a traveling bag that keeps giving.

December 3, 2019
a traveling bag that keep giving | TOM BIHN | reading my tea leaves

This post is sponsored by TOM BIHN in celebration of their membership with 1% For The Planet and the launch of their first bags made from recycled fabrics.

Nearly four years ago, when embarking on our first big adventure with a baby in tow, James and I spent considerable time researching simple, minimalist luggage that we hoped would best help us get from point A to point B with maximum ease and minimum struggle. Together we chose two TOM BIHN bags—the Aeronaut 30 and the Aeronaut 45—to tote on our backs as we also toted a baby across the country and across the Atlantic Ocean, and over the river and through the woods to the grandparents’ house on more Metro North train rides than I could possibly count.

a traveling bag that keep giving | TOM BIHN | reading my tea leaves

Today, our four-year-old bags look precisely as fresh as they did on the first day that they arrived (more than you could say for us, to be sure). No matter how many times we’ve hoisted these bags into overhead compartments and luggage racks, or squished them into crowded subways cars or the backs of taxis, or seen them serve as lumpy make-shift mattresses for two travel-weary kids, we haven’t dealt with so much as a single snag, or stain, or stuck zipper.

There are a lot of ways to measure the sustainability of the products we all might come across in the course of a lifetime; a million metrics we can use to measure their approximate impact on people or places. But time and again, longevity comes first on my personal list of requirements. So often, the most sustainable object any of us can hope for is the object that lasts, the object that continues to function, just as it was designed to do, for years upon years without worry or irreparable wear.

a traveling bag that keep giving | TOM BIHN | reading my tea leaves

TOM BIHN nailed the longevity factor long ago, and this fall, they’ve taken additional steps to expand their sustainability goals, most recently by joining the growing network of businesses and individuals working with 1% for the Planet. With the help of that organization, they donate the equivalent of 1% of gross sales directly to environmental nonprofits. To date, 1% for the Planet members have invested over $225 million in environmental nonprofit solutions. TOM BIHN is contributing its own 1% to two different nonprofit partners this year: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, an organization committed to helping those who enjoy the natural world to also minimize their impact there, and WildEarth Guardians, an organization working across the American West to protect and restore its wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health.

a traveling bag that keep giving | TOM BIHN | reading my tea leaves

In addition to becoming a member of 1% for the Planet, TOM BIHN has also officially become a certified B-Corp—a certification that measures a company’s social and environmental performance by evaluating how their operations and business model impacts their workers, community, environment, and customers. Other efforts toward sustainability include the company starting production using its first ever fabric made from recycled materials—a 630 denier nylon made from 50% pre-consumer recycled materials. (It’s the fabric used in the trio of Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches shown above!) In addition to producing new bags with recycled fabrics, TOM BIHN also donates free materials—selvedge and fabric scraps—to folks who can put them to good use and purchases carbon offsets from nonprofit partner Bonneville Environmental Foundation to compensate for the carbon footprint of production and shipping.

a traveling bag that keep giving | TOM BIHN | reading my tea leaves

TOM BIHN CEO, Darcy Gray, explains the company’s ongoing efforts toward social and environmental progress this way: “We’re bag experts, not social or environmental experts, but we are doing our best to educate ourselves. Joining 1% for the Planet was a pivotal step in that process, and learning about and connecting with various environmental nonprofits and efforts that we’ve long admired has been meaningful for us. Our hope is that we can share modest examples of what a small business like ours can do and continue to learn more from other businesses, nonprofits, and our customers.”

This post is sponsored by TOM BIHN in celebration of their membership with1% for the Planet and the launch of their first bags made from recycled fabrics. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support this site.

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  • Reply LK December 3, 2019 at 10:22 am

    I have a Tom Bihn cross-body bag that I bought from their tiny workshop in Santa Cruz sometime around 1990, and I still use it. They are wonderful, functional, hard-working bags. Glad to see them recommended here!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 3, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Ah, so great!

  • Reply Helen December 3, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Just chiming into second this endorsement! I feel almost embarrassed saying it, but I love these bags so much that I actually look forward to packing for a trip. My advice is that once you decide to make what is no doubt a pricy investment, don’t skimp on the packing cubes, stuff sacks, toiletry bags etc, because they just takes it to the next level. And I can concur that ours look as good as they did when we bought them (5 years ago?), even after heavy use.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 3, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Yes, agreed! We have a few of the packing cubes and I love them. Need to get more!

  • Reply Juliana December 3, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    I bought this bag last year as my 30th birthday present after reading your original review. I’m plotting to buy more for the rest of my husband and kids when I can afford it. Thanks for introducing us!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 3, 2019 at 12:28 pm

      So glad! And especially that you started with you!

  • Reply Lauren December 3, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing a review several years into ownership. An endorsement early on is certainly helpful, but another one down the road is even more so. Bookmarking this for when my current luggage solution eventually poops out.

  • Reply Marion December 3, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve had my Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 for about 4 years of heavy use and it is still good as new! I love the design and organization of it and use it for trips that are two days or as long as two weeks. Highly, highly recommend!

  • Reply Jay December 3, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    I’ve been very happy with my Tom Bihn purchases! I have the Synapse 25 backpack, several pouches and cubes, and a toiletry bag. Maybe the Aeronaut is next.

  • Reply Robyn December 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    I love love love my Tom Bihn! 3 years in and it still looks and works like new!

    • Reply Nicole December 3, 2019 at 10:56 pm

      Love Tom Bihn! We’ve used our Synapse as a carryon, daypack, and diaper bag for nearly 7 years…and it looks new! The organization in that bag is so well done….

  • Reply Laurie December 3, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Hi Erin,
    I’m wondering…. Where do you store your Tom Bihn bags when you’re not traveling?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 3, 2019 at 10:50 pm

      One inside the other in the top of our closet! They’re soft sided so super easy to store!

  • Reply Maryann December 4, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    So great to see Tom Bihn bags here. Their bags are so well made and last forever. I’ve had a cafe bag for about 15 years and have used for everything from a purse, carrying work-related stuff, diaper bag, camera bag, knitting bag. I would love a bigger bag for traveling. So glad to hear they are branching out into recycled fabrics.

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