“Sometime around 1987 or 1988, I was living in an old house on Beach Hill in Santa Cruz, California. That year I had a small Halloween party at my house. Guests were trickling in, and at some point I looked out the front window and down the driveway. Keep in mind, this house was about 100 years old and the window glass was quite rippled.
Through the window I thought I saw a giant TOM BIHN backpack coming down the drive. I immediately looked around the the front room in which I was standing, to see which of my packs was being so strangely reflected and distorted in the window glass.
There was no pack like the one I had seen coming down the drive in the room, so I looked out the window again. There, coming down the drive, was a TOM BIHN backpack the size of a human, five or six feet tall.
I thought to myself “I must be sewing too many packs – I’m imagining things.” I looked again and the human sized backpack was stepping up to the door and ringing the doorbell.
Here’s some recent feedback we’ve received via email.
“Dear Tom Bihn,
My husband and I have just returned from just under one month on west coast USA and in Canada, where we travelled only with one carry-on Aeronaut bag each, plus a small shoulder bag (for this I had one of your backpacks, the one that actually fits into the Aeronaut if required, in which I stowed my handbag, plus reading material and extra clothing for the plane trips). We are in our mid-60s. For packing our Aeronaut bags we each used one large Packing Cube and two small ones. I did some careful selection of clothes ahead of time and we managed fine! It was a liberating experience and we are now getting ready for a trip to South America travelling the same way. None of our friends can understand how we managed it. I told them you need to have, first, the right head-set – who cares if you don’t have multiple changes of clothes, as long as they are easily washed – and second, the correct luggage. Thanks heaps!
“I’ve had my Small Cafe Bag for just over a week, and it’s fantastic. Just exactly what I was looking for – bag big enough to handle a few small electronic devices (camera, phone) plus a bit more, but not too small, and not so big that it’s just a messenger bag. I love the quality, the little rings inside, the zippered front pocket, the back slash pocket, and the color (black/wasabi). Just wanted to say a big thank you to you all.”
“I recently became an owner of a Tom Bihn Super Ego (my first ever TB bag) and I have to say I love it! I carry it everyday to work and even when I pop out to the shops and never complain about it. I even pack in the 2XL brain cell with my Dell Studio 17 …. even when I don’t need to. I had my friend’s 8 week old kittens scrambling all over it with their claws and there isn’t a single loose thread or tear anywhere. The most rigorous use has been to a War Re-enactor’s show where I wore it (with a laptop inside) for 5 hours straight. I made use of the sidebelt but other than that it was fairly comfy. I don’t think your average laptop bag would have survived the trip (or my shoulder). I was also impressed with the box that my Super Ego arrived in. firstly, because you shipped it to England within 7 days! Thats faster than some of the UK national postal companies. Secondly, because it was in a box. When I’ve bought bags and pouches on-line, the retailer tends to stuff the pouches all inside the bag and then fold the bag into as small a space as possible before shipping out to the customer. This deforms the bag to such a degree that creases remain, which I find really annoying. It also makes me wonder just how much they care about their customers. Additionally, all the plastic wrapping and paperwork is also removed. Admittedly, this all saves weight and space but sometimes I do wonder if I have been sold a returned/second hand item. I was amazed to see the Super Ego, Brain Cell, Freudian Slip and Snake Charmer lying in pristine condition in the TB box (oh brown container of lovelies) with all the tags present and accounted for. I think the freudian slip still has the tag attached!
Anyhoo, just wanted to say I think the bag is excellent and I can’t stop showing it off to all my mates! Thought you might like to know that the 2XL Horizontal Brain Cell fits my dell Studio 17 with the extended battery.”
“I used the shoulder straps a lot more than I ever did with the Aeronaut. Not sure why. In backpack mode I was able to run through a crowded Gatwick airport and catch a train (the station is much further away than I thought). With a wheeled case, I wouldn’t be so mobile, and would definitely have missed the connection.”
What you’re probably looking at in this photo of the Co-Pilot bag is the iPad 2 (inside of a Cache) or iPhone. Notice too the finished seams of the pocket I’m holding back to reveal the iPhone. We forget to tell you that we finish all of the seams on the inside of all of our bags because we can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t. But we’re reminded, when we see bags from other manufacturers, that not everyone does. Here’s why we finish the seams: #1 – so the cut edges of the fabric won’t fray – frayed fabric can get caught in zippers and eventually can allow the seam to fail; #2 – finished seems will look and feel better to you, the user; #3 – lastly, they let you know we take this sewing thing seriously – we’re not trying to get it done and out the door as quickly as possible.
“I am on my way around the world and thought I should post some pictures of my new Brain Bag in some interesting locations. The itinerary goes like this; London, Delhi, Manila, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and some various places in mainland China. I missed getting pictures in London and Delhi, I will do better from here on out.”
The Brain Bag in Manila, Philippines. Posted by Jpenrod in the TOM BIHN Forums.
In Part 1 of the Camera Insert Update, we showed you what the Camera Insert can fit. In Part 2, Tom describes hiking in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks with the Brain Bag fully loaded with the Camera Insert and equipment.
One of our first hikes of the trip was the Peek-A-Boo trail, which leaves the rim of Bryce Canyon at Bryce Point, descending several hundred feet and heading north just about a mile to the first trail junction. From there the trail descends a further 500 feet and heads east, then bottoming out and looping back west and south, climbing the roughly 1000 feet it dropped back to Bryce Point. The Peek-A-Boo Trail winds through numerous tunnels, cut through the sandstone. I remember looking down into Bryce Canyon when I was eight years old (see photo below) and those tunnels have fascinated me ever since. It was great to have finally hiked the Peek-A-Boo.
The Brain Bag was great: I won’t say it was like carrying nothing at all, but considering the heavy load, even I was surprised at how comfortable it was. We brought a water filter so we didn’t need to carry extra water, but Darcy’s camera stuff more than made up for that savings in weight. The mesh back panel of the Brain Bag didn’t eliminate sweat buildup but considering the heat in the upper 80s and the 30+ pound load, I had no complaints. Keep in mind that the Brain Bag was designed for rigorous everyday, urban use; our hikes in Zion and Bryce Canyon were above-and-beyond what the pack was intended for and yet the Brain Bag performed like a champ.
The next day we hiked the Northgate Peaks Trail, leaving from from the Wildcat Trailhead in the Kolob Plateau area. This is a relatively high-elevation trail and hiking was a bit cooler, but the elevation made the work harder, too. We did a bit of cross-country from the end of the trail, climbing to the top of a small knob just ’cause. It was great to get away from the crowds of Zion Canyon and the views were stunning.
Inside of the Brain Bag, we used a prototype of the Camera Insert. I’ve been developing the Camera Insert with the help of my brother Dan, who is a professional photographer in Colorado. With its adjustable dividers, the Camera Insert was able to carry Darcy’s Canon 7D body, Canon 50mm f/1.4, 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, and 70-200mm f/2.8L lenses, a Small Padded Organizer Pouch with memory cards, and a 3D Clear Organizer Cube containing a filter, battery charger, extra batteries, lens blower/brush, cleaning cloths, cleaning solution, and remote shutter release cord, all organized and easy to get at, safely protected from external impacts and each other. The padding of the Camera Insert along with the padding on the back of the Brain Bag protected me from all that equipment, too – essential for carrying such a load all day.
While we mostly used it inside of the Brain Bag on this trip, the Camera Insert has padded handles and attachment points for a shoulder strap so it can be used as a stand-alone camera/lens case when desired. Sometimes, the best opportunities to see and take photos of wildlife are from the road, and keeping the Camera Insert in the front seat of the car kept Darcy’s camera gear easily accessible.
We also used a tripod bag that is designed to attach to the Camera Insert when used alone, but we attached it to the front of the Brain Bag and that was perfect for our hikes.
We’re not ready to show you the actual Camera Insert – yet. I’m making a few materials changes that will change how the Camera Insert looks ever-so-slightly. Stay tuned for more updates as the Camera Insert comes closer to being available for pre-order.
“My husband and I returned Saturday from a Fall Break vacation to Boston with our five children and my husband’s sister. We flew from Louisville and connected to our flight to Boston in Baltimore. My husband carried his Aeronaut and a Small Cafe bag. I carried my Tri-Star and a Medium Cafe bag. Our three oldest children carried, among a few other things, Synapse’s. And, our girls took their new Field Journal Notebooks, which they received for their birthdays.”