I created this thread to share/discuss possible ideas for a possible new Tom Bihn product, possibly stylistically derived from the current Co-Pilot travel mini-luggage, often referred to on Tom Bihn forums as the "Pilot". I like the idea of a new product themed after the Co-Pilot, but I will say off the get-go that, sight unseen, this mysterious yet-to-be-released Tom Bihn product should not be called a "Pilot". I think the name "Co-Pilot", as well as the remarkable form and function of the Co-Pilot, would be diluted by confusion of Bihn releasing another product with such a similar name. For the sake of brevity and clarity here, though, we can call this hypothetical product a Pilot.
The name Pilot, in my mind, suggests a kind of big-brother relationship with the Co-Pilot. In other words, I see the Pilot as deriving its design, and at least part of its functionality, from the current Co-Pilot. The current Co-Pilot is a remarkable multi-purpose piece of luggage/EDC:
- The current Co-Pilot can be a micro-suitcase personal carry-on for overnight or within-one-day air/road travel, allowing a traveller to carry personal items such as 3-1-1, passport, and other very small collections at close-hand.
- The current Co-Pilot could be a purse or a kind of minimalist micro-briefcase for either EDC (every-day carry) or travel.
- The current Co-Pilot could also be used as a kind of EDC camera case, as photos on the Co-Pilot's product page suggest. (I do not know what the Co-Pilot's padding, if any, is like. I assume that if there isn't any padding built-in, that shutterbug Co-Pilot owners have found creative ways to install useful padding in this bag.)
I assume the point of participants in these forums speculating on a Pilot would be because they like the Co-Pilot and want to see its design philosophy extended to another, newer product. Hence the familiar name. Having never actually seen a Co-Pilot in person, I do like the eye-catching design and can see possibilities. There are two directions I could see for a Pilot:
1: Pilot as travel luggage. In this concept, the Pilot would essentially replace the current Tom Bihn Western Flyer by giving it a new design. If this were the case, I would favor giving the Pilot a very different name, say, "Yankee Airman" or "Idlewild South" or "Flyboy" or even "Eastern Flyer". The Western Flyer is currently an excellent travel luggage concept, combining shoulder carry, luggable side handles and backpack straps with ingeniously designed zippered pockets and compartments for light, minimalist overnight travel. Still, the current Western Flyer design looks too much like its own larger brother, the Tri-Star. Perhaps a freshening through a redesign and renaming a la Pilot would be in order.
Here is the other possibility as I see it...
2: Pilot as mini-messenger bag. In this concept, the Pilot would be more like a multi-purpose Tom Bihn messenger bag. Whereas the Tom Bihn ID is a briefcase-as-messanger bag, the new Pilot (or whatever it would be called) would be a very different form-factor. Like the ID and other Bihn messenger bags, and very unlike the current Co-Pilot, the Pilot would be configured to accept an optional Q-AM Shoulder Strap, allowing the Pilot to have an almost-backpack-like quality to its carrying attitude. The Pilot would be set-up to serve as either a mini-briefcase or as a camera bag, padding built-in. Perhaps it could carry an iPad or MacBook Air-type computer.
For either product, Tom Bihn could be breaking new ground by taking design philosophy from the Co-Pilot and giving it new form in an expanded product line. Having said that, Mr. Bihn and company would be wise to avoid any naming confusion by calling this new hypothetical bag a "Pilot".
I would encourage the Bihn crew to explore both of these concepts.