Forum Roundup: Ask the Forum Hive Mind

A theme emerged on the Forum this week: several members were looking to buy a bag or accessory, but weren’t sure which one.  They all turned to fellow forum members for advice about not just what to get, but why they should get it.  Member haraya thought she might need a Synapse for an upcoming trip, but which model, the 19 or the 25?—And was the Synapse actually the best choice?  Click here to see what she needed to carry, and read on for the advice.  Perseffect wanted to know if a Small Cafe Bag would be a good “My First Bihn” bag for her five-year-old daughter, and forum members responded with anecdotes and some insanely cute pictures.  And new member DubbySmurf asked for opinions about the ideal accessories for a college student’s Brain Bag. Read on for suggestions about the accessories forum members recommend most.

Just for fun, dwright17 asked people what they keep in their Stuff Sacks.  Answers so far?  Everything from cables and chargers to first aid kits to knitting projects.  Sometimes, members take it upon themselves to demonstrate potential uses for accessories.  Check out taminca’s photo essay on uses for the new Small Double Organizer Pouch (and stay tuned for her ideas on the soon-to-be-released Medium Double Organizer Pouch).  Finally, Volunteer Moderator maverick wondered if multiple sizes exist for the Synapse and now the Aeronaut, could there be room in the Tom Bihn Bags lineup for a smaller Smart Alec?  Read on for Volunteer Moderator moriond’s historically contextualized reply—and to see pictures of Smart Alec colors from the past!

And now here’s our Pic of the Week:

FJNflower

Proctor’s Field Journal Notebook and a jaunty daffodil.

In stock: Brain Bag, Snake Charmer, Ego, more…

Thanks to our amazing production and shipping crews, the following bags are back in stock and ready to ship:

Ego
Brain Bag
Snake Charmer
Zephyr
Empire Builder in Black/Black/Steel
Medium Cafe Bag
Large Cafe Bag
Small Cafe Bag (most colors: Kelly/Navy and Linen/Navy have already sold out and are, once again, on backorder)

TOM BIHN Medium Cafe Bag in Linen | Made in AmericaMedium Cafe Bag in Linen/Navy.

Guest Post: Dan Weedin, Business Traveler

Guest Post: Dan Weedin, Business Traveler

Avid business traveler Dan (and spouse of  our very own HR/Office Manager, Barb) recently wrote-up this piece for us, offering some insightful tips for headache-free, enjoyable professional travel. Check out what he has to say about our bags, along with some other tidbits of travel advice, below…

Business travel can be viewed in two ways. It can be considered a necessary evil, or a desired experience. I prefer the latter. While it often might seem tedious and grueling, it’s also a heck of a lot of fun if you know what you’re doing and open yourself up to challenge and big-time return on investment! Even in a highly technological age where we can literally transport ourselves all over the world via our iPad or mobile phone, business travel still is a requirement for many of us. You might as well have fun!

I do a fair amount of travel throughout a given year. As a crisis & risk management consultant, executive, coach, professional speaker, and author, I find myself on a plane and traveling around the country (and sometimes the world) in search of new client relationships and new adventures. Living in Seattle makes most of those trips longer. To add to it, many of the cities I fly into don’t have direct flights, so I go up and down a lot!

I’ve recently started using Tom Bihn bags to travel and to say I’m thrilled is an understatement. Look, business travel is about three things, speed, nimbleness, and experience. Carting around a bunch of luggage and waiting and praying that it comes through the baggage carousel puts a big dent in those three things. My favorite bag (by far) is the Tri-Star. The first time I used it was for a 6-day excursion to New Jersey and Rhode Island for business with a weekend in New York with my daughter for fun thrown in right in the middle. I wasn’t at all sure that packing all I would need in one bag was going to fly. I’m a pretty thrifty packer by nature, but I was skeptical.

Turns out, it was awesome. Not only did I get everything in it, I actually overpacked! I didn’t even use all I brought (unfortunately I’m talking about my workout gear…but I did walk a lot). My wife taught me how to pack efficiently and smartly. I was even able to replicate it myself coming home! Here’s the coolest thing, though. I was able to pull out the backpack straps and carry it that way rather than rolling it. Oh my gosh, what a difference in walking through the airport AND Manhattan! I’ll never go back to the old way. If it has to be rolled, it ain’t going! Note: In the case of my golf clubs, I will just have to send them on ahead. We can’t get silly here…

For my fellow business travelers that need to upgrade to fast, nimble, and fun, allow me to offer a few best practices…

1. Use mobile devices for your boarding pass. Almost every airline has their own app that allows this. It’s simple and you don’t have to worry about keeping paper. If you’re smart and carrying on, it’s a straight shot to the security gate.

2. If you are going to have to wear a sports jacket or suit coat later for business, wear it on the plane. You avoid needing to take up space in your bags, plus you actually get treated better by staff. I kid you not. I usually take my black suit coat as it goes with most everything. Then I only need my black shoes (which I also wear to fly). I put on a pear of comfy jeans and not only am I more nimble; I look pretty good, too!

3. Always charge your phones and iPad in advance. I crank them up to 100% the night before, yet I still will recharge whenever possible. I’ve been in too many situations where the battery starts draining and I have no outlet for the foreseeable future. Mobile phones are too important for more than calling. This is crisis management at it’s finest!

4. Speaking of that, become handy with your maps on your phone. I constantly stick my headphones in and map out my destination. I find myself hoofing it through New York, San Francisco, and other ports of call more than I drive. Make sure the “walk” mode is on, not drive. If you wear your ear buds and kind of bounce around like you’re listening to AC/DC, you won’t look like a tourist.

5. Buy Tom Bihn travel bags. Really. They allow you the ability to pack what you really need in a manner to still be efficient. We all tend to over pack if given the alternative. These bags give you latitude to maximize what you must bring. Getting rid of roller bags allows you to dart in and out of crowds, avoid spilling someone that tripped over your wheels, AND keeps you from hurting your back stuffing them into an upper holding area. You never have to check these bags at the gate like all the other suckers. In and out has its advantages!

BONUS: When you travel for business, include pleasure. I always make time to have fun and experience the food, frivolity, and culture of where I travel. Don’t get stuck in your hotel room. Go make pleasure part of your business.

A large part of my work involves helping to keep people out of crisis, and mitigating the bad stuff that does happen. Travel is always potentially fraught with risk and crisis as relates to baggage, lost time, and frustration. If you keep a positive outlook on your experience, keep a few tricks up your sleeve, and tote around your Tom Bihn bags, you’re likely to be smiling all the way to your destination and back!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. Visit his website at www.danweedin.com. See also: the Tri-Star.

In April’s Swift

TOM BIHN | What's in my Swift #madewithpaper

@Knit4Love (aka April’s) #MadeForPaper illustration of what’s in her Swift.

Forum Round-up: Travels Far and Near

We’re lucky to have an active and enthusiastically informative forum, where members help new and long-time customers get answers to their questions about TOM BIHN bags and accessories, travel, and packing for any and all situations.  It’s also a place where people can speculate about new products on the horizon, obsess over Organizer Pouches, and deliberate over what color bag they should order.

Our members, who live all over the world and come from all walks of life, contribute dozens of bag reviews, pictures, questions, and useful suggestions, and are quick and generous with their willingness to help.  There’s no way to distill the wealth of their collective knowledge into a tidy package, but, starting this week, we will provide an occasional round-up of just a few threads from the previous week.  While not exhaustive, the round-up will clue in readers of this blog about some of the goings-on in our online community.

This week’s theme: Travels Far and Near

Spring is usually when travel season starts heating up, but our forum members travel all the time to locales both far and near, for business and pleasure, with others or solo.  We were stoked to receive a mention as one of The Wirecutter’s picks for traveling well (see here for the forum reaction), and forum members have had a lot to say about putting their bags through the paces of their travels.

Recently, dwright17 returned from her two-week trip to Israel flush with knowledge about the Holy Land and some good advice for those hoping to pack light for their next trip abroad (see here to see how her packing list started and then evolved).  New member JoeM logged on to tell us that his new Aeronaut was about to accompany him to sea for a 6-to-8 week period of work in southeast Asia.  Read on for a glimpse into life aboard a ship.  Closer to home, Janine reported that her two-night work trip to D.C. with her Synapse 25 and Pilot was a feat of light packing, and heparker let us know that his Pilot performed admirably as an everyday carry (EDC) bag (he’s also our Pic of the Week!).

People who use our bags put lots of thought into how and what to pack.  Some forum members wanted help finding solutions to traveling with their families: Travelmom4 wondered about the best accessory to carry passports for six people, and Jwalker was looking for the best in-flight bag to use with her children on their long-haul flight from the U.S. to New Zealand.  Forum members saikyo and jannilee asked for and received advice about products TOM BIHN doesn’t make: travel toiletry bottles and lightweight Bluetooth speakers.

Finally, the biggest news of the week: after much wailing and lamentation, the fires of forum members’ fantasies of travels far, near, and within carry-on regulations were fanned when Darcy announced that the new, scaled-down Aeronaut 30 is on the pre-order horizon.

And now for our Pic of the Week!
TOM BIHN | Forum Photo of the Week by herpacker
heparker’s brand new Pilot (Navy/Solar), Horizontal Cache, 3D Fabric Organizer Cube (Wasabi), Dyneema Organizer Pouches (Small Ultraviolet and Mini Iberian), and Ultraviolet Key Strap.

New: Medium Double Organizer Pouch

TOM BIHN | Medium Double Organizer Pouch

Just a month after we debuted the Double Organizer Pouch in size Small, it’s already sold out. We figured that meant you guys liked the Double Organizer Pouch as much as we did, so we went ahead and added a new size for pre-order: Medium

Medium Double Organizer Pouch. $16. Various 1000d Cordura, 420d HT nylon Classic Parapack, or 1050 denier HT ballistic nylon colors. Available for pre-order and ships by mid-May.

Aeronaut Update (in stock + reviews + photos)

The Aeronaut maximum carry-on bag is now back in stock and ready to ship in the following colors: Black/Solar, Black/Steel, Steel/Steel, Steel/Ultraviolet, Navy/Solar, Forest/Steel, Aubergine/Steel, Black Dyneema/Wasabi, Steel Dyneema/Steel and Nordic Dyneema/Solar. (Note: when Steel Dyneema/Steel and Nordic Dyneema/Solar sell out, they’re gone for good.)

But probably not for long: we expect these to sell out before we even know it, so if you’ve been considering an Aeronaut, you might want to place your order sooner rather than later.

In other Aeronaut news…

gambol posted his review of the Aeronaut — “Another Aeronaut first timer” — in the Bag Reviews section of our Forums: “I just got my first TB bag, an Aeronaut in black/wasabi for a 2-night trip from the UK to Budapest. I really wanted my wife and I to travel light and not have to check in any luggage, mainly because we were flying with Ryanair and I hate giving them money :-) I had seen the Tom Bihn range in the past and really liked the look of them but had no need for one at the time, well this time I decided to bite the bullet and get the Aeronaut. Because of the postage to the UK I decided to make quite a large order with a collection of packing cubes, organiser cubes, wallets, etc so I had a whole system. The hardest part was choosing the colours :-)”
(Read the full review.)

And cujo writes in his review of the Aeronaut:
“I have now taken a trip with it, and I’m very happy with it. I swear, the thing is made with TARDIS technology – when I took it out of the box, I was alarmed by how small it seemed, but it holds a lot more than I thought it would. I got a week’s stuff in it with no trouble: Four dress shirts, two pair of slacks, four undershirts, four pair underwear, four pair socks, plus toiletries and various gear, and then my MacBook15 on top in a Brain Cell – it just exactly fits. Presto, one bag, throw it on my back for those long walks.”
(Read the full review.)

Trudy tweeted us a photo of her new Nordic Dyneema/Solar Aeronaut:
Trudy's Aeronaut Photo | TOM BIHN

Last but not least, here’s an awesome Aeronaut packing list shot from Mason:

TOM BIHN Aeronaut Maximum Carry On Travel Luggage | TOM BIHN

The Wirecutter Guide to Traveling Well

The Wirecutter and Robert King (he’s logged a million miles with United) have named their top gear picks. Best non-roller carry-on? The Tri-Star

“We have a full review forthcoming, but after interviewing frequent flyers and researching customer and professional reviews, we like the $280 Tom Bihn Tri-Star for its 1050 denier ballistic nylon exterior, YKK water-repellent zippers, and design touches like an exterior pocket with webbing to hold a water bottle. One Bag One World and The Next Web love it, too. Our travel expert, Rob King, also uses one. He told us, “Tri-Star is the go-to for up to four days on the road.”

Read the full guide to traveling well (business or pleasure) over at The Wirecutter.

TOM BIHN | The Wirecutter on Traveling Well

(We’re #4) 8 Easy Ways to Become an Expert Traveler

#4 on Gene Marks’ 8 Easy Ways to Become an Expert Traveler? Lose the rollerboard and get a TOM BIHN bag:

“Never, ever check luggage. It takes too long to retrieve and costs extra. Adapt, pack less, and buy a Tom Bihn bag. Why? It will fit anywhere, even under a seat when you’re crammed into one of those little regional jets with smaller overhead space. And you can fit the universe inside.”

Read the entire article — 8 Easy Ways to Become an Expert Traveler — over at Inc.

Linked in the article is Jake Luddington’s excellent video review of the Tri-Star:

Jeremiah’s Around The World Packing List

“In a week I’m leaving the United States and I have no idea when I’m coming back. The deal with myself is that I’ll be gone for at least six months and up to two years. Maybe I’ll come home for Christmas but in general my plan is to travel until I run out of money.”

Read on over at Jeremiah Takes Pictures for his full packing list (and what he’s already learned about travel and packing ultralight).

Jeremiah's Around The World Packing List | TOM BIHN