Forum Roundup: Sweating the Small Stuff

There’s little doubt that everyone on the forum loves TB accessories, so this week’s roundup is dedicated to those little things that blow our collective hair back.

Forum member Moose kicked off a very popular thread this week when she asked, “What do you keep in your Side Effect?”  Read on for over a dozen answers and some terrific photos by ncb4, tizi and Ilkyway.  chautime wanted to know what would happen if shampoo or some other liquid toiletry were to leak inside the 3D Clear Organizer Cube.  Would the cube contain the spill? Read on for forum member testimonials.  In other 3D happenings, icebeng discovered some pretty cool things happen if you turn your 3D Clear Organizer Cube inside out.  Be sure to also check out the 3D hacks courtesy of sturbridge and SusanM.

PaulT00 rejoiced over the brand-spanking new Travel Trays that wended their way to England to live with and him and the Travel Trays already in residence.  On the newest accessory front, K9TB wrote in to announce that the Small Double Organizer Pouchmakes a great wallet, especially if you’re traveling to a bunch of different countries and need to carry multiple currencies.  Keep reading to see more pics of the SDOP in the wild.

Finally this week, dorayme made the compelling case that bags and accessories can be works of artkkintea‘s little friend seems to agree, wouldn’t you say?

So many Shop Bags!

So many Shop Bags!

 

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.

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

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.