A 3/4 shot of the Shadow Guide 23 in Ursa (brown-grey) 525 Ballistic. The Shadow Guide 23 in Ursa (brown-grey) 525 Ballistic. A 3/4 shot of the Shadow Guide 23 in Black 525 Ballistic. The Shadow Guide 23 in Black 525 Ballistic. A reverse shot with the Shadow Guide 23 in Black 525 Ballistic. A reverse shot of the Shadow Guide 23 in Ursa (brown-grey) 525 Ballistic. Woman wearing the Shadow Guide 33 on a hike. Profile view. Man standing and wearing the Shadow Guide in Ursa brown.
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Shadow Guide 23

$285.00

Spaciousness. Simplicity. Top Loader.

23 liters / 1400 cu.in.

Ursa Ballistic/Cloud 210 Ballistic
Black Ballistic/Cloud 210 Ballistic

TLDR

The Shadow Guide 23 is a top-loader backpack, inspired by the retired Guide's Pack, that's available in two sizes — 23 liters (you're here now) and 33 liters. The simple yet spacious design allows the bag to be suitable for hikes, travel, and everyday use. 

  • Upper flap pocket with 3 compartments for quick-access items
  • Bucket-style main compartment that cinches close with a drawstring
  • Built-in exterior side-access laptop compartment that can fit up to most 16" laptops (see laptop fit guide)
  • Comfortable, durable, edgeless straps
  • Slanted bottom to shift the weight of the backpack towards your back
  • Breathable, comfortable skeleton panel
  • Removable internal frame with nylon webbing sleeve and aluminum stay
  • Pass-through pocket that can slide over rolling luggage handles up to 8" wide

Full Description

Walk through the features of the Shadow Guide 23.

Upper Flap Pocket

The Shadow Guide has an upper flap pocket that includes 1 top-access zippered compartment for your keys, wallet, snacks, and other small items and 2 side-access zippered compartments on the bottom for your phone, passport, and more. Having this top loader allows you to have the stuff you need quick access to on-hand. There are also four total interior O-rings that are great for attaching our Clear Organizer Pouch, Double Organizer Pouch, Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch, or Key Straps.

Bucket-Style Main Compartment

The main compartment of the Shadow Guide cinches close with a drawstring and features a 210d ballistic nylon lining on the bottom interior. Its simple design makes it perfect for storing large items like clothes and bulky items for travel, grocery for after-work-shopping, or for those who prefer to just throw everything into a bag (carefully) rather than deal with pockets. Since this bag is more minimal and simple, there isn't any interior organization, but you can attach organizational pouches to the 2 O-rings inside this compartment. Travel Stuff Sacks, Handy Little Thing, and Side Effect will also make great accessories for this pack.

Built-In Exterior Side-Access Laptop Compartment

The laptop compartment itself is made with 2 layers of 1/8" 2 lb closed-cell (CXL2) foam. Because the back panel shape is rectangular, the zipper access on the sides can fit a wide range of laptop sizes. The Shadow Guide 23 easily fits 13" laptops and some thinner, smaller footprint 15" laptops.

Breathable Skeleton Panel

Instead of a solid rectangular piece of foam, we cut the back panel in a spine-like shape and use soft mesh so that it feels lighter, more breathable, and more comfortable against your clothing or even bare skin. It's a tried and true design that is just as durable as the solid rectangular piece of foam.

Removable Internal Frame With Nylon Webbing Sleeve And Aluminum Stay

The internal frame is made of die-cut .055" thick High Density Polyethlyene (HDPE) with a nylon webbing sleeve sewn down the center that encases a 8-1/4"/210 mm tall and 1/2"/13 mm wide 6061 aluminum stay. The stay is removable and bent to a general spinal curve that is suitable for most people, but you can rebend and/or adjust the curvature (see instructions here).

Slanted Bottom

When we made a Shadow Guide version with a flat bottom, the bag pulled away from our backs and was uncomfortable to wear. The slanted bottom didn't have these problems. To allow the bag to stand upright when needed, such as for packing, just lean it against the wall or your legs.

Edgeless Straps

Conformity is overrated — except, perhaps, when it comes to shoulder straps. The edgelessness of this new strap allows it to more softly conform to your shoulder — we (and most people who have worn these straps) find that this increases comfort. Yet the straps aren't too soft: the 1/2" thick EVAZOTE® OEKO-TEX® certified foam means the strap is robust enough to carry a heavy load.

Rolling Luggage Handle Pass-Through

Some of us use rolling luggage: maybe because we need to pack more gear or just because we find it more comfortable. Good thing the Shadow Guide's back panel has a pass-through that allows you to slide it over the handle of rolling luggage.

There are, of course, different sizes of rolling luggage with different handle lengths and widths. That said, the Shadow Guide 23 will fit handles up to 8" wide from end to end (which we think should cover over most rolling luggage handles).

Durable Materials + Expert Construction

No bag lasts forever, but choosing the best and most durable materials and taking care not to abuse it (no washing machine or dryer!) can help a quality bag serve most people well (with maybe a repair or two) for up to 10-20 years.

This bag requires significant skill to sew and construct; it's not just any sewing factory who can pull this off and do it well; it's ours, and it's because of the talent of our crew. They're the reason why our designs can be made in an ongoing practical fashion.

Upper Flap Pocket

The Shadow Guide has an upper flap pocket that includes 1 top-access zippered compartment for your keys, wallet, snacks, and other small items and 2 side-access zippered compartments on the bottom for your phone, passport, and more. Having this top loader allows you to have the stuff you need quick access to on-hand. There are also four total interior O-rings that are great for attaching our Clear Organizer Pouch, Double Organizer Pouch, Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch, or Key Straps.

Bucket-Style Main Compartment

The main compartment of the Shadow Guide cinches close with a drawstring and features a 210d ballistic nylon lining on the bottom interior. Its simple design makes it perfect for storing large items like clothes and bulky items for travel, grocery for after-work-shopping, or for those who prefer to just throw everything into a bag (carefully) rather than deal with pockets. Since this bag is more minimal and simple, there isn't any interior organization, but you can attach organizational pouches to the 2 O-rings inside this compartment. Travel Stuff Sacks, Handy Little Thing, and Side Effect will also make great accessories for this pack.

Built-In Exterior Side-Access Laptop Compartment

The laptop compartment itself is made with 2 layers of 1/8" 2 lb closed-cell (CXL2) foam. Because the back panel shape is rectangular, the zipper access on the sides can fit a wide range of laptop sizes. The Shadow Guide 23 easily fits 13" laptops and some thinner, smaller footprint 15" laptops.

Breathable Skeleton Panel

Instead of a solid rectangular piece of foam, we cut the back panel in a spine-like shape and use soft mesh so that it feels lighter, more breathable, and more comfortable against your clothing or even bare skin. It's a tried and true design that is just as durable as the solid rectangular piece of foam.

Removable Internal Frame With Nylon Webbing Sleeve And Aluminum Stay

The internal frame is made of die-cut .055" thick High Density Polyethlyene (HDPE) with a nylon webbing sleeve sewn down the center that encases a 8-1/4"/210 mm tall and 1/2"/13 mm wide 6061 aluminum stay. The stay is removable and bent to a general spinal curve that is suitable for most people, but you can rebend and/or adjust the curvature (see instructions here).

Slanted Bottom

When we made a Shadow Guide version with a flat bottom, the bag pulled away from our backs and was uncomfortable to wear. The slanted bottom didn't have these problems. To allow the bag to stand upright when needed, such as for packing, just lean it against the wall or your legs.

Edgeless Straps

Conformity is overrated — except, perhaps, when it comes to shoulder straps. The edgelessness of this new strap allows it to more softly conform to your shoulder — we (and most people who have worn these straps) find that this increases comfort. Yet the straps aren't too soft: the 1/2" thick EVAZOTE® OEKO-TEX® certified foam means the strap is robust enough to carry a heavy load.

Rolling Luggage Handle Pass-Through

Some of us use rolling luggage: maybe because we need to pack more gear or just because we find it more comfortable. Good thing the Shadow Guide's back panel has a pass-through that allows you to slide it over the handle of rolling luggage.

There are, of course, different sizes of rolling luggage with different handle lengths and widths. That said, the Shadow Guide 23 will fit handles up to 8" wide from end to end (which we think should cover over most rolling luggage handles).

Durable Materials + Expert Construction

No bag lasts forever, but choosing the best and most durable materials and taking care not to abuse it (no washing machine or dryer!) can help a quality bag serve most people well (with maybe a repair or two) for up to 10-20 years.

This bag requires significant skill to sew and construct; it's not just any sewing factory who can pull this off and do it well; it's ours, and it's because of the talent of our crew. They're the reason why our designs can be made in an ongoing practical fashion.

Materials

Upper Back

Nylon Diamond mesh

Back Pad

Closed-cell foam

Shoulder Straps

EVAZOTE® foam

Other Components

Tough Duraflex®, Nexus, and Woojin buckles and related components

Specs

Dimensions

12.6" (w) x 19.3" (h) x 9.0" (d) / 320 (w) x 490 (h) x 230 (d) mm

Weight

2 lb 3 oz / 1000 grams

Volume

23 liters / 1400 cu. in.

Laptop Compartment Maximum Dimensions

 13.7” x 9.4” x 0.6” / 348mm x 239mm x 15mm

Total O-Rings

6 (2 in the main compartment, 1 in the left top flap pocket, 1 in the right top flap pocket, 2 in the top pocket)

Lifetime guarantee image

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.

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4.8
Rated 4.8 stars
Based on 9 reviews
100%would recommend this product
9 reviews
  • Aaron C.
    Verified Buyer
    Bought For Myself
    Product Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Finishings, Easily Adjustable, Versatile
    6 months ago
    Bought For Myself
    Product Standouts Thoughtful Design, Comfortable, High Quality Finishings, Easily Adjustable, Versatile
    Rated 5 stars
    Daily EDC and one bagging with the Shadow Guide 23L

    This is a very simple, albeit well designed bag that easily switches roles based upon your needs and whims. In my time with this bag it has functioned as a food hauler, kid bag, work gear hauler, library runs, OneWheel skate bag, and also a travel bag. Is it the best in class in all of those tasks? Probably not, but the killer feature is that it can actually accommodate many different needs, from being a glorified stuff sack for an impromptu picnic blanket to an office tech hauler. And that is pretty cool.

    Since it’s mainly one huge compartment it has the ability to hold bulkier items that simply would not fly with say, a Boundary Errant (which can hold a total of a water bottle, laptop, one shoe, and some freeze dried carrots. But I jest.). Ever increasing complexity in bag design has the risk of lower usability and diminishing returns. My opinion, but not everything needs its own pocket. And trust me, you will have to embrace the pouch lifestyle if you want to keep your sanity and actually find stuff in this bag, as it truly is a Black Hole of a bag (hold up, Patagonia lawyers inbound!) if things fall to the bottom. But the focus on pouches is exactly what allows this bag to mode shift so easily. For example, it’s in Work Mode and I need to switch to Library Run Mode. Just pull out laptop, wire dopp, and pen pouch and I’m good to go. Low stress, low mess, and you can spend the free time you saved through expedited Carry Mode Switching to locate some fruit snacks for your…

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  • Jeremiah B.
    Verified Buyer
    Bought For Myself
    Product Standouts Thoughtful Design, High Quality Craftsmanship, Sewn in USA, Good Storage Size, Unique
    1 month ago
    Bought For Myself
    Product Standouts Thoughtful Design, High Quality Craftsmanship, Sewn in USA, Good Storage Size, Unique
    Rated 5 stars
    Fits my needs for travel and just biking around the neighborhood

    Really fun design, I like the location of the zipper for the top part of the bag and appreciate that there aren't any other zippers exposed. I was able to pack this for a 1-week trip to Seattle, and a 2-week trip to Europe, and this smaller 23L size still works great for going around the neighborhood too which I love! I got the padded hip belt for carrying it fully packed out for travel and it works great too. Highly recommend!

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  • Aneke G.
    Verified Buyer
    Bought For Gift
    Product Standouts Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship
    4 months ago
    Bought For Gift
    Product Standouts Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship
    Rated 5 stars
    Great Quality

    I got this bag as a gift and it is phenomenal. High-quality fabric that I know will last years and years. Love the top-load design - it helps makes the bag less clunky when you have less to carry.

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  • Maryn S.
    Verified Buyer
    Bought For Myself
    Product Standouts Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Good Storage Size, Unique, Versatile
    6 months ago
    Bought For Myself
    Product Standouts Comfortable, High Quality Craftsmanship, Good Storage Size, Unique, Versatile
    Rated 5 stars
    My everyday bag

    I LOVE my Shadow Guide 23. I wasn't sure if it would be too small vs the 33, but somehow I can always fit everything I need between the large bucket and brain compartments. I use it primarily for school or hiking alongside the padded hip belt, and it is incredibly comfortable on my bike commute and walking around campus. I really was on the fence about the price tag for Tom Bihn, but I'm just disappointed now that I didn't invest sooner. In comparison to a recent P*tagonia purchase I made, the quality and versatility is just worlds better with TB.

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  • Mel
    Verified Buyer
    1 year ago
    Rated 5 stars
    Deceptively Cavernous and Great for Shorter Torsos

    The shadow guide 23 was my first chance to try the new unbound backpack straps. The comfort of the new ones took me by surprise, they're like clouds for your shoulders. The black color has a nice stealth appeal. I really like the zipper placement on the brain, but I disliked the side zip compartments. The cloud color is ok, it almost has a green tinge to it in some light, but I loved the northwest sky aether that lined the laptop compartment. Last complaint is the new style zipper pulls, I disliked the feel to them and they don't have a tight pull to them, they are loose. I'd have preferred the traditional para-cord pulls, luckily I had some lying around and replaced them. As far as packing ability, this bag is magical. I could fit more into it at 23 liters than I could in my guide's pack at 33 liters, not sure what kind of Einstein physics are at play there, but I was amazed. I suggest using brightly colored packing cubes for this bag. For my short height it fit well, I do not recommend it for tall people, 6 ft bf could wear it, but it looked comical on him. What I truly loved about this bag the breathable back mesh panel carried the weight of a laptop well, didn't feel much of a difference in the way it carried having a computer in it vs. not having one. Travel bags take up a significant amount of space for the laptop, and if you are not one who takes one traveling you lose all that space. Not so in the is bag, I didn't feel like I was sacrificing space.

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