Our Portable Culture Portrait blog series features TOM BIHN Forum members, the bags they carry, and the items they carry in their bags. It’s inspired by our Portable Culture tagline. This edition features Forum member NWHikergal. The previous editions featured Forum members widepipe, Rocks, JonC, cdh, Badger, haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.
What’s the most useful item that you carry?
The most useful item that I carry is my iPhone. Whether checking emails, mapping a run or bike ride, using travel apps, checking TB forums, or trying to beat the terrible Seattle traffic with navigation apps, I have likely grown way more reliant on it than I would have ever imagined. And I use it multiple times a day for quick photos of myriad things, which I can easily text, email, or post online. I also have to carry a work phone, which is less of a blessing! Even though I rely on my iPhone often, I am extremely grateful when I have the opportunity to disconnect from emails when I am out of cell range or enjoying the outdoors, though I still snap pics.
What’s your most treasured item?
I would have to say several photo albums of older non-digital family photos, as well as a book of family recipes that my mother gave me. Those are irreplaceable items. While I may have many items of greater financial value, these have the most personal value.
Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?
Tom Bihn shop bags! I honestly don’t think one can have too many. I use them every single day for everything from grocery shopping to travel/road trips to dealing with the miscellany that pops up each day. And no matter how much weight I load them with – even items like heavy cat litter and cases of cat food in one bag – they never struggle. I can throw a large shop bag over each shoulder and haul away, which is particularly handy when I am bulk shopping or moving lots of items and don’t want to make tons of trips up the stairs.
One item that I did not anticipate using as much as I do is a kiwi Clear Organizer Wallet. While I do not use it for daily carry, it accompanies me for all of my adventures on land and water, whether I am hiking, biking, paddle boarding, or traveling. It gives me peace of mind to bring the basics with me in it: driver's license, insurance card, one credit card, and a little cash. I don't have to worry about dragging around things I do not need, but I have enough items to cover most scenarios. I keep the cards in one section, cash in another, and I can put receipts in the other if needed.
My weekend carry bag is a navy parapack/solar Synapse 19, and during weekdays I generally carry a medium café bag (previously original halcyon/wasabi, now mars/dawn), though I have recently alternated this with a black/fjord Little Swift.
For work travel I tend to use either a halcyon Co-Pilot or a halcyon Maker’s Bag for all day meetings, depending on how many items I need to carry. And I use a Smart Alec for my clothing items.
My daily carry items include:
- Allett women’s ultra slim wallet
- Revo sunglasses in cheery aftermarket case
- Lipstick, lip balm and small hand sanitizer in a kiwi mini Q kit
- Tissue packets
- Small first aid kit (I recently switched my FAK items from a small double organizer pouch to a mars cubelet)
- Work cell
- Personal cell
- Fenix E12 flashlight
- Benchmade Mini Griptilian knife (unless I am flying/headed to places where I cannot bring it)
- Work ID on paracord quick release lanyard
- Miir 27 ounce water bottle
- Miir 8 ounce tumbler for coffee - as needed
- Either small or large shop bag – as needed
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I currently live in Northwest, and in my spare time I try to get outdoors as much as possible to enjoy the mountains, water, and scenery the area offers. I also love sampling the local cuisine, discovering new restaurants/food trucks/coffee shops/microbreweries, as well as returning to old favorites. I travel occasionally for work, but I prefer traveling for fun, and I have lived throughout the U.S. and worked overseas. If I could have a fun second job, I would love to be a full-time gear tester!