Tom designed the Zeitgeist (you're here now) and Paradigm specifically for folks who’d been asking him for years to design a small backpack PLO (Purse-Like Object; read about the origin of that acronym in the Forums). The Zeitgeist is a reissue of a vintage TOM BIHN design from the 90's; the Paradigm is a more modern design.
Both backpacks share the same main compartment: a slightly teardrop shape with a zipper across the top and down the sides. Same shoulder straps too – a new style of strap offering a gentle contour and a touch of padding. Both have the same padded back panel with an interior padded sleeve suitable for a iPad or similar (sound familiar? It’s a scaled down version of the back panel of the Paragon).
After that, the Zeitgeist heads in one direction and the Paradigm heads in another…
The Zeitgeist features a simple flat front pocket with a diagonal zipper; we’ve trimmed the zipper with contrast colored grosgrain ribbon just for fun. We went with the new version of an old TOM BIHN label to give it even more of a retro flavor — we call it the “Moon Label”. The Zeitgeist has a small zippered interior pocket like the Paragon; the main compartment zipper (#8 YKK RC DWR) has an old school weather flap and is also a bit longer than the zipper on the Paradigm.
Walk through the features of the Zeitgeist.
Padded Device Pocket
The Zeitgeist's padded compartment offers just-right padding without adding bulk or weight. Don't plan to carry a device? Know that most of the padding and construction of the compartment would be there regardless to offer comfort to your back and structure for the bag itself.
The Zeitgeist will fit devices up to the size of the 11" iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 (but notably not the S7+).
Diagonal Exterior Pocket
The Zeitgeist features a simple flat front pocket with a diagonal zipper; we’ve trimmed the zipper with contrast colored grosgrain ribbon just for fun.
Small interior zippered pocket: perfect for a wallet, passport, keys, sunglasses or other small items.
Contour Backpack Straps
Our new Contour Backpack Straps were designed to be an upgrade from basic webbing straps. They have minimal foam padding to bump up the comfort factor, while remaining light and proportional to smaller or lightweight packs.
Tom developed the shape and fit of the Contour straps over several months, asking for feedback from friends and crew of all heights and sizes — many different refinements were made to the shape and fit. The result? While no backpack strap design is likely to work for everyone, it’s surprising to all of us how many of us love these straps in particular — folks ranging from 5’0” to 6’0” find them comfortable and well-fitted.
We added a simple webbing grab handle to the top of the Zeitgeist. It'll come in handy if you'd like to hang the pack on a coat hook, grab and hoist it up onto a table, or carry it briefly by the grab handle itself.
The Moon label revisitation of a label Tom used briefly back in the mid-1990s.
Smooth Back Panel
The back panel of the Zeitgeist is always smooth 525d ballistic nylon in Black, no matter the main exterior fabric or color.
We include the following accessories to give you a good amount of options for your new bag right out of the gate.
A Key Strap is a strip of webbing with plastic snaphooks on the end. The 8” Key Strap in Black that’s included in most of our larger bags is, for many, the gateway to a world of organization via Key Straps and Organizer Pouches. All the members of the Key Strap family are intended to make locating things in your bag easier and more instinctive. Pulling out a small item or pouch tethered to a strap is easier than rooting around aimlessly in the depths of your pack; you can also rest assured that anything hooked to a strap is much less likely to fall out or otherwise be left behind. You can find more Key Strap colors and varieties on the Key Strap page.
Some folks prefer metal zipper pulls. Others prefer cord pulls. So, what to do about that? We think the best solution (in most cases) is to offer metal pulls and include a starter pack of Cord Pulls with most bags. The most popular solution is to weave the Cord Pulls through the metal pulls, effectively silencing them without having to remove them. A video demonstrating various Cord Pull options and more colors/varieties of Cord Pulls can be found on the Cord Zipper Pulls page.
An adjustable and removable sternum strap with leave-no-trace hardware: if you don't like or don't use your sternum strap, remove it and leave (almost) nothing behind.
Choosing an Exterior Fabric
You like choices and we like to give you choices! That's why the Zeitgeist is typically available* in three different exterior fabrics. Our Materials Glossary explains each fabric in great detail, but here are some quick facts that may help you decide which to choose. And we're always here if you have questions: email@example.com
- plain weave with 1/4” / 6mm ripstop
- 400 denier type 6 filament nylon (base fabric); 420 denier ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene ripstop grid
- light urethane
- Made in:
Choose this fabric if
- You want a lighter weight alternative to traditional nylon fabrics that has remarkable tear strength and good abrasion resistance.
- You're looking for a fabric with a modern, "technical" appearance.
- You have pets: 400d Halcyon doesn't collect pet hair, reducing your monthly lint roller costs.
525d High Tenacity Ballistic Nylon
- 2x2 “ballistic” weave
- 525 denier type 6,6 (high tenacity) filament nylon, twisted
- heavy urethane
- Made in:
- South Korea with Canadian yarn
Choose this fabric if
- You want your bag to be soft and supple yet tough as nails.
- You want a fabric that's stately enough to be at home at work, the mountains, or a nice hotel.
- You don't want your bag to collect pet hair or abrade your clothing.
1000 denier Cordura®
- plain weave
- 1000 denier type 6,6 texturized nylon, discontinuous surface fibers that mask surface damage caused by abrasion
- medium urethane
- Made in:
Choose this fabric if
- You want a durable, canvas-like, natural-feeling fabric, and don't mind the slightly rough or abrasive texture.
- You appreciate that it's been the outdoor industry's go-to, classic pack fabric for the past four decades.
- You don't care about your bag collecting pet hair or lint.
- Christine T.Verified BuyerBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Sewn in USA, Durable1 year agoBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Sewn in USA, DurableRated 5 out of 5 starsThe backpack I have been waiting for
I have been waiting and hoping for a small Tom Bihn backpack for years! I was so excited when I found out that the Paradigm and Zeitgeist were being made. I have used my Zeitgeist as my EDC at amusement parks, swap meets, and for travel. I have to say it’s the perfect bag for me. My 18oz water bottle fits nicely in the inside padded pocket. The padding allows enough cushion that I don’t feel it on my back. Inside zipper pocket holds my small wallet, chapstick, and meds. Outside pocket carries my cellphone. Inside can hold anything else I may pickup in my travels or a small jacket.
- Candi Morgan M.Verified BuyerBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Made in USA, Compact1 year agoBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Made in USA, CompactRated 5 out of 5 starsAmazing for Light Hiking and Adventures!
I love the Zeitgeist (I've sort of gone a little nuts with them - up to four now), but I think this one is my favorite! It's the Taiga/Coyote one, which is a gorgeous color. I think it's become my fave TB colorway, as well. This bag is super light and these are the most comfy small backpacks that I've ever found!
I tested this one out today for a little light hiking at Phinizy Swamp, Augusta, GA (yes, I know, it doesn't have the proper back panel for that, but it's small and light and it was a short hike of about 5-6 miles with a few stops in mild weather in an area with good cell service). I've removed the sternum strap on all four of the bags because the shoulder straps fit solid as a rock, and it's almost like I'm not carrying anything, which is very nice.
It will fit my Black Halcyon SE (packed out as my EDC and in the main compartment vertically), protein bars, an 18oz. wide mouth HydroFlask (vertical next to the SE), Packtowl Nano in a pouch, chap stick, sunscreen stick, cough drops, tissues, hand sanitizer, half-Buff headband, small first-aid kit, a map, keys, and a packable sun hat with no issue! I could have fit a light rain shell or long sleeved tee tucked into the top of the bag, but the weather was so nice today that I didn't need one.
Love love love love love!!! ❤
- John C.Verified BuyerBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Finishings, Compact, Versatile12 months agoBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Finishings, Compact, VersatileRated 5 out of 5 starsBig Zeitgeist fan
I mostly use the Zeitgeist as an EDC on days when I'm not carrying a laptop, and occasionally as a daypack while traveling. The back panel is thick enough to be comfortable but not overbuilt, and it fits a surprising amount of stuff: light sweater, umbrella, small-ish water bottle (mine is 18oz), Kindle.
It's also a unique look - I've gotten lots of positive comments and people asking where I got it. Overall I would definitely recommend it!
- Erica L.Verified BuyerBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Thoughtful Design, Made in USA, Compact1 year agoBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Thoughtful Design, Made in USA, CompactRated 5 out of 5 starsPerfect Every Day Carry
I am OBSESSED with my Tom Bihn Zeitgeist. I purchased it for an urban every day carry bag and it has been just lovely. Not too small, not too big. To really enjoy this bag, I find that mastering organizing it vertically made it the most functional. It is a slim bag, and I don't carry things like ipads or books, all of my doodads are rather small. After getting them situated in pouches that facilitated everything being organized flat, even when the bag was upright, was the key to success, because yes, the front pocket does use interior space. This doesn't bother me because I love the slim look of this bag. I keep my wallet and a little flashlight in the front pocket, and the rest of my stuff in the main pouch. I usually clip a water bottle to one of the shoulder straps.
I love love love the sternum strap. the shoulder straps are comfy too! The loop at the top (grab handle?) is kinda soft, but super strong. It's pleasant to pick up the bag. The zipper pulls and key strap being included are much appreciated.
- ChristinaVerified BuyerBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Sewn in USA, High Quality Finishings, Compact, Versatile6 months agoBought For MyselfProduct Standouts Thoughtful Design, Sewn in USA, High Quality Finishings, Compact, VersatileRated 5 out of 5 starsPerfect minimal gym bag and all around charming bag
I love the zeitgeist! I’ve reached for it several times a week in the month since I got it. Mine is in original black Halcyon. I needed something compact to carry essentials and a water bottle to the gym for classes where our belongings are stored in cubbies. This fits the bill perfectly! I throw in my Side Effect EDC and a 19oz Owala water bottle and it’s everything I need. I clip my keys and Loop earplugs (the gym is so loud!) to the o-ring in the outer pocket for easy access. As a backpack it works whether biking or driving to the gym.
I’ve also used it for errands around town. It can hold a bigger water bottle - I’ve also put my 24oz bottle in it. I’ve slipped library books into the tech sleeve, sunglasses into the smaller pockets, snacks and a packable puffer jacket into the main compartment, etc etc. I highly recommend!
Sewn in Seattle
Our bags are designed and sewn right here in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
That allows us to be control freaks in the best way possible; we have direct control and oversight of the quality of our materials, our products, and the jobs and working environment that we help create. It also offers us a unique spontaneity: when we have an idea for a new product or accessory, we can design it, figure out how to build it, add it to our website and be ready to ship it out our front door all within just a few weeks. How cool is that?
Intrigued? You can find out more about the unusual way we do business on our Company Philosophy page.
THE BIHN Guarantee
Everything you buy from us here at TOM BIHN is satisfaction guaranteed. We’ve been in business since 1972 and we stand behind what we make.
If something goes wrong and it's our fault, we'll fix it for free. Repairs due to normal wear and tear or due to other things that are not our fault will be performed, when possible, at a reasonable charge right here in our Seattle factory where your bag was made. Defects in materials or workmanship are uncommon and almost always evident while the product is still new. Keep in mind that bags and packs are often subject to extreme wear in everyday use: do not expect them to last forever. Only true love lasts forever! You can expect a TOM BIHN product to give years and years of hard service.