and improved all customer service and shipping-related procedures.
  • How inspiration waxes and wanes. It may be there for a week and gone the next three weeks—or three years. We don’t push it or force it; in our experience, design driven by inspiration is far superior to design forced to meet a timeline.
  • Research into and development of new materials that’ll make the new design truly sing.
  • Engineering the manufacturing of the design so that it is … manufacturable.
  • Configuring a new sewing machine set-up, folder*, or ordering dies* to make the design efficiently manufacturable.
  • Staff time to either make the bag or make the debut happen. We have decided we’re happy with the size of our company more-or-less—with 47 people, we’re big enough to do stuff like develop custom fabrics and small enough that we’re all still working here together under one roof in Seattle. Having a smaller company/crew means there’s less redundancy—if someone takes family leave because they’re having a baby or someone else has major surgery (these two things have happened recently/are happening right now FYI), we rally to cover their work or make do so they can take time without worrying about it. That can mean that new releases or debuts or other projects get delayed because we don’t have our full crew on deck. With the rare exception around the holiday season, our crew doesn’t work overtime. Tom, Nik, and I often work in excess of forty hours each week, but that’s because we want to.
  • The fact that many design ideas don’t make their way to fruition. This excerpt from Tom’s most recent newsletter update sums it up well: At the same time, we’re experimenting with and developing new fabrics (my Taber testing machine is getting a workout!), new webbing, and new zippers. And I realize (once again), that more often than not, these forays start off with high hopes but yield nothing new that we can actually use—they’re good ideas that turn out to be not-so-good realities. Indeed, life would be much different (though far less interesting, IMHO) if one knew in advance which was going to be a gold mine and which a rabbit hole. But the few fabrics that work well, and the few designs that rise above the others, make it all worthwhile.

Updates on Just a Few of the Designs We’re Working On Right Now

Last month, Tom sewed a prototype of a new backpack/briefcase design so he could use it on a weekend trip. In line at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the guy standing behind Tom told him that it was a great looking bag and asked him who made it. Tom replied that he, in fact, had made it, and that while he appreciated the feedback, he’d already redesigned the bag over the course of that short trip, and it would end up looking a lot different. Tom made something like five design changes to the bag after using it on trips—that’s how his design process works. Even when that process results in a longer development timeline, we think it’s worth it. We’d rather take our time and meet our own standards of perfection.

Or, take the Luminary backpack: we were 100% sure its design update was done when several different people testing the bag told us an additional interior pocket against its front face would be useful. And, upon first consideration, Tom thought that could be a good idea too. But by that time, he had shifted his focus to working on other new designs, such as the aforementioned briefcase/backpack, which are now nearly done. His plan is to complete those designs and then work on samples of the Luminary with the new pocket so we can see if it’s a good idea in reality.

The same process can apply to materials—and it’s not uncommon that we have to wait on the development of a new material that’s necessary to make a new bag design. Tom’s currently developing a new fabric and a sample of it arrived from our mill. It looked exactly as we had envisioned it, but it didn’t Taber test as well as we had hoped. We expect to spend weeks investigating those Taber results in an effort to identify and solve the problem.

To Sum it All Up…

As usual ’round here, there’s a lot in the works. And when a design is really, really done—and its debut it scheduled—we’ll let you know about it.

Until then, we remain grateful for your feedback, support, and interest in our little company and what we make. The more work we put into what we do, the more we get out of it, and the more you share with us (whether a review of your bag, photos from a trip, or constructive feedback), the more we’re inspired to take on new projects and make things even better than they are. Thanks!

*Dies and die cutting
A die is, most simply put, a sharpened steel edge bent into a specific shape: think of an industrial strength cookie-cutter. We use dies to cut small fabric parts like pouches, as well as foam and plastic parts. Dies allow you cut out parts with a very high degree of accuracy and speed. We use a 20 ton press (called a “clicker”) to push the dies through whatever material we’re cutting. All of our dies are custom fabricated to our specifications.

*Folder/binder
A folder (also sometimes called a binder) is an attachment to a sewing machine, typically made of stainless steel or chrome-plated steel, which sits in front of the needle and feed-dogs (mechanisms that pull the fabric through the machine). The folder/binder effectively mimics the hands and fingers of a sewing machine operator, locating or placing various parts in very specific and consistent orientations relative to one another. Folders allow many of our sewing operations to take place with near-perfect consistency, and at high speeds. We have folders that keep the edge of zipper tape in the same relative placement to the sewing operation, at the same time folding the cut edge of the fabric and holding that folded edge consistent to the seam and zipper as well. We use several folders that fold the various narrow widths and types of fabric tape (effectively light weight webbing) that we use to cover the cut edges of fabric inside our bags, preventing those cut edges from fraying apart. Many of our padded handles are created by using folders. All of our folders are custom fabricated to our specifications.

News Briefs

We’re retiring Iberian and Wasabi 200d Halcyon, as well as Nordic 400d Halcyon. More here.

Restocked this week: our Brain Bag and Synapse 25 backpacks and the Side Kick sling/waist/shoulder pack.

EveryDayCommentary, Fatih Arslan, and Living One Handed have new reviews Nik’s Minimalist Wallet. Dominique reviewed the Synapse 19. Shoba Narayan reviewed the Aeronaut 30 + Synapse.

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