Here’s the first word on a bunch of new designs coming soon from bag man Tom Bihn. Our interview:
New sizes of the Checkpoint Flyer Briefcase for PCs; a Checkpoint Flyer Backpack; The Compass - a small carry-on bag, like a smaller Western Flyer sans backpack straps; the TriStar - sized between the Western Flyer and the Aeronaut. It will look a lot like the Western Flyer (but three main compartments rather than two); a garment bag later in the year; I hope to finish the Synapse backpack, plus a few surprises that I could tell you about but then I’d have to kill you :(
I just bought a 10-inch, sub 3-pound netbook. Is the trend toward smaller computers (netbooks) driving some what you’re doing?
We plan to introduce smaller sizes of our Soft Cell laptop sleeve for netbooks, as well as a smaller version of our Ristretto vertical messenger bag.
Are some of your new designs responses to the difficulties modern travelers are facing - like bulging overhead bins and draconian security measures?
You bet: we’re going to make travel fun again! OK, just kidding, but we will be adding the new Checkpoint Flyers mentioned above, plus I’m working on a completely waterproof clear pouch for toiletries and other must-not-leak or must-stay-dry items.
Is there a future for small, USA-based manufacturers of high-quality goods - like Tom Bihn - in this difficult economy?
I believe that instead of buying large quantities of cheap stuff, people are going back to spending more on a quality product that will last them a long time. I could have bought three or four cheap coats made overseas for the price of my one Filson coat, but I chose the Filson coat because it’s made blocks away from my Seattle factory out of the best materials. In addition, the design is thoughtful and well-executed, and it has unique features that communicate to me that this coat was designed by a real person as opposed to being a generic design with glommed on features from an assembly line. One might have to work hard and save up to buy the higher quality, made-in-the-USA item, but, at least for me, it’s guaranteed to be a more rewarding experience.
Thanks to Tom and Darcy for keeping OBOW readers up to date.
Discussion on the Tom Bihn Forum suggests there’s real demand for undersized carryons.