The Stowaway might well be the indispensable, convertible travel bag and backpack that you didn’t even know you needed.
It was originally conceived as a one-bag solution for travelers taking advantage of discounted, “no carry-on, personal item only” tickets (such as Spirit’s Bare Fare™ and United’s and American’s Basic Economy fares), as it’s designed to fit handily under the seat in front of you. But we’ve also used the Stowaway for short trips and quick vacation getaways that didn’t require lots of clothing, and it’s awesome for that too. We’ve come to appreciate being able to board a flight without the anxiety of looking for overhead-bin space: if you travel standby or are just chronically late for your departures, this can be a pleasant change. The Stowaway ebulliently offers plenty of pockets for easy in-flight access: they all securely zip shut so no need to worry about anything escaping when you’ve stowed this bad boy for takeoff and landing.
The trick of the Stowaway is that it quickly unzips and then unfolds to be carried as a backpack. It offers much of the convenience and organization of our Night Flight Travel Duffle (which is also sized to fit under-seat), but because you can wear it on your back, you’ll be negotiating your way through the airport as if those other folks with roll-aboard luggage were standing still. Yet when it’s time to ditch the backpack look and pose as a serious adult again, simply reverse the process and presto: your Stowaway has the sober good looks of a respectable travel bag. Note: when the Stowaway is zipped up into travel bag/briefcase mode, there is a space created between the two halves of the bag – this is where the shoulder straps tuck away. You might be tempted to use this pocket-that's-not-really-a-pocket, but you’ll likely be disappointed because it’ll disappear once you unzip the Stowaway to use it as a backpack. Just thought you’d like to know.
Pockets front and back provide a virtual rabbits’ warren of places to carry various gadgetry, and three main compartments further facilitate micromanagement of the rest of your kit. One compartment accommodates your mid-sized items (like books, snacks, sunglasses, water bottle); one compartment fits a 13” laptop or tablet, and one compartment handles a change or two of clothes (we’ve designed optional Packing Cubes to keep your attire neat and well ordered). We won’t lie to you and say the Stowaway is roomy, but once you’ve figured out how to condense your portable culture to fit inside, you might well be delighted by the sense of freedom and mobility gained. Of course, if you use the Stowaway as your personal item in addition to your larger carry-on (yeah, like your Aeronaut), all of the above still applies, except that you might find rather than a change of clothing, you carry more food, more reading materials, or what-have-you.
The front compartment (or top compartment when in backpack mode) has a handy front zippered pocket that is itself further divided into three: two half-width sub-pockets to accommodate the little stuff, plus a center spot for your smartphone that's padded on the exterior surface; two O-rings in this front pocket allow you to tether keys or other small items. Inside the compartment itself is a zip-away mesh water bottle pocket/divider that, when zipped into place, creates three vertical spaces to help you organize your gear and control the load. If you don’t require that sort of division, leave the divider unzipped and push it out of the way. The back of this compartment is padded, so you won't be poked by your water bottle or whatever else you're carrying when the Stowaway is on your back. You'll find two more O-rings in this compartment, as well.
The center compartment (which becomes the lower back compartment in backpack mode) is accessed through a side zipper and is sized to fit most 13” laptops or similarly-sized tablets. (It’s padded only on the surface against your back, so we recommend adding a padded laptop sleeve like our Cache—loops for Cache rails are provided.) If you aren’t traveling with a laptop, this compartment works well for other items: noise-canceling headphones and binoculars were Tom’s suggestions. Because it’s the same size as the other compartments, you can use two packing cubes in this compartment and carry clothes or anything else that makes sense to you.
The back compartment (lower front compartment in backpack mode) is intended for clothes but of course can carry whatever else you might need. It accepts two packing cubes “like two peas in a pod.” This compartment is just open space with no dividers. It will hold a folded dress shirt from the cleaners with minimal scrunching; it's got two more O-rings at the ready. Its outer surface has two pockets with vertical, curved zippers: one is about 2/3 the width and is sized for small tablets (like the iPad Mini and all the Kindles), and the other 1/3 width will accommodate even the biggest phablet; each of these pockets has an O-ring.
When unzipped and carried in backpack mode, two adjustable 2” / 50mm webbing shoulder straps come into play. They are not padded and won’t be overly comfortable if you intend to carry the Stowaway for long miles or many hours. That said, it's a reasonably comfortably backpack to carry through the airport or across town. You might find that adding the optional 1” / 25mm waist belt improves your comfort, though some folks will find that’s just too complicated for how they use this pack.
When the Stowaway is folded and zipped up into Stowaway-mode, you’ll appreciate how nicely it slides under the seat in front of you. It carries like a small but slightly thick briefcase; two webbing handles with soft rolled edges offer a modicum of comfort but aren’t padded or bulky. You can attach the included Standard Shoulder Strap and carry it over your shoulder as well, which might be handy if you’re carrying an Aeronaut on your back for example.
The exterior is 525 denier HT Ballistic nylon: smooth like our 1050 Ballistic, pretty much just as tough but a bit lighter. Lined with even lighter 210 denier HT Ballistic nylon, the Stowaway is like all of our bags: made to last.
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.