After a couple of years of lurking, checking in from time to time to keep up with new bag developments, I finally registered for the forum. I actually think I tried registering a couple of years ago but I couldn't find my old user name or password, so I'm not sure.
A bit about my Tom Bihn history: Like most of you, I started out with one Tom Bihn bag, which lead to many. My first bag was an Empire Builder in early 2008. I bought the EB after scouring the internet for the best briefcase that money could (or couldn't) buy. I eventually narrowed down my choices to a short list that included a few other names that most of you would be familiar with, and Tom Bihn. In the end, it was the sleek styling, the glowing testimonials, and my gut instinct that any bag with a name like "Empire Builder" just had to be awesome, which made me choose the Bihn bag. And wow, am I glad I did! My Empire Builder (with Absolute Strap, naturally) has been carried with me almost every single day since I bought it in 2008. While it is a little dirtier and, upon very close inspection the rubber "gasket" on the zippers are starting to fray a tiny bit, the bag looks great considering how many times I open and close it every day, and how many places I've carried it. It is my trusty companion, and while I am still working on building my own empire, I look forward to carrying my Empire Builder for years to come.
Eventually when I needed a replacement travel bag, I came, of course, back to Tom Bihn. I was just about to buy an Aeronaut when the Tri-Star was announced. I immediately gravitated to it, and after a bit of waffling about whether or not I wanted the Aeronaut or Tri-Star, I pulled the trigger on the Tri-Star.
A bit more time passes, and the Field Journal is released. I ordered one right away, and used the purchase as an excuse to grab a Side Effect at the same time.
At some point in there I also picked up a lifefactory water bottle, a cork wallet, and so on.
Of course, also at some point my girlfriend noticed a pattern and she gave me a couple of things like a packing cube, screen cloth, organizer pouches, and extra strap for my Tri-Star.
Now, just last week, the fourth of July pouch promotion convinced me to finally order a Synapse that I have been longing for a while. My steel dyneema Synapse and FOJ pouch showed up quickly after I ordered, along with an extra Ultrasuede screen cloth, and I love it! It is the perfect "backpack" size and design, and the steel dyneema is slick and eye catching.
I now carry and use at least one Tom Bihn product every day. Monday through Friday (and some weekends) it is my Empire Builder, Field Journal, and accessories. Evening and weekend hikes, urban or rural, I have the Synapse on my back. Any time I'm staying over night away from home, the Tri-Star is with me.
I think it is safe to say that I am a Tom Bihn convert for life. Did I mention the dozens of people I've introduced to Tom Bihn over the years? At least twice I've been outright accused of being on Tom Bihn's payroll. One person said that door to door salesmen aren't as enthusiastic about their products as I am about Tom Bihn. I think authenticity plays a big part of this - I wouldn't want to sell Ginsu knives for a paycheck, but I'll sell Tom Bihn bags for free, because I love great products! I may not have a FoT pouch to prove it, but I do feel like a friend of Tom Bihn as a company, at least!
Anyway, this post is long overdue, so I apologize if I rambled a bit.
To Tom and the crew: Keep up the good work. Your products are in good company with a very small number of other companies that produce what I consider to be the "cream of the crop" in your respective categories. As long as you make bags, I'll carry them!