“The build quality was consistent with what I’ve come to expect with Tom Bihn which is to report it was flawless. Tom’s gear is pricey but considering the abuse that most travel gear endures, spending a little extra is well worth the investment if you’re buying kit that will last. And this bag is definitely built to last.”
Western Flyer Review, Part I: The First Week
“While my first impression of the Freudian Slip was comparable to paying for the seat belts and rustcoat on the car, it turned out to be a great way to flex my daily briefcase into a travel bag. It was also unexpectedly handy to use in the office, I can keep the FS, with my documents and tools inside at my desk, while the WF stays out of the way. And when it comes time to take off for vacation, the FS can stay behind and make room for the guayaberas. And a pocket to put my coffee into when I need to free up a hand to carry rolls of blueprints? Genius.”
Western Flyer Review, Part II: The Conference
“Walking from the train, navigating the airport, being the tourist and walking around the city, all were substantially easier to navigate with the straps. On the last day of the conference, when everyone is inevitably hauling their rollerboards around after checking out, I switched to backpack straps to navigate tight spaces between tables. And sitting aside it was unobtrusive.”
“What I really liked about [the Founder's Briefcase] was the ability to leave it standing (it stands well on its own) and zip just the top open to grab my laptop, or iPad — while reserving the option to lay the bag on its side and open it all the way. It’s a nice compromise in that you can easily use the bag as a top-loader (as I do 90% of the time), but it doesn’t bat an eye lash if you want to open it all the way up and lay it flat. This makes it a solid day-to-day option for the traveling person and excellent for neatly packing away your items for a longer journey.”
“This was the most debated category for us, as carry-on has traditionally been treated as ‘maximum legal’ carry-on. The TOM BIHN [Synapse 25] is more of an overnighter than a week away, but it’s every bit a Carry Awards credentialled winner. Excellent fabrics and zips. Flawless construction. An interesting three-dimensional pattern that grows and shrinks without need for compression. And every organizing pocket you could want. Tom Bihn care about making excellent carry, and it totally shows. Oh, and particularly in this pack, we like the black.”
See the Synapse 25 for yourself. And head over to Carryology for more Carry Awards coverage.
“The diminutive Pilot bag isn’t cheap, but if you travel a lot like we do, it makes a great investment. It’s made well of high-tech materials, designed to last a very long time. I’ve never been able to wear out a Tom Bihn bag, no matter how much abuse I pile upon them.
On the plane, you should be able to get away with calling this a “personal” bag, like a purse, so that you can also carry another carry-on bag into the plane with you, which you can store in the overhead compartment while you keep the Pilot below the seat in front of you.
It works great for what it’s designed to do, and it’s a welcome bag to have by your side on those long flights. If you travel far and frequently, you’ll appreciate this bag.”
Eric sent us the following email — thought you all would appreciate it as much as we did.
Tom and Crew,
I kinda had an emotional reaction reading the description of The Guide’s Pack. I have an old REI toploading rucksack that really looks similar, though it has the dreaded black plastic accessory strap holders, which have all failed. I’ve toted that thing for one purpose or another for the better part of 30 years. One of my favorite packs.
Anyway, reading the description of The Guide’s Pack, well, it almost brought a tear to my eye. Tom’s obsessive desire to get the design right really flies off the page. It’s like he took my old REI pack that I love, and made it better, with all the benefits decades of technological improvement.
I don’t know when I’ve ever had such a strong reaction to a product description. I did with this thing though. It’ll take me awhile to come up with the scratch to get it, but get it I will. Can’t wait.
More broadly, thank you for being such a damn great operation. Over the years my wife and I have wound up buying a few different bags from you, all of which have exceeded our expectations. And the fact that we’re buying from a local manufacturer, with local employees really counts for a lot.
Okay, I’m putting the tissues away and gettting back to work. Congratulations on another job very, very well done.
Luke emailed us a review of his Aeronaut and we had to share it with you guys:
I am not usually inclined to write up a review, but had to brag about my new Aeronaut. Just spent three weeks in India, my third time back in three years. This time was planes, trains, taxis, buses, and rickshaws on a 2k mile odyssey from Chennai up to Delhi. Last two trips I took a sturdy wheeled carry-on that awkwardly converted to a backpack. I’m not going to lie, it did serve me well, but this year I challenged myself to find the most painless way to do the trip, and that included researching a new bag. That’s when I found Tom Bihn.
I won’t recap the quality of the bag and it’s remarkable versatility/utility that are touted in the website videos. I do have anecdotal evidence from the field though. I very comfortably packed all I needed for three weeks that ranged from hot and humid to chilly and damp. The bag held up well strapped to the top of a van barreling through the jungle, and wasn’t phased getting knocked around bus stations or stuffed in train cots. The zippers and tightly weaved material kept the contents clean and dry, and I easily lived out of it while it lay open on a hotel chair, hostel shelf, or dorm bed. It was super easy to break down at security checkpoints and was the only bag I’ve ever had that I wasn’t worried about getting to fit in an overhead bin.
I really love this bag, and am glad about my new investment in travel comfort and utility!
Photo courtesy of kkintea.
“My pilot came! The UPS man came and I snatched the box from his hands. I love the size. It is perfect. Big enough but not too big.” –atarango1
“As far as size, I think this could easily be a bag to use for a 3 to 4 day trip, especially if the trip is to a warmer climate where you have no need to dress up. I’m not sure how/where I’d squeeze in an extra pair of shoes (as light as I pack, I always like an extra pair) but I bet you could squeeze in a pair of flip flops for the beach very easily. But of course, this bag is really the ultimate size for a personal carry on and will certainly be able to hold enough stuff to keep you occupied even on the longest of flights.” –WMW40
“I can’t wait to start packing it for my upcoming conference. I specifically want to see if I can get away with only taking the Pilot. I will have to look “professional”, travel by plane (thus I will want to bring knitting), and will have to carry stuff with me all day (hotel is offsite from main events).” –gochicken
“It crosses over nicely from travel bag, overnight bag, work bag, knitting bag, and EDC. Of course, to each his own. That’s why I love Tom Bihn. He makes bags that appeal to many different types of people for all their varying needs!” –Mausermama
“I carried the Nordic pilot to a business meeting where everyone was wearing suits, so formal end of the spectrum. No one seemed to find it unusual. And the color really popped against my black suit. ” –Yoda Sloth
“This Pilot is sick!! I am able to fit more than I imagined and the Eagle Creek large packing sac, which can fit a change of clothes, fits like a dream in the Pilot. I am more than happy with this bag and so glad I splurged on the absolute strap.” –MelissaL
“I love my new (Navy/Solar) Pilot! It’s perfect for every day carry for my 11″ MBA plus some misc. stuff. It also works decently well (though not as well as a Packing Cube Messenger Bag (PCMB) would!) in the center of a Tri-Star. Alternatively, I can fit my (Lumix GH1) micro 4/3 camera in a small Crumpler Haven AND MBA in there without it looking too funny. Finally, I did a test pack, and for a casual 1-2 night trip (without the camera, but with the laptop), I can get everything I need. It’s like 4 bags in one!” –jmoz
“I got my Pilot yesterday – Black/Wasabi. It’s early, but my first impression is that it’s wonderful. It’s exactly the size I hoped for to use as my work bag.” –smj
“When I reviewed the Synapse 19, I wrote, “As long as you tend to travel light, and you’ve got a 13-inch (or smaller) laptop, this is a superb, and superbly versatile, bag.” With the Synapse 25, those caveats no longer apply: It’s just a superb, versatile bag. The Synapse 19 is still my everyday bag, because I like to travel light and its smaller size forces me to do so. But I have to admit that I’m envious of the Synapse 25. It’s a little bit more of everything that’s great about the 19, and the Cache/rails system is fantastic. The 25 is one of the most versatile bags I’ve seen, and though it’s not inexpensive, my experience with its smaller sibling—four years of heavy use and still going strong—suggests that you’re getting what you pay for.”
“So many different places claim to have “the best” of something. The best french fries. The best customer service. The best wine. Of course “the best” can really depend on personal preference and everyone may not agree. All that aside, I feel confident in proclaiming this to be the best carry-on bag and hopefully many of you will agree if you have one or buy one. ”