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Are These Improvements or Cutting Corners?

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    Are These Improvements or Cutting Corners?

    I just received my new Cadet. I like it don't get me wrong but I am wondering if the removal of the aqua guard underneath the zippers were a smart decision. First of all the change from 1050 to 525 denier was a big change as we all have seen. Tom Bihn states that there wasn't any change to the structure of the bag due to this change but I see otherwise. The new cadet's shape and structure is not holding up I believe due to the aqua guard zippers being removed. This added extra frame support and structure to the bag in my experience. It was mentioned that this was removed because a few reviewers did not like how hard it was to open the zippers. But I can't help but notice how the corners of my new cadet without the aqua guard remain permanently collapsed a bit due to the aqua guard being removed. Of course, 1050 would've helped a bit too but I actually prefer the softness of the 525 denier ballistic on this bag.

    So this leads to my next question, this is obviously a net negative (less support and structure to the frame of the bag). Was there really that much complaining of the aqua guard or was it an excuse to cut corners perhaps due to the rise of inflation?

    #2
    I think I'm hearing two concerns: the change in zipper reducing the bag stiffness and concerns about whether the decision was due to cost savings.

    TB is always evaluating new materials, it's mentioned quite frequently in their blogs, old Forums posts going back for years (way before I found these bags), social media, etc.

    Not sure if you had a chance to read the original blog post about the zipper transition, but it outlines their thinking about all of it.

    https://www.tombihn.com/blogs/main/zipper-updates

    Specifically about cost they said: "This is a rare instance in which the material choice that we think will offer the majority of folks the best experience in joy of use, long-term abrasion resistance, and water-resistance is also a less expensive, though very far from the least expensive, option. That reduction in expense will end up serving to offset a fraction of the new cost increases we're currently absorbing, which is a nice twist of fate that we could not have foreseen when we began considering a transition to RC zippers.

    And, of course, if you've followed us over the years, you know that we don't make materials decisions based on price, though we felt this aspect worth mentioning. Funny enough, we'd sometimes get feedback from folks who told us that our Aquaguard® zippers were cheap and poor quality zippers precisely because of the extra tug they require. "


    If you read the whole post, the driver seems to be functionality of the zipper itself "Racquet Coil zippers are coil zippers that are engineered by YKK specifically for luggage and bags: applications that are subjected to more abrasion than, say, clothing" , a bit about the difference in opening effort, and the size. They receive feedback from Customers through a variety of modes - not just this Forum.

    Integrity-wise, TB has lifetime warranty due to defect and will also do inexpensive repairs due to normal wear and tear... I doubt it's in their best interest to 'cut corners' in one area, even if they were that type of company, which they are not in my opinion.

    Regarding the difference in how the zipper affects the structure, that's an impact that may affect some designs for some people and unfortunately doesn't seem to work for you for this bag....TB acknowledged that not everyone would be pleased with the change. If it's disappointing enough, maybe return it and check out eBay, the FB group, etc. for some of the previous versions.... you could ask TB for when the 525d ballistic + Aquaguard were produced.

    Regardless, you can always send TB feedback directly to Customer Service and we can flag MikeV as well here to be sure it's seen.



    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

    Comment


      #3
      Can't speak to the Cadet bag directly but I hated the aquaguard zippers and love the ease of use of the new ones.

      I do wish 1050 ballistic was more in use, but the 525/630 colors are pretty at least.

      Comment


        #4
        I didn’t like Aquaguard zippers but rely on 1050 ballistic for structure. That’s my preference for having a bag with shape.
        Aeronaut 45 (Navy/NWS), A30 (Black/Island), Tristar (Steel/Island), Western Flyer (Steel/Island), Pilot (Steel/Island), Synapse 25 (Mars Red/NWS), Synapse 19 (Black/Island) & (Burnt Orange/Steel), Ristretto 11 (Navy/Steel), Small Cafe Bag (Navy/Steel) & (Mars Red/Dawn), Daylight Briefcase (Cloud/Dawn), Side Kick (Mars Red/Dawn), Travel Cubelet (Mars Red)

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by mahayes View Post
          I just received my new Cadet. I like it don't get me wrong but I am wondering if the removal of the aqua guard underneath the zippers were a smart decision....

          The new cadet's shape and structure is not holding up I believe due to the aqua guard zippers being removed. This added extra frame support and structure to the bag in my experience. It was mentioned that this was removed because a few reviewers did not like how hard it was to open the zippers. But I can't help but notice how the corners of my new cadet without the aqua guard remain permanently collapsed a bit due to the aqua guard being removed. ...

          So this leads to my next question, this is obviously a net negative (less support and structure to the frame of the bag). Was there really that much complaining of the aqua guard or was it an excuse to cut corners perhaps due to the rise of inflation?
          I always wondered why no one ever thought of waxing the aqua guard zippers. I learned at a time when no such zippers existed yet that you waxed rough-running zippers. We then used ski wax.
          Now I do use Nikwax and they are moving much better.

          I've debated with me writing the following for quite some time and I do apologize to anyone who feels affronted:

          Regarding the structure an form of bags, I am seeing a downhill in quality in some Tom Bihn products. The Grab Bags, the Old School Carry All, the Yeomans and Snake Charmers are examples of bags who to me look unshaped and ugly. To me they look like they were sewn half-assedly. I'm baffled about people liking and buying them for their high price.

          I received a Freudian Slip that has one normal angular corner on top and one Corner cut off and look like a dog-ear. That should never have passed quality control.
          That is not something I expect from Tom Bihn with their high prices and high quality promotion.

          I don't know anything about sewing and there might be a practical reason for this but that is my current impression.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Kanne View Post

            I always wondered why no one ever thought of waxing the aqua guard zippers. I learned at a time when no such zippers existed yet that you waxed rough-running zippers. We then used ski wax.
            Now I do use Nikwax and they are moving much better.

            I've debated with me writing the following for quite some time and I do apologize to anyone who feels affronted:

            Regarding the structure an form of bags, I am seeing a downhill in quality in some Tom Bihn products. The Grab Bags, the Old School Carry All, the Yeomans and Snake Charmers are examples of bags who to me look unshaped and ugly. To me they look like they were sewn half-assedly. I'm baffled about people liking and buying them for their high price.

            I received a Freudian Slip that has one normal angular corner on top and one Corner cut off and look like a dog-ear. That should never have passed quality control.
            That is not something I expect from Tom Bihn with their high prices and high quality promotion.

            I don't know anything about sewing and there might be a practical reason for this but that is my current impression.
            I don't think you need to apologize for offering constructive comments. My initial reaction to the OSCA was the same as yours--it didn't appeal to me. I tried it, though, and love it. It's an incredibly versatile bag and a great gym bag in particular. I get that it may not be everyone's cup of tea (but I haven't seen any quality issues with the two I use).

            I will add that I would love to see a bit more innovation--the Synapse 25, my favorite bag of all time, is long overdue for an update in my mind, including a built in frame, padded handle, and luggage pass thru, and I was disappointed that the Smart Alec updates that were identified as forthcoming (the shadow guide back, laptop compartment, etc.) didn't materialize.
            Last edited by John1970; 07-05-2022, 08:46 AM.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by John1970 View Post

              I will add that I would love to see a bit more innovation--the Synapse 25, my favorite bag of all time, is long overdue for an update in my mind, including a built in frame, padded handle, and luggage pass thru, and I was disappointed that the Smart Alec updates that were identified as forthcoming (the shadow guide back, laptop compartment, etc.) didn't materialize.
              Just gonna throw in a second vote for those Synapse 25 tweaks. Having a built-in framesheet, a more substantial handle (something akin to the Synik's, perhaps), and moving the elastic sleeve from the inner-front to the inner-back (and making it less billowy) would be the changes I'd make. Still, the bag is a classic, and people like it just the way it is, so I don't know if they feel there's much reason to mess with something that has worked well for them.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by ittoujuu View Post

                Just gonna throw in a second vote for those Synapse 25 tweaks. Having a built-in framesheet, a more substantial handle (something akin to the Synik's, perhaps), and moving the elastic sleeve from the inner-front to the inner-back (and making it less billowy) would be the changes I'd make. Still, the bag is a classic, and people like it just the way it is, so I don't know if they feel there's much reason to mess with something that has worked well for them.
                Yes, I'm also sure they are concerned about a revamped S25 taking sales from the S30 and S22. I think that can be minimized somewhat by not offering an updated S25 with a clamshell opening.
                Last edited by John1970; 07-05-2022, 06:02 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  This is all great feedback- we really appreciate the openness and thoughtfulness in this thread!

                  Getting right into the Aquaguard zippers- yes, there was that much complaining. We'd honestly been hearing it for years from customers, reviewers, and our own crew. G42 is right to point out that we solicit and get feedback from many channels, and while there is some sorting of the different feedback, it was actually pretty consistent. There is a lot to love about Aquaguard, and I'll personally admit that I clung to my beloved Synapse 19 with the Aquaguard zippers for a long time but having used a Racquet Coil version for some months now, I'm 100% on board with the change.

                  Similarly with the transition a few years ago from 1050d ballistic and 1000d Cordura to our 525d and now 630d. We'd heard from folks for a long time with some things they weren't fond of with Cordura, and 1050 had been hard to work with and sew on many of our designs. When Tom found the lighter weight ballistic, everyone was thrilled at the performance, and we still are!

                  Regarding some of the designs mentioned and their lack of structure- that's... well... by design We have found that some folks like bags with structure and organization, and some folks prefer the opposite. We're fortunate to be able to make enough different designs to try to meet both of these needs and I think we do a good job with that balance. We have zero expectation that someone is going to like all of our bags and accessories- our goal is to offer something for everyone. If a Yeoman isn't to your liking, hopefully a Techonaut or Aeronaut is closer. If the Paragon is a little bare bones for your taste, check out a Synapse! And if you see something on a bag you receive that doesn't seem quite right, quality wise- please let us know at [email protected] so we can check it out (looking at you, dog-ear Freudian Slip!)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by MikeV View Post
                    and 1050 had been hard to work with and sew on many of our designs. When Tom found the lighter weight ballistic, everyone was thrilled at the performance, and we still are!
                    Definitely two different kinds of people in the world..

                    TB crew: "The 525 perfoms better and is easier to sew"

                    Me: "Ooh, pretty colors!"

                    I'm a simple creature. 😂

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Surrealle View Post

                      Definitely two different kinds of people in the world..

                      TB crew: "The 525 perfoms better and is easier to sew"

                      Me: "Ooh, pretty colors!"

                      I'm a simple creature. 😂
                      Me: I still love my original version Cadet in 1050d Navy Ballistic Nylon and Solar 200 d Halcyon interior. I’d like it if the handles were updated but I’m OK with the zipper design. And I have the benefit of not only using caches with the flap instead of a single zipper (and a number of the older caches for13inch laptops work with the newest model Mac 14inch laptops (even the zipper models do, but the ones for touchbar 13inch MacBook pros from 2016 are a bit too tight in fit to work really well), ut also this is from my favorite period in terms of using dense smooth foam for caches

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by MikeV View Post
                        Similarly with the transition a few years ago from 1050d ballistic and 1000d Cordura to our 525d and now 630d. We'd heard from folks for a long time with some things they weren't fond of with Cordura, and 1050 had been hard to work with and sew on many of our designs. When Tom found the lighter weight ballistic, everyone was thrilled at the performance, and we still are!
                        I really appreciate TB chiming in, and although I have received one pouch that was poorly sewn (I kept it) and also don't care for most of the newer designs (Icon, OSCA, Paradigm, Paramour, ANY of the hip packs), I don't see where TB quality has slipped. I still believe that TB makes bags of exceptional quality. However, I do not agree that the lighter weight ballistic's performance is adequate as an exterior fabric. Based on forum and FB group posts, many others have also encountered issues with the lighter weights. Because of my very poor experiences with the 525 and 210, I'm not going to invest in another bag with these fabrics. This severely limits TB bag choices for me, but so be it.

                        TB has probably shared the answer to this but I missed it, but is there a reason that the ballistic weights are disappearing off an item's color choices? Now it's mostly "Black Ballistic" etc with no mention of weight.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Tonya View Post
                          TB has probably shared the answer to this but I missed it, but is there a reason that the ballistic weights are disappearing off an item's color choices? Now it's mostly "Black Ballistic" etc with no mention of weight.
                          They're in the middle of transitioning from 525 to 630d, to align with grades that are more readily available... They announced it in a couple of blog posts and answered a couple questions here in the Forums, indicating they performance will be the same
                          I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Tonya View Post

                            I really appreciate TB chiming in, and although I have received one pouch that was poorly sewn (I kept it) and also don't care for most of the newer designs (Icon, OSCA, Paradigm, Paramour, ANY of the hip packs), I don't see where TB quality has slipped. I still believe that TB makes bags of exceptional quality. However, I do not agree that the lighter weight ballistic's performance is adequate as an exterior fabric. Based on forum and FB group posts, many others have also encountered issues with the lighter weights. Because of my very poor experiences with the 525 and 210, I'm not going to invest in another bag with these fabrics. This severely limits TB bag choices for me, but so be it.

                            TB has probably shared the answer to this but I missed it, but is there a reason that the ballistic weights are disappearing off an item's color choices? Now it's mostly "Black Ballistic" etc with no mention of weight.
                            I've seen the photos both here and on Facebook of the issues reported with the 525. I probably own 7-8 525 backpacks and haven't experienced any of those issues, despite heavy use (I am not doubting that others have, and totally understand the reluctance to buy again in those circumstances). I generally prefer 1050 for my Aeronauts and Techonauts and Tri-Stars, though, and prefer halcyon for my backpack exteriors (I'm still recovering from my inability to get a night walk Smart Alec). If 400d halcyon does go away, either permanently or for some time as TB searches for a new manufacturer, then I hope that some 500d and 1000d cordura options return in black, navy, cocoa, etc. for the Synapses and Syniks. There are few things better than a well worn cordura backpack.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by John1970 View Post
                              I've seen the photos both here and on Facebook of the issues reported with the 525. I probably own 7-8 525 backpacks and haven't experienced any of those issues, despite heavy use...
                              I've often wondered if it's certain colors. Wilderness and Ursa have not done well at all for me, but other 525 colors have. But I'd rather not risk it.

                              Originally posted by John1970 View Post
                              There are few things better than a well worn cordura backpack.
                              Agree with you 100% on this!

                              Comment

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