Two Minor Updates to the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Serving as a lightweight shoulder/cross body bag on a hike in Hawaii

The Packing Cube Shoulder Bag is a dual-purpose packing cube: in preparation for and during your journey, use it to organize and pack your clothing inside your larger travel bag (maybe you have an Aeronaut 45 or 30, Tri-Star, or Western Flyer, or a travel bag made by another brand) just like how you’d use our Packing Cubes. When you reach your destination and it’s time to leave your main travel bag in the hotel or hostel, repack the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag with a light jacket, wallet, phone, small water bottle, map, and add a shoulder strap: you’re ready to go out and explore, and you’ve saved space by not having to bring a separate bag for day use.

New to the current / most recent production batch of the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag is one minor (but much requested) update: the addition of another O-ring in its main compartment. As we said, it’s a minor addition, but one that’s been requested for quite some time by those who like to customize the organization of their bags with Organizer Pouches and Key Straps.

We’ve also made the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag available in most 210d ballistic nylon colors (much requested as well) — Black, Coyote, Viridian, Dawn, Grass, and Island.

Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, Black 210d ballistic nylon
Used as a Packing Cube >> Used as a day bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

TOM BIHN Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, Dawn 210d ballistic nylon
Used as a Packing Cube >> Used as a day bag

A Minimalist Convertible Packing Cube Travel Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag

Convertible Packing Cube Shoulder Bag


Luminary Pre-Production Batch (PPB) Notes

Note: for details on the Luminary 12, 15, and 210 ballistic bags pre-order, see this post. Pre-order opens 02/26 and closes 03/05.

Tom, Nik, Mike and Velia (not pictured) at the final Luminary 12 and 15 Pre-Production Batch meeting.

Ever since we first mentioned our pre-production batch (PPB) system in our Pre-Order FAQ — 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.

What, you may be asking, is the pre-production batch (PPB)?

A pre-production batch (PPB) of any new design is 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 and 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.

— several of you asked for us to share more about the PPB process and we decided the Luminary 12 and 15 PPBs would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

List of New Features and Updates To the Luminary 12 and Luminary 15
Note: the detailed why and how behind these features and updates are shared over here in the pre-order announcement for the Luminaries. We’re listing the features below as they are referenced multiple times in the PPB notes.

  • Zipper sliders for the side pockets now close to the top rather than to the bottom.
  • Side pockets are deeper (wider) so they can accommodate a wider variety of phones and phablets, notably the larger varieties. One of the side pockets is a bit taller than the other, so even some pretty gigantic phones will now fit. Matthew’s HTC U Ultra fits in the taller zippered side pocket of the Luminary 12 and in both zippered side pockets of the Luminary 15.
  • The piping (the trim that sits in the seam between the front panel and the top/sides of the pack) is now color-matched.
  • Small zippered pocket added to the inside upper front.
  • New size — Luminary 15 — is approximately 15% taller and 10% wider than the original Luminary 12, while its thickness (or depth, as it projects away from your back) remains pretty much the same with both sizes. Padded back pocket fits laptops up to the size of a 13″ MacBook Pro.

Notes From Our Luminary 12 and Luminary 15 Pre-Production Meetings

PPB Launch Meeting

Fabric laid up, marker clamped, ready to be cut by Irma.

Victor and Irma double check the ply count. Well three times, really.

Irma cuts: perfect as always.

Meeting Questions:

  • Any questions or issues with Bill of Materials?
  • Open discussion with Lisa/Fong
  • Insights or instructions from designer + production engineer (Tom, Nik)

Action Item(s):

  • Nik, Mike, and Fong ask Irma if the marker needs any adjustments.

Mike’s notes from the actual Luminary 12 and Luminary 15 PPB Launch Meeting. Includes feedback from Irma, Tom, Lisa, Fong, Mike, and Nik:

  • Overview of the changes from this version of the Luminary from the original: new interior pocket, matching piping, revised zipper stop/garage on side zippers.
  • Noted that on current piping foot for the sewing machine, it scrapes the zipper end piece and rubs the paint off. Possible solutions to look into: modify or get a different piping foot or cut the zippers ourselves and sew on a stopper. Nik is investigating new feet and Fong made a sample of the pocket by cutting our own zipper for us to evaluate. Resolution: we will cut the zippers ourselves and sew on a stopper.
  • Discussed seam inside laptop sleeve. Tom determined it would be easy to topstitch that seam and the seam would then lay flat inside that pocket. Sew by samples were marked with that change.
  • Tom discussed the notches and importance of lining them up properly, He noted that one of the notches that should have been a slant was done straight instead (on the marker). Marker will be adjusted. Lisa and Fong will discuss notches at follow up PPB meetings.
  • Happy mistake: the wings were on the marker so they will match the exterior of the bag. Original sample had black wings.
  • Tom talked briefly about the new garage zipper stoppers. These will be die cut and have not been done yet.
  • Noted that the pre-cut zipper we order for the Luminary 15 needs to be 1/5″ shorter next time we order. I will note that on the Luminary 15 PPB notes. This of course depends on our not deciding to go forward with cutting our own zippers.


Interim PPB Check-In

Cut parts arrive on the sewing floor, last minute questions answered.

Lisa makes a suggestion for an edit to a notch placement; Nik takes note.

Fong explains to Tom a detail about the interior pocket zipper.

Meeting Questions:

  • Notches: any to add, subtract, or move?
  • Any issues with materials?
  • Adjustments or corrections to BOM needed?
  • Any problems with machines or tools?
  • Any issues with ergonomics/ease of assembly?
  • Any problems overall?
  • Any feedback from the crew?

Action Item:

  • Tom, Nik, Mike, and Lisa take one bag to QA and go over particular points of importance in the QA process of the design. Answer any questions QA have.
  • Mike confirms with Irma that marker works; if not, posts to-do for Nik in our project management software.

Notes from the Luminary 12 and Luminary 15 PPB Check-In:
Shoulder strap construction:

  • Victor contributed an important improvement as to how the shoulder straps are assembled. He experimented on his own and found that using a small paint roller on the finished strap allowed him to more firmly adhere the foam to the fabric. Victor suggested we build something like an old-fashioned clothes wringer that he could run the strap through when it was done. Turned out that somebody already makes a simple but strong clothes ringer for use on boats: we got one, made some minor modifications and Victor’s literally cranking out new straps.
  • Victor noted that the small guide pegs in the registration/assembly boards are having a tendency to pop out — we’re working on fixing that. Resolution: glue!
  • We discussed yield and layout of die cutting process with Ben (who will be doing the die cutting).
  • Direction of the stretch material is critical for proper construction — Tom created a schematic as a guide:

  • Lisa requested an additional registration/assembly board so we can have two people working on the process if needed.
  • The notches for the tricky spot on each side is going together well– no problems reported in the process and the bags look like they’re well lined up.
  • The change to the cut-to-length zipper on the inside pocket is going fine.
  • No problem to top-stitch the seam inside the laptop compartment to make it smoother entry/exit of the end user’s device.


PPB Final Review

We’re feeling pretty confident 🙂

Velia explains the nuances of QA-ing the Luminary.

Meeting Questions:

  • How did the bags go through QA?
  • What questions did we ask and answer?
  • Any final thoughts?

Action Items:

  • Mike checks in on issues or opportunities for improvement identified in previous meetings: was action taken / were improvements made?
  • Mike + designer (Tom or Nik) spot check bags that went through QA; anything missed?
  • Mike types up a summary of the three meetings for the PPB and posts it in our project management software.

Luminary 12 and Luminary 15 Final PPB Review Notes

  • Watch closely the bartack on the zipper garage. The bartack should be lined up on both the inside and the outside.
  • Include Key Strap and Cord Zipper Pulls in outside right pocket.
  • Tom’s magic power is to find the one bag with a flaw when he spot-check QAs a batch of bags. He found a skipped stitch on the mesh interior pockets in one Luminary; all Luminaries were checked to see if any others had this flaw and they did not.



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.


News Briefs

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

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

Early reviews of the Luminary 12 / 15 from the Forum community are in. See L15 reviews by logan_g, G42, Lia, anna2222, Quiltmama, and L12 reviews by marbenais, awurrlu and L12/L15 comparison reviews by Cristina, aedifica, bartleby.

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