January 8, 2019

2018 Recap

TOM BIHN Crew 2018

TOM BIHN Crew 2018
This is us at our holiday party! Note the guest of honor in the photo: June Johnson, TOM BIHN Production Manager Emeritus.


How we used to accept backorders and pre-orders, why we stopped, and why we began again to do so.

The really long FAQ all about how our new pre-order system works.

You guys told us you like the new pre-order system for new design debuts and we worked hard to make it as efficient as possible on the production/shipping/customer service side of things. To us, that means it was a success. We expect most major design debuts going forward (with the exception of the Cyber Monday debut) to be pre-order debuts.


Updates on the Luminary backpacks

We shared two updates on the Luminary backpacks:
New Luminary Backpacks Are In The Works
Update on the Luminary backpacks

And a third update -- today (Tuesday, January 8th) Victor and Irma spread and Irma cut the PPB (pre-production batch) of the Luminary 14:


New or Updated Designs

On the left is Nik's Minimalist Wallet #3 in Island. On the right, the wallet from which our photographer downsized.

Nik's Minimalist Wallets
The Truck
Small Zip-Top Shop Bag
Large Zip-Top Shop Bag
Shadow Guide
Road Buddy Duffel 36
Road Buddy Duffel 60
Aeronaut 45 Internal Frame
Aeronaut 30 Internal Frame
Aeronaut Padded Hip Belt
Mesh/Aether Packing Cubes
Freudian Slips in 210d ballistic nylon colors
Tom's Firewood Carrier

We debuted new Mesh/Aether Packing Cubes. Design criteria: packing cubes that don't weigh much, allow one to see the contents of the Packing Cube without revealing too much and provide enough body and structure to make packing the cube easier. This also marked the debut of a new color of Aether: Island blue.

Based on feedback shared in our Forums, we adjusted the size of our Passport Pouch and decided to offer the new size in two versions: RFID-blocking and non-RFID-blocking.

We introduced totally optional internal frames and a padded hip belt for the Aeronaut 30 and Aeronaut 45 travel bags.

Our first pre-order of 2018 was for The Truck, Zip-Top Shop Bags, and a special production run of the Small Original Shop Bag.

We made Freudian Slips in a variety of 210d ballistic nylon colors.

Our last debut of 2018 featured four designs: Nik's Minimalist Wallets, the Shadow Guide, Road Buddy Duffels, and Tom's Firewood Carrier.


Retired Designs

The Field Journal Notebook bid its final farewell after returning from retirement one last time.

We retired the Packing Cubes sized specifically for the Pilot, Night Flight Travel Duffel, Stowaway, Hero's Journey and Yeoman Duffels. We also made a list of the Packing Cubes and Stuff Sacks that work great in the place of those bag-specific cubes.


Essays, Reflections, Notable Posts

Tom sewing in the factory

Over the past several years, interest in designing bags has increased. We've given several tours to folks who want to become bag designers (including an eight-year-old who wanted to become a bag designer to earn enough money to help her family adopt a sister for her!) In this blog post, Tom shared his advice for prospective bag designers.

Darcy's blog post On The Design Process: Inspiration, Timeline, Testing shares some insights on Tom and Nik's design processes and explains a little bit why some new designs take so darn long to make their way to you (ahem, Luminaries....)

Chef Simoni shared another recipe with us and we got to interview him this time.

Tom's thoughts on top-loader packs and why some people love 'em and others.... don't.


Bag FAQs

Our Packing Cubes FAQ answers everything from "How necessary are Packing Cubes?" to "Should I fold, roll, or bundle pack my clothes in Packing Cubes?"

The Aeronaut 30/45 Travel Bags FAQ answers questions ranging from "What does Tom consider to be some of the more unique features and aspects of the Aeronaut design?" to "Why not just include the Internal Frame and sew in the Padded Hip Belt?" and "Can I lock the zippers of my Aeronaut?".

Tote Bags: Frequently Asked Questions answers common wonderings such as "Why do you offer so many different tote bag designs?" and "If I knew I was going to be stranded on a deserted island, which tote bag would you recommend that I take with me?" and "I’m planning to take Ulysses by James Joyce, a water filter, my pet rock, an antique sugar bowl, a small adze, a picnic blanket, a jumbo bag of salt water taffy, and some antibiotics in case I need them for my rock. So, which tote?"



The photo posted by bouncing in the Forums that kicked off the ">"Post your favorite travel photo" thread.

Countron made its debut on the Forums.

kathryn on our forum asks for some bite-sized happiness, and the forum delivers!

Some amazing photos from our forum members!

A great discussion about why our members' EDCs are their favorites.

Great suggestions from our forumites for two-bag travel combinations.


Guest Posts and Portable Culture Portraits

TOM BIHN Blog - Patti Digh Alexandria
Life is a Verb Campers Alison Campbell, Susan Lucas, and Jeanne d’Orleans on a meetup in Alexandria, Virginia. Photo from Patti Digh's guest post for our blog.

Libraries Endure
Celebrating libraries with fun library factoids and a list of libraries to visit.

Patti Digh wrote a guest post for our blog all about how bags can create community.

Portable Culture Portraits
An interview series with members of the TOM BIHN Forums.




We released some previously unreleased videos that demonstrate some packing scenarios and tips for the Aeronaut 30, Aeronaut 45, Synapse 25, Western Flyer.

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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.