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Tom Bihn Introduces Ultralight Bags

As most regulars to this blog are well aware, I am a fan of bags manufactured by Tom Bihn. They are extremely well made, durable, sewn right here in the USA and as a company offers great customer service. They’ve also been great friends to this website.

It was big news today that Tom Bihn announced a new 400d dyneema/420d ripstop nylon fabric for its three main travel bags as well as a few every day carry’s.

While I don’t have all the new weights, we can expect the new fabric to be about 20% lighter. That is a big difference.


Reader Comments (18)

This is good news. In much of Asia carry on bags are limited to 7kg, so heavy bags don't cut it. I just finished 4 years in the Philippines were I kept trying to find a good ultralight bag without success. It's a bit late for me now, but this sounds like it could be the solution.
October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark
As Mark mentioned, the carry-on allowance in most of Asia is 7kg in economy class. This does mean to one-bag it requires a lightweight, but durable, bag. These bags would do well here, if people know about them.

For me, however, my initial enthusiasm was some what damped by the material. The checked black and blue aren't every one's colour/design; certainly not mine. I'm not that fussy but I'm a middle-aged female and these don't look like something I would like to carry. They make me think of cheap knock-off LeSportsac. I'll wait to see whether other colour/design options are available... if I haven't bought the EC Adventurer Weekender by then (awaiting Frank's review).
October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie
The main reason for the "checked" pattern is because the new material is a mixture of Dyneema and Ripstop yarns. The Dyneema yarn cannot be dyed so it retains its white original color.

The pattern color is not something I'm sure I would normally like but the benefit of the lightweight might take precedence. I've learned that what I see on my monitor and what I see in person are two different shades. I'll wait until I see it in person before I decide.

Of course, you could always fill in all the white lines with a black Sharpie. And don't laugh, it's been done on other Tom Bihn Dyneema bags. (Not by me, I don't have that much patience.)

I'll try to get the Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender bag review up as soon as possible.
October 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
interesting balance. i don't think you'd see too many people men or women, in a business suit, carrying one of these through the airport or into a meeting. and if i was going around the world on vacation,i might actually want something more durable. but i like the effort to continuosly become lighter.
October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRalph
From the Tom Bihn link above:

"It must be noted that while our new 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop is a very durable fabric, there is a compromise in choosing it over 1050 ballistic or Cordura® nylon: your bag will be lighter, but it won’t stand up to the all-out abuse these heavier fabrics can handle. You will need to exercise care and not drag or otherwise mistreat a bag made from 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop. It’s a compromise many will feel worthwhile, but it’s a compromise to consider."

So, while this is a good idea for a few people, I think for a casual traveler like myself the more durable fabric would make the most sense. That said, I applaud the push for lighter weight materials, especially when offered with no price penalty.
October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuss
I think it's best to wait until the product is actually available and tested before concluding about the fabric.

As for "casual," that comes under many definitions.

The L.L. Bean Quickload Travel Pack is made of 420d nylon. It's pretty tough. The new Tom Bihn material is similar in weight but a slightly different weave. How tough will it be? We'll have to wait and see.

My initial thoughts are if you are an adventure traveler or one whose bag might get thrown about, then the 1050d version would be better. But, if you're an urban traveler, taking bag between airport or train station and hotel, then the lighter version should work just fine.

So, if taking riverboats in southeast Asia or the Amazon basin, the original version would be in order. Taking a low budget European carrier with weight restrictions between Frankfurt and Barcelona, and then going to your hotel, the lighter version should work fine.

But until hands on testing is done, we won't really know.
October 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
Frank, you're right, I probably had the two cases flipped. That's why I appreciate your experience. For me, though, I do prefer the idea of a little more durability. Well, that, plus the fact I'd prefer basic all black.
October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuss
Tom Bihn has now posted comparative weights. For the Tristar:

<<Weight: 3 lb 6 oz / 1550 grams (1050 denier ballistic nylon); 2 lb 12 oz / 1230 grams (400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop) >>

and for the Aeronaut:

3 lb 0 oz / 1360 grams (1050 denier ballistic nylon); 2 lb 6 oz / 1075 grams (400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop)

So, weight 18.5% less for the Tristar, 21% less for the Tristar, 10 oz. lighter either bag. Interestingly the smaller but somewhat more expensive Tristar is actually heavier than the Aeronaut. Since chances of having to accept a gate check and rougher handling are somewhat higher with the Aeronaut, Dyneema perhaps makes more sense for the Tristar, or for the 2 lb. 8 oz. Western Flyer which in Dyneema, likely would be 2 lbs. even.
October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B
That's right, the new specs are out and they were emailed to me this evening with some other information.

The Tri-Star weighs more than the Aeronaut because of the extra material to separate the compartments.

The new material is lighter and more pliable so the chances of having to gate check an Aeronaut is lessened with the lighter material. Assuming, of course, it's not packed to the gills. I have never had to gate check my Aeronaut. It will even fit under the seat of a airliner, non regional, with a little coaxing.

Let's face it, in the one bag world, a 10 oz saving can mean a lot.

The best thing, of course, would be a side by side comparison of the two models of Aeronaut and Tri-Star, wouldn't it?

Stay tuned......
October 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
Frank, thanks for the heads up on the reason for the checked pattern.
October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie
The Summit Gear cabin bag is less than 1kg and made of cordura. Not much to look at but it will hold you stuff together from point A to point B.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy
Thanks, Andy, for the info on the Summit Gear bag.

Many of our readers are from Australia and New Zealand and I realize shipping a bag from the U.S. can be expensive. I'm always glad to hear of bags available in that area of the world.

Since it's very difficult for me to get hold of items from there, if any of our readers own these bags and wish to do reviews, send them to me and I'll post them. (The reviews, not the bags.)
October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
Interesting new offering and I can see how some people mike like this... but I still love my red Aeronaut in that thick durable feeling fabric.
October 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwalk
Interestingly a check at the REDOXX website indicates they now list their fabled AIR BOSS as weighing 3.4 lbs., which would be about EIGHT OUNCES LESS than the 62 oz. weight I recall when I bought mine a few years ago. Perhaps Frank will determine how they re-engineered the bag to accomplish that....or if they just stopped included the weight of the strap.
October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B
I have a ULA frameless backpack that is made with the Dyneema fabric. So far, the material has held up ok on various hikes. It will be interesting to see how this fabric works on the bags. From where I sit, it is a good move by Tom Bihn.
October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
I have a few ULA packs made from Dyneema. Very very tough material. Not worried about it at all for air travel. I think I am getting one of these. I am an ultralite freak...
October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Foutz
new material is looking good. I'd stick with 1050 for more abuse capabilities.
October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArt
I am eager to see a side by side long-term comparison of a Dyneema and ballistic bag. When I purchased my Western Flyer, I was slightly disappointed in the weight for the size for the bag. It is not a significant negative for me, considering the quality of the bag, but there is a little room for improvement. The components and build quality of the Tom Bihn travel bags are so exceptional that I can't imagine the deciding factor between ballistic or Dyneema, for most people, will be durability.
November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe_Foot

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