“I’ve had my Empire Builder for almost four years now.”

John included this note with his order for a Brain Cell:

“I’ve had my Empire Builder for almost four years now. In that time it’s travelled in the back of pickup trucks to Haitian refugee camps in the Dominican Republic, accompanied me on flights all over the eastern United States, spent nights inside (and outside) of tents, been carried to and from my office every day, and recently it’s been a source of great fascination for my two year-old son. Amazingly, it has yet to be damaged – or even show any significant wear and tear — despite almost always being loaded with far more mass and weight than I suspect you ever had in mind. I also continue to get compliments on how great the bag looks. I’m thrilled to be adding a Brain Cell to my Empire Builder, and I’m certain that the quality will be of the same caliber. Thanks Tom Bihn and company for making such a great product. If my Empire Builder ever wears out (and I’m beginning to wonder if it ever will), rest assured I’ll be back for another.”

TOM BIHN Empire Builder after four years

Boles Blogs reviews the Cadet

“When I recently tripped in Times Square and nearly fell flat on my face, the one thing that saved me from a smashed pelvis was the Tom Bihn Cadet bag I use every day to protect my 11-Inch MacBook Air. My iPhone and computer and teaching materials were in my Tom Bihn bag and, even though I fell, full-force on that bag, nothing was damaged except my ego and a few scrapes and bruises won on the way down.”

There’s more at Boles Blogs: read the full review.

TOM BIHN Cadet Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Briefcase

Dr. Bunsen: Matryoshka Hardware

Seth Brown on “Matryoshka Hardware”:

“Most activities that I do require a combination of activity-specific gear and a set of more general core hardware. A ski trip requires specific gear like skies and gloves, but also core hardware like a wallet and a good book. I’ve found that most activities of the same duration and complexity share the same set of core hardware. For example, a 3 day ski adventure, scientific conference, or holiday weekend requires much of the same core hardware.

A byproduct of this division between activity-specific gear and core hardware is that core hardware naturally organizes into layers. Core hardware that I use for shorter duration activities serves as the foundation for core hardware that I carry for longer duration activities. A smaller set of core hardware integrates into the layer above it. Each layer subsumes the previous layer like a series of Matryoshka dolls.”

Seth’s bag of choice for urban settings? The EB.

“For most urban settings I select the Tom Bihn Empire Builder. The bag has a well thought out design that supposedly took 3 years to develop. The pockets are positioned well the carrying handles are extremely comfortable. I especially like the integration with the Brain Cell for securely carrying a laptop:

Bug-Out-Bag Empire Builder TOM BIHN

Read the full post at Seth’s blog Dr. Bunsen.

Caro Hardy: Matériel de voyage 2013 édition nomade

Via Thomas Carney:
“My girlfriend has been travelling long term only with the 19L Synapse Bag. She loves it! Here is a list + video of her travel gear (in French) for ultra light travellers.”

More at Caro Hardy (in French). Google translation to English here.

monkeylady: Such a Little Thing…the Travel Tray

“On a recent two night trip, I simply added meds, headlamp, flashlight, and cables and chargers for mini Ipad and phone. When I arrived at destination, my minimal techno-stuff was easy to find and made part of my bedtime routine less cumbersome. On a much longer trip to farther climes and when I arrive in the wee hours, I’ll simply need quick access to this, my dop kit, and a packing cube filled with night shirt and the next day’s clothes…no need to empty the Synapse yet.”

Read the full post by monkeylady in the Forums.

Travel Tray in SolarTravel Tray in Solar.

Travelite FAQ: Solution to NFL Football Strict Bag Rule

“This week, the U.S. National Football League announced a systemwide policy that prohibits taking any bags into an arena for one of their football games….. The NFL is allowing small clutch purses “no bigger than your palm.” They are, however, allowing you to take a bag that’s transparent. My solution? A Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube.”

Read the full post at The Travelite FAQ.

Travelite FAQ on the 3D Clear Organizer Cube for NFL Football gamesThe 3D Clear Organizer Cube in Steel Dyneema.

3x3x365: Emma’s new bag (and box art)

Emma's new TOM BIHN bag + box art

3x3x365 is three friends in three states sharing one photo every day. This photo of Emma is by the (awesome) Patti Digh (Asheville, NC; Emma’s mom). Patti likes raw fennel, kind people, cardamom lollipops, and the smell of lavender. She spends her free time watching movies starring Johnny Depp. p.s. She likes to laugh. A lot.

Patti writes:
“I love Tom Bihn bags. Sturdy, practical, beautiful.
I ordered one for Emma to take to London this summer
(she leaves Thursday on her excellent adventure!)
and on the order form, I wrote that it was going to London with her.
Imagine our delight when the box arrived,
complete with a hand drawn London on the front of it.

That is what customer delight looks like.”

More at 3x3x365 and 37days.

The Brooks Review: Clear Organizer Pouches Make Great iPad Mini Stashes

“I was packing up the diaper bag for the day today, and realized that I should bring a battery backup charger for my iPhone, which meant a cable too. And since I was at it why not grab the iPad mini in case an opportunity to use it provides itself. Normally this crap would have just been floating around in the the diaper bag, but then I had a thought. Why not use a Tom Bihn clear organizer pouch to store everything in. Bingo.”

Full post at The Brooks Review. See also: Clear Organizer Pouches.

Jess on the Synapse: Style/Maturity meet Efficiency/Comfort

Jess emailed us this review of her Synapse 19:

Dear Customer Service rep at Tom Bihn,

I hope this note finds you well! I just received my first Tom Bihn backpack, the Synapse 19 in black and wasabi, and I am writing to thank you and all of your fellow employees for working for and supporting a company that really knows how to design a bag. I am 28, a woman graduate student at Yale University studying Biochemistry of biofuels. I wear makeup to a polished finish on my face with a labret stud to match, I also care about having the right color-coordinating clothes and cute shoes, but on my left hand I don a calculator watch. Maybe those aren’t the perfect examples, but I appreciate when style and maturity meets efficiency and comfort. Also, you can guess I don’t wear a purse or have a shoulder bag. My daily commute consists of driving, taking the train, followed by city biking and sometimes a shuttle. It is a commute that needs a bag to suit it.

The Synapse 19 is the most ergonomically, well though out designed backpack I have ever seen and worn. I adore the flexibility of all of the well positioned loops that are found in every pocket fast organization, less digging, and I can’t wait to get mini carabineers to hook up coiled power cords or to hang my rock climbing shoes on the outside. The way that the laptop sleeve slides out on its tracks while staying attached is genius. I did not realize it can be used as its own anchor when placed underneath the laptop, letting the empty bag hang conveniently down the side of my lap or small table. The pocket designs are genius as well, the little shallow pouch on the front is perfect for my small wallet and train pass, and the soft-lined pocket in one of the side pouches takes care of my glasses. I love the flexibility of removing and storing extra straps easily for low-key commutes, although they come in super useful when sprinting to catch a train.

All in all, I love my backpack and wanted to thank you.

– Jess, 28, a scientist who commutes to her lab at Yale by car, train and bike.

Recoram on the Ristretto

Recoram on the TOM BIHN Ristretto

“Sometimes (well, most of the time, actually), you prefer not to carry a behemoth of a laptop bag, especially if you’re only going to the local café to do a bit of work web surfing. Plus, if you plan on doing something else later and don’t want to leave your computer in your car (bad idea), you want something that travels light and looks good. The Tom Bihn Ristretto 13″ fits Macbook Pro or MacBook Air perfectly. Fully padded for protection, the Ristretto 13 is also lined with soft brushed tricot to bathe your precious machine in softness, and the asymmetric flap that covers the main compartment secures with a one-handed buckle. There’s also a water repellent zipper on the convenient front pouch that holds your phone, wallet, etc.. And lest you think the Ristretto is too compact, there’s also plenty of room for your power cord, sunglasses and other chargers. Never short on versatility, Tom Bihn added three O-rings, one key strap, a shoulder strap and a fully removable waist strap (should you need to get around with your bike or go truly unencumbered). We love what Tom Bihn is doing for travel and transport. Everything they make is done here in the USA and made with some of the best quality we’ve ever seen.”

Read more at Recoram. See also: the Ristretto.