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Gear Review: Tom Bihn Travel Stuff Sacks

About a week or so ago, Tom Bihn introduced their Travel Stuff Sacks.

While I’m not usually a user or fan of stuff sacks—I much prefer packing cubes—I agreed to give them a try. I’m becoming a convert. Not only are they well made but I’m finding uses for them that help to fill the nooks and crannies of my bag. (I like the fact they can be molded to fit almost any space. Not so with a packing cube.)

Let’s get the details out of the way. The Travel Stuff Sacks are available in four sizes:

Size 1: 5.2” tall x 3.8” x 2.6” / 130 x 100 x 70mm
Size 2: 6.3” tall x 5.2” x 3.5” / 160 x 130 x 90mm
Size 3: 7.9” tall x 6.6” x 4.3” / 200 x 170 x 110mm
Size 4: 9.2” tall x 7.9” x 5.2” / 230 x 200 x 130mm

Size 1: .7 litres (40 cu.in.)
Size 2: 1.6 liters (100 cu.in)
Size 3: 3 liters (185 cu.in)
Size 4: 5 liters (300 cu.in.)

Size 1: .7 oz (20 grams)
Size 2: 1.0 oz (28 grams)
Size 3: 1.4 oz (40 grams)
Size 4: 1.7 oz (48 grams)

And four colors: (from L. to R.) Steel, Wasabi, Iberian and Ultraviolet.

(To give you an idea of size, that’s a foot long wooden ruler in the center alongside an Ipod Touch which is about the same size as an iphone.)

Made of 200 denier Japanese Dyneema ristop nylon, each bag comes with a cinch drawstring and a cord lock to prevent it from opening.

As I said earlier, I’m beginning to like these bags. I used the #3 for underwear, socks and gym shorts.

I found a unique use for the #2 size. It’s my security bag at the airport. This size easily fits my wallet, keys, change, cell phone, moneybelt and watch. Once all the items are put in, I cinch it tight and then use a carabiner to clip the drawstring of the bag to an “o” ring in one of the end pockets of my Aeronaut. No loose items in trays and no way anyone can just grab the bag and run.

The largest size is probably too small for a laundry bag unless you are very petite and do laundry often. I’m hoping Tom Bihn comes out with some larger sizes and there have been hints as such. Perhaps a size 6 which would be 1 1/2 times the size of a size 4.

I’m still playing around with the sizes and may try to use one as my onboard “goodies” bag for flights rather than my current daybag.

Priced from $14-20, these light weight stuff sacks  will last a long timeand feel much sturdier than the other ultralightweight materials on the market. And like all Tom Bihn products, they’re made in the USA.

Tom Bihn supplied the stuff sacks for review.




Reader Comments (10)

I have one of these and find it very handy. I am a knitter so it makes a great holder for my current project while traveling, used it this spring on flight from PDX to SFO and on to London and Paris. also went into bag with odd and ends during day trips

good quality and very useful bag
July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterclara
I picked up a size 2 with same intention as you, as a place to organize valuables at the checkpoint. I hadn't thought about clipping it to anything, just stuffing it in my bag. I'll have to give your idea some thought.

These are smaller than I expected. (I ordered before you measured them and posted on their forum.)

I'm still reserving judgement until I use mine. My initial reaction is that they're overpriced for what they are. Most Bihn products are kind of high in price, but I have felt with other items that I got value out of them. Like I said, the true test will be when I get a chance to start using it.
July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Stuff sacks are the best! But I don't see any difference between these and other stuff sacks except for the oval shape. My granite gear stuff sacks will conform to whatever shape is available in my backpack.

And I agree that they do seem overpriced. What makes them worth this; or makes them different than any other stuff sack on the market?
August 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermkiper
The basic differences:

1) Dyneema nylon is sturdier than most of the lightweight material found in other stuff sacks I'vee actually owned a few others and stopped using them because I wasn't thrilled with the quality.

2) They're made in the USA at a factory where the workers are treated well. Most of the money stays in the US rather than is sent overseas to some factory where the workers get a few pennies an hour--if that--and may work in horrible conditions.

It also brings up the question: Why buy from a company like Tom Bihn, or RedOxx or other upscale companies when you can get similar products to theirs for less money? Most will say the quality, durability, workmanship and customer service. (As well as the fact they're made in the USA.) Others only care about price.

If price is someone's only issue, then these are not for them.
August 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
The Granite Gear stuff sacks I purchased 8 years ago weren't exactly cheap ($8+ each). And I recently purchased their 4-piece Air ZippDitty Set for about $30. So it isn't all about the price.

I like that Granite Gear products are sold is reusable containers; and the owners support environmental issues and advocate solar energy. The sacks have worn well; and are still like new after much use and washings. I am a fan of their lightness, quality-free and durability. I own a couple TB travel tray; and appreciate its uniqueness and usability. But I am not a fan of how heavy (in stiffness/density and in weight) the fabric feels. And I am not confident the fabric will launder well.

Politics aside, I asked the question about their uniqueness (vs. price) to help me determine whether there would be an advantage--in practical, usability terms--of owning/using these particular stuff sacks over other stuff sacks I already own. Not sure I needed the lecture.
August 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermkiper
You asked about the difference and I told you.

If you're happy with what you have, then stick with it. I doubt there's enough of a difference to warrant purchasing an entire new set.

By the way, If you don't like the material in the Travel Tray, you won't like the Stuff Sacks. It's the same material.
August 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
how often does a stuff sack for clothes or soft materials break, or a packing cube? I would be curious as to the quality difference that was noted. I guess im not sure why sturdier is better for a stuff sack filling nooks. Maybe if i was carrying books or something heavy or sharp. I'm indifferent about these bags vs the competition, unless the primary reason is to buy local or workers get treated better or the profit stays home. I could also buy a sack from Walmart made in the US, but Walmarts HR practices are bad to say the least and it might not be great quality. And that doesnt do as much for someone not living in the US. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. The price you pay determines the value. To me it's not the price as much as I don't see what the real and perceived difference is to the competition. Its not as unique as some of the other Bihn stuff that has a lot less quality competition.
August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRalph
How is this different from the yarn stuff sac that also comes with a carabiner?
August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRam
Thanks for the review. I saw these on the TB website a week or so ago and was interested in the more oval design (vs the traditional round design of most stuff sacks). This they would be an excellent choice for packing small items.

Granite Gear were mentioned by one poster, while you can find some of their products on Amazon or REI it is best to order direct from them.

Both solid choices, in my opinion.
August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDex
Here are some other made in the USA stuff sacks and they are even lighter and tougher.

August 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

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