“Just a quick note: I’m confirming that the Soft Cell that I purchased recently for my MacbookPro-17 (Size 1 Vertical Soft Cell) does appear to satisfy the new TSA requirement for being a “Checkpoint Friendly bag”, at least in my first experience at PDX yesterday. They didn’t even question me when I put the Soft Cell containing the MBP as a separate item on the belt.” Read merlyn’s entire post in the TOM BIHN Forums. See the Soft Cell.
“Don’t let the name of Tom Bihn’s Yarn Stuff Sack throw you off. While it’s true that this Japanese-made Dyneema rip-stop fabric bag was created to work perfectly with their Swift knitting bag, this approximately 9.5″ wide x 8.25″ tall drawstring bag can also manage all sorts of lose gadget peripherals.
Let’s take a look…”
– Read Judie Lipsett’s Gear Diary review of the Stuff Sack. Or, see the Stuff Sack for yourself.
“So far, I absolutely love this bag. Every little design detail is just about right on the money. As I huge fan of heuristics, usability and product design I have been completely impressed with the whole package. The use of space, the positioning of pockets, the little details… everything is just smartly laid out so that you don’t have to fidget and fumble for what you are looking for.
I should also mention the fact that the customer service is top notch. Darcy is amazingly patient and helpful; I also made a mistake on the night I ordered the bag (wrong color) and called about 10 minutes after customer service closed… I think Tom himself picked up the phone and made the correction immediately. It does not get any better than that, my friends.”
CanusDom writes: “I have been using my WF [Western Flyer] regularly since I bought it back in January. It was well worth taking the time and finding the Tom Bihn store in Seattle!! The WF is great for anything up to about 4/5 days.” — Follow the thread Wester Flyer as a ‘Suitcase’?? in our Forums.
“I have been the proud owner of a Brain Bag for 4 years and it accompanied me on all my trips since the day I ordered it.” Read backpack’s entire review of the Brain Bag backpack and Large Cafe shoulder bag.
The Convertible Packing Cube/Backpack (like the Convertible Packing Cube/Shoulder Bag) is a Packing Cube that can be used with our Aeronaut or Western Flyer carry-on travel bags to organize and keep your clothing neat and separated from the other items in the bag. Once you reach your destination, you can remove the contents of the Packing Cube and right-side it out, transforming it into a backpack with two compartments. Available for pre-order now, ships by late September. $35.
“I designed the Convertible Packing Cube/Backpack as a result of customer requests from our Forums; in fact, I think it’s the first product we’ve made that was 100% inspired by customer feedback. Many of the details, of course, reflect my design experience, and my sewing crew helped to refine some of the subtleties of the construction. Over-all, it was truly a group effort.”
First feedback on the Convertible Packing Cube/Backpack:
“Decided to actually use the cube/backpack as it was intended. It holds a large amount as a packing cube. Since I was using a new/different bag, I was able to also pack the smaller narrow compartment on the bottom of the cube. Almost everything i was carrying fit in the cube (4 shirts, 1 pair shorts, 1 pair slacks, pj’s – yeah, I know — 3 pair underwear and socks, workout clothing). Before putting in the bag, I wandered around using it as a backpack – surprisingly comfortable – and easy to get on and off. It’s well constructed and amazingly light when empty.” — Read more of rabergnc’s first thoughts on the bag in the TOM BIHN Forums.
“Certainly one of the biggest stories these days in laptop bag news is the new designs that meet the TSA (Transportation Security Authority – those guys at the US airports with the xray machines) guidelines for a “checkpoint friendly” bag. Ideally this means no more taking your laptop out of its bag when it goes through the xray. Faster security lines. Better for your bag.
I did a post on the TSA guidelines over at my FunChiCo blog, but didn’t have any first hand experience with any of the bags. However, I stopped by the Tom Bihn factory in Seattle on my way home from BlogHer last month. Tom had an early prototype of the bag, but he wasn’t quite ready for me to blog about it. Now, however, it’s been released and is available for pre-order with shipping in late September 2008. So, here’s the scoop on the Checkpoint Flyer from Tom Bihn.” — Read on for the full scoop. Or, see the Checkpoint Flyer for yourself.
“I have been able to pack my size 48 blazer in the Aeronaut without too much trouble. I put the blazer on a light weight hanger in a standard garment bag. After I have my packing cubes ready, I lay the garment bag on the open Areonaut and tuck the bottom of the bag into the main compartment with the top half of the bag draped over the back. I pack the cubes on top of this and then tuck the top of the garment bag over the cubes. This makes a loose bundle, with the garment bag around the packing cubes. I have done this with just a wool blazer and with a full poly/cotton suit with minimal wrinkles.” — Read the entire forum thread for more user experiences packing a blazer in the TOM BIHN Aeronaut maximum carry-on bag.
Above: a picture of the Aeronaut in Heathrow Airport posted by Zephyrnoid in the TOM BIHN Forums.
In July, dmr posted this question in the TOM BIHN Forums:
“I’m looking to purchase a Tom Bihn bag for my son who is starting high school this fall. First off, he needs a backpack that can carry a great deal of “stuff” back and forth from school. I’m talking books, folders, school supplies, a 1L SIGG bottle, lunch, etc.”
Forum members ozone and BJ Nemeth recommended the Brain Bag, as did backpack, who noted: “I wish I had a Brain Bag in high school! I have one now, it so well balanced, has such adequate cushion on the back and straps and it is a very sturdy item it is the greatest backpack I ever owned.” ratdeau suggested the Smart Alec, as “My two daughters have a Smart Alec with Freudian Slip. Two years of use and still perfect.”
dmr ended up ordering the Brain Bag. The result?
“My son’s Brain Bag and its accessories came just in the nick of time, the day before school started. The Brain Bag doesn’t look much bigger than any other back pack but I was amazed when my son brought back all of his textbooks, there were seven of them, and assorted workbooks, etc. at the end of that day. They all fit in his new backpack with some room to spare! I could barely lift the thing, but he won’t be taking that much with him back and forth every day, at least I hope not! Wow! That’s all I can say for now, just “Wow!”
The Checkpoint Flyer consists of two elements: the laptop case (a modified Archetype) and the main bag. The two elements are attached at their bottom edges with two
“Gatekeeper” clips, which are basically oblong plastic carabiners. Gatekeepers are made of tough nylon and securely hold the two elements together, yet they can be opened to allow
you to change to a different size of laptop compartment should you aquire a new laptop – you can also detach the two elements and use them separately.
The two Gatekeepers also act as a hinge
so that the laptop compartment can swing away from the rest of the bag when you lay the whole affair down onto the conveyor belt at the checkpoint. This allows the laptop
element to be clearly seen by TSA personnel as the bag passes through the ray machine.
Both the laptop element and the main bag have Poron-padded handles: when the Checkpoint Flyer is folded up for carrying, the handle of the laptop element pops through
a slot in the top of the flap of the main bag.
Though you can carry the Checkpoint Flyer by either the laptop compartment’s handle or the main bag’s handle,
we recommend that you carry it by both handles when carried as a briefcase; it’s more comfortable and secure that way. The exterior flap should be buckled down in any event, especially should you choose to carry the bag with Absolute Shoulder Strap as a shoulder bag.
To expedite your passage through the checkpoint, as you approach the checkpoint, hold the Checkpoint Flyer’s handles in one hand while unsnapping
the front flap’s buckles with the other hand. At the conveyor belt, lay the Checkpoint flyer on its back, lift and unfold the flap in in the obvious direction and
the laptop compartment in the other direction; then flop the flap back to its original position. Takes less time to do than to say it — think 3 seconds or so.
It’s sort of like unwrapping a burritio to add some salsa to it, but only wrapping it half-way back up again. Reverse the proceedure at the end of the conveyor belt.
Don’t forget to put your shoes back on!