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.

Read more...

Tote Bags: Frequently Asked Questions

Road Trip Snacks
Road trip snacks in The Truck.

Below is a list of questions (and answers) that we’re asked — or anticipate we will be asked — about our various tote bag designs. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, feel free to emailus@tombihn.com.

  1. You offer five different tote bag designs (not counting different sizes). Can you tell me a little about each of them?
  2. Which of the tote designs is right for me?
  3. Why do you offer so many different tote bag designs?
  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a tote bag with a zipper top?
  5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a tote bag with an open top?
  6. How do people typically use their tote bags?
  7. Which of the totes can be carried on the shoulder as well as in hand?
  8. Have you considered making the handles/shoulder straps adjustable in length?
  9. What are the key differences between a tote and a duffel bag?
  10. I want to add some additional organization to my tote. Which accessories fit in which totes?
  11. If I knew I was going to be stranded on a deserted island, which tote bag would you recommend that I take with me?
  12. I’m planning to take Ulysses by James Joyce, a water filter, my pet rock, an antique sugar bowl, a small adze, a picnic blanket, a jumbo bag of salt water taffy, and some antibiotics in case I need them for my rock. So, which tote?

You offer five different tote bag designs (not counting different sizes). Can you tell me a little about each of them?

Sure thing.

The Truck
A true multipurpose carry-all bag. You can use it for groceries, tools, laundry, work stuff—whatever. It’s made out of our durable 525d or 210d ballistic nylon, which can help it withstand years of hard use. That being said, if dirty or sharp tools get tossed in the bag, it’ll eventually develop some character. We think of it as showing its history.

Pop Tote
Our very first zip-top tote bag design. It shines as a personal carry-on bag for air travel and as an every-day-carry tote.

Zip-Top Shop Bag
An updated version of our Original Shop Bag, this time with a zipper closure. It comes in two sizes and makes a great reusable grocery bag whether at home or in faraway lands: fold it up and stow it away in your Aeronaut to serve as a shopping bag at your travel destination.

The Moveable Feast
A purpose-built grocery bag for gourmet chefs and enthusiastic food lovers. It keeps wine bottles upright and tomatoes up high and unsquished. It’s got padded handles and lots of organization. Note: we’ve retired the Moveable Feast for now to give folks a chance to consider the Truck, which is very similar in design. We may or may not make a future production run of the Moveable Feast.

Original Shop Bag
The tried and true classic reusable shopping bag. With padded handles, piping to help it keep its shape, and two interior open-top pockets, it’s refined, simple, and classic.

… There’s also the Swift, but we think of it as a dedicated knitting bag as opposed to a tote bag.

Which of the tote designs is right for me?

Our answer depends mightily on what you plan to carry and in what context. Feel free to emailus@tombihn.com or post in our Forums to ask for advice specific to your situation.

Generally speaking, we’d suggest:

The Original Large Shop Bag if you’re looking for a simple, lightweight reusable grocery bag.

The Truck if you want a heavy-duty tote you can really work out of, and that’ll look even better as it develops character from years of use.

Trying the Small Zip-Top Shop Bag to use as an Every Day Carry (EDC) tote that’s the perfect size for lunch, a sweater, Kindle or small tablet, phone, wallet, and water bottle.

The Pop Tote if you want a tote that can serve both as a day bag at your travel destination and your personal carry-on bag en route.

Why do you offer so many different tote bag designs?

Several reasons. Notably:

Everyone here at TOM BIHN has at least a couple of tote bags. We use them as shopping bags, lunch bags, overflow-of-stuff bags. Tom will often bring one of his original Utility Totes to the factory full of patterns and segments of a new design. Because we use tote bags so much, we’re inspired to make new variations that could prove even more useful to us (or to you…)

Tote bags are universally useful. Nearly everyone will appreciate owning one, which makes them a great bag to give as a gift.

You guys seem to appreciate the tote bags that we make, so it only makes sense for us to make more.

A tote bag can be a very basic, utilitarian, yet thoughtful sack. Because tote bags are so well-loved and so often used, we consider a new tote bag to be a good place to refine features, aesthetics, and materials that may (or may not) be applied to other more complex bags sometime down the road.

Lastly, the development timeline for a tote is often much shorter than that of, say, a briefcase. Or a 787 Dreamliner.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a tote bag with a zipper top?

The main advantage of a tote with a zipper top—such as our Pop Tote, Large Zip-Top Shop Bag, or Small Zip-Top Shop Bag—is that your stuff won’t fall out if somehow the tote is topsy-turvied. We think this is especially important if you plan to use a tote bag as a personal carry-on bag like we sometimes do.

The main disadvantage is that the zippers and the required fabric dome add a small amount of weight to the bag. With the tote zipped shut, you can’t fit tall items like a baguette or ukulele—but, of course, you could simply leave the tote unzipped in those instances.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a tote bag with an open top?

The main advantage of a tote with an open top—our Original Shop Bag or the Truck—is that you don’t need to mess around with zipping a zipper open or closed. The top of the bag is wide and open, allowing you to easily put in and remove your stuff.

Game Night Truck Tote

You can also fold the Original Shop Bag into its own interior pocket, which turns it into an elegant little parcel that can be easily stowed inside of a larger bag. This can sort-of also be accomplished with the Zip-Top Shop Bag, but it’s not nearly as easy.

The main disadvantage to an open-top tote is that, if it somehow falls or tips over, your stuff could spill out.

How do people typically use their tote bags?

All kinds of ways. Here’s how we use our tote bags and how you’ve told us you use them:

Reusable grocery bag
Picnic bag
Tool Bag
Front seat road trip stuff bag (snacks, road map, drinks)
Every Day Carry bag
Personal carry-on bag
Game night bag
Gym bag
Overflow-of-stuff bag (a catch all)
Beach bag


The Small Zip-Top Shop Bag as a personal carry-on item.

Side note: some folks use tote bags as firewood haulers or storage containers. We don’t haul firewood in our totes because we use these firewood haulers Tom made back in the early 80’s.

Tom Bihn's Original Firewood Bag

Which of the totes can be carried on the shoulder as well as in hand?

The Pop Tote, Large and Small Zip-Top Shop Bag, Original Shop Bag, and the Truck can be carried by most folks either over the shoulder or by hand. Note: the Moveable Feast is designed to be carried only by hand.

Have you considered adding shoulder strap attachment points to any of the tote bags?

We have, and we do, but we haven’t found a way to do this with any of our current tote bags designs that meets our own standards of perfection. But we’ll let you know if and when we do.

Have you considered making the handles/shoulder straps adjustable in length?

Same answer as above: we’ve explored this a bit here and there, but haven’t found a way to add such a feature in an elegant way.

What are the key differences between a tote and a duffel bag?

That’s a good question! While some of our tote bags are open-top and others are zip-top, our Yeoman Duffel (and most every other duffel out there) has a zipper closure. So a zip-top tote is sort of wandering over into the land of duffel bags, isn’t it? Guess you could say you know a duffel bag when you see it.

Our Yeoman Duffels feature a classic U-shaped opening that makes packing them more like packing a suitcase. They’re also wide rather than tall, which means they offer shallow, horizontal packing space as opposed to more vertical packing space like a tote bag. The Yeoman is available in four sizes, three of which are quite large and can fit bigger items such as camping tents.

I want to add some additional organization to my tote. Which accessories fit in which totes?

This response really isn’t intended to be cheeky: you can use basically any accessory that fits within the tote’s dimensions—and, if applicable, permits the zipper to be zipped up. That being said, certain accessories fit particularly well:

Pop Tote
The main compartment can fit a Medium or Small Café Bag Freudian Slip or Maker’s Bag/Swift Freudian Slip. The small exterior pockets can accommodate Mini or Small Organizer Pouches, the Pen/Pencil Organizer Pouch, Knitting Tool Pouches in sizes 1-3, the Q Kit, and the Pocket Pouch.

The Truck
The Small Café Bag Freudian Slip can fit in any main pocket; the Medium Café Bag Freudian Slip fits in the center pocket (at a diagonal or by pressing out the sides a little bit), and Organizer Pouches in size Medium or smaller will fit in the front/back pockets.

Small Original Shop Bag or Small Zip-Top Shop Bag
Medium or Small Café Bag Freudian Slip (Note that the Medium size might take away a bit of real estate from interior pockets in the Zip-Top Shop Bag), Small/Mini pouches in interior side pockets.

Large Original Shop Bag or Large Zip-Top Shop Bag
Large, Medium or Small Café Bag Freudian Slip, and up to a Medium pouch in interior pockets.


The Truck with a Small Cafe Bag Freudian Slip, a Size 4 Travel Stuff Sack, and a Double Organizer Pouch.

If I knew I was going to be stranded on a deserted island, which tote bag would you recommend that I take with me?

That’s a tough one, and it kind of depends on what you plan to take with you to that deserted island. So, what do you plan to take? Tom says he’d take the Truck because he’d figure out a way to make a sun hat out of it, plus it would likely carry more water (for a few minutes at least).

I’m planning to take Ulysses by James Joyce, a water filter, my pet rock, a hat, an antique sugar bowl, a small adze, a picnic blanket, a jumbo bag of salt water taffy, and some antibiotics in case I need them for my pet rock. So, which tote?

That helps. We’d recommend the Truck because it will help you keep that wide variety of items contained and, if need be, separate (so you don’t accidentally get rock antibiotics all over your candy).

I'll finally have time to read Ulysses!
I’ll finally have the time to read Ulysses!

Read more...

Pre-Orders: Frequently Asked Questions

You don’t need to read this FAQ to place a Pre-Order: it’s a pretty straight-forward process, so just go for it if that’s what you’d like to do.

If you’d like to know in advance everything there is to know about Pre-Orders, here you go! Below is a list of questions that we anticipated might be asked. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, feel free to emailus@tombihn.com.

  1. Can you give me a quick summary of how pre-order works?
  2. How do you define “pre-order”?
  3. When is my credit card charged for a pre-order?
  4. Can I ask you for updates on the progress of my pre-order?
  5. Can I cancel my pre-order and receive a refund?
  6. Can I return the bag that I pre-ordered once I receive it?
  7. Can I change the color of the bag I pre-ordered?
  8. I’ve placed a pre-order that will ship in 2-8 weeks. Can I add bags to that existing pre-order?
  9. I placed a pre-order and it shipped earlier than expected! Nice. How’d that happen?
  10. Will all new designs be introduced for pre-order?
  11. What’s the best way to be notified once a new design is available for pre-order?
  12. Can you accept pre-orders (backorders) for stock items?
  13. Hey, didn’t you used to offer backorders and pre-orders up until three or four years ago?
  14. Is it possible for a pre-order to “sell out”?
  15. How long will a pre-order be open?
  16. If a pre-order sells out, when will you offer the next pre-order?
  17. Why can’t you make enough bags to satisfy all pre-orders?
  18. How, and when, does a pre-order design become a stock design?
  19. When a bag is offered for pre-order, will there be any distinction made between limited run and stock items? That is, will it be clear which items will only be offered for a limited time, vs. those you expect to have on hand for the foreseeable future?
  20. Will the color options for pre-orders be the same as a regular run? For example, say I really want Bag X in Steel/Iberian, but the pre-order colors don’t include that combo. Can I find out if the regular run will have it?
  21. What’s all this about some retired designs possibly being offered for pre-order at a later time?

Can you give me a quick summary of how pre-order works?

Yes. And if you have questions, keep reading the FAQ or emailus@tombihn.com

  • We offer a new design for pre-order for one week or until the first pre-order batch sells out.
  • The expected ship date of your pre-order bag is listed as part of the name of the bag.
  • Your credit card is charged for the total amount of your order the day that you place your order. You can cancel your pre-order at any time and receive a refund.
  • You can place one order that includes just a Pre-Order bag or a Pre-Order bag *and* In-Stock bags. If you place an order for both Pre-Order and In-Stock bags, you will see two shipping options at checkout:
    A) Hold In-Stock Bags Until Pre-Order Ships – (one shipping charge: for example, $10 for UPS Ground)
    B) Ship In-Stock Bags Separately – (two shipping charges: for example, $20 for UPS Ground)
    UPS Expedited International shipping will also be available. 3Day/2Day/Next Day options are only available if you place two separate orders for Pre-Order and In-Stock items.
  • You can also place additional orders for In-Stock bags to be added to your existing Pre-Order up until two days before your order ships. At checkout, our system will recognize that you have a current Pre-Order. You will then be given the option to “Ship with my existing Pre-Order” (no additional shipping charge) or, if you want the In-Stock bags to ship immediately, you can choose from any of the regular shipping options.

How do you define “pre-order”?

We may choose to offer a bag for pre-order because:

  • It’s a new design offered for the very first time.
  • It’s a new design that’s already been offered for pre-order but we plan to continue to offer it for pre-order for the time being because it’s either very popular OR we don’t plan to offer the design on a long term basis.
  • It’s the last, or uncommon, batch of a retired design.
  • It is a one-time only offering of a design, fabric, or color.

Please note that not all new designs will be offered for pre-order. For example: debuts of new designs before the holiday season typically won’t be offered for pre-order because there’s a shorter timeline — most folks want to receive orders they place in early December ASAP.

When is my credit card charged for a pre-order?

Your credit card is charged for the full order total at the time you place your order. That means we charge you before your order ships, which, depending on the bag being pre-ordered, can be anywhere from two to eight weeks.

To charge you before your order ships isn’t our preference; in fact, we’d prefer to postpone charging you until the day your order ships. That’s how we used to do it back when we took pre-orders before: our system would authorize your credit card for the total, but we wouldn’t actually charge you until the day your order shipped. However, since then, charging folks in advance of shipment of goods has become such the norm that most shopping carts and payment systems don’t allow for an alternative. This is due in part because of the success of crowdfunding. It’s worth noting that our pre-order system is very different from crowdfunding: we aren’t raising funds to make a product and you can be assured you will receive the bag you’re ordering.

Rest assured that we see charging in advance of shipment to be a serious responsibility and a matter that calls upon our integrity.

And you’re welcome to emailus@tombihn.com at any time up until the day your pre-order ships to cancel your pre-order and receive a full refund.

Can I ask you for updates on the progress of my pre-order?

Totally. Of course. Feel free to emailus@tombihn.com

We also might send you an update or two on your pre-order with some insights on the design and manufacturing process.

Can I cancel my pre-order and receive a refund?

You bet. emailus@tombihn.com, live chat us up or give us a call and we’ll make it happen.

Can I return the bag that I pre-ordered once I receive it?

Yes. You can find our return instructions here. Note: part of what makes pre-order great is that we can more efficiently manage our limited production capacity by building exactly to order. Sometimes folks will order multiple colors and return the ones they don’t like, which makes total sense for In-Stock items but less so (at least for us internally) when we’re building to Pre-Order.

Can I change the color of the bag I pre-ordered?

Sorry, but no. Because we’re building these bags to order, folks can’t change the color of the bag they’ve pre-ordered.

You can, of course, cancel your pre-order — at which point we will refund your credit card. If it is still within the pre-order window — that is, the pre-order has not sold out — you can then place a new order for the color you’d like instead.

Can I place one order that includes both pre-order and in-stock bags?

Yes! You can place one order for Pre-Order bag(s) *and* In-Stock bag(s).

If you place an order for both Pre-Order and In-Stock bags, you will see two shipping options at checkout:

A) Hold In-Stock Bags Until Pre-Order Ships – (one shipping charge: for example, $10 for UPS Ground)
B) Ship In-Stock Bags Separately – (two shipping charges: for example, $20 for UPS Ground)

UPS Expedited International shipping will also be available for selection. However, U.S. domestic UPS expedited shipping options (3 Day, 2nd Day, Next Day) will not be available. If you would like to order a Pre-Order bag and an In-Stock bag and have both ship via one of those shipping methods, we recommend placing two separate orders.

If you choose Hold, we will hold your entire order until your Pre-Order bag(s) are ready to ship and then we’ll ship the entire order.

If you choose Ship In-Stock Bags Separately, we will ship the In-Stock bags that you ordered right away. We will ship your Pre-Order once it’s ready to ship.

Whether you choose to Hold In-Stock Bags or Ship In-Stock Bags, you will have the option of placing additional orders up until two days before your Pre-Order ships. At checkout, our system will recognize that you have a current Pre-Order and give you two options: Hold In-Stock Bags or Ship In-Stock Bags Separately for an additional shipping charge.

This will all make a lot more sense in practice than it does theoretically 🙂 As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask: emailus@tombihn.com

I’ve placed a pre-order that will ship in 2-8 weeks. Can I add bags to that existing pre-order?

Yes, you can. We will hold bags from any additional orders you place and ship them with your pre-ordered bag once it’s ready to ship.

And adding to your pre-order is easy: place the items you want to add in your basket and, at checkout and in the shipping options, you’ll see an option that says: “Add to my Pre-Order”. Our system will automatically add the new order items to your existing pre-order.

We thought of this too and made it an option in part because we think it will be especially convenient for customers outside of the U.S. for whom shipping costs are higher.

I placed a pre-order and it shipped earlier than expected! Nice. How’d that happen?

You received one of the few PPB bags available — congratulations.

A pre-production batch (PPB) of any new design will be ordered and completed by our production department prior to the new design being offered for pre-order.

The PPB is intended to:

  • Serve as the first large-scale test of the efficiency of manufacturing the new design.
  • Provide photo, review and employee loaner sample bags.
  • Ship a small quantity of bags to a randomized selection of customers who place orders for the first pre-order batch. This will allow folks to post reviews and first thoughts / photos of a new design, which in turn may help other people decide whether a bag is right for them or not.

Please note that the design itself is tested and every detail finalized and approved by Tom, Nik, Lisa, and Fong long before the PPB is ordered. PPB bags are in no way “beta” or incomplete.

There is no way to request or reserve a PPB bag. Once the pre-order window is over, we will randomly select orders from the first pre-order batch and fulfill those orders with PPB bags. If your order is selected, we will email you with a heads-up a few days before we plan to ship your order. So, no need to rush to place your pre-order, as this is not first come, first serve.

Will all new designs be introduced for pre-order?

Some, but not all. Whether we choose to offer a design for pre-order or make it a stock bag depends on a variety of factors — most importantly, production efficiency. We probably won’t offer new designs released close to the holiday season for pre-order.

What’s the best way to be notified once a new design is available for pre-order?

Subscribers to our general email newsletter will get the first heads-up on new designs. We send out about one email newsletter per month, but may send two newsletters out when there’s an active pre-order.

Can you accept pre-orders (backorders) for stock items?

Not at this time. It’s just too logistically complex at this point for our small company.

Hey, didn’t you used to offer backorders and pre-orders up until three or four years ago?

We did, so we have a lot of experience doing so. As with anything, there’s pros (for us and for you) and cons (mostly for us in the added complexity). Read our post Pre-Orders: Past, Present, and Future to learn more about that.

Is it possible for a pre-order to “sell out”?

It is possible for a pre-order to “sell out”. If that happens, the product page for the pre-ordered item will be updated to indicate that the first pre-order batch has sold out and that the next pre-order batch will be available for order on a specific date. You will also be able to sign up via email to our newsletter to be notified when the next pre-order batch is available for order.

Our production department is at its most efficient when we produce a batch of bags that’s not too big and not too small — the “just right” quantity in a batch depends on the design (and, occasionally, other factors, such as the production capacity available at that point in time).

When we offer a bag for pre-order on our website, we will set what is basically a total inventory number that equals the maximum production batch quantity. When that number of pre-orders sells, the first pre-order batch will be “sold out”.

Additionally, we promise a specific shipping time frame for each pre-order batch. If we accepted an unlimited number of pre-orders as opposed to constraining the quantity in batches, it is unlikely we could meet the shipping time frame originally promised. We don’t want that to happen.

How long will a pre-order be open?

We will take pre-orders for a new design for one week or until the first pre-order batch sells out.

If a pre-order sells out, when will you offer the next pre-order?

It is likely that we will offer the next pre-order batch *after* the first pre-order batch has shipped — that could be two weeks or eight weeks. This gives all of us a chance to catch our breath and make sure we’ve delivered what we’ve already promised. It also allows us some time to make In Stock bags, which is the majority of what we offer.

Rest assured you can sign up to be notified / reminded via email when the next pre-order batch is available for order.

Why can’t you make enough bags to satisfy all pre-orders?

We’re a small company of 47 people. Our entire company — production, shipping, website, design, IT/programming, production engineering, accounting, HR, customer service — all works together under the same roof in the same 16,000 square feet in Seattle. We can’t possibly make, or be, everything for everyone. We’re not trying to be the next big company. We are doing what we love — and we make sure that, besides the very rare exception, no one other than Tom, Nik, and Darcy work more than 40 hours a week.

The options that would allow us to radically increase our production capacity aren’t appealing to us. For example, if we moved production offshore, we’d lose the connection that’s created by all of us working together under the same roof. Not only does that connection make our work more enjoyable, but we think it results in a better bag and overall experience for you.

That said, we know our business model won’t work for everyone. While the majority of our bags are In Stock and ready to ship same day if ordered by 12:30pm PT, it’s possible that the bag that you want in particular is Pre-Order or In Production. And if you need the bag right away, that’s going to be a bummer. Sorry about that: we know how it can feel to find the perfect item and not be able to get it right away. That said, it’s one of those “it is what it is” type situations.

How, and when, does a pre-order design become a stock design?

That depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to: the complexity involved in manufacturing the design, its popularity, our production capacity, what other new designs we have waiting in the wings, and, well, whether we want to make it a stock design or not.

When a bag is offered for pre-order, will there be any distinction made between limited run and stock items? That is, will it be clear which items will only be offered for a limited time, vs. those you expect to have on hand for the foreseeable future?

Sometimes we’ll know the answer to this from the outset and we’ll make that clear. For example, we may have a limited quantity of a particular fabric or color, or may want to try offering a current design in a new configuration (see: The Guide’s Edition Synapse 25) without committing ourselves to offering yet another bag on a continual basis — in those two cases, we will do our best to communicate that we won’t be able to make the bag in question on an ongoing basis without hyping the “limited edition” part.

Or, to give another example, Tom or Nik may put a considerable amount of time and effort into a new design and be absolutely in love with it themselves — so much so that our plan is to offer it as a stock bag after pre-orders are over. It may be a design you love too from the outset or it may take a few years of being out in the world to catch on.

Will the color options for pre-orders be the same as a regular run? For example, say I really want Bag X in Steel/Iberian, but the pre-order colors don’t include that combo. Can I find out if the regular run will have it?

We usually offer more color combinations in the first production runs or pre-orders of a design than we do when it becomes a stock design. That said, we offer a lot of different fabrics and color combinations, and it’s possible that down the road we may offer a new color in said bag that we didn’t offer at the time of pre-order. When we choose new color combinations, we let our inspiration guide us, your feedback influences us, and we always make room for new colors or fabrics that we’ve since added to our line up. That means we don’t produce a list years in advance of decided-upon color combinations. You’re always welcome to ask us about specific color combinations but more often than not, our answer will be: maybe, maybe not.

What’s all this about some retired designs possibly being offered for pre-order at a later time?

We don’t like retiring existing designs, but as demand for our bags continues to grow and we continue to release quite a few new designs every year, retiring existing designs is a reality we must face.

Thanks to the new pre-order system, in some cases* we can offer a glimmer of hope to ourselves and, perhaps, to you when we choose to retire an existing design: when the design retires, we will update its product page so you can sign up to be notified via email when or if we decide to offer a pre-order batch and make a very last, or rare (think once a year at the most) production run of the design.

*Sometimes we will retire a design that requires a special component or material that we can’t obtain a small quantity of. In those cases, we will offer it for potential pre-order.

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News Briefs

The Guide’s Edition Synapse 25, The Truck, and Small and Large Zip-Top Shop Bags will be available for pre-order on 09/10 with an estimated shipping date of late October. Sign up on on any of the linked product pages to be notified the moment the bags are made available for pre-order.

New color of ultralight Aether fabric = Northwest Sky = new Packing Cubes. Sign up on the Aeronaut 30, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star and Western Flyer Packing Cube pages to be notified when they’re stocked and ready to ship.

The Pre-Order window for The Truck, Small + Large Zip-Top Shop Bags and Original Small Shop Bag has closed. Our factory will now begin making the pre-ordered bags. All but the Original Small Shop Bag (due to low numbers ordered) will be made available for pre-order once again in September.

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