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Design Philosophy

TOM BIHN Wild Limpet Backpack (early 1980's)

Our Thoughts On Load Lifters

A design of Tom's from the early-mid 1980s that had load lifters: the Wild Limpet. In use, Tom found that the load lifters didn't do much for this pack (except distorting the shape of it) because it didn't have a frame. Load lifters are somewhat ubiquitous on large internal frame and external frame packs and, on those packs, can be useful; their application or utility on smaller packs is, in our opinion, of dubious merit. From a guide to backpacks: “Load Lifters - Part of the shoulder strap and is used to lift the pack's weight off the shoulders.” There’s...

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Q&A: Top Stitching On Bag Zippers

You guys ask us good questions and sometimes we don't know the answer. When that happens, we ask Tom -- given that he has over 40 years of bag making experience, he usually has the answer if we don't. Below is an email sent this past week to our customer service crew and assigned to Cody, who wasn't sure of the answer. Cody asked Tom, and the response below is what Tom shared with Cody: Hello, I have several of your products and I've noticed that none of them have top stitching on the zippers like many bags do. Is...

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On The Design Process: Inspiration, Timeline, Testing

On The Design Process: Inspiration, Timeline, Testing

Both Tom and Nik are designing various new bags and smaller items—everything from new backpacks to new travel bags to new organizer pouches. And that, of course, prompts questions: When will they be released? Will all the designs turn into real bags that will debut someday? There's an easy answer: we don’t know. But why do we not know? And further, how can we be comfortable with—and actually admit to—not knowing? First, we might identify the various impetuses behind the new designs, as the origin of their inspiration does impact the design process and timeline of development. The inspiration for...

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Tom Bihn in the Dave Meeks Bee Barn, Santa Cruz

Some Thoughts for the Prospective Bag Designer

In my garage, Santa Cruz, circa 1983. The other day, someone stopped by the factory just as I was leaving – they are learning to design and make bags, and were hoping to look around. I was glad to give them a brief tour and answer some questions. Surprisingly, this request is not that uncommon: we've recently had more and more inquiries from people who’d like to start their own bag businesses or become bag designers, and are hoping I might give them some advice or wisdom to help them down their path. Of course, the thing about any map...

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