Update on the New Luminary Backpacks

Victor, Fong, Lisa, and Nik discuss the shoulder straps on the Luminary 14.

As we shared back in May, Tom has been working on new versions of the original Luminary 10 and the new size Luminary 14. An update on the progress of the Luminary was included in our recent blog post on the design process. After we posted that update, Tom took additional feedback into account and added yet another feature and another design update to the bag, which added to the bag’s development timeline.

As of today, both the Luminary 10 and Luminary 14 designs are complete. Yay! But not so fast: while the designs have been completed, Tom, Nik, Lisa, and Fong are currently working together to make sure the packs are manufacturable as efficiently and accurately as possible. Given our limited production capacity, ensuring we can make large production runs of this small but complex backpack is essential.

Part of our process of adding a new design to our offerings is to make a PPB (Pre-Production Batch) of the bag prior to making them available for pre-order. The PPB is primarily intended to serve as the first large-scale test of the efficiency of manufacturing the new design. Taking into consideration the time needed to produce two PPBs (one for each Luminary) and looking at our already full production schedule, we estimate that it won’t be until early next year until both the Luminary 10 and Luminary 14 are available for pre-order. Yes, that’s right: 2019. We know that this is going to be a disappointment for those of you who have already been waiting for the Luminary. We never want to disappoint people if we can help it. We find it’s sometimes a fine line between keeping everyone in the loop — so informed decisions can be made — and sharing too much in the way of the progress of a design, providing an estimated timeline (later edited/updated) as we did in this post. This time we were on the wrong side of that fine line and for that we’re sorry. And if you’ll forgive us this: we’re admittedly darn stubborn when it comes to delaying stuff to get the details as perfect as they can be. We want to present to you the best version of a bag we can make.

With the production capacity this decision frees up, more existing designs will remain in-stock, we’ll be able to surprise you with the couple of things long since planned for around the holidays, and when we do offer the Luminaries for pre-order, we will be able to offer a second pre-order soon after just in case they are so popular they fly right out the door.

We’ll share another update once we’re ready to offer the Luminary 10 and Luminary 14 for pre-order. If you’d like, you can sign up on the Luminary 10 page to be notified via email as soon as both the Luminary 10 and Luminary 14 are made available for pre-order. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to post ’em in response here or emailus@tombihn.com.


TOM BIHN Bags Create Community

“Community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. The question, therefore, is not ‘How can we make community?’ but ‘How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?'” -Henri Nouwen
TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Camel
Photo by Lynn Buckler Walsh on her Moroccan adventure with her TOM BIHN special edition Life is a Verb Camp bag.
First there was the photograph of a camel in Morocco onto which an orange TOM BIHN medium cafe bag was secured. If you look closely, you can see a small grey “Life is a Verb” patch sewn onto the bag as it hangs from the camel’s back. Posted by Australian Lynn Buckler Walsh during one of her global adventures, the community of Life is a Verb Campers immediately responded to the shared emblem of our time together. We felt connected because of that bag, and felt a part of Lynn’s Moroccan adventure. In a sense, she took us along with her in that TOM BIHN bag.

Then, photos of the special edition TOM BIHN “Life is a Verb” bags in different colors started showing up from Iceland, Mexico, Ecuador, Paris, Mongolia, and beyond. Photos of bags from meetups of Campers around the world fill the Facebook stream of the Life is a Verb Camp alumni page, sparking the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a community–all from a bag. But not just any bag. And not just a bag, but something larger.
TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Satyr
Campers have traveled around the world with their TOM BIHN special edition Life is a Verb Camp bags, and included the rest of the community with photos like this one from Mexico.
Since 2013, Life is a Verb Camp has brought together people from across the U.S. and around the world for four days of adventure in the mountains of North Carolina. Since 2014, TOM BIHN has sponsored the conference bags for the Camp, inadvertently and irreversibly creating a symbol of the strong community built around the Camp and its Campers, a signifier of togetherness and commitment, creativity and adventure, an emblem of what Camp is and means.

Life is a Verb Camp was begun as an experiment in community: How can we create a loving, open-hearted, generous, creative, generative community of people who are creative together, who can learn from the diversity in the group and practice being more inclusive, and who support each other through all that life can throw at them? What does it take to nurture giving hearts, to use Henri Nouwen’s language?
TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Madrid
Lynn Buckler Walsh on an adventure in Madrid with her TOM BIHN special edition Life is a Verb Camp bags, a way she took Camp and Campers with her on her travels.
Now in its sixth year, the lessons of Camp are clear. To build community, you must have a shared vision, shared language, shared signifiers, and, paradoxically, a broken heart.
Community Holds a Shared Vision

From the beginning, Camp has focused on Courage, Creativity, Community, and Compassion (including self-compassion). Why? Because it takes courage to be creative; creativity blossoms in bumping up against others in community; being in community builds compassion for self and others; and compassion builds trust, which sparks courage, which helps us be creative, and so on back around the feedback loop.

When I don’t have COURAGE,
I play small and don’t take risks,
Instead, I sabotage my own CREATIVITY by
Minimizing myself and others,
Making it difficult for me to be in COMMUNITY
And when I am alone, I often don’t have COURAGE and….(back to first line and repeat)

When I have COURAGE,
I take risks, am more innovative, and lean into my own
CREATIVITY, which deepens in a diverse
COMPASSION for myself and others thrives,
Creating a community
where I feel the kind of trust that provides me with courage and… (and repeat)

People come to Camp, whether once or every year because they share these values and are actively looking for ways to inhabit them in more significant ways in their life. The people who come to Camp are mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, therapists, artists, writers, activists, trainers, musicians, and more. What links them, other than the Camp experience itself–including their TOM BIHN bags–is their attraction to these core values of Camp: Courage, Creativity, Community, and Compassion.

While it is easy for us to sit inside a culture–whether familial, community, organizational, or national–and act as if we are merely visitors to it, Campers know the Camp community is built by everyone there–culture is co-created with every decision and action made or not made. The talents and resourcefulness of Campers is integral to the Camp experience.
TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Lovejoys
Where Campers gather (in this case, San Francisco), so do their TOM BIHN Life is a Verb Camp bags.
Community Requires a Shared Language Built Over Time

Shortly after the first Camp in 2013, a Camper was experiencing a difficult time in her life and posted about it on Camp’s private Facebook page. Within moments, photographs of other Campers appeared in the comments, each wearing their Camp t-shirt from that year. “Shirt on” became code for “I hear you and am sitting with you through this.” Six years later, “shirt on” remains a way Campers signify care and compassion for others.

As with the shirts, our custom TOM BIHN bags signify community in a similar way. When Campers gather, a photo of their TOM BIHN bags together is a given. In such a way, they have become so much more than bags. In carrying these special Camp bags, Campers know they are carrying a piece of Camp and Campers with them wherever they go. The bag is not just a holder of things, but is also a holder of memories, friendships, and transformational experiences.
TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Camp365
Photo by Muse. Some call it #Camp365 because Campers gather throughout the year, always bringing a piece of Camp with them.
Community Requires Relaxing Into Relationship

Parker Palmer said it best: “When we treat community as a product that we must manufacture instead of a gift we have been given, it will elude us eternally. When we try to ‘make community happen,’ driven by desire, design, and determination—places within us where the ego often lurks—we can make a good guess at the outcome: we will exhaust ourselves and alienate each other, snapping the connections we yearn for. Too many relationships have been diminished or destroyed by a drive toward ‘community-building’ which evokes a grasping that is the opposite of what we need to do: relax into our created condition and receive the gift we have been given.”

Just as a “search for happiness” ensures that happiness will elude us, so too “engineering” community-building thwarts our deep need for community. For community to happen, a space must be created that is safe enough and challenging enough for people to bump up against one another, build relationship, and share experiences.

Community Requires a Broken Heart

As Parker Palmer also said, “…leadership for community will always break our hearts. Here, ‘breaking your heart’ (which we normally understand as a destructive process that leaves one’s heart in fragments), is reframed as the breaking open of one’s heart into larger, more generous forms…”

To lead a community, the leader must hone their own capacity for connectedness, their own belief in the resourcefulness of any group, their own ability to relax into community rather than engineer it. Their role is to open the space, hold it, deepen it, and create shared experiences that will tie the community together. Campers co-create Camp onsite because they are more than Campers–they are creative leaders themselves.
TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Alexandria
Campers Alison Campbell, Susan Lucas, and Jeanne d’Orleans on a meetup in Alexandria, Virginia
Community Requires Shared Signifiers

From Morocco to Iceland to Ecuador and beyond, Campers and their TOM BIHN bags see the world and report back to other Campers, posting photos of Camper meetups that simply show all the TOM BIHN bags from Camp, a symbol of community, and an agent of community at the same time. The TOM BIHN bags have become a signifier of the hallmarks of Camp: courage, creativity, community, and compassion.

The signifier is the bag itself. The signified is what it means to Campers–the extra significance it holds because it is representative of a shared, lived experience. It is not just a bag.

Just as the official Camp t-shirts each year have become a symbol of belonging, care, and connection, so have the TOM BIHN bags. As a result of TOM BIHN’s generosity, Campers have started making pilgrimages to the TOM BIHN showroom when in Seattle, and have become TOM BIHN ambassadors around the world. As one does.

Thanks for helping us build community, one great bag at a time, TOM BIHN.
TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Decatur
Photo by Muse. Decatur, Georgia, USA.


An Interview with Chef Simoni

Last year, Chef Simoni Kigweba made his TOM BIHN debut in photos of the Moveable Feast shopping bag, and he kindly shared a recipe with us (the now-famous Tomatoes and Bread).  Now he’s busy cooking in Nashville, Tennessee: he’s the executive chef at a new restaurant that will open later this year.

Chef Simoni’s helping us out again this year by modeling The Truck—and he’s also got another recipe up his sleeve, too.  We sat down with the chef to ask him how he learned to cook, his favorite ingredients, and where he spends his Sundays.

You can follow Chef Simoni — and see his latest recipes — on his blog or on Instagram.

TOM BIHN CREW: How would you describe your cooking style?

CHEF SIMONI: I like to think that I enjoy cooking that is simple and elemental, using incredible ingredients local to Nashville and inflecting them with a simple elemental technique (air, water, fire, earth).

TBC: Who taught you how to cook?  Who were some of your major influences as you were developing as a chef?

CS: Loads of people taught me how and why you should cook. Mom, Dad, friends, and brilliant cooks and chefs. As I continue developing my craft I find inspiration in all the chefs I’ve cooked under, as well as Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin, Marcus Samuelsson, Alice Waters, and Christian Puglisi.

TBC: Were there any foods or dishes you hated as a kid?  Do you feel differently about them now?

CS: Growing up my dad, an immigrant from Burundi, would cook cow stomach that I couldn’t stomach – I don’t know if that’s changed.

TBC: At what kinds of places do you like to eat when you travel?

CS: I love finding regional cuisines specific to different parts of the world wherever I travel. My wife and I love places like Henrietta Red in Nashville, Here’s Looking At You in LA, or a great food hall like Chicago French Market or Liberty Public Market  in San Diego.

TBC: How do you relax on your days off?

CS: Sundays are one of my favorite days to rest. I start with CBS Sunday Morning, go for a run, read the New York Times, then hit up Little’s, a local seafood market, pick out something for supper—usually clams—and then enjoy a meal at home with friends.

TBC: What’s one dish your family and friends always want you to make for them at home?

CS: It probably goes between chocolate chip cookies and waffles. Both are fan favorites.

TBC: What are your guilty pleasures—those things you consume when no one’s looking?

CS: OREOs. It’s a vice and I should know better.

TBC: Is there an underrated or under-used ingredient, flavor, or cooking technique that you think should be better-known?

CS: Blanching and lemons. When cooking most vegetables, the technique of blanching enhances their natural flavors. Lemons…a squeeze goes a long way, whether it’s a sauce, Sunday roast, or on top of a piece of grilled fish.

TBC: What advice can you give to people who are intimidated by cooking?

CS: Start cooking with the simplest technique and ingredient—roasting potatoes or preparing scrambled eggs. Both will equip you with tools enabling you to be more comfortable in the kitchen.
Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Salsa Macha

Salsa Macha: Adapted from Alex Stupak’s Tacos

12 dried arbol chiles
2 oz. dried guajillo chiles
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raw, shelled, unsalted peanuts
2 TBSP sesame seeds
3 garlic cloves
1 cup cider vinegar
1 TBSP salt
2 TBSP honey
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the chiles for 3-4 minutes until fragrant and brown in color.
2. Wearing gloves, remove stems from the chiles and roll them gently to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds.
3. In a 2 quart saucepan, add the oil, seeds, peanuts, and garlic. Toast the ingredients over medium heat until browned.
4. Remove pan from heat. Add the chiles and let steep for 10 minutes.
5. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add a touch of water to thin if too thick.
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

2 heads cauliflower
2 TBSP grapeseed oil
fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. As soon as it reaches 475, place a baking sheet in the oven and heat for 10 minutes.
2. Remove only the toughest outer leaves from the cauliflower. Trim stem to create a flat base. Resting the cauliflower on its stem, cut it in half from top to bottom, creating two lobes with stem attached. Trim the outer rounded edge of each piece to create two 1 1/2 inch thick steaks.
3. Dress the steaks with the oil, salt and pepper.
4. Carefully place the steaks directly on the heated baking sheet and cook for 12-15 minutes until fork tender.
5. Repeat the process with the other head of cauliflower.


1 sprig parsley, rough chopped
1 spring basil, rough chopped
1 TBSP lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 TBSP sesame seeds
flake sea salt, such as Maldon

1. Using a spoon, smooth about 1/4 cup of salsa macha evenly over a large platter.
2. Place the roasted cauliflower on top of the salsa.
3. Garnish the cauliflower with parsley, basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and sesame seeds.
4. Serve.


News Briefs

We posted a very early heads-up on our March 1st, 2019 (roughly 6%) price increase in the Forums along with news of Shop Bags in 210d ballistic nylon.

Ben Brooks has published a review of Nik’s Minimalist Wallets and @everydaycommentary posted about his every day carry step up (hint: it includes a Minimalist Wallet!)

Our 2018 Holiday Schedule is up. Check it out for important shipping deadlines and our holiday hours. P.S. Our Seattle Factory Showroom will be open the rare Saturday on December 8th from 10:00am until 2:00pm Pacific Time.

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