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2023 Wish List

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    Originally posted by Chicagoan View Post

    Let me piggyback on this because I think it's a request often overlooked...

    Smaller bags comaptible with taller people. Not made for. Not specifically larger torso, taller bags for "six feet and up" or whatever. But bags with enough strap length that I don't get choked out by a sternum strap.

    I actually REALLY liked the size of the L12 and Zeitgeist, but the straps were way too short.

    So you guys made the L15. Life was good. I bought one and loved it so much I actually bought a second one as a "backup," and while normally that would seem redundant, you guys ultimately retired the bag and I was glad to have picked up a spare while I still had the chance.

    But for all us out there who make short commutes or just don't carry a lot of stuff, and are on the taller side, I wish there was more representation of smaller bags for taller people.

    I'm sure there are folks out there who are shorter and want larger bags that fit them, too, but maybe - so long as we're considering reviving retired heritage designs, it would be awesome if their new incarnation could be made a little more universal in fitment.
    Interesting comment on the strap lengths for the Luminary 12 and the Zeitgeist. Take a look at my post and comment in the Ultimate Strap Keepers method started by shoplarry in 10-13-2019.

    I showed different ways that I rolled the straps and secured them with a strap keeper. Some of the pictures were based on tests we did on versions of the strap keepers that were sent out to the mods for testing before they were made generally available (BTW, these never come with any instructions on use -- they send us a pair and see what we make of it with no guidelines). In the post that I linked, I showed pictures of how I used a Peet's Coffee tie (the plastic piece that is attached to the top of a bag of Peet's Coffee -- G42 likes to use this in place of the insert that comes with TB face masks, and I also found that it was the right size and flexibility for this, so I showed pictures of what this looked like with masks, and also how I used to use this for strap keeping control on the narrow ended Luminary 12 straps (they also work well for backpack sternum straps)

    I'll quote my text comment that included the statement On the L15 Luminary in particular, the amount of extra shoulder strap length to control was really astonishingly large:

    I’ve tried rolling these both ways (under and over). To answer the question below about strap lengthening, I haven’t had any issues with that when the strap keepers are on. But working with slightly longer rolls of straps, where you keep the “rolled” portion retained by the strap keeper from getting too thick, does seem to work better. I’ll reference my 10-22-2020 post (#325 in the 2020 Wish List thread) to show what one of these looks like viewed from the side and from the top on the Luminary 15. (The original photos were from a sequence of test shots that we did on early versions sent out mods in the Admin forums. My comment in the post was “On the L15 Luminary in particular, the amount of extra shoulder strap length to control was really astonishingly large”. The strap keepers debuted in August/September 2019, a few months after this bag was introduced.)
    I'm going to link to a few other posts/threads that discuss backpack strap design, to show how this is generally a complicated issue.
    epeterson started a thread on 12-03-2022 titled Comfortable carry for 5'6" person, narrow shoulders. In the ensuing discussion ittoujuu posted about his experience with the Shadow Guide 33 (a bag that was very comfortable for epeterson to wear in the SG23 size), as
    I actually struggled some with the Shadow Guide, because I was having a difficult time getting the straps to ride comfortably on my back. I am...basically the exact opposite of you, dimensionally: a 6' guy with a broad back and shoulders. The straps are attached pretty close together at the top, and I found they were riding weirdly on my trapezius muscles, to where only half of the strap was in contact with my body, which turned those into hot points.
    ittoujuu also wrote
    I even e-mailed Mike about this, asking if TB could move the strap attachment points out (spoilers: they wouldn't), and he said to try removing the frame, but...I could never actually get the frame out. It felt like I was going to damage something; it was in there real good. An interesting point he made was that the SG's straps are sewn in "flat," while some other bags have their strap attachment points flare out a little bit toward the outside, which is likely a more natural fit for wider people like me. For someone with your build, I imagine it will carry pretty comfortably right out of the box. The way I eventually got it to ride well was to really tighten the shoulder straps snugly and utilize the sternum strap
    This led epeterson to ask MikeV:
    For both the BB and the SA, I noticed more pressure on the inner side (neck side) of the shoulder strap, whereas for the SG23, the pressure was evenly distributed. This matches your point about the attachment point "flare." MikeV would you happen to know which of the other straps are "flat" vs "flared?" In particular I'm wondering about the SG33, the S25, and both sizes of Techonaut.

    MikeV replied
    Originally posted by MikeV View Post
    Hey! Sorry for the delay here- bit of a busy week for us

    To a large extent the angle or flare that the shoulder straps are attached to the bag is determined by the seam they're being sewn into. On Syniks and Synapses, the rounded nature of the top of those bags gives them more of that flare. On Shadow Guides they're attached more or less square to the bag into a flat seam- the Smart Alec was pretty similar. And those examples are at the extreme ends in both regards. Many of our bags (Brain Bags, Techonauts, Aeronauts for example) are slightly rounded on the top, but less so than the Syniks. So they are sort of in the middle ground with regard to how much flare they have.

    We definitely hear from a few folks who prefer one or the other, but I'd say for the most part, many people can't feel a lot of difference, especially with our Edgeless Straps. We use really nice foam and I think the amount of squish to that foam absorbs any slight difference in the angle of folks' shoulders so that you don't notice much. This does all come up in the design process and interestingly, the new Addax has the shoulder straps sewn into a flat seam, but we did attach the shoulder straps at a slight angle so that they come off the bag similarly to the Techonaut.

    I hope that helps!

    Editing because I didn't very directly answer your question! Those three bags you're asking about go from S25 (quite flared) to Techonaut (slightly flared) to SG (basically flat).

    (Quick summary: they use different designs for the backpack strap on different model bags)

    To see how complex this issue is, read the thread 12-30-2021 started by loma titled Zeitgeist straps too wide. Will they break in?
    and read the posts from me and Cristina about our experience testing early prototypes of the edgeless straps, and comment regarding MikeV 's "I'd say for the most part, many people can't feel a lot of difference, especially with our Edgeless Straps." My basic conclusion from the early feedback on the edgeless strap prototypes, from people who had a lot of experience wearing different models of Tom Bihn backpacks, was that while the edgeless straps provide extra leeway for comfort of fit when the design is close to being right, they still need to get the backpack strap fit close to being correct for them to work. And there are a lot of different backpack strap designs, as MikeV mentioned.

    One more data point about fitting small backpacks to larger frames. I'll mention how I did this for the Sprout backpack. I need to say that all my comments apply to the redesigned Sprout, where they modified the original Sprout design to carry letter size paper, which necessitated making the bag slightly taller and also moving the connection points for the webbing backpack straps further out. I'll just mention that since they retired the Sprout soon after the redesign, almost nobody who commented about how the Sprout couldn't work on adults had experience with the redesigned Sprout (e.g. see Tonya 's 03-08-2022 Zeitgeist vs Sprout vs Paradigm thread where all the people commenting on the Sprout had the original Sprout)

    Take a look at my post (dated 08-30-2021) in the Some first impressions of the Paradigm and Zeitgeist thread started by bchaplin
    Originally posted by moriond View Post

    I'll put up some pictures that will give you a better sense of the fit. (Sorry not to populate the FS s but work is kind of busy right now.). I'll also show for comparison the (redesigned Sprout) in 1050d Ballistic Nylon Aubergine/Northwest Sky, Zeitgeist 400d Halcyon Nightwalk/Black/Northwest Sky and Paradigm in 525d Ballistic Nylon Aubergine/Northwest Sky. These bags were provided to me by Tom Bihn with no restrictions on any review comments I should choose to make. It's easier to show the size of the Sprout's inside in inverted view, since the front face of the bag slopes down from the top zipper.

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    The 3 bags (Sprout, Zeitgeist and Paradigm) have similar heights (easier to see in later inverted view of Sprout), but the Sprout is wider. There's an earlier set of comparisons that I made between the original Sprout (in 1050d Aubergine/Steel that I purchased separately) in February 2018 in the Hack My Sprout thread. I also showed some pictures of how I could pack the Sprout with the (retired) Aether Packing Cubes for Mini and Small Yeoman Duffel in the The New Yeoman Duffel Aether Packing Cubes thread (to carry a lunch box, thermos, and other items) along with a Mini Yeoman Duffel. More pictures of the original Sprout's debut are in The Sprout - a Childrens Backpack thread from March 2016. Detailed instructions on how I modified the redesigned Sprout's backpack straps to fit even larger users (or heavy outerwear) appear in my post #407 dated 06-12-2018 in the 2018 Wish List thread.

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    Here are pictures of the Medium and Small Cafe Bag Freudian Slips in the Zeitgeist (Grass Medium CB FS) and Paradigm (Cloud Small CB FS). The inverted Sprout is shown to the left. Below the top row of bags are a soft cover A4 sized Rhodia Notebook next to US letter size paper sheets. (A4 paper is taller and narrower than US letter size paper). A sheet of letter size paper is comparable to the height of the Medium Cafe Bag FS, although, if you stick a sheet into one of the back pockets of the Medium CB Freudian Slip, the top of the paper will stick up slightly above the top of the FS.

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    This is intended to show that the A4 Rhodia notebook is too wide to fit into the back pockets of the Paradigm. I can warp it and force it in, and you may be able to get a few individual A4 sheets in, but those back pockets were not designed to hold A4 paper, and the wider US letter paper will not fit -- use the main compartment if you want to carry this size of paper and reserve this pocket for tablets, and smaller notebooks (e.g. A5). The Paradigm design has slightly more taper to the top than the Zeitgeist, so the fit to A4 paper in the main compartment is tighter.

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    This is what that A4 Rhodia notebook looks like lying on top of the back pocket. The corners are slightly pinched by the narrowing at the top of the bag.

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    It's easier to put into the Zeitgeist, which tapers less at the top (only an issue because the height of A4 paper extends to where these backpacks narrow).

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    For the Sprout, you can even insert it into the internal pocket, although putting the A4 notebook inside the main compartment directly takes the corners down a bit.

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    US Letter size paper width is even more challenging, but can fit -- tightest in the Paradigm at the top corners.



    The quick summary is that I have links that show how the redesigned Sprout compares to the original Sprout in that Hack My Sprout thread, and that I posted the mods I used to lengthen the backpack straps of the Sprout if I wanted to allow for wearing a heavily padded jacket/coat or leave room so that the redesigned Sprout could be used in extended fashion for someone who grew taller in the linked post in the 2018 wish list. I was gratified by the number of small frame adults who commented that the redesigned Sprout worked for them, since I got almost no forum feedback on my posts.




      <deep breath>


      Here's a hot take.

      I get why it's hard. I do. But I'm also hoping someone with a better mind than my own over at Tom Bihn could make a bag up to the challenge.

      Strap length. Width. Flare. It's a lot to consider. And one size, at best, will always fit "most" and not "all."

      I used a pair of strap keepers on my L15 when Darcy gifted me a set for testing as they were on the cusp of releasing them. Ultimately I removed them and just lived with the long straps, which didn't bother me as much as the newly created strap keepers wanted me to think I was bothered by them.

      Oftentimes the posts on this forum will go to great depths to explain why something is difficult, or maybe even impossible, but I would love to see them design something that could solve - if not champion - the problem.

      Mostly I'm just sitting here hoping and waiting and wanting for new design ideas, and admittedly getting a little frustrated with the lack of them.

      Don't get me wrong. I love the items I have. The other week I scooped up the last Coyote OSCA in stock. Today a matching Pilot came in the mail. I'm still a customer, and even a regular one, at that.

      But quietly and offline I have been auditioning a few other brands of American-made bags...just to see how they compare. I've been using TB so long and so often I really didn't have a clue what the market was like outside this brand anymore. I won't say which brands they are...but I will say both brands make bags from Xpac.

      I've found a couple makes and models I really like. But neither can perform as well overall as my Tom Bihn Side Kick or Co-Pilot. I haven't found a single bag that organizes my things as safely, neatly and comfortably as the bags Tom designed.

      And that's what I've always loved. Tom came up with these awesome solutions to everyday problems that were unique to his brand and came not from mirroring the competition, but from his own creative mind.

      But for those of us who have been following the company for a long time, and who own most the current (and maybe even retired) designs, it seems like it's been a long time without Tom and Nik and we've only had 1 new bag design debut in all that time.

      Maybe straps aren't where reinvention or improvement are needed, but I'm hoping there might be a new bag design (or even feature) we might see soon.

      I think I'm still enjoying a never-ending serving of crow after growing to love the Cambiata I once hated, but now I find myself hoping for something else new, exciting, and maybe even polarizing. Disruptive.
      Last edited by Chicagoan; 02-21-2023, 06:20 PM.


        I would like to see some new designs as well, and agree with you Chicagoan that the Addax was a good first step by Jose (although I would tweak it in several ways, most notably by adding side access to the main compartment). Notwithstanding that, I most want to see--and admittedly have some sour grapes over TB's failure to deliver--the updated Smart Alec that Darcy promised was coming, meaning one with the Shadow Guide back, laptop compartment, and edgeless straps. I'm hoping it still happens, and would love to see it in RX30, but I'm not holding my breath. Other than that, I'd love to see Jose and the TBC use their imagination and try new things.


          Originally posted by John1970 View Post
          I would like to see some new designs as well, and agree with you Chicagoan that the Addax was a good first step by Jose (although I would tweak it in several ways, most notably by adding side access to the main compartment).
          When I first got the ADX in the mail and saw that long, tall zipper on the side, that's what I figured it was - main compartment access.

          Talk about a fake-out when I discovered it was just a very tall, very shallow side pocket!

          I will say this: no one uses better water resistant zippers than TB. The ones you find on other brand bags are either cheap and flimsy, or so overbuilt and sticky they're hard to open. TB is a perfect balance of sturdy, smoothly opening, and watertight.

          Side main compartment access is something I wouldn't mind seeing more of - easier to slide off one shoulder strap and swing a backpack in front of you to unzip the side open than take the whole thing off, stop what you're doing, and unzip it fully.


            Random thought as I've been mulling over what we know about the new small bag(s) and how the Bantam is launching with an inside out X-Pac usage and what Cristina mentioned about the more formal look

            It would be interesting to have a small bag that is, for instance, halcyon on one side and a Cerylon on the other... Not so much lined as fully reversible.
            So double tab main zipper, the two end o-rings are for the strap on the outside and tether on the inside, maybe one side zip pocket and one side open pocket... knowing that will add more material which is why I'm thinking only the lighter halcyon, Cerylon, or recycled.

            I'm imaging coordinating colors like Wasabi/Moss, Solaris/Marigold (kind of like the Addax with Constellation/Island)....

            But would be cool in a bright opposite a dark.... Like Solaris for the day and Mountain Grey for evening.

            So not to be prescriptive since I'm obviously not a bag designer and that's not the type of feedback TB wants... But the idea of other ways to do different looks vs different carry method (Bantam) or different useage (PCSB)
            Last edited by G42; 03-02-2023, 03:53 PM.
            “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
            “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
            “That’s practically zen.”
            -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay


              I'd really really like a zip top shop bag with attachments at the ends to allow it to be worn as a cross body.

              And a zip top shop bag in a lighter material to make it more packable for light weight trips.

              Halcyon and Cerylon are great, but in my world, they are very heavy duty materials. I have packable tote bags that pack down to the size of a golf ball. If a zip top shop bag could easily squish down to the size of an orange, that'd be a game changer for my travel.