In stock: Pilot, Cadet, Tri-Star, more…

Another team effort — our production crew made the bags (many ahead of schedule) and our shipping crew sent out backorders ASAP. The following bags are now back in stock and ready to ship within one business day:

Field Journal Notebook, all colors
Clear Quarter Packing Cube, all colors
Pilot, all colors but Black/Steel
Western Flyer Packing Cubes
Tri-Star, most colors (Black/Steel, Black/Solar and Steel/Iberian ship early April)
Cadet, all colors
Western Flyer, most colors

TOM BIHN | Pilot Personal Carry-On Bag MADE IN USAThe Pilot in Black/Steel (thanks, Mason, for the photo!)

The Guide’s Pack Watercolor

TOM BIHN | The Guide's Pack Watercolor

Dan Bransfield’s watercolor sketch of his new Guide’s Pack.

In stock: Aeronaut, Travel Stuff Sacks, Packing Cube Backpacks, more…

Thanks to our amazing crew (a true team effort here: our production crew, well, makes everything and our shipping crew never ceases to amaze us by shipping out backorders as quickly as soon as they possibly can) the following bags are back in stock and ship within one business day:

Aeronaut, most colors
Travel Stuff Sacks
Packing Cube Backpack (Aeronaut)
Packing Cube Backpack (Tri-Star/Western Flyer)
Packing Cube Shoulder Bag
Snake Charmers
Ego
Knitting Tool Pouches
Pilot Packing Cubes
Aeronaut Packing Cubes
Coyote Organizer Pouches (including a new size – Micro)
Super Ego
Zephyr

And here’s what’s getting low and might soon be backordered in all colors…

Shop Bag, Side Effect, Founder’s Briefcase, Pilot

Shop Bag Reusbale Shopping Bag Made in USA | TOM BIHN
The Shop Bag in Wasabi.

United Airlines’ Carry-on Baggage Sizer: Which TOM BIHN Bags Fit?

If you’ve traveled on United Airlines lately, or just happened to walk by a UA gate, you may have seen them: stiff-sided compartments into which travelers can place their carry-on and personal items to see if they fit.  These baggage sizers, as United calls them, are part of the airline’s efforts to more strictly enforce the size and number of bags passengers bring on board. Beginning on March 1, carry-ons can be no larger than 9” x 14” x 22” and personal items no larger than 9” x 10” x 17”. If your bag can’t fit in the baggage sizer, you’ll have to check it gate-side and pay the checked baggage fee.

This announcement has been the subject of some discussion on the Tom Bihn Forums (although we have nothing on the multiple threads on Flyertalk, some of which are running 60+ pages).  We’ve gathered information and rounded up the dimensions of all of our most popular travel bags to hopefully shed some light on United’s policy, which TOM BIHN bags make the cut, and give you some packing tips to ensure your bag fits.

TOM BIHN | United Airlines Carry-On Luggage Restrictions

(Synapse 19 and Tri-Star in the new bag sizer with room to spare. Thanks to @tadbell for the photo.)

The Real Dimensions of the Baggage Sizer 

Do the math quickly and you’ll see that the dimensions given by United add up to the current FAA standards, which state that carry-on luggage must not exceed 45 linear inches.  What makes United’s policy different than the standard is that they are giving precise dimensions for both carry-on and personal items, which are not specified by the FAA.  This might seem draconian and unfair, but what United isn’t telling you is that the baggage sizers are actually a bit bigger than the published requirements:

Published carry-on limit: 9″ x 14″ x 22″

Actual sizer dimensions: 10″ x 15″ x 23″

Published personal item limit: 9″ x 10″ x 17″

Actual sizer dimensions: 9″ x11″ x 18″

(Source: Flyertalk)

This is good news for those traveling with TOM BIHN bags, since many of them fit or can be made to fit these dimensions; more challenging is determining what combination of bags to use for the carry-on and personal item.  The list below will tell you which bags fit easily and which exceed the published and/or actual baggage sizer dimensions.  It sort of goes without saying that a traveler with, say, a sensibly packed Aeronaut and Cadet or Tri-Star and  Synapse 19 will likely draw less attention than one struggling with an over-stuffed Aeronaut and a bulging Super Ego, even though all three combinations fit within the size parameters.

Carry-on Safe:

Aeronaut

Tri-Star

Western Flyer

Guide’s Pack (without the Side or Lead’s “Admin” pockets)

Brain Bag

Smart Alec

Synapse 25 / Synapse 19

Ego

Empire Builder / ID / Zephyr

Cadet

Founder’s Briefcase

Brain Cell (all sizes)

Pilot / Co-Pilot

Swift / Little Swift

Upper Limit Carry-ons:

Super Ego (.5” taller than the published limit but fits within the actual limit)

Personal Item Safe:

Pilot / Co-Pilot

Swift / Little Swift

Small Cafe Bag

Medium Cafe Bag

Ristretto (all sizes)

Upper Limit Personal Items:

Smart Alec  (1.5” wider and 1.75” taller than the published limits)

Synapse 25 (3” too wide and 3.4” too tall)

Synapse 19 (1.4” taller than the published limit but fits within the actual limit)

Super Ego (4.5” taller than the published limit)

Ego (3.3” taller than the published limits)

Empire Builder (1.25” wider and 2.75” taller than the published limits)

ID (2” taller than the published limit)

Zephyr (2.2” taller than the published limit)

Cadet (2” taller than the published limit)

Founder’s Briefcase (.7” wider and 2.4” taller than the published limits)

Brain Cell (Sizes 1-6Z are all between 1.4”–2” taller than the published limit; the 13” MacBook Pro Retina size is .4” taller than the published limit but fits within the actual limit)

Large Cafe Bag (2.9” taller than the published limit)

Packing Your Bag so it Fits the Sizer

You’ll notice that many of the personal item-sized bags are a bit taller than the sizer’s published or actual dimensions, but in general there is no need to worry, for a few reasons.  First, gate agents will not likely be examining all bags, but will rather be on the lookout for items that grossly exceed the dimensions (so don’t try to pass off your Aeronaut as your personal item).  Second, gate agents typically look to gate check rolling luggage first since those types of baggage are generally the most onerous to fit in the overhead bins.  Finally, the soft sides of our bags make it easy to stuff them into the sizer, so you may be able to use a TOM BIHN bag that is technically too large to be a personal item (for example, one FlyerTalk member reported that his Super Ego fits easily into the Personal Item sizer; another member recommends the Western Flyer).

The important thing to keep in mind is not to overpack.  These bags’ wonderful squishability, which allows you to cram them into otherwise unusable nooks and crannies of overhead bins, also allows them to expand.  If you pack your bag to the gills, it is quite possible that it won’t fit into the sizer, even if its published dimensions are within the safe zone.

To avoid overstuffing your bag, you might try employing packing cubes and making sure that they are filled evenly to the edges, since extra volume in the middle of the bag often causes it to develop a barrel-like shape.  The slimmer your bag looks, the less likely you’ll be subjected to the sizer.

When you’re carrying a backpack, try to utilize as much of the horizontal space as possible so that everything doesn’t migrate to the bottom (once again, the goal here is to reduce bulk).  Some forum members have found success using their Side Effects as internal backpack pouches, which can then double as handy in-flight compartments using S-Biners.

If you’re new to TOM BIHN bags, read our Forum to discover what (and how) people pack, and tips for streamlining your travel wardrobe and your toiletries while retaining some of your creature comforts.  Finally, if you have questions about what will or won’t fit in the Baggage Sizer, or what will or won’t fit in a specific bag, don’t hesitate to email or call us.

Thoughts on the Pilot

Initial reactions to the new PilotPhoto 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

Thanks to everybody for the marvelous feedback! Check out the Pilot for yourself and maybe you’ll be inspired to leave your own feedback in the Forums.

 

ViciousV: My Co-Pilot is…my co-pilot!

ViciousV: My Co-Pilot is...my co-pilot!

Posted by ViciousV in the Forums. See: the Co-Pilot.

How to: Using paracord loops to make larger O-rings

Have you ever found the o-rings in your bag to be not quite big enough? Check out this thread in the forums from jwiegley showing how to utilize simple paracord to make a bigger o-ring. Very cool!

paracordloop

Aeronaut Review from LaForce Be With You

Aeronaut Review from LaForce Be With You

“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. ”

Check out the rest of Emily’s review on her blog, LaForce Be With You. See also: the Aeronaut.

jwiegley: Reviewing the Smart Alec as a laptop bag

New forum member jwiegley recently posted a remarkably thorough review of the Smart Alec, attesting to the quality of the backpack’s construction and the surprising comfort of the straps. They write:

“My first thoughts on opening the box were that this is certainly a well-made product. My second thought was that the back straps seemed a little skimpy compared to other bags I’ve used. However, usage, and education about seam-stitching and bar tacks, has completely reversed me on that second thought. Simply put, these are the best back straps I’ve encountered, and the most comfortable that I’ve used on any bag. In fact, they are not just comfortable: my back actually feels better with the pack on than off! I’m not sure how that works exactly, but I look forward to putting it on each day. It has come to be one of my favorite things about the bag, which I would not have expected from the beginning.”

Check out the entire thread in the forums. See also: the Smart Alec.

UPS My Choice

We thought we’d take a moment to let you all know about a service UPS offers called UPS My Choice: it’s pretty cool option for those of us with somewhat irregular schedules that don’t really line up with the general UPS delivery times, or for people who just want the ability to manage their deliveries a bit more. A free membership to UPS My Choice gives you the following perks, to name some:

  • Text, Phone, Email, or even Facebook (with the proper app) delivery notifications the day before and the morning of drop-off
  • The chance to give “Leave At” instructions or even sign for packages online
  • The ability to reroute or reschedule packages ($5 per use) or have packages held for pickup at a UPS facility (free)

If you’re somebody getting a lot of stuff shipped to you fairly regularly, upgrading to UPS My Choice Premium ($40/year) might be a worthwhile consideration. With a Premium membership you can get all the good stuff that comes with a free membership, but with unlimited rerouting and rescheduling, plus the ability to have your package delivered within a two hour window ($5 per use).

TOM BIHN Box Art!