View Full Version : Questions : Of Briefcases and Notebooks

08-26-2009, 12:45 PM
I'm not exactly sure when it will happen, but I see myself ordering some Tom Bihn luggage when I get the money. It all depends on what I choose, how much it will cost, and how quickly I can raise the cash for an order.

One thing I'd like to get is a Freudian Slip. I'm 50-50 on what the Slip would go in. It could be a backpack like a Smart Alec, or it could be an expensive item like a Checkpoint Flyer. One thing is for certain: the Slip and bag to put it in will definitely not be enough. I'm also looking for another couple of items that fall into a je ne sais qois category. I've uploaded some photos to try to illustrate:


First item is a simple briefcase, far simpler and old-fashioned than anything that is called a "briefcase" in the Bihn product offerings, and also much less expensive. The briefcase I use to haul papers around in has been in my service for years, and is the second one I've gone through. These used to be made locally by a luggage manufacturer that went out of business many years ago.


Above is what the simple briefcase looks like from the outside. Note there are no handles or shoulder straps. It's just a simple enclosure for papers with no external pockets or anything like that; something from a very different time, before anyone seriously thought of business travelers, and terms like "water bottle" and "cup holders" weren't even in anyone's vocabulary.

Observe the briefcase's interior:


Each side has two built-in pockets. The smaller inner-most pocket is for holding pens, pencils, rulers, PostIt notepads, maybe a map or calculator, etc. The outer-most pockets are perfect for holding printed documents or a supply of blank paper for note-taking. The open space in the middle of the bag forms its own wide-open "pocket" where I carry magazines and other printed materials, as well as bulky items like maybe a clipboard when needed.


The next item belongs to my mother. I borrowed it today to show you:


It's a notebook of sorts, by not the computerized kind. It's actually an overglorifed folder that she carries things in, like a tablet, magazine articles, handouts, business cards, and maybe pens or pencils.

Here is the notebook's interior:


This notebook measures about 12.75 x 9.75 x about 1 inches, and can swallow a standard Letter-size tablet easily.

Much of what I've displayed here could be solved by using at least one Freudian Slip in a backpack or other TB shoulder bag. But the Slips won't satisfy all of our needs. I'm looking for items of varying sizes that can carry blank papers, one item would be like my mother's "notebook", carrying a Letter-size tablet and other items. But it needs to be sturdier and more versatile than my mother's old "notebook".

NOTE: she also has a fancier zip-shut "notebook", which is much smaller with a notepad insert and pockets for other items. She has it with her today so I couldn't measure it. I'm guessing it's 5 x 8 x 1 inches but I'm not sure. It's higher quality and self-contained.

So the question becomes what kind of standardized refillable paper-hauling appliances are on the market? And would they fit into TB bags like a backpack or a Checkpoint Flyer?

I occasionally peak at this kind of thing at a place like OfficeMax, but that stuff is all foreign-made and cheap, cheap, cheap...

Any clues as to where one can find quality, standardized containers/organizers?

08-26-2009, 05:45 PM
I managed to get my hands on my mother's other, fancier, zip-shut "notebook", mentioned in the previous posting. The casing is larger than I originally thought; it measures 10.25 x 7.5 x 1.5 inches. Here is the outside:


The zipper on the outside feels to be solid, of high quality. The front flap is dominated by a large pocket, but it is not very elastic. It appears to be useful for hanging pens, paper clips or storing folded papers.

Here's the inside, with the front flap open:


The spine supports a solid loose-leaf-binder system of lockable rings. There are seven rings, not quite evenly spaced. The outer-most rings are a total of just over 5.5 inches apart. The rings are on a spine of metal-like material the spans 8.5 inches. Attached to these rings is a vinyl organizer pouch with pockets on both sides. The "back" side includes a zipper that runs almost the full length of the pouch, not unlike Tom Bihn's cordura organizer pouches. This vinyl pouch measures just under 8.5 x 5.25 inches.

Here's a view of the inside with the pouch turned to reveal the back flap of the "notebook":


I cannot find any markings anywhere in the "notebook" to indicate who made it.

My mother said she believes she bought it at a discount store, but she cannot remember clearly.

This thing has a refreshingly solid feel to it. Despite its unorthodox size, I am very impressed by it, and a little bummed out that I have no idea who made it, what standard (if any) the binder is based on in order to seek out refill paper for the binder, or where to buy more of these. I don't even know if anyone makes this thing anymore. If they don't, it is a shame.

I would like to see something like this made in USA, like Tom Bihn does with the Freudian Slip. It would really be great if Bihn made something like this, binder and all, and based on a design that allowed for standardized paper refills. Even a smaller version of this would be welcome.

08-26-2009, 10:39 PM
I would like to see something like this made in USA, like Tom Bihn does with the Freudian Slip. It would really be great if Bihn made something like this, binder and all, and based on a design that allowed for standardized paper refills. Even a smaller version of this would be welcome.

MtnMan -

As with all Bihn products, they are well thought out and designed with a user in mind. See my post following the open house this past Saturday regarding the Field Journal here:



08-30-2009, 07:26 PM
I really do look forward to learning more about the Field Journal soon, and I hope it comes to market sooner rather than later.

Thank you,

The Mountain Man