New Designs

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.

New: Aeronaut Internal Frame and Padded Hip Belt

We present for your use two new accessories for the Aeronaut 30 and Aeronaut 45 convertible travel bags: the Aeronaut 30 or 45 Internal Frame and the Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt. Tom and Nik designed both accessories to work with all versions of Aeronauts.

Both frame and belt are designed to add comfort and structure to the experience of carrying a more heavily-packed Aeronaut in backpack mode while waiting in long lines (well, let’s hope not) at the airport or choosing to make a long trek across town to one’s hotel on foot.

We figure most folks will pair the Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt with the Aeronaut Internal Frame, but some may use just the Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt or just the Aeronaut Internal Frame. For more about all of that, see our Aeronaut: Frequently Asked Questions post.

Aeronaut 30 or 45 Internal Frame

The Aeronaut 30 or 45 Internal Frames are made of die-cut 0.055” / 1.4mm thick High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), with a nylon webbing sleeve sewn down the center that encases a 1” / 25mm wide 6061 aluminum stay pre-bent to achieve a generic spinal curve.

Both sizes of frame feature four pie-slice cut-outs that save a bit of weight, but more importantly allow the frame to flex/twist with you as walk.

Installing the Aeronaut 30 and 45 Internal Frames is pretty straight-forward; see our step-by-step instructions here.

Both Aeronaut Internal Frames are in-stock and ready to ship.

Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt

The Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt is designed to allow you to carry some of the weight of a loaded Aeronaut on your hips rather than on just your shoulders.

Tom and Nik worked together to engineer a design solution that allows one to add the Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt to any version/generation/era of Aeronaut while offering a truly integrated carrying experience — almost as if the Padded Hip Belt was integrated into the design of the Aeronaut all along.

Note that the Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt will perform best for folks between 5’2″ – 6’0″—depending, of course, on the length of the person’s torso. If you’re on the shorter end of that range and have a short torso, the Padded Hip Belt may hit you a little lower than you’d like. If you’re on the taller end of that range with a longer torso, the Padded Hip Belt may ride a little higher than you’d like.

The Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt is in-stock and ready to ship.

More reading:
Aeronaut Frequently Asked Questions
How to Install the Aeronaut Internal Frame + Padded Hip Belt
Our Guide to Internal Frames
History of Padded Hip Belts

New Luminary Backpacks Are In The Works


Tom sews one of the new Luminary prototypes in his design studio.

Tom has made a couple of design updates to the original Luminary. Most notably, he’s made the right side pocket large enough to fit phablets such as the iPhone Plus and the HTC U Ultra; the left side pocket is a bit bigger too (wider actually) than the first iteration of the Luminary. The asymmetrical height of the pockets makes the main compartment zipper extend further down one side than the other, which we think looks kinda cool. Yet Tom was able to nudge things around so that the new Luminary’s main compartment zipper still opens just as wide as the older version – about 44 cm or 17.4”.

Concurrent with the redesign of the Luminary was the development of a new, larger Luminary—the Luminary 14. Its shoulder straps and over-all height are intended to better fit taller and/or broader folks, and its padded back compartment can fit up to a 13” laptop. The Luminary 14 can hold noticeably more than the original Luminary (henceforth to be known as the Luminary 10), yet is still quite a modest sized pack. (For those paying close attention: we re-measured the volume of the original Luminary when we were measuring this new size, and the original came in at a perfect 10 liters. Both were measured using our new volume measurement protocol, so we feel very confident abut these numbers — more on that some other time….).

Both the Luminary 10 and Luminary 14 are in the final stages of their creation: pattern adjustments are being made and Tom is working with Lisa, Fong, and Nik to ensure both bags are efficiently manufacturable. We expect the new Luminaries will be available for order sometime soon-ish (emphasis on the ish).

To sign up to be notified when the new Luminary 10 is available, visit the Luminary 10 page.

To be notified when the Luminary 14 is available for order, subscribe to our general mailing list or to our blog posts (that sign-up box is on the right). 


Various Luminary prototypes on Tom’s drafting table.

New Passport Pouches

Passport Pouch that fits four passports

We’ve increased the size of our original Passport Pouch so that it fits passports in protective plastic sleeves, thick passports with many pages, or as many as four passports—without making it too big to comfortably wear cross-body or around one’s waist. (The Passport Pouch can also simply be stowed inside of a bag.)

The previous dimensions of the Passport Pouch were 5.0″ (w) x 6.3″ (h) / 125 mm (w) x 160 (h).
The dimensions of the new Passport Pouch are 5.5″ (w) x 7.1″ (h) / 140 (w) x 180 (h) mm.

We also now offer our Passport Pouch in two versions:

Passport Pouch, Standard
A simple, straight-forward and well-made passport pouch, it gets the job done well. $22. Ships by April 13th.

Passport Pouch, RFID Blocking
Underneath its interior lining of Aether fabric, this version features a layer of a special metalized fabric that will effectively block detection or reading of RFID chips. $25. Ships by around late April.

You can sign up on the Passport Pouch page to be notified via email the moment either version of the Pouch is ready to ship.

Many thanks to Walker, Artdime, pammy, Cristina, and  habanero for providing feedback in the Forums about our Passport Pouch sizing.

Passport Holder by TOM BIHN

Passport and Document Wallet

Recently in Photos

Here are a few of the photos you shared with us recently in the forums! (Thanks!)

 

TOM BIHN Blog | Recently in Photos bartleby Caldera Colorada

A cool shot at Caldera Colorada with the Guide’s Edition Synapse 25.

Posted in the Forums by bartleby

 

Last Week in Photos -- Cafe w/ HJ

“I walked from Frankfurt Haptbonoffe to a cafe called ALEX to enjoy a delicious cappuccino.”

Posted in the Forums by maverick

 

Last Week in Photos - SCB Ghent

Slaynie’s view at a cafe in Ghent.

Posted in the Forums by Slaynie

 

Last Week in Photos - Co-Pilot Bike

Cuica’s handlebar Co-Pilot hack.

Posted in the Forums by cuica

 

Last Week in Photos - Charlie

Awesomepants’ cute rescue pup Charlie.

Posted in the Forums by Awesomepants

 

Last Week in Photos - Road Trip

The start of MJMEBLOM’s road trip down to Seattle!

Posted in the Forums by MJMEBLOM

 

Last Week in Photos - Hobonichi

Mausermama showing off her setup for this year’s Hobonichi planner.

Posted in the Forums by Mausermama

 

TOM BIHN Blog | Recently in Photos | Artdime Destin

Artdime’s Co-Pilot enjoying the beach in Destin, FL.

Posted in the Forums by Artdime

 

TOM BIHN Blog | Recently in Photos | G42 SE Heavenly Falls

“SE contemplating the ‘Heavenly Falls'” at the Japanese Gardens in Washington Park, Portland, OR.

Posted in the Forums by G42

New Packing Cubes

Our new Packing Cubes combine two of our light fabrics—Mesh and Aether—to achieve our goals of a Packing Cube design that doesn’t weigh much, allows one to see the contents of the Packing Cube without revealing too much and provides enough body and structure to make packing the cube easier. 

They’re available — in-stock and ready to ship — in sizes designed specifically to maximize the space and packing efficiency of our Aeronaut 45, Aeronaut 30, Tri-Star, and Western Flyer travel bags.

Wondering about the differences between our various Packing Cube options? Check out our Packing Cube Guide + Frequently Asked Questions.

Mesh

Our high-quality U.S.-made Mesh fabric offers two main benefits: first off, it allows you to see what’s inside the Packing Cube, but doesn’t make the contents so visible that the person behind you in line at the TSA checkpoint will know if you prefer boxers or briefs. Secondly, it is a fabric that is, like our Aether, light-in-weight.

Aether

Aether is an ultra-light, 100% nylon fabric from Japan. It has a unique and complex construction, combining 30 denier monofilament (warp and weft) with both 100 denier and 200 denier yarns in a micro-ripstop weave to further increase its tear strength. Aether is very light in weight yet provides an almost paper-like structure that we find helps to add some body to our Packing Cubes—which, in turn, makes them easier to pack.

New: Aeronaut 30 and 45 Laundry Packing Cubes
You asked for a Packing Cube version of Tom’s Laundry Stuff Sack, and here it is in two varieties: Small (fits t-shirts, socks, underwear, swimwear) and Large (fits pants, dresses, skirts and shirts). Basically, it’s a Packing Cube with two zippered compartments: one side is Mesh, one side is Aether, and between the two sides is an Aether divider. Clean clothes go in the Mesh side and dirty clothes go in the Aether side.

New: Island Aether
When the color swatches for our Aether fabric in Island came in, we knew we had a winner: not too dark, not too light, yet as vivid and inviting as tropical lagoon. It’s a perfect, utopian blue, and an excellent match to our 200d Halcyon in Island (though it’s worth noting that the Aether Island lacks the white grid of the 200d Halcyon and hence might be perceived as a bit darker). Island Aether joins our other colors of Aether: Wasabi, Violet, and Carbon.

New Packing Cubes: Full List of Colors, Sizes, and Varieties

Tri-Star, Large, Island
Tri-Star, Large, Violet
Tri-Star, Large, Wasabi

Tri-Star, Medium, Island
Tri-Star, Medium, Violet
Tri-Star, Medium, Wasabi

Tri-Star, Small, Island
Tri-Star, Small, Violet
Tri-Star, Small, Wasabi

Western Flyer, Large, Island
Western Flyer, Large, Violet
Western Flyer, Large, Wasabi

Western Flyer, Small, Island
Western Flyer, Small, Violet
Western Flyer, Small, Wasabi

Aeronaut 30, Large Laundry, Island
Aeronaut 30, Large Laundry, Wasabi

Aeronaut 30, Large, Island
Aeronaut 30, Large, Violet
Aeronaut 30, Large, Wasabi
Aeronaut 30, Large, Carbon

Aeronaut 30, End Pocket, Island
Aeronaut 30, End Pocket, Violet
Aeronaut 30, End Pocket, Wasabi
Aeronaut 30, End Pocket, Carbon

Aeronaut 30, Small Laundry, Island
Aeronaut 30, Small Laundry, Wasabi

Aeronaut 30, Small, Island
Aeronaut 30, Small, Violet
Aeronaut 30, Small, Wasabi
Aeronaut 30, Small, Carbon

Aeronaut 45, Large Laundry, Island
Aeronaut 45, Large Laundry, Wasabi

Aeronaut 45, Large, Island
Aeronaut 45, Large, Violet
Aeronaut 45, Large, Wasabi
Aeronaut 45, Large, Carbon

Aeronaut 45, End Pocket, Island
Aeronaut 45, End Pocket, Violet
Aeronaut 45, End Pocket, Wasabi
Aeronaut 45, End Pocket, Carbon

Aeronaut 45, Small Laundry, Island
Aeronaut 45, Small Laundry, Wasabi

Aeronaut 45, Small, Island
Aeronaut 45, Small, Violet
Aeronaut 45, Small, Wasabi
Aeronaut 45, Small, Carbon

News Briefs

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

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

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

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