Seattle Snow!

Lisa and Fong (Sewing Supervisors) at our Seattle factory/headquarters checking out the snow as it began to fall on Friday

We closed early at 1:00pm on Friday and good thing: as predicted, the snow started falling just around then and by Saturday morning many of us had as much as 9″ of snow at our homes around the greater Seattle area.

More snow is predicted for Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday and even later in the week; some are estimating we could see as much as 16″ of snow before the week ends. As of today, we don’t foresee any delays in getting to the factory and getting orders processed and shipped, emails answered, and all of that good stuff we usually do Monday through Friday, but we’ll let you know if anything changes. Speaking of which: our production crew had two snow days last week and, if weather predictions are accurate, we expect they may have more snow days this week. That means that production is a little behind schedule. If any of the bags currently in production will be significantly delayed, we’ll let you know.

The snow and ice can be treacherous and it definitely interferes with getting our work done, but we’ve also been managing to have a lot of fun with it. Here’s a few of the photos we’ve taken so far, out and about in the last two days!

Grocery run with Zip-Top Shop Bags!

Friday evening walk in the snow.

The neighborhood coffee place was open!!!

These two photos were shared by NWHikergal in the Forums.

This snowperson deserves a hug.

You know, just a typical Saturday in Seattle practicing with the sled dog team down the neighborhood street…


2018 Knitted Wearables For Our Crew

For several years now the wonderful people over on the TOM BIHN Ravelry group have made us a trove of hand-made gifts — hats, gloves, scarves, shawls and other wonderfully knitted, crocheted, and woven items.

The day of the holiday party is a busy one here at the TOM BIHN headquarters and factory in Seattle, and this year was no exception. We had vegetarian Chinese food (salt and pepper tofu, chow mein, fried rice, vegetable braised dry stir fry chow fun) and egg tarts and gluten-free, vegan red velvet brownies for dessert. It was also the day of our annual employee bag giveaway — when the rare bags with (very) minor flaws collected throughout the year from the factory floor are given away to each TB crew member via a number draw.

The real highlight of our party is when each crew member gets to choose a knitted/crocheted/woven item (this year, it was hats, scarves, cowls and shawls). And new this year, which added a lot of excitement: Forum member G42 gifted our entire crew with hand-made earrings. Each crew member was able to choose a knitted scarf, shawl, or cowl and a pair of earrings.

Photos of the party (taken by Jenny and Joe) — the crew, the food, knitted items, and earrings — are below, as are individual photos of each and every knitted item made for us.

Many thanks goes to the TOM BIHN Ravelry group for their dedication to this tradition. As you can see in the photos, it brings a lot of joy to us. Special thanks to Annie, a knitter and Ravelry member local to Seattle who coordinates the whole effort and delivers the knitted items.


2018 Recap

TOM BIHN Crew 2018
This is us at our holiday party! Note the guest of honor in the photo: June Johnson, TOM BIHN Production Manager Emeritus.


How we used to accept backorders and pre-orders, why we stopped, and why we began again to do so.

The really long FAQ all about how our new pre-order system works.

You guys told us you like the new pre-order system for new design debuts and we worked hard to make it as efficient as possible on the production/shipping/customer service side of things. To us, that means it was a success. We expect most major design debuts going forward (with the exception of the Cyber Monday debut) to be pre-order debuts.


Updates on the Luminary backpacks

We shared two updates on the Luminary backpacks:
New Luminary Backpacks Are In The Works
Update on the Luminary backpacks

And a third update — today (Tuesday, January 8th) Victor and Irma spread and Irma cut the PPB (pre-production batch) of the Luminary 14:


New or Updated Designs

On the left is Nik’s Minimalist Wallet #3 in Island. On the right, the wallet from which our photographer downsized.

Nik’s Minimalist Wallets
The Truck
Small Zip-Top Shop Bag
Large Zip-Top Shop Bag
Shadow Guide
Road Buddy Duffel 36
Road Buddy Duffel 60
Aeronaut 45 Internal Frame
Aeronaut 30 Internal Frame
Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt
Mesh/Aether Packing Cubes
Freudian Slips in 210d ballistic nylon colors
Tom’s Firewood Carrier

We debuted new Mesh/Aether Packing Cubes. Design criteria: packing cubes that don’t weigh much, allow one to see the contents of the Packing Cube without revealing too much and provide enough body and structure to make packing the cube easier. This also marked the debut of a new color of Aether: Island blue.

Based on feedback shared in our Forums, we adjusted the size of our Passport Pouch and decided to offer the new size in two versions: RFID-blocking and non-RFID-blocking.

We introduced totally optional internal frames and a padded hip belt for the Aeronaut 30 and Aeronaut 45 travel bags.

Our first pre-order of 2018 was for The Truck, Zip-Top Shop Bags, and a special production run of the Small Original Shop Bag.

We made Freudian Slips in a variety of 210d ballistic nylon colors.

Our last debut of 2018 featured four designs: Nik’s Minimalist Wallets, the Shadow Guide, Road Buddy Duffels, and Tom’s Firewood Carrier.


Retired Designs

The Field Journal Notebook bid its final farewell after returning from retirement one last time.

We retired the Packing Cubes sized specifically for the Pilot, Night Flight Travel Duffel, Stowaway, Hero’s Journey and Yeoman Duffels. We also made a list of the Packing Cubes and Stuff Sacks that work great in the place of those bag-specific cubes.


Essays, Reflections, Notable Posts

Tom sewing in the factory

Over the past several years, interest in designing bags has increased. We’ve given several tours to folks who want to become bag designers (including an eight-year-old who wanted to become a bag designer to earn enough money to help her family adopt a sister for her!) In this blog post, Tom shared his advice for prospective bag designers.

Darcy’s blog post On The Design Process: Inspiration, Timeline, Testing shares some insights on Tom and Nik’s design processes and explains a little bit why some new designs take so darn long to make their way to you (ahem, Luminaries….)

Chef Simoni shared another recipe with us and we got to interview him this time.

Tom’s thoughts on top-loader packs and why some people love ’em and others…. don’t.


Bag FAQs

Our Packing Cubes FAQ answers everything from “How necessary are Packing Cubes?” to “Should I fold, roll, or bundle pack my clothes in Packing Cubes?”

The Aeronaut 30/45 Travel Bags FAQ answers questions ranging from “What does Tom consider to be some of the more unique features and aspects of the Aeronaut design?” to “Why not just include the Internal Frame and sew in the Padded Hip Belt?” and “Can I lock the zippers of my Aeronaut?”.

Tote Bags: Frequently Asked Questions answers common wonderings 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?” and “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?”



The photo posted by bouncing in the Forums that kicked off the “>”Post your favorite travel photo” thread.

Countron made its debut on the Forums.

kathryn on our forum asks for some bite-sized happiness, and the forum delivers!

Some amazing photos from our forum members!

A great discussion about why our members’ EDCs are their favorites.

Great suggestions from our forumites for two-bag travel combinations.


Guest Posts and Portable Culture Portraits

TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Alexandria
Life is a Verb Campers Alison Campbell, Susan Lucas, and Jeanne d’Orleans on a meetup in Alexandria, Virginia. Photo from Patti Digh’s guest post for our blog.

Libraries Endure
Celebrating libraries with fun library factoids and a list of libraries to visit.

Patti Digh wrote a guest post for our blog all about how bags can create community.

Portable Culture Portraits
An interview series with members of the TOM BIHN Forums.




We released some previously unreleased videos that demonstrate some packing scenarios and tips for the Aeronaut 30, Aeronaut 45, Synapse 25, Western Flyer.


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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