New: Whistle Sternum Strap Half ($5)

Whistle Sternum Strap Half for TOM BIHN backpacks and convertible travel bags

It’s become an important part of our EDC (Every Day Carry) over recent years: the whistle. The classic use of the safety whistle is, of course, signaling you’re in distress and need help: three sharp blasts in succession, followed by a pause of at least one minute, and repeated until a response is received. The shrill sound of a whistle is likely to carry much further than the human voice and requires much less energy. Remember, the number three is key in distress situations: a distress signal can be three fires or piles of rocks in a triangle, three blasts on a whistle, or three flashes of a light.

Our Whistle Sternum Strap Half ($5; available for order now and ships within one business day) features a nearly impossible-to-lose whistle integrated into the male (usually the left) half of the sternum strap buckle used on our Brain Bag, Smart Alec, and Synapse backpacks, as well as all three of our convertible travel bags — the Tri-Star, Aeronaut, and Western Flyer with backpack straps. The Whistle Sternum Strap Half is available as an optional upgrade on all these bags: select one at the time of buying one of the above mentioned bags and you’ll receive it along with the standard sternum strap, allowing you to swap or carry a backup strap. The Whistle Sternum Strap replaces one half of the standard sternum strap and is also available for purchase on its own for anyone with any of the above bags made after 2005 (TOM BIHN packs made before about 2005 will have a 1″ wide sternum strap and this new whistle strap won’t work with those): simply remove the standard male half of the sternum strap half you’ve been using all these years and replace it with the Whistle Sternum Strap Half.

TOM BIHN Whistle Sternum Strap Half for backpacks and travel bags

The Whistle Sternum Strap Half is available in Steel Grey if you want your whistle be obvious and easy to see, or Bright Orange if you want it to be really obvious and really easy to see.

Worldwide travel expert Jodi Ettenberg wrote a great post on safety whistles. You might be surprised to read about the situations in which her whistle came in handy. (Jodi’s whistle is different than ours, but you get the idea).

Have a dog (or two or four) that hike with you? You can train them to come to the sound of your whistle. It’ll likely take constant practice, patience, and lots of high value treats to train your dog to
come to the sound of a whistle, but it can be very useful in situations when your dogs are off leash and you need them to return immediately. Note: if you’re whistling for your dog, or just testing out your new whistle, try one sharp blast or two, and make sure to give enough time between blasts so that no one thinks you’re really in trouble.

Whistle Sternum Strap Half for TOM BIHN backpacks and convertible travel bags

P.S. We’re working on a whistle that can be added to just about any TOM BIHN bag. Stay tuned.

The Gadgeteer reviews the Camera I-O

“I like Tom Bihn’s Camera I-O. It’s a nice size for a day bag, but it’s sturdy and protective enough to use as your only bag. You can easily configure the interior to fit your gear, and just as easily change it for a different collection of gear. Attaching the optional Quivers makes it easy to take along a tripod. You’re only limited by your equipment and the strength of the person toting the gear!”

Read the full review (with many photos) by Janet Cloninger at The Gadgeteer.

Gadgeteer reviews the TOM BIHN Camera I-O bag

“It’s like we get to travel with mini-VW’s that never break down.”

Below is an email sent to us by K.

“The Tri-Star is honestly one of the most beautifully crafted pieces I have handled in a long time. My husband’s arrived last week and there was no option but to order my very own. I’ve never had that kind of reaction to a product. We recently sold our beloved VW Westfalia and we have both been comparing the ingenuity of the Tri-Star to the VW – lean, thoughtful and just plain clever. For us, that is the highest praise of all.

So, a big thanks to Mr. Bihn and crew. It’s like we get to travel with mini-VW’s that never break down. (And we can go much further!)”

TOM BIHN Tri-Star and a VW Westfalia
The Tri-Star in Black/Steel.

Shout-Out for Gracie and People Who Do Good

Update: minutes after we posted this, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley announced that Gracie had been adopted. Pretty cool.

On a recent road trip through the West (testing some new designs, and some current designs made out of new materials) we stopped by the Iconoclast bookstore in Ketchum, Idaho. At the register, we noticed a display advertising a Labrador Retriever mix named Gracie available for adoption; she’d been at the local no-kill Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley for a while, just waiting for the right home.

Here’s what really caught our attention — along with Gracie’s photo, the animal shelter had bound a book with Gracie’s photo on the cover. The title was “Gracie’s Story”. When we opened the book, we saw that the first page said this: “I don’t have much of a story yet. Will you adopt me and help me write the rest?” and the remainder of the pages were blank.

Gracie seemed like a pretty cool dog (I never met a dog I didn’t like) and if we weren’t full-up in the canine department we’d have squeezed her on board with the rest of the traveling zoo. But what really struck us was how creative the folks at the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley were in trying to find Gracie a home. They were inventive, they cared, and it showed. As soon as we got home, we sent an email to the shelter offering a Synapse and Citizen Canine for the upcoming Dog Days of Summer auction benefitting the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

Anyway, we wanted to share this with you because:

1) We like to support non-profits who do good things for the world, and it’s even better if that’s done in a creative way. If you run or work for or volunteer at a non-profit that fits that description, email us: we’ll see if we can donate a bag for your next auction or fundraiser. (Our Giving Back page lists some of the non-profits we’ve donated to.)

2) We figured one of you folks who reads our blog might be looking to add a happy-go-lucky Yellow Lab mix to your family. If that’s the case, Gracie is waiting for you. Scratch that: after 9 months of living at the ASWRV and in a loving foster home, Gracie was adopted on Friday, July 6th.

Gracie is available for adoption

flitcraft’s review of the Travel Tray

Read the full review — and responses from other TOM BIHN Forum members — here.

I bought the Travel Tray on a whim when making a holiday order from Tom Bihn. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m pretty hard-core about traveling light, so any extra weight–even a few ounces–has to pay its freight and then some. Having said that, I travel a lot internationally, but not to four star international chain hotels. So, unlike a lot of light packers who insist that you shouldn’t pack things that you *might* need, I prefer to pack a lot of items that I hope I won’t need, but that would be a real hassle to have to pick up on the road. So when I’m on the road, I tote along stuff like: a few bandaids, tweezers, a tiny sewing kit, a business card case, a magnifying mirror, a few Lara bars for emergency snacks, nail clippers, a mini flashlight, small packets of over the counter pills (because who wants to be trawling the streets of Kuala Lumpur searching for a place that sells Immodium when you made an unwise choice of dinner at a street stall?), etc. Not things that weigh a lot, but lots of little items. Stuff that is a pain to keep organized when you travel, especially when you room in places that don’t have drawers to corral your stuff.

Enter the travel tray–it’s light as can be, but holds an amazing amount of miscellaneous stuff and keeps everything in one easy-to-search place. And when it’s time to move on, the drawstring closure lets you just cinch it up tight, and tuck it into a corner of your Tom Bihn packing cube and toss it all into your bag. Nothing gets lost, nothing insinuates itself into cracks and crevices and hides itself away so that you find yourself wondering whether you left it back at the last hotel. Easy-peasy organizing for those of us who secretly wish we could just tie up our stuff in a bandana on a stick and hit the road. The travel tray is the next best thing.

So, do you need a travel tray? Nope–it’s clearly an optional accessory that the traveler could do without. But will I ever hit the road again without mine? No how, no way.

– flitcraft

flitcraft's review of the TOM BIHN Travel Tray
Photo from the Travel Tray photo set on Flickr. Submit your photos to us for inclusion:

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day from TOM BIHN

Illustration on the shipping box by Scott, TB Shipping Lead. See more of Scott’s illustrations.

Free shipping to APO addresses

For a while now, we’ve removed the shipping charge on orders shipping to APO addresses: it’s one small way of saying thanks to the folks who serve this country. We didn’t tell anyone we were doing this — it’s just something that we, on the fly, decided was the right thing to do.

Now we’ve made it official: during the checkout process, you’ll see the Priority Mail [Free to APOS] to shipping option if you enter an APO address. And just because it’s free doesn’t mean your order will be delayed or sent via a slow shipping method: it’ll be the same fast service everyone gets.

By the way: when we introduced our Brain Bag backpack in Universal Camouflage, we offered customers in active duty military the option to swap their current, non-camouflage Brain Bag for the Universal Camouflage version. That offer still stands. Email us for details.

TOM BIHN Brain Bag in Universal Camouflage and Free Shipping to APOs

In stock: Aeronaut in Black/Iberian

All colors of Aeronaut (including Black/Iberian) except for Forest/Steel, Forest/Ultraviolet, and Black/Steel are now in stock and ready to ship. Oh: there’s another color of Aeronaut that isn’t in stock yet, but if we told you what that color was, it would reveal our new color of ultralight Dyneema/nylon ripstop fabric. So you’ll have to wait a little longer on that one. Here’s a hint: it’s Black/

The Aeronaut in Black/Black/Iberian

See: the Aeronaut

RedBeard: Bags for 10 day US Go Association trip

“Here is our regular travel set, a Aeronaut and Checkpoint Flyer for me and Tri-Star with ID for my partner, on the way to the 10 day US Go Association convention last summer. Each of us packed 3 days of casual clothes, 1 set of formal clothes with shoes, and sleep ware. Spread across the bags are also 1 laptop and 2 cameras with power bricks, 3 hats, toiletries, laundry gear, and assorted travel accessories.”

Read the full post by Red Beard in the Forums.

Bags for 10 day US Go Association convention