In this series, we’re sharing some packing videos we’ve had but never posted. In Part I, we featured the Aeronaut 45 and Aeronaut 30. Today we’re bringing you Part II: Synapse 25 and Western Flyer.
The Synapse 25 and the Western Flyer are organizational powerhouses. They both have clever internal and external compartments and pockets that make them easy to pack and carry with little forethought or additional accessories. We show them here with a number of cubes and pouches** to give you an idea of what they can hold and different ways you can use them.
** Click the links below to see updated versions of this item.
00:22 Key Strap, 8”
00:33 3D Clear Organizer Cube and Key Strap, 16”
00:56 Western Flyer Medium Packing Cube **
01:29 Cache (Tablet) **
01:46 Western Flyer Large Packing Cube **
02:01 Medium Halcyon Organizer Pouch and Key Strap, 16”
Some months ago, we experimented making some packing videos but never got around to sharing them. So here they are: a series of videos demonstrating how to pack a few of our popular bags. Let us know what you think—if people like them, maybe we’ll be inspired to make more.
Part I: The Aeronauts 45 and 30
Besides snacks, dogs, and naps, there’s nothing we like more than the pleasure of packing a well-organized bag. We’ve designed our travel bags (like both sizes of the Aeronaut) with strategically-placed compartments and pockets so they’ll pack like a dream right out of the box. At the same time, using a few or several accessories allows you to customize your bag’s organization, whether a little or a lot. That’s why we offer accessories in a bevy of shapes, sizes, styles, and colors.
These two videos demonstrate packing strategies for the Aeronaut 45 and the Aeronaut 30 using just a few accessories.** Then the same stuff gets packed again, this time with the help of several more accessories.
** We’ve updated the design of a few items since making the videos; you can see the new versions by clicking on the links.
Just a Few:
A Few More:
Just a Few:
00:44 3D Clear Organizer Cube
A Few More:
Zeke, the filmmmaker behind many of our videos, documented a 30 day trip through Northern Italy with his wife and son. In this post, Zeke shares an essay about the reasons for the trip, as well as the videos he captured: how his family packed for the trip, their favorite travel hacks, and their tour of Italy.
Episode II: Zeke’s Top Travel Hacks
Episode III: One Month In Italy
Ten years is a long time. That’s why my wife and I wanted to do something really special for our 10 year anniversary. We took a 30 day trip through Northern Italy with our 7 year old. With our 7 year old? Yes. Turns out, spending a month in a foreign country, changing towns every 3 to 6 days, and bringing along a 7 year old can sometimes make 30 days feel longer than 10 years! Of course, that’s nothing a bit of gelato can’t fix!
We started our adventure in Venice. Now, as a filmmaker and an entrepreneur, I’ve traveled all over the world, but Venice is unlike anyplace I’ve ever seen. At times it felt like we were in the middle of movie set, or a weird dream. Other times it felt like if we sneezed all the buildings would crumble to dust around us. Everything was beautifully old. The buildings and bridges that carry foot traffic over the canals are held together with what look like iron staples. There aren’t any cars. I mean, none. No bikes—at least, we didn’t see any. Everyone, and everything, moves around on foot. Everything about Venice was magical.
From Venice we took the train to Bellagio. If I could pick any place in the world to live all year long, it would be Bellagio in the summertime. It had all the magic and charm of Venice, but with 100 times the beauty. The town climbs out of a giant lake that is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Stunning. There’s no point in me describing it in detail. Watch the video. One of my favorite moments from the entire trip was when we were taking the ferry boat from one side of the lake to the other. A massive rainstorm rolled in on top of us. It turned the lake black. Most people on the ferry ran for cover, but I decided to stand out in it, getting soaked and soaking up the incredible views that surrounded me.
From Bellagio we went to Milan, then up almost to the northern border of Italy where my wife had planned a surprise. After a long drive, we started winding up a hill and arrived at a castle. Like going from one dream to another, we got to spend two nights IN a castle. It once belonged to one of the first kings of Italy. There are only a few guest rooms there, so it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves.
We were in Italy during Ferragosto, a holiday where most places close and most of the people go away on vacation. This was perfect for us as it meant small to no crowds almost everywhere we went. Enough stores and restaurants were open that we never went without. We were in Parma at the height of Ferragosto. So instead of crowds, it was mostly empty. The food in Parma was—never mind. I don’t want to rub it in, and it’s making me hungry just thinking about it. Parma was lovely and charming and that’s where our 7 year old realized that he and his friends at home all dress like slobs—his words (superhero T-shirts and silky basketball shorts). He decided from that point forward he wanted to dress sharp like the people he saw all over Italy. We bought him his first suit and that was that. It’s almost a year later now, and he has worn a blazer and a tie or bow tie nearly every day since. If you look close in the video, you’ll see the moment he went through this mental change. It’s when he’s trying on a suit for the first time. It’s become so much of his personality, I’m really happy that I caught the moment on film.
There’s really too much to write about: a 14 hour lightning storm in Tuscany where we stayed in a 500 year old tower, a view of ancient ruins from our balcony in Bologna, the food—everywhere. So much more.
During the few moments a week that my brain isn’t focused on what’s in front of me, it quickly drifts off to vivid memories from our 30 day trip through Italy. The moment is always followed by a deep feeling of peace and happiness. A smile. I’d do the trip all over again at least 100 times.
You asked, so here’s a list of some of the bags and accessories that Zeke and his family took on their trip. — TB Crew
Night Flight Travel Duffel
3D Clear Organizer Cube
Clear Organizer Pouches
Clear Quarter Packing Cube
RFID Passport Pouch
A brief history of TOM BIHN logo labels over the years. See also: History of Portable Culture
Zeek (you know him from SHEP, the people who make our videos) and his friends went to Mexico City. With their TOM BIHN bags, of course. Here’s a video that Zeek made of the trip and, below the video, some of his tips for bringing cameras and shooting stills and video while on vacation.
– When I travel, I try to reduce my camera setup to the absolute minimum. For Mexico City, I picked a single prime lens that made it easy to take a few steps back for wider shots and a few steps forward for closeups. It was incredibly compact and it was far more important to me to have something I could easily pop in and out of a bag to take shots quickly and discreetly — and not have my mobility inhibited whatsoever.
– I think the biggest thing while traveling is to try to find that zen place where your camera doesn’t get in the way of your experience. If you go into the mentality that you are under no obligation to capture everything and only take your camera out when it feels natural, you’ll ultimately be more in tune with your environment and get better stuff. I find myself particularly not worrying about the big stuff. Famous monuments have been photographed millions of times — do I really have a unique perspective to offer? Why would I worry about getting a subpar version of what my friends and family have already seen in National Geographic quality? I’m far more interested in noticing small, weird details or spontaneous moments of everyday life. When you’re producing images you always have to remember you will have an audience — whether it’s an actual publication, family, or just your future self remembering the trip.
In 1990, after 18 years of designing and making bags at night and on the weekends, Tom opened his first shop in Santa Cruz and founded TOM BIHN. Today there are almost 50 of us working here. To us, it’s a number that means a lot. That’s a lot of steady growth and hard work over the years. We’re proud of our designs. We’re proud of using the best materials we can find or have made for us. And we’re proud that we’re creating careers.
You share with us how you use your bags—in the Forums, on Facebook, via Insatgram and Twitter. It’s inspiring, validating, and a learning experience: you figure out ways to use bags and accessories that we, as the designers, didn’t even think of.
So, we thought we’d make a video that shows you how we use our bags. You can watch it below, and, as always: let us know what you think!
After we debuted our new Cord Zipper Pull options, some of you asked for a written tutorial on how to achieve the Robust Knot seen in our how-to video. Here you go!
The Robust Knot is a simple knot that can be customized to the desired length of the loop as well as the pull itself.
As seen in the video below, fold the line in half with the bottom facing yourself. Keep in mind that the knot builds downward, so make the loop longer than you will want it when finished. We recommend starting with about 2″-2 1/2″, depending on the desired loop and knot size. Loop the right arm across the front so that it is perpendicular to the original large loop, forming a horizontal line. Take the left arm down over that horizontal line, around the back of the original large loop, and back through the loop created by your first fold. Pull tight but do not cinch, as this will pull the slack out of your large loop. Repeat the above process from the left side. Now cinch all ends, including the large loop, as tightly as possible. This can be repeated as many times as needed for the desired length of the knotted pull, simply alternate the side that is pulled down to begin the process.
We recommend that you repeat the process at least three times. This will leave a knot roughly 1/2″. When the knot is cinched tight, clip the remaining string ends as close to the body of the knot as possible and lightly burn the ends with a lighter, using care not to melt the body of the knot. Loop through the end of your metal zipper pull and enjoy!
The Parental Unit is the result of Tom’s resolve to build a “diaper bag” that does more than just assist parents with changing diapers: it’ll help organize and mobilize any parent or parents that participate in the modern world with their young kids. One of our goals in designing The Parental Unit was to make trips to the store, to the in-laws, daycare and even the museum less stressful and just as much fun as they should be. That, and making sure you won’t look like a dork with some huge encumbrance slung over your shoulder, whacking nice people in the face as you navigate the narrow aisles of public transit or cozy restaurants. We particularly eschewed goofy printed fabrics: if you want a bag that screams “I’m a parent!”, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The Parental Unit was designed to be as svelte as possible, and equally stylish for all genders: long after the kids are out of diapers and on their way to college, the P.U. might still be your favorite go-to bag for everyday carry.
As a parent—or, if you’re expecting, you’ve probably heard this from other parents—you know that being organized and prepared (or not) is the deciding factor in what can make an outing with baby a great one (or not). The Parental Unit is loaded with organizational abilities, ready to assist. It is symmetrical front-to-back: both facets have gently curved zippers that open to generous, but not excessive, organizer compartments. Both of these are further divided into three vertical sub-compartments; the dividers themselves are more generous at their tops so that the wearer can easily see down into the sub-compartments. The center of the three is sized to fit most diapers, wipe dispensers (travel or home size both fit) and/or a changing pad; the spaces on either side are good for baby bottles, water bottles, or snacks.
The center compartment opens with a top zipper: we assume you’ll leave that unzipped most of the time for fast access to a toy or a spit-up cloth, but you can zip it shut in bad weather or if you need to stow it during travel. Two billowy open-top pouches are sewn front and back inside this main compartment—you can choose to leave them empty and just take advantage of the large space, or you can use them to further organize changes of clothes and more diapers, or stash food, wipes, rags, etc. The outer surfaces of these pouches have three plastic snaps that allow you to join them together, dividing that one big space into four smaller and complete separate ones (we know that’s hard to picture—watch The Parental Unit video to see how that works).
And we’ll admit it: a TOM BIHN diaper bag was a bit overdue. Thanks for your patience while we worked on designing the best diaper bag that we thought could be made.
mrbrown is a blogger, traveler, and photo essayist based in Singapore. On the Forum, he has shared his 9-day trip to Japan with us through photos, posts, and a video showing all the things he took along with him in his Co-Pilot and Synapse 19:
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