Our Portable Culture Portrait blog series features TOM BIHN community members, the bags they carry, and the items they carry in their bags. It’s inspired by our Portable Culture tagline. This edition features sea_otter3. The previous editions featured community members NWHikergal, widepipe, platisc, Rocks, JonC, cdh, Badger, haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.
What’s the most useful item that you carry?
That’s the 3D Organizer Cube. In fact I have four of them – the Wasabi one is for all the small items in my daily carry, so I can easily move these little essentials from bag to bag as needed. There is an Iberian one for geocaching supplies. The Island one is the perfect size for my travel sketching kit. A Burnt Orange one is for geocaching trackable items. Second to the 3D Organizer Cubes, on a daily basis I could not be without my large Shop Bags. Their cheerful colors make me feel better about having to go shopping, and they hold a lot of stuff!
What’s your most treasured item?
From Tom Bihn – that’s a tough one, as I have lots of TB items, and all have their individual parts to play in my daily carry or on particular adventures. The flexible, modular nature of TB bags and accessories is one of the things I most love about them. However, my most treasured item has to be my Synapse 25 in Navy/Solar. This was my first Tom Bihn purchase, several years ago. It’s a color combination I love, and as a person with less than perfect eyesight who has scared herself silly on many occasions by losing her wallet in the dark and fathomless depths of other bags, I really appreciate the light-colored bag interiors that TB offers. The Synapse 25 has proven a faithful and indispensable companion on trips to Germany, Italy, and Iceland. It’s acquired a bit of character along the way (haven’t we all?), and it’s as sturdy and reliable as it was on day one. Although the bags feel quite secure, if I'm in an urban area I will put a small padlock on whatever bag I'm using.
In my daily carry, my most treasured non-Tom Bihn items are fountain pens. I love the aesthetics of them, how they make writing a pleasure, how they make my writing more legible, and how they are more environmentally friendly than disposable pens. I try to ink up and use all the pens in my collection. At the moment I’ve got a Kaweco Brass Sport, a Lamy 2000, and an Edison Nouveau Premiere in rotation.
Here are some of the items on rotation in my Medium Café Bag. Usually all the smaller bits and bobs go into the Wasabi 3D Organizer Cube. If I need to make a cut-down version of that, I’ll put the most crucial things into the Cubelet.
Daily carry contents:
- GeoKnots nano log roller (to make rolling up tiny geocache logbooks much easier)
- Fountain pens: currently in use are the Lamy 2000, Edison Nouveau Premier from Goulet Pens, and Kaweco Brass Sport. They live in a Nock ‘Sinclair’ pen case. I keep a wee box of ink cartridges and a notebook in there too.
- Hobonichi Weeks planner
- Traveler’s Company ‘passport’-size notebook
- Lip balm/floss/comb to make me presentable
- Paracetamol for when life gives you a headache
- Victorinox SwissCard Lite multi tool
- Change purse
- ‘Qliplet’ carabiner/hooks by Lulabop (thanks Perseffect for bringing these to my attention!)
- Tisserand lavender essential oil roller
- Gardener’s Hand Therapy by Crabtree and Evelyn
- Microfiber cloth, lens cleaner, and mini screwdriver for glasses
- Fisher Space Pen in lime green
Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?
The Daylight Backpack, which I take on many of the same trips as the Synapse 25, to use as a daily backpack at my destination. It’s the perfect size for a small excursion. It’s light, comfortable, holds a surprising amount, and is very sturdy. When I met Suzanne, an American friend, for the first time, we immediately bonded over our Tom Bihn bags and matching lime green Fisher Space Pens – we even took a picture of them together on the steps of the Bodleian Library in Oxford!
An utterly crucial travel item is the Travel Tray. At the end of a long day’s travel, it’s great to have a safe place for small, easily lost items and bits of jewellery, or things that I may need at night. The Travel Tray will happily accept all that stuff. It’s also a great yarn bowl, for the knitters and crocheters amongst us.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in the south of England, and work in both public and academic libraries. I love coffee, rain, knitting, and books. I love animals, too, and have a golden retriever and two Siamese cats. This year I’m doing Country Walking magazine’s challenge to walk 1000 miles in 2017. On Instagram I am @sea_otter3.