Chris Baus

Tom Bihn bags

Kathryn and I spent some of our time off, day hiking on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Sometimes I forget what an great backyard Tahoe provides. I love the smell of tobacco brush and sage late in the summer.

Before we left, I grabbed my Tom Bihn day pack, filled two Nalgene bottles, and then off to the trail head. When I was looking down on the lake, my mind started to wander and I realized the pack exactly the type of product I wanted to discuss here.

I've owned this pack for 12 years, and it has been more places with me than I care even remember, and it still looks and functions like new. Years ago, when I was interning in San Jose, my Jan Sport pack fell to pieces and I wanted a replacement that would out last it, and the mainstream packs didn't instill confidence. I happened into Tom Bihn's small shop in Santa Cruz, and met the designer himself. I knew I wanted one of his packs.

At the time, Tom's packs and bags were made in California from heavy nylon with extra large zippers, a padded back, and held together with perfectly stitched seams. Tom himself seemed to care about the product he was creating. While some mainstream designers have taken to the same over sized design esthetics, I can't imagine any would ultimately be as bomb proof or as well made as this pack.

I pondered the decision, as the pack was about $100, about twice most mainstream day packs of the time, and for a student it was good money. I now expect the pack to last at least another 8 years which would it put its useful life span at 20 years. I think it was money well spent.

A couple years ago when I was looking for a messenger bag, I was happy to find that not only was Tom Bihn still in business, but they had grown considerably. I was even more pleased to find that although the company had moved to Washington State, it had stuck to its original values and still made high quality bags in the U.S. My "new" messenger bag gets daily hard use and it too has been flawless.

The formula:

The result: I whole heartedly recommend the company to anybody who asks about my bag, and they have kept me as a customer. I am now considering a small messenger bag, and their site is first place I will look.