The Setup: Tom’s Interview

The Setup is a collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done. Read Tom’s interview.

The Setup: Tom's Interview

Thanking our investors

Every person who has ever purchased a TOM BIHN bag is, in a way, an investor: I cannot put into words how grateful I am that you folks allow me and my company to do what we do. You’re helping us create some good jobs, as well as allowing me to have the time of my life. Thank you.

In the early years of my company, in a time before Kickstarter, I relied from time to time on the generous support of my family and friends. I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently. Often that support took the form of help purchasing a new piece of equipment, or a small infusion of cash to meet a shortfall in income. Sometimes it was a piece of advice, an extension on my rent, or simply an encouraging word. Our business is more or less a success now, and it’s often too easy to forget the tough times we’ve weathered and the kindness that got us through those tough times.

Of far more significance than of the actual dollar value of these investments was the faith that was behind them. They reflect the belief that my family and friends had in me and my endeavor; the belief that I was on the right track and that things would work out — even when sometimes I had serious doubts myself.

A big thanks to those who have helped out and whose faith got me here:
Greg Bihn
Dan Bihn
Barbara Bihn
Mike Bihn
David Meeks
Alayne Meeks
Rob McCormick
David Giannini
Robert Swarner
Jim Snook
Peter Kambas
Don Nasser
Patricia Camp
Kieron Porter

Thank you.

Tom's Signature

Tom and Tao on the Consew

Left: Here I am sewing on my Consew 206RB sewing machine, circa 1988. My workshop was in the corner of David Meeks’ bee barn in the Santa Cruz Mountains. My brother Greg helped me purchase this machine in 1980. On it I sewed miles and miles of seams; and on it I made all of my early packs (excepting those I made before 1980 — those sewn on my Grandmother’s ancient Singer.)

Right: The 206RB is still in daily service in our factory: Tao sews the trim of every Organizer Pouch on it. Every one. It’s like a monument to my family’s belief in me.

Trevor’s Box Art: Seattle Cityscape

Trevor's box art: Seattle Cityscape

See more box art by the talented TOM BIHN shipping crew.

Update on the Co-Pilot


Co-Pilots are currently in production here in our Seattle factory. Those of you with backorders for the Co-Pilot can expect your orders to ship soon!

All About the Red, White and Blue, While Being Green (Video)

“Partnering with UPS, TOM BIHN Bags ships every order via UPS carbon neutral. The company pays a little extra to ship the bags and carbon “credits” are purchased to offset the emissions generated by the shipping process.

Going one step further, they have their shipping and packing materials certified as environmentally friendly in the UPS Eco Responsible Packaging Program. The boxes aren’t just made of recycled cardboard, but also are right-sized (preventing use of excess materials) and crush-tested to prevent product damage. This is especially crucial, as there’s no environmental benefit if a flimsy package is damaged in transit and requires a replacement shipment.”

Read the full article over at the UPS blog.

Video: Our Materials

2012 Holiday Shipping Guide

Use this handy guide to help figure out which shipping method you need to choose to ensure your TOM BIHN order will arrive by or on December 24th. Note that our shipping cut-off time is 12:30pm PST. Need help? Wondering if an out of stock bag can get to you or your loved one in time? Email, call us at 1-800-729-9607 (+1-206-652-4123), ask us on Twitter, or on Facebook. We would be glad to help. (Want to learn more about shipping rates and practices? Visit our FAQ.) Good thing to know: our Gift Certificates can be ordered and delivered instantly to your friend or family member’s inbox, along with a personalized gift message.

Orders shipping within the United States:

December 17th: Last day for folks on the East Coast to place an order with UPS Ground ($10) as their shipping method with guaranteed delivery by or on Monday, December 24th. Don’t worry: you can still place an order and choose expedited shipping ($20 and up) for December 24th delivery up until Saturday, the 22nd!

December 18th: Last day for folks in the Mid-West to place an order with UPS Ground as their shipping method with guaranteed delivery by or on December 24th.

December 19th: Last day for those on the West Coast and in Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, and Southern California to place an order with UPS Ground as their shipping method with guaranteed delivery by or on December 24th. Note to East Coast folks: this is the last day to select UPS 3 Day Select shipping for guaranteed December 24th delivery.

December 20th: Everyone: choose UPS 2nd Day Air as your shipping method for guaranteed delivery by or on December 24th. Exception: Northern Oregon, Northern Idaho or Washington State folks can still choose UPS Ground.

December 21st: In Northern Oregon, Northern Idaho or Washington State? This is your last day to order via UPS Ground for delivery on or by December 24th. Everyone else can place orders with UPS Next Day Air as their shipping method and have guaranteed December 24th delivery.

December 22nd: We’re shipping UPS 2nd Day Air, Next Day Air, and International shipments, even though it’s a Saturday — UPS is working and that means we do too. For example: an order placed with Next Day Air shipping by 12:30pm on Saturday, December 22nd will shipped on Saturday and received on Monday, December 24th, while an order placed with 2nd Day Air shipping will be received on Wednesday, December 26th. UPS Ground and 3 Day Select orders will ship on December 24th. Also: our Seattle factory showroom will be open 10am – 4pm.

December 24th: Our Seattle factory showroom will be open 10am – 2:00pm for last minute shopping and we’ll be answering your phone calls and emails. Our shipping department will ship orders as usual, though they will not be delivered until after Christmas. Need a last minute gift? Order a Gift Certificate and have it delivered instantly to your friend or family member via email with a personalized gift message.

December 25th: We will be closed. Have fun — that’s what we’ll be doing! Orders received over the holiday will ship Wednesday, December 26th. P.S. There’s still the option of ordering a Gift Certificate with instant email delivery to your loved one’s inbox.

P.S. This UPS Time in Transit map might also help you plan your order:

UPS 2012 Time-In-Transit Map from 98134

Orders shipping outside of the United States:

For our customers in Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia and everywhere else outside of the United States: we recommend placing your order by or on Thursday, December 13th for guaranteed delivery by or on December 24th. Note that we are adding a couple of days on to the usual 2-5 business day transit time because of customs and high package volume.

Tom Bihn: The Early History

“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.”

Read the full post by jwwarren in the Forums.

Wasabi and Iberian: So Good They’re Gone

TOM BIHN Travel Stuff Sacks in Iberian and Wasabi
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
Yarn Stuff Sacks
Travel Tray
Packing Cube Backpack (Aeronaut)
Clear Quarter Packing Cube
Shop Bag
Dyneema/nylon Organizer Pouches

Travel Stuff Sacks in Steel and Ultraviolet
Travel Stuff Sacks in Steel and Ultraviolet, the two colors we will have available through the end of the year.

20% lighter travel bags

The numbers are in: our Aeronaut and Tri-Star travel bags in 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon are 20% lighter than the same bags made out of our U.S. 1050d high tenacity ballistic nylon.


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.

TOM BIHN Aeronaut: a 20% lighter travel bag
The Aeronaut in Steel 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon.