“I recall meeting Tom at Aptos High, where we were both students. I think he was a year ahead of me and a year behind my sister. My family was a little bit crafty—at one point I tried to sell handmade leather belts, not too successfully. Tom was in another league entirely. He was making down jackets (Tom’s first designs: down jackets) but he had a few other tricks up his sleeve as well.”
Travel Stuff Sacks in Iberian and Wasabi.
Background for those of you new to us: we’re fans of color, variety, and high quality fabrics. That means our fabrics are the best out there and most of them are custom-produced especially for us in colors we design in-house. For a company of our (pretty small) size, we offer a wide variety of colors and custom-produced fabrics: it’s more fun for us and more fun for you that way. One of the fabrics most associated with our bags is our Dyneema/nylon ultralight rip-stop fabric, made for us in Japan. Our Dyneema/nylon fabric is usually made and offered in four colors at any given time. Recently, Solar, a bright yellow, was replaced with Wasabi, a slightly less bright yellow green. Wasabi is a classic TOM BIHN color and one we’ve used as a lining fabric in various bags for over ten years. We figured Wasabi would be popular as a Dyneema/nylon color, but we didn’t realize just how popular it would be…
You might have noticed many new color combinations up for pre-order are lined in Steel or Ultraviolet (iPad, 11″, and 13″ Ristretto in Steel/Steel or Aubergine/Steel, Western Flyer in Aubergine/Steel, Co-Pilot in Steel/Steel) and not Wasabi or Iberian. Don’t worry: we’re not giving up on those two colors. Here’s what’s going on: Wasabi and Iberian have been so much in demand that they’re temporarily gone. The geniuses we work with in Japan to produce Wasabi and Iberian Dyneema/nylon are at work on the next batches of these fabrics but it will likely be a couple of months before we receive them. And once the fabric is received, our Seattle factory crew will begin work on the next batches of Wasabi and Iberian lined bags, but getting from cut fabric to finished bags takes time. That means we should be seeing more bags in Iberian and Wasabi sometime January – March 2013.
And here’s a shout-out for Steel and Ultraviolet. Some folks worry that Steel might be too dark as a lining color. We understand the concern, and though we think it’s definitely subjective, we don’t find the Steel to be too dark. First: we never lined our bags with black fabric. In fact, we specifically chose the shade and lightness of grey known as Steel (yes, we even choose our own grey) because it’s light enough to serve as a lining fabric, yet strong enough to hold its own as a
conservative inner or outer color. Ultraviolet separates those of us who are fans of purple and those who aren’t: if you do like purple, chances are you’ll appreciate Ultraviolet, as it pairs well with just about every other color we offer.
If you’ve been thinking of ordering bags made out of, or lined with, Wasabi or Iberian Dyneema for the holidays or at least before the end of the year, we’d recommend ordering now. Below is a partial list of the bags still available in Wasabi and Iberian. When they’re gone, they won’t be back until early 2013.
Travel Stuff Sacks in Steel and Ultraviolet, the two colors we will have available through the end of the year.
Aeronaut in 1050d: 3 lb 0 oz / 1360 grams
Aeronaut in 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon: 2 lb 6 oz / 1075 grams
Bottom line: the 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon Aeronaut saves 10 oz / 285 grams in weight.
Tri-Star in 1050d: 3 lb 6 oz / 1550 grams
Tri-Star in 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon: 2 lb 12 oz / 1230 grams
Bottom line: the 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon Tri-Star saves 10 oz / 285 grams in weight.
Perspective: 10 oz / 285 grams = the weight of a down jacket in a Travel Stuff Sack, a light waterproof shell jacket, or an Icebreaker hooded sweater.
On airlines that impose a weight limit for carry-on luggage, such as Hawaiian Airlines, Ryanair, Easyjet, and Flybe, this savings in weight is a difference that can truly make a difference.
Learn more about our 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon.
It must be noted that while our new 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop is a very durable fabric, there is a compromise in choosing it over 1050 ballistic or Cordura® nylon: your bag will be lighter, but it won’t stand up to the all-out abuse these heavier fabrics can handle. You will need to exercise care and not drag or otherwise mistreat a bag made from 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop. It’s a compromise many will feel worthwhile, but it’s a compromise to consider.
The Aeronaut in Steel 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon.
Update: minutes after we posted this, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley announced that Gracie had been adopted. Pretty cool.
On a recent road trip through the West (testing some new designs, and some current designs made out of new materials) we stopped by the Iconoclast bookstore in Ketchum, Idaho. At the register, we noticed a display advertising a Labrador Retriever mix named Gracie available for adoption; she’d been at the local no-kill Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley for a while, just waiting for the right home.
Here’s what really caught our attention — along with Gracie’s photo, the animal shelter had bound a book with Gracie’s photo on the cover. The title was “Gracie’s Story”. When we opened the book, we saw that the first page said this: “I don’t have much of a story yet. Will you adopt me and help me write the rest?” and the remainder of the pages were blank.
Gracie seemed like a pretty cool dog (I never met a dog I didn’t like) and if we weren’t full-up in the canine department we’d have squeezed her on board with the rest of the traveling zoo. But what really struck us was how creative the folks at the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley were in trying to find Gracie a home. They were inventive, they cared, and it showed. As soon as we got home, we sent an email to the shelter offering a Synapse and Citizen Canine for the upcoming Dog Days of Summer auction benefitting the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.
Anyway, we wanted to share this with you because:
1) We like to support non-profits who do good things for the world, and it’s even better if that’s done in a creative way. If you run or work for or volunteer at a non-profit that fits that description, email us: we’ll see if we can donate a bag for your next auction or fundraiser. (Our Giving Back page lists some of the non-profits we’ve donated to.)
2) We figured one of you folks who reads our blog might be looking to add a happy-go-lucky Yellow Lab mix to your family. If that’s the case, Gracie is waiting for you. Scratch that: after 9 months of living at the ASWRV and in a loving foster home, Gracie was adopted on Friday, July 6th.
Illustration on the shipping box by Scott, TB Shipping Lead. See more of Scott’s illustrations.
For a while now, we’ve removed the shipping charge on orders shipping to APO addresses: it’s one small way of saying thanks to the folks who serve this country. We didn’t tell anyone we were doing this — it’s just something that we, on the fly, decided was the right thing to do.
Now we’ve made it official: during the checkout process, you’ll see the Priority Mail [Free to APOS] to shipping option if you enter an APO address. And just because it’s free doesn’t mean your order will be delayed or sent via a slow shipping method: it’ll be the same fast service everyone gets.
By the way: when we introduced our Brain Bag backpack in Universal Camouflage, we offered customers in active duty military the option to swap their current, non-camouflage Brain Bag for the Universal Camouflage version. That offer still stands. Email us for details.
Motley Zoo Animal Rescue is dedicated to improving the lives of animals by alleviating their suffering and elevating their status in society through their rescue and rehabilitation with a focus on the education of the community on responsible pet ownership and animal welfare. What does Motley Zoo Animal Rescue have to do with us here at TOM BIHN? jme and Brian, founders of Motley Zoo, rescued and fostered Lily, one of the staff dogs here at TOM BIHN.
We’re giving Motley Zoo a shout out today because they could use all of our help. As a finalist in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program, Motley Zoo Animal Rescue is in the running to win a new Highlander SUV, which would provide them with a safe, reliable ride to help transport the dogs and cats that they rescue. Voting takes place one day only: June 12th, 7am – 9pm
How you can help:
Go to www.100carsforgood.com
Search for “Motley Zoo” in the top right field or click the light green “Finalists” tab and search there
Click the dog icon next to Motley Zoo Animal Rescue
Click “Remind Me” that pops up underneath the dog icon
A personal email will be sent to you on June 12th, so you can remember to vote
On June 12th, vote for Motley Zoo Animal Rescue
Tom, at 17, wearing one of the down jackets he made.
Last week, we shared with you this note that Tom sent to Mary, who commented as she placed her order for a new Medium Cafe Bag that she found our website through Google, but knew Tom as he went to school with her kids and made down jackets for them. You told us you wanted to learn more about Tom’s days making down jackets, so here you go.
Tom’s first cutting table was the family’s Ping-Pong table flipped upside-down; his first sewing project was a down jacket made from a Frostline kit. It was hard work, but Tom was hooked. Soon after that, Tom met David Meeks, then-owner of Custom Alpine Equipment in Santa Cruz, California. Dave was an avid Yosemite climber and mountaineer who designed and made his own line of down jackets and sleeping bags; Tom purchased raw materials for his projects from Dave, and Dave was generous with his time, showing Tom industrial sewing tricks he’d figured out over the years.
It wasn’t long before Tom was taking orders from friends, classmates and teachers for his down sleeping bags, jackets and vests, all designed and sewn one at a time by Tom. A sectioned-off part of the family garage became the sewing and down-filling room and was known affectionately as “Feather City.”
For his own use, Tom made various internal and external frame backpacks (including an external frame made of PVC pipe — not a good idea, it turned out), tents and sleeping bags, which he tested on backpacking trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. Tom continued his exploits in the outdoors with the West Valley Hiking Club, hiking the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island and a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington before he was 14.
Over the years, into his teens and twenties, Tom taught himself the art of patternmaking and in the early 1980s began focusing his creativity on daypacks, briefcases and messenger bags.
An order came in today with this comment:
“I found your website through Google, but I knew Tom Bihn as he went to school with my kids and made down jackets and a comforter for us.”
We told Tom about Mary’s comment (he was out working in the factory) and he included the note in the photo above in her order. Tom was 16 when he made the down jackets and comforter for Mary’s family.
kjm3579 posted in the TOM BIHN Forums that s/he was ready to buy an Aeronaut but was told online that it wasn’t ideal for the bundle packing method because it doesn’t have tie-down/compression straps (not accurate; Tom added removable tie-down/compression straps to the Aeronaut in 2010) and that it doesn’t have much “flat space” (this is why the Tri-Star, with its ample flat space, might be a better option for those who want to bundle pack.)
Frank II, owner and author of One Bag, One World (OBOW) replied:
“As the owner of a site dedicated to light, one bag travel, I can tell you my main bag is the Aeronaut and I travel wrinkle free. I also don’t bundle pack as I find it to be the least efficient way to pack. And contrary to the bundle packing cult, there are other ways to pack wrinkle free.”
moriond posted an excellent collection of links to other forum threads in which techniques such as rolling and bundle packing are discussed as well as the use of Packing Cubes to keep clothes wrinkle-free.
JLE and peregrina noted that Packing Cubes prevent their clothes from being wrinkled in the Aeronaut.
Lani, owner and author of The Travelite FAQ, posted:
“There are two big disadvantages to the bundle method (and I’ve read the book, which for the most part is pretty good):
#1: It prevents wrinkles… BUT ONLY FOR THE OUTER GARMENTS IN THE HUG/BUNDLE!! If you aren’t careful, the inside garments can easily fold into each other and get just as wrinkled as always.
#2: You wind up with one huge lump. You can’t get to an inner garment without unfurling the entire bundle. What this means is that when you get to your hotel/destination, you HAVE to unpack everything. Put them in dresser drawers or hang them, but they cannot stay in your carry-on.”
Read the full thread in the TOM BIHN Forums. Do you bundle pack? Roll? Use Packing Cubes? Join the discussion and share your experience with wrinkle-free packing for ultralight, one bag travel.