December 15, 2012

Tom's favorite gifts to give

TOM BIHN Aeronaut in Aubergine

Raindrops on roses? Whiskers on kittens? I'm going to go out on a limb and recommend some alternatives, just in case you're tapped out of ideas for gifts:

If you've family or friends in the American west (to the left of the the meridian 100° west of Greenwich, more or less), you might take a look at the High Country News. Interesting and insightful reporting, available both in print and electronically. Even if you only dream of living out west, it's worth the read.

We hike. We hike rather a lot, and in all weather conditions. After fooling around with several other brands of traction devices for walking on ice/compacted snow, I've become smitten with Kahtoola Microspikes. They offer amazing grip on winter trails; they are durable, portable and easy to take on and off. Microspikes can turn what would have been a treacherous stretch of trail into a cake walk. (Yum, cake...)

And when we're not out in the weather (or you know, busy making bags), we're home enjoying the winter weather from the inside. Nothing makes a cold day outside more cozy inside than some hot cocoa. I know chocolate has become a bit like red wine -- everyone has their favorite and is their own expert. That said, I will always prefer a very old yet not always well known chocolate maker from San Francisco -- E. Guittard -- for both hot cocoa and chips for cookies.

People often ask me at this time of year which bag I most often give as a gift. My answer? It's still the The Aeronaut. Pretty much everyone I know travels at some point. They fly to Europe, Hawaii, take road trips to the Southwest, get a sitter and escape for a weekend to the coast, take their first real vacation in five years, visit family on the East Coast, or go on that round-the-world trip they've always dreamed of. The Aeronaut is as close I get to being able to come along with them.

As a musician and member of The Ecclestons, my friend Greg Madill tours all over the world. When I was first designing the Aeronaut, Greg and his wife Lorena were set to go on a trip to Italy. I gave Greg one of the first prototypes of the Aeronaut to test.

My friends Robert and Maggie went to Paris for their honeymoon, so his-and-hers Aeronauts made perfect sense as a wedding gift. Robert reports:
"My wife and I were given a pair of Aeronauts as a wedding gift, and we took them on our honeymoon. I try never to check bags, so the size is great. The handles on three sides of the Aeronaut make the bag super manageable, from the trunk of the car to the seat on the airplane. The shoulder straps deploy fast enough for that moment when you realize you need to run to the gate, then disappear just as quickly. We love these bags, and we've used them every time we've travelled. Six years later they show no signs of wear."

TOM BIHN Aeronaut in Aubergine
The Aeronaut in Aubergine/Wasabi.

Shop Bags make great gifts, too: pretty much everyone shops at the grocery store or the farmer's market. And if anyone I gave an Aeronaut to didn't get the full set of Packing Cubes and other accessories (3D Clear Organizer Cube, Packing Cube Backpack, Packing Cube Shoulder Bag) they might this time around.

Shop Bag, Small, in Wasabi.

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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.