Sunday, July 24, 2011

Company Profile: Tom Bihn

Sometimes it's the individual bags that are really interesting, sometimes it's a company that puts out a lot of interesting bags. Finding these companies is like finding a reliable source, you might not like every bag but often if you like their style and quality, you'll like a lot of these bags. Over time I've found some speciality manufactures who's products I love, and I'll do a little profile on these companies. First is one that's my all time favorite, Tom Bihn.

Now, you'll notice I've got two bags of theirs reviewed, and I have many more. I probably sound like a salesman for them sometime but they have not paid me off in any way, I just love their stuff. Let's get down to it:

Tom Bihn

A small manufacturer based in Seattle, Washington, all bags are made in their factory in Seattle, and their care and craftsmanship shine through. I like the fact that the bags are made by locals, no outsourced manufacturing, and you can feel the love and attention they have for design and manufacture of their bags. Most of their bags are nylon based so it's kinda the more sporty look though the actual designs, I think are elegant and understated. They tend to target a more "travel" person with lots of carry-on and day bags, though also lots of briefcase style bags.

I was first introduced to them by their Brain Bag, (review upcoming) which has been my main backpack for close to 10 years now. It barely shows any wear and it's been good for so many situations.

Right, so the price is a bit high, but it's going to be like that for any of these specialty manufacturers, and you get what you pay for. Excellent quality, thoughtful design, and something that can be used for a lifetime.

You can actually visit their factory in Seattle and meet with the people who make your bags!

Tom Bihn Co-Pilot

Type and Usage:

The Co-Pilot is what I would call a "Satchel" type bag, a small cross shoulder bag, much like a small messenger. Sometimes also known as travel guide bags, it's good for holding the basics, a water bottle, a book, some glasses etc. This strays very firmly onto "Man Purse" territory, though as far as man purses go this one isn't too bad. It's billed as the personal item on an airplane, the bag you can have seat side. It
s not large enough to carry a full laptop, and a small jacket will pretty much fill the whole main chamber.

 Sorry for the picture quality, I took these pictures while traveling in London.

Quick Notes:

Let's face it, it's a purse, just one that would work well for guys. As with everything from Tom Bihn, the quality is impecable, and features are well thought out. It's got enough pockets to organize and have easy access to your everyday things while being small enough to take anywhere. Priced at $110, it's not cheap but good value if you're going to use it everyday.

  • 12" x 10" x 5" / 300 x 255 x 125mm
  • 10 liters / 600
  •  Ballistic nylon: 17.2 ounces / 485 grams
  • Dyneema/nylon: 11.2 ounces / 315 grams
  • $110

Let's face it, some guys want to carry things around too and there is not fashionable way to do so. Backpacks make you look like a student, messengers can be nice but a little large, and you're not bringing your suitcase with you everywhere. Here is a small organized bag that can carry with you everywhere, and look, well kinda o.k.

The picture above shows the basic layout. In the front you have a center pocket that was designed for a water bottle. More on this later. Next two that, two side pockets that easily swallow something like a glasses case or a camera. Behind is the large main pocket. A nice handle makes it easy to pick up and go. Let's go back to front on the features:

In the back, you have an open pocket that's great for quick access things. Magazines fit really nicely here. The bottom of the rear pocket has a zipper so it can be placed on the handle of a rolling luggage:

The main section in the back is the largest pocket. It has two smaller pockets built into the back for more organization. I was able to put my Macbook Air here with no problems, it would fit netbooks but not full size laptops.

The two side interior of the two side pockets shown here, one has slots for pens and pencils, the other a larger soft pockets for cellphones or electronics.

Not shown is that the bottom of the center pocket has a tiny grommet hole that allows water to drain out.

 Here we see how I was using it when I was in Europe as an everyday bag. Sunglasses and medication on the left, the map of London in the very back open pocket. A light jacket/shirt and souvenirs from the British Museum. A water bottle in the center, and a notebook (3x5 moleskine type) on the other pocket.

It worked great as an everyday bag, small enough not to attract too much notice and most places, stores and museums let you in without having to check it in. Same thing on airplanes, no problem taking it as your personal item. With all the pockets it keeps things organized and within reach. That's the reason I like this bag over a small messenger, the ease of access.

The drawback to me is that it is a shoulder bag and that's a personal choice. I'm not the biggest fan of shoulder bags as they bounce if you run, and also you place too much weight on one shoulder. For a bag this small it wasn't too much a problem since you don't have enough to really weigh it down. I didn't use the Tom Bihn straps, instead I swapped it out with a Timbuk2 strap that allowed me to easily shorten the strap when I needed to run. The advantage of this bag is that everything is easily accessible, and easy reach. Disadvantage is that it is a small if you want to put something like a larger jacket, or a change of clothing.

Overall good for an everyday purse